Written by Staff
So Irving no longer has a real bookstore because of e-Readers. The two bookstore chains that recently left Irving have dozens of thriving locations in area towns wealthier than Irving. So why is Irving so blessed to be bookstore free?
The truth is Irving's retail base has collapsed. The S&L collapse’s effect on the region started the decline thirty years ago and poor Irving Chamber of Commerce leadership furthered the problem in the years that followed. In recent years retailers increasingly refused to do business here because the population is no longer middle class. Currently, obstinate elements of the City Council refuse to finish developing the Convention Center area voters decided to build in 2007 or seemingly do anything with old Irving redevelopment or the former stadium site.
But don't run stories claiming Irving is 'too technologically advanced' to have bookstores. Next we'll be reading stories that Irving is 'blessed' to have to drive all over North Texas to buy high quality groceries, clothes, furniture, appliances, electronics, and even swimming pool cleaning supplies!
Last Updated on Tuesday, 16 July 2013 00:16
Written by Staff
To Irving Citizens:
Like most everyone, I want an Entertainment Center in Irving. Not for me, but for the good of Irving. However, I don’t think we have to “give away” the choicest location in Irving in order to make a deal. I believe we can make a deal on legitimate and reasonable business terms where Irving has a choice not only about developers but about terms of the deal and return on investment.
While the Supplemental Agenda contained only three items numbered 35, 36 and 37, what actually comprisedthe packets kept changing. It changed as late as 10:00 p.m. on Tuesday night before the Work Session on Wednesday. I ask you how the staff is supposed to digest and recommend any item which it has not held at least a week in advance. Why were these items placed on a “supplemental agenda”? There is an MOU in place with ARK that won’t expire for another month. LCG is pushing and ARK is pushing to settle a lawsuit. LCG stands to lose everything if the judge sets a court date and tosses the case, which is a very real possibility. ARK stands to lose their “hold card” if the case is tossed or settled without them. So they push. Irving stands the most to gain by waiting out the court.
All three legal voices of Irving, the City Attorneys, the outside legal Counsel advising us on LCG matters, and our Bond Counsel all advised us against entering this contract. Yet, staff put it on the supplemental agenda with a recommendation.
Put all that aside and take a quick look at what is really at stake. Irving has a prime piece of property, one we have spent billions on, preparing it for success. We put our money here in this property with DART and the Convention Center and the Hotel rather than bid to keep the Cowboys. This is our diamond, our star. Yet, we seem to want to give it away after all we have done to make it what it is.
This developer is asking us to give it to him, and along with it, provide parking and walkways. In this deal the City would give ARK, the developer, 40 years of ALL excess Brimer tax which is currently averaging approximately $4.2M per year. (Project that figure and see where it leads.) In addition they are asking for all Tiff money for 40 years! The City would collect no property tax because we would own the property. We would agree to give up all state and local sales tax. We also would agree to give up all mixed beverage tax collected. And we would get no fees from any of the parking we built! To top it all off, the contract is for a 99 year lease. To try and skirt provisions in the Charter, they give the opportunity of renewal every 30 years AT THEIR OPTION or our purchase at the market value of the day! We have no choice in the matter at the 30 year intervals. In other words, we have no options and there is no revenue source that we have not given up. For all practical purposes, it is a 99 year lease for which they pay $1 per year for the first 30 years. There is no return on our investment. The ROI is 0.
In addition to these figures being ludicrous, there are other provisions that are illegal by our Charter. The City is prohibited by Charter from binding any future Council for more than 30 years. We cannot give up 40 years of anything. It also seems that the way the 99 year lease is constructed is a violation because is circumvention of the intent of the charter. Thirty years is the maximum amount of time that the council can commit and then it MUST be renegotiated.
We have no say or control over what goes in this EC. We have no control over the process because ARK struck the audit clause. In addition they will not provide an anti-assignment clause, meaning that they could assign or sell the project at any time without our consent or approval. We could have LCG back, a company we engaged in legal battles or someone equally as bad or worse.
ARK will only guarantee 100,000 visitors per year. LCG guaranteed 9,000 visitors per day. That is a huge discrepancy! Again we are getting nothing. Only 50,000 square feet of restaurant space is allotted, and we have absolutely no control over what restaurants go there or who the proprietors are.
The City has required no business plan or market study from ARK. Who does business like that? The City has no oversight over the project, no say in its future and no control over its vendors, yet we own it. There was no RFP. This is wrong. All of this is wrong. We are trying hard to make the same mistake twice – get ourselves into a very bad contract where we have no ROI, no control, no audit rights, and a distinct possibility for legal action. We need to be writing the contract. We do not need to be signing a contract that the developer is writing.
Members of council have repeatedly asked staff to provide them with materials and information regarding other meaningful developers that the City of Irving has contacted; other venues around the country and their successes or failures; expected ROI (rate of return) on this venture; ARK’s actual qualifications (not their financials) such as other projects of this type that they have completed and their success, any other development projects, etc.; and market comparisons such as debt ratios, project costs, projected revenues, and city participation models. Yet, the staff has not done this, and they (Tommy Gonzalez, et.al.) feel the need to jump the gun and recommend this project with immediacy, even as incomplete and one sided as it is.
