Sunday, January 28, 2018

CCR 01-28-18 Amazon's Roadkill?

the   Controversial  Committee   Report
“We don’t raise sacred cows...we just butcher them.”

Amazon’s Roadkill?

   If patience is truly a virtue, then it would be safe to say there are many non-virtuous denizens in ‘beautiful downtown Irving.’  How could this be possible?

   Frankly, while the city council and staff make plans to provide Amazon HQ2 every possible amenity (maybe, including the Texas Stadium site and whatever infrastructure is necessary?) for a possible corporate relocation, those who have patiently been waiting, for minor and in many cases major improvements (read: primarily street repairs) to better their neighborhoods and streets, are left wondering if their lifelong tax contributions have actually meant anything to the city council and staff.

   Is it truly economic development when politicos associated with a project give away and forego sound reasoning at the expense of residential tax payers to provide costly freebies to a business?

   While this issue could be debated ad infinitum, the reality still exists that Irving roadways are probably some of the poorest in the surrounding metropolitan areas…not including Dallas.

   Take a drive around Coppell (a city which knows how to really repair Beltline Road potholes and dips), or any other suburban municipality.  Progress in some of these cities seems to be measured by attending to residential needs which in the long run does assist businesses when relocating to the area.  

   After all, would a business really want their employees to suffer bouncy, pothole dental fractures due to poor road conditions while driving to work each day in their chosen city? 

   Since announcing a “Really Big Plan” to improve, fix, or rework many much needed streets in the city, the scorecard of progress might reflect: Street Improvements = 0; Citizen's Patience = <250,000>.

   To demonstrate what is afoot, the following is a gentle reminder of what was noted months ago.

From the 07-19-17 CCR

Roads to Somewhere
   While you were on vacation, the City Manager and James Corden of “Carpool Karaoke” fame took a few spins around the city singing the praises of needed road repairs which suddenly required attention.  
   (The term suddenly is used since citizens have been asking, begging and pleading for years for the city to fix, repair, or replace certain roadways in the city.)
   One has to imagine the current determination, that many highly traveled Irving roadways suck, is now front and center.  Since attending to ex-QueenB VD’s every whim and fancy, the city was remiss in attempting to redeem Irving’s 1,400 road lane miles of washboard driving created by her royal coach.
   And how will the decrepit  status of many Irving roads be addressed?  Dear readers, please sit down. 
   How about the City Manager conjuring a plan entitled: “Road to the Future: $100 Million in 5 Years”?
   $100 Million?  Five years?  Is this real money?  Did the roadways suck more than what was even anticipated?  Will the city have its own Yellow Brick Road?  Ouch!
   What will this plan do to the current tax rate and bonded indebtedness of the city?  Have these figures been provided to the general public?  Was citizen input considered when preparing the list of humps and bumps needing consideration for repairs?


   Is there a remedy to alert the city council and staff that the spike in the Patience Quotient has reached pandemic proportions in ‘beautiful downtown Irving?’ 

   Perhaps, one temporary OTC remedy might be the upcoming city council elections. 

   While the city council might finally see the removal of all Pet Rocks (assuming LaMorgese has read the handwriting on the wall), voters should demand “a clear path,” by those running for office…regarding the immediate implementation of the proposed roadway improvement plan.  And when moving forward with the plan, as it may now exist, residential roadwork will not be demoted on an established priority schedule to accommodate a business relocation — by placing their grubby hands on city freebies — at the expense of residential tax payers becoming roadkill.

   And while awaiting your particular roadway to be improved, reserve a bit of time and become active in the local political processes.  It has been proven this remedy might also assist in addressing your Patience Quotient. 

   After all, when those spending your hard earned tax bucks don’t hear from you, they might assume their generosity with giving your money — to less than needy corporate relocation enterprises — is divine intervention.

   And, dear readers, it has been proven on many occasions the city council has not been gifted with divine intervention. 

……………………………………Mark Holbrook 


Sunday, January 21, 2018

CCR 01-21-18 Corporate Welfare?

the   Controversial  Committee   Report
“We don’t raise sacred cows...we just butcher them.”

“Corporate Welfare?” 

  Probably, one of the best paying jobs floating around is being on the Board of Directors for a major corporation.

  While most individuals realize corporate board members — generally retired corporate operating chiefs — are paid for their services, the amounts are not generally know.  And, dear readers, here is where the staff of the CCR poses the burning question: Do those board members really use, or know some of the potential product limitations for the companies they represent?

