January 14, 2019 Newsletter
City Approves Outside Lawyers to Defend Lawsuit
The council approved the spending of taxpayers' dollars for the outside lawyers to defend the lawsuit over term limits that the mayor and majority of the council would actually like to see win.
How much will it cost? No idea. The same lawyers earned over a reported $100K to fight this in August.
Arlington is a city where citizens are relegated to being spectators rather than players. The SPECTATOR helps citizens know what is happening on the field. Only the few on the in-house team are allowed to play ball in Arlington. The SPECTATOR helps citizens understand the game.
January 14, 2019 – Volume 12 Number 2
Monday, January 14, District 3 Town Hall Meeting, Arlington Airport, 5000 S. Collins, 6:00pm.
Wednesday, January 16, Filing for City Council and School Board Positions begins (deadline February 15 to be on the ballot).
Thursday, January 17, AISD Board Meeting, 1203 W. Pioneer Pkwy, 7:00pm.
Monday, January 21, MLK Holiday.
Tuesday, January 29, City Council Meetings, Arlington City Hall, 101 W. Abram St, times TBD.
From THE LOCKER ROOM
Arlington City Council Update
The City Council met on Tuesday, January 8 for a full day of activity (committee meetings started at 8:15am. Council Member Thalman was ill and missed the day of activities.
The next council meeting is scheduled for January 29.
The first committee listened to planned Homebuyer Assistance Program policy updates. They are considering increasing the cap from $10K to $20K. They then listened to five of the thirteen 2019 Housing Tax Credit Applications. A lot of potential low-income housing is coming, referred to as “workforce housing”. [We are NOT trying to imply Section 8 housing.]
The second committee did more studying of Hotel Design Standards, which is more along the lines of very selective approval plans of hotels in different areas of the city. They are planning on using the National Chain Scale which rates rooms based on price. They plan to require concrete and steel in the future, which adds about 40% more to the construction costs.
“Dockless mobility”, or electronic scooters, was discussed and will be studied more, with potential regulation to allow in the future. Currently, they are not authorized within the city.
The fourth committee meeting was to discuss Procurement Policy/availability & disparity study. However, they did not meet. This will probably appear on the agenda for January 29.
The final committee met in executive session.
Arlington Tomorrow Foundation
The Board of the Arlington Tomorrow Foundation (the city council is the Board) met.
The afternoon session began in executive session. There were 11 items to be discussed on the executive session agenda.
The key item was the Robert S. Johnson v. Jeff Williams, Mayor and the City of Arlington lawsuit.
Robert Johnson is a long-time friend of the mayor and city council members. He is accustomed to receiving his way with the council on any city issue.
Johnson filed a suit trying to throw out the election, claiming the vote to establish term limits was invalid. Our city council will spend/give-away taxpayers' dollars to defend the lawsuit (well kinda), as the majority of the council would love to see the suit win.
The next biggest item is the sale of several pieces of land at 100 S Cooper and properties in that vicinity along Main St. This has been discussed in executive session, so anything I would say is total speculation. This has been on the agenda before but pulled, evidently for more negotiations.
The open portion of the afternoon session started more than an hour later than its projected 3:30pm start time.
They began with the informal staff report. The Levitt Pavilion people want to be able to use the video screen a lot more than they are currently allowed. It would appear it would be for advertising events [and also, possibly, products].
Both work session items (Sandra Bland Act update and Abram St project update) were discussed.
During the possible short-term rental (STR) discussion, it was revealed that the majority of the council does NOT support SUP permitting process that had been discussed over the last several months.
Council member Thalman, a victim of illness, missed the evening meeting.
One of the seven executive session items was selling some of the properties the city has been land banking along Cooper, Abram, and Main (the northwest corner of Cooper and Abram). It was sold to Oakhollow Group LTD (council buddy Mojy Haddad). The whole executive agenda passed, 8-0, with no discussion.
The consent agenda had 28 items. Seven items were pulled for separate consideration. There were two speakers against one of the remaining 21 items, the hiring of the outside law firm to defend the city and mayor against the suit by Robert S. Johnson, friend of the mayor and the majority of the council. The suit is trying to claim the citizen vote on the November 6 election should be invalidated.
Between the two speakers they pointed out: a) the friendship of the person suing, Robert S. Johnson, to the mayor and council, b) the same lawyers that fought against the citizens' term limits in August [for over $100,000] now being used to [supposedly] defend the term limits vote against this current lawsuit, c) the mayor and Robert S. Johnson were part of the PAC that fought against the term limit ballot, and d) Johnson was at the podium last August convincing the council of illegal actions that caused a restraining order to be filed.
Whenever citizens make great points in opposition to the coming city action, the mayor now calls on city staff to respond.
The city attorney claimed: a) the difference between last August and now was that last August the attorneys were used to fight the lawsuit filed against the city's attempt add to additional ballot items, not the item that was on the ballot, and b) these lawyers possess vast experience with election law matters.
The mayor then added that the city was hiring the best, not the most expensive, and Mr. Maxwell should be pleased that the city is hiring them.
