Tuesday, August 30, 2011

ZAP! #65: The Real Free Lunch

ZAP! #65...August 30, 2011

Congratulations Irving ISD!

Five members of the Irving ISD board of trustees have been named winners of the Alfred E. Newman “Free Lunch” Award. This annual award is given to elected officials who manage to spend tax payer bucks that are later converted into free eats, banquets or other culinary extravaganzas to ease their hunger pangs.

The award will be presented to the Entrenched-5 of the school board at an upcoming chamber of commerce banquet. If you recall, the Entrenched-5 represents the “Rubber Stamp Brigade” remaining on the board after the last election. Proudly accepting their awards will be: Valerie Jones, Heather Ashley, Ronda Huffstetler, Jerry Christian and Gwen Craig.

To nail down this award, the above board members approved a $50,000 payment -- which will have to be renewed annually -- to the Irving/Las Colinas Chamber of Commerce. Of course, the free eats necessary to capture this accolade were disguised in the board’s resolution as an Economic Development issue. (Did staff of the CCR miss the memo where expanding one’s waist line was considered economic development?)

Also of note was that this $50,000 payment was made on the heels of necessary teacher, staff and program cuts to achieve the 2011-12 proposed budget without raising the effective tax rate.

Since this board item did not reflect details or the amount being voted on in the printed agenda, staff of the CCR had to actually watch and listen to the board meeting to glean the following regarding the $50,000 expenditure. (And this was done without charging the CCR readership list one penny for all the mental anguish!)

Here’s a small portion of the $50,000 “economic development” munching, meeting and eating functions for board consumption: Supporting Sponsor of the Annual Chamber Meeting ($1,250); Gold Sponsor - State of the City Address ($5,000); Silver Sponsor Annual Awards Banquet ($2,500); Supporting Sponsor State of Dallas County ($1,250). (That's $10,000 of chowing down! Someone, please pass the Tums.)

The questions that keep bouncing around in our cranial cavity are: should a governmental entity (IISD) directly/indirectly be supporting operations of a non-profit organization (chamber of commerce)? What will be the actual or tangible product/benefit received for this overly generous “economic development” expenditure? Will only board members or administrative personnel be participants in the culinary “economic development” mix, mingle and nosh festivities? How will this expenditure actually translate into improving recognition rankings from the state for the schools of the district?

Perhaps, the answers to all these questions will be resolved if the Entrenched-5 passes a new district partnership resolution with Jenny Craig.

………………..Mark Holbrook

A reader sez: Fantastic. Anonymous

We Say: Actually, we were trying for revolting. Mark Holbrook

A reader sez: This is incredible. Anonymous

We Say: While true, informing uninformed tax payers would be even more credible. Mark Holbrook