Sunday, October 23, 2011

ZAP! #68: Spinning Out of Control

ZAP! #68...October 23, 2011

If the upcoming council meeting (October 27, 2011) was a knock-knock joke, the ‘Who’s there’ punch line could be: “Comerica bank needs another interest payment.”

Here’s an item that should peak you interest or drain your billfold at the council’s next meeting:

** Item #20: For the uninformed, the council is preparing to authorize bids on a piece of property the city owns and plans to sell. (Was this property originally purchased with grant funds? If so, is there a payback if the property is sold?) What makes this highly unusual is that there apparently hasn’t been any interested buyers for the 3.59 acres. Recent reality offerings to sell the property have been in the $4+ million neighborhood. Yet, the city will take a minimum bid of $625,000 for this prime corner in the Heritage District.

What? Why the deep discount? Is there something going on that the Capo of Irving’s Lubbock Mafia doesn’t want the citizenry or council to know? Could it be possible that McDougalville might benefit indirectly from this sale of city owned property?

What many folks may not understand is that the city of Irving is the guarantee for all of the McDougal loans in the Heritage District. If McDougal doesn’t make timely interest or principal payments, then Comerica bank would look directly to the city for payment. Or, the bank could throw the property loans into default if payments are not received. This action, of course, would have a serious impact on the city’s credit rating when selling bonds. Could this explain why the Lubbock Mafia -- with complicity of the city council -- might be acting as a go-between banking function for McDougal again? Will the city be making an upcoming interest payment on McDougal’s behalf? Isn’t it time that someone (Do you think the city council?) actually realized that this financial black hole has a bottom and it is time to pull the plug and cut potential city losses? Isn’t the city council only prolonging what many believe is inevitable...McDougalville is another pipe dream the city council has spent or loaned millions of bucks on (about $35 million) with little or no significant benefit evident?

And speaking of the city council spending millions of your tax bucks, here are a couple more financial gems included in upcoming council meeting:

** Item #40: The city is withdrawing their petition to the Texas Supreme Court as it pertains to the Entertainment Center. (Of course, the gaggle of lawyers siding with the city on this issue might have to start working for a living.) If you recall, the city believed they could con the state out the state’s share of some booze bucks. Does this mean the city is throwing in the towel? Does withdrawing this petition mean that another of the fanciful revenue streams concocted for Billy Bob’s Boondoggle has gone by the wayside? With this in mind, BBBs folks want to present another “show and tell’ to the council at the upcoming council work session on how great their plan is. Here’s something the BBB folks could show...proof that they have secured their $200 million share to fund the Entertainment Center project. Really, does the council need to see another fluffy PowerPoint presentation loaded with hyperbole that leaks snake oil? When will the council admit that the present Entertainment Center project is on life support and some adult on the council should have the courage to pull the plug...and move on to developing a project that can actually be funded and marketed?

Another issue that might be resurfacing on the BBB project: the $4.2 million bucks in “questionable expenditures” that were approved for payment to BBB by “unnamed city officials” and discussed at length when the council reviewed the audit findings for Entertainment Center expenditures. Does the the city now consider these invalid expenditures and believe that BBB should reimburse the city for them? How will Romeo, the Capo’s Entertainment Center mouthpiece, explain this 180° possible shift in city policy? How can he undo all the flimsy rhetoric he spewed to assure the council that these expenditures were appropriate in the first place? Maybe he will lull the council unconscious with another 6-Sigma presentation or divert their attention by discussing all the EEOC complaints that have been filed against the city that he is familiar with.

** Addendum Items # 1 and #2: Here we go again. The council -- led by Santoscoy, Cannaday and Stopfer -- is preparing to spend another ton of bucks on one of their favorite consultants, Dean International. Flip back to the CCRs blog for ER #13 on September 30, 2011, and re-read about the $1.3 million bucks the council approved for greasing the skids lobbying “water and transportation” issues. (The lobbying must have worked out on the water issues, since the Capo and council approved three rate hikes all within one year.) And as pointed out in the ER #13 report, the justification by the council for what is actually obtained by all this “lobbying” leaves much to the imagination.

Actually, if you can believe the “Economic Development” spin the chamber of commerce weaves with city provided bucks for leasing a $485,000 Cowboy Stadium suite, then you can surely have faith with this consultant’s “lobbying” rhetoric as to all that he has “accomplished” in the name of spending city bucks. Certainly, sipping large batches of Kool-Aid always helps the council understand these things better when city bucks are being lifted gifted to consultants.

With a council meeting chocked full of high drama and free-flowing tax bucks, the CCR recommends that you pop two batches of popcorn Thursday night while watching.