Sunday, February 12, 2012

Minutes Miss COSA's MedHab Elephant

Consider San Angelo City Council's January 3rd minutes, where Council eliminated a ban on city officials receiving economic development funds until six months after they leave office.  The minutes of that decision reflect:

APPROVAL OF A RECOMMENDATION BY THE CITY OF SAN ANGELO DEVELOPMENT CORPORATION (COSADC) BOARD TO AMEND THE CITY OF SAN ANGELO DEVELOPMENT CORPORATION GUIDELINES FOR JOB CREATION ASSISTANCE SECTION ENTITLED ELIGIBILITY OF APPLICANTS AND REVISING OUTDATED CONTACT INFORMATION

How did Council amend guidelines for job creation assistance?
Development Coordinator Robert Schneeman presented background information. A copy of the presentation is part of the Permanent Supplemental Minute record.

Council member Morrison expressed his concern regarding the amendments to the application eligibility criteria noting that the current criteria rules have been styled to prevent elected and appointed officials from receiving funds from the City of San Angelo Development Corporation. He expressly spoke in opposition of the amendment. Council members Alexander, Hirschfeld, and Adams spoke in favor of the amendment and proposed MedHab incentive (item immediately following this item).

Motion, to approve the amendment to the Guidelines, as presented, was made by Council member Hirschfeld and seconded by Council member Alexander. AYE: Alexander, Adams, Hirschfeld, and Farmer. NAY: Morrison and Silvas. Motion carried 4-2.

Minutes usually show the old language vs. the new.  That omission aside, why don't the minutes state Mayor Alvin New's substantial conflict of interest in MedHab, via a more than $15,000 equity interest in the company?

Council member Morrison explicitly stated the change was proposed to make Mayor New compliant.  Otherwise, he'd have to sell his MedHab stake or resign as Mayor and the company wait six months for development aid.  MedHab doesn't have six months, given its June 2012 Australian product launch.

City Attorney Lisa Bowling holds two affidavits from Alvin New regarding his conflict of interest in MedHab.  An open and transparent administration would've produced these documents. 

Council approved lowering the ethics bar on city officials garnering economic development funds.  Next, it tackled the $3.6 million package for MedHab.

APPROVAL OF AN OFFER OF ECONOMIC INCENTIVES TO MEDHAB, LLC, A MEDICAL DEVICE COMPANY CONSIDERING LOCATING IN SAN ANGELO INCLUDING, BUT NOT LIMITED TO, A TAX REBATE, JOB CREATION GRANT, BUILDING RENOVATION GRANT, AND LEASE ASSISTANCE
Once again, City leaders did not come clean on the Mayor's MedHab holdings, much less his position on MedHab's Board of Directors.  Here's their summation:

Community and Economic Development Director Shawn Lewis and Economic Development Coordinator Donna Osborne presented background information. A copy of the presentation is part of the Permanent Supplemental Minute record.

Councilmembers Hirschfeld, Alexander, Silvas, and Mayor Pro Tempore Farmer spoke in favor of the incentive.

Motion, to authorize the incentive, as presented, was made by Councilmember Adams and seconded by Councilmember Hirschfeld. AYE: Alexander, Silvas, Adams, Hirschfeld, and Farmer. NAY: Morrison. Motion carried 5-1.

The minutes fail to indicate the total incentive approved for MedHab.  Once again, there's no mention of Mayor New's stated conflict of interest from filed affidavits.

While Mayor New visited Australia, possibly on MedHab's behalf, an elephant wandered freely in Council chambers.  Few would talk, much less write, about it.

I shouldn't be surprised the City Clerk scooped up it's offal.  Otherwise, how could Council minutes be so pristine?

I've seen sparser sets of minutes, but none on such a weighty decision, ethically and financially.  Surely, San Angelo's leaders can do better.

2 comments:

JWT (ConchoInfo Blogger) said...

The video taken is an official record of the meeting. It can be requested from the city with a public information request even after it's no longer on channel 17.

PEU Report/State of the Division said...

One shouldn't have to watch six hours of an official record to see the major points/arguments made and specific motions voted upon.

A paper version of complete meeting record is a transcript. Minutes are distinctly different.

That said, I'm glad the video is there for complete reference. I hope when we play the MedHab meeting in six years, us naysayers are proven wrong.