Earlier this year in an attempt to prevent the public from following the ongoing projects of the Forney Economic Development Corporation, upon the advice of City Attorney Jon Thatcher,
EDC Director Warren Ketteman began using secret “code names” for EDC funded projects.
The EDC Board of Directors and the City Council want to be able to contemplate, without revealing their true intentions to the scrutiny of the community, EDC projects such as the construction of a Raising Cane’s Chicken Fingers and a Race Trac gas station
A few months back EDC Director Ketteman and his Administrative Assistant Stewart McGregor even joked about these project “code names” while addressing the Forney Chamber of Commerce.
However, during last weeks’ EDC meeting the secrecy behind these code names became really offensive when the EDC Board of Directors voted in open session to declare “certain projects” under Chapter 505 of the Texas Local Government Code.
Chapter 505 of the Texas Local Government Code mandates public disclosure of any project that will be funded with economic development incentives. It clearly describes the process in which projects must be publicly disclosed, prior to being voted upon, by the city’s elected or appointed officials.
Director Ketteman and the EDC Board of Directors went to great links to keep from actually naming, describing or declaring exactly which “certain projects” are being considered for huge economic development incentives.
The motion to declare “certain projects” to fulfill the statutory requirements of the Texas Local Government Code was covertly made by EDC Board Member Fred Alexander and seconded by Board Member Kim Tayamen.
Now review the official agenda for the Forney City Council’s Tuesday night meeting.
Agenda Item #4 refers to a 1st reading for an EDC project located at the southeast intersection of US Highway 80, FM 548 and FM 1641, and Action Item #5 refers to a “list of projects” that will receive EDC tax incentives.
Very few details are being provided the taxpayers about these “certain projects” because the taxpayers have been very vocal about not wanting the City Council to approve any more tax incentives for fast food establishments.
Check out this map and know that the truth is; if passed Action Item #4 will allow the Forney EDC to pay Leon Capital, the developer for Raising Cane’s Chicken Fingers, $800,000 in economic development tax money.
The EDC Board of Directors and the City Council upon the legal advice of attorney Jon Thatcher is simply declaring the property to be a project of the EDC so that they made pay Leon Capital $800,000 from the EDC’s bank account.
Shamefully, this is how the Forney EDC is currently being managed and supervised.
Secret code names for projects that the City Council will subsequently approve, and aided by an attorney who advises them on how to maneuver the legal “loop holes” within the Texas Local Government Code to the disadvantage of the Forney taxpayers.
Just during the past year, the members of the EDC Board of Directors have made some huge financial commitments to the developers of the Gateway Project and Leon Capital.
And while being unmonitored, the EDC Board of Directors chose to secretly sell the historic 212 South Bois d’Arc building to EDC President Joe Dan McBeth, reportedly for considerably less than market value.
However, it’s the Forney City Council who consistently proclaims they want “public transparency” but instead goes to great links to deceive the citizens they represent. Therefore because of their constant deception of the public, it’s the voters of Forney who will need to monitor the outflow direction of their Economic Development tax fund.
Written by: Denise Bell