Friday, October 14, 2011

CCR 10-14-11: Tears Into Jeers

the Controversial Committee Report

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

If you were not originally miffed when reading about the city funding the Irving/Las Colinas Chamber of Commerce $485,000 for the lease of a suite at Cowboys Stadium, then stay tuned. The first layer of the chamber’s onion has been peeled away by today’s DMN article and tears should be starting to form in your eyes. Be warned. A travesty of city spending will soon be generating a tsunami of tears for the tax paying citizens.

For those not familiar, the city provides $2.2 million city bucks annually to the local chamber of commerce. This represents over 74% of the chamber’s total budget. This means the chamber -- which is a non-profit organization -- is hooked to the city’s purse strings like a destitute welfare recipient with their hand out. And what makes this particular layer of the onion even more tear jerking is that $485,000 of this city funding pays for a Cowboys suite by revenues derived from advertising signage (total revenue received is $600,000) at the old Texas Stadium site. There is no question that the $600,000 is city bucks. However, the chamber is very magnanimous...they “pay” the city $10 (that’s ten dollars) to “manage” the collection of the $600,000 city bucks. Probably, the initial “thanks” for this $600,000 sweetheart deal could rest with the former mayor (Gears), Capo (city manager) and chamber president (a “family” member). It is doubtful that all on the council were even aware of the agreement, since the sign revenue portion of the contract was buried in the $2.2 million “economic development” smoke and mirror verbiage.

Didn’t citizens recently read about all the city budget cuts, non-filling of staff positions and 6-Sigma miracles that worked wonders, but still caused their property tax rate to be increased...along with their Water and Sewer rates experiencing three increases all within one year? If times were as bleak at finding bucks as the Capo (city manager) stated, then why would two* members of Irving’s Lubbock Mafia (Gonzalez - city manager, Wallace - chamber president) proceed with the sham of diverting $2.2 million city bucks under the guise of “economic development?” Especially, when $485,000 of these bucks were designed to entertain elected city officials, city staff and other community “players” currying favors from their elected politicos?”

Instead of how many “economic development” bucks have been generated from use of the Cowboys suite, has anyone calculated the amount of political contributions the politicos have garnered from entertaining folks in the suite? Wouldn’t it be interesting to see the publication of names for all those not elected to the Irving city council who have attended the city-paid, chamber-run football suite bacchanal? How much “economic development” did these folks really spin or bring into city coffers?

Of course, the chamber -- when they released the suite info to the DMN (see below link to article) -- provided some pretty charts as to how much “economic development” had been created. When one reads the number of “jobs retained or created,” the question becomes: Were these figures compiled by a Washington, D.C. bean counter working for the current administration? Even if the figures approached being accurate, is this all that the $485,000 has produced? If so, then instead of obtaining a significant bang for city bucks, the chamber/city is sputtering like a wet firecracker.

What many folks may have forgotten is that the Las Colinas development and all that followed happened with chamber involvement that did not involve any funding from the city. Once again...NO city funding! Of course, the current young Turks scurrying around the city desire different perks, flashy venues, sleek wheels and expensive ego inflators. And all of this is good if one can do it on someone else’s dime! The chamber via the Lubbock Mafia seem to have found the dime. Sadly, the dime is $2.2 million of tax payer bucks.

Related to the elected city politicos who have utilized the luxury box at the stadium, it certainly appears that the Capo and chamber president have recruited councilman Stopfer as their newest crew member of the “family.” Not only is he an outspoken proponent of anything chamber, but he leads all the other council bobbleheads in attendance at Cowboy games in the chamber’s $485,000 suite. Should one assume that with loyalty goes “economic development” perks.

Here’s another strange thought. The Capo is in the process of closing two city recreation centers. Why not spin $115,000 from the city’s/chamber sign revenue agreement ($600,000 total revenue - $485,000 Cowboy suite) to keep these centers open for all Irving citizens to enjoy. Of course, the centers will not be providing lavish food items or alcoholic beverages for citizen enjoyment, but then...these centers are not catering to the well-connected elite as defined by those privileged enough to be invited to the chamber’s $485,000 Cowboys suite.

Hopefully, discussion of this issue will be ongoing and around for the next election cycle. The issue is, after all, one that makes you wonder if any incumbent is actually worthy of re-election. Certainly, the city needs leaders who will end this cycle of frivolous spending and abuse of tax payer bucks.

  • Delbert McDougal of the Heritage District redevelopment (or lack there of) would be the third “family” member of Irving’s Lubbock Mafia.

Ed. Note: If you cannot see/read the full DMN article from this link, let the staff of the CCR know.