I like to tell the story about my best friend. He was a prominent downtown lawyer. He was an SMU law school graduate, very smart, witty, and handled many high profile cases. I saw him many times being interviewed on network TV. He was a great lawyer.......but I wouldn't want him to take my appendix out. Ya gotta keep square pegs in square holes. I thought we had that base covered with our consultants. Unfortunately, they were hijacked by our previous city manager and it's my belief we got what she wanted, not what was needed.
Now, with that over, let's get into the Villages of Rowlett "deal." As I have written before, from a marketing point of view, I support this or any similar project as the Villages. I think The Villages will be a marketplace homerun. However, there is some malingering apprehension. For example, I was comfortable with our proposed partners until I saw they had a previous relationship with our ex-city manager. Coincidence? How about this: We searched high and wide and spent a lot of money looking for a Chief of Police. After many applicants and much vetting, Lo and Behold!! There was our applicant in Desoto, with a long relationship with our ex-city manager. Coincidence? Our new City Secretary was "extensively researched by a consultant at no small cost, and Lo and Behold!, there she was, right in Desoto, the previous employer of our ex-city manager. Coincidence? I have nothing against our police chief. In fact, what I hear is that he's a good guy and is doing a good job. Our city secretary seems qualified and seems to do her work. I don't have anything against either of them.......but I don't believe in coincidence. I really don't like being manipulated. I wish there had not been a page #381 in the city council packet of May 20, 2014. I did not need to know that the developers of The Villages had an earlier relationship with our ex-city manager..
Let's start with some rhetoric of the staff report on The Villages. What terrible writing. It was clear the author(s) did not spend a lot of time in English Composition or Journalism School. The true issues to be communicated are costs, informing the citizenry of the terms of the deal, and what the taxpayer's true investment might be. It requires communication skills. I believe much reported on the staff report to be wildly confusing and unclear. Almost any paragraph in the staff report will do, but let's start with a passage from page 5 of the staff report:
It meets the full intent of the FBC, and is aligned with the original vision for “Downtown” as noted in the Comprehensive Plan. Thus, City participation is in line with the statements outlined in both the Comprehensive Plan and the Strategic Downtown Plan regarding the need to “remove barriers to investment” and the importance of looking at all individual projects as contributing to the City’s overall success.
Let's try another passage on page 4.
"As a matter of perspective, the decision towards this Development Agreement and other Economic Development assistance like it started in September 2010 when the City set out to update the Comprehensive Plan. From that point forward the Realize Rowlett 2020 process was driven by the Community’s vision and the goal to provide long-term fiscal sustainability for the City."
Now, how's that for clarity? Can anybody tell me what in the hell the above means? What terrible writing. The entire report was an example of writing in superlatives. It was basically "how great we are" propaganda........and propaganda is exactly the right word. It was highly manipulative. Staff was "selling" the project to council. That's not their job. They are to provide facts and let council ask questions. To the best of my knowledge, none on staff has ever been an appraiser, a loan officer, or a developer. Staff made comments and offers of opinions about values in which they are not qualified to assess. Their cost studies and estimated investment amounts were abysmal and misleading.....perhaps by design. They need to stick to the facts.......without opinion. The current city manager needs to hire someone that knows how to write a loan committee brief. They know what to say. The City Council then would become a type of loan committee. That would be great. It would be the correct disciplines.
So, the presentations are poorly written, in my opinion. I don't see how City Council ever knew what they were voting on. Next comes the staff's presentation of investment by Rowlett taxpayers. The writing of the staff report is highly irritating, but the numbers are where the real deception starts. They will be in my next post. Stay tuned in.