[So these are the lawyers that charged the taxpayers $100,000 to accomplish what? They settled the Maxwell suit, where nothing changed from the restraining order being slapped on the city??? How is this not a waste of money? How are these the best lawyers?]
The consent agenda, minus the pulled items passed, 8-0.
Five of the pulled items were to add a water account number to where funds were coming to pay for the item. One other item changed the water account number. These passed, 8-0, in two votes.
The final item pulled for separate consideration was the second reading of the proposal for a cell tower at Mayfield Baptist Church. It was tabled, 8-0.
The first public hearing was for a Quick N Clean Car Wash at 709 W. Harris (northwest corner of Harris and Matlock). Council Member Capehart expressed her displeasure with the existence of too many car washes, but the vote to approve passed, 8-0.
The second public hearing was for an A-Loft Hotel at 4500 S. Collins, just north of the airport and south of I-20. The applicant stood firm against Council Member Capehart's desire for future standards of concrete and steel. The zoning was passed, 7-0-1, with Williams abstaining.
The third public hearing was for a continuation of the downtown TIRZ #1.There was one citizen speaker opposed. He a) pointed to the siphoning of general fund dollars having been going on for 20 years already, and b) the placement of the siphoned money in a fund that benefits people like Robert S. Johnson, who then turns around and sues the city.
Again, the mayor turns to staff to defend the council's coming action, this time the city manager.
The city manager explained how the TIRZ works taking [siphoning] the amount above the base year amount and reinvesting back in the zone/area. Over the last 20 years, the downtown area has hit the “high” predicted goals.
[Over the last 20 years, our homes have increased in values, but we have seen a smaller percentage reinvested back in our areas. We must not only pay our share of increasing government costs, but also the share of all these TIRZs with base year amounts.]
It passed, 8-0.
Up next was the corporate welfare deal modification with DR Horton. They modified the 380 agreement to give DR Horton even more consideration because they will now be consolidating their purchasing division's offices to the Arlington office. The city is expecting the city's portion of sales tax to be $2-3 million.
There were two speakers. A representative of the company spoke in favor, while one citizen spoke in opposition.
The first speaker was seeking support of the mutually beneficial resolution claiming DR Horton is proud to call Arlington home.
The second speaker stated how the original plan [380 agreement] was signed, sealed, and delivered and did not understand why we are modifying it. He suspected DR Horton was seeing an operations improvement by consolidating those other offices here and did not see why we need to change the original agreement.
Again, the mayor turns to the city manager, asking if this was all new revenue. The answer was yes.
[The mayor and city manager's point had nothing to do with the argument presented. DR Horton probably found the consolidation advantageous to their bottom line. The city is making the agreement just to hand away part of their new-found revenue.]
Citizen participation saw four speakers, and a fifth person who turned in a card but did not come to the podium when his name was called.
The first speaker was finding all the stadium traffic troublesome. He does not drive, lives a little north of I-30, and works on Abram. He mostly uses Uber, because VIA has time and day constraints and requires a walk to the WalMart.
The last three speakers were all opposed to allowing any short-term rentals (STRs). Also fun to note were minor points made by these speakers. One said they accepted the sacrifice of putting up with stadium traffic [a reference to the first citizen participation speaker]. Another speaker's comment was the speaker hated what they did to downtown [a reference to the TIRZ downtown reinvestment continuance].
The council is next scheduled to meet on January 29.
The next scheduled AISD Board meeting is Thursday, January 17.
Arlington Commons Apartments Sold
City Still Claiming VIA is Wonderful
On December 11, the VIA pilot program started its second year. The City Council approved the second year of the pilot program [for $2.1 million] on December 4.
When the pilot started, the staff report stated it expected to reach I-20 within four to six months of the pilot’s initiation. That did not happen until September 20, more than nine months after the pilot began. The project has been a disaster and a major waste of taxpayers' dollars.
Even with its new expanded area, it only covers about 30% of the city, meaning the majority of the taxpayers have to pay for VIA, but receive no benefit from it. All of those taxpayers are paying for something that competes against the private sector Lyft and Uber services.
Water/Sewer Rates go UP This Month
The Spectator . ...ArlSpectator@yahoo.com
The Arlington Voice (online newspaper covering Arlington) www.arlingtonvoice.com
City of Arlington website www.arlingtontx.gov
e-mails of mayor and council
mayor = jeff.williams
district 1 (north) = helen.moise
district 2 (sw) = sheri.capehart
district 3 (se) = roxanne.thalman
district 4 (west) = kathryn.wilemon
district 5 (central/east) = lana.wolff
district 6 (all) = robert.shepard
district 7 (all) = victoria.farrar-myers
district 8 (all) = michael.glaspie
city council grades:
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e-mails of the AISD board .....
whole board ..................... - email@example.com
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Reich......................... - email@example.com
Chapa .....................- firstname.lastname@example.org
Walton .. ................ - email@example.com
Hibbs ........................ - firstname.lastname@example.org
Mays ............ - email@example.com
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