08/14/06 There's a
stinky smell in the air of our local political world.
Since I don't have the answers, but lots of
questions based on strange doings among Our Downtown Betters (the ODB)
and their flunkies and wannabes, it seems like a good idea to encourage your comments as I list the goings on that have caught my attention --
and surmise as to their import, or lack thereof. OK?
Several of my
questions/surmises involve Ron Kirk/Con Jerk.
Many involve State Rep.
Rafael Anchia. Some involve various council members.
the so-called Dallas Homeowners League aka East Dallas Democrats, which is more
open about their partisan political persuasion of late.
08/15 N Dallas
Thanks for your comment about the East Dallas Democrats (aka Dallas
Martin Hoffman is using his access to our homeowners association e-mails
to send out stuff
for his political campaign.
I'm gearing up to rebel.
Then there's tax-abatement demanding Ray Hunt, who turns around and makes a $35
million donation to SMU after demanding a $6+ million tax abatement from Dallas
||Let's start with good ole Con Jerk. Is is it just me or does the guy seem
to be everywhere lately? One blog even follows his public dining with
celebrities. Depending on your perspective, he's playing
kingmaker or spoiler in the 2007 mayoral race. Now, he's the front man for
a "foundation" for the Dallas Independent School District? Is
this Foundation some front for keeping his name and face in the news?
When did Ron Kirk ever show serious concern for the DISD, other than its
negative impact on business investment or relocations in Dallas? Call me a
cranky cynic, but I'm not buying it. After the DISD credit card scandal, I
would be surprised if the School Board tries to float another bond package for
awhile. Ron Kirk's education foundation, whatever it is, might be the only
way they can generate any cash for needed capital construction or land
acquisition. That a handful of teachers and DISD staff could blow over $3
million in un-audited credit card expenditures indicates to most anyone they
don't need any new money from any source.
It is hard to read the "tea leaves" of the ODB. Rafael
Anchia appears to a be a decent human being and an effective elected
official. He does not appear to a be a puppet on a string or a man
out to grab all the money he can steal from the taxpayer.
I wonder if the ODB are
desperate to have a "token" Hispanic elected as our next mayor since
they are the largest percentage of the
total population of the city of Dallas. Domingo
Garcia would be their natural choice. Maybe Anchia is the
only other Hispanic they know.
As in all criminal matters
(politics), I would follow the money. Look where the campaign
contributions are flowing. That
will give you a sense of who the ODB really want in charge.
raising $1 million does not make you mayor. It just gives you a
chance to spend money and try and persuade the people.
The other clue to watch for
whose campaign that slimy political consultant who sold us the
Trinity River project is involved with. He is leading indicator of
whom the ODB will back.
Why is Con Jerk pushing State Rep. Anchia? Rafael is a smart guy, but he's
very young. Why would he leave the State Legislature after a very
successful start, even as a rookie from the minority party? Why would
Rafael put his legal career on hold at this point in his life, personal or
professional to be Mayor at a substantial cut in pay? Unlike Con Jerk,
Rafael actually has a real law practice, and I believe a higher sense of ethics
about accepting monetary assistance from ODB donors.
A bigger concern for me is that Rafael has hooked up with Con Jerk and County
Commissioner John Wiley Price.
Like other political observers in this town, I don't understand why Our Downtown
Betters are pressuring Rafael Anchia to run? Why would they favor him over
experienced council members or local business men who have been much more
involved in City Hall matters than has State Rep. Anchia? Oh, I hear all
the stuff about "new blood", but what we need is experience and a steady hand at
City Hall -- someone who can cut through the bureaucracy at City Hall.
This is clearly a Donna Halstead
production, and she has a poor track record of success. Why the
Citizens Council keeps letting her make them look stupid is as much a
mystery as any of this.
Jim Schutze has a great
article, and he is also confused about this apparent ODB ground swell for State
The smart money wants a mayor with sex appeal
Jim Schutze Article Published Aug 10, 2006
On the one hand, I'm afraid to call
anybody, because everybody I call tells me he or she is thinking about
running for mayor. The field of people considering the 2007 Dallas mayor's
race is starting to look like the Turkey Trot, the city's annual
Thanksgiving Day run.
... there's something about this outpouring
of democratic self-love that I like and trust a lot more than what I'm
hearing from the smart guys. They say none of
these mayoral wannabes, even the better-known among them, stands a
snowball's chance in Dallas. Instead, the next mayor, like the last two,
will have to be what the consultants call "a rock star."
... We've had two rock stars in a row, the
consultants tell me. It's too late to go back to Uncle Elwood.
... I hate that. It turns politics on its head.
It's why we can't get no satisfaction. You could look at the whole rock star
thing and say it's why we got Ron Kirk. The city's first African-American
mayor ran on a platform of racial healing but devoted
his greatest energy in office to doing favors for the old
land-and-construction oligarchy behind the Trinity River project.
