Saturday, April 08, 2017

San Angelo's Town & Country to Stripes to ?


San Angelo Live teased readers with the prospect of 7-Eleven taking over the town through a buyout of Stripes convenience stores. 

Town and Country Food Stores sold out to Susser Corporation in 2007.  New owners re-branded convenience stores with the Stripes name.

Susser monetized the company by selling a portion to Wellspring Capital Management and planned to spin off its petroleum supply business in 2012.  Susser sold all its divisions to Sunoco LP/Energy Transfer in 2014.  

A new moniker is on the horizon as Sunoco plans to sell separately San Angelo's Stripes stores, along with 200 odd stores that didn't make the cut for 7-Eleven ownership.  Two days ago the company reported:.

Assets being sold to 7-Eleven include approximately 1,110 convenience stores in 19 geographic regions primarily along the East Coast and in Texas, and the associated trademarks and intellectual property of the Laredo Taco Company and Stripes.  As part of the transaction, SUN will enter into a 15-year take-or-pay fuel supply agreement with a 7-Eleven subsidiary under which SUN will supply approximately 2.2 billion gallons of fuel annually.  This supply agreement will have guaranteed annual payments to SUN, provides that 7-Eleven will continue to use the Sunoco brand at currently branded Sunoco stores and includes committed growth in future periods.

Approximately 200 convenience stores in North and West Texas, New Mexico and Oklahoma will be sold in a separate process
San Angelo's Stripes stores will learn of their new owner before the end of the year.  I wonder if former Town and Country CEO Alvin New will pull together an investment group to bid on the 207 stores 7-Eleven did not buy.  New is behind the Jack's convenience stores in San Angelo.  Might Stripes get jack'd?

Wednesday, April 05, 2017

Water Department Needs $25 Collection Fee


San Angelo City Council talked water finances without referring to the city's most recent comprehensive annual financial report (CAFR).  The issue concerned the $25 late fee charged by the Water Department for late bills.  City Councilwoman and Mayoral Candidate Charlotte Farmer said the late fee was intended to help with conservation.  Council incentivized citizens to conserve years ago with a 45% rate hike.  It worked amazingly well.   


The city doubled down on rate increases with its five year plan to hike rates another 55%.  Money is flowing in.  The 2016 CAFR shows the city had $27.4 million in water and sewer fund investments (on page 31).  It also showed both the water and sewer funds had a great year.

Yes, the city is building reserves to fund future capital projects but it behooves council to recall that significant dollars are being generated that end up in a bucket different from the targeted 75 day cash position.  Could the city have hit the 75 day target if it did not put such a large amount, $9,744,418 into investments (page 33)?

Saturday, April 01, 2017

Council to Deliberate Lease for 1146 City Farm Road


San Angelo's City Council will take up a lease the city has for 1146 City Farm Road in Executive Session on Tuesday.  The Tom Green County Appraisal District shows this address to have 651 acres with no buildings or improvements.  A search of the city's website produced no results for this address.


Not far from this address is a lease the city negotiated with OE Renewables for a 143 acre solar energy production farm.


The city approved the OE Renewables lease in August 2014 and expanded the amount of property in May 2015.  That project is at least six months overdue and there's been no word from the City or City Council on its status.


The property leased to OE Renewables overlaps with a 2012 proposed lease between the city and Lucas Off Road Racing.  That $1 annual lease was for 100 acres in the City's Industrial Park.  That project never came to fruition.

It's not clear when or if citizens will learn the issues regarding 1146 City Farm Road.  Last month City Council took no action in Executive Session on the Spillman contract.  Later that day the city announced it was suing Spillman for $3.875 million.   One would think projected attorney's fees would total more than $50,000 and need City Council's approval to go forward with the Spillman lawsuit. 

I doubt 1146 City Farm Road has anything to do with Lucas Off Road Racing or OE Renewables Solar Farm.  It's too far away from property shown in prior proposals to City Council.  There's more to learn about the city's plans in this area. 

