The news conference will be held at 11:00 am outside Masraff’s Restaurant at 1753 Post Oak Blvd
This announcement may very well spell the beginning of the end to that controversial plan to tear up Houston’s “Rodeo Drive” for an unwanted bus project in the heart of Uptown.
The Post Oak Property Owners Coalition representatives will be joined by prominent Houston Attorney Andy Taylor.
The news conference will be held at 11:00 am outside Masraff’s Restaurant at 1753 Post Oak Blvd, shortly after Uptown officials and the Mayor hold a ceremonial ground breaking for the project down the street for the project.
In recent weeks Houstonians have learned some Uptown Board Members lobbied for taxpayer money without disclosing their conflicts of interest and potential financial windfall. The plan to dig up Post Oak for two exclusive bus lanes will force the street to be widened and the chairman of the Uptown Board stands to make millions on the deal. At least three other Uptown officials have conflicts of interests in the bus project.
An investigation by Dolcefino Consulting exposed so many questions about the inflated ridership claims of the proposed project the chairman of Metro has now ordered a review of the projections.
“It is sad that Mayor Parker once ran for office as a watchdog and now looks the other way to blatant conflicts of interest. Taxpayers think this project is unneeded and an incredible waste of money in a city with a lot of real needs”, says Wayne Dolcefino, President of Dolcefino Consulting.
Major Post Oak Property owners aren’t the only ones adding their voice to the growing opposition to the project. Uptown’s own State Senator Joan Huffman now says she is personally opposed to the project and does not think “tearing up Post Oak” is a fabulous idea. Huffman is joining the call for a review of management districts in Houston in light of growing transparency questions.
The Post Oak Property Owners Coalition will make their major announcement Monday morning at 11:00 am, and will not be available prior to comment.
Wayne Dolcefino of Dolcefino Consulting will be available to answer questions for any of the Monday morning early shows if needed. My e-mail contact is below.
office 713-360-6911 firstname.lastname@example.org
The Metropolitan Transit Authority of Harris County has confirmed that it will be “re-running the numbers” for the Post Oak dedicated bus lane ridership projections reports Roxanna Asgarian of the Houston Business Journal:
The Metropolitan Transit Authority of Harris County has confirmed that it will be “re-running the numbers” for the Post Oak dedicated bus lane ridership projections.
As Uptown Houston District prepares for the controversial project’s groundbreaking next week, which Mayor Annise Parker is slated to attend, vocal critics are taking aim at projected ridership numbers they say are out-of-date and inaccurate. read more
A major development in the controversial plan to tear up Post Oak Blvd for exclusive bus lanes.
Metro Chairman, Gilbert Garcia is announcing the transit agency will re-examine the numbers that Uptown has been using to justifying the need for the project.
Studies by an Uptown contractor claims more than 14,000 people will be using buses to Uptown by 2018, just two and a half years from now, even though that number now is now about 5 percent of that. That number is also based on the theory that by 2018 Park and Ride lots will be overflowing with cars, even though some of them are only at 10 percent capacity.
An investigation from Dolcefino Consulting has proven the numbers are just wrong.
One easy example, Uptown claims its study proves more than 1,000 people will be taking the 285 bus from Katy by then. One major problem, that bus route has now been discontinued because of low ridership.
The Uptown numbers also claim nearly half of the riders will suddenly materialize, not from Uptown workers, but from shoppers. Those shoppers already have a bus to use to get in and out of Post Oak. One bus and it’s rarely full. Now they want to spend taxpayer’s money on at least 14 buses travelling up and down Post Oak every six minutes?
Uptown has even refused to conduct a study of major employers along the street to gauge interest in the bus plan. Why?
“I will tell you why, because Uptown knows what employers have been trying to tell them, says Wayne Dolcefino, President of Dolcefino Consulting. Their workers don’t want to first drive to a Park and Ride lot, and then take two buses to get to work, and then do the same thing at the end of a long day.”
“This isn’t a battle between people who want mass transit and those who don’t. This is a battle to save jobs, taxpayer money and to stop projects that are unneeded and smell like self-dealing,” says Dolcefino.
Uptown Chairman, Kendall Miller has been the biggest cheerleader of the plan to tear up Post Oak and widen it to accommodate two exclusive bus lanes. That widening will force Uptown to spend more than 40 million dollars paying landowners for their right of way.
Guess who gets a big chunk of that money? Guess who benefits if the construction kills the shopping centers, paving the way for more high-rise construction? Guess who benefits from all the expansion of utility lines being done for the project?
Miller and two other Uptown Board members disclosed potential financial conflicts with the project early this year, even though they lobbied for federal and state grant money, and city council approval without disclosing conflicts. Other board members in Uptown have yet to disclose their potential financial benefits from the project.
