Thursday, January 1, 2015

CCR/DW 01-01-15: The Singing Pig

TO:  CCR Tweet-less 

Here’s what you recently missed by not following
Dylan Westie  @DylanWestie1  on Twit-er.

Dylan's Ruff-ings: Signs you’re losing the argument = you’re ranting, raving, and pounding the table when the facts reflect otherwise.
(Note: The original of the above tweet was confiscated by the Grammar Police and corrected to ensure quality control for CCR publications.)

Dylan’s Ruff-ings: It is so easy to understand why local governance isn’t working as it, cronyism, egos and string pullers.

Dylan’s Ruff-ings: If street corner panhandling is banned, why are monied individuals developers allowed to freely troll city hall w/their hands out?
(Note: word change for clarification purposes.)

Dylan’s Ruff-ings: When city funds/concessions are given to for-profit business ventures, why is the citizens Return On Investment = $0.00? Best use of tax bucks?


PostScript:   Well, dear reader, it's time to rise from that comatose state in the La-Z-Boy, regret the new poundage acquired, stack all the gifts still needing to be returned, and tend to the real mundane events on the horizon.  

   And the first item of business for the New Year (2015, if counting) will be to resolve: What are they thinking?

   Somewhere along the line, there should be more transparency, accountability and public awareness provided when city coffers are laid siege by cronies of the mayor and council members, or their single source developer pals, or city staff —with quasi-unlimited resources —attempting to emulate private business owners. 

   (Note: QueenB VDs fluffy, revised ethics code, for some of these occurrences, seems to be leaking your tax bucks at the same rate as the Titanic taking on water.) 

   The very latest example, of almost invisible transparency, was the hastily called council meeting (with not all council members even being present) to buy another ‘freight car’ of lipstick for the $1.6M Miss Piggy Museum The Texas Musicians Museum.

   (Is a pig with lipstick painted all over their face and squealing sour notes in ‘beautiful downtown Irving’ really guaranteed to attract visitors?  Oink?!)

    Back Story:  The property the Texas Musicians Museum wants to occupy is owned by the city. This sliver of property in ‘beautiful downtown Irving’ was acquired as a part of the McDougal Boondoggle. (Sour note #1.)  This should be a clue the city’s treasury was already tapped to resolve all the legal haggling when the amount was determined for this property.  (Remember, McDougal bought property at highly inflated prices and the city basically paid McDougal for his efforts at crashing the property values for future developments in this area.)

   In reality, the first thing the city should have done with this chunk of land was to raze all the the property is not valued anywhere near $1.6M.   The question becomes: Why would any sane, astute business person or city official want to plow $1.6M tax dollars into revamping a shambles of a facility for the benefit of a for-profit business?  (Sour note #2 and this cost does not even consider the price the city paid McDougal for the chunk of land.)  

   But wait!  There is a silver lining (snicker).  The city will reap $42K in rent per year from the Texas Musicians Museum once all the "green" work (asbestos and ground contamination) for making the facility safe to occupy is completed.  Right, that’s $42K per year!  (Sour note #3.)

   Utilizing the figures currently made available to the public, it will take the city thirty-eight years to realize a Return On Investment for this $1.6M renovation expenditure.  By then, ‘beautiful downtown Irving’ will be ready for its fourth reincarnation after conducting eighty-one more consultant studies on how to make ‘beautiful downtown Irving’ beautiful.

   (Shouldn’t the city council start the "let’s do a study" today on how to improve the Heritage District for the year 2045?)

   Currently, any funds squirreled away and pumped into the city’s Economic Development fund (which is supplied from ad valorem tax collections) can easily be obtained.  If "awards" are less than $50,000, city staff can approve without city council oversight.  Over $50,000 and the city council must approve on a regularly posted agenda.  Additionally, the city staff can provide matching funds (up to $25,000) for exterior refurbishing of facilities.

   Of course, some meetings regarding the "awarding" of these funds are held with those wanting the ‘free’ Economic Development bucks.  Forms are prepared and the project is launched…mostly without citizen awareness or consideration.  Where is the oversight and transparency?  Is the council apprised of all the bucks dolled out if projects are not on an agenda for their approval?

   While staff of the CCR doesn’t usually prognosticate, we’ll step out on a limb for this particular development.  Even considering there might be another beer garden proposal with live entertainment as part of the museum’s development plan, one could seriously question if ‘beautiful downtown Irving’ will really support this venture with tourist flocking to see a personal memorabilia collection.  Has the city council and staff fallen prey to another set of slick renderings, hyperbola and fast talking?

   Hopefully, someone has a Plan B established should (or when) the museum does not make muster.  And this plan should be such that an actual on-going business concern could come in, strike a deal with the city and produce a more than meager ROI.

   Who knows?  In Irving, we may be prepping to celebrate "The Year of Plan B."

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