Friday, March 9, 2012

ZAP! #80: Low Watt Award?

ZAP! #80

Sometimes, staff of the CCR doesn’t have to script what goes into these feeble reports. And such is the case with this musing.

The Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts has “awarded” the city of Irving the 2012 Gold Leadership Circle Award in recognition of -- wait for it -- excellent financial transparency. You just read that correctly...excellent financial transparency. By the way, Comptroller Susan Combs stated that this is the third year in a row that Irving has received this award. Apparently, she has not had access to copies of the Dallas Morning News during this three-year period.

For the past few years, individuals and the local media have been attempting to determine:

  • How the chamber of commerce was granted $600,000 in city revenues to fund a 10-year lease for a suite at Cowboys Stadium
  • How over $4.2 million in expenses for the Entertainment Center were approved by “unidentified city staff”
  • How the Entertainment Center agreement does not provide for any rental increases to the city for 50 years
  • How the Entertainment Center agreement is for 100 years
  • How the Heritage District (McDougal) financial debacle has continued to grow without any significant development
  • How McDougal was able to provide for a Las Colinas condo and not provide receipts for other expenditures
  • How McDougal was allowed to profit on land buys and sales
  • How the city seeks to receive RFPs for Heritage District property when buyers are extremely shy over inflated prices
  • How factual detail is significantly nebulous regarding actual benefits to the city from the Dean International $1.3 million consulting contract
  • How the city council will explain to the general public that they will be on the hook for operating and/or debt service expenses if they attempt to finance $170 million in bonds for the Entertainment Center
  • How a 600-page city budget document seems to be designed to confuse and obfuscate rather than inform and enlighten
  • How citizens can actually determine what is going on with city management and the city council when these individuals very often refuse to comment to the local media or return their e-mail request regarding controversial issues

Is this “award” given for pretty paperwork submitted by the city to the Comptroller? How much time and effort did the city administration render to complete the application for patting their backs? Did the city administration have to submit a large number of empty city council Kool-Aid packets with their documentation?

Regarding all the ominous financial disclosures recently brought into daylight by citizens and the media, the city manager’s claim to ‘transparent financial disclosure’ is about as transparent and revealing as a burka on a Victoria’s Secret model.

It certainly appears that the city’s shining light of financial transparency is dim wattage, just as the Comptroller’s selection of Irving might be dim witted.

…………………...Mark Holbrook