   If you ever have an issue with a particular product, service, or merchandise, then maybe the next time you complain, send your beef to a member of the Board of Directors.  After all, these individuals are responsible for the actions — or lack thereof — of the company CEO.

   Here are some of the higher paid corporate directors and the companies they represent.  The renumeration amounts are annualized.

Charles R. Lee:  $3,489,599 — serves on DirectTV, Proctor & Gamble, US Steel, etc. boards.
   Do you think Mr. Lee’s programming goes out during stormy conditions?  Who does he complain to when unable to watch “Gilligan’s Island” reruns?  And is he totally happy with the Charmin©️ bear waxing eloquently about what a clean posterior he has on the P&G product commercials?  

Enrique Hernandez, Jr.:  $3, 294,283 — serves on McDonalds, Wells Fargo, etc. boards.
   How much — in additional and unknown fees were charge on his Wells Fargo bank account — was Mr. Hernandez soaked by unscrupulous employees and managers mashing customer accounts to achieve illegal corporate goals?  Was his outrage soothed by a Big Mac a different board meeting?  

Sam Nunn:  $3,038,705 — serves on Dell, Coca-Cola, etc. boards.
   If Mr. Nunn has arthritic hands, how does he unscrew the caps off Coke liter bottles?  Better yet, does he have problems removing the plastic binding from the 12-packs?

Roy J. Bostock: $2,507,105 — serves on Delta Airlines, Yahoo, etc. boards.
   Has Mr. Bostock ever been bumped off a Delta flight?  Did they drag him down the aisles when he refused to give up his seat?  Has he ever attempted to block e-mail spam only to discover Yahoo does not block some spam ads?

   Even though the list of pesky issues involving many products or companies is lengthy, one has to remember…change doesn’t occur if a major issue is never addressed.

   Use 2018 as the year to make many products great again by letting corporate board folks know your hard earned income is feathering their board-nest.

   Now excuse us while staff of the CCR attempts to use the Jaws of Life to open a jar of pickles. 

……………………………….Mark Holbrook


Friday, December 22, 2017

CCR 12-22-17 Tax Relief

The Tax Relief Plan Explained by Dylan

Dylan Westie   @DylanWestie1  Dec 20

Wondering? What will be the calculated tax break for: Schumer, Pelosi, Sanders, Clintons, O’Donnell and all the other super rich congressional whiners faking distress over a plan to greatly help the middle class and create an economy ravaged by the previous administration? #ThanksCongress!

Sunday, December 10, 2017

CCR 12-10-17 Potholes of Life

Potholes of Life can sometimes cause forgetfulness. As a staff member of the CCR, I accept the full responsibility. Regardless, good wishes to you and yours for the season. — Dylan Westie

Thursday, November 23, 2017

CCR 11-23-17 Dark Matter

the   Controversial  Committee   Report
“We don’t raise sacred cows...we just butcher them.”

“Dark Matter”

   “Just the facts, ma’am,” as Sgt. Joe Friday might intone.

   And the simple fact is: Staff of the CCR will be “going into the shadows” after the publication of this report.

   Don’t fret.  Don’t jump with joy.  Don’t think this is a permanent thing.  

   Hopefully, while we are addressing a family issue, the light at the end of the tunnel would suggest we’ll be back by the end of January 2018.  
   (That’s just 2 months for Aggies with limited calculation skills.)
   And as a matter of fact, staff of the CCR has already draft-posted — on the CCR blog site — a complete report which only requires minor tuning (read: grammar considerations) before hitting the magic ‘publish’ button to post on the Internet.  This, of course, would be followed by sending the report to all those on the e-mail list and creating a Dylan Westie tweet-reminder for other readers. 

   Publication of this pending report could be made during the “going into the shadows” period — after publishing this report — when the opportunity occurs.

   As a teaser, the report is entitled “Crony Capitalism.”  In addition to the wordsmithing in the report, staff of the CCR will also post official City of Irving documents which have been provided to the CCR that not only support the report, but identify what it actually entails to be a Crony Capitalist in ‘beautiful downtown Irving.’

   Readers will soon understand what drives a Crony Capitalist; how they operate under the covers with elected/city officials; and more importantly, how your property tax dollars are weaseled into their personal property projects — thereby, increasing their net worth — all at your expense.  Some Crony Capitalist might even consider their actions as representing true entrepreneurial excellence…as opposed to actually needing a governmental dole to successfully conduct their business affairs.

