As the Uptown Development Authority (UDA) moves forward on the Post Oak dedicated bus lanes, one would expect the concerns raised at the onset to be quelled. But instead of answering questions, UDA has instead become even more secretive about its operations.
Earlier this month, a group of Galleria-area property owners filed a criminal complaint with the Harris County District Attorney’s Office citing violations of the Texas Open Meetings Act regarding property acquisitions along the proposed bus route.
Wayne Dolcefino, who is consulting the property owners, said there is no available information regarding the Right-of-Way Committee’s public meetings. If true, the potential conflicts of interest with board members who own associated property along Post Oak Road would explain the reason for their reluctance to document the board’s acquisition meetings.
One of the Right-of-Way Committee members is David Debrovner, former Chief Financial Officer of Weingarten Realty. Since no records were kept, there’s no way to know if Debrovner abstained from the vote to purchase a property owned by Weingarten Realty.
John Breeding, President of the Uptown Houston District said, “[Our attorneys] tell us such committee meetings don’t have to be posted.” This is the same administrator who attempted to convince Galleria residents at a TxDOT meeting that the Post Oak project would save “$70 million in frustration.”
The filer also noted that Chairman of the Uptown Management District, Kendall Miller, is the president of a company that made nearly $2 million just this year due to acquisitions made by the district.
The transparency issue arose when UDA paid more than half a million dollars for property without any contracts or written agreements. Breeding said that the documents related to the transactions would be available after all of the right-of-way acquisitions are completed, presumably so concerned taxpayers can’t hinder the process – so much for transparency.
Of the criminal complaint filed against the district, Dolcefino said, “The reality is Uptown flatly broke it’s contract with voters, ignoring guidelines it voted on…Houstonians know this is a land grab.”
Despite pushback from the community, there’s little doubt that this project will continue to move forward because the parties involved are financially benefiting. To learn more and get involved, SaveUptown.com has been created to educate citizens about the project.