Or you could look at it and say it's
why we got Laura Miller: a two-fisted muckraker by trade, she ran against
pretentious big-ticket public works projects but
devoted her greatest energy in office to doing favors for the old
land-and-construction oligarchy behind the Trinity River project.
Is there a pattern here? Is the rock
star thing maybe not a great way to know what we're getting? It makes me
want to go back to those guys with the ground bumps.
... A couple Sundays ago, The Dallas Morning News
ran a front-page story--one of its classic communiqu? from the inner
sanctum--under a headline, "In Anch?, many leaders see the next Ron Kirk.
They say state rep has clout to be first Hispanic mayor."
... So who is Anch?? Former school board member.
Succeeded influential state Representative Steve Wolens in the Legislature
when Wolens bowed out. Nice guy. Very bright.
Unknown in most of the city. In terms
of City Hall, never been there. No track record on city issues at all.
...The Morning News story was one of those
Pravda-style communications where you have to read
between the lines and then go out back of a building and whisper with your
comrades about what it really means.
... So what does that mean? That means Anch? has the support of the
Dallas Citizens Council, otherwise known as the old
land-and-construction oligarchy behind the Trinity River project.
... But the same story said Anch? has strong
support from Dallas County Commissioner John Wiley Price, long associated
with the tougher, more aggressive edge of black politics in the city.
... "In the final analysis, my view is always
going to be about who can be the kind of icon who can grow the basic tax
roll," Price said. "When you grow your base, you give everybody relief.
Infrastructure to me becomes the bottom line."
Infrastructure. That would be...let's
see here...oh yeah, the Trinity River project.
... I also think Price is thinking about running
for Congress. Those river boys ain't bad friends to have at a time like
... The other thing that confuses me is that I
spoke with Anch? just last week, and unless he was doing an Academy
Award-winning performance on me, he sounded like a man who genuinely and
sincerely was not sure he wanted any piece of this. He chatted very briefly
and in broad terms about city issues, but then he said he and his wife had
just been blessed with a new baby girl, and he really had other things on
... I like the ground bumps guys, because there's
something sort of funky and wonky about them. They actually want to talk
about the issues, and they actually think you want to listen.
Why would an un-announced,
possible candidate for Mayor merit a
Dallas Managed News
front page story, when a seated council member is already raising money and a
well known civic leader is out there signing up lots of endorsements and getting
tons of political contributions?
Not only are the ODB and Belo machines apparently activated for a Rafael Anchia
campaign for mayor, the Dallas Homeowners League aka East Dallas Democrats has
apparently been pulled into the effort. The last I heard, the DHL is a
501(c)3 non-profit, so they should not be meddling in politics at all, local,
state or federal. So, why is their key note speaker at their 8/26/06 "Boot
Camp" gathering at City Hall none other than Rafael Anchia? The DHL has
always been dominated by the Larry Duncan, Mad Max Aaronson, Michael Jung
faction (East Dallas/Pleasant Grove). Rafael represents Oak Cliff, West
Dallas, a sliver of Northwest Dallas up to Farmers Branch. Not remotely a
If you are going to tell me it's merely a coincidence that the East Dallas
control freaks in the DHL have simultaneously fallen in love with the same
non-suitor who has captured the hearts of the ODB and
The Dallas Managed News,
you can go jump in that sewer trough they call the Trinity River.
Who's town is this? We let the ODB and
force Con Jerk/Ron Kirk down our throats, who polarized this city racially more
than most of us had ever known while he delivered the bacon and tax abatements
to ODB approved supplicants. We let the ODB and
undermine Laura Miller (the Mayor we wanted), blaming her for the racial
polarization left by Con Jerk when she primarily was standing up to crooks of
various shades of pigmentation.
We didn't know Con Jerk, and he killed the restoration/doming of the Cotton Bowl
while he led us down that wacky road in pursuit of the 2012 Olympics -- like we
would want a bunch of terrorists targeting Dallas. His campaign came out
of nowhere, and his focus was somewhere beyond Dallas.
We knew Laura Miller, and she made a fatal error of trying to work with the ODB
while inconsistently fighting tax abatements. Her campaign came from the
people of Dallas, but the ODB got her out of focus.
Con Jerk knew who was/were his master(s). Laura Miller tried to serve two
Rafael Anchia is much more than Ron Kirk, but we don't know his agenda any more
than Kirk's. I will say Rafael took a strong stand
in the Legislature to make car break-ins/thefts felonies again with prison time.
When a reporter challenged him about his willingness to send "young men to
prison" rather than "keep them in the community", he told the reporter he was
standing with the law abiding people of his district who wanted jail time for
those who would prey on their neighbors.
I would be a lot less concerned about Rafael Anchia if he had come out swinging
on his own before Ron Kirk or John Wiley Price or the
started pushing him. I would be a lot less concerned about Rafael if we
knew where he stands on big ticket projects like the Trinity Bonddoogle and tax
abatements for billionaires like Ray Hunt.
