A viral video has been circulating of Linda Harvell – Mayor Pro Tem – College Station City Council Place 3 shouting at a fellow council member, picking her nose and “popping it in [her] mouth” and “showing her frustration” during the April, 23, 2020 City Council Meeting. She has issued a statement citing “extreme isolationism” as the cause of her atypical actions. We have posted her statement in its entirety below.
I knew that at some point in time, this would be hitting social media….and I’m certainly not surprised with who posted it. Having said that, for no other reason than my family has seen the vicious attacks on me on the various Facebook pages, I have to respond. I have a friend who is in her early 80’s and who is very active on social media and she has a term for those people out there who are trying to destroy me. She refers to them as “the haters.” I like that definition.
When the COVID-19 first got really serious in March and everyone was told to “shelter in place,” I did just that. From having a very active lifestyle to totally shutting down inside my home or office. I followed the rules and did exactly what all of us were being told to do.
No longer was I involved in my volunteer activities and the City of College Station went into a massive shutdown, so no more committee meetings to attend, no more in-person City Council meetings…nothing. Everything went to ZOOM.
I live alone and I work alone. My family would call and ask if I was doing okay and knowing they, too, were practicing safe distancing, I always told them, “I’m doing just fine.” There was no way I was going to tell them that I was getting pretty depressed and felt so very lonely.
This is a very long story but I’ll keep it as short as I can. The April City Council that is being referenced, I’m thinking this was probably our second or third ZOOM meeting. And truthfully, I have no idea what set me off, shouting at John Crompton to “shut up.” From there, everything went downhill, according to the video….from picking my nose and popping it in my mouth to showing my frustration towards the end of the meeting.
The next morning, around 7:00 am, I got a text from my counterpart in Bryan, Greg Owens, telling me “way to go, Linda! You’re awesome!” I responded, asking him what was he talking about but I never heard back from him. At 11:00 am that morning, I had a meeting at the Bryan City Hall and Mayor Andrew Nelson greeted me and said basically the same thing, but added “I wish I had the nerve to tell my Council members to shut up.”
And then the program started and I spent most of the time watching the two mayors talking. As soon as it was over, I went over to College Station Mayor, Karl Mooney, asking him what was going on. Without pulling me aside in private, he told me, with at least a dozen people standing around us what I had done the night before during the City Council meeting, pretty much step by step….and then told me “it’s gone viral.”
I went home and just crawled into bed, turning the TV on and shutting everything else off. My daughter called me around 5:30 pm and after a minute or two of small talk, she asked “Mom, are you okay?” She and one of my granddaughters had been in the store and a friend of hers pulled her aside asking if I was okay….and then showed her the clip. I don’t think I could have pulled up into a tighter ball of humiliation than I was already in.
The next morning (Saturday), around 8:30, a friend called asking if I was okay….someone had sent her the clip. She works in one of the assisted living facilities and recognized immediately what I had experienced. She told me I was the perfect example of “extreme isolationism.”
Google “extreme isolationism.” It’s very common in anyone who lives alone – regardless of age – and with the COVID-19, they had been seeing multiple cases of this all over the city.
She asked me what had I been doing the past 2-3 weeks…pretty much checking on my stress level. Because my business had slowed down due to COVID-19, I had taken the action in combining my two locations, packing everything up in one office, having a couple of Aggies move me to my warehouse and then unpacking everything on my own, while keeping up with sending out orders that had come in from my website.
That had become my “whole world.” I never talked to anyone, just completely concentrating on doing what I needed to do by myself every day.
So, at long last, when I was finally in an environment where I was actually talking to people, i.e., the City Council meeting via Zoom, that’s when I had what my friend called a “melt down.” She said she recognized it immediately and that’s why she reached out to me so early on Saturday morning. I will add that I have never had another occurrence, not even close.
I talked to City Hall and my family that same day as my friend had requested that I go public with my experience.
