Whisper Is Given the Bum's Rush at the Tri-County Library in Mabank by a Gang of Mendacious and Power-Hungry Politicans Hellbent Upon Asserting Their Authority
|Whisper Was a Fixture at the Library for Eight Years|
"Let the population have a voice in this. This is a quality of life issue."
-- Ed Busch of Friends of the Animals Low-Cost Spay and Neuter Clinic
For every library cat that is able to fend off an eviction attempt countless others wind up relegated to the ranks of the dispossessed. Sadly, that was the cruel and grotesquely unfair fate recently meted out to a mild-mannered, eight-year-old female with gorgeous long gray and white fur named, à propos, Whisper by an out of control gang of thoroughly ruthless and mendacious politicians in Mabank, one-hundred-forty kilometers southeast of Fort Worth.
Adopted as a kitten from the Friends of the Animals Low-Cost Spay and Neuter Clinic in Gun Barrel City, eight kilometers southeast of Mabank, Whisper had spent her entire life at the Tri-County Library. Loved and admired by staffers and patrons alike, she served as the institution's mascot, goodwill ambassador, and resident mouser.
Her birthdays were celebrated with punch, cake, candles, and presents and her mere presence brought in countless visitors who came specifically in order to meet and greet her. That in turn doubtlessly generated revenue for the perennially cash-strapped library. Best of all as far as the facility was concerned, Friends of the Animals footed the bill for her food, litter, vaccinations, collars, and toys.
All went swimmingly until ownership of the facility passed from private hands to the city of Mabank in September of last year. That was when the authorities, in a desperate search for a defenseless victim that they could screw to the wall with impunity and thus by doing so bring the library to heel underneath their thumbs, decided to go after Whisper. As a consequence, she was ordered in no uncertain terms to vacate the premises by no later than October 1st.
Ailurophobia sans doute also factored heavily into that decision but it appears to have been of secondary importance. This was primarily a naked power grab and nothing less.
That is easy enough to see by the gargantuan lengths that the politicians have gone to in an effort to justify their outrageous behavior. For instance, the mayor of the tiny city of three-thousand souls, Jeff Norman, has thrown everything except the proverbial kitchen sink at Whisper by falsely accusing her of being potentially responsible for a myriad of totally fanciful calamities.
First of all, he claims that her presence at the library will prompt city employees to demand that they too be allowed to keep pets at work. Yet, he has not presented one iota of evidence to indicate that ever has occurred during Whisper's long tenure at the library and as a consequence it is unlikely to happen now that the facility is under new management.
Secondly, although he claims to have received complaints about her, he likewise has not produced so much as a scintilla of evidence to substantiate that allegation. "I've received comments disfavoring the cat," is all that he was willing to divulge to The Monitor of Mabank on October 7th. (See "City Evicts Whisper, the Cat, from the Library.")
Thirdly, he has brought up that old bugaboo about cats and food being incompatible and since the library has a kitchen Whisper ergo has to go. That is hardly an issue in that the vast majority of these amenities are not really full-blown kitchens at all but rather they are usually pretty much limited to a coffee maker, a microwave oven, and sometimes a refrigerator. Furthermore, these rather spartan facilities are included as a convenience to staffers and seldom, if ever, are the food and drinks that are prepared there served to the public.
Fourthly, he has argued that if the city had not taken over the library it would have been forced to close and Whisper therefore would have lost her home in any event. That too is an irrelevant argument because the library did not in fact close but it is still very much open for business. Moreover, he should not be allowed to get away with dishonestly packing off blame for Whisper's ouster on the library's former owner and that individual's financial straits.
Fifthly, this laughingstock of a mayor has accused Whisper of being diseased, flea-ridden, and violent. "As difficult as this is, we must regard the safety and the needs of all our constituents and the potential danger and risk associated with animals and the resulting liability of the library if anyone is injured because of disease, fleas and ticks, allergens, or biting and scratching, whether intended or unintended," is how that he blew it out both ends to The Monitor on November 4th. (See "Whisper's Eviction Stands.")
