Sunday, August 21, 2011

CCR 08-21-11: The Mushrooms Speak

the Controversial Committee Report

“We don’t raise sacred cows...we just butcher them.”

First, thanks to all the readers who took the time to complete the recent CCR survey. The number of respondents greatly exceeded our expectations. It was also surprising to see how many folks had a firm grasp on what is actually happening in the community. And the comments shared reinforced the notion that Irving has issues that need resolving.

The following reflects the responses to the survey. We would have completed this summary sooner, but the staff of the CCR had to do all the tabulating and calculating ourselves. (We couldn’t afford to pay Anthony Bond to handle this task, since he was too busy working on an Entertainment Center project.) We can assure you that the results are accurate and we would consent to a “forensic” audit if paid $150,000. However, all e-mail responses have been deleted and no hard copies maintained in an effort to further protect reader identity. If you need to refer to the survey document, CCR 08-17-11, click on the following link:

Happy reading. And remember, the next step is up to you. Become might help resolve an issue.

1. On issues that affect the entire community, the city council is more apt to consider input from the following when making their decisions. For those who believe they elect representatives to serve their interest and needs, this may come as a rude awakening. 56% of the survey respondents feel that the Irving/Las Colinas Chamber of Commerce has more influence on council decisions than the voting public. And if the chamber isn’t influencing the council enough, then the city staff -- via the city manager (35%) -- has a heavier influence than residents. Only 9% (you read that correctly...9%.) believe that Residents have an impact on council decisions. So much for the notion of representative government!

2. Considering the upcoming city budget development sessions for 2012, should the council consider any increases to fees, rates or taxes? Hands down, respondents feel that NO increase should be proposed for fees, rates or property taxes. With 79% of the responders registering this concern, council spin and flimsy rationale from the city manager to do otherwise will fall on deaf ears with residents. Early indications from the city’s budget development meeting reflect that the city manager seems to be playing the budget “shell game” to crank up additional revenues.

3. With your understanding and knowledge, what is your impression of McDougal’s development of the Heritage District. Residents believe that this project is so far off the track that only the caboose is left in Heritage Park. A whopping 95% believe that McDougal has sold the council a bill of goods that is not being delivered...regardless of the current economy. Staff of the CCR wonders: Could Billy Bob Barnett and Delbert McDougal actually be twins separated at birth?

4. With your understanding and knowledge, what is your impression of the city’s proposed $250 million Entertainment Center? This survey question had more comments than any other question. 39% believe that the original scope and financing for the center was flawed with 48% thinking a more realistic and financially sound development should now be considered. Only 13% believe that the original plan should be implemented. Once again, residents appear to be ahead of the council on the “smart” curve when it comes to recognizing a problem and identifying what should be done to correct it.

5. When you have a problem and contact city hall, the response and resolution you receive from city staff is: 42% have Good results from city staffers, while 44% believe they are Fairly assisted with their concerns. Overall, city staffers -- on the levels where residents are seeking assistance -- seem to work properly to resolve issues of concern for residents.

6. When you have a problem and contact a city council member, the response and resolution you receive is: The response to this question could tag along with question #1 above. If citizens do not feel that their input is being taken seriously, then they might believe their council representative is not doing a very good job of representing them. Only 37% believe that council members respond to their concerns in a Good manner, while 40% believe they Fairly respond. 23% feel that their representative handles their concerns Poorly.

7. Considering results of the last mayoral election, do you feel that the city council has now “moved on” and is prepared to address the issues critical to Irving’s improvement? It is perfectly clear 31% consider that the council has not “moved on” while 12% believe they have since the last mayoral election. Sadly, 57% believe that some individual council members definitely have not “moved on” and their demeanor in meetings seems to be reflective of this attitude. To those council members still pining or whining for the “good old days,” staff of the CCR would remind you: Fine wine cannot be made from sour grapes.

8. Regarding the salary and benefit package of the current city manager, do you consider this justifiable for a city the size of Irving? No surprise here! 85% firmly believe that the city manager is over compensated and maybe even overrated. Sadly, 5% did not know that the city manager was currently paid more than the president of the United States. One has to wonder: If the pay for Irving’s city manager was more in line with what other cities were paying their city managers, would the council really need to increase fees, rates or property taxes?

9. Recently, the city council -- with pressure from the Irving ISD board -- denied the Kroger store’s zoning on MacArthur Blvd. to sell beer and wine...even though the city’s revised Heritage District ordinance allowed for distance variances. Was this a: 84% believe that this was a bad decision (vote) by the council to deny the zoning. Of course, council members offered lame excuses that they were “protecting” the school kids, being a good partner with the IISD or just “doing what was right.” Sometimes, it seems amazing that what a council member thinks is the right thing to do aligns more with political correctness than with what the voting public believes to be the proper thing to do. Adding to the unwarranted vote of the council, Irving ISD board president V. Jones had refused to meet with Kroger officials to review their revised zoning request before the council considered the matter.


Many of the comments submitted reinforced the responses that individuals marked on their survey form. Other comments were too profane profound to document in a concise manner in this summary.

Perhaps, a theme running through the comments section was that some council members believe that they are endowed with divine inspiration and decision making skills while Residents are like mushrooms growing in a closet. And the closet door for Residents is only opened to shovel-in another load, or at election time when council members need their vote to stay entrenched.

Maybe, just maybe, the time is about ripe for the Portabellas to unite and escape the confines of the closet.

....................Mark Holbrook

A reader sez:

“The cat fighting between the females on the council is a riot!” Anonymous

We Say:

Hopefully, when all the fur settles the group can start doing what the citizens expect of them. Or, at least act like grown-ups.