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

City Wants Failed Vendor to Fund New System


The Standard Times reported:

The City of San Angelo filed a lawsuit against Utah-based Spillman Technologies, Inc. — a provider of public safety software that bills itself as "the home of reliable innovation" — seeking to recover more than $3.5 million late Wednesday, March 22.
This strategy should be familiar to West Texas football fans who believe the best defense is a good offense.  The City of San Angelo has not shared with the public an investigation as to how their 2014 vendor selection process failed.  Instead the lawsuit puts 100% of the blame on Spillman:

"Spillman fraudulently misrepresented the functionality of its records management and computer-aided dispatch software and its qualifications to implement the system."

Citizens and City Council heard Tuesday how employees knew during the installation process that Spillman software would not work.  The system required too many clicks to dispatch an officer or complete workflow tasks.  Could these not have been seen during a site visit in the selection process?

City documents described the 2014 process:

The replacement of the current system consisted of a comprehensive evaluation of the needs and functionality assessment, development of a Request for Proposals, extensive evaluation and selection process and final vendor selection.
The city borrowed $1.5 million for the system.  To date the city has not shared the actual amount spent to implement and support the system since Spillman was selected.  The city's CAFR pegged the amount spent at roughly $1.1 million as of the end of the last fiscal year (8-31-16).

Citizens also heard of decades of under investment by City Council by postponing needed software updates.  By asking Spillman for $3.875 million the city's lawsuit externalizes all responsibility for Council's long term under investment in this system.

Contrast this decision with City Council's free pass to Republic Services on over $6 million in unauthorized billings to commercial customers over a decade.  At no time did the city engage attorneys in a lawsuit on behalf of the city or its citizens.

The newspaper article listed several significant performance failures with the system.  If there is liability for the incidents listed in the lawsuit, both the City of San Angelo and Spillman bear responsibility. The mix might be 98% Spillman, 2% City, but the city is not Scott Free as it chose Spillman.  To say that amounts to $2.3 million due the city feels like a stretch.

City Council determined Tuesday that action needed to be taken.  Public testimony encouraged self reflection and acceptance of responsibility.  That's good advice as this is not the first vendor being sued by the city.   Spillman now joins the 2013 Sealcoat vendor, Templeton Construction and Alsay, Inc..  Repayment of funds should be a remedy in a fair contract with performance requirements and penalties for failure.

Sometimes the cheap way is the more expensive route.  That's the route City Council, City Manager Daniel Valenzuela and Police Chief Tim Vasquez took in late 2014.  In trying to save $800,000 staff apparently wasted $1.5 million.  Council approved spending $2.3 million it could have spent two years ago for a quality product.
 
The $3.875 million lawsuit feels like a responsibility dodge alongside a legal dice roll to pay for what should have been funded long ago. The city is entitled to sue a vendor for contract nonperformance.  That would mean a refund of the $1.5 million invested to date.

As "damages" equal the exact amount leadership postponed funding for years this lawsuit reflects the city's entitlement.  They don't want a refund for the discounted model they purchased.  The city wants a refund plus money to buy the Cadillac.

Update 3-23-17:   Concho Valley Homepage published a story with information from the city's press release.  San Angelo Live's piece mined details of the city's lawsuit.

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Public Safety Communications: System Redo is Expensive


City Council will consider spending $2.5 million to replace a public safety system they approved replacing at $1.5 million in December 2014.


The last two Capital Improvement Plans described the project:

The San Anglo Police Department’s public safety software suite, including computer aided dispatching (CAD), records managements system (RMS) and mobile computing has reached its end of life. The current software suite will no longer be supported for maintenance, upgrades and fixes and as such is no longer compliant with criminal justice information systems (CJIS) rules and regulation.

The replacement of the current system consisted of a comprehensive evaluation of the needs and functionality assessment, development of a Request for Proposals, extensive evaluation and selection process and final vendor selection. Project should consist of: Computer Aided Dispatching Software (CAD), Records Management System (RMS), Mobile Computing Software, and various Hardware Upgrades.

The expected completion date for the CAD/RMS system is April 29, 2016. Some systems and hardware will shortly follow the final implementation of the Spillman software. Final completion of this project should occur by September 2016. Annual maintenance is already being paid under the current system. There are no significant changes in the costs associated with this upgrade. annual maintenance and support have traditionally been included in the regular operating budget of the PSC center.