Norman's sottise was quickly refuted by Ed Busch of Friends of the Animals who told The Dallas Morning News on November 2nd that Whisper not only does not have fleas but that the library likewise does not, thanks to her presence, have mice. (See "Texas City Shelves Vote on Cat Kicked Out of Mabank Library.")
Much more to the point, there is absolutely nothing in press reports to even remotely suggest that Whisper ever has either bitten or scratched anyone during her eight years in residence at the library. Even if she were to accidentally do so it would not be all that big of a deal given that she is up-to-date on her vaccinations.
Fifthly, Norman has had the unmitigated gall to enlist the support of the confirmed cat-haters at the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) in Atlanta in his unholy crusade against Whisper. "Please refer to the CDC for the potential harm we are trying to avoid," he implored readers of The Dallas Morning News.
Given the extravagant lengths that he has been willing to go to in order to fabricate a totally bogus case against Whisper, it is a tad surprising that he did not attempt to resurrect that nonsensical old wives' tale about cats sucking the breath out of infants. That is precisely what novelist Anita Shreve so shamefully stooped to in the following memorable passage from her 1989 novel, Eden Close:
"Andrew, who has settled for a casserole left by the Ladies Guild, which looks more or less like goulash, remembers the afternoon Edith Close left the baby (Eden) outside in the carriage without the net and went upstairs to lie down. The Closes' honey-colored cat -- whose jealousy, unlike his mistresses (sic), was uninhibited -- leapt silently into the carriage and was about to do away with the usurper when the baby's screams brought Andy's mother running from the kitchen. She scooped up the child, giving the sullen cat a remarkably deft kick -- thinking the row would alert her neighbor."
Also, he could have chosen to have gone whole hog and aligned himself with the likes of the National Audubon Society and the American Bird Conservancy and accused Whisper of being a menace to birds by simply staring cross-eyed at photographs of them contained in books! Whenever an individual is as determined to get rid of a cat as Norman was to do with Whisper the potential slanders and libels that he is capable of manufacturing out of thin air are almost endless.
All over the world political hacks stick together like congealed feces and that certainly has proven to be the case in Mabank. For example, former mayor and current city councilman Larry Teague could not resist the temptation to sound an alarm over liability issues.
"We've said nothing against it (Whisper residing at the library so long as it was in private hands)," he gassed to The Monitor in the October 7th article cited supra. "But things are different now. There's liability."
He then went on to postulate that individuals are more prone to bring legal action against governmental entities than they are to go after private concerns. "They wouldn't hesitate to sue over the smallest of harms or perceived harm," he declared to The Monitor. "It's a whole different animal."
When Busch attempted to argue that insurance would protect the city from any potential lawsuits involving Whisper, he was immediately shot down by Teague's and Norman's comrade-in-arms, city manager Bryant Morris who, like them, has an answer for every objection so long as it is compatible with getting rid of the cat. "Though the city may be covered, the insurance agency doesn't recommend it," he averred to The Monitor.
On all of those issues Teague is guilty of not only drawing legs on a snake but of being considerably less than forthright. First of all, aggrieved individuals must have the ability to instigate legal action and that requires, like everything else in this world, time and money.
If they should belong to the ranks of the impecunious, their only recourse is to locate attorneys who are willing to take their cases on a contingency basis and that is not an easy feat to pull off considering that liability shysters only take on those that they have a good chance of winning in court. With that being the case, the actual number of aggrieved individuals who receive compensation for their injuries is rather small.
Secondly, for individuals who have been injured and have the resources to sue it is highly unlikely that it makes much difference to them whether their opponent is a private or a governmental entity. Besides, civil lawsuits involve considerably more than money in that complainants also want those responsible for their injuries and suffering to be held publicly accountable regardless of how much or little compensation they ultimately pocket.
