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10/11/06  Economic Development seems to be a lot of fun!

What happens to people when they get to City Hall?  They seem to lose their way, if not their minds. 

Before he was elected to the City Council, I thought Bill Blaydes was a great guy, a real Texan who would be independent and bring some dignity to the council.  I could not have been more wrong.  Almost immediately, he succumbed to ward politics to get along with his new buddies.  Then, he started acting like he was the junior mayor because Mayor Miller gave him some important committee assignments.     10/12 Michael Davis:
   In my younger years,
I was a regional director for a large financial institution.  Any salesperson or executive knows these types of items come out of YOUR OWN POCKET, not the company till.  David Dean is treating our city like the ATM card of a trust-fund baby. Just come back every so often to withdraw a little more coin so he can remain on his the parental (or in this case, municipal) teat.
   It is disingenuous when a consultant's tab keeps rising; yet, he has no reservations about having a good ole time on our dime.  
   W
onder how much Dean's going to want next year?
(
Police Officers Remain in Danger while David Dean Lives it Up)
 

His sweet deal with the DISD relating to their land acquisitions gave Blaydes some entrees that should have made him the right man for the jobs Mayor Miller gave him.  Who would have thought such a seemingly successful man would be such an emotional and petty council member?

Early on, when the council debated the Patriot Act, Blaydes got very emotional and wept a little as he talked about family members and other young people serving in the military.  I actually called him and expressed my support and appreciation for his display of patriotic passion.  I'm a sucker for weeping men.     10/12 David Tuthill:
   Boy,
I sure wish they would announce City Hall meetings like this in advance.  I would have gone down there for the show.  It would have been better than a movie (only without the pop corn). 
   I am currently doing some reading (a murder mystery taking place in 80 BC Rome) and doing some associated research via Plutarck's essays on the main historical characters: Sulla, Crassus (the ultimate uber real estate developer/investor), Cicero, Pompey and Caesar to name a few. 
  The more things change, the more they stay the same.
 

Then last year, a large number of his District 10 constituents were in city council chambers opposing a Wal-Mart development near their neighborhood.  Of course, Blaydes was all for it since he has never seen a land deal he didn't like.  In defense of his position, he inadvertently referred to the applicant (Wal-Mart) as "we".  He corrected himself, but some in the audience heckled him.  Apparently, they questioned his "integrity", and he went ballistic and started crying again.  Mind you, he wasn't boo hooing, but definitely tears and his voice broke.

Wednesday, Mayor Miller and 5 council members opposed a $500,000 contract with Dean International that Blaydes was pushing through, even though the council had not been briefed about it earlier.  There was also a $40,000 expense statement that Dean submitted for approval and reimbursement.     10:13 Stan Aten:
I am not sure if you caught the complete discussion about the latest contract with Dean International.  The contract as discussed in the Economic Development Committee was $370,000 + some expenses.  After the EDC meeting, Councilman Blaydes increased the contract to $515,000.  That is why Mitch asked for the contract to be referred back to the EDC committee before the council considered it.

Editor's comments:  I did hear that part.  To me, it becomes a new contract when you add over $100,000 to a deal.  Stan has a good point.  The $515,000 was much more than what staff wanted.
 

Mayor Miller pointed out that last year the council had said they wanted to start doing what we were paying David Dean consulting fees to do.  I think I heard staff or someone say that we had hired some people for that job, but they weren't up to snuff yet.  Blaydes was interrupting everyone so much, it was hard to follow some of the discussion.  Blaydes said that (in-house public relations) was what the Mayor wanted, but not what the council wanted.  Mayor Miller said she would get the tapes from that meeting transcribed and available to the council. 

Blaydes was getting increasingly disruptive and louder and belligerent. 
Check out his 2006 travel schedule:

1/3-4 Blaydes, Karl Zavitkovsky (city staff)  to Long Beach re Hanjin Dallas' maiden voyage
   
2/2-3 Blaydes, Griffith, Natinksy, Oakley, Salazar to Laredo for Trade Corridor Coalition (TCC)
   
3/21-22 Blaydes and Zavitkovsky  to Los Angeles and Detroit to meet with representatives of  Port of LA, Los Angeles, Detroit and Windsor (Ontario). 
   
