Dolcefino Consulting

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All of a sudden Bill King says he has questions about the HERO bathroom ordinance. He told a GOP blog he doesn’t understand why the Houston ordinance is longer than other cities. What a bold question!

Since we know Mr. King is a lawyer from his work as a tax collector and lawyer for HISD, we have a question too!

Have you read the ordinance? If you had, you would have known how to vote a long time ago!

Even two weeks ago Bill King said he would abstain on the HERO vote. There is no confusion. Ben Hall was against HERO from the beginning, calling it a sloppily written law that was a danger to women. He is the only mayoral candidate who took a stance regardless of the politics.

We don’t know what Bill King’s position is today, but the week isn’t over. We don’t know if Mr. King was this wishy-
washy when he was mayor of Kemah, but Houston deserves bold decisive leadership, not a guy who makes decisions based on which way the political winds are blowing.

The Houston Housing Department gave false information to members of Houston City Council about the use of Tax Increment Reinvestment Zone (TIRZ) money for affordable housing. An investigation by Dolcefino Consulting has uncovered huge mistakes involving the reporting of the use of millions of tax dollars.

The other big headline. Eleven million dollars dedicated to affordable housing projects over six years with TIRZ money was never spent, and shoddy accounting for the surplus was simply ignored…for years.

Here is the history. Several Tax Increment Investment Zones created by our politicians had to promise to give back a third of their tax windfall to affordable housing. It is called TIRZ Fund 2409.

Since 2009, $70 million has been put into Fund 2409. The biggest contributor to the fund is the Uptown TIRZ. They have contributed $37,703,866. That’s just 30% of their leftover piggy bank. That tells you just how much tax money is now bottled up in Uptown.

Dolcefino Consulting started tracking Fund 2409 when we saw the payments in Uptown financial records while we were investigating that real estate deal disguised as a $200 million transit project. Uptown told us they didn’t have a clue how the money was spent, and we figured for $70 million we should have affordable housing units popping up all over town.

What we have learned is that the City of Houston has a $70 million fund that has NEVER been audited by the City Controller, and the Housing Department didn’t even know for sure what projects they had even spent it on. The original summary provided to the City Council Housing Committee was to be kind…full of huge mistakes on where the money went.

Here’s an example. City Council was told that in 2009 only $54,000 was spent on LARA, another city project that bought mostly empty lots at auction or lots no one else wanted. The 2009 documents claimed $1.2 million of TIRZ funds were spent on a project called Uplift Fourth Ward. After Dolcefino Consulting investigated the files and raised questions, housing realized their numbers weren’t worth the paper they were written on.

The new documents provided to Dolcefino Consulting show in fact $8 million of TIRZ affordable housing money was not spent on new houses, but buying empty lots, in many cases, lots no one else wanted to buy.

And that Fourth Ward project. Uptown now admits it didn’t get $1.2 million, but just $400 dollars. That’s a pretty big difference don’t you think?

“It is stunning that this housing piggy bank has never been broken open and independently looked at,” says Wayne Dolcefino, President of Dolcefino Consulting. “This is a city in deep financial trouble, with lots of folks who desperately need affordable housing. We need to know what the heck this money was spent on… to the penny, and what we got out of this deal.”

Assuming the new set of records are actually correct, and who knows, we do know a couple of things.

Remember when the federal government told the City they had problems with the way millions in federal housing fund were spent? The bureaucrats call it “findings.” Taxpayers call it what it really is. Thirteen million of the TIRZ funds were spent subsidizing the projects where the feds cried foul.

Other projects never happened…yet Housing just stopped keeping track of the projects on documents provided to City Council. And the documents raise even more questions.

If this is affordable housing money why do the documents say $592,000 was set aside for paving in Settegast, a Public Works Project. The money wasn’t spent in 2010, and the project disappears from the documents. Is that money part of the surplus Dolcefino Consulting helped uncover, or was it used for paving. No disrespect to the need for paving but that doesn’t get someone a place to live anyway.

You get the point.

Supporting documents below:

Housing NEW

Housing OLD

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Bill King says he wants to give some neighborhoods tax money to do whatever they want with it. That is a misguided idea.

The Chicago style neighborhood bosses we already have would just love such a fund to manage. That is the kind of logic that is letting a couple of un-elected bureaucrats in Uptown try to spend $200 million on a bus boondoggle.

The last thing we need to do is line the pockets of a select few. That’s not back to basics. That’s like throwing salt in
the open fiscal wound at Houston City Hall.

We have allowed more than $500 million to sit in the bank accounts of a couple of politically protected neighborhoods. That is money that could fix our streets, provide more police, and address flooding.

“We don’t need neighborhood slush funds. We don’t need higher taxes. And we don’t need to adopt Chicago-style neighborhood bosses,” says Ben Hall. “Everyone benefits if we move the entire city forward together, not financially divide the city as suggested by Mr. King. We can do better!”

