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Arlington Spectator: Dodson Corporate Welfare Deal Approved

The city council agreed to pay $864,673 to special interest friend Charles Dodson by 8-0 vote. That is nearly a million dollars for less than one city block!

Local May 7 Elections:

Four seats of the Arlington City Council are up for election this coming May. However, only two are contested. They are city-wide, at-large District 7and single member district of north Arlington, District 1.

District 1

Kelly Canon

Charlie Parker

District 7

Victoria Farrar-Myers

Chris “Dobi” Dobson

School Board

Only one of the two AISD board positions is contested. That is Place 4.

Place 4

John Hibbs

Luis Castillo

 

Followed by the May 24, Primary Runoff

From The Arlington Spectator, Volume 9, Number 13, Monday, March 28, 2016

Richard Weber, Publisher of the Arlington Spectator

Game Schedule

  • Thursday,April 7, AISD School Board meeting, AISD Administration Building, 1203 W Pioneer Pkwy, 7:00pm.
  • Tuesday, April 12, City Council meetings, Arlington City Hall, 101 W Abram St, TBA.
  • Thursday,April 21, AISD School Board meeting, AISD Administration Building, 1203 W Pioneer Pkwy, 7:00pm.
  • Monday, April 25, Early Voting for Municipal and School Board Positions Begin.
  • Tuesday, April 26, City Council meetings, Arlington City Hall, 101 W Abram St, TBA.

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.

From the Locker Room

 

Council Update

The city council met this past Tuesday, March 22. All the council members were present for the afternoon session, though the mayor left early. Michael Glaspie was not at the evening meeting. The next city council meeting will be Tuesday, April 12.

Afternoon Session

At the afternoon session the council listened to three work session items and did not really generate that many comments and questions. They loved the Communications Strategic Plan, the Fire Annual Report, and the US 287 Corridor Strategic Plan.

US 287 Corridor Strategic Plan

Maybe it’s just me, but I was amazed by the amount of the manure being pitched on the 287 Corridor Strategic Plan. The council was there just lapping it up.

Ironic how open space is still a positive in this plan, but tall building with next-to-no setbacks is now preferred by the council in most other areas of the city. However, that did not stop the study from suggesting there be wayfinding signs, undoubtedly a request from a wasteful spending city council.

Then the consultant called what Kennedale was doing up the road on Business 287 in their Town Center a success. WHAT??? Most businesses struggle poorly and are gone in less than a year.

There was also the suggestion of building office buildings, most likely a request from our council, I guess so all the vacant corporate welfare office buildings won’t be totally concentrated in just downtown.

Understand of course that our tax dollars were paid to the consultant to generate a strategic/master plan that the council will approve based on the council’s desires, the stakeholders input, and the city’s hike and bike plan. This was not a consultant study of what might actually work based on what is there and likely to happen.

The council’s first reading of the adopting the strategic plan will be April 12 after the public hearing.

Other

Keith Melton, the long-time director of the public works department has retired from the city. It was stated that he is now at the county.

The one committee met with the external auditor and they were glowing with the results. The city had an excellent audit.

The other committee reported that it will moving forward with a donation box policy and a vacant structures policy. The current vacant structures ordinance and large fee is suspended.

Sheri Capehart correctly questioned the high dollar use of IT temporaries.

Robert Shepard brought up the TCAP contract currently tabled. He got the council to agree to go towards a bid process.

Charlie Parker wants to revisit the vacation homes rented by owners issue, claiming three current situations in the north.

 

Evening Meeting

Michael Glaspie did not attend the evening meeting. The minutes, executive session items, and consent agenda items all passed 8-0 with no discussion.

One executive session item was the sale of land that was the old Sapphire Project. One has to wonder what type of corporate welfare deal is coming in the future for this one.

The first public hearing was for a tattoo parlor at 6407 S Cooper. P&Z approved it, 7-2. The council threw its predictable hissy-fit and denied the zoning, 6-1. There were no citizen speakers.

The second public hearing was for the Kroger at 945 W Lamar. It wished to expand. P&Z approved 8-1. The council approved it 8-0. There were no citizen speakers.

The modifications to the right-of-way ordinance to “match” the current procedures passed, 8-0. Shepard did ask a few questions. There were no citizen speakers.

