City council watchers will remember the North and East Lubbock Community Development Corporation. It encompasses a for-profit corporation owned by a non-profit through which it takes over one quarter million dollars per year that it only partially accounts for. In the larger scheme of things it is a mechanism by which Councilwoman Latrelle Bright Joy helps siphon public dollars into her law firm; dollars which allegedly help develop north and east Lubbock.
NELCDC is an exercise in economic alchemy. We are asked to believe that funneling your tax dollars through an Amarillo-based law firm, will magically help minority communities of north and east Lubbock.
NELCDC is an exercise in economic alchemy.
This notwithstanding the fact that there exist minority owned law firms that lie within the boundaries of NELCDC’s designated economic development zone which could do the work just as easily. But that wouldn’t serve the purpose of spending money with Councilwoman Latrelle Bright Joy’s law firm, where LBJ’s partner, who is the chairman of the NELCDC board as well as its attorney, has made an art of turning public service into a profitable venture.
Between NELCDC, which LBJ votes to fund, and Reese Redevelopment Authority, to which she votes appointees, her firm rakes in about $100,000 or more of public funds per year. That’s enough money to rent an entire floor of the Wells Fargo Building downtown for most of a year.
So while LBJ claims to get no benefit from NELCDC payments to her firm, it is that funding and the decisions of her appointees to the Reese board that help pay the rent for her firm. Her protestations are false and actions disingenuous.
Follow the logic: LBJ recuses when a matter involving her lawn boy comes before the city council but on two votes that together will pay the rent for her law firm for most of the year she engages and even lobbies the council to do her will. It is something that even her own partner calls “the appearance of impropriety.” In our opinion, it is the appearance of corruption.
But in spite of LBJ’s best efforts, NELCDC may be nearing the end of its ability to pull the wool over taxpayers’ eyes. Funding for the beleaguered organization was scheduled to be discussed at last Thursday’s meeting but was put off because NELCDC is past due in submitting it’s annual audit to the city; not usually the sign of a transparent and fiscally sound organization.
The Mayor’s plan calls for applying the funds directly.
In noting this Mayor Glen Robertson announced his intention to offer an alternate plan for the over one million dollars tentatively scheduled to be given to NELCDC. Instead of funding to NELCDC, which spends over $250,000 on administrative overhead (and was asking for more), the Mayor’s plan calls for applying 100% of the funds directly to paving the over 55 miles of unpaved roads in north and east Lubbock.
Such a plan would allow the city to avoid duplication of administrative costs and put more money directly into needed projects in north and east Lubbock. No more waiting for delinquent audits from NELCDC. All of the money would go directly to improving infrastructure in north and east Lubbock. The only loss is the economic development done at Latrelle Bright Joy’s law firm.
There’s no indication of how the it will vote on the issue, but the council has a chance to stop pouring public money into a black hole that serves no good purpose other than to assuage one man’s need to purchase influence and pay the rent and instead put over a million dollars directly to work that serves north and east Lubbock.