Funding Source:  2015 Certificate of Obligation of  $1,500,000
Oddly, at the time Council approved the Spillman Technonogies project they considered a document that compared Spillman vs. the cost to upgrade with Intergraph Public Safety.



The city chose Spillman and stuck to their guns, defending the choice in last spring's Strategic Planning Session, despite running into problems that required more budget dollars.  Last year Police Chief Tim Vasquez stressed to Council:

"If you give Jeff a chance he'll finish this and show you the solution and cost that's affiliated with that.  Again, our $1.5 million is way under budget....  We are working very well with this company....  If you let Jeff finish...."
Spillman is finished.  The city's staunch defense is over.  In Tuesday's council meeting staff will return to the Intergraph upgrade option.


Combined the city will have borrowed $4 million for one project, the $1.5 million that did not work and the planned $2.5 million replacement of the replacement.  This issue arose as a crisis in a Strategic Planning Session at Old Fort Concho.  It's now a financial disaster for a city squeezing every penny to maintain public services and meet its contractual obligations to police officers.

Update 3-20-17:  Nearly two days after this report the Standard Times ran a story on this debacle.   City Manager Daniel Valenzuela tried to dance away from this but the buck stops at his desk.

Update 3-22-17:  San Angelo Live reported on this debacle as well.  One might expect the too many steps for workflow or dispatching an officer could have been determined during a site visit in the selection process.  The City issued its press release absolving the City Manager and purchasing department of any responsibility.  SAPD got sold a bill of goods.  One has to wonder why the city's vendors fail and the city ends up suing them.  The list includes:  2013 Sealcoating Program Contract,  Templeton Construction, Inc.,  Alsay, Inc. and now the Spillman Contract. 

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Second Dangerous Dog Trapped


Citizens trapped a second dog that had been terrorizing small animals along Old Christoval Road and an area around Glenmore Park.

It took some convincing, but the San Angelo Police officer finally dispatched animal control. Animal Control Officer Crystal showed up and did an amazing job handling this dog who was thrashing, biting, and very upset. 

When people fail dogs others have to manage the mess.  Thank heaven for citizens willing to step up and solve the problem.  The recent support of Animal Control is also much appreciated.  The problem is not completely solved but good people are working it.  Godspeed.

Monday, March 13, 2017

Dogs Continue Small Pet Hunting Behavior


Pets around Glenmore Park and Old Christoval Road remain at risk for injury or death from dog packs that continue to roam the area.  Neighbors banded together two weeks ago when numerous pets were killed.  An area veterinarian is helping the group determine the cause of death for some of the animals.


Other citizens have monitored the area with the intent of trapping the dogs who continue to cruise the neighborhood.


They've determined there are at least five dogs working in one or more packs.   Dogs in the night camera pictures are inside a fenced area.


These dogs are not interested in food left out to satisfy hunger.  They walk past bowls of dog food intent on going to areas where they've killed before.  This behavior will continue until these dogs are trapped.

I personally saw these dogs running through Glenmore Park, an area that needs to be safe for small children.  The sooner they are caught the better.

Update 3-14-17 at 8:00 am:  A citizen trapped one dog early this morning and called the non-emergency police to access Animal Control.  The officer would not come get the dog at 4:00 am and instructed the caller to bring in the dangerous animal at 10:00 am. As the citizen only had access to one dog sized trap this response, more like a non-response, prevented the potential trapping of more rogue pet killing dogs. 

Update 3-14-17 at 10:15 pm:  Animal Control picked up the trapped dog this morning at a private residence on Old Christoval Road.  Citizens said the Animal Control Officer was very professional in their approach and handling of the situation.   The ACO reiterated the procedure is to call the Police Department non-emergency number after hours and an ACO will come out and pick up the trapped animal.  While that didn't happen last night citizens have been assured that is the proper procedure.  Thank you to San Angelo City Councilman Lane Carter for his interest and support on this concerning situation and to ACO Floyd Bias for his timely and compassionate response.

