Monday, August 22, 2016

CCR 08-22-16 No Sense for "Penny Exchange"

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

No Sense for "Penny Exchange"  

  Pennies? Really?  There are still multiple unanswered and unresolved questions regarding the "penny exchange" (which seems to be a highly misleading identifier) being pressured by the Irving ISD Board of Trustees on tax payers for the Tax Ratification Election scheduled on September 10, 2016.
   (Early voting actually starts this week — August 24, 2016!)

   Currently, the silent majority has done little to register their concern as to what this election could pose regarding the future tax rate the Irving ISD will be enacting.  Should one think most folks in ‘beautiful downtown Irving’ are comfortable paying higher school district taxes? 

   Meanwhile, the staff of the CCR has hardly ever commended the Dallas ISD for any of their actions or policies.  However, this board did vote down the Tax Ratification Election for their school district.  Amazing!

   Did DISD run out of Kool-Aid for supporters of their "penny exchange?"  Or, did a few of the board members finally see the future problems the "penny exchange" sham might create on future finances and tax rates if passed?  

   Maybe the DISD board believed the Tax Ratification Election would be a severe burden on future finances.  If that was the case, the DISD board must have discovered the ‘pie in the sky’ of "free" State money might be ‘half baked!’

   And while on the topic of school boards and inane decisions (not the DISD in this instance), how about the McKinney group of ISD board-buck spenders?  The $62M+ football stadium, originally approved by voters, suddenly huddled on the field of unplanned expenses and will now cost $69M+.  Wow!  

   What a play and score the McKinney school board made against school district tax payers. 

   However, without even huddling, the McKinney school board ran a standard ‘Hail Mary’ play and tossed more bond money (even tapped their Maintenance and Operations fund) to cover the increased cost to move down the field and score one more for the special interest. 

   Does the emptying of the bench, for a football stadium by the McKinney school board, really go the distance for achievement by ALL the kids in the district?  Hardly! 

   The McKinney ISD board relied on their tired mantra — when recklessly spending tax payer funds — of everything we do "is for the kids."  Do they actually believe improved test scores, better teacher remuneration, and proper education equipment needs are best solved by a $69M+ football stadium?  Just consider what that additional $7M could have accomplished on the educational side of the field!

      And this brings us back to the current issue at hand…the Irving ISD.

   There must be some unknown method behind the madness of the Irving ISD to rush the Tax Ratification Election on Irving tax payers.  Within a month, the proposal has gone from board approval to a specially called election.  Why the rush?  

   Why not have the Tax Ratification Election issue on the November general election ballot?
   (Oh, the voter turn out is greater in November and the chance voters would be better informed is a risk the school board might not desire to take?)

   While the CCR documented many of the unanswered questions — in the 08-17-16 report available at — concerning the actions of what the Irving ISD board has cloaked and pushed forward on this issue, one additional and important consideration should be considered.

   At their August 22, 2016, board meeting (tonight), an agenda item to refinance current outstanding bonds is being proposed.  According to the agenda, this item will save the district a bushel basket of bucks.  How many dollars?  Well, this wasn’t disclosed in the agenda.  And also not mentioned was where those bucks would ultimately end up in the district’s budget.

   Normally, the Irving ISD approves their annual tax rate for the fiscal year in August.  As the August 22, 2016, board meeting is the last one scheduled before the new fiscal year starts (September 1st), there is no agenda item to set the tax rate for 2016-17.  Why?

   The next scheduled board meeting is September 19, 2016.  Guess what!  The meeting falls after the Tax Ratification Election.  And when the tax rate is set at this meeting, there will be little the already downtrodden district tax payers can do…should the TRE measure pass.

   In essence, approval of the Tax Ratification Election will set the stage for the Irving ISD board of trustees to enact a tax rate which will be unknown until after the election.

   Wouldn’t it be appropriate for the board of trustees to at least mention what the possible tax rate for 2016-17, will be, if the measure does or doesn’t pass, at the meeting tonight

   If nothing else, this announcement would at least allow a tad bit of transparent light to shine on the hastily formed black cloud floating over ‘beautiful downtown Irving’ regarding the  IISDs actions concerning the Tax Ratification Election.

   And the Irving ISD tax rate for 2016-17 will be ________ ?  (Dear readers should start holding their breath now.)

Sign Here:  There seems to be an abundance of petitions floating around ‘beautiful downtown Irving’ these days.  As previously mentioned in the CCR, two petitions — by two separate groups — have been circulating to advise the city administration and city council that trash bin containers should not be a part of the 2016-17, budget now, or in the future for residential refuse collection, "new" development collection, and "enhanced" recycling.

   Newly added to the list of petitions being circulated is one on behalf of Irving’s Community Television Network, or ICTN.

   Holy shades of ex-city manager Gonzalez, Batman! 

   Yes, dear readers, it appears the ghost of Gonzalez is still lurking around city hall.  And if the current administration has its way, you’ll never be able to see this dreaded apparition on ICTN.

   During the Tommy "Do It My Way or Else" Gonzalez reign, ICTN was stripped of personnel, funding and programming.  His actions, while not specifically identified as such, verged on being able to control openness in Irving City government and garner more bucks for his pet projects and cronies.
   (Sounds similar to what QueenB VD would desire…to keep the veil of transparency on her many inane actions out of the spotlight.) 

   What was once a recognized and awarded community television network has been left gasping for air time.  And it appears the current city manager is ready to pull the oxygen line on valuable ICTN programming permanently!

   Even though ICTN is still award winning due to nicely done public service spots about city services, this has been very taxing on the remaining staff and resources due to the diminished funding and functions enacted by previous ex-city manager Gonzalez.

   When staff of the CCR states ICTN will be permanently crippled in the 2016-17, city budget, the "new" city manager plan could further reduce personnel, programming and coverage by employing "social media clips" to replace actual programming.  What?

  One has to assume the city administration believes ICTN viewers are not very intelligent and must spend all day on social media to sate their news and information requirements regarding Irving.  Torofeca!

   If funding for a revised and fully functional ICTN is necessary and required, then why doesn’t the city administration allow (as provided under the franchise agreement) for sponsors to be identified to foot some of the cost?  Maybe this sounds too reasonable and doesn’t fit the "hip" profile being attempted by the administration to look tech savvy.

   Surely, there must be a host of potential sponsors who would want to assist in promoting Irving’s outreach and development.  Some sponsors could even bring a new level of creativity to ICTN operations and programming.

   After all, ICTN receives 5% of the franchise fee the city obtains from the cable provider.  Any additional or required funds are provided by the city’s General Fund which was raided and pillaged by former ex-city manager Gonzalez.  
   (Yes, Gonzalez was a real ‘money grabber’ for bucks to float his personal projects in the city!)

   If you happen across individuals requesting your signature on the petition to save and restore ICTN, then sign the petition…quickly.  The council budget retreat session is August 25-26, 2016. 

   Make your community viewing habits know to all council members and the city manager.

   Who knows?  With enough new sponsors, programming increases and adequate personnel to restore the luster of ICTN to its original major award winning status, Mark Knopfier of Dire Straits might consider foregoing retirement by pressing a new rendition titled, "I Want My ICTN."
   (And be assured, this will not be "money for nothing.")

……………………………Mark Holbrook