Austinites Lobbying for Municipal Accountability A.L.M.A.

What it Means to YOU:
All Citizens & Taxpayers are affected by decisions about the use of Federal Funds
made by our elected and appointed Public Officials.
The Victims are:

  • Small business Contractors;
  • Clients / HomeOwners:
    • Middle-Income & Low-Income
    • Senior Citizens 
    • Disabled
    • Children
By 1996, a certain City of Austin contractor had performed over 70 HUD-funded home rehabilitation jobs; and continued to win contracts for apprx. 10 more years from Travis County & Austin Housing Finance Corporation, in spite of the fact that the City / County Contractor:
  • alleged to know nothing about codes / regulations regarding Lead-based Paint.
  • previously abandoned one or more CoA 'rehab' projects;
  • Billed for 'work' that was not done; &/or was substandard 
  • Alleged (as did CoA inspectors also) that electrical 'work' had passed inspection (when in fact the electric 'work' was substandard and posed a fire hazard); and
  • A Summary Judgment Court Ruling for breach of contract exists against the contractor.
On May 23, 2006 Travis County Commissioners Court apparently awarded another contract for roof 'repair' to the same contractor.  Weeks earlier on apprx. May 4, 2006, a home incurred extensive water damage, allegedly resulting from the HUD-funded roof 'repair' project, which this same contractor was in charge of.  The HomeOwner, a Senior Citizen was allegedly displaced from her home for 14 months due to the extensive water damage
As of today (2009), some of the same CoA inspectors, project managers and other public officials, who either:
  • alleged to have passed inspection on the electric 'work' that was later discovered to be a fire hazard; or who
  • apparently turned a blind eye with regard to:
    • the same contractor's violations;
    • lead-based paint interim controls and the subsequent contamination of a client(s)' home(s) --
These same public officials continue to oversee new projects and new housing & redevelopment programs that are currently in the works today.
  • HOW many other homes and lives have been / or will be put in Harm's Way?
  • HOW many other families have been / or will be victims of the apparent arbitrary / capricious pass/fail practices of City of Austin's Inspection Department? 
  • With regard to the City Council's recent ordinance approval of the City of Austin's Point of Sale Energy Audits, HOW will these apparent practices of selective code enforcement / interpretation affect future HomeOwners who wish to sell their homes?
  • WHAT will the City of Austin and Travis County do NOW in order to safeguard the Civil Liberties; and the Health & Safety of its former and future clients and HomeOwners?


A new wave of housing and redevelopment programs is being introduced by the City of Austin.  For example:

  • Green building
  • Homestead Preservation Districts
  • Energy Audits - Point of Sale Energy Ordinances
  • LeadSmart / Healthy Homes Healthy Families
  • Subsidies / Tax Rebates for specific businesses
With Regard to CoA programs like the ones above;  and regarding subsidies like:
  • Federal Stimulus Funds;
  • $55M Local Bond Money for  Affordable Housing;
  • $4.9M for LeadSmart ($1.2M in '03; & 3.7M in '07)
IF pre-existing issues/questions regarding fiduciary, fiscal & criminal allegations (i.e. forgery, un-accounted for federal funds) remain unresolved with regard to the City of Austin; and IF additional subsidies are given to the same entities who mismanaged previous programs,
THEN, We ask the following questions:
  • COULD these new programs (in the absence of genuine accountability of previous subsidies / previous programs) be misused by those in charge, potentially enhancing further displacement of additional families; homeOwners; and small businesses
  • WHY should the Public entrust additional tax money to the same people / entities when previous questions regarding previous programs remain unresolved?
  • WHAT WILL the City of Austin and Travis County do NOW to demonstrate its commitment to the Public and to genuine Accountability [for example: will CoA / TC refer our questions, which involve allegations that are criminal in nature (i.e. forgery and un-accounted for Federal Housing funds) to the U.S. Attorney]? 

