Eric Yollick, The Golden Hammer
Whether this analogy is fact or fiction doesn’t really matter. What does matter, however, is the wrongheaded philosophy of the Conroe Independent School District (CISD), whose administration seems to operate without the fetters of any Board or citizen oversight.
Let’s set the scenario
Since I was 17, I’ve been a professional gambler. I’ve made a buck or three gambling. When I was in college, I’d go down to Atlantic City.
I count a lot of cards. By a lot, I mean that I count easily up to seven decks. So a sleeve becomes pretty meaningless, since most of them only have six decks in them. I’d lose hands but over an hour or two I’d win a lot. For a college kid, doubling your money in two hours provides a lot of funds for booze, cigarettes, cars, and whatever else you want.
Think about it, especially if you’ve ever played Hearts, the greatest card game of all besides Duplicate Bridge. In Hearts, you play with one deck. It’s a hard game to follow in many circumstances. Imagine, however, if you knew everyone’s entire hand by the time you’ve played the sixth trick. The game becomes a lot easier at that point.
Now, of course, that’s an analogy. There’s no question whether it’s fact or fiction.
You don’t have to be a gambler, if you do something else: become The House.
The House sort of gambles, but not really. Even a casino can have a bad day. Business could be slow. Lady Luck could frown upon the casino, so that the take (outside of slot machines which are fixed) might vary. Nevertheless, even on the worst day, a casino should enjoy a gross profit, outside of the slots, of 40%.
Gambling is entirely odds. If the odds are in your favor, then you want volume of transactions, which, of course, is precisely what a casino gets. Casinos play with certainty over large numbers of random transactions. That’s why the statistical term for random number generation through robust statistical modeling is a “Monte Carlo simulation.” What you do in a Monte Carlo simulation is generate up to an infinite number of scenarios to determine likely outcomes.
What does this stuff have to do with CISD and real estate development?!
People who own casinos understand all of these concepts more than any of us do. Ironically, they’re risk averse. They make perfect real estate developers.
So here’s what I could do. Now just imagine that it’s ERIC YOLLICK doing all of this stuff, not someone with a nice sounding name or someone whom you don’t know whether he’s a total jerk.
Eric Yollick decides he wants a real estate development. He doesn’t like risk. We all know he doesn’t like banks.
Eric goes to his politically-connected friend, Jim Clark, a commercial realtor, to help him find a nice big piece of undeveloped property.
Meanwhile, while Jimbo is looking for the property, Eric begins to “count the cards” to make the odds of success a whole lot better. he hires someone really smooth as the “developer.” A smooth guy like Jon Bouche or Skeeter Hubert would be perfect. The developer then goes and starts making “relationships” in the community.
The developer becomes active in the Chamber of Commerce. The developer joins CREAM. The developer meets with the CISD Superintendent and talks of wonderful plans “for the community.” The developer buys advertising at all CISD sports events to continue to warm the relationship between the developer and CISD, because, of course, the developer “loves the community and just wants to serve.” The developer gives gifts to the members of the Montgomery County Commissioners Court.
Jimbo finds the piece of land. CISD agrees to build a school at the piece of land before even one home exists in the coming subdivision.
Eric pays cash to put the infrastructure of the subdivision into place and markets the neighborhood as having its own elementary school, because of the great relationship between the developer and CISD.
Who pays for the school? Well, of course, no one does at all…except for the taxpayers. But what does it matter? It’s just one school. It’s just $39 million.
Eric owns The House. He has no risk or minimal risk. He never has to show his face.
He just counts the cards, the house, the politicians, and the school district bureaucrats, as they roll in the money.
Eric thanks you for what you’ve done for him by buying and placing a community Christmas tree with beautiful lit doves on poles in the air with a beautiful lit Christmas sign for the marketing office of his subdivision.
Government – CISD, the County government, the citizens’ tax dollars – has become Eric’s slot machine, and, remember, Eric is The House.