Written by Phil Cerroni
By Amanda Casanova
Coppell voters will have a chance in May to decide on whether to support a $79.5 million bond package for improvements to the school district. The Coppell Independent School District voted at meetings on Feb. 25 to set a single proposition for voters.
“It’s a lot of money, but it’s an investment in our futures and our students and in this community that we love,” David Apple, vice president for the school board, said. “I feel very confident in this community supporting this and I think it’s going to pass.”
Within the package is a proposal for $27 million in renovations to Coppell High School, such as expanding the school’s gym and the athletic field house.
The second largest part of the package is the construction of a $21 million two-story elementary school. The school will be the district’s first Net-Zero school, an energy producing facility, and will feature a rain collection system and rooftop butterfly garden.
Coppell’s proposed 10th elementary school will be located around North Lake north of Interstate 635.
If voters approve the bond, the average homeowner will see a $159 annual hike in taxes, according to Sid Grant, Coppell ISD assistant superintendent.
Early voting on the bond package begins April 29 and Election Day is May 11.
“It is needed,” Anthony Hill, board president, said. “Additional space is needed. This is not something that is above and beyond. Those facilities have been stretched beyond their capacities, but the students and staff go out and do a great job with them and we appreciate that.”
The last bond election was in 2009 for $55.9 million in remodeling, safety upgrades and technology improvements.
Last Updated on Tuesday, 05 March 2013 13:45
Written by Phil Cerroni
To further plans for the development of Irving’s Heritage Crossing, City Council authorized the sale of 20.64 acres of land primarily along Delaware Creek, just north and south of Sixth Street. This allows private investors to bid on the properties in south Irving’s historic Heritage Crossing district. To be considered, bidders will be required to submit a bid along with a design/development plan for the properties that aligns with the vision for Heritage Crossing.
“We’re looking to bring high-quality residential developments consistent with the character and the vision of the region to Heritage Crossing,” said City of Irving Redevelopment and TIF Administrator Kevin Kass. “We know there are a number of investors interested in purchasing the properties to bring such development to Heritage Crossing.”
Bidders also will be required to demonstrate their ability to deliver the projects in a timely fashion and will be required to provide performance assurances to the city in the form of a bond, letter of credit or other acceptable performance assurance.
Upon receipt of all bids, submissions will be presented to the Irving City Council for consideration with the understanding that the City of Irving is under no obligation to accept any bid. The city will retain the right for final approval of the plans, specifications and use of the property.
Heritage Crossing is the 640-acre area bound by West Pioneer Drive, Britain Road, Shady Grove Road and MacArthur Boulevard.
Source: City of Irving
Last Updated on Tuesday, 05 March 2013 13:45
Playbook for Success: Former Olympian, hall of famer teaches women how to be winners in the workplace
Written by Phil Cerroni
By Sissy Courtney
Author Nancy Lieberman is a basketball hall of famer, two-time Olympic silver medalist, two-time National Champion at Old Dominion University, and two-time National College Player of the Year. She talked about her experiences in life and leadership and shared stories from her business book Playbook for Success at the Greater Irving-Las Colinas Chamber’s Women’s Alliance Luncheon Feb. 20, at La Cima Club.
A former Women’s National Basketball League player for the Oklahoma Thunder, Lieberman is the only woman to be named head coach of a National Basketball League level team. In 2010 she coached the Texas Legends, a Dallas Mavericks affiliate of the NBA Development League, taking them to the playoffs in her first season.
“I wish my life on everybody,” Lieberman said. “I was a poor kid growing up in a one parent family in Far Rockaway, NY. I was eight when they were turning out the lights and heat in my house, and I looked at my brother, and Cliff* looked at me and says, ‘We’re poor.’
“I said, ‘You’re poor. I’m not poor. Don’t tell me what I am. Don’t put that in my head. I’m not going to be poor.’ I could feel it in my heart, and I knew that was not the life that I was going to lead, and by the blessings of God, I found basketball.
