Temple DEI: Don’t Mistake a Punt for a Win

Good news that Temple has cancelled plans for using Nova Collective, a company “devoted to transforming organizational cultures,” with regards to its Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) pursuits. Bad news that this move is a punt; it should in no way be considered a win. The city hasn’t given up its effort. It’s just regrouping.

Setting the stage

In a Friday night email, Temple Mayor Tim Davis stated “I wanted to let you know that I have instructed the City Manager to inform the Nova Collective that the City of Temple will not be contracting with them for any services.”

While one wonders if this directive is procedurally correct as per city bylaws or other mandated protocols, it certainly helps both the city’s DEI Commission and the city council avoid an on-the-record vote for an issue that’s become something of a powder keg.

A letter from Davis and City Manager Brynn Myers further described how in relation to the DEI Commission, “the City Council asked Staff to focus the City’s diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts on only the internal operations of the City in its delivery of municipal services.”

With an organizational mission to “provide exceptional services, without exception,” Davis and Myers called the city’s statement “intentionally short and simple but also powerful and inclusive.”

But is it inclusive enough? And what about its diversity and equity levels? Are they adequate…or more importantly, exceptional? These seem to be big questions circulating through the relatively small circles that constitute city of Temple public policy makers.

Where did this even come from?

One has to wonder, but the monkey-see, monkey-do culture of government makes for a ripe environment.

On numerous fronts, ideologies seeking to move the U.S. away from traditional western values and instead transform our country, even our world, into something “new” abound. And the one similarity they conveniently feature is a top-down, heavy-handed, unaccountable and rigid centralized authority.

Ideological overlords like the Texas Municipal League (TML), Texas Association of Counties (TAC), Texas Association of School Boards (TASB) and Texas Association of School Administrators (TASA) are natural partners for what strikes many as radical change. And when they promote such concepts, programs or other direction and activities to their member organizations, members unsurprisingly – remember, monkey see, monkey do — fall in line.

And make no mistake. These are not taxpayer-friendly organizations. Instead, their modus operandi is to lobby and work otherwise on behalf of members to seek and retain larger amounts of governmental control and taxpayer funds. This is obvious during legislative sessions as representatives of these groups are routinely the most ardent proponents of issues like taxpayer-funded lobbying and rolling polling while opposing taxpayer-friendly efforts seeking bond election transparency, school choice, etc. Again, natural partners for authoritarian movements.

The degree of power wielded by these organizations shouldn’t be underestimated. Funded largely by taxpayers (via memberships and organizations’ use of public funds to purchase support services), these unelected, unaccountable bureaucrats influence – i.e., write the playbook – for many policy undertakings and activities (think bond elections) seen at local levels, efforts often at odds with taxpayer interests.

These overlords’ meetings and events are often conduits for connecting with companies like Nova Collective that, for a (taxpayer-financed) fee, help support these efforts.

The patterns show themselves time and again.

DEI 101: how it begins

According to a MassResistance.org article, Temple citizens attending a June 7 DEI Commission meeting learned how city officials received an introductory DEI training.

After the public comment ended, the introduction of Nova was next on the agenda. Erin Smith, the Assistant City Manager, informed the Commission how all this had come about.

First, she said, the City Council, Mayor, and other city officials were given some “DEI 101 training” by an outside leftist firm, The MacMillan Group, for which the city paid an undisclosed amount. This apparently was to make sure that the city’s top officials were suitably indoctrinated to move forward with the next steps.

Next was the explanation of how Nova was selected. Stacy Hawkins, the city’s “director of performance excellence” started by identifying sixteen DEI consulting firms. She interviewed them and selected seven. Hawkins and Smith then jointly interviewed the seven firms, and selected Nova. They then gave a presentation on Nova to the City Council, which obviously agreed with their choice. Note that the DEI Commission was completely left out of this selection.

Presentations like this aren’t designed to foster a balanced discussion about controversial issues such as DEI. They are, as the article quoted, “training” for utilization of a particular product, service, or in this case, likely an ideologically based plan of action. Some would bristle with use of the term “indoctrination,” but if the shoe fits…

In the aftermath of a poorly handled 2019 police shooting with tragic consequences that will probably cost Temple taxpayers significant dollars, someone in “municipal world” would probably see a robust DEI response as an effective virtue signal that might help their legal case.