Thursday, March 09, 2017

Pets Dying on Old Christoval Road


Over the last two weeks dogs have killed numerous pets in the Old Christoval Road/Glenmore Park area.  On Monday, February 27th a citizen found five dead cats, a dead fox and numerous pet body parts.  The citizen took them to a local veterinarian hoping to find the cause.

That very night I personally saw three dogs in the area where the five bodies were found.  One dog was aggressive to small animals and clearly hunting for more prey.  I saw the other two running nearby.  We called the police non-emergency number and filed a report.  The police wanted to know the results of the veterinarian's testing as to cause.

Neighbors up and down Christoval Road began communicating about the situation.  They learned that two small dogs had been killed in a resident's fenced in backyard.  This occurred before the mass mauling last Monday. Others found their outdoor cats dead in their yard.

The carnage continues nearly on a daily basis.  One concerned citizen and dog lover saw two different packs of dogs this past weekend.  She and a neighbor found another dead cat during their tour of the neighborhood and called the police non-emergency number.


Just yesterday a resident heard dogs barking loudly as they chased his outdoor cats at 5:00 am.  He did not contact the authorities.

The veterinarian determined a number of the cats died from injuries obtained from an animal attack.  Several others were puzzling in that it appeared the cats died prior to being mauled.  The vet sent out samples for more testing.

Yet another cat died this evening with evidence of significant trauma.  It's clear the majority of the thirty pet deaths in this neighborhood the last two weeks are from dog attacks. 

The loss of beloved pets is serious.  I am aware of at least three phone calls to the San Angelo Police Department over this period.  These calls were made after hours when Animal Control Officers are not available to members of the general public.

Dog packs are running up and down the river on a regular basis.  So far the small moving creatures they've targeted have been pets.  That could change and a small child's life could potentially be in danger.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Republic's Expert Forensic Accountant Is Decade Off


The Standard Times Mike Kelly defended Republic Services audit of unauthorized billing of commercial customers over a decade's time.  Mr. Kelly posted Republic's audit on his personal Scribd account, which has a total of 7 documents listed. 

Republic Waste Services
Expert Report of Gregory A Shanabrook
SCOPE OF ENGAGEMENT
1. I have been retained by Republic Waste Services of Texas, Ltd. (“Republic”, “Defendants”) inconnection with the case between Acme Iron & Metal Company, Mayfield Paper Company, Inc., and those similarly situated (collectively the “Plaintiffs”) and Defendants.

2. In 2004, the City of San Angelo (the “City”) solicited proposals to provide solid waste management services for a future term. During that process, questions arose regarding Republic’s past charges to commercial and industrial customers. Republic determined to make a refund of the fuel recovery fees and environmental recovery fees charged in excess of the fuel fees expressly stated in City ordinances (referred to herein as “refundable fees”).
Expert forensic accountant Shanabrook needs to correct his report to 2014, not 2004, and resubmit it to the court.

The city did not conduct an internal investigation as to how this unauthorized billing occurred over the terms of Will Wilde, Ricky Dickson and Shane Kelton. These three gentlemen had operational responsibility for monitoring Republic's performance and compliance with contract provisions. The city did produce a one page investigation which concluded Republic billed and collected unauthorized fees on a long term basis.

Republic Services had two different accounting systems during their decade of unauthorized fee billing.

The city never caught this and once informed let Republic clean up its fraudulent mess. It has run away from internal review and management scrutiny at every turn.

I trust Mr. Shanabrook to correct his honest mistake. His was in one line of a report not over 5,900 customer accounts, ten years, three city leaders and two accounting systems.

Friday, February 17, 2017

Trash Audit: War of the Words


Investigative journalist Wayne Dolchefino traveled to San Angelo to ask officials about the internal audit conducted on unauthorized fees charged by Republic Services, formerly Trashaway.  The unauthorized fees impacted commercial clients beginning in 2004.

Two city officials referenced the audit in June 2014.

Mahaffey told the Standard-Times that the audit report would not be made public.