“I still have wonderment that this is me – that all these wonderful things have happened to me in my career,” Lieberman said. “Every day, I wake up and I open my eyes and I thank God for this day, for this breath, for this moment, for this lunch, for this time in this place that I can be here with you because the alternative is I could have said ‘No.’”
Growing up, her idol was Muhammad Ali.
“I heard him on TV … say, ‘I’m the greatest of all times,’” Lieberman said. “I went in the kitchen, and I told my mom, I’m going to be the greatest of all time.’ I fell in love with this man, and amazingly at the age of 19, I met my hero. In my eyes, I met this incredible person who changed my life, and he taught me how to be fearless.
“Muhammad has the shortest poem in history: ‘Me. We,’
“If I’m a better me, we’re going to be a better we. If we’re a better we, we’re going to be a better they. If we’re a better they, we’re going to rock the world with our love, with our kindness and our generosity, and how we approach every day…”
Philanthropist Warren Buffett has been a friend of Lieberman’s for over 25 years.
“I think every day about his humility – humility is confidence,” Lieberman said. “Arrogance is not confidence. There should be humility in what we do each and every day.”
“Learn about sports,” Lieberman said. “It’s the great communicator; the great connector.”
She called the strategy of sports “an amazing process.”
“In Newsweek Magazine recently they interviewed 20 of the top CEO women in the world,” Lieberman said. “They all played sports. Eighty percent of Fortune 500 companies are hiring women who played sports in college.
“That’s because you can yell at them, scream at them, tell (them they’re) not really good, tell (them they) didn’t come with the goods today, you can give (them) a strategy, you can teach (them) how to win, you can teach (them) how to lose, you can teach (them) how to be a better teammate. They want us; we’re valued. This is a great time for us as women. We can do anything that we want to do, but we must believe that we can.”
She said to use humor and sarcasm in a good way along with the truth.
“There is no I in TEAM but there is in WIN,” Lieberman said.
“Each and every one of you has to be better individually. Give people a reason to follow you. Do it with love and do it with kindness, be firm but fair. Teach people how to be better.
“Nordstrom’s mission statement says: ‘You have the right to be great always.’ Be consistent. Repetition makes you great. Our job as a leader is to give them the ingredients to be great. Give them solutions. Give them some drills.
“Be a good communicator,” Lieberman said. “Tell me what you want, and I can say ‘Yes’ or ‘No.’ Have a passion for something. People want to be around people that inspire them, that make them happy, that are not the Debbie-downers of the world.
“Master the things that don’t take talent,” Lieberman said. “It doesn’t take talent to smile. It doesn’t take talent to execute. It doesn’t take talent to be a good teammate. Those are just core values that we should have every day of our life. Try to be a little bit better every day. You can change how people think. No excuses; no explanations because if you are explaining your excuse, you don’t want accountability.
“Be who you are – good, bad or ugly – that’s life, but be a better you every day. Don’t be a one hit wonder. I wish everyone here intentional greatness, because you can be the greatest of all time. Handle your business. Don’t tell me what so-and-so didn’t do. Handle your business.
If you do that, you will be the greatest of all times.”
*(Her brother Cliff became a dentist and lives in Virginia. Lieberman said she does not use him as her dentist because she fears pain as payback, but she said she hears he’s good.)
Last Updated on Tuesday, 05 March 2013 13:44
Written by Phil Cerroni
By Phil Cerroni
For the past six months, the City of Irving and the Las Colinas Group (LCG) have been embroiled in a legal battle over the termination, in early August, of LCG’s contract to develop the proposed Irving Entertainment Center. After an initial hearing on Oct. 29, LCG re-filed – pinning part of their plea on the assertion that the contract terminated because the City acted in bad faith – with a hearing before a judge scheduled for Mar. 4 and a jury trial sometime later this year.
“Part of that whole scenario of making the deadline was the good faith process” said Bill Beuck, LCG chairman. “It had to be a cooperative effort, and because there was … lack of action of the part of the City, it never came together. It was supposed to be a team effort.
“The fact that we never were able to get the information necessary from the City to complete the full transaction caused the contract to terminate on Aug. 6 by its terms. We believe that [the lack of cooperation] was done with intent to run the clock out so that we could not perform, and the contract [would] end.”