Civil suits also benefit society enormously through the spillover effect that they have upon the future behavior of both actual and potential wrongdoers. Sometimes just the mere threat of legal action is sufficient in itself in order to prompt both private and governmental concerns to mend their evil ways.
Thirdly, for Teague and his cronies to invoke the liability argument against Whisper in an effort to get rid of her is simply absurd. In the first place, even if she did accidentally scratch or bite someone it is highly unlikely that the aggrieved individual would sue over such a trifling matter. Moreover, even if worse came to worst it is doubtful that such action would end up costing the city very much of its precious moola.
Potential liability issues involving Whisper also pale in comparison to the almost endless array of other litigious matters that can, and often do, end up costing municipalities like Mabank a pretty penny each year. Chiefly among them are lawsuits that result from, inter alia, police misconduct, sexual harassment and assaults by city employees, job discrimination, unlawful terminations, vehicular and mass transit mishaps, slips and falls on city-owned properties, and citizens who contest fines, code infractions, and tax bills.
It accordingly is safe to conclude that the list of potential liabilities that cities face is almost endless whereas it is extremely doubtful that any of them ever has been held negligent in a court of law because a cat scratched someone. The politicians' eagerness to plumb the outer limits of contorted logic has however inadvertently exposed a rather disconcerting truth.
C'est-à- dire, given the large number of real, as opposed to imaginary, liability issues that could arise it is simply too risky for the city of Mabank to continue to exist. As a consequence, it should immediately take down its shingle and go out of business altogether.
In fact, it may already be too late for it to ward off financial ruin. That is because Norman, Teague, and Morris have so overworked their desiccated old gourds in fabricating a make-believe case against Whisper that they, in all likelihood, are now prone to developing aneurisms.
Once that occurs, the taxpayers are going to be stuck with picking up the humongous tabs for not only their surgeries but their disability retirements as well. It is superfluous to point out but modern medicine has yet to come up with cures for rotten brains and diseased souls.
|Whisper Celebrating Her Fourth Birthday Back in 2012|
In addition to being mean-spirited, high-handed, and a complete fabrication of the truth, the politicians' eviction of Whisper was undemocratic as well. Not only was that decision never submitted to the public for approval, but Norman stated at an October 4th city council meeting that it would be put to a vote at the next meeting. That turned out to be a bare-faced lie because when the council next met on November 1st he categorically refused to even put the matter on the agenda.
"We tried to get some idea of what the citizens of Mabank think about this issue and it didn't matter at all," Busch lamented to The Dallas Morning News. "They're (city council) happy with the result. The cat's out. We're going to have to go to the city and ask that it be put on the agenda."
Better still, he would like to see the matter put to the people. "Let the population have a voice in this," he told The Monitor in the October 7th article cited supra. "This is a quality of life issue."
Unless pressed, Norman and his entrenched cronies are not about to allow that to happen. "La politique, c'est l'art d'empêcher les gens de se mêler de ce qui les regards," Paul Valéry once observed.
The politicians in Mabank have now added the Tri-County Library, which serves not only Mabank but surrounding Henderson and Kaufman counties as well as adjacent Van Zandt county, to their personal fiefdom and they are not about to willingly relinquish control of it. "Those who have been once intoxicated with power, and have derived any kind of emolument from it, even though but for one year, never can willingly abandon it," Edmund Burke once pointed out. "They may be distressed in the midst of all their power, but they will never look to anything but power for their relief."
In that light it would be foolish for anyone in Mabank to believe that Norman's insatiable lust for power and domination ever can be slaked by merely nailing Whisper's lovely hide to his garage door. Au contraire, he doubtlessly is going to insist upon having a say in personnel matters and who is allowed to use the library.
It is even conceivable that he may demand to have a veto on what books and videos are allowed on the facility's shelves. Censorship of the Internet also is a distinct possibility. Whether it is termed as fascism or simply as the will to power, politicians of his ilk never have recognized either any limits or boundaries upon the exercise of their authority.
