Tuesday, April 27, 2010

COR and AAA bond ratings

When I was listening to Tex Keffler at the HTNA neighbor meeting earlier this month something chafed me a bit. He mentioned our AAA bond rating and added something like "the bond rating people know what they are talking about."

What chafed me was I remembered that bond rating agencies, including Moodys and Standard and Poors, had been involved in conflict of interest and unwarranted optimism exacerbating the current economic crisis. A somewhat spicier write-up is online here.

The situation is so jacked up that rating agencies actually started claiming immunity from liability for their ratings by claiming they had free speech rights like (and no more responsibility than) a movie reviewer. Unfortunately for them (WSJ):

Manhattan federal Judge Shira Scheindlin dealt a blow to ratings firms, rejecting a free-speech defense asserted by Moody’s Investors Services and Standard & Poor’s.

Do those names sound familiar?

I am not claiming that COR's AAA ratings are fraudulent. I do think they are unlikely to stay AAA if we keep up the profligate spending, including elective project spending and overpayment of top officials. My suspicion has been that COR wanted to shoehorn in a huge bond because they know/fear/suspect that the AAA bubble will burst sooner rather than later. I sure would like to be wrong about this.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Early Voting

There was no line in the civic center; I was in/out in about 3 minutes. There were no other voters while I was there.

To be fair, there were projects I would have considered funding on a bond if they were line items and not bundled with other non-essential stuff. If I were the the director of the Dog Pound or Library I would pressure The Powers That Be to put my projects on seperate lines next time around.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch: pro-bond folks are probably not amused that the DMN published an article about Keffler's sick/vacation pay bonanza today. There's no straight line to be drawn between Keffler's benefit package and the bond, but seeing non-trivial amounts of citizen treasure spent that way might irritate some residents who were otherwise on the fence about the bond. Link

Saturday, April 24, 2010

COR employees used to pull Vote No signs?

I'm hearing chatter that COR employees may be:
  1. contacting households with the Vote No signs on their property and/or
  2. removing the signs based on that contact
Can anyone confirm/clarify? FOIA request on a police report may be productive shortly. Trying to pull some RPD audio.

Monday, April 19, 2010

COR library's new system

From (I assume) Cheri Duncan-Hubert in the comments on this C&P blog post:

"Library RFID upgrade is a Multi Bin System from TechLogic at a cost of $450k. But the reported amount of 724,500 is almost double the cost with markups and the lovely 5% capital improvement cost (sweeping, sweeping, sweeping)."
I was in the Library a couple of weeks ago and noticed the self-checkout stand was gone. You know, the one with the "a new printer has been ordered" sign on it that's been dead for at least a year.

I asked a staffer if they'd given up on the station and she said "yes, but we're getting a new system in the Spring." I wonder if there is, coincidentally, a new [self-]checkout system coming in the spring or if the worker bees are metaphysically certain that the bond will pass.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

City bond video on cable access

From the recent COR email update:

2010 Bond Election Video Available Online In an effort to provide information to voters about the upcoming May 8, 2010 Bond Election, our Citizens Information Television Department has produced a video overview of the $66 million proposal. The video is available online at www.cor.net and will also be aired on the City's cable channel.
I wonder if video from last night's Just Say No meetup will get free play on the cable access? It's worth thinking about. Equal time and all that.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Cabjacking in Richardson ends in HP

Dallas police are looking for a man who carjacked a Yellow Cab in Richardson early this morning and led officers on a chase into Highland Park.


According to Richardson police, the carjacker got into the cab in the 400 block of East Buckingham Road, pretending to be a passenger. This was about 12:40 a.m.

Story here.Link

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

"Just Say No" enclosure in Money Mailer coupons

We love our great city, and we love it enough to demand strict fiscal accountability. Go to the polls and vote Against a 10.4% tax increase for you and your neighbors.
The insert references www.jsn2010.com (a yellow page with the text from the flyer) and blog.jsn2010.com, which lists all and discusses some of the project proposals. I think the blog is interesting, as the format allows readers to comment on each project.

If I were on the council and had made a lot of porky promises, I'd think I'd be feeling a bit uneasy these days.

No wonder Highland Terrace gets no love

Oh, man.

After publishing the meeting on the website, physically delivering newsletters with the meeting time/date to every house on every street in Highland Terrace, and at least one email blast, the neighbors at the neighborhood meeting were in real danger of being outnumbered by the speakers. I'm guessing there were 20 residents there, and half of those were HTNA board members or family of board members). If HT votes in those kinds of numbers it's no wonder the city thinks they don't need our input on projects like the MST Gym.

I would not fault the speakers if they opted not to accept invitations to our meetings; the turnout was so low that I cannot imagine it was worth their time. As a resident of HT I believe it was worth my time to be there, if only to hear the questions submitted by the audience.

Speakers included:

  • HTNA board members who spoke about their respective efforts.
  • Button's policy wonk was there to throw red meat to the right. Fair enough; that's the demographic here (for now).
  • Lanet Greenshaw, RISD Board of Trustees, was there to remind us she's up for re-election (same ballot as the bond election). Don't know anything about her, but she seemed pleasant enough.
  • Amir Omar (Place 7, at large) was there to talk about Tree The Town (April 18th, 2pm @ Galatyn Plaza). Gracious and impressive as always.
  • Steve Mitchell (Place 6, at large) and Bob Townshend (Place 1, our member) both spoke. Mitchell more briefly and Townshend in a bit more detail about things happening on the east side. Don't care what anybody else says: I dig Mitchell's jeans-and-jacket vibe.
  • Bill Keffler had the most speaking time: he was on-hand to provide background information on many land/development deals that came up during Townshend's talk; Keffler did a good job job filling this info in. Keffler also made the "Vote Yes on the Bond" pitch. He kept his cool during the pitch, stopping to answer questions or comments that came up. Audience participation was more civil than recent "baby killer!" or "you lie!" scenarios but there was a bit of heat in some of the tax rate increase comments. Others were very neutral and thought-provoking: "is it common for cities to build water towers on land they do not own?" This was a reference to the UTD land-lease-for-roads deal. I was not swayed to vote Yes on the bonds, but I did come away with a greater respect for Mr. Keffler's encyclopedic knowledge of development in Richardson.
  • Non-speaking attendees of note. From other parts of the city: Nathan Morgan and David (DC). From COR: Assistant city managers Morgan and Thames.
If I forgot anyone, let me know.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Oncor admits meter-reading error

But it turns out the error was in reading the old meters during the changeover to the new meters.

If this is true only the first bill should be out of whack.