In 2013, the managing partner of the tax collection firm Linebarger, Goggan, Blair and Sampson signed a government document claiming the law firm of Barnes and Turner was one of several minority firms getting a piece of a lucrative $8 million HISD contract.

In 2014, an audit showed Linebarger had inflated reported payments to the Turner law firm to his. Sylvester Turner refused to comment when the Houston Chronicle asked him about it. The audit raised real questions about whether the minority community had been cheated out of their promised share of the Linebarger contract.

In May of 2015, records released by HISD show the Barnes and Turner law firm had been paid $370,000. Those records are available for review on dolcefino.com.

Sylvester Turner now is talking, and says all those reports by Linebarger are lies, okay.

If Linebarger lied about their dealings with the Barnes and Turner law firm, why is Sylvester Turner still cashing $10,000 payments every month?

If the HISD records are bogus, what minority firms are getting 25% of the Linebarger HISD contract? If the minority community is being cheated, why has Sylvester remained silent?

Sylvester Turner has benefited from government contracts while in the state legislature, plain and simple. Take Linebarger, a law firm that makes a living suing Houstonians who can’t pay their taxes. What exactly did Sylvester Turners law firm do for the money? Whose home did they help take?

“People are just sick and tired of these career politicians cashing in on public service,” says mayoral candidate Ben Hall. “I have promised Houstonians this nonsense will stop on day one if I am honored with the mayor’s office.”

That is why Ben Hall is once again tonight calling on Sylvester Turner to tell Houstonians what other government agencies have paid his law firm or his title company. What other government contracts does he benefits from?

Maybe it is just a coincidence that Sylvester Turner has made a great living off government contracts and taxpayers money. Maybe it’s not.

Stay tuned.

uptownbusA new report from Metro proves Uptown exaggerated the numbers of potential riders it claimed it would have for that $200 million project that tears up Post Oak for two unneeded exclusive bus lanes.

The report also provides staggering evidence the project is not what was sold to Houston City Council.

Uptown claimed the buses would run every five minutes. The new Metro report has the buses travelling to stops up to 12 minutes apart. Imagine Uptown workers wearing a suit in 100 degree Houston summer waiting in that heat. All so they could take two buses to a Park and Ride Lot and then get back in rush hour traffic in Katy to go home.

Uptown claimed travel times for this bus adventure that we now know will be 12 minutes longer than they claimed.

Uptown claimed trips from Park and Ride buses that no longer exist. Metro now says there will be 20% fewer buses stopped at the Park and Ride lots for the first trip to the transit centers.

Uptown is now telling Metro they do not have the money to build the parking spaces they originally promised at the proposed Bellaire Uptown Transit Center. The original Uptown plan said 700 parking spaces at just one center, now there are plans for only 100. That will make it virtually impossible for a commuter to drive to a transit center for just one bus ride into Uptown. But of course, that is logical and this is a government project.

Metro still predicts there will be 12,050 boardings by 2018, even without any work to alleviate congestion on the freeways going into Uptown. So let’s accept that magical number for the sake of entertainment. In human speak that means 6,000 people will be taking the bus…ALL DAY LONG.

You want further proof that the Metro ridership model is just WRONG?

Metro’s ridership model forecast is for 14,600 boardings per day by 2018, with the added benefit of that elevated bus flyover over the freeway. Just one problem, Metro knows that flyover won’t exist in 2018.

That tells you all you need to know.

“This just confirms what we have been saying from the start”, says Jim Scarborough of the Post Oak Business and Property Owners. “Even Metro can see there is no longer any need to tear up a beautiful street and destroy the sales tax base of an entire city. This is a real estate deal and it is time for the people who misled City Hall and Uptown property owners to quit. We will not stop until they do.”

Representatives of the Post Oak Property Owners are available for media interviews.

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Ben Hall has said it bluntly.

Sylvester Turner betrayed the African-American community when he flip flopped on the 2012 Bond Election. He was against it before he was for it, and he did not get guarantees to protect historically important schools.

It is time for Sylvester Turner to disclose all his ties to HISD.

Sylvester Turner’s law firm is a tax collector for HISD. Since April 2011, the Barnes and Turner firm has been paid $370,000 in taxpayer money as part of a contract with Linebarger, Goggan, Blair and Sampson, a firm often accused of hiring politicians to seek government contracts.

When asked, HISD says it has no records of a single lawsuit filed by the Barnes and Turner law firm, but that is why it is time for Sylvester Turner to answer the questions.

What was he promised in 2012 to gain his support? Are there any other payments, direct or otherwise, that the Turner companies have received through HISD? It is time to disclose?

Ben Hall is not a career politician. He is an independent businessman who wants to level the playing field. Let us end the political games that put special interests over the interests of all Houstonians.