A.  Duplication & Waste: (Robbing Peter to pay Paul)
When Publicly-funded programs like the ones that some A.L.M.A. Members fell victim to fail, then our tax dollars go a fraction of the distance for what they were obligated for.
To Clarify:   
  • For any failed/botched home 'rehabilitation' project that the City of Austin neglects to take responsibility for, clients ('victims') of one program must often seek remedies by applying to yet another publicly-funded home 'repair' program from yet another nonprofit.  This can starve out funds budgeted for other projects, other clients and for other nonprofits
  • Basically, the City of Austin's evasion of its own accountability promotes duplication and waste by passing the buck onto yet another locally or federally-subsidized program -- applying twice (or more) the grant money multiple time to the same type of project for the same or similar 'repair'. 
For example:    Roughly-speaking, the allocation of Federal Housing Grant Money is typically structured in the following fashion: 
  1. A participating jurisdiction (pj) such as the City of Austin receives subsidies from the federal government. 
  2. The City of Austin then divides and distributes these subsidies to:
    • various CoA-managed programs such as The Single Family Home Repair Program,  the LeadSmart Program, etc.; AND also to
    • Other nonprofits with similar missions such as the Urban League.
  3. The funding pinch is amplified adversely for small nonprofits when:
    • a former client/'victim' of a possibly botched CoA project has to appeal to another nonprofit (like the Urban League) to repair what the City's program did not do right in the first place
    • A subsidiary nonprofit is potentially saddled with the task of applying its limited resources toward fixing a problem that may have originated out of one of CoA's other housing programs and for which tax dollars were previously applied from the same original pot of Federal grant money.
B.  Are Federal Tax Dollars Suppressing Local Un-Accountability?:
To expand on the points above:  Here is an example of one client's nightmare w/ the City of Austin home 'rehabilitation program:
  • As a result of the City of Austin's Single Family home 'Repair' Program, the client's home was: 
    • abandoned by the City of Austin contractor during 'construction' (destruction);
    • the City left the home in worse condition than it was in before.
    • the City federally-funded home 'rehabilitation' Program resulted in the extreme contamination of the client's home with lead-paint dust that was so severe that the City dump would not accept the client's yard soil.
  • The City of Austin neglected to take responsibility for the damages caused to the client's home, including the lead-paint dust contamination, resulting from the City's federally-subsidized 'rehab' program.
  • Subsequently, the client (for lack of another option) had to apply to yet another one of the City of Austin's Federally-subsidized programs -- the LeadSmart program -- in hopes of cleaning up the hazardous waste that the City of Austin created at the client's home through its initial federally-subsidized program (the Single Family Home 'Repair' program).  Read More here.

  • As a matter of practice, DOES the City of Austin use Federal grant funds from one program (i.e. LeadSmart) to cleanup / cover-up the deficiencies (including possible criminal actions) from another one of its Federally-subsidized programs (i.e. HUD's Single Family Loan Program) -- twice the federal subsidies for a fraction of their intended commitment? ....
  • (Of course, another question is whether official decisions might be used in order to apply a portion from the new Federal Stimulus Funds for the same purpose; or in a similar matter.)
Are Local Tax Dollars Suppressing Local Corruption?:
Regarding the aforementioned client's nightmare with City of Austin's Home 'Rehabilitation' program:  The City of Austin spent several times more in local tax dollars than it would have originally cost the City of Austin to simply take responsibility and fix what it broke at the client's home.
The protracted situation persisted for over a decade, altering the family's lives and livelihoods and transforming the original $17K 'rehabilitation' cost into a repair nightmare that was last bid for over $86K.  Early on, in 1996/'97, the City of Austin estimated the subsequent repair costs from the City Contractor's abandonment at approximately $38K.  In July 1997, the homeowner offered to settle damages for $25K.  Instead, over the course of the next decade, the City of Austin City Council authorized no less than $177K in taxpayer money to hire private legal counsel in order to suppress the client's legal claims / suppress the City's questionable practices.
Likewise, in 2008 the City of Austin exercised a similar tactic when it hired private outside legal counsel to tell Austin Voters what to vote for with regard to Domain Subsidies / Proposition II.
  • WHY did City Council and the Mayor use voter's tax dollars to propagandize an election topic and tell voters what to vote on? (Isn't the purpose of voting to tell council what voters want instead of council telling voters what they want?) 
  • WHY does the Austin City City Council authorize so much local tax money to apparently evade paying a fraction of the cost it would originally have taken to heed Public Interests?  What do they have to hide?


