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Southeast Bexar County Community Awareness: Chico Rodriguez uses media to mislead Bexar County community
The Blame Game
County Commissioner Sergio "Chico" Rodriguez gave a full statement to the media as to the financial problems of the ESD#6. In his statement to the media he mislead the people of San Antonio and his precinct into believing that the problems with the ESD#6 were created by the lawsuit that the ESD#6 was involved in with the Southside ISD. While, it is not surprising to hear this since Ms. Mendelsohn herself has quoted it word for word to community members during her interviews with the media and at ESD#6 Board meetings, it is however not factual, but a blame game on the part of the ESD#6 and the commissioner's office to shift it away from the truth and themselves.
Commissioner Admits to knowing about ESD#6 financial problems
Commissioner Rodriguez's statement to the media made it clear that he was aware of the ESD#6 financial problems. The fact is that the financial problems were there prior to the lawsuit. From the ESD#6's inception it ran smoothly. According to the audit reports for 2007 and 2008 respectively, the ESD#6 spent $229,500 and $208,000 on emergency services.
In June of 2009, after Ms. Mendelsohn took over the board, the ESD6 could not pass a financial audit, so the only figures that are known are those obtained by community members through open records requests. According to those records, in September of 2010, the ESD#6 had only $5000 dollars left in the account, not enough to make payroll for the volunteer fire departments or pay the ESD#6 expenses. At this point, the ESD#6 shut down two of the fire departments, Ata Bexar VFD and Sandy Oaks VFD and refused to renew their contracts because at this point they didn't have the $20,000 they would have needed to pay at the renewal of their contract. The lack of fire protection for the school district at this point, November 2010, brought forth a lawsuit by the Southside ISD. Clearly showing that the ESD#6 had long been in financial turmoil; before the school district lawsuit.
What is also known; is that in July of 2009, Ms. Mendelsohn began to prepare for the building of a community center. Financial records show that she spent, prior to any lawsuit, $102,537.31 dollars on legal fees pertaining to a USDA/RD loan for $5,415,324.90. By this time, they had also indebted the ESD#6 to $219,000 to the architect and $100,000 as collateral on the $6M loan, among other expenses for lot clearing and surveying on property the ESD#6 did not own. The ESD#6 continually called this a USDA/RD Grant, but in a public meeting, the community was informed that it would be a 40 year loan. The ESD law only allows a loan for up to 10 years on equipment and 20 years on property. So, how were Ms. Mendelsohn and Commissioner Rodriguez pulling this one off?
Don't let the smile fool you....
Louis T. Rosenberg - Legal Fees- More than they paid the fire departments
Do you have faith in County Commissioner Rodriguez to do the right thing?
When notes just aren't enough
Formation of the Esd6---for Emergency Service Funding
County Commissioner Chico Rodriguez pointed out in his statement that the Emergency Service Districts were not formed to fund the fire departments 100% and that the fire departments were still responsible for continuing to raise funds.
According to the Texas Department of Rural Affairs- ESD Operating Guide of 2010
The Emergency service districts were created to:
- Hire full time personnel during daytime hours and late night hours (when the volunteers are working to support their families)
- New equipment and facilities pertaining to fire safety.
- ***This funding means more time for firefighters to focus on training and the provision of emergency services rather than fund-raising and other activities, thus saving lives, property and funds for local citizen's.
The volunteer fire departments are required to raise a 25% match. Which the volunteer fire departments have done annually. However, 25% of what they are supposed to receive is not enough to keep them in service when they don't receive anything from the ESD#6. Meaning that the volunteer fire departments are once again having to panhandle to find funds to keep running and Ms. Mendelsohn is freely spending the taxpayer dollars for fire safety at her own discretion and with the support of the Bexar County Commissioners.
Safeguarding Tax Dollars
County Commissioner Rodriguez feels that his appointments to the ESD#6 Board are for safeguarding the taxpayers investments. However, it has been clearly proven to the community of Southeast Bexar County that the currently appointed board is far from safeguarding taxpayers investments.
The ESD#6 was broke and had to take out a loan in order to pay bills; they were clearly not funding the fire departments and they were continuing to spend funds they didn't have at an alarming rate. According to South Bexar Fire and Rescue, only a partial payment of $2000 was made on a loan payment due of $30,000 (which the ESD#6 had been making according to the contract with the VFD). The three VFD's were paid just $2000 of the $8000 they each requested for re-imbursements as per their contracts. The VFD's were told the funds used to pay them the $2000 came from the county, but no clarification as to what county office.
ESD#6 History 101
The ESD#6 under Ms. Mendelsohn quickly voted and approved upon her appointment to become bonded against criminal activity. Purchasing a Crime Coverage Bond from VFIS for $150,000 coverage on the Treasurer and $150,000 on the ESD#6 as a whole. She also purchased them for the volunteer fire departments for $100,000 per entity. Ms. Mendelsohn received re-reimbursements from VFIS for their legal fees according to board agendas, however, when the VFD's asked to file against their policies, they were told that they didn't have any money left, that they had been exhausted. Now, County Commissioner Rodriguez and Ms. Mendelsohn are blaming a lawsuit for their financial troubles. A lawsuit that their insurance re-reimbursed them for.
After a short recap of the financial history of the ESD#6, it was easy to see and understand that County Commissioner Chico Rodriguez shifted blame on a school district that came into the lawsuit with the ESD#6, long after Ms. Mendelsohn and her board had bankrupted the entity.