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What's the ODB brewing up for us?

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Sarah Dodd
Tim Dickey
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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.

 Some involve 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 Homeowner's League). 
   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 taxpayers.

  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.    
08/14 Stan Aten:
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.   Remember, 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 Rep. Anchia:

Rock Star; The smart money wants a mayor with sex appeal
By 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.
   Real good-lookin'.
   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 that.
... 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 his mind.
... 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 match. 

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
DMN 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 DMN 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 masters.

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
DMN 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?  The
DMN 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 intent.

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 bridge. 

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 the story.

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 investigation.
... 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.






  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