If the Michael Dean case is but one in a recent history of lawsuits and other employment actions alleging discrimination or other instances of intolerance and/or bias on the part of the city of Temple and its employees, let’s see the receipts.

Meanwhile, an aggressive DEI plan can get high marks for a city aspiring to grow up and become Austin. Plus, it checks the “woke” economic development boxes as leadership transforms itself into the Mayor of Meta and a Council of Correctness in hopes of currying favor with Meta, Temple’s newest “cool kid” resident.

Do these factors constitute a need? Justify a search for unnamed “barriers”? Unanswered questions.

DEI distractions 

Witch Hunt? Temple’s Proposed DEI Program To Search Out ‘Unintended Barriers’ discussed Temple residents’ concerns as well as the impact of such programs.

The potential promotion of homosexual and transgender agendas which often accompany DEI initiatives is a valid concern. It’s shortcoming, however, is readily obvious as DEI advocates predictably attempt discrediting such arguments by labeling detractors as “homophobic” and “haters.” The Temple Daily Telegram highlighted a Nova Collective representative’s use of this strategy in an article entitled Nova: ‘Loud, scared voices’ dictating city diversity needs.

Brynne Hovde, a partner in the Nova Collective, said the company and its work have been misrepresented by local opponents. At a meeting at Trinity Church last week, some labeled the firm a “Satanic cult” because its diversity consulting, including LGBTQ issues.

“At Nova, we all came into this work through different paths. But all of us have felt called to this work, in one way or another, as our small piece of making the world a better place and uplifting the voices that are so often silenced,” Hovde said in a letter to the Telegram. “We regret that we aren’t able to live into that purpose in this instance.”

“Our hearts are broken … not because of a contract, a survey, or a client — there will always be more of those — but because of the message that so many community members in Temple have received: The loud, scared voices of a few will dictate the needs of the many.”

The article further stated:

“You fear change, but you must know that God is Change,” Hovde said. “And God is Love. No amount of pitchforks can stand in the way of that. All of the hate and fear that has been espoused during this process only produces one reaction for us: profound sadness. We have compassion for those of you who truly believe the words you say. We hear the fear in your voices and we can read your version of the truth in your words. We are so sorry you are so afraid. We are so sorry you are pushing away the pain. It breaks our hearts to see you so broken.”

Hovde urged supporters of diversity issues to remain strong.

“Most importantly — to the allies, to the marginalized, and most lovingly to the LGBTQ+ community in Temple, Tx: We love you more than they can ever hate you. You are the beloved children of the God of your understanding. Never doubt that,” she said. “We will continue to hold out hope that one day your community will hold space for you, will embrace you, and will love you for your whole selves. Until such time, please take care of yourselves and each other.”

As this article demonstrates, it’s counterproductive to provide those with whom you disagree a cudgel as they will gladly use it to beat you over the head. Why offer a distraction and opportunity to avoid other larger-picture issues for which they should be answering?

DEI poses serious threats to free thought and independent expression — basic liberties on which this country was founded. Effectively combatting these threats will circumvent other tangential concerns from becoming realities.

DEI’s real implications

Several issues raised locally encapsulate some of DEI’s most common and legitimate criticisms.

First, Critical Race Theory is a DEI component often downplayed due to its incendiary tenets. It seeks to divide, as per Marxist theory, societies – or in this case organizations – into categories of “oppressors” or “oppressed.” Is this what we want for Temple?

This tactic positions one group with “power” over another and injects remedies for perceived victims of alleged imbalances. Refutation of any imbalance is viewed as denying the existence of systemic problems (like racism) with dissenters labeled as part of the problem.

“Equity” as defined within DEI programs depends on a dysfunction definition. As discussed in the Witch Hunt article:

Equal opportunities are a great thing. Something even enshrined in our laws. Ensuring “equitable opportunity,” however, suggests an environment in which special, unequal access to potential success paths is granted for individuals deemed more worthy or in greater need than others. Make no mistake. Equal and equitable opportunity are not one and the same. That’s why we don’t have a Diversity, Equality and Inclusion Commission.

