Saturday, September 17, 2011

ZAP! #67: Burgers and Burritos

ZAP! #67...September 17, 2011

Sometimes, staff of the CCR just likes to kick back and float down the Nostalgia River. This is what we were doing when we were suddenly capsized by Item #10 on the city council agenda for September 22, 2011.

Remember the good old days when the local chamber of commerce was self-supporting and run like an efficient business? Remember when membership dues in the local chamber were modest and provided all the funds necessary to support activities while also assisting small/large businesses? Remember when the local chamber….wait! When did the chamber transition and become another group with their hand out and on the dole for tax payer bucks? Has the economy and times become so grave that Irving tax payers who contribute their hard earned bucks to a governmental entity (the city) now are required to support the Irving/Las Colinas Chamber of Commerce, a not-for profit organization?

Did we we miss another memo regarding when the chamber registered on the city’s dole status list? Regardless, the council is getting ready to approve $1,675,000 for local chamber operations at their next meeting. You read that figure correctly.

Fear not, the council is ready and willing to brush all this under the rug by utter the two magical words that are supposed to pacify any critic or silence any rational thinker...Economic Development. Anything that can not be explained rationally is couched by how much "economic development" it will provide or bring to the city. Even though the actual measurement of “economic development” is about as solid as Billy Bob’s Entertainment Center revenue projections, the council will sip the Kool-Aid (provided by the city manager and chamber president) and punch their “Approved” buttons right on cue.

Should agenda Item #10 also disclose if $450,000+ for sign revenue on the old Texas Stadium site is still being funneled to the chamber? And if it is, should this city money really be used by the chamber to have a suite at Cowboys Stadium to “shovel” more economic development? How many council members have participated and gone to a Cowboy game to help “shovel” all this economic development? Staff of the CCR awaits their invitation to help the city, council and chamber assist in the shoveling process! But alas, our invite must have gotten lost in the mail...even though we do own a rather large shovel.

A funny thing about agenda Item #10 is that two of the businesses the city touts as “economic development” achievements are the new In-N-Out Burger and Freebird World Burrito establishments. Wow! The staff of the CCR can sleep well knowing that Irving has been saved from economic ruin with the addition of these two marvels of capitalistic-consumption. And if this is true for north Irving, than Delbert McDougal should be given a Medal of Dubious Honor for his all his work and effort to change the old downtown area with a new McDonald’s and Burger King. When does the joy subside? Lordy, increase our tax rate higher so we can wallow in the greasing of the skids the city has managed to do for the chamber and Heritage Crossing.

While staff of the CCR is not certain, we would more likely believe that In-N-Out Burger and Freebird World Burrito moved to Irving for marketing and demographic reasons. One would seriously doubt that these businesses established locations in Irving due to city, chamber or school reasons. Let’s get serious here. These folks want to sell burgers and burritos. And you sell burgers and burritos where people live...that’s Economics 101 for Dummies and not “economic development,” burger breath.

Sadly, the city council is getting ready to pass the 2011-12 budget with the chamber’s annual dole included. The budget also may/may not include salary step increases for city staff.

If salary steps are not included for city staff, then maybe the city manager who is Irving’s Capo of the Lubbock Mafia, can ask a member of his crew -- the chamber president -- to provide city staffers with discount coupons to In-N-Out Burger and Freebird World Burritos. They would probably appreciate this more than a cash raise...don’t you think?

After all, the city manager could easily do this while dining at La Cima to discuss how he conned the council into another budget loaded with freebies for the boys in his “family.”