The Golden Hammer Staff Reports
Conroe, October 30 – Conroe Independent School District’s $677.3 Million Bond package still contains a bunch of crazy junk. It’s the “zombie” bond, because it contains all of the craziness from the $807 Million bond package voters rejected on May 4, 2019.
CISD has acknowledged that the bond will do absolutely nothing to increase educational outcomes. CISD has admitted in writing that they have no metrics whatsoever for what, if any benefit the bond package would have for educational outcomes for children. The bond has nothing whatsoever to do with improving the educational outcomes of children in the school district.
Here’s what the bond contains:
- $425,000 for an air soft gun range;
- $204,000 for two wooden dance floors with 4,550 mirrors each;
- $23.8 Million for turf, the dangerous and expensive flooring for athletic fields;
- $206.135 Million for profits for lawyers, engineers, and contractors;
- $39.415 Million, the most expensive elementary school in the history of CISD, to be constructed in a neighborhood where there are no homes, but a Las Vegas Casino magnate has cut a sweetheart deal with CISD so that the school district will promote the sale of homes in his development;
- at least $43 Million on maintenance items
- $405,000.00 for curtains for elementary school stages
- $19.035 million of “contingency,”;
- $10 million of unrestricted “land purchases”;
- $20 million of “technology” which will lose its useful life long before the end of a 25-year bond amortization;
- $144,247,000 for the extremely unpopular proposal radically to alter the campus and appearance of historic Conroe High School;
- $30,000,000 for “safety and security ” items of which CISD has admitted it has no idea for what the money will be.
Those crazy expenditures total $515,666,000!
The massive expenditure of $144,247,000 for renovation of Conroe High School will add no seats whatsoever to the capacity of CISD schools. CISD could easily have built a brand new additional high school for that amount of money. CISD, however, doesn’t want to alter the proposal, because CISD has made a commitment to the architectural firm, PBK Architects, that CISD will proceed with the pointless Conroe High School refurbishment.
CISD goes Las Vegas!
Las Vegas casino boss Dominic Frank Polizzotto has found a wonderful benefactor: the Conroe Independent School District (CISD) and its beleaguered taxpayers. CISD has agreed to build a $39,415,000 elementary school in Polizzotto’s subdivision, Artavia, on State Highway 242, even though the gambling magnate’s speculative venture doesn’t have one resident there and only has two homes the construction of which is partially complete.
CISD added the Artavia subdivision school as an additional component in its $676 million bond package which the school district had not included in its failed $807 million bond package which voters soundly rejected.
During a May 8, 2019, Monthly Luncheon speaker panel of CREAM, the Commercial Real Estate Association of Montgomery County, Polizzotto’s development manager Travis Stone, who works for the Polizzotto family’s holding company, Airia Development Company, told the lunch guests, “Airia is a family-owned company which does not borrow money for our real estate projects. We use cash for all of our developments, including Artavia.”
Airia Development Company incorporated on December 22, 2016, and lists its headquarters address as 3605 South Town Center Drive, Suite A, Las Vegas, Nevada.
The marketing materials of Polizzotto’s Artavia subdivision greatly emphasize Conroe ISD’s schools as the major amenity for the subdivision and the site plan for the subdivision already shows CISD’s “PROPOSED CISD SCHOOL SITE.” On the site plan below, the large gray diagonal square at the south tip of the Artavia subdivision is the school site.
Even though CISD intends to put taxpayers on the hook for $39.4 million of bonds for the elementary school in the Artavia subdivision with the November 5, 2019, bond referendum package, there are literally no residents of Artavia. Most of the subdivision roads are rough dirt which would easily puncture one’s tires.
At present, there are only two homes under construction, which appear as though they will be model homes. The main selling amenity Polizzotto’s subdivision offers is the CISD school included within the $676 million bond package.
Clearly, Polizzotto is using the $39.4 million elementary school in the 2019 bond package as a marketing tool for his subdivision. Nevertheless, CISD claims that it has not yet even committed to the construction project. CISD spokesperson Sarah Blakelock told The Golden Hammer, “The exact location of Elementary #48 – Caney Creek Feeder – Flex 23 has yet to be determined. Artavia is a possible location. Other sites are still under consideration.”
There’s something seriously wrong there. Polizzotto is advertising in all of Artavia’s marketing materials to potential homebuyers that there is a proposed CISD site at the south end of his subdivision. CISD has included a $39,415,000.00 cost for a school, which seems quite precise, and, by the way, is almost $4 million more expensive than one of the other elementary schools listed in the bond package. If CISD hasn’t committed to construct the school at Artavia, then the casino boss seems to be stepping beyond the truth in his advertising.
Who is CISD’s new-found development partner?
Dominic Frank Polizzotto holds a law degree form Valparaiso Univerity School of Law and practices law in Indiana and Nevada. He is a Senior Vice President and General Counsel for The Star Majestic Casino LLC, Horseshoe Gaming Holding Corporation, Blizzard Asset Management (which owns several casinos in the southeastern United States), and Majestic Star Casino LLC.
Horseshoe Gamily Holding Corporation, which is listed for public trading on the NASDAQ, has explained to the United States Securities and Exchange Commission in its 10-K filings that Polizzotto is “in charge of investigating new opportunities for expansion of the Company’s operations,” which are casinos.
CISD’s plans; racketeering?
A source within CISD who has requested anonymity told this newspaper yesterday, “That subdivision is expected to have over 5000 homes so it would make sense that we would put an elementary school in that area. However, if the area does not grow as predicted, then we would not build the school.”
But that’s fundamentally the problem. CISD is putting its taxpayers on the hook for $39.4 million of bond financing in the package for which the school district is seeking approval on November 5, 2019. Why should taxpayers commit to $39.4 million of bond financing just to promote the real estate plans of a Las Vegas casino family needing CISD’s assistance to market lots and houses in a speculative venture?
It seems as though CISD is gambling with the citizens’ dollars to help a wealthy casino family which has such vast quantities of cash that they don’t even need any bank financing for their real estate investment.
On October 9, a letter writer in the Wall Street Journal discussed the idea of bringing criminal cases under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) against public school administrators for turning out a huge percentage of high school graduates who were functionally illiterate. According to the Texas Education Agency, eleven percent (11%) of CISD’s graduates are illiterate. Turning out 11% illiterate high school graduates while making real estate deals with Las Vegas casino families suggests that, perhaps, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of Texas should train his eyes on CISD.