By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
By Eric Nicholson
Sorry You Missed It
The genius of Slobberbone: For Tommy (obviously not Stinson): I understand your complaints about the Slobberbone article ("Head Full of Beer," by Michael Chamy, March 10). But exactly what you request in a band is there, just not written about. Other things about the band were mentioned. How they were the flagship band of the Denton scene that inspired an entire rock-and-roll community. How Brent Best played free shows to raise money for Steve's BBQ to save the business from going under. It was mentioned how brilliant their songs were. It was mentioned that through years of touring they became a well-oiled machine that put on knock-down drag-out live shows that inspired all. But that got left on the cutting-room floor. What gets written in the end are stories of the crazy life of being a relentless touring act. You see, Tommy, journalists can only say "genius" and "truly groudbreaking" so many times before they get tired and write about the fabled biographies of bands. "Myth before Music." The same thing happened to the Replacements, Afghan Whigs and the Faces. Slobberbone is in pretty good company. I'm sorry that you weren't there for it.
Eyes Wide Open in Frisco
Devil's in the details: Sorting through Mr. Schutze's flippant if not half-crazed perceptions of Frisco ("Suburbatopia," March 3), it becomes apparent that he is representing less than the whole story.
Schutze portrays the Beckas as David facing off with a supposed cabal of the city, builders and developers in the role of Goliath. Indeed, the Beckas saw fit to invest their own time and money in creating Take Back Your Rights (TBYR), the PAC that they used to launch the petition drive to amend the city charter with what was supposed to be "buyer-friendly" legislation. A commendable act, at least in principle. So who in their right mind, aside from the residential construction industry, would oppose them? Won't these changes to the charter benefit "the little guy"? If the proposed amendments worked as they were apparently intended, the answer would be a resounding "Yes, thank you." The problem, though, lies in the wording of the bonding proposal. This proposed amendment is more than just an assurance that your home is completed once you plunk down your earnest money. It is worded to require a builder to obtain a bond to cover claims against defects for a period of five years from issuance of the CO, before a building permit can be obtained. A five-year warranty, if you will. Here's the rub--of the 30-some-odd surety providers contacted by the city, both locally and nationally, not a single one would be willing to issue a bond per the requirements of the proposal. Many in the industry have replied in writing that they do not know of anyone who would be willing to assume the risk. Even the bonding source provided to the city council at a January meeting by none other than the Beckas themselves has since sent a letter to the city stating that now that he has the specifics of the proposal, there is not one of the 16 companies he represents that would provide the bond. People in the surety business who were rubbing their hands together at the prospect of providing the bond for a tidy little profit at the outset have since been seen running from the "opportunity" like scalded dogs.
If there is no bond, there can be no permits. And no permits equals no new housing starts.
Admittedly, I may not be as astute as Mr. Schutze in these matters. But it doesn't take a dry-witted newspaper columnist to see what happens if these proposals pass. People (evil developers) who have invested heavily in land zoned for residential construction will file suit against the city because the city will be forced to prevent them from using their land per the city's own zoning. Even an individual owning his own lot in a subdivision will be barred from building his own home. And since the city's budget is based in large part on expected revenues from forecast growth, the sudden stop in development means an indefinite delay in converting farmland valued at $200K per acre to new home sites valued at more than $1 million per acre. Where will Frisco make up the property tax shortfall while this invariably drags out in the court system? The answer lies deeper into the pockets of "the little guy." And that's what is starting to open the eyes of folks in Frisco.
It didn't have to come to this. The city attorney sent the Beckas three letters offering to assist them in the development of the proposals. The Beckas rebuffed the offer all three times. Since having verified the validity of the petition, the city has been trying to figure out the possible ramifications of these changes while the deadline to place it on the ballot approaches.
Regarding the groundswell of support for Becka and his proposals that Mr. Schutze referred to, it should be noted that two current candidates for city council who vehemently supported the efforts of the Beckas and TBYR are reported to have abandoned the drive. And judging from a local online forum, many who signed or supported the petition have reversed position on the measures because of the information that is just now making its way into the view of the general public. Little did they know that there were so many devils in the details.
If there is a need to level the playing field when dealing with home builders, and with the power of their Austin lobby most of us agree that there is, the proposals that will be presented to Frisco voters on May 7 are not the answer. The Beckas may have started out with the noble intention of standing up for the underdog, but in doing so they now stand to harm the very people they claim to want to protect. I don't know how that is viewed in Dallas, but way out here in Suburbatopia, that just ain't right.