Monday, August 8, 2016

Greater Brownsville Incentives Corporation Meetings Moved to City Commission Chambers for Greater Public Access

City Attorney Mark Sossi with Airport Director
Bryant Walker and Finance Director Lupe
Granado in the Background
This past April we reported that City Commissioner Cesar de Leon, also a board member of the GBIC, along with fellow commissioners Jessica Tetreau and Debby Portillo, had placed an item on the GBIC agenda to have their meetings moved to the City Commission chambers.

The necessary change in the by-laws to accomplish this was passed at the last City Commission meeting, August 2.  We happened to catch a replay of the video on Channel 12 and snapped the picture at the left of Mark Sossi presenting the agenda item to change the by-laws.  

There were some other changes involving third party vetting of GBIC projects, dealing with absenteeism on the GBIC board as well as more stringent conflict of interest requirements for GBIC board members.  Once the Augustt 2 video is released by the City of Brownsville, we will publish a more detailed explanation.  

Here is an excerpt from our April 22, 2016 article in the Brownsville Observer:

"At the last meeting, board member City Commissioner Cesar de Leon introduced an agenda item to adjust the by-laws of the corporation to allow board meetings to be moved to the City Commission chambers. De Leon wants more taxpayer access to such important meetings where nearly $5,000,000 of taxpayer dollars are doled out annually for economic development projects. De Leon feels the commission chambers accommodate a larger audience and are set up for microphone enhancement of the proceedings as well as a live feed to Brownsville TV/Channel 12.

City Attorney Mark Sossi, who provides part-time legal expertise for the GBIC at a contracted rate of $5,000 per month, explained possible by-law changes including a new "due diligence" feature allowing third party firms to be contracted to vet potential GBICprojects, a role currently filled exclusively by the Brownsville Economic Development Council.

The need for audio enhancement was obvious as, sitting directly behind City Finance Director Lupe Granado, I could barely hear his reading of the GBIC Financial Report. Commissioner Tetreau-Kalifa interrupted his report to question an expenditure of $417,000 she noticed in her paperwork packet. As Granado started to explain the expense, BEDC Executive Director Jason Hilts broke in: "That's for marketing and trade shows," he stated."

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