In the near-term, if elected, I will work with all stakeholders to at the very least accomplish and/or document impediments for public knowledge of the following reforms:
- Replacement of the current Helotes Economic Development Corporation Executive Director to eliminate conflicts of interest. The current Executive Director is the City Administrator who answers to the Mayor.
- Amendment of the HEDC Bylaws, Article Two Board of Directors, Section 2.1 Powers, Number and Terms of Office, para. (b). Modify “As vacancies occur on the Board or terms expire, the Mayor will recommend appointments of new candidates and submit same to Council for approval.” this to language where each councilmember nominates a candidate for their respective place number on the board and allow for one mayoral nomination and one HEDC nomination or any combination thereof.
The point is to eliminate conflict of interest and ensure council has equal representation on the HEDC via political appointees.
Here is some background:
Wednesday, April 17th, 2019 Mayor Schoolcraft sent a memo to then City Administrator Rich Schroder, who also served as the HEDC Executive Director (conflict of interest created by Schoolcraft) before my time. The memo was to be distributed to the directors of the board for their meeting in support of agenda item #11. We were discussing the relationship with the HEDC and the Helotes Area Chamber of Commerce (HACC) that evening.
One third of that memo is dedicated to how the chamber recently released (fired) their only employee and this caused a “substantial breach” in the contract. The HACC at that time rented via in-kind sponsorships, one of three partitioned office spaces from the HEDC, that the HEDC rents from the building owner. As part of the HACC’s agreement, they would staff the office and help the HEDC.
The HEDC has one full-time employee occupying one of three office partitions. It made no sense to me to treat our chamber who works symbiotically with the HEDC in our community in such a dismissive and unnecessarily cold manner.
One of my companies is a Texas limited liability company formed in March 2013. Out of respect for former clients, I will state, I have NEVER I initiated a contract termination based on short-term hurdles someone faced.
Item discussion 1:07:48. My input starts at 1:19:52
I could also delve into the firsthand knowledge of small business economic assistance. March 19th 2020, I sent an email to the HEDC’s only employee detailing a loan and grant program. Serendipitously, this employee had already pitched the same idea early that day and was shot down. Instead of cowering to power, this employee pressed the idea. April 30th, 2020 we had our first special meeting for the creation of a loan program for our small businesses. I initially, proposed placing all unnecessary projects on the table to have a large fund pool. Apparently, we needed a splash pad more than helping small businesses. HEDC is primarily funded via sales tax dollars so the math made sense, and for me, it was the right thing to do. The Mayor had a direct role in how much money made it to the April 30th, agenda. Draft agendas I have were at $600,000. We were left with $300,000 for 0% loans so there could apparently be projects in the pipeline. Peak level of frustration is on August 12, 2020 in the video below were I found out why the City Council would not be able to discuss and take action on August 13th to approve converting the HEDC loans to grants, that when Bexar County’s CARES Act criteria was met, we would be reimbursed for most of it if not all we granted. Council must approve HEDC projects over $10,000. Mayor Schoolcraft omitted the item off the City Council agenda.
The response given to me in this meeting triggered a public information act request. I have emails showing staff did their work. If there were questions that would cause the Mayor to omit an HEDC from Council’s agenda, we never should have had it on ours on the 13th.
My input starts at 8:37.