The electricity deal with TCAP was removed from the table and then removed from the agenda. The city will be considering other offers.

The council approved $32 million in bonds to be sold.

The council approved the Dodson Corporate Welfare Deal, 8-0. Nearly one million dollars for less than one city block. There was one citizen speaker opposed. He stated the TIRZ dollars being used should fund the cost of the underground utilities of the new downtown library and council chambers. He also suggested that all this corporate welfare was not generating interest in developing downtown, but just creating a crony capitalism environment. [Dodson has already received corporate welfare for downtown projects, and here he is back for more, vs. developing downtown with all his own money.]

Nearly one million dollars to a special interest buddy for less than a city block.

There were three speakers during citizen participation. The first was Pat Kelly thanking the parks department for starting mowing of the Randol Mill Nature Area. The final two speakers were in regards to harassment police activities at a bar in east Arlington.

AISD Update

The next AISD board meeting will be Thursday, April 7.

 

In The News

City May 7 Elections

There are two contested races in the upcoming May City Elections. District 7 is an at large seat, city-wide and will NOT have an incumbent. The candidates are Victoria Farrar-MyersandChris “Dobi” Dobson.

The other contest race is in North Arlington where incumbent Charlie Parker is being challenged by Kelly Canon.

The two uncontested races have the returning incumbents, District 2 (Sheri Capehart) and District 6 (Robert Shepard).

 

AISD May 7 Elections

The one position contested on the AISD Board is Place 4. The incumbent John Hibbs is being challenged by Luis Castillo.

Jamie Sullins, the incumbent in Place 5 is unopposed.

 

KNOW YOUR CANDIDATES – THOROUGHFARE DEVELOPMENT PLAN AND HIGH-DENSITY APARTMENTS All of the Arlington City Council Candidates were asked to answer this one question within a week:

North Arlington has an apartment problem. Most of those apartments are at 22 units/acre or less. The Arlington Commons-Phase I is at 63 units/acre. In addition to the corporate welfare deal the developer asked that the TDP (Thoroughfare Development Plan) be changed. He requested Lamar Blvd be changed from a six-lane major arterial to a three-lane major arterial. What are your thoughts regarding the TDP? What are your thoughts regarding high-density apartments?

 

The responses:

Kelly Canon, challenger District 1

Arlington was “hoodwinked” on the Arlington Commons project. Way back when the project was first introduced to Arlington citizens in a town hall meeting, the reaction was tepid, at best. The subsequent staff report presented to P&Z shortly afterwards, included a statement REAFFIRMING the original Transportation Development Plan (“TDP”) that Lamar Blvd. would eventually be expanded to 6 lanes. All of this occurred in early 2014. Fast forward to September of 2015, and all of a sudden, the developer realized that there wouldn’t be enough parking in front of the leasing office. The developer approached council behind closed doors to figure out a way to address this issue. What happened next was nothing short of “back-room cronyism”, as the decision was fast-tracked to amend the TDP, to where Lamar Blvd. would now be given a “road diet”, decreasing the current lanes down to three, with parallel parking added to the SINGLE west bound lane. What is more unbelievable was that council misled the public in to thinking that the “road diet” was part of the Arlington Commons plan all long. It wasn’t. But because the TDP amendment was fast-tracked, no one had time to really dig into the details, and raise any objections to the idea. And plenty of folks DID object… But they were too late. This is how council gets something controversial taken care of, hoping that no one notices how bad they blundered the whole thing. Every bit of this, however, is a matter of public record (with the exception of that back-room “deal”). As for the high density housing projects we’re seeing crop up all over town, I am absolutely not in favor of them. The high density will put a significant strain on city services -everything from water, sewage, police and fire protection, local schools, and of course, more traffic congestion. This is not a good solution for this area, and had I been on the council, I would have voted against it. Arlington could have handled this better.

