Council Vacates the DCEDC and Appoints Four of Their Own

Filed under: City |

Proclamations of a transparency and allowances for citizen involvement and input have taken a turn in the opposite direction.

In the July 17, 2012 the Duncanville City Council vacated the Duncanville Community and Economic Development Corporation. In what should be termed “an unprecedented move”, this is the absolute opposite. In fact, this is the second time in less than a year that the council has taken this action.

In the briefing session prior to the regular meeting two items were moved from their agenda order and placed after the City Council’s executive session.

The first item involved Options Holding, Ltd.’s request for a contract amendment to an agreement with the DCEDC to an extension to the dates for obtaining all applicable building permits for the property at 212 N. Main Street. In the request letter, Monte Anderson stated that the extension was being sought due to the “general economic uncertainty along with a severe tightening of available credit has made obtaining an interim construction loan for a speculative building extremely difficult.” In addition Anderson pointed out that the existing tenant’s lease does not expire until October 31, 2012 and they have expressed a strong desire to remain in the building thru the expiration of their lease.The contract with DCEDC centered around a grant for improvements in the amount of $291,917.00. The original contract was signed on April 7, 2011. The improvements are for two-story building mixed use development with loft living on top and living/retail space on the bottom. An amendment to the contract was signed on February 3, 2012.

Anderson had requested an extension until January 31, 2013.

In the June 13, 2012 meeting of the DCEDC the board voted to approve the amendment and sent it on to the council for approval. Apparently that was the beginning of the end for the members of the board.

The second item was for the removal of all the Board of Directors of the DCEDC from office and the appointment of directors to serve temporarily until the time for making regular appointments for all City boards.

During the briefing City Manager Dan O’Leary advised the council that the items were moved to allow for final consultation with the City Attorney before taking any action on the two items.

Shortly before 9:30PM the council had completed the remaining agenda items and adjourned to executive session. A group of about twenty people, including four voting members of the DCEDC, waited until almost midnight for the council’s decision.

Proposed constructions by Options Holding, Ltd.

At 11:53PM the council returned to the chambers to take action of the last two items.

Regarding the amended contract with Anderson, Johnette Jameson motioned to deny the amendment, with Leslie Thomas seconding the motion. After no discussion the denial passed by a 7-0 vote.

Prior to voting on the vacating of the DCEDC Board of Directors, O’Leary gave the following statement. “It is their (the council’s) belief that taking this action puts them in the best position possible to defend themselves legally in a couple of potential and existing lawsuits. This has nothing to do with the existing board members and their performance. They’ve all performed their jobs admirably and ably. This has everything to do with putting the city in the best position to defend its interests, and to defend the taxpayer’s interest as they go forward trying to resolve these complex legal matters.” O’Leary then went on to ask the council vote to remove and vacate all members of the Board of Directors of the DCEDC. Jameson made the motion with Thomas seconding and with a 7-0 vote the board was vacated.

Jameson then motioned to place councilmember Don Freeman, Leslie Thomas, Mark Cooks, and Mayor Deborah Hodge on the DCEDC, which passed with a 7-0 vote.

When asked about the DCEDC having seven voting members it was said that the remaining board would be appointed along with new board members that are typically placed in office in August each year.

With the four council members placed in office, it gives the DCEDC a voting quorum and action can be taken.

The growing concern of those in attendance after the meeting centered around O’Leary’s statement about “potential and existing” lawsuits. This led some to question if the potential lawsuits would center around the contentious relationship some on the council have with Monte Anderson. Another item for discussion in the executive session concerned an audit of Main Station Duncanville, Ltd. which is a Monte Anderson venture where the DCEDC was a limited partner.

Another cause for alarm is the possible rise in expenses regarding these “potential and existing” lawsuits and mounting legal bills.

For a council that, along with transparency and citizen involvement, proclaims that they are a watchdog for the taxpayer and take seriously their fiduciary responsibility, some are beginning to become greatly concerned.