Sunday, August 28, 2016

City Council Can Educate Public on Economic Development Awards

In their August 24th meeting San Angelo's Development Corporation approved a $600,000 economic development incentive for local employer CalTech.  Longtime Development Corporation board member Scott Tankersley works for CalTech as a Tier 3 Services Manager.  He does not sit on CalTech's board nor does he own a stake in the company.

CalTech's website states two people own the company, Will Welch and Brent McCasland.  However, the company does share profits with employees so conceivably a portion of the $600,000 award, should it be earned, could come back to Tankersley in a much smaller amount.  

San Angelo Mayor Dwain Morrison brought back ethics standards for city officials regarding economic development awards.  Morrison served on City Council when standards were loosened to enable then Mayor Alvin New to stay in office while the city awarded a $3.6 million economic development agreement for MedHab.  New served on MedHab's board and held equity stakes in the company high enough to trigger the old rules.

The Development Corporation chose not to speak directly to the public on the rule and how Tankersley's position at CalTech complied with the agreement.  It seemed like a missed opportunity for an organization that practiced deceit not terribly long ago. 

I trust Mayor Morrison to educate the public as to how Scott Tankersley's COSADC board service is not in conflict with CalTech's $600,000 economic development award.  The opportunity to educate is not over.

Update 9-4-16:  The CalTech $603,050 economic development award is on City Council's agenda for their September 6 meeting.  It is on the consent agenda, so a City Council person would need to pull the item for public presentation and discussion.

Update 9-6-16:  City Councilman Harry Thomas publicly declared his son works for CalTech and recused himself from this agenda item by leaving the room.  Staff and elected officials did not share COSADC board member Scott Tankersley's similar action when the item came up for consideration.

Update 9-25-16:  An editor for the Standard Times did what city leaders wouldn't.  The editor wrote "Council member Harry Thomas, SMD 3, recused himself from discussion and voting on the CalTech item as his son works for the company. COSADC board member Scott Tankersley likewise absented himself during CalTech proceedings, as he is a longtime employee of the company."

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