“I have heard defenders of Uptown say it is hard to avoid conflicts because they are property owners, but that is why we have disclosure,” says Dolcefino. “And now we know the Uptown Board is nothing more than a rubber stamp selection process that fits the definition of a sham.”
Miller and his mom both serve on the Uptown Board.
An investigation by Dolcefino Consulting reveals appointments of Board Members to the Uptown Management District may be a virtual charade.
“Taxpayers will say a collective WTH when they hear this,” says Wayne Dolcefino, President, Dolcefino Consulting.
In 1987 the Texas legislature created the Uptown Management District and they now control the use of more than three Billion Dollars of property value in the City of Houston.
The state law required members to be appointed by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ), but it is now clear the TCEQ doesn’t even pick the candidates.
In response to a request for records from the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, the agency told Dolcefino Consulting they have no records detailing the, “Selection of members of the Uptown Board, or any review, audits, or investigations into their use of taxpayer money.”
“Now that’s oversight,” says Dolcefino, “What a joke.”
It turns out Uptown actually picks and then provides the names of candidates. It is not even multiple choice.
“The property owners in Uptown need to have real voice in deciding who will make decisions for our neighborhood,” says Jim Scarborough of the Uptown Property Owners group.
Maybe this contrived appointment process explains why so many Uptown Board Members seem to have lifetime appointments.
Uptown likes it that way.
Uptown Management District Board Chairman Kendall Miller has been appointed since 1999, 16 years. So has member Patty Bender. Board Member Martin Debrovner has been on the board since 1994, more than 20 years.
“There are thousands of people who live in Uptown,” says Dolcefino. “This discovery cries out for these people to be elected. This political process is a sham and the Mayor has to know. This isn’t just the fox guarding the henhouse. The fox is building the whole darn thing and then making sure they pick the guards.”
Uptown is ignoring calls to stop a key part of a proposed 300 million dollar bus project, even though some members have clear conflicts of interest. Other members have yet to fully disclose their potential conflicts.
Hundreds of property owners and Uptown residents have been voicing opposition to this bus project. Jim Scarborough has been one of the loudest critics. “Most property owners don’t want this bus project and Uptown knows it.”
Of course when Uptown has picked the cards in the desk, is anyone surprised at the results.
Dolcefino Consulting is an investigative communications firm headed by former 13 Undercover reporter Wayne Dolcefino.
New documents obtained by Dolcefino Consulting prove ridership numbers for a controversial $300 million dollar bus project leading through the heart of Uptown are grossly inflated.
More troubling, Uptown hasn’t told taxpayers.
Documents released by Uptown claim ridership by 2018 will be up to 18,400. That is the justification for tearing up Post Oak, spending tens of millions of dollars to widen the streets to accommodate two bus lanes operating every few minutes.
Here is what they haven’t told you.
First, the numbers are based on transit ridership from five years ago.
Second, the 18,400 figure is based on an elevated busway from the Northwest Transit Center down Post Oak.
Under current plans, that elevated busway won’t even be built until at least 2018.
“This isn’t field of dreams,” says Wayne Dolcefino of Dolcefino Consulting. “The only part of this project that is supposed to make it quicker to get to Uptown is that part.” If those numbers are bogus, the whole thing falls apart.”
Third, the Uptown claims are based on staggering increases in park and ride usage to Uptown just three years from now.
This was no independent study. The report justifying the numbers was prepared by contractors being paid by Uptown. The Uptown claims were made in June 2013 in a report by HDR Engineering to the Uptown Management District. The report was released to Dolcefino Consulting under the Texas Public Information Act.
One obvious red flag. The 2013 report is based on even older numbers from 2010. You don’t have to be a transit expert to prove they aren’t true anymore. You can count fares.
Here’s an easy one.
The report claims more than 1,150 people will be taking a bus to Uptown in 2018 on the Metro 285 Commuter bus. Uptown knows that won’t happen. The 285 Metro bus was cancelled months ago because of low ridership.
It doesn’t exist anymore.
Uptown knows this. They also know proposed ridership down Post Oak to the Bellaire Transit Center is likely wrong.
In April of 2014 the same Uptown contractor told that very thing to Metro.
“The increase in ridership resulted from Dedicated Bus Lane Extension to the Bellaire Transit Center is most likely to be half of what the model projects. This is why we are warning taxpayers,” says Wayne Dolcefino of Dolcefino Consulting. “There are already buses running down Post Oak that are three quarters empty. This isn’t about being against transit. It is about
wasting tax-payers money and tearing up a beautiful street and killing businesses on what sure looks like intentionally exaggerated promises.”
These documents come out amidst growing questions about blatant conflicts of interest by the people who are pushing this project in Uptown.
“Some of these perpetually appointed board members have this huge taxpayer piggy bank to pay for utility improvements for their properties, selling the right of way, and then cashing in further on redevelopment when stores in retail shopping centers go belly up,” says Jim Scarborough of the Post Oak Property Owners Association. “This is a real estate deal, not a needed transit project.”
