I give Dallas’ Only Daily a lot of grief in this space for its education coverage, so I think in the spirit of fair play I should single it out for praise: This week’s stories (first on here, second here) on the goofy real estate deals — wherein a real estate broker was paid an exorbitantly high commission of 9 percent — were great watchdog-y stuff.
The lead from the follow-up story neatly sums up what was at issue here:
Dallas ISD trustees said they want administrators to explain why the district paid a real estate broker 9 percent commission on properties purchased for a South Dallas middle school.
Several current and former board members said Monday they were unaware of the rate paid to The Collins Co., which real estate experts said exceeds industry norms. The firm received $343,000.
So, DISD buys 14 acres of land in separate transactions so they can build a middle school. The firm that acted as broker for this deal got a 9 percent commission, which other sources in Matthew Haag’s story say is way too high. (I talked to a couple friends of mine in commercial real estate, and while they both said, “I know nothing about this,” they each said, basically, “Holy hell, 9 percent?!” Then they golf-clapped.) What’s more, people involved in the deal say they don’t even remember this firm doing much, if any, work to make it happen.
It looks inefficient at best, a payoff at worst. It’s a small but important story of wasteful spending, one that should lead to changes within DISD. Good stuff.
One other point: this all happened before Mike Miles came onboard, so his enemies can’t pin the blame on him. So how do his haters squeeze this into their narrative? I’ll be checking the comments for my answer.