Lago Vista Independent School District (LVISD)


City master plan includes private POA facilities, Gary Gates makes a splash with his letter to the editor

When you're reading these, I hope you'll use your active thought processes to ask yourself some questions. Wouldn't an honest broker with no agenda simply answer questions? Are these logical responses to rational questions? Do the responses answer or obfuscate? And so on.

Despite all that happened, and as clearly frustrated as I was sometimes, I still thought I was dealing primarily with misunderstandings. So when I had a chance to complement two of the LVPOA people on a job well done, I was happy to do so.

The reason for the compliment is contained in the North Lake Travis Log August 25, 2010 which contained an article where it was reported, "The board's statement cited its concerns about the city listing LVPOA parks and facilities in the master plan. The board also questioned the significance of a city survey, which the city parks and recreation committee used as a resource to edit the plan" The City was misleading by claiming LVPOA parks and facilities. It's never been determined if this was a mistake or intentional. It seems really odd though because we're just a small town. There were reasons to question the survey. There was also a strange statement by a local builder, Doug Casey, who it was reported is a vice president on the Lago Vista Economic Development Alliance.  You can read it here.

Our POA is supposed to be a structure left in place by the developer to allow them to cash out while providing attractions to attract buyers to maintain an after market for our lots within the POA footprint. But the City and usually the POA Board itself tend to say the LVPOA has a "Community Burden" for the other lots outside its footprint, which makes no sense. Can you imagine someone on Sam's Club Board of Directors saying Costco didn't allow for enough warehouses, so now Sam's Club has a "Community Burden" to give Costco use of Sam's Club warehouses whenever Costco needs one? Of course not! That would never happen! But, what the city and our LVPOA often does is the same thing. In other words, because other people don't prepare as they should, we have to give them our amenities, which we pay for. They are fond of saying only a few currently live outside the POA boundaries but there are many LOTs outside the POA boundaries. Those are put in place by other developers just as our lots were put in place by our developer. So, I was truly thankful, when Nancy Oliver, and Deborah Sorchevich actually defended shareholders.

On August 30, 2010 2:30AM, I sent an email to Nancy Oliver and Deborah Sorchevich, saying " I wanted to thank you both for standing up for all of us property owner members in the City Council meeting. I was unable to attend, I read it in the Log. That's probably for the best, since had I been there, I suspect I would have cheered and that would have taken away from your presentations. I know because that's what I did when I read both your points the article. I really appreciate what you two did. What I read was phenomenal! You two made a dead on perfect series of points in your standing up for all of us members. I am serious, thank you both! I was (and remain) really impressed! One last thing - sometimes organizations provide team assistance for presentations, sometimes not. If any parts were created with team assistance, they deserve thanks too, if appropriate please pass my thanks to anyone else who contributed whether they were on staff, or on the board."

In the same August 25, 2010 North Lake Travis Log article, Mike Parker reported "Doug Casey, vice president of the Lago Vista Economic Development Alliance, said when additional growth occurs, and the LVPOA remains the same size, it will cause fragmentation within the community."Wouldn't it be nice if we didn't have to have that conversation?" he asked." You can read it here.

I think that comment attracted a lot of attention, especially because Doug Casey is a homebuilder, and some think a homebuilder should know better. As I've commented in several forms, the LVPOA should not be held to a higher contribution than any other private company. The developers create the amenities they believe their customers want. Most cities have several different POAs, and several non-POA affiliated areas. It gives people the freedom to choose the amenities they'd like. Good developers know this. Good realtors know this. Good home builders know this. As far as I've been able to tell, other cities, know this but for some reason some people in Lago Vista don't.

On September 2, 2010, Gary Gates wrote a Letter to the Editor to the Log about the same August 25, 2010 article, in it Gary Gates said in part "I originally ran for office because I feared the delineation between the POA and the city could be falling. Over the last three years things seemed to have settled down and I was told many times that there where safe guards against this and there was no way the city could be take over the POA." He also said "read the comments by Mr. Angelo, Kruger and Casey to see there are efforts to do just that. Recently, the POA asked the City Council for a public meeting to discuss what the city will be doing with reference to parks and facilities, and Mr. Kruger's response published in the LOG was "No Way" to a public forum. Word reached the POA that any meetings with the city would be in executive session and behind closed doors." You can read it here.

On September 03, 2010 5:56 PM I wrote the Board because of Gary Gates letter and I said in part "As a shareholder, Gary Gates letter was very disturbing. His statements about running because others will diminish the value or give away LVPOA property, by definition mean a board member is claiming some or all candidates are not intent on preserving shareholder interests. Further, since only 2 of the board members are up for election, the math says he is claiming there is at least 1 person who is not up for election whose intention is not preserving shareholder interests. Otherwise, there would still be 3 "good" candidates in office; even if the 2 open slots were filled with "bad" members they could be out voted. The implication is that there are current board members and board candidates who will not protect shareholder value."

