Tuesday, February 25, 2014

What are your thoughts on the ACCORD Draft Congress Heights Metro Community Benefits Agreement?

In case you missed it go HERE to get the skinny.

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Anonymous said...

Peace & Blessings

I'm not going to act like I'm 100% happy with all that the ACCORD is asking for but I understand it's the Art of Negotiating. Aim for the stars and hope for the best I guess is their plan. My hope is that a honest and good faith counter offer will be made that truly benefits the community. I'm more concerned about the counter offer because this will gauge how far they're willing to go for Congress Heights.

Anonymous said...

As someone who has never seen one of these arrangements/negotiations, the community demands seemed daunting. But, as someone who has been involved in successful settlement negotiations that looked hopeless at the beginning, I strongly suspect that the community is starting high and really expect to get something less than everything they have demanded. I also suspect that the developer'(or its attorney) is thinking the same too.

PG2SE said...

I've never seen one of these before either, so I was a bit reluctant to comment. But there are several things about this that don't sit right with me.

I'll start with the things I like: the parts about affordable housing (section 6) and employment opportunities (section 7) were great. At the meetings I've been to about this particular development, those items have been the main concerns expressed by the community, and I thought the agreement did a good job outlining specific actions the developer could take to address them.

The other parts are where my concerns arise. The contracting opportunities in section 8 require the developer's general contract to spend a minimum of 40% with CBEs and 50% of that must be with CBEs in Ward 8. That's a wonderful goal, but how feasible is it? Also, I find it interesting/troubling that they made this a requirement, but the request that at least 30% of construction jobs go to Ward 8 residents is only a goal the developer should endeavor to reach. Are CBEs more important than our unemployed/minimally employed?

The $200,000 revolving capital fund is puzzling. When Ward 8 small businesses win contracts with the developer, shouldn't the payments they receive cover weekly payroll and other fixed costs? Why a separate fund for the developer to cover this? I'm not a construction business owner, so maybe this is typical. But to this layman's eyes, it's puzzling.

Then of course there's the $2M funding request. Besides the fact that the bad math outlined in the 10-year payment plan adds up to only $1.5M instead of $2M, they don't specify how transparency in the distribution of these funds will be accounted for. Several of the signatories are officers of non-profits/CBOs that could potentially be recipients of these funds. That's a very troubling conflict of interest.

Then there's the 40-50 years of free office space for ANC 8E. Using conservative estimates of office space cost, that easily amounts to well over $1M. Why does ANC 8E need this space when UPO Petey Greene has provided community meeting space for years and continues to do so? If the agreement is truly for the benefit of all of Ward 8, why is the benefit specifically for 8E and not all the ANCs and neighborhood associations? This one is not only troubling, it doesn't even make any sense.

Lastly, the attorney. Does Olandan Davenport live in Ward 8? If not, why was he the one hired to negotiate this agreement to the tune of a potential $25,000 benefit? There are several lawyers in our community who I'm sure could have assisted with this. If we say we value First Source and we request developers to do the same, it only makes sense that we should walk the walk.

The things written in sections 6 and 7 on affordable housing and job opportunities represent my views and interests as a community member. The other parts seem to me to represent mainly the interests of the ACCORD members, and it is very troubling that that is the perception when those are the parts with the money attached.

I understand that negotiations have to start somewhere. But this doesn't seem like a very good start.