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06/05/07  Or, do you want serious change at City Hall?

Did you watch the WFAA debate between Tom Leppert and Ed Oakley?  I did, and that probably surprises you to no end. 

Tom Leppert's basic message is the status quo is not working.  Crime is not coming down.  People don't feel safe.

Ed Oakley's basic message is he has a laser focus on staying the course, regardless of whether it's the right course.

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Keywords: 4th of July, fireworks, holidays ...
File Size: 13 KB   Do you think Dallas is on the right course?  Rather than some laser focus on a specific goal, we seem to have a firecracker show that is sending everyone at City Hall down a bunch of never ending rabbit trails.  Pop, we focus resources on a homeless shelter.  Pop, we are investing everything but the kitchen sink in a sewer trough.  Pop, we focus on building a southern port.  Pop, we are going to revitalize the Southern Sector.  About the only consistency in the past 7 years has been a lack of focus on North Dallas needs.

It may come as a shock to some folks, but not all of North Dallas is affluent.  Northwest Dallas has some very modest income neighborhoods that are struggling.  Our councilman, Steve Salazar, is being very responsive, but he's just one vote on the city council.

The way we have been doing things in Dallas for the past twenty years isn't working.  We need a new approach.  We have some decent goals, but we can't seem to get to the finish line on anything.  Part of the problem is that we are focused on City Hall resumes, when we consider candidates for office.  Ed Oakley touts his experience and his insider understanding of the way things are done at City Hall.  That's great if you are happy with the product City Hall has delivered for the past 6 or 7 years.  If you think things are not going well, you might want someone who will do things differently.

Things have improved under Mary Suhm's management, but the council has never been able to confine itself to setting policy and vision.  Several council members wanted to be mayor of their district and undermined Mayor Miller, regardless of the negative impact on the city, regardless of the fact that a larger percentage of Dallas voters picked her for mayor than voted for Ron Kirk.

One criticism of Tom Leppert is that he has no City Hall experience.  That is not bad.  Tom is not locked into some failed process where a handful of power grabbers form a pact to cover each other's rears and allow certain council members to rule their districts like drunken despots.  The recent land grab attempt by Bill Blaydes with Ed Oakley's help in Lake Highlands is typical of everything that is wrong with the current way of doing things at City Hall.  Why would anyone invest in this city, when some politician can steal your land and give it to one of his developer buddies?

Billion dollar corporations frequently hire executives from completely unrelated industries to come in and turn their company around.  When a corporation becomes locked into a certain mindset and always promotes from within, people become more concerned with protecting their power base than promoting, expanding or improving the company.  Change becomes a threat and the status quo is to be protected at all costs.  Knowing which bolt goes to which screw is important, but limited information.  There may be a newer, better way to fasten a product together than an old fashioned bolt and screw.

Ed Oakley loves to campaign.  It energizes him, and he's fun to work with.  He loves to win a fight.  He really wants to win this election, and apparently has agreed to let his team go negative rather than sell himself.  The attacks on Tom Leppert are just flat out deceitful and wrong.  Ed's running an ad claiming Tom Leppert defrauded the government and got fined millions for it.  Granted, Max Wells started the lie, but Ed knows it is repeating it and has embellished it.  The problems at Turner Construction that resulted in the fines occurred before Tom Leppert took over as CEO.  Ed says Tom was on the board of Turner Construction when the problems occurred and was responsible.  That kind of thinking is a clear indication Ed is not qualified to be the CEO of this city.  If Ed thinks a corporate board member is involved in the day to day operations of a billion dollar corporation, he is showing the limitations of his own business experience running a small construction business.

Do you think Ray Hunt knows every component of his myriad of companies?  He hires people to do the nuts and bolts thinking.  We hear Ray told Ed that Dallas needs a mayor who is focused on the nuts and bolts, not the vision thing.  That's because Ray Hunt would see Ed as just another high dollar employee in one of his companies.  Ray Hunt has a vision for Dallas, and it does not include sharing power with the masses. 

Several friends have asked me how I can support someone who is clearly a member of Our Downtown Betters.  I support Tom Leppert because he's not owned by anyone.  He certainly will not be beholden to Ray Hunt, who I truly believe is the most evil man in this state.  Look at what the Bass Family has done for Ft. Worth.  Compare their largesse to what Ray Hunt has taken from Dallas.  I will never forget the disgusting way Bill Blaydes and Ed Oakley insulted our mayor when she was giving an effective power point presentation of numerous one-sided arrangements City Hall had entered with Ray Hunt, where he not only failed to meet his end of the bargains but come back for even more suckling from the public teat.

Ed's subservience to Ray Hunt is a major reason I could never support him for mayor, but there's another reason. 

When I ran for council in District 6 in 2003, Ed was challenging Mark Housewright for District 3.  Ironically, Bob Stimson who now supports Ed Oakley backed Housewright in 2003.  Ed was elected to District 6 in 2001, but was drawn out of my district during redistricting.  Each council member had $3 million in bond money to spend on discretionary projects in his district.  Poor District 6 had so many needs in 2003 that $3 million could have just been spent on curbing and side walks around schools and it wouldn't have been enough.  Former councilman Bob Stimson called to tell me Ed was spending the bulk of our District 6 $3 million in District 3 to help his campaign.  He told me where Ed was spending a big hunk of it -- on a sound wall for Stevens Park residents.  When I confronted Ed about it, he said he was "spending the money in the district I was elected from".   When I challenged that falsehood with the Stevens Park sound wall, he got emotional and defensive.  He used our District 6 funds to get him votes in District 3, and it worked.  To hell with the residents of District 6!

In the general election, I backed Darrell Jordan for several reasons.  I know he's his own man.  I trust him based on a 30-year friendship.  He would bring in fresh ideas about doing things at City Hall.  I knew he would not be locked into the ward politics mentality of current council members.  As a managing partner of a large law firm, Darrell Jordan has learned to look at the big picture, to oversee rather than meddle, to set the policy and see that it is followed.

If I have anything against Tom Leppert, it's his incredible successes from a humble beginning make me feel like a complete failure.  He's not even 60 years old!  Look what he has accomplished with his life and his career.  More importantly, he's done it all and kept his family as his first priority.  I want someone with his balance.  I want someone with his instincts. 

Dallas needs someone as Mayor who isn't awed by a billionaire robber baron like Ray Hunt. 

Tom Leppert has been slandered by Ed Oakley's campaign, but he is keeping the high road.  He says "Negative attack ads ... won't heal our city.  We deserve better."  He's right.

When Laura Miller beat Tom Dunning and then later defeated Mary Poss, she did so despite vicious anti-Miller campaigns by her opponents.  Negative campaigns may get attention, but they don't win elections.  Not only is Ed Oakley attacking Tom Leppert, he has been attacking North Dallas and at the same time running with the backing of North Dallas Republican Ray Hunt.

This city needs a mayor who sees us a whole, not a politician who focuses on our differences and keeps us divided for his own political power.   We need a change from the status quo. 

If you like the way things have been going in this town, if you like Dallas being #1 in crime in the nation as it has been for the past 7 years while Ed Oakley has been on the council, then vote for Ed Oakley to keep the status quo.

If you want to see Dallas go in a new and positive direction, then join me in voting for Tom Leppert. 

It's just that simple.

sb

 

                                        

    





                            

 

  Ward politics is the Devil's key to the soul of the city council.  It is how some council members got themselves in trouble in the past.  It is the bait that will get others in trouble in the future. 4/6/8