Wylie's Good Old Boy System Must Go

During budget discussion two years ago, wasn't it Mayor Eric Hogue who answered a question from Councilman William Whitney about lowering the tax rate thanks to a revenue windfall the city would receive. With increasing property values Hogue stated, "Just because we can lower the tax rate doesn't mean we should." Nice. This from the man who would just as soon turn Wylie into a police state. Again, it was Whitney who questioned during budget talks about adding four more PD slots last year, why the city would entertain adding them despite the inability to fill four existing PD slots. In an offhanded comment, Hogue stated he would like to see an officer, "on every corner" in Wylie. Alarming.

The WEDC Website has been like this for about a year
While Wylie's citizens are complaining about the high tax rate here, the highest in all of Collin County, one city entity lurks in the background, hoping nobody will take notice of their coveted playground.

The Wylie Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) is charged with bringing new business to Wylie, and they have quite the hefty budget to do so.

Recent complaints have been made on the Nextdoor social media site complaining about WEDCs budget adjustment, listing a $9770.45 expense spent on Mavs season tickets.

One angry taxpayer wrote:
"Our tax dollars at work...page 8."
Another:
"I think it's politics. Always scratching someones back or palm. :("
And another:
"That is a waste of money. Maybe they need to replace the entire committee."
And this:
"Wow! Our tax dollars at work. Wonder if we demand tickets to a game what they will say. We should go to a city council meeting and ask."
And finally this:
"Cowboys tickets please! Deplorable."
You see, people are sick of being bent over while city employees have a grand time on our dollar. Just like when Hogue took his pet project - magic to Washington DC last year, on the taxpayer dime. Also attending was City Manager Mindy Manson, presumably in tow to take advantage of mayoral photo ops with David Copperfield and House Rep. Pete Sessions (REP). Yes, this was touted as city business.

So who exactly is the WEDC taking to the Mavs games anyway? It's not like we have a plethora of new industrial businesses or headquarters that are being wooed to town. This is Wylie, for crying out loud. Sheesh.

Though WEDC Executive Director Sam Satterwhite is a city employee, he seems to fall under the radar most of the time.

Another nifty incentive for Satterwhite is that he gets to office where he likes. It seems that's how the fashionable EDCs do it around town, and Wylie is no different in wasting taxpayer funds on rent. Now there's a way to save money so taxpayers can get a tax rate reduction.

Oh, did I mention that Satterwhite was arrested in March 2009 of a DUI and sentenced to 60 days, ultimately receiving a 12 month probation? According to the city employee handbook, he should have been fired, but Mayor Eric Hogue worked hard to keep him on staff.

Still, according to Councilwoman Diane Culver, she told me Satterwhite is, "The devil we need". Really? I guess the city administrators and council members strongly believe they cannot live without his stellar ability to develop and bring new business to Wylie. Please.

In all fairness, the WEDC is tagged with bringing industrial business, and helping pave the way for large complex developers, but the activity surrounding this need is also directly responsible for enticing the fine array of chicken shacks and fast food.

To understand why its time to clean house at the WEDC, you would have to understand the cast of seedy characters who fall into and out of various boards and elected positions around Wylie.

Add caption
The WEDC offices in a cushy sandbox at Lawyers Title located at 250  Highway 78, conveniently with playmate Baron Cook, who plays escrow manager by day and owner of  Wylie Industrial Development Corporation by night. His company happens to own the Lawyers Title building where WEDC rent space out of the back.

Interestingly, the Lawyers Title checks list an Inwood Bank address in Garland so as not to link themselves with WEDC Board President Marvin Fuller, the Wylie Inwood branch president. Kind of looks a bit like city rent indirectly benefits a WEDC board member. Cute.

Now keep this all straight, because it starts getting tricky here.

Cook recently petitioned Mayor Hogue to get the city to release him from paying back taxes, penalties, interest and attorney fees to the tune of $47,541.71, to which Hogue personally requested the item be placed on the city council agenda.

At the April 11, 2017 meeting Cook claimed the previous tenant in that building fell in arrears, and when they moved out, nobody knew the situation until the Collin County Central Appraisal District (CAD) sent Cook a tax bill in 2010.

At the same time, in 2010 Cook's Lawyers Title company moved into the very same building. He claims the CAD made an error and did not bill him for the City of Wylie portion of his tax bill from 2009-2013. Except, Cook has owned that building since 2003. So you mean to tell me that nobody in the office realized taxes weren't being paid? I wonder how it would play out if homeowners tried that excuse on the city? 

In feigned ignorance to the tax man, Cook claimed Keller Williams was responsible for the tax bill as part of their lease. But that doesn't explain why there was an issue from the time they moved in until 2013. 

Then there's that little business as to why this didn't come up again since 2013? Cook claims both he and CAD dropped the ball.

I suppose we'll never know why any of this happened, but hey, turns out when you want to get out of a tax bill to the city, and you are part of the back scratch fever club, you get a pass. City council voted unanimously (Councilwoman Culver was absent) to give Cook a break on back interest and fees and he only ended up paying $39,018.54 a tidy savings. Obviously Cook knew that if he threatened to fight the bill, the city would capitulate to the pressure of oppressive city lawyer fees, which is exactly what they did. Benevolent.

If Cook's name sounds familiar, it should. He's the one who got that sweetheart deal selling his own land to Wylie ISD, while sitting as a trustee. Yup, to you and me that's McMillen Junior High and Davis Intermediate.

About now it probably shouldn't come as a shock that the same situation presented itself with WISD trustee Mitch Herzog as well. Indeedy do, his boss and father-in-law, Richard Parker's company purchased WISD land at a steal, combined it with a tract they owned, and sold it for around a cool million to the smallest hotel I've ever seen, yonder on 544. Never mind the inconsequential fact that he was also sitting as a WEDC board member who inadvertently helped facilitate the deal. Well then there's that.

Hang on folks, because the fun doesn't stop there. Another titillating factoid is that WEDC board member Todd Wintters ran for city council and was elected! That's right, that conflict of interest hot mess walked right into his seat, along with Mayor Pro Tem Keith Stephens, completely unopposed. As you saw in May's election, Stephens tippie-toed in again, totally unopposed. With these two, the Wylie First Baptist Church contingency was completed in that move, as they have infiltrated every facet of the city with their people. That was the day the FBC officially started to work my last nerve.

Oh, and did I mention that the WEDC holds their board meetings in their office at the Lawyers Title building at 6:00 a.m. so citizens won't show up? That was the nifty change they made after getting slapped by the Texas Ethics Commission for holding closed meetings. Open Meetings Act thumb-nose. So much for transparency.

Seems to me like WEDC board members get more than their backs scratched as part of the good old boy club around town. Clearly, Wylie has gotten out of control and it is truly time to clean house. You just can't make this stuff up.