City Councilwoman Charlotte Farmer said that the audit committee reviewed the findings of the audit of the commercial charges and there will be a press conference held by Republic sometime this week to announce the findings and the resolution. 
San Angelo's Public Information Office Anthony Wilson officially started on September 1, 2012.  At the time he told the Standard Times:

"We have a responsibility to inform our citizenry what we're doing and why we're doing it. While I believe we deliver an extraordinary level of service, we don't always effectively share that story with the public we serve. We'll aim to tell that story through every available means."
Dolchefino wants answers on the 2014 internal city audit referenced by city officials, the one conducted before Republic hired an accounting firm.  In the video Wilson talks trash audit, the one conducted by a forensic accountant on behalf of Republic Services after the city effectively re-upped their contract.

Forensic Accounting:  the use of accounting skills to investigate fraud or embezzlement and to analyze financial information for use in legal proceedings.
Wilson said Republic's forensic audit is available via the fraudulent billing lawsuit filed in Tom Green County Court, a case in which the city has no part.


That means the city has no audit at all, neither the one referenced in June 2014 by the city's internal auditor and Councilwoman Charlotte Farmer nor the forensic accounting audit conducted on behalf of the city's longtime trash vendor.  It does have a one page investigation, which can hardly be construed as an audit.

The Standard Times, San Angelo Live and this blog advised city officials, elected and paid to conduct an investigation and share it with the public before acting on a long term trash/landfill contract.  I wrote in June 2014:

It seems prudent to extend the Republic contract for six months, have an outside audit investigation, hear those results and corresponding legal considerations and based on those findings consider whether to rebid the trash/landfill contract.  Moving forward with many questions unanswered feels like a rush to renew.  Unfortunately, that would fit with both language and actions by Council and staff the last ten months.
 

 It's time to take a step back, not rush forward
In July 2014 I reiterated:

I stand by my original suggestion that the new contract be put on hold, the city hire an outside firm to investigate this long term overcharge (under city leaders Will Wilde, Ricky Dickson and Shane Kelton) and share the results of that investigation with the public.  What communications occurred between these gentlemen and Trashaway-Republic on unauthorized charges?
City leaders chose to go ahead with promises to hold Republic accountable.   I don't believe the city can be more hands off in a potential fraud case perpetrated by a sole source vendor over a decade's time.  Republic gets to clean up their mess while city officials stick their heads in the sand, pulling it out every now and then to admonish those asking questions. 

It's the city's opportunity to effectively share how public officials ever audited Republic with those they serve.  Wilson's latest video is way off target.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Development Corporation's OE Renewables Solar Project Remains in Shadow


The City of San Angelo's solar farm deal with OE Renewables Texas projected a mid 2016 start date.  That did not happen.  The company gave an overview at a Solar Expo the end of August 2016 but it lacked two critical elements, a progress update and timeline.  

The Development Corporation omitted the solar farm in its 2016 work program.  Is it considered a success if one leaves out failures?

Monday, February 06, 2017

City Cleans Up Another Contract

San Angelo City Council will take up an odd item in Tuesday's meeting.

February 3, 2009, San Angelo City Council accepted the conveyance of a 40 acre tract out of Phase II, Industrial Park from City of San Angelo Development Corporation for the development of a commercial venture which would act as a catalyst for other development within the US 67 Gateway. 

Council Memo states, if such development is not achieved within one year, it is understood such property would be returned to COSADC as a resource for business recruitment purposes; however, the Special Warranty Deed from COSADC to City failed to include this reversionary interest. The property was placed out for bids (RFB PRO-02-09), and the bid was awarded April 7, 2009 to Lamesa Enterprises for the development of a drive in theater. In addition to awarding the bid, Council authorized the City to extend a sewer line approximately 3300 feet for $150-$170K to the 40 acre property line. Lamesa Enterprises was allowed up to 1 year to construct the facility. 

The 40 acre tract was never transferred to Lamesa Enterprises and the facility was never constructed. 
It's odd on numerous levels.  One, Council's direction was not included in the original lease.  Two, it's been nearly seven years since the bid was awarded, nearly six years after the land should have reverted back to the Development Corporation.

Failure of the drive in movie theater joins other outdoor efforts like Lucas Oil off-road racing and OneEnergy Renewables solar farm on city land next to the Industrial park.   Neither has come to pass.  If any cleanup is needed from those efforts I hope it doesn't take seven years. 