5/11 Blaydes to El Paso and Las Cruces re TTC.
   
6/5-6 Blaydes to Dayton, Cincinnati and Louisville re TCC.
   
6/15-16 Blaydes to Tucson and Phoenix re TCC.
   
7/19-8/1 Blaydes, Oakley, Natinsky and Jennifer Li to 9 Chinese cities re Southern Port.
   
10/5 Blaydes  to Scottsdale, AZ re TCC.

That's a lot of traveling for any one council member under any circumstance.  The folks in Lake Highlands have to wonder who's looking out for their district interests while Councilman Blaydes is playing junior mayor. 

After Blaydes read off a bunch of statistics about future jobs the developers are promising as a result of Dean International's efforts,
Mayor Miller said ?I don?t mind if you want to travel with Mr. Dean. Go to China, go to Long Beach (Calif.), do what you want.? 

Blaydes -- out of turn -- yelled at the Mayor,
?You do not accuse me of that. I resent your inference!?  It got worse.  Mayor Miller kept her cool and tried to bring him to order, but he looked like he was going to hit her.  Pretty much told her to step outside and say it again -- big boy stuff.

 

 

Mayor & Councilman Battle Over Lobbyist Contract
Tiani Jones Reporting 10/11/06
 
 
CBS 11 News) DALLAS Debates can get heated at Dallas City Hall, but some are saying an exchange on Wednesday got out of control. The war of words pitted Dallas Mayor Laura Miller against councilman, Bill Blaydes.
   The exchange had to do with the renewal of a city contract with a lobbyist and it turned into a shouting match with allegations of tax dollars being wasted.
   Things started to heat up when Mayor Miller asked, ?Why did you spend a thousand dollars on a press conference in an airport that we own??
   The debate reached a boiling point when Mayor Miller commented on the authorization of a lobbyist contract with David Dean of Dean International to provide transportation and economic development consulting services for the next year at a cost of $515,000.
   The approved agreement gives Dean International $440,000 for services and $75,000 for expenses.
   ?I don?t mind if you want to travel with Mr. Dean. Go to China, go to Long Beach (Calif.), do what you want,? Miller said. ?Mr. (Ed) Oakley and I go to Washington all the time to lobby and we don?t do it with an expense account. These expenses are a big huge gravy train. There is no accountability for this money. Whatever David Dean dreams, he spends.?
   Blaydes exploded at the mayor saying, ?You do not accuse me of that. I resent your inference!?
   Miller denied she implied anything improper.
   ?The hell you didn?t! When you want to accuse me of something you better do it to me out of this place if you don?t want a response,? Blaydes replied.
   The mayor went on to comment about receipts from trips and events Dean International planned on behalf of the city while providing the council with transportation and economic development consulting.
    ?One employee of the lobbyist likes Jack Daniels, so that?s something that the tax payers are paying for. We're paying for hotel movies and games in their rooms at night. We're paying for valet parking at hotels,? Miller said.
   Blaydes told the council the money was well worth it. ?The reasoning has nothing to do with the job that was done its purely personal between the principle parties, the mayor and David Dean.?
    When asked about his comments in council Wednesday morning, Blaydes said, ?She choose to try and demean my character in a public environment today and I came back at her.?
    The mayor?s response, ?I just don't know why he would be so defensive and so protective of a lobbyist who would spend tax payer money in the ways this lobbyist is spending money.?
   While the exchange got everyone's attention inside city council, the contract with Dean International was still approved. CBS 11 News tried to get in touch with the company, but has yet to hear back from them.
 

Trey Garrison gave a blow-by-blow account earlier in the day on Dallas Blog.

