Wednesday, September 3, 2014

CCR 09-03-14: Waiving to Friends

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

     Proctor and Gamble® has notified QueenB VD they would like to have all of the paper work associated with producing the queen’s new/revised/redundant/superfluous ethics policy.  (Remember, this new ethics policy was recently adopted and signed by the queen on August 7, 2014.) 

     It seems P&G has run out of paper to make Charmin© tissue and would like to recycle all the pulp and blather associated with producing the queen’s masterpiece of political pandering…otherwise known as ‘her’ ethics policy.  P&G believes this would, at least, be a better use of the pulp and also be a ‘green’ star for Irving’s environmental report card.

    Why is this request by P&G timely?  Short answer: At the September 4, 2014, city council meeting, QueenB VD will have her first opportunity (unless she decides to zip ‘out of town’ during another major citywide event) to vote to "waive the conflict of interest"1 of the city’s ethics policies.  The issue will be Item #16 on the city council agenda.  Wonderful…already waiving what is on the books!  (Could this be a new city record in backpedalling?)

     A Bit of Redundancy for Slower Readers:  The August 3, 2014, CCR report detailed how the property/building owner of the old Big State site had met with city officials (June 26, 2014) and hashed out a proposal for the city to fund 37%, or $202,000 of the facilities renovation cost through General Fund (property tax bucks) subsidies.  The August 7, 2014, city council meeting featured an item requesting $75,000 to pave the parking lot for the property/building owner utilizing these General Fund bucks.  (City staff can approve up to $50,000  of these funds without council approval!)  This measure was approved by the council.  (Any conflict of interest with this vote?  Just asking.)

     Community reaction to the city spending tax funds for a private business venture prompted a request to the CCR to publish an "update" on the issue.  The CCR did publish, on August 12, 2014, a report wherein we noted (as conveyed by the property/building owner who also currently serves on the city’s Planning and Zoning Commission) that: 1) The 37% or $202,000 city participation for funding the renovation of Big State had been taken off the table; and 2) The $75,000 for the paving of the parking lot would be the only city funds requested for this project renovation.  

     Knowing this, staff of the CCR felt comfortable issuing an updated progress report on the Big State renovation project.  Staff of the CCR sent a note to the property/building owner reflecting an 'update' had been sent to the readership list of the CCR.  The next day, this individual said "thanks for setting the record straight."  

     Otherwise, the CCRs original concerns of using General Fund tax revenues for a private business venture would have remained the same had the 'update' not been sent.

     For Faster Readers:  It now appears the updated CCR report was left hanging in the wind!  The upcoming agenda item for QueenB VD this week, while sipping Tea, will be to vote to ‘waive the conflict of interest’ policy for the property/building owner of the Big State site and approve a $25,000 payment to his lessee of the facility for "refurbishing of the historic landmark sign on the Big State building."  (BTW: Isn’t the ‘historic’ sign actually the property of the current Big State property/building owner and not the lessee?  And according to city policy, the property owner has to issue consent to the city for a tenant to request any city funding for renovation purposes.)

     Since no member of the CCR has legal training (or formal writing training for that matter), we are confident enough loop holes and weasel words could fly forth from QueenB VD giving her blessing to this conflict of interest waiver.  After all, the property owner is a campaign contributor and sitting member of the Planning and Zoning commission.  Additionally, photo ops for her are on the horizon with the grand opening of this project.

     (If passed, the total amount approved -- that the CCR knows about -- by the council for the Big State renovation would be $100,000.)  

     However, there might be one problem with granting this waiver: Will the now slippery slope of her ethics reform, with this council approval, make the ethics slope even more glassy?  This approval could set in motion a serious precedent for the queen’s other campaign contributors/supporters when they come before her throne.  What about: the Whistle Stop farmer’s market/food truck/beer garden proposal?

     On second thought, QueenB VD should just tell P&G to forgetaboutit ethics-pulp for making Charmin® tissue paper with her policy reform documents.  Won’t she need all of this pulp to print queenly waivers for sugar daddy contributors, special interest concerns and developer picks…especially the single source developer-type who might be interested in building a Tennis Center on the old Texas Stadium site for her?

………………………Mark Holbrook 

1. The Code of Civil and Criminal Statues of the City of Irving, 16-11, Conflict of Interest Prohibitions

PostScript:  For the record, the CCR has continuously been supportive of the lessee of Big State for his dedication and commitment to the renovation and re-opening of a burger joint in ‘beautiful downtown Irving.’  The venue is wanted and needed.  However, staff of the CCR continues to have serious heartburn when General Fund tax dollars are used to line the pockets of private business ventures playing and milking the system/city for incentives and freebies.  Even a good burger and Prilosec® cannot overcome this type of wallet-burning sensation.  MH