And critical thinking – another “no go” area within DEI landscapes. Discernment? Unflattering analysis? Can’t have that. With DEI, though, choices are available: “stay silent to remain employed” or “speak up and be ushered out.” Authoritarian 101 teaches the desirability of silencing and purging non-conforming points of view over facing critics. This is the workplace environment of a DEI culture.

Some public employees fear DEI being used as a basis to discriminate against people with certain religious convictions and political beliefs. Though illegal, might it be used as a basis for firing? Or hiring? The workplaces of today can absolutely be hostile to those who don’t comply with restrictive cultural diktats. DEI promotes a rigidity that does nothing to support independent thought or views.

If Temple city leaders endorse this “transformative” thinking, they need to publicly argue their case – not use backdoor methods by which to implement this, at best, questionable ideology.

An in-house path to operational infiltration?

Davis and Myers’ community letter notes that based on response to the plan for Nova Collective to assist with an internal DEI audit, it is now believed that “the same goal can be accomplished by our own City staff and community members and that retaining the services of an outside consultant will not be needed.”

The initial DEI concerns remain applicable to any process that moves more internally. It just presents a new backdrop for potential implementation of troubling practices.

DEI isn’t solely about LBTGQ issues. It is a Marxist ideology and proponents seek its injection into our society – including governmental operating systems.

Broadly speaking, a governing ideology that requires giving up individual freedoms, relinquishing personal property and submitting to a rigid central authority who sees some people as more equal than others is understandably not an easy sale.

With that, why then be up front about intentions? Entering a back door while cloaked as a good-sounding cause like “diversity, equity and inclusion” is easier and perhaps even more effective. Marxist ideology can then be slowly introduced into an entity (city, county, state, federal, school district, etc.) along with its operations.

Besides being built on the intellectual framework of identity-based Marxism, Christopher Rufo at City Journal write this of DEI’s critical race theory component:

It has been injected into government agencies, public school systems, teacher training programs, and corporate human-resources departments, in the form of diversity-training programs, human-resources modules, public-policy frameworks, and school curricula.

While one needs “soldiers” or “allies” to implement such plans, employee surveys play an important role in launching operational infiltration. They serve two purposes. First, they can identify like-minded employees to collaborate in the infiltration. And they can also pinpoint and work to neuter or remove problems or “barriers.” Stated differently, silence or purge those not in lockstep with the Marxist path. Of course, once “barriers” are purged, the organization can refortify with “allies.”

A new community involvement opportunity

Davis and Myers cited plans to tackle their DEI survey with “City staff and community members.” This shouldn’t be like the school district “revisiting” bond packages to reprioritize items using community input that appears to only comes from their friends.

Concerned citizens should immediately contact city officials to volunteer for this “community” project. Skepticism over the entire effort should not be viewed as disqualifying. In fact, it should be embraced!

With this being about “diversity,” shouldn’t the city welcome a varied group of participants in this effort? Seems that’s, at least theoretically, the point.

The assault on America

America is under siege. Our way of life, the fabric of our society is being attacked. In The American people are being forced to imagine the unimaginable, Victor Davis Hanson outlines all we face. Globally, nationally, at the state level and, as we see here and now, even our local governmental systems are being threatened.

It’s not about being loud or scared. It’s not about hating other people or being resistant to change. It’s about protecting that which has served us well and making improvements as necessary. DEI and Marxism are neither improvements nor necessary.

A segment of the population is clueless. But for those paying attention, battles must be chosen. Don’t mistake that Temple’s DEI issue is resolved. We can’t fight every fight, but for now, your own backyard offers a good start in the struggle to preserve our way of life.

Lou Ann Anderson worked in central Texas talk radio as both a host and producer and currently hosts Political Pursuits: The Podcast. Her tenure as Watchdog Wire–Texas editor involved covering state news and coordinating the site’s citizen journalist network. As a past Policy Analyst with Americans for Prosperity–Texas, Lou Ann wrote and spoke on a variety of issues including the growing issue of probate abuse in which wills, trusts, guardianships and powers of attorney are used to loot assets from intended heirs or beneficiaries.

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