  TRANSPORTATION LOBBY CONTRACT ERUPTS IN ANGRY ACCUSATIONS AT CITY HALL
Posted on Wednesday, October 11, 2006 at 02:08PM by trey garrison |
  Bill Blaydes is trying to crush Mayor Laura Miller with his brain.
   I
t got ugly Wednesday between Mayor Laura Miller and Councilmember Bill Blaydes over the authorization of lobbyist contract with David Dean of Dean International to provide transportation and economic development consulting services for the next year at a cost of $515,000.
   It was the kind of ugly that makes light-agenda Wednesdays down at City Hall a joy. Pro wrestling kind of ugly, except this was real.
   The $515,000 fee that Blaydes? economic development committee recommended was $125,000 over what the city manager recommended for Dean?s services lobbying on behalf of the city on regional and national transportation issues.
   This 2007 contract will be Dean International?s third. When the first contract was awarded in fiscal 2005, the amount was $250,000 for services with $18,000 for expenses. In 2006 the contract grew to $300,000 for services and an additional $40,000 for expenses.
   The contract that was approved today on a divided vote gives Dean International $440,000 for services and $75,000 for expenses.
    Miller said she thought it was a waste of money, especially at a time when the city is pushing citizens to approve the $1.35 billion bond package in November. She said the city should be taking those lobbying responsibilities in house, and that she thought the expense allowance was egregious.
   Miller was also hacked that Dean didn?t turn in until early October almost $40,000 in expenses dated back to early spring.
   ?I don?t mind if you want to travel with Mr. Dean. Go to China, go to Long Beach (Calif.), do what you want,? Miller said. ?Mr. (Ed) Oakley and I go to Washington all the time to lobby and we don?t do it with an expense account. These expenses are a big huge gravy train. There is no accountability for this money. Whatever David Dean dreams, he spends.
    ?Why any elected official would approve of this makes me wonder,? Miller said.
    A red-faced Blaydes exploded.
    ?You do not accuse me of that. I resent your inference!?
    Miller denied she implied anything untoward.
    ?The hell you didn?t! When you want to accuse me of something you better do it to me out of this place if you don?t want a response,? Blaydes replied.
    Blaydes glowered at Miller much of the rest of the discussion.
    Blaydes said he saw too much return from Dean?s work on everything from NAFTA and the South Dallas inland port to the Texas Transportation Corridor.
    ?We can?t match his expertise with our own staff,? Blaydes said. ?I will ask this council to pass this contract.?
    Steve Salazar said he?s concerned there are too many larger issues at a regional and national level that staff can?t properly handle without an outside consultant like Dean.
    Ron Natinsky, usually an advocate of doing work in house, said he sees in this case the need for outside expertise with the kind of contacts Dean International has.
    ?Can we over time bring more and more of this in house? Yes. The problem is the scope of work is expanding and we can?t afford to get off the horse in mid-stream,? Natinsky said.    
... The contract ended up being approved, on a very divided vote 7-6-2. ...
 

Garrison picked up on some of the major objections the Mayor had with the Dean contract.  It was substantially more than staff had recommended.  Dean got a $40,000 expense statement for 2006 approved, and his 2007 expense budget is $75,000.  Mayor Miller kept calling it an "open-ended" expense budget.  Blaydes said it wasn't.  Mayor Miller said when Dean went over the $75,000 budget next year that City Manager Mary Suhm would be subject to the same kind of abuse that Blaydes was giving Mayor Miller Wednesday.

When the final vote came down, it was Mayor Miller, Council members Chaney, Fantroy, Koop, Rasansky and Thornton-Reese voting against the Dean contract.  Mayoral candidates Gary Griffith and Ed Oakley joined Blaydes, Garcia, Medrano, Natinsky and Salazar supported the Dean slush fund.

  I have a big problem with Blaydes even being in on the discussions of David Dean's contract, much less voting for it.  It seems to me there is a huge conflict of interest in light of the all the travel he has been doing with Dean.  Natinsky and Oakley probably should have abstained as well.

