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Glen Robertson’s Towering Political Problem

Glen Robertson’s Towering Political Problem

How the mayor purchased two properties within close proximity of Citizens Tower and City Hall as City Council’s plans for these buildings developed. And how he didn’t abstained from votes.

HOW A BOND COMMITTEE’S RECOMMENDATION for a new Lubbock Police Department facility was skewed into remodeling Citizens Tower to become a new city hall and Lubbock City Hall to become a police station was overviewed in the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal on Friday.

The story reports congressional candidate and Lubbock Mayor Glen Robertson purchased two properties within close proximity of Citizens Tower and City Hall as City Council’s plans for these buildings developed. Moreover, he didn’t abstained from votes pertaining to the two buildings in this duration of time.

How all of this occurred, and how Robertson has arrived at a towering problem, will be examined below.

One might say, “What has Robertson to do with Citizens Tower? He voted against purchasing Citizens Tower, abating Citizens Tower and selling bonds to renovate Citizens Tower and City Hall.”

But was he really against Citizens Tower?

Screen-Shot-

Distance from ‘Lubbock City Council’/City Hall to 1219 Ave Q  (Google Maps)

CITIZENS TOWER WAS PURCHASED by a city council vote on Nov. 16, 2014. The mayor was the lone nay vote.

However, on Dec. 15, less than a month later, Robertson closed on his purchase of 1219 Ave. Q, a property across the street and adjacent to the soon-to-be-renovated City Hall. It’s unclear how many weeks prior the property went into contract.

When the council voted to abate Citizens Tower on March 25, 2015, the mayor was the lone vote against.

However, two days later, Robertson closed on his purchase of 1414 Ave. K, a property that is attached to the parking garage of Citizens Tower.

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Robertson’s 1414 Ave. K is structurally attached to Omni/Citizen Tower’s parking garage (Google Street View)

The 1414 Ave. K seller said Robertson initiated the deal, and that the mayor was clear with the seller about “the city’s plans to consolidate the city departments next door.” It’s unclear how many weeks prior to March 27 Robertson initiated the deal.

In the Avalanche-Journal story, Robertson claims, “anybody would have been able to buy the properties with the same knowledge.” Which might be interpreted as: blame goes to “anybody” who didn’t close a property deal two days after a huge council vote to abate a building on the other side of the wall.

The two properties were transferred to Robertson’s Texas Four Bar R Management (which has significant property ownership) 10 days after filing his Federal Elections Commission paperwork, on Oct. 30, 2015.

On Friday, April 22, 2016— with municipal elections starting the following Monday for four of seven council seats— the City of Lubbock sold certified obligation bonds for renovations to two buildings around which the mayor entered into contracts and acquired real estate on a timeline corresponding with council consideration and votes.

(See graphic of 18-month timeline at end of story.)

IT ALSO BEARS MENTIONING that over the past 18 months, there’s been a strange silence about Citizens Tower from two “conservative” former Lubbock County GOP chairmen who’ve proven to be pro-Robertson, at best, throughout the congressional race.

Robert Pratt, a Lubbock radio host, has had plenty of pro-Robertson commentaries, but his website pulls up zero commentaries in which “Citizens Tower” or “Omni Building” are mentioned.

The same goes for commentaries by L. Scott Mann, who is a local investigative reporter and blogger. (See transcripts of Mann “interviews” of Robertson and Arrington.)

Why would Pratt and Mann be silent about $50-80 million from taxpayers, without a citizen vote, that, as state Sen. Charles Perry has said, defies state statute because certified obligation bonds are only to be used in emergencies and/or disasters?

This should be red meat for Pratt and Mann. There’s an abundance of pro-Robertson commentaries on both Pratt and Mann’s websites, but not one about Citizens Tower. I wonder why.

 “…there’s an abundance of pro-Robertson commentaries on both Pratt and Mann’s websites, but not one about Citizens Tower. I wonder why.”

(Disclosure: For analysis pieces I’ve written on the congressional race, click here and here… posts that got me accused of being both pro-Robertson, who I like, and pro-Arrington. But as a bond committee member who’s all for Citizens Tower being done the right way, I’m admittedly more jaded than I was prior to April 22.)

ROBERTSON’S SIGNATURE POLITICAL TACTIC is to initiate a situation, profit off the situation, and absolve responsibility by blaming others for both the situation and the profit.

On the whole, the tactic has served Robertson well. He’s made a political career by it, most recently a congressional runoff.

He’s apparently acquired properties by the tactic as well— one of which is connected to a much-disputed tower. But when examined closely, there doesn’t seem to be anybody else to credibly blame for this.

As Citizens Tower ties into the congressional race, Robertson’s most towering political problem might be that the tactic is losing its effect.

Follow-up questions:

Why did the mayor not abstain from votes involving Citizens Tower-City Hall while under contract for, or in possession of, these properties? What was city legal guidance, if any, in this decision?

Did the mayor initiate the property deal with the 1219 Ave. Q seller as well? If so, when?

What were the contract dates?

Were property sellers aware of the exact amount of taxpayer dollars “the city’s plans” would put into nearby buildings?

Why did Robertson pay more than double for 1414 Ave. K’s appraised value? Was $300,000 his original offer?

What’s the estimated appraisal of these properties after the respective projects are complete?

GR Timeline

About the author: Jay Leeson can be heard on West Texas Drive on KRFE AM 580 Lubbock, weekdays from 4:30-6:30pm. He is also founder and editor of MakeWestTexasGreatAgain.com. Follow him on Twitter at @jayleeson.

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  • Jim
    May 16, 2016, 11:12 am

    Wow. If he really closed on those properties that soon after that vote, there’s almost no doubt he was working on the deal prior to the vote. And if he really did approach both property owners like the AJ said, this is a really big ethical issue for him.

    Why don’t we see actual investigative reporting like this done by other media outlets?

    REPLY
    • JAY LEESON@Jim
      May 17, 2016, 11:20 am

      Jim, thank you for reading.
      To clarify: The A-J reported the 1414 Ave. K as saying Robertson approached him, but didn’t cite Robertson’s side. Likewise, the story reported Robertson as saying a banker approached him about 1219 Ave. Q, but didn’t cite the former owner’s side.
      This to say, it’s only reported that Robertson approached one owner.
      Hope that helps. Thanks for chiming in.

      REPLY
  • Vance
    May 16, 2016, 1:41 pm

    This is BAD news for mayor robertson. I m still mad at him for lying to me at a forum and telling me he had to vote for a higher property tax a while back because of old bonds which is lying and hogwash. and now this. We don’t need any more people SWINDLING the public by pretending to represent WE THE PEOPLE when they really want to take the easy way out or line own pockets.

    REPLY
  • Cotton
    May 18, 2016, 2:28 pm

    This is despicable. The Mayor should be ashamed of himself we dont need anymore congressmen who use office to enrich themselves

    REPLY
  • Daniel Clayton
    May 24, 2016, 10:27 pm

    He didn’t win the election. Otherwise good reporting. Glen has some serious ethical issues.

    REPLY

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