In March of 2013 Uptown Board Chairman Kendall Miller lobbied for federal grant money for a bus project on Post Oak Blvd. His letter did not disclose his financial stake in the project.
In Mid-2014 Miller knew right of way acquisitions by Uptown would benefit his property, yet he still did not disclose.
Miller and two other Board Members revealed their potential conflict in early 2015 amidst growing questions by opponents of a plan to tear up Post Oak.
“Houston City Council needs to delay this project until taxpayers know where all the money leads, says Wayne Dolcefino President of Dolcefino Consulting. “I have heard Uptown brag about being transparent, so let us get all the cards on the table.”
An investigation by Dolcefino Consulting details several members of the Uptown Board have potential conflicts.
Take Houston Jeweler Jonathan Zadock, appointed to the Uptown Board in 2013. In March of that year Zadock argued for the federal grant money with Miller, arguing if major improvements weren’t made to Post Oak Blvd the prestigious street would lose much of its luster. Zadock called the bus plan cost effective despite the price tag.
As part of the deal, Uptown will have to spend tens of millions of dollars buying right of way from some Uptown Businessman. Jonathan Zadock controls one of those entities. In 2012 a corporation managed by Zadock bought a shopping center on Post Oak valued at more than 7 million dollars. The name of the corporation – Post Oak Right of Way LLC.
“This exposes the huge problem with Uptown. The folks on the board weren’t elected by taxpayers, even the property owners. Even if they have the purest motives, they are investing taxpayer money on deals that are good for them. What else is out there? It is time for everyone to disclose before another penny is spent!”
Houston City Council Members and the Mayor are term limited, but some members of the Uptown Board appear to be perpetually reappointed. Miller has been on the Uptown Board since 1999, 16 years.
“Property owners deserve to elect these folks, period!”
In Uptown, bus plan critics lob conflict-of-interest allegations (Houston Chronicle)
Two members of an economic development board pushing a plan to run a center bus lane along Uptown’s Post Oak Boulevard have financial ties to companies that will be paid for land in the project’s right of way.
A town hall meeting held amidst growing opposition to a $300 million Post Oak Boulevard bus project by Uptown TIRZ and METRO that could tear the signature street apart has generated Houston media buzz:
Uptown business owners plan to fight new bus lanes (KHOU)
Uptown business owners plan to fight plans to build two new Metro bus-only lanes on Post Oak Boulevard.
Uptown business owners pack town hall meeting on dedicated bus lane project plan (FOX 26)
Uptown business owners pack town hall meeting on dedicated bus lane project plan.
EXPOSING THE UPTOWN BUS BOONDOGGLE
A growing coalition of business and property owners in Uptown detailed their opposition to a planned 300 million dollar bus project along Post Oak.
The Post Oak Property Owner and Business Owner Coalition held a news conference on May 6th to detail this shocking waste of public funds, and expose the conflicts of interests that prove this project should be delayed immediately.
Post Oak is often called the “Rodeo Drive” of Houston. The Uptown District, the Mayor’s office and Metro are all behind the plan to spend 300 million plus dollars for a dedicated bus lane down the middle of Post Oak, an attempt to salvage public and political opposition to Metro rail lines.
Public records show Metro ridership numbers simply do not support this project, and there is no need to widen Post Oak to synchronize buses going up and down the street. The coalition says neighborhoods both east and west of Uptown will face horrible congestion as traffic lights at Westheimer, San Felipe and Richmond are affected.
Who will benefit? Our investigation shows some members of the Uptown Board will make millions if the project ever happens.
1. AFFIDAVITS OF CONFLICT OF INTERESTS (NOTICE THE DATES)
This project has been planned for over two years. [READ HERE]
2. Miller has been pushing the Post Oak bus project two years. Here is a 2014 appeal to a State Official ((Millers Lobbying))
3. Has Uptown mislead the Mayor’s office on support?. See the e-mail from Uptown Executive Director John Breeding that has so many Post Oak Property Owners mad. Then see what Invesco really said. ((which is it))
4 and 5 These METRO Uptown documents reveal the battle over whether to preempt traffic lights on Uptown side streets for 14 buses a day going back and forth, maybe more ((Metro Memo AND MetroUptown Mtg))
Uptown administration salaries now exceed 1 million a year, 300,000 to rent their headquarters. This is the compensation for Exec Director ((HCID#1 Salary))
Why is so much tax money being spent in one place. The taxable value in UPTOWN has increased three billion dollars since it was created, and most of that money is bottled up on Houston’s rodeo drive ((Bottom Line))
Have we created unelected bureaucratic monsters with the power to spend hundreds of millions of our tax dollars?
The last commuter bus from Katy to Uptown was closed because of lack or riders. 224 boardings a day. Metro’s number.
For information Contact Dolcefino Consulting: