Sunday, June 3, 2012

CCR 06-03-12: Failing Grade

the   Controversial  Committee   Report
“We don’t raise sacred cows...we just butcher them.”
     Hey kids!  The “testing the water” results are in and the Doddering ½Dozen (now less one member as a result of the last city council election) realize that spending $170,000 for a bond rating report* by Standard and Poor’s determined what anyone not sipping special interest group Kool-Aid already knew...the city cannot finance the $250 million Entertainment Center without seriously jeopardizing the entire financial structure of the city.

     When you see Cannaday, Gallagher, Patrick, Stopfer, Webb and Santoscoy, be sure and thank them for the mismanagement and squandering of $170,000 of city funds.  You might also give a few kudos to the special interest folks who lobbied the Doddering ½Dozen to go forward and seek this bond rating.  The PR efforts of LCG and ex-mayor Gears seemed to push the council over the cliff of competence for this Standard and Poor’s review.

     Going against the advice of city staff, the city’s bond and financial advisors, and, yes, those pesky citizens who understood the Entertainment Center agreement better than they did, the Doddering ½Dozen only had ears for those who would stand to gain the most at the expense of property tax payers.  The highly independent Standard & Poor’s report clearly reflected how flawed the city’s $170 million proposal was and the harm that could be caused to property tax payers should the city continue with the agreement as it currently stands.
     Utilizing the current Entertainment Center proposal for the city’s $170 million share of the project, the Standard & Poor’s report pulled no punches.  It rated the bonds for the proposal a B...not even a high B or investment grade.  (Some might consider this rating to be close to junk bonds considering the city’s AAA standing.)  The report also faulted the city for double pledging HOT taxes.  Additionally, the revenue streams and projections of the $170 million proposal were so fluffy that S&P indicated the city would have to look at raising property taxes $ .085/$100 valuation to meet ALL of the bonded debt requirements of the city.  Another item that received serious mention in a separate report was that the city’s 2009 bonds for the new Convention Center were placed on a Credit Watch list...again due to a current shortage of city revenues to cover bonded debt expenses.  

     If all of this bad news sounds familiar, then it is because you have been paying attention, maybe reading the CCR reports and not sipping Kool-Aid while the Doddering ½Dozen was catering and listening to special interest groups...and not the citizens.

     And while sipping the free-flowing Kool-Aid supplied by ex-mayor Gears, Barnett, Cotton, LCG, Margulies, chamber of commerce flacks, and the new Kool-Aid provider on the block, Bobby Page, citizen concerns regarding the project continued to go unanswered.  To add insult to injury, the Doddering ½Dozen apparently has no “Plan B” to implement for  this project that is financially unsound.  Of course, the special interest concerns will fire up their PR machine, float a few new fluffy numbers around town and continue their lobbying efforts of council members who cannot think rationally without drinking their Kool-Aid shots.

     Somewhere along the line, the special interest groups should realize that this is a financial issue for the city...not a political issue to sway just five members of the council.  The city’s finances are at risk with the current agreement...which is more concerning that an individual council member’s political career.  And for the council to grant a six month extension for the LCG to continue to lobby the council and play a PR game with citizens is only detrimental to the project’s ultimate development.  

     What will the Doddering Cinco (formerly the Doddering ½Dozen) do next?  If staff of the CCR had to guess, they will continue to kick the same old can down the road and slather another tube of lipstick on the $250 million financially flawed pig.  As a second measure, they might like to see another fireman -- who could bring a singular agenda to the council -- elected in the run off election to support their shallow abilities to fairly represent citizens. 

     Should they fail to accomplish this in the District 4 run off election, then the citizens might witness an opportunity to turn this project around to where it benefits the city...not just special interest groups and those who stand to gain personally.

     After all, other cities in the area seem to be able to accomplish good things without holding their property tax payers hostage for flawed deals and special interest groups.  The benefits of the Entertainment Center should be to the city...not at the expense or detriment of its tax paying citizens.
*  Note: The two bond rating reports from S&P are found on the following DMN link.