One of things that has always bothered me about El Paso is the mentality that you have to be connected in order to remain in business. Professional business in El Paso is not about the best service or the best price rather it is about who you know and who’s wallet is being stuffed. Although it bothers me that private businesses act this way I really have no right to complain because a private business uses the owner’s money and therefore they have every right to spend it as they see fit. However as I explained on my blog post “Why a Politician Advocating Holding the Line on Taxes Can’t Get Elected in El Paso” I shared with you the vicious cycle that is the economy in El Paso. It relies on government largesse. Therefore a taxpayer-funded government entity needs to be a steward of the people’s money.
As such, a government entity should do everything it can to maximize the taxpayers’ monies. Besides getting the best value for the dollar, a government entity should look to see whom it does business with. Unfortunately, it seems that the city, along with other government entities, finds a way to do business with business entities that heavily supports the city’s initiatives yet are fraught with serious business problems.
This gives rise to the notion that it doesn’t matter how your business acumen is or your business viability as long as you kowtow to the politicians your business will be fine. Case in point is TVO.
On May 29, 2012, the city awarded a Real Estate Management Services contract to TVO Management Services. The contract was for brokerage services and consulting services to compile a real estate book of city-owned property. As you might remember in my blog post “Why Is Leeser Asking to Cancel TVO Contract?” I pointed out that TVO’s CEO, Russell Vandenburg and his company were contracted by the city to relocate city services to new locations, including the El Paso Times building.
Considering the city’s rush to relocate the award of the contract to TVO bypassed the usual bidding and documenting processes a taxpayer funded project normally requires to safeguard taxpayer monies. We can assume that the city’s contract to TVO may have been lucrative to them. However, because of the lack of competitive bidding it is impossible to determine how lucrative it was.
On my December 5 blog post, “Russell Vandenburg Follow Up” I shared with you that Vandenburg has been involved with the Paso del Norte Group (PDNG) that has led the downtown revitalization projects that use the fiasco of the ballpark as a major cornerstone. I pointed out how in 2007 and again in 2009 TVO was involved in two controversial projects; the Garden Inn at UTEP and the Cliff Inn property.
Even though controversy surrounded TVO they were still able to land taxpayer funded contracts with the city. To me it seems that Vandenburg’s support of city initiatives is somehow connected to contract awards to his company. Why wasn’t another real estate company able to provide the services for the city? And if so, why weren’t they given the opportunity?
Now it seems that TVO has its Stanton 4433 Condominiums in foreclosure. They are scheduled to be auctioned off at the county court house this morning. According to the foreclosure filing on December 17, 2013, TVO has defaulted on its loan to the bank on the condominiums. The Trustee’s Sale states that TVO Development Services, LLC defaulted on its loan with Plains Capital Bank.
The foreclosure sale is scheduled for today between 10 and 1 this afternoon.
Keep in mind that although the city voted to terminate the real estate contract with TVO on December 3, 2013 the city was quick to point out that it would still contract TVO on a case-by-case basis. Also remember that Vandenburg is part of the group spearheading the city’s economic development through the Borderplex Alliance.
Let that sink in a little, the city’s economic development initiative is being spearheaded, in part, by an individual that is in the midst of numerous bankruptcy proceedings and whose projects have been mired in controversy. I didn’t even mention that his wife filed a restraining order against him demanding that he not spend the family’s money.
With a business record involving controversy and foreclosures it boggles the mind how anyone involved in these businesses would be leading the city’s charge for economic development. Or, is it a simple case of one “business leader” scratching the back of another?