 

Victoria Farrar-Myers, candidate District 7

The Thoroughfare Development Plan (TDP) sets out guidelines designed to shape future development, planning, and policy regarding the City’s roadways. Regardless of what one believes about the TDP as a whole or any component in it, the TDP combined with the City’s Comprehensive Land Use Plan, which helped inform the TDP, offer a baseline by which to judge future policy decisions as well as the flexibility to adapt to a changing set of demands, needs, budgetary concerns, and opportunities. When the City Council is faced with decisions of whether to adhere to or vary from the TDP in any given instance, though, it should judge the facts and the merits before it, and decide in each case what is best for the citizens of Arlington. In the case of Arlington Commons and its variation from the original TDP, for example, if I were on the City Council at the time, I personally may have pushed for consideration of other approaches – in particular, I am concerned about the dedicated use of a westbound lane on Lamar for parallel parking. However, the City Council did provide a rationale and evidence supporting their decision to vary from the TDP, and made a policy decision based upon this information.

More importantly than just the TDP, though, this question highlights the continuing priority that the City must place on its roads. There are many “wants” in our city, but we must focus on what the City “needs”. Roadways must be maintained in such condition that they physically can be travelled on, and that they take you were you are going in a time-efficient manner. Too many of Arlington’s citizen face travelling on deficient roads every day just to get to work, get the kids to school, and go to the grocery store. So, for me, a first principle of City government is to ensure that the City’s streets are properly maintained and that City policy regarding any segment of roadway strives to ensure the roadway meets the needs of the present and future users.

As for high-density apartments, I start with the fact that we are big city with a diverse and wide-range of economic, lifestyle, and cultural interests. Big cities have and often rely on the availability of high-density apartments to satisfy the demands and housing choices of its citizens. Given this, as a practical matter, I do not think the City can or should be “for” or “against” high-density apartments. Instead, the policies that the City Council make related to high-density apartments – such as zoning ordinances, variation from the TDP or the Comprehensive Land Use Plan, or budgeting for infrastructure or other capital improvement projects – should be consistent with and further the quality of life in the City and for its citizens. For example, demolishing outdated and out-of-compliance multifamily residences and replacing them with higher-valued new construction will result in a more diverse and stronger tax base while offering citizens more attractive housing options. Similarly, a high-density complex in the urban core or general urban areas of the City may be desirable alternatives because it could lead to a more livable and vibrant housing option for those who choose to do so, while a complex in a more remote suburban area with few amenities (e.g., parks, grocery stores, etc.) may create more strain on the roads, utilities, and other infrastructure without any corresponding benefit for the City.

Candidates refusing to respond: Charlie Parker, Chris Dobson, Sheri Capehart, and Robert Shepard.

 

My Analysis:

I certainly agree with Ms. Canon’s assessment of the Arlington Common’s backroom deal that was a clear case of the city council showing that they prefer their special interest buddy over the citizens. I agree with Dr. Farrar-Myers definition of the TDP being based on land use. I just totally don’t understand how people supposedly with intelligence and educated cannot just look at the situation with a little common sense. The old land use for the Arlington Commons area wasMF-22. The density is now going up to 60 units/acre. So all of a sudden what has been a planned as a six-lane divided major arterial can now be acceptably defined as a three-lane divided major arterial. Can a three-lane divided, with parallel parking blocking the single through lane, even be considered a major arterial?

Can someone be “for” or “against” high-density apartments? Considering most candidates claimed to have researched their decision to move/live in Arlington and list schools as one of the top reasons why, you can certainly possess a for/against opinion. It’s fairly easy to see that what decaying departments have done to the school district. So what is the school district going to do when the decaying apartments’ density is almost triple? It is not very hard to have a for/against opinion. A matter of fact it is totally irresponsible of the current council, knowing now what happens when a heavily apartment area decays, to be approving high-density apartments.

Since the incumbents refused to respond to this question, it is fairly obvious they have a very weak defense for voting for this anti-citizen, pro-special interest buddy deal.


Richard Weber, publisher of the Arlington Spectator, is that rare citizen who devotes time to civic duty and involvement. For doing so, he receives little thanks. Most citizens have more important things on their minds—TV, football, enjoying their retirement, etc. Not Richard. You’ll find him at City Council afternoon and evening sessions, at school board meetings, publishing Arlington Spectator, and helming AARG (Arlington Alliance for Responsible Government). Richard is not welcome at Mayor Cluck’s City Hall, where every effort is made to muzzle Richard and any other citizen who believes taxpayers should have a voice in government. Richard’s selfless effort is one of the things that inspired us to begin publishing Opinion Arlington.

Contact Information:

email at ArlSpectator@yahoo.com

 

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