Sunday, August 12, 2012

CCR 08-12-12: LCG Ham Sandwich

the   Controversial  Committee   Report
“We don’t raise sacred cows...we just butcher them.”

     Sometimes, staff of the CCR just doesn’t know where to begin with one of these missives.  So, let the fill-the-page game begin. 

     Las Colinas Group has filed a law suit against the city of Irving over the Entertainment Center agreement.  Citizens also might want to thank council members Webb and Gallaway for waxing eloquently in support of LCG’s position by opening the door for them.  LCG didn’t even have to knock on the door for entrance due to the assistance Gallaway and Webb provided.  

     Whose side of this issue are Webb and Gallaway on after all?  Staff of the CCR thought Webb and Gallaway were elected to serve Irving citizen’s interest!  This did not seem apparent while listening to their comments at the August 8th special council meeting.  Do you think they ever heard the old adage that is best to keep your mouth closed and have folks think you are a fool, then to open it and prove them right?  What’s next for Gallaway and Webb...asking their other Kool-Aid sipping partner, councilwoman Cannaday, to volunteer to mediate for the two parties in this law suit tiff?

     Thankfully, five members of the council voted to protect citizen’s interest and did not approve another extension of the LCG agreement.

     Now, all the legal paperwork has hit the proverbial fan.  After reading the 80-page petition, staff of the CCR is still looking for the peg that LCG is planning to hang their hat on.  What will be interesting is: Who is actually being played in this legal ordeal?  Is LCG attempting to blackmail the city into a settlement?  Does LCG really want to continue with the Entertainment Center deal now that TDI is lurking in the background?  Does the LCG really want the financial scrutiny that discovery might bring with this action?  Who wouldn’t want to see the financial records -- that have previously been barred from city inspection -- of some of the LCG partners?

     Speaking of TDI, Bobby Page and Charles Cotton might want to work on their city council audience-decorum.  Nudging each other, snickering and mouthing disbelief while speakers (in opposition to the Entertainment Center contract extension) were addressing the council was not only inappropriate, but causes one to wonder if this is the way folks, who want to assume a $250 million city project, normally operate.

     Hopefully, the city will see this law suit through to trial and not bend to a settlement.  After all, the key to this entire issue might be resolved in the discovery process.  Discovery might actually shine a light on many of the issues, payments and other dealings that have yet to see the light of day.  If staff of the CCR was trained as a ‘CSI Lawyer,’ we might want to review never before seen LCG financial records, or ask some embarrassing questions of personnel associated with the project during depositions.  Items that might be noteworthy to know could include:

  • Cross reference all calls for the last three years between Billy Bob Barnett, Charles Cotton, Bob Beuck, Bobby Page with ex-mayor Gears, Rose Cannaday, Roy Santoscoy, Michael Gallaway and Dennis Webb.  Do you wonder what activity might be reflected prior to any council meeting where an Entertainment Center agenda item was posted or planned to be reviewed?
  • Review the records for any legal work that Brenda McDonald may have performed for Charles Cotton prior to her joining the city’s staff.  Review all of her phone records, e-mail and Blackberry postings during the Entertainment Center and McDougal project period.  As the gatekeeper for all payments for these two projects, wasn’t she also the designated head cheerleader?
  • Review banking records for all accounts utilized by ex-mayor Gears for deposits and expenses for the past five years, and any agreements for office space he might currently occupy.  Do you wonder if IRS form M-1099 was required by ex-mayor Gears for payments to Anthony Bond during the time he was running for office, or now when Bond seems to be another ‘hired’ shill for the Entertainment Center group?
  • Finally, settle who authorized the over $4+ million in payments for the Entertainment Center that the accounting firm reviewed and stated were approved by “unidentified city staff.”  And document the rationale by the “unidentified city staff” member(s) for all these nebulous charges.
  • Determine if any council member or LCG personnel (include in this grouping: ex-mayor Gears, Bobby Page and Charles Cotton) kept notes when meeting individually with council members to discuss, formulate talking points, or position planning on agenda items related to the Entertainment Center.

     For those who believe in conspiracy theories, this last item should keep you wondering.  What if: the city counter sued LCG and TDI on grounds that TDI’s actions represented contractual interference or obstruction with what the city was attempting to negotiate or settle with the firm they had a valid contract with -- LCG?  Would TDI’s involvement constitute actions detrimental to the city being able to hold LCG accountable to the contract they -- not TDI -- had entered into?  After all, TDI was meeting with council members and continually requested to schedule a meeting with the entire city council to promote their dog and pony show.  Just asking.

     As a final ‘shout out’ to LCG, staff of the CCR would reflect that if the real problem LCG experienced during this entire ordeal was with the city manager (who seems to be swirling amidst allegations of cronyism, violating the Open Records Act, using his official position to ‘squeeze’ businesses for personal gain and being a “petty tyrant” with his employees) then maybe LCG should have sued him individually...if this would be possible.

     Regardless, the legal dancing in the Entertainment Center law suit fiasco is off to a quick pace.  The only thing moving faster is the hourly rate of all the ambulance chasing shysters involved in this -- our opinion -- flimsy law suit.