In “Pretty Little Lies: Part One” we were looking at how Great Falls city commissioner Tracy Houck’s recent comments on a local Facebook post provide “an example of how public officials and politicians skew and massage facts to make themselves look better or avoid accountability.”
Continuing now with Houck’s “clarification” (You can see the screenshot of the entirety of Houck’s comments here) let’s take look at her phony representation of how her employer, Paris Gibson Square, came to be removed from consideration for funding from the local Community Development Block Grant pot of taxpayer dough:
“Upon review, it was accurately determined that there was a conflict. In an effort to maintain fairness, we removed the Square (and the request for less than $50,000 for an ADA bathroom) from the funding consideration.”
Notice the use of the word “we” here? This statement goes beyond spin or sneaky deception; it’s a flat out intentional lie. Houck got caught trying to scam the system, get a do-over on the Community Development Council process, and manipulate it to benefit her and her employer, PGS. As I cited in Part One, her attempt to do this resulted in a reprimand and warning from the City Attorney.
Removing the Square from the funding consideration was not some noble effort in which Houck participated in order to “maintain fairness”, it was the result of direct intervention by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development which denied the PGS funding due to Houck’s blatant conflict of interest. Does Houck think we’re all just a bunch of bumpkins who don’t know what’s going on in our city and can’t read?
Why is Houck so determined to lie, spin and obfuscate, trying to make it appear to the public that she had something to do with removing PGS “from the funding consideration”? It’s very clear and unambiguous that she is lying about that.
The actual facts and truth are discussed in detail in the October 17, 2017 commission meeting minutes and in a piece by Jenn Rowell in The Electric which you can read here: “HUD DECLINES FUNDING FOR PARIS GIBSON SQUARE IN CONTROVERSIAL CDBG PROCESS”.
Finally there’s this comment from Ms. Houck:
“I am very happy to report it went to other local non-profitS and stayed in our community. That is how you make a community better – you build each other up and share.”
Not exactly. $140,495 of the $199,153 that was removed by HUD was re-allocated this year, not to “local non-profits” but to the City of Great Falls and the Great Falls Housing Authority.
- Great Falls Housing Authority: $40,000 for boiler purchase, entry door system and furnaces
- Great Falls Public Works: $27,495 for sidewalk and curb ramps
- Great Falls Park and Recreation: $45,000 for a play structure at Kranz Park
- Great Falls Park and Recreation: $28,000 for a pavilion and amenities at Kranz Park
It’s interesting also that Houck was required to abstain from the actual vote on this item at the 4/9/18 special commission meeting due to her conflict of interest issues. She, as well as Bill Bronson, have eliminated themselves from voting on any such items because of their self-interested conflicts surrounding CDBG funding.
Furthermore, Houck didn’t even bother showing up for the May 15, 2018 city commission meeting at which the 2018/2019 Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) Funding
Priorities were voted on. So I’m sorry, I’m not buying the phony, preachy gibberish from her about how “…you make a community better – you build each other up and share.”
This kind of overt dishonesty and habit of lying to the public by Houck is unacceptable. If you wonder why Great Falls is struggling to remain stagnant, and worse, start by looking at the inability of some of our so-called “leadership” to meet even the barest standards of honesty.