That is the way to move Houston forward.

Dolcefino Consulting seeking documents letter

HISD provided documents

Whether you are on the tear it down crowd or the turn it into an indoor park crowd, I bet you agree the public has every right to know how much of our tax money is going to be part of the Astrodome deal.

So why are public officials trying to keep the negotiations secret?

What are we missing? Don’t you own the place?

Dolcefino Consulting has learned that as much as $30 million in city tax money may be used to help fund an Astrodome deal, part of some kind of trade of assets between the Houston First Corporation and the Harris County Sports and Convention Corporation, who will then use the money to renovate the Dome.

For those losing track of the growing number of corporations set up by Houston City Hall and Harris County Commissioners to spend our money, here is a scorecard.

Houston First is a government corporation set up by Houston City Hall to run the convention center/theatres and spend hotel tax money.

The Harris County Sports Corporation is a government corporation created by Harris County and runs NRG Park, home of the Dome.

In recent days, both agencies have refused to give up e-mails between Sports Corporation President Edgardo E. Colon and Houston First Chairman Ricard Campo. The Sports Corporation first had an outside law firm tell us we would get the e-mails from Houston First. Then Houston First withheld the Dome dealings, and days later the Harris County Attorney Vince Ryan declared every e-mail between the two public officials were some big secret. We would expect nothing less from the distinguished County Attorney, who fights every request Dolcefino Consulting makes.

Houston First isn’t a bastion of total open government either. Dolcefino Consulting filed a criminal complaint this week alleging Campo and others met in violation of the Texas Open Meetings Act, another one of those silly transparency laws.

“It is time for the Mayor and County Judge to come clean so the public knows what this deal will cost” says Wayne Dolcefino of Dolcefino Consulting. “Not after the deal is done, but before. Maybe it is a smart investment? Maybe the county corporation will eventually repay the city corporation from all the money they make. What is with all the secrecy? These are two government agencies who work for us.”

Just think, a renovated Dome may spur on all kinds of development around the Astrodome, which may be exactly what some of the players are betting on.

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Houston Mayoral Candidate Ben Hall says the African-American community is outraged at the destruction and removal of historically black schools, and he pointed an accusing finger of blame at Sylvester Turner.

Turner was against the $1.9 billion HISD bond campaign before he was suddenly for it. Hall opposed the bond election and says HISD is compromised with “pay to play” politics.

“Mr. Turner has betrayed the black and brown community,” says Hall. “He was a political panhandler during the 2012 HISD bond election, got the black community to vote for it and then sat silently when HISD broke its promises.”

On the Fox 26 broadcast Tuesday afternoon, Turner is suddenly criticizing the very bond deal he helped pass.

“If you are going to be the cheerleader for a bond campaign like Turner did you better do your homework before you get out the pom-poms,” says Hall. “I am not going to stand by and allow Mr. Turner to cloak himself in innocence when he had the opportunity to know better. You have to wonder why he sold out.”

Hall says another mayoral candidate, former tax collector Bill King also has some explaining to do. King was a lawyer on the payroll for HISD at the same time he was running the bond campaign.

“Bill King has already been the Mayor of Kemah and Sylvester Turner has been a politician for decades,” says Hall. “It is time for the public to start looking at their records to follow the money. People are fed up with career politicians.”

Plans to build a 15-story garbage dump along Highway 6 near Hempstead have suffered another major blow tonight.

The Executive Director of the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) has filed court papers saying the current landfill application hearing must be dismissed because now everyone knows it did not meet state environmental rules.

Lawyers for the Citizens Against the Landfill in Hempstead and the City of Hempstead have proven the landfill application was garbage, because it showed the shallow hole for the trash would be dug into the ground water.

That is what residents have been warning about for years, that the landfill site will contaminate the drinking water.

The State Office of Administrative Hearings has not yet ruled, and the TCEQ boss made it clear this is only for the current application before the judge.

“This is just one more nail in the coffin of a landfill deal that stinks more than the trash ever will,” says Wayne Dolcefino, President of Dolcefino Consulting. “It is time for those Georgian garbage peddlers to pack their bags and leave the good people of Hempstead alone because they won’t stop fighting…ever.”

Dolcefino Consulting is also calling on Fort Bend County District Attorney John Healy and his band of special prosecutors to stop obstructing the truth. Both a Waller County Judge and the District Attorney have asked for Healy’s special prosecutors to turn over the results of their investigation into the landfill so a new criminal investigation can occur. A Waller County Jury ruled last year several officials held illegal meetings and votes.

“It is sad Mr. Healey and his top prosecutors just don’t want the truth to come out,” says Dolcefino. “I know Fort Bend County voters don’t have a stake in a Waller County landfill investigation, but they should remember this prosecutorial stonewall. The Waller County DA needs to stop stalling and seek a court order. The people of Waller County are being shortchanged by.”

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