Sunday, November 28, 2010

CCR 11-28-10: Two Consultants

the Controversial Committee Report
"We don't raise sacred cows...we just butcher them."

When it comes to political discussions, some argue facts while others attack the individual. And this is what seems to be developing with the discussions regarding the apparent voodoo financing of the proposed Entertainment Center.
If you have watched WFAA-TV, Channel 8 News and the investigative reports (see links below) filed by Brett Shipp, then you can't help but wonder when the city council will address the financial concerns plaguing this project. While some have given lip service to "issues that need to be resolved," the fact remains that anyone questioning the financing becomes suspect if you haven't sipped the Kool-Aid in support the project. And the mayor has been the first to opine in this manner!
Case in point. The mayor appeared on TV shortly after an independent consultant's report was delivered to the city council that questioned the center's financing as developed by the city's consultant. The independent report -- which was not commissioned by Billy Bob or any of his Las Vegas cronies -- identifies some severe shortfalls in the city's projections of revenues and venue attendance. Instead of addressing the facts in the study, the mayor attempted to fabricate truth out of political spin and rhetoric as a justification for the city's reliance on their report. At the same time, he noted that the independent report was really just "politically motivated." How weak.
The mayor also intimated that the consultant paid by the group opposed to the city's financial plan could provide whatever results the opposition group wanted. How crass. And even if this was true, then what should one assume with regards to the study utilized by the city for all their PR and promotional activities? Is the city's study and numbers accurate just because the mayor says so? Was the city's consultant paid for the findings that the city wanted?
The mayor also stated that the Entertainment Center, as presently planned, would be a "category killer." This means that there would be not be another facility like this in the area. While that could be true, the staff of the CCR doubts that any other facility in the area has used voodoo financing to build or develop their project. Maybe what wasn't said is that the center could be a "tax payer killer" if the present financial scheme moved forward without additional public scrutiny.
Since tax payers ultimately could be on the hook if the project proceeds based on the city's consultant report, it becomes imperative that eight council members step back, give due diligence and discover what the most realistic and attainable financial numbers might be. Even if the actual financial picture is between what the city is proposing and the numbers on the independent study, tax payers could still be in a world of hurt.
The time for fluff and puff rhetoric is over. The time for PR mailings by those who would profit from the center is over. The time for slick videos depicting what someone has conjured is over. The time for political spin and weasel-word rationalizations is over. And it is certainly time for the mayor to release the full consultant's report that was prepared and used to promote the voodoo financing figures that all the Kool-Aid sippers have been flooding the community with. The voting public should have all the Entertainment Center numbers on the table so that they know if their elected representatives are acting in their best interest. And at the same time, eight members of the council should be demanding that this occur posthaste utilizing the services of an outside professional analysis recommended by bond underwriters. The financial stakes are too high for the Bobbleheads to sit and wish for something that might not even be possible at this time.
All momentum on the Entertainment Center should be halted until: 1) The external audit of all expenditures is completed and those issues are resolved; 2) The city's entire consultant report -- with methodology -- is released to the public; 3) A complete analysis of the two consultant reports and numbers is developed to determine exactly what financing is/is not realistic -- without property tax payer assistance -- to allow this project to move to the next level.