Thursday, February 02, 2017

Development Corporation's Three Annual Reports


City of San Angelo Development Corporation (COSADC) is required to produce an annual report according to its bylaws.  Staff produced the 2012 annual report in October 2013 and then the reports stopped.  After a three year pause the COSADC Board approved annual reports for 2013, 2014 and 2015.

The 2013 report took two years and three months to reach the COSADC board.


The 2014 report fell one day short of two years in production.  When asked about the failure to produce annual reports per the bylaws COSADC President Roland Pena offered numerous responses.  The first came in March 2015:


He wrote in August 2015:

I believe that the abstract information that you are asking about in the by-laws refers to the Corporation Capital Improvement Plan.   The COSADC Board to my knowledge has not had a Capital Improvement Plan.   It is my intention to do so upon being able to identify capital development projects.  At that point, I believe the Plan is rolled into the City's Capital Improvement Plan for review by the city council.   In addition, I do intend to produce annual reports to provide to COSADC and the City Council.
Both annual reports were in production before Pena crafted these two replies.  Why the delay?  I believe the Development Corporation did not want to publish it was suing a recipient of economic development funds for nonperformance until the matter was resolved.  The timeline below supports this theory:


No report was produced for approval until the City put to bed its legal settlement with Hirschfeld Energy for failure to meet its promises for $2.8 million in public support. City Council's 1-17-17 action on the Hirschfeld settlement opened the door for a flood of COSADC annual reports the following week.  I wonder if any City Council members will notice the delay and ask why. 

Monday, January 30, 2017

COSADC's Hiebert Politely Questions City Engineer


COSADC President Tommy Hiebert asked about the length of time it took city staff to design and seek bids on a sewer line at the city's Industrial Park.  City Engineer Russell Pehl referred to the project as "relatively straight forward.  It's just a straight line sewer main with three manholes and it's about 1,500 foot long."

1.  COSADC approves project - February 24, 2016
Consideration of authorizing the City of San Angelo Engineering Services Department to design, prepare all bid documents and oversee the bidding & construction of approximately 1,260 linear feet of 8” sewer main at the San Angelo Business and Industrial Park, the estimated cost of the project to be approximately $110,000.  The motion carried unanimously seven (7) ayes to zero (0) nays
2.  City reaches MOU with Engineering Department - August 3, 2016

3.  Contractor bids open - February 14, 2017

COSADC President Tommy Hiebert expressed remarkable control.  That may have been the most polite dressing down I've ever seen.

I did find it odd that Pehl mentioned a specific contractor, Darnell Construction as excited and ready to get going when bidding is still open.  That may be Russell's next coaching from above.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

City Investigations Brief and Unsigned


Twice the City of San Angelo conducted investigations into potential malfeasance, $6 million in unauthorized billings by the city's trash hauler Republic Services  and the unapproved purchase of over $100,000 in Water Department furniture for the renovated City Hall.  Neither document is signed.  It's not clear who conducted either investigation.  One is undated while a date appears to be in the title of the other.

Both documents are brief, one page for the Republic unauthorized charges investigation and three pages for the Furniture Fiasco.  San Angelo Live sought more information on commercial trash over billing, while I researched the furniture debacle.

Oddly, Water Chief Will Wilde's leaving in the wake of the furniture situation made room for Ricky Dickson, a key player in long term trash unauthorized billing.  City Manager Daniel Valenzuela chose to promote Dickson five months after the trash fee revelation.  Did he know at the time that Dickson had been made aware of the over billing in 2011?  That would've required a thorough and competent investigation.  

Friday, January 20, 2017

Citizen Gets City to Share Details on Hirschfeld Settlement


An interested citizen queried city leaders on basic details of Hirschfeld Energy Systems economic development settlement with several City entities.  City Council's background packet contained was missing all numbers other than the $1.4 million settlement.  The resolution referred to attorney fees and refunds due to the city and its development corporation but provided little else.  Fortunately, Steve Hampton asked city leaders to paint the picture for the public, otherwise it would not have happened.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

City Knew in 2011 of Unauthorized Republic Fees


San Angelo Live reported city leaders knew trash hauler Republic Services charged fuel fees above those allowed by city ordinance.  Operations Director Ricky Dickson investigated a commercial complaint in August 2011 that should've caused concern that Republic wasn't complying with the contract and city ordinances in place at the time. 


