One week ago, a heated debate broke out in the Lubbock City Council Chambers over tax dollars going to the North and East Lubbock Community Development Corporation.
Our continuing investigation has explored issues of transparency, conflicts of interest and questions about how this organization is spending your money.
"It is very apparent from the reporting and the digging that ya'll have done that this council made some decisions based on some bad information," Mayor Glen Robertson said.
Those decisions have led to some discourse, as citizens spoke for and against the city's decision to fund the NELCDC, as part of an effort to spur economic development in North and East Lubbock. Our investigation was also questioned that night.
"I don't know anything you've reported as being wrong. It's after you report the facts, the facts getting twisted by the system. That's something we have to live with. It happens all the time," Robertson said.
The council decided that night to hold a work session in order to address the questions surrounding the NELCDC. Robertson says that's exactly what needs to be done.
"The information that I have from this, quite frankly has come from Channel 11. I think what we need to do is get good facts on the table," Robertson said.
However, the atmosphere in the room changed quickly last Thursday night when the debate over NELCDC's funding became a racial argument.
"It shocked me and I'm not sure how it got there. I brought up the fact that all of the city of Lubbock, district one two and three, we're all one city," Robertson said.
Like us, Robertson doesn't question the need for economic development in North and East Lubbock. However, after the millions of dollars already spent, Robertson is not sure that the NELCDC is the best mechanism for change.
"I think the first step is going to be next Thursday night, when we do have a complete work session and look at NELCDC and try to figure out if it's the best vehicle going forward," Robertson said.
One of the issues the council will address is the assistant city secretary's role in this.
"I will tell you, if I have a city of Lubbock employee doing work for a nonprofit while they're on city of Lubbock payroll, and that benefits a private citizen and private investment, then we have an issue and it needs to be addressed," Robertson said.
A lot of questions still remain. We hope many of them will be answered next Thursday.
"We can't rectify this, because some of the money has already been transferred and spent, but we can sure learn from it and make sure it doesn't happen again in the future," Robertson said.
The Texas Attorney General has ruled on our open records request. Some of the information we requested may be kept secret by the NELCDC. However, the AG's office ruled that other parts of our request must be honored.
We are still waiting for the NELCDC to turn over that information.
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