   So, for now, relax.  Become heavier-stuffed than a Thanksgiving Day turkey.  Enjoy the upcoming Christmas Season of credit card melting.  Tip a few glasses of champagne for the New Year to wash away the deleterious effects of 2017.  And await the radiating CCR reports which will be the start of a series exploring new wordsmithing adventures for staff of the CCR.  

   These new adventures will veer and tromp in the realm of issues and “cat kicking” which do not relate exclusively to self-absorbed local politicos affecting ‘beautiful downtown Irving.’

   Anticipate the CCRs return by merely waiting and listening for Arnold to intone, “I’m  We’re back!”

………………………..Mark Holbrook   

Monday, October 23, 2017

CCR 10-23-17 High Octane Torofeca

the   Controversial  Committee   Report
“We don’t raise sacred cows...we just butcher them.”

“ High Octane Torofeca© ”

   Well, dear readers, the staff of the CCR is still awake and aware.  While keeping an eye on local bureaucratic issues, it actually appears things have been running rather smoothly under the new regime.  The ex-queen is not even missed and city related issues are actually being accomplished.  Such a relief!

   However, it does seem as if a few of your elected officials have decided to forgo the staid processes, of those who sat in their seats of governmental authority before them, by charting a new and deleterious course in addressing zoning issues for ‘beautiful downtown Irving.’  

   The latest council action, on denying Zoning Case #17-0030, could have a long lasting effect on the city if not addressed in a rationale manner.  And the possibility of legal issues could exist if not addressed.

   It has been the general rule for city council zoning cases, until the October 17, 2017, meeting, that the process of zoning basically upheld: “property is zoned, not people.”  

   Sadly, one council member, Allan Meagher, recently led the charge to deny the zoning on a chunk of property at Northgate and the Bush Turnpike due, in part, to his personal feelings and apparent disdain for the developer.  Meagher’s derision of the developer centered around a current business the developer has in Irving.  
   (Note: The other business owned was not part of the zoning case before the council.)

   The property actually being zoned was slated to be modeled in the same fashion as a Quik Trip operation.  Sounds good right?  After all, on the Bush Turnpike from I-20 in Arlington north to I-35, there is not a facility for motorists to utilize off the freeway ramp when needing gas, refreshments, or relief.  

   And the Planning and Zoning Commission had approved the project development on an 8-1 vote.

   If the Planning and Zoning Commission considered the zoning to be acceptable, then what could cause the city council to deny the zoning on an 5-4 vote?  

   Actually, the zoning denial by the council could be condensed to two issues fraught with irrelevant facts: Allan Meagher and the city manager/staff recommendation.

   While Meagher’s comments were totally off target during the case discussion, his rationale of supporting the city manager/staff recommendation for denial just couldn’t fill a Mini-Cooper gas tank.  His high octane verbiage reeked with fumes of personal disdain for the developer.  This was evident when he accused the developer of gasoline price gouging at another business location during the Harvey hurricane days.  What?!

   Even when the developer offered to share all of his price and cost information, for gasoline pricing during the Harvey hurricane aftermath, Meagher responded that he wasn’t interested and didn’t want to see the actual data.  Really?!  

   It’s a sad day when facts are not relevant to an issue before the council. 

   Why was Meagher reluctant to see the developer’s data which might indicate he had not been involved in gasoline price gouging…even when it was noted the State’s Attorney General had declared the pricing actions as not being in violation of the law, or price gouging?  Better yet, where is possible gasoline price gouging noted in any zoning criteria as a useable defense to deny a developer their zoning?

   If the gasoline price gouging Torofeca-rhetoric wasn’t enough to fill Meagher’s shallow tank of ridiculous counter points for the developer’s property, then he weakly hid behind the city manager/staff recommendation to deny the zoning case.  Apparently, the realization of gasoline price gouging wasn’t working in his favor, so he shifted octane levels and relied on the flimsy city’s denial rationale for protective cover.  

   And to later question, by asking the developer, if his current business was a “big part of the community, as a consideration for zoning, was just another disingenuous load of Torofeca which Meagher piled on the discussion.  How many small businesses in Irving are a “big part of the community?"  What defines being a “big part of the community” for a small business in Irving?