As usual, Sandra Dee Gary Griffith weaseled out.  He could have been a hero and voted with the Mayor, and even expressed some mealy-mouth reservations early on in the debate.  Guess he couldn't step outside and miss the vote like he did on the Hunt tax abatement travesty last year. 

Can you imagine Griffith as Mayor?  He has no backbone.  He has no leadership.  If he sticks with his mayoral race (which I doubt because his poll numbers are abysmal), this Dean vote will be an albatross around his neck.  Dean is not a popular person in East Dallas.

Mayoral candidate Ed Oakley will also have to answer questions on the Dean sweetheart deal.  His vote for David Dean also hurt him with East Dallas voters.
    10/13 Mary Hasan:
  
There is little that Mayor Miller and I agree on but this is one of them.
   Our tax dollars should not be used to make the rich richer.  No elected official or city staffer should use our tax dollars for liquor or personal entertainment.  
  
There are some terrible decisions being made at City Hall. Until, we the voters decide enough is enough, we will have these problems.
   Million dollars for a grocery store, $500,000 for red light cameras and now this. I hate to see what is next.
  
Sharon, you know I am no fan of Mayor Miller, but she is absolutely right on the Dean contract.  We could have used that money more wisely, but instead our council decided to blow it. 
   I don't know who I will support for mayor but I do know that I will not vote for any of those sitting on the council.
 

On Swiss Avenue, few have forgotten David Dean's assault on the rules of the Swiss Avenue Historic District when he wanted to change his corner mansion to create a new room.  Couldn't add it on at the back where it would not be visible and acceptable to the neighborhood.  No, he got his powerful friend at City Hall to carry his water and got permission to put his new room where it was visible from Swiss and the side street.  See this piece on DallasObserver.com, UnFairPark Blog What?s in David Dean?s Closet? Oh. A Closet.

I do not support conservation districts because they are often imposed with less than overwhelming support from current homeowners.  BUT, when you buy into an existing historic district and you know the rules, you should follow them.

For some reason, Dean's Swiss Avenue mansion is listed on the tax rolls as owned by "The Dean Foundation".  What's up with that?  Some neighbors say Dean holds "prayer meetings" at his house.  Is he paying the same kind of property taxes as you and me?  That would be a real kick in the knee if he's got some kind of property tax exemption, but Dallas taxpayers are paying him $500,000 a year to party hearty for us.

  Most of Dean's reimbursable expenses that Blaydes fought so hard to get for him were for entertainment.  Dean's employees watched movies and played video games in their hotel rooms on our dime. 

When I travel, I take a couple of books.  But then, I'm paying my own way.  Apparently, it's a lot different when you can run an unlimited tab on the taxpayers' dime.

  Mayor Miller told Tiani Jones, ?One employee of the lobbyist likes Jack Daniels, so that?s something that the taxpayers are paying for."  Liquor on our dime.
     
  This is right up there with the Visitor's Bureau entertaining prospects at local sex clubs, on our dime.

Mayoral candidate Gary Griffith voted for this Dean contract and the unlimited expense account for 2007.  He knows that a whole bunch of the $40,000 we paid Dean for his 2006 "travel expenses" was for liquor and partying by Dean's employees.  How could he do that?  How could he be so cavalier with our money?

Clearly, Bill Blaydes feels he has been taking advantage of taxpayers with all of his big time traveling on our dime.  He didn't want the Mayor to mention all of his traveling with Dean.  It made him mad.  Like all big puffs of wind, he tried to bully her into submission -- all that yelling and cussing at the horse shoe.

Mayor Miller was calm, but she must have been concerned because he looked out of control.  Can you imagine how many times we would have seen his tirade in TV political ads had he actually run for mayor?

I supported Laura Miller for city council, and I supported her for mayor.  I wanted her to call out the big spenders.  I wanted her to stand her ground. 

I wanted her to be just like she was Wednesday. 

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