The City’s position, laid out in a written statement, is simple.
“One August 6, 2012, the Development Agreement expired by its terms because the financing had not closed … the City has paid all the draw requests submitted by LCG, and there are no remaining amounts owed to LCG under the Development Agreement.”
LCG believes it has a case because, although the development agreement stated that the contract would be terminated if funds or guarantees in the amount of at least $80 million were not deposited by Aug. 6, the company claims it was unable to acquire the money because the City refused to quote how much it could fun through bonds. That information was vital for LCG to turn the soft commitments from their investors into firm commitments.
“We had no idea how much the City would commit for – all they did was tell us what they couldn’t do – they never told us what they could do,” Beuck said. “The terms of the contract were such that the $80 million was predicated on the City’s participation … the investors would not just invest $80 million without the City doing an investment”
In their statement, the City disagrees, contending that it “timely met each of its obligations in the Development Agreement regarding the financing of the project.”
As the Aug. 6 deadline approached and LCG began running out of time, Beuck claims he constantly attempted to make contact with Mayor Beth Van Duyne about working out an agreement. Van Duyne, Beuck asserts, never responded to his requests and excused her silence by saying his letters were threatening.
“It became very political, from my perspective, and very obvious that … they [the City] were going to let our contract die,” Beuck said. “I kept alerting the City … [that] if that happens I have no alternative but to sue the City.”
The City claims that is was LCG who broke contact.
“The City repeatedly asked LCG if it would (1) adhere to the Aug. 6 deadline and (2) provide its $80 million loan commitment, but LCG refused to respond,” according to the statement from the City.
An aspect of the dispute, although only peripherally related to funding, that LCG believes demonstrates that the City was acting in bad faith throughout the process is the confusion caused by the use GAAP (Generally Accepted Accounting Principles) accounting.
Beuck believes the GAAP accounting was intended to derail the project.
“It is a very different … methodology of accounting, and we were surprised that was implemented … [we] had never heard GAAP mentioned because it requires an extensive amount of work from the beginning, not at the end … it became an issue … after the fact … that’s just simply not the process that GAAP accounting procedures follow,” Beuck said.
Irving’s CFO, Max Duplant, does not understand LCG’s apparent confusion on this issue.
“We follow GAAP accounting practices. That is standard operating procedure,” Duplant said.
Billy Bob Barnett, head of Bb Concepts, the entertainment center’s proposed concessionaire, accuses City Manager Tommy Gonzales of using GAAP accounting to sabotage the process.
“The City Manager … classified the $4.2 million to throw a curve ball so they could mislead the citizens,” Barnett stated.
“It [the $4.2 million] materially affected the way we were perceived in the marketplace, and thus affected the deadline,” asserted Beuck. He does admit, whoever that, “It was more of a political effect than it was, in fact, a technical effect.”
In the City’s answer to LCG’s original filing, it staunchly defended Gonzalez’s conduct during this period. “LCG’s allegations regarding Mr. Gonzalez are nothing more than a smokescreen designed to distract the Court, the public, and the Media from the fact that there is no substance to LCG’s claims” (8).
The initial hearing, held last October, dismissed LCG’s suit for lost profits, but still allowed the company to seek a jury trial for the $15 million they had invested and $24 million for their developer fee.
LCG is currently petitioning the court to reverse its ruling on the lost profits as well as provide a ruling on specific performance, their claim of condemnation without compensation and for the removal of the City’s sovereign immunity, which the City claims protects it from certain adverse actions regarding governmental decisions. LCG says the City’s involvement in the entertainment complex is proprietary, causing it to be treated like any other corporation.
The specific performance is straightforward: the City would have to follow through with plans the build the entertainment complex.
Condemnation without compensation is not quite so straightforward. It holds that when the Development Agreement was terminated, a whole battery of other documents and plans, which were the intellectual property of LCG and Bb Concepts, were unilaterally terminated as well.
