|BCIC Board Meeting(Photo by Nena Barton)|
It wasn't exactly a Dagoberto style scolding, but I tried to explain that $86,983 to lease and furnish an office at 2424 Village Drive was a totally unnecessary waste of hard-earned 4B "Quality of Life" tax dollars. If the City of Brownsville has anything, it is office space. The 13 buildings purchased in 2012 for $3.5 million stand primarily unused, off the tax rolls, deteriorating.
|City Commissioner Cesar de Leon|
As we commented in our 2/18/16 blog article:
"Typically, visitors sit on the fringe of a large table, nearly out of hearing of the discussion taking place. Board members, without microphone enhancement or the will to speak loudly enough or distinctly enough for visitors to hear, discuss business involving millions of dollars of taxpayer money. That description particularly applies to the GBIC and BCIC boards responsible for dispersing millions of Brownsville taxpayer dollars, 4A and 4B funds, on economic development and quality of life projects."
Despite the attractiveness of the newly leased and furnished BCIC office at 2424 Village Drive, the setup is not conducive to observers gaining much from the meeting. BCIC Executive Director Rebeca Castillo discussed several agenda items, but, sitting just a few feet away, I could not hear much. I did hear her refer several times to United Brownsville, that unelected, self-appointed collection of elitists who have pushed themselves into control of economic development in the industrial corridor.
Of the two young men standing in Nena's photo above, who work in the city's grants procurement department, but, inexplicably presented on behalf of E-Civis, a software firm that has sold BCIC on an extended contract, $30,000 the first year and $16,000 per year for the life of the contract, one presenter was totally inaudible. (The selling point was the inclusion of Brownsville non-profits in using the software to search for grants. In answer to a board members question, no non-profits used the service during the first year of the contract.)
The video monitor on the wall was small, rendering the font too tiny to read.
All of the above illustrates the accuracy of De Leon's observation that the City Commission chambers would be far more suitable for these types of meetings. Microphone enhancement, a large video monitor, ample seating and a centralized location are huge advantages as well as the obvious elimination of the need for a $46,000 annual lease.
Part of the inertia for the BCIC to find office space outside their old quarters at the City Commission building were complaints of having offices in "closets." Don't you think some of the money spent on the lease($46,000) or furniture($41,000) could have been used to knock down a wall or two and create suitable office space? That would have been more prudent use of 4B tax dollars.
From the editor: Below are Nena's two videos of my public comment making some of the same points written above. Nena interrupted the video after 54 seconds to make sure the recorder was working, then continued.