On September 03, 2010 6:29 PM Dave Freeman said in part "I think you're over analyzing Gary's letter and reaching the wrong conclusions. I can assure you all five of our current board members are unanimously in favor of protecting the assets of our LVPOA shareholders. The BOD is very concerned the COLV has not been visionary enough when it chose to annex new developments, thereby enlarging city boundaries without requiring these new developments to supply adequate parks and lake access for these future residents. These new developments will not be entitled to use LVPOA parks and facilities unless their entire development elects to joining the LVPOA under the terms and conditions of our Buy-In policies."

To me, his reply reads two ways. One, the City has it's problems because of other developments, we're set up, but they aren't. But, he is saying our LVPOA Board wants to solve it for them instead of letting them work it out, and to do it with our LVPOA resources. Second, we have many vacant lots in our POA footprint. If our own footprint is ever built out, will have a much larger park utilization. Developers deal in land and can create their own parks, so why would we even consider giving buy-ins? It's not our problem if a development doesn't set aside parks for its residents. I've never seen any other legitimate private company so intent on helping outside companies. I can't figure that out. But, he did say that all five were looking out for shareholders on this item, so it was the best I could get.

On September 03, 2010 11:56 PM I thanked him but pointed out he had promptly answered some of my question but not the rest. I was asking about the board member candidates. I should have addressed them to the Presidents Council but I didn't realize that yet. In context that I was asking about candidates positions I also pointed out "Why use eminent domain, or negotiate now, if one hopes to get someone in place to get a better deal later? We're all aware some on the COLV have been eying LVPOA properties for several years with an eye towards taking them public. They haven't exactly been quiet about it, though the board obviously knew more than we did. Several COLV council members have stated similar things over the years, although the mayor seemed more extreme both this last time and also when rejecting the board's offer of a joint meeting."

On September 04, 2010 9:08 AM Dave Freeman explained Candidates Night is run by the President's Council. Dave is correct. I should have addressed my candidate's questions to them.

As a side note, I did end up addressing two questions to the candidates and they were put in the box. If you attended candidate's night, you heard them say they only received two questions from the whole city. The interesting part to me is even though they only received two questions, my two questions were NOT asked. I had to stand up at question time and ask them separately. One was the original question, one was a substitute. Take that for what you will.

That same evening September 04, 2010 12:15 PM Gary Gates also responded saying "I probably stirred up the dust with my letter and that is exactly what my purpose was. My position is that having 3 years of history and watching the COLV, I think I can help the LVPOA BOD work forward and keep the COLV at arms length." He also said "I want to be able to follow development from the inside rather than through the LOG and the public doings of the COLV. Let me say that at of the sitting members of the BOD are 100% behind keeping the COLV at arms length." And also he said, "Lastly, President Dave Freeman state the facts very well and all I can say is from my point of view, what he said is also factual"

Events proved his Letter to the Editor was accurate, and some that is covered here too. It is not Gary's fault if people do not do as he expects. But, because it is mentioned here, in my view, the other directors don't seem to be keeping the City at arms length as he thought they would. In my view, the opposite is occurring.

On September 04, 2010 3:56 PM I answered in part "I never questioned anyone's word on this. I believe what Dave said is factual too. Although it is not what you intended, your letter did unintentionally raise questions that were worth asking, and that is a good thing right? It's worth asking questions if something comes up, even if by accident. I'm taking all of you at your words. I appreciate your answers and Dave's answers."

Events hadn't fully unfolded, and things were not as clear in real time as they are now in hindsight. From Lagopalloza to this point was three months, so I was seeing things in bits and pieces over time. At this point, I was still thinking I should give them the benefit of the doubt where possible. It was getting harder and harder to believe that with the ongoing accumulation of items, but those accumulated over time with gaps.

September 04, 2010 4:16 PM Jo Anne Molloy emailed and said "I have carefully read the questions you have posed for the Board and as far as I know all Board members are looking after the interest of the share holders. I certainly try to vote with the members utmost in my thoughts. Thank you for your interest. Please feel welcome to come to the Board Meeting and ask questions that you are concerned about. I will be out of town on Sept. 20th. I am very sorry that I can not be there."

September 04, 2010 11:12 PM, I responded to Jo Anne in part "I really feel better about this now. I really enjoy the parks and the local events the LVPOA assists with. (Remember even as I complained about Lagopalloza, I kept making the point I was NOT complaining about the other events.) I moved here in large part because of the parks, and above their shareholder value they affect a lot about the quality of living, even on the neighborhoods outside the parks."

Next I started trying to confirm the park sale was dead with the 2010 board. It should have been simple but proved to be a challenge. All that is in the next post.