Archive for April 17th, 2014

I guess I’ll have to follow HISD and be a bit more sensitive. From here on out The Tribe is out and C-Town is in – got it?

George Springer made his debut last night wearing the numero 4. Name the ‘Stros great who also made his MLB debut with the ‘Stros wearing the numero 4?

Here is how it goes. An entity like a city, school district, or community college needs bond monies for construction of new facilities. It is usually in the hundreds of millions of dollars. The proposed bonds are then put on the ballot. Friends of the entity form a PAC and raise money for the pro-bonds campaign. The campaign funds for the most part come from folks that want some of the bond business – law firms, construction firms, architects, and engineers – with the expectation that they are going to get a shot at business.

In 2012 HISD put a kazillion in bonds on the ballot and a related PAC raised tons of buckos from the usual suspects. The bonds won and last year when HISD handed out the bond contracts some folks that had contributed to the PAC were left off the award list. That’s how it goes.

The Chron today has a story on HCC and their bond program. Here are parts:

A divided Houston Community College board has failed to approve construction contracts for its November 2012 voter-approved bond program, potentially costing the college system tens of millions of dollars in fines.

The clock to break ground on building projects is ticking to meet federal spending deadlines that, if missed, could result in fines under a worst-case scenario, HCC’s hired bond counsel, Tom Sage, warned in March.

Some trustees, however, have said the college administration has not provided enough information about projects in the $425 million bond package. Others questioned why the college system wasn’t planning to spread contracts around to more local companies.

Concerned about delays and perceived meddling by some board members, a volunteer oversight committee called a special meeting earlier this week to urge the board to approve contracts for all 14 building projects Thursday.

“This is a gross example of the board trying to micromanage a major job,” said oversight committee member Ed Wulfe, a commercial real-estate developer who has served on numerous local boards. “ … Right now the community is back to HCC being in a state of confusion, and the perception is reality.”

Now here are interesting statements from some HCC Trustees:

Trustee Eva Loredo, who voted against hiring the firms in March, expressed concern that the proposal included only eight firms, with some getting multiple projects.

“We have people out there calling us at all hours every day, wherever we go, and they’re saying, ‘Look, I supported HCC, I’m there for HCC, but I need to work. I need the job. I need the monies. When are we going to get that reciprocation of all that we do for HCC?’ ” Loredo said at the March board meeting.

“So, that’s my concern – that we have such a giant amount of project and yet we can’t pass it out to everyone,” she said.

Trustee Chris Oliver said his constituents want more local firms hired.

“They told me specifically they are voting for the Houston Community College, not the national community college,” he said in March.

What do you think? It sounds like the HCC bond staff put this recommendation together without reviewing the PAC’s donor list. Is there anything wrong with that?

It also sounds like the HCC bond staff didn’t solicit recommendations from Trustees on which firms to use. Is there anything wrong with that?

The bond recommendation lost on a 6-3 vote so I am guessing that there were a bunch of firms that lost out that had influence on at least six Trustees. Is there anything wrong with that?

It also looks like there is a major disconnect between the HCC administration and the Trustees when you lose a vote on an issue like this. Now there is something wrong with this.

Now if the HCC bond staff goes and adjusts the recommendation list to satisfy disgruntled Trustees it is going to look like they inserted lesser qualified firms because of political pressure.

I kind of have a feeling about what is going on behind the scenes and the scenery ain’t pretty.

B-G-O of course wore the numero 4 in his 1988 debut with the ‘Stros.

23,000 and change saw George Springer get his first base hit last night.

Here is what the GM is now saying:

“We got a responsibility to win at the major-league level. Guys that don’t produce aren’t going to stick around.”

I am OK with that.

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