Dickson and Trashaway dropped the unauthorized fees from one customer's bill.  That move set the stage for Republic to say it owed $6.5 million in refunds for customer over payments.

Fraud:  wrongful or criminal deception intended to result in financial or personal gain.
City Manager Daniel Valenzuela should have known this information after April 15, 2014, when the public became aware of unauthorized fees Republic charged commercial customers.  The city's internal investigation cited Republic's Environmental Recovery Fee, which had never been authorized by Council.

What happens when city leaders uncover fraud but turn the other way like Ricky Dickson?  A mere five months later Valenzuela created a new Executive Director of Public Works job for Dickson, waiving the Professional Engineer requirement for the second time.

At the time of Dickson's promotion in September 2014 I wrote:

Frankly, I wonder what price the community will pay ten years from now from the leadership combination of Valenzuela-Dickson.  I expect it to be significant.
The city hired Ricky's son Brandon as Assistant Director Water Treatment Plant last summer.  This upgraded position is roughly $37,000 higher in annual pay and comes with the potential for two $5,000 bonuses for certifications required to be considered for the position.  Brandon's pay started at $92,950.  Oddly, Ricky told a reliable source that Brandon would return to city employment in January 2016, before the search process began.

Republic perpetrated a $6.5 million fraud against commercial customers.  The unauthorized fees investigation provides evidence of Ricky Dickson's choosing to support a vendor vs. acting in the wider public interest.  The investigation came from outside City Hall.  These two facts should be concerning to the public and elected officials. 

Update 2-17-17:  Investigative journalist Wayne Dolchfino and San Angelo Live continue asking questions about the city's work in this arena.  City Public Information Officer Anthony Wilson produced a defensive piece that ignored the issue raised in this post as to why the city only refunded one customer in 2011 when responsible leaders learned of the unauthorized billing.   

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Council to Consider Less Recycling for Increased Bulk Pickup


San Angelo's city staff will propose changes to trash collection for Council to consider this Tuesday.  The 1-17-17 City Council background packet states:

Providing every other week bulk pick‐up and every other week collection of recyclable.  

Provider shall manage the initial delivery of one additional Recyclables cart for each residential address that subscribes to waste collection services.  Delivery of additional Recyclables carts shall occur only if requested by a residential customer that subscribes to waste collection services. Residential customers that request delivery of one additional Recyclables cart shall not be charged for delivery provided the request is made within 6 months of the effective date.
 Citizens who fill their recycling cart every week can get a second cart delivered free.

If a customer desires additional cart(s) beyond one for Acceptable Waste and one for Recyclables, then City may charge such customer for the carts in accordance with the fee schedule approved by City Council.
The city provided Exhibits A and F to clarify fees.


Exhibit F leads one to belief the second recycling cart will cost citizens as the base price only cites one recycling cart.  Exhibit A states:  Additional cart fee – recycling (beyond 2 carts).

For now it appears current citizens can request a second recycling cart and not be charged extra.  What happens after the six month window?  Will citizens have to pay both a delivery and monthly fee for an extra recycling bin?

Update 1-19-17:  Citizen's must watch to ensure fair and appropriate treatment as the city and vendor have a history of not doing so.

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Hirshfeld Energy Ready to Refund City $1.4 Million


San Angelo City Council will entertain a resolution delineating the distribution of the $1.4 million refund from Hirschfeld Energy for the failure of former joint venture Martifer-Hirschfeld to fulfill new job promises.  The city and Hirschfeld reached agreement in May 2016.

The resolution states the $1.4 million will be reduced by the cost of attorney fees, which were split evenly between the City of San Angelo and its Development Corporation.  City Council documents do not specify how much attorney's fees cost.  It will be interesting to hear if that comes out during Tuesday's meeting. 

Update 1-20-17:   Local citizen Steve Hampton asked for details on the settlement, otherwise this information would likely not have been shared.