Longform

Sour Town

Page 6 of 6

But McNeal has reserved her strongest and strangest barbs for Holden. They briefly served on the council together, during which time she says he sexually harassed her. Even though, by her own admission, she's old enough to be Holden's mother, she claims that he continually stared at her breasts. Holden laughs off her accusation of sexual harassment, calling it a lie. He accuses McNeal of once sending out anonymous letters to city employees detailing who was sleeping with whom and signing it Suzy Blitz.

Given the content of her Web site, McNeal might not make the most credible accuser, but she kept up her assault on not only the council's once-dominant wing, but everyone they support--namely Jeffrey Maynard, the candidate Holden unsuccessfully endorsed to replace him. On her site, McNeal depicts Maynard and Holden together in a steam room with their heads placed atop the bodies of two grossly obese men wearing nothing but diapers that somehow fail to cover their rather small "constituents." In her caption, McNeal once again ridicules Holden for voting against holding council elections this spring.

"Once Holden realized the gig was up and all his efforts to thwart an election failed, he recruited Maynard to replace him. Up until March, the two were often seen sweating together at a local steam room. The Health Department has subsequently closed down the place."

Asked if this sort of writing crosses the line of good taste, McNeal says that she's just trying to make a point.

"The only way to describe my site is that it's satire," she says. "Some people may be offended by it, but the point I was trying to make when I wrote that was that by voting for Maynard, you're voting for Holden."

Holden and Maynard couldn't exactly count on their hometown newspaper for a better shake. One of their chief detractors, Jay Jones, owns a major share of the Garland News. He's ridiculed the council members who voted against the elections. Even worse, his paper's own staff writer Linda Jaresh donated money to the campaign of council candidate Doug Athas, who defeated Maynard. She is also listed on his Web site as a supporter.

In an e-mail to the Dallas Observer, Jaresh incredibly insists that she doesn't let her support of Athas influence her political coverage, but for obvious reasons Maynard won't talk to her.

"I'm not going to comment to a political reporter who endorsed a particular candidate," Maynard says.

Of course, Maynard is hardly a good arbiter of proper decorum. After he lost to Athas, he hijacked the Internet domain name of a Garland homeowners association because, as he explains, "the president of the organization, Greg Yearsley, did not support me..." On the site, Maynard says he's willing to sell the rights to the domain name for $2,500.

With the influence of the Gang of Five done, Harry Hickey is already talking about packing up and moving. His term expires next year. "There is just some bizarre stuff going on in the city of Garland," he says. "I'm just counting my days."

Holden, however, says that he's not going to let his detractors run him out of town. "I'll be in Garland long after these lunatics have left the council."

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Matt Pulle
Contact: Matt Pulle