Specifically, she wanted me to let our citizens know what to watch out for…they knew I was well known and that my story might create an awareness with those who were living in their own areas of isolationism and what they needed to look out for. I regret that I didn’t follow up on my instinct to let the public know what “extreme isolationism” is and how it was impacting people in the pandemic environment.
Within days, literally, dozens of people called, texted, emailed and even showed up at my front door – just “checking on me.” Many of you I had never met before but you recognized something wasn’t right with me and you cared enough to reach out. I appreciate your support and friendship more than you will ever know.
Interestingly, a very prominent businessman heard what I was going through and he called me. When I told him my experience, there was a bit of silence and he finally said, “that’s exactly what happened to me, too.” Except he told another very prominent businessman exactly what he thought of him, in a very public setting, and wasn’t even aware he had done so. After the fact, his friends contacted him telling him “that wasn’t cool.” I only share his story as this probably happened all throughout our communities, we just weren’t aware of what was going on with us.
The following Friday, I was scheduled for my quarterly check up at MD Anderson and my daughter commented that with my cancer history, I should probably see if I could get an MRI on my brain (just to make sure there wasn’t something interfering with my rational thinking). I called the PA at MD Anderson, told her what had happened and that next Friday morning, at 7:00 am, I was having an MRI at the MDA Clinic on my brain to make sure I was cancer free.
When I met with my oncologist a few hours later, he gave me the good news that my brain was “just fine,” but then asked me what was going on. My daughter wasn’t allowed to be with me due to COVID-19 but I had her on speaker phone so she could be engaged in the conversation. I told Dr. Sepesi, step by step, what had been relayed to me and what I had gone through and when I mentioned I had “picked my nose and popped it in my mouth,” he immediately interrupted me and said “that’s when I would have asked what in the hell have you done with Linda Harvell?”
As a cancer survivor, there are multiple protocols I have followed for years, and picking my nose and popping it in my mouth is not one of them….I use my knuckle in elevators and my forearm on stair rails when it’s safe to do so. All of these protocols were instilled in me back in 2001 when I was first diagnosed with cancer and it’s even more prevalent in today’s pandemic environment. If you are a cancer survivor, or have lived with one, you know exactly what I’m talking about and I have no reason why I did that. None. But how horribly embarrassing.
Because of this experience, I have been involved in a letter writing project to seniors who are in assisted living facilities. I have no idea who my “senior pen pal” is but I keep in touch with him/her on a weekly basis – for no other reason than I want them to know they are not alone.
The photo of me drinking out of a bottle of Crown Royal is hysterical. Last year I tried out for the TV show “Worst Cooks in America,” and made it all the way to the finals. Because I had seen the contestants on the TV show drinking out of a bottle of whatever, I thought it would be funny if I tilted the bottle to my lips. My final challenge was dessert and I was making a bourbon Texas pecan pie and used what I had in my liquor cabinet. I didn’t make it to the TV show but I had a blast going through the six weeks of being interviewed by a different producer.
BUT….one of you “haters” has taken the time to research my interview on youtube and isolated that one photo of my appearing to take a sip from the bottle….with absolutely no explanation what it was about. You know what? Shame on you! You knew exactly what was involved and what I was doing but chose to do your own “FAKE NEWS.” What an awful person you are!
When I ran for re-election three years ago, there’s no doubt I was intimidated by all of the negativity. But not this election. I refuse to be bullied by the haters. For those of you who have fake Facebook pages, I know exactly who you are. For those of you who write nasty letters to the editor, I will be sharing them with my supporters as I believe in total transparency.
For those of you who have blocked me from your Facebook page, our “mutual” friends are taking screen shots and sending them to me so I know exactly what you are saying about me and the other candidates.
This is a local election. If you don’t like me, fine….just don’t vote for me. Many of you know my daughters. Many of your kids grew up with my grandkids, playing sports with them or going to school with them. I absolutely refuse to allow you to do everything you can to destroy me personally, embarrass my family or impact my little business.
Thank you to my supporters who refuse to sink down into the mire and criticize my opponent. Thank you for keeping to the high road. And mostly, thank you so much for believing in me and for your support.