“[When] you start then putting numbers on … the value of intellectual property well it could be $75 million or $100 million,” Beuck said.
Reopening the issue of lost profits, Beuck explained, is a significant addition, too.
“These numbers get astronomical … if you’re taking a facility that is going to be making that kind of money over a hundred year transaction. [If] you start multiplying any numbers of millions of dollars by a hundred it becomes enormous.”
Even if LCG does come out of both the hearing and the jury trial with everything it wants, no one has any illusions that this conflict will end soon.
“I want to see the thing built, but if you see a hundred million there, the City’s not going to pay. They’re going to fight it; so it fights on and on and on,” Barnett explained.
The battle lines are drawn and the gangs are getting bigger as both sides rumble towards Mar. 4, and Beuck believes it is too late to avert the conflict by means of a settlement.
“At this point we’re locked in. When you make deals with lawyers and they take it on contingency, settlement becomes more difficult the longer you go … if they see big numbers, then they’re more likely to go for big numbers. From a standpoint of reasonableness, it seems we should be talking now, but I don’t know if that will happen or not.”
Mayor Van Duyne is confident going into the Mar. 4 hearing.
“The facts are simple: they never had any money. As we have said from the beginning, this is a frivolous lawsuit,” Van Duyne asserted. “They are desperate to divert attention from the facts in an effort to manipulate the public. The judge already has thrown out the majority of their claims because the claims were not legitimate, and we expect the rest to be thrown out as well.”
“[The City is] betting everything, and it makes no sense as a businessman that you would go into this Mar. 4 hearing willing to lose everything,” cautioned Barnett. “It could be hundreds of millions of dollars that they lose … it is Russian Roulette.”
Last Updated on Monday, 25 February 2013 09:54
Written by Phil Cerroni
By Amanda Casanova
Along with choosing their elected officials, Irving residents will have 25 propositions to vote on in May’s election. The propositions are amendments to the City’s Charter, which hasn’t been updated in more than 10 years.
Among the proposals, voters will decide whether to increase the Council’s salary. If the proposal passes, the mayor will receive $1,200 a month and council members will receive $900 a month.
The City Council salary was last set in 1998.
Another measure proposes changing City Council term limits from four consecutive three year terms to three consecutive three year terms.
After three consecutive terms, a Council member cannot run for office again, except for the seat of Mayor, according to another proposition on May’s ballot.
Other proposals set residency requirements for candidacy and require a City Manager evaluation annually.
A change to the recall provision is also proposed. A petition for recall for a single member district Council member must be returned to city within 45 days — up from 30 and the deadline for a recall petition for the mayor or at-large district changes to 60 days.
Many of the changes are grammatical corrections or language changes to make the document in line with state law.
“The Charter got a very, very good scrubbing,” Charles Anderson, City attorney, said. “The committee went through every section.
“They were very aware that citizens come in and they see something in the Charter and they expect that to be the way it is, and for a number of reason, that’s not the way it is.”
- 1.City has power to recover damages, costs and penalties.
- 2.Gender-neutral, grammar changes.
- 3.Language change to reflect current operations.
- 4.City can review reimbursable expenses on contracts.
- 5.Sets single-member districts.
- 6.Language change to comply with state election code.
- 7.Council term limits.
- 8.Term-limited Council member options.
- 9.Council member convicted of felony shall resign.
- 10.Creation of deputy mayor pro tem.
- 11.Increase Council salaries.
- 12.Council member must resign if move out of city.
- 13.Code of Ethics.
- 14.All ordinances and resolutions must be passed in public meeting.
- 15.Residency requirements.
- 16.Budget reporting.
- 17.City attorney.
- 18.Changes to recall provisions.
- 19.City Manager qualified to vote after appointment and move to city.
- 20.Annual evaluation of City Manager
- 21.Appointees by the City Council cannot be removed by the City Manager.
- 22.Language change.
- 23.City cannot withhold employee pay for PAC.
- 24.Language change.
- 25.Sets limit on City contribution for retirement benefits.
The election is May 11.
Last Updated on Monday, 25 February 2013 09:51
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