Lamentably, Busch and Whisper's other supporters so far have proven themselves to be rather anemic when it comes to putting pressure on Norman and the city council to reverse their eviction edict. Petitions have been circulated and dozens of Whisper's advocates have turned up at council meetings but that has been pretty much the extent of the opposition that they have been able to muster.
Unless they are being shortchanged by the local media, they have not been all that vociferous either with the notable exception of library volunteer Howard Hopkins. "I've seen families come to the library, and seeing the cat is the highlight of their visit," he told The Monitor on October 7th.
That fact has been corroborated by Busch's wife, Sydney. "Mabank residents aren't the only ones who regularly use that library," she told The Monitor on that same date. "Some of the most regular visitors come primarily to visit Whisper."
|Whisper Looks Longingly Back at What Used to Be Her Home|
Even the library's director for the past two and one-half years, Brandi Marett, has been conspicuously silent on this momentous issue and that makes it difficult to gauge her feelings. Most likely she is too preoccupied with sucking up to Norman in order to save her own miserable hide in order to be bothered with Whisper's problems.
The good news is that her photograph still adorns the library's web site so staffers have not completely written her out of their lives just yet. Its caption, which states that "Whisper is always here to learn and grow at the Tri-County Library Mabank," is a little bit out of date, however.
If the gross injustice done to her is going to be reversed and she returned to the only true home that she ever has known, Whisper's supporters need to emulate the sterling example set last autumn by their neighbors in White Settlement, one-hundred-fifty-four kilometers to the northwest, who put the heat on their local politicians to rescind an eviction notice that they had issued to a cat named Browser at their public library. If that should fail, they always could take revenge upon Norman and his fellow gang members by voting them out of office on the next election day just as the citizens of White Settlement courageously did with Browser's chief antagonist, Elzie Clements. (See Cat Defender post of December 28, 2016 entitled "Browser Beats Back a Determined Effort to Oust Him from the White Settlement Public Library and in Doing So Has the Distinct Pleasure of Seeing His Political Nemesis Voted Out of Office.")
Since there has not been any news recently out of Mabank regarding Whisper it is not known what, if any, efforts are being contemplated by Busch and Friends of the Animals in order to have her reinstated at the library. In the meantime, she is said to be residing fulltime with an unidentified volunteer from the library who previously had been taking her home with her on weekends when the facility was closed.
A far more pressing concern is what is going to become of her if she is not returned to the library. Under that scenario, the best that can be hoped for her is that the volunteer will adopt and give her the permanent home that she so richly deserves. If that is not in the cards, perhaps Friends of the Animals will be able to place her in another home.
Even then she doubtlessly will miss all the attention that was lavished upon her at the library but cats are highly adaptable animals and, in time, she should be able to adjust without too much difficulty to new surroundings and caretakers. Her new home would, quite obviously, need to be a loving one where she is showered with attention as opposed to being simply housed, fed, and left to her own devices.
"These (library cats like Whisper) are the kind of things that make up the character of the city," Ed Busch astutely pointed out to The Dallas Morning News. "And I'm disappointed that they (city council) don't see it the same way."
The cruel fate visited upon Whisper also is a matter of justice and fairness. Aside from that, the city's decision to evict her is yet still another troubling benchmark on the road to the marginalization of cats everywhere.
Finally, as far as it is known, Mabank does not have an official motto of its own. Gun Barrel City on the other hand has adopted "We shoot straight with you" as its slogan.
The Busches therefore might want to consider coming up with an appropriate moniker for Mabank that not only would distinguish it from Gun Barrel City's motto but also call attention to how horribly it has mistreated Whisper. One possible suggestion would be: "Lies, bullshit, and abusing cats are our specialties." That would pretty much sum up in a nutshell how that the city conducts business.
Photos: The Dallas Morning News (Whisper looking out the window), City of Mabank (Norman and Teague), The Monitor (Whisper celebrating her fourth birthday), and the Tri-County Library (Whisper looking back).