Based on the information received and reviewed by A.L.M.A. and other organizations; and in the interest of the City of Austin's previous Homestead Preservation Initiatives:

  • (contrary to advertisement) WAS the City's objective to remove targeted people from targeted redevelopment areas?
    • If so, was the 'people-removal' a 'success'?
  • OR WAS the City of Austin's objective to retain and enhance affordability for existing and incoming residents (as advertised)?
    • If so, ISN'T IT TIME for a serious systemic review?

CONCLUSION -- THE NEED FOR INVESTIGATION regarding: possible Criminal & Systemic Abuse:

Serious questions about the City of Austin's pracices remain unresolved and involve possible violation of Federal Criminal Statutes for example:

To their credit, both the new city manager and council member CM Marc Ott and CM Laura Morrison, both recently (Summer '08) at least acknowledged our questions of criminal conduct; however, they have not responded to our request for referral of the information to the U.S. Attorney -- (subject to Title 18 of the United States code).
No other council member, including the Mayor has responded to / or even acknowledged our questions of Forgery, Un-accounted for Federal funds, and other related questions -- in spite of our inquiries and documentation that was provided to a number of our Council Members and the Mayor. 
  • What will Travis County and the City of Austin officials do NOW to address these concerns about possible systemic abuse?



TODO Austin August 2010 pg 5:
Where's the Money? 
That's (Still) the Question.
By Katie Walsh 
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City Accountability to Citizens Questioned

NOKOA - THE OBSERVER : May 07, 2009

Statistics Snapshot:
(an informal layman's review)
  • When we sampled approximately 115 previous City of Austin 'affordable' housing projects (which fall under CoA's 'Homestead Preservation' inititiatives), roughly, 48 clients of the estimated 115 allegedly completed projects could not be contacted at the project address -- in fact it appears that some lots were vacant, devoid of a home at all.
    • How does the City of Austin justify the use of federal grant money (and now Federal Stimulus Funds) for program(s) that are promoted as 'Homestead Preservation' Initiatives when possibly 48 of approximately 115 homeowners no longer live in, or own their homes?
  • When we sampled a collection of the City of Austin Environmental Checklists for some of these Affordable Housing contracts (which primarily involved structures built prior to 1978), 83% revealed that City of Austin project specialists either left the answer blank, or checked "N/A" for the question: "does the home contain lead-based paint?"
  • The City of Austin HUD-funded affordable housing project records include a document which  lists projects for a specific Fiscal Year.  26 projects/clients are listed on this document.  One client was the CoA contractor's daughter.  Of the remaining 25 City of Austin Home Rehabilitation Projects / Clients: 
    • 6 are confirmed complaints to A.L.M.A. (24%) (although CoA records do not appear to reflect all of these complaints);
    • 3 more are apparent complaints / problems / delays,
    • leaving only 16 of the 25 projects as apparent successes (or a possible 64% 'success' rate).

  • Federal Stimulus Funds;
  • Other Local & Federal Subsidies;
  • Public Health & Safety
  • Has the City of Austin violated the Public Trust?
  • Has the City of Austin used bait-and-switch tactics re. its Housing / Energy Programs?
  • Have Federal Criminal Statutes been violated with regard to forgery, misapplication of Federal funds, Fraud, Waste and Mismanagement?
Re. FEDERAL STIMULUS FUNDS:  How can authorities and their vendors who have misused or abused these Federal / Local Funds be trusted with more of these funds (We're not opposed to these funds being applied, but we are opposed to the funds being given to the same entities when previous accountability questions remain unresolved.)
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Some Abuses happen incrementally,
Robbing a Community of its ability to witness
One Clear Moment as to where and when to draw the line.
White Collar Crime:
 Takes Lives.
Mass Serial...
Do NOT be Charmed.
'Sophistication' is NOT 'Credibility'.
...Still, Abuse of Power epitomizes Pre-Meditated & Mass Serial.
We MUST insist on Accountability.


Copyright 2003, Austinites Lobbying for Municipal Accountability (A.L.M.A.)

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