If on Wednesday or Thursday the Council voted to postpone any action, you can thank those who voted against this deal. You can encourage those who supported this zero return deal to stop pushing and look for the “right” deal, one that brings the City money, not costs the City money. This is not a good deal for us, at least not now or yet. If on Thursday, the Council voted to forge ahead, you can rest assured that we are jumping into another nightmarish deal with no hope of returns for the City. You can encourage your Council to stop at the next juncture because there will be one…. There are too many holes in this contract for it to stand as it is. Please encourage all Council to look around and see the mistakes that other cities are paying for and keep Irving from making the same ones. Please encourage your council to wait for what the attorneys tell us with much assurance will be a positive and speedy judgment for Irving in the LCG lawsuit where we will owe nothing at which time we can deal freely with ARK or any developer and not with one hand tied behind our backs as we find ourselves doing currently.
Jacqualea Cooley and Joyce Pittman
Last Updated on Tuesday, 16 July 2013 00:15
Written by Staff
1952 – 2013 (give or take a few years in between)
This year I am saying goodbye to the Irving School System. From September 1952, when we moved to Irving from Raleigh, NC, and I enrolled in Shultz (then Called East Ward School) Elementary, until my granddaughter recently graduated from MacArthur High School I have spent many years being involved with Irving Schools.
I was lucky enough to be in the first seventh grade class of the brand new Irving Junior High in 1954 – graduating from there in 9th grade (there were 3 grades in Junior High back then). Then it was on to Irving High until graduating in 1959.
My siblings were enrolled then in Paul Keyes Elementary, Crockett Junior High and the new Irving High School on O’Connor Road until my youngest sister graduated in 1979, and I often attended open houses, concerts, etc.
There were 10 years of no school involvement until my oldest daughter was enrolled in Barton Elementary in 1969, followed by my other two daughters in 1973and 1977. All three girls continued on though Crockett Junior High and Irving High, until my youngest graduated from Irving High in 1991. During those years, I was even more involved with the schools – being a room mother, band parent, and even working as a teacher’s aide at Barton Elementary for a year.
In 2000, my oldest granddaughter enrolled in kindergarten at Thomas Haley Elementary, then on to Sam Houston Junior High and into MacArthur High, providing me with 13 more years of following the Irving Schools programs and activities. Her recent graduation has put an end to my many years of involvement with the Irving Schools.
I must say that thing have changes dramatically – from 3 elementary schools, one junior and one senior high school in the early 1950’s, to 4 high schools, 1 career center, 8 middle schools, 20 elementary schools, 3 early childhood centers plus 4 special learning centers today. The population of Irving when we moved here was around 2,000, and now is over 200,000. With so many students today, the schools have had to make significant changes to accommodate the various ethnic groups, life styles, and major increase in population numbers.
We started out using pencils, ink pens, lined notebook paper, slide rules, and book bags with most assignments written on chalk boards or passed out on mimeographed papers. Today’s work is done mostly on computers – using dry erase boards and video technology as teaching tools, with back packs being the chief method of carrying supplies around. Teachers still have a challenging job and much more record keeping than in the old days.
I have enjoyed all the years I have spent with Irving Schools and hope in the future the system will continue to grow and improve to meet all the students’ needs in the ever changing world of education
Nancy Dillon Block
Irving High Class of 1959
Last Updated on Tuesday, 16 July 2013 00:14
Written by Contributor
The sale of assault rifles to the general public must be banned.
My brother, James B. Evans, a Riverside, California Deputy Sheriff, was killed in action by bank robbers in Norco, California on May 9, 1980. The robbers were armed with assault weapons, including AR15s, and drove through Norco and the nearby mountains shooting everyone in sight, including children riding their bicycles. The facts below are taken from the website of the Riverside County Sheriff’s Deputy Association (www.rcdsa.org/norco robbery/story1.html ). The site contains a descriptive story, plus a three-part Youtube training video with actual footage of the event. The video is used across the country to train law enforcement officers.
Article by Shirlee Pigeon:
• 1 bank robbery
• 1 25-mile running gun battle from Norco to the San Bernardino foothills
• 33 patrol cars damaged or completely destroyed
• 1 sheriff’s helicopter shot down
• Numerous civilians shot at
• 2 robbers dead
• 3 robbers imprisoned, life without parole
• 8 wounded Deputies — Heroes all
• 1 dead Deputy — Hero
In addition, I was told by a Norco resident that over 60 people received gunshot injuries during this horrific event.
I miss my brother everyday and do not wish others to have to suffer through the same sudden and senseless death of a loved one. We are all in danger of being an innocent bystander when assault weapons are readily available by sale, theft, or transfer. Police are helpless to protect us against the powerful damage rendered by these weapons before they can arrive at an active scene to help.
Kay Evans Schecht
Last Updated on Monday, 08 April 2013 12:09
Written by Contributor
Steve's stance is admirable. A couple of years ago I contacted the Lady in charge of language to discuss English immersion instead of bi-lingual education. She was adamantly opposed to any change because of "the culture."
I tried to explain that if Hispanics truly wanted their children to excel in a world of spoken English, it must begin at home. No longer could the father of the house order and speak to waiters in fluent English, and then revert to speaking Spanish at the table as soon as the waiter left. My take is that the parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles must speak English in the presence of these children . . . if they are to excel . . . no . . . if they are to survive. She was incensed at my suggestion. As long as Hispanics maintain this attitude, Hispanic children don't have a chance!
Steve Jones is merely trying to speak the truth. What does he get for the effort? Censure. Shame on you board!!! Shame on you. Only if we had more men as courageous as Mr. Jones, to speak the truth, regardless of the consequences. Mr. Jones is my man. He is a man of tremendous character. Try as you may to destroy him, you will not succeed! Truth is difficult to defeat, and Steve is a man of truth. God bless him in this effort to rise above the trivial, the mean, the lie!
Last Updated on Monday, 08 April 2013 12:08