Speaking of that Son of a Bigamist, what's up with his $35 million donation to
SMU for land acquisition related to a possible Bush Presidential Library?
covered that obscure condo owner's fight against SMU
demolishing his complex when they are the majority owner of the property, but we
had to hear about the $35 million first from the
SMU Daily Campus.
The Hunt people were very secretive and "no comment" about the gift and its
I don't like is Gary Vodicka guy. I think I remember reading he's a lawyer
who practices out of his condo. When you buy a condominium, you do not own
the land or the walls or anything in the structure. You own a percentage
of the condominium's assets. If 51% of the owners want to do something
that you want done differently, you are up a creek without a paddle or a string
When you buy a townhouse, you actually own the land under your unit, and you
usually own a share of the common elements of the townhouse association.
You still are at the mercy of 51% of the other owners.
While the DMN
was covering that Vodicka's condo fight with SMU, they hardly mentioned that
owners of a shopping center at Central and Mockingbird (next to SMU) were being
pressured to sell their property to SMU, at least not until a campus paper broke
Hunt gave $35 million for land purchase
By Mark Norris, Managing Editor
August 11, 2006
Ray Hunt, a prominent Dallas businessman and
member of the SMU Board of Trustees, gave the university $35 million in
November 2005 to purchase Park Cities Plaza, the shopping center at
Mockingbird Lane and Central Expressway adjacent to the campus.
According to depositions taken Aug. 3
and 7 from the previous owners of the shopping center, Hunt wired the money
to a title company Nov. 15, closing the sale.
The depositions were shared with
The Daily Campus
by Gary Vodicka? who arranged for them as part of his legal battle with SMU
over the University Gardens complex??and was present when they were taken.
The depositions also revealed that university officials indicated during
depositions that the public policy center portion of the proposed Bush
Presidential Library is designated for the shopping center site.
University President R. Gerald Turner
confirmed Hunt?s role in the purchase.
... Turner said the shopping center was ?one of
the few pieces of property west of Central Expressway that we didn?t have.?
The two people deposed were Katherine
Griffin and Paul Collins, who are siblings and beneficiaries of the Tobin
trust, which previously owned the Park Cities Plaza. Their mother, Ann
Collins, is the co-trustee on the trust that was left to her by her father,
Donald Tobin, according to the deposition records.
According to Vodicka, Griffin said in
her deposition that SMU pestered her mother and caused her family to spend
nearly $500,000 in legal fees over a four-year period that began in August
2001 and ended with the sale of the property in November 2005.
... Vodicka said, according to the depositions,
SMU had offered to buy the property from the family for $16 million, but the
family refused. A counteroffer of $29 million was refused by SMU.
At that point, according to Vodicka,
the depositions indicate SMU threatened to sue the family, saying that their
property was causing environmental contamination at the Mrs. Baird?s factory
site across Mockingbird. The university notified officials at the
Environmental Protection Agency, among others, and requested an
... Vodicka said, in the deposition, Griffin said
the legal battles were draining to her aging mother and they finally agreed
to sell the property ? believing that the site would be used for the George
W. Bush Presidential Library....
I don't really care whether the
Library is in University Park with SMU or in Irving with the University of
Dallas. I do want it in Dallas County.
As I said, I'm not all that sympathetic to Vodicka's efforts to thwart SMU's
chances of landing the Bush Library. There aren't many issues where I'm
ambivalent, so humor me on this one.
I don't begrudge Ray Hunt giving SMU $35 million. The University is a
vital part of the metroplex, even if it is not in the city limits of Dallas.
Lord knows Ray Hunt has the money to spare. That's what still rankles me
about Weeping Bill Blaydes and Flip Flop Oakley, et al, giving him over $6
million in tax abatements for an office building he was going to do with or
without the tax abatement. The Hunt Oil people FLAT OUT LIED about other
cities offering them tax abatements to put that building in their cities.
The City Manager of Irving said the "letter" Hunt was claiming as an offer from
Irving was simply a form letter explaining the process to apply for a tax
abatement. We had the spectacle of several council members actually saying
they knew better than the City Manager of Irving what his form letter meant.
That's why I mention this SMU/Hunt story. I know where Laura Miller stood
on the Hunt tax abatement (even if she got one for Lucy Crow Billingsley).
I know where Ron Kirk would have stood on a tax abatement for any rich, white
guy. I have no idea where Rafael Anchia would have come down on
accommodating Ray Hunt.
Since Ron Kirk, John Wiley Price, the
DMN and apparently a bunch of
ODB puppets know more about Rafael than the rest of us, I have to be concerned.
Since the Dallas Homeowners League aka East Dallas Democrats is jumping in to
assist the Dallas Citizens Council chief witch, Donna Halstead, in
recruiting/promoting Rafael, I have to be concerned.
I've been watching Dallas politics
for a long time, and there's something brewing among Our Downtown
Betters. That usually boils and bubbles up to toil and trouble for
the rest of us.