   Will future zoning applicants need to file and receive certification for being a Big Part of the Community from council member Meagher to receive future zoning approval?

   Resident’s of ‘beautiful downtown Irving' should thank council member Dennis Webb for his level of concern and astute remarks regarding what property zoning in the city should be all about. 

   Webb proceeded to accurately dissect the flaky comments contained in the city manager/staff denial recommendation.  He noted several of the recommended items failed to pass the fume-test of validity on many points.  He listed how the recommendations identified factors which were either not relevant to the case before the council, or plainly failed to be a mitigating circumstance for consideration in a denial. 

   As noted, the council voted 5-4 to deny the property zoning apparently based on the developer involved with the project, not the absolute criteria of zoning requirements which have been recognized by councils in the past.  

   Not only does Meagher’s disingenuous actions, boorish behavior, and the council's denial of the zoning case establish a precarious precedent for future zoning cases in ‘beautiful downtown Irving,’ but the denial vote was based on Torofeca rhetoric, developer personality and non-consequential actions with another business, and weak issues noted in the overall denial recommendation by the city manager/staff.

   When you thank councilman Webb for properly considering that the city should prescribe to the facts of  property is zoned, not people, be sure to give a nod of appreciation to the other council members who voted with him to approve this zoning case — Riddle, Ward and Danish.

   Perhaps, Webb should request the city provide a remedial course in zoning for the council members who need a refresher course on how to properly zone property, not people.

……………………………..Mark Holbrook 

Sunday, September 10, 2017

CCR 09-10-17 Costly Glacier

the   Controversial  Committee   Report
“We don’t raise sacred cows...we just butcher them.”

“Costly Glacier”

   The movement is so slow and only time will tell if the tip of the city’s tax collection berg crosses into the realm of assisting over-taxed citizens in ‘beautiful downtown Irving.’

   The final public hearing for the 2017-18 city budget and tax rate is Thursday, September 14, 2017, at 7:00 p.m. in Irving City hall.  After this meeting, the city council will later meet to approve the final budget and tax rate.

   Citizen attendance at the first public hearing was extremely minimal.  However, there are reports council members have received more e-mails than usual requesting consideration for reducing the tax rate.  As previously stated, tax payers are being hit hard with increased appraisal rates which have translated into the city reaping large piles of additional revenue.

   Even though Oscar Ward is apparently the only outspoken council member to voice reducing the city’s tax rate, there could be two additional council members who might lean to support such action.  Should this be the case, then only one more council member’s vote, bringing the total tax rate reduction supporters to four, is necessary.  

   The vote to squash the tax reduction effort requires a ‘super’ majority of six votes.  No ‘super’ majority is reached if four council members hold out  plan to vote to reduce the tax rate.  This being the case, then citizens would at least see a slight reduction in their property taxes for next year if the tax rate reduction passes.

   If you haven’t stated your opinion to the city council, then this will be your last opportunity to do so.  Advise the council that you support the effort to reduce the city’s tax rate, and aim for at least one more council member joining the scrum to allow four votes to achieve this task.

   Here are the e-mail addresses to reach members of the city council and city manager.  Let them know today.  After all, this is your money they are collecting and spending.  Shouldn’t you at least be the major stakeholder considered with what should be done?

Irving City Council and City Manager

John Danish
Brad LaMorgese
Allan Meagher
David Palmer
Phil Riddle
Rick Stopfer
Kyle Taylor
Dennis Webb.
and city manager:

Chris Hillman.

   Help to slow and melt the city ice berg of increased property tax payments — to fund a bloated city budget — which is slowly creeping down the slippery slope of self-interest agendas.  A little heat on council members and city manager, from tax paying constituents, is the only heat guaranteed to slow the glacier of increased property tax revenues collected.  (See #1 below)

……………………………..Mark Holbrook

   (1) Over the past two years, city tax revenues from property tax collections have increased 25.8%.  Of course, your personal income, pension fund, social security, or retirement income has kept pace with this whopping increase…right?  If it hasn’t, then maybe you should be contacting those who are spending all your money from these egregious increases, but not reducing the amount you are having to pay in city taxes.

   (2)  Reducing the city’s tax rate does not eliminate all the proposed increased fees for water, sewer and garbage collection services the city council will soon be approving and implementing.  Reducing the tax rate might help offset some of the increased cost residents will face when they receive their bills for the services.