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10/21/06  The Company You Keep.

We now have four official mayoral candidates. 

I don't know much about Zac Crain, other than he used to write for
The Dallas Observer.  Apparently, most of his former co-workers still like himt, so that says something.  He has a website and
Zac Crain for Mayor Campaign Store.  His treasurer is Karen Jenny, and I know even less about her.

Then there's Sam Coates and Treasurer Barbara Watkins.  Not a whole lot to say about either one.

So, let's move on to three announced candidates I do know, in the order of their designating a treasurer:

Gary Griffith and Finance Chair, Tom Hicks.  You remember Tom Hicks, one of the Robber Barrons who spent $4 million to get just enough votes (by hook or crook) to leverage over $200 million from Dallas taxpayers to pay for an arena for his business, a professional hockey team.

Darrell Jordan and Treasurer Doug Hawthorne.  Hawthorne is head of Texas Health Resources, which includes Presbyterian Hospital. 

Max Wells and Treasurer John Ware.   Back in 1997, Ron Kirk and John Ware negotiated with Tom Hicks and Ross Perot, Jr. on how much they were going to rip off Dallas taxpayers.  Without a doubt, the arena deal is the worst shafting this city ever took, just based on the total $$ package.  Picking John Ware as his Treasurer and hooking up with Kathy Neely, Demetris Sampson and Commissioner John Wiley Price tells you exactly what to expect from a Mayor Max Wells.

Former Mayor Pro Tem Wells to run for mayor
Wednesday, October 18, 2006
By DAVE LEVINTHAL / The Dallas Morning News

   Former Dallas Mayor Pro Tem Max Wells will run for mayor, his campaign organization having Wednesday afternoon filed official paperwork with City Hall naming a campaign treasurer.
   Such a step is a precursor to a formal campaign and allows him to raise money. Mr. Wells says he'll formally announce his candidacy later this year. His campaign treasurer is former Dallas City Manager John Ware, while his campaign chairman is Ted Strauss, husband for former Dallas Mayor Annette Strauss.
Max Wells
Max Wells

   Mr. Wells says the irony of businessman and former state GOP chairman Fred Meyer serving as his campaign finance chairman is not lost on him: Mr. Meyer lost a mayoral race to Mr. Strauss' late wife.
   "They recognize that I'm uniquely qualified to bring this city back together," Mr. Wells said. "It's a great honor to me we're all working together. I'm the only candidate who has the business experience at least to the level I have it."
   Mr. Wells, a banker who served on the Dallas City Council for nine years and also served as chairman of the Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport Board, had earlier this year said he would not run for mayor. But when Mayor Laura Miller decided against running in July, Mr. Wells reconsidered.
   He says his campaign organization will be "very broad, both geographically and demographically," and that he considers his age - he'll soon turn 73 - an advantage.
   "Anyone who wants to make an issue out of it - I call that them wanting to highlight my experience," he mused.
   Former mayoral candidate and attorney Darrell Jordan, two-term City Council member Gary Griffith and magazine editor Zac Crain have been actively campaigning for mayor for months, and about a dozen others are considering mayoral bids.
   Candidates may formally register their candidacies beginning in February, and the general election is in May.


Demetris Sampson and her law firm collect unpaid taxes for the City of Dallas.  She rakes in a hefty fee for her bill collecting.  She really should not be involved in any political races relating to City Hall.     10/20 Concerned Citizen:
How can Demetris Sampson act as a political consultant to candidates and to issues when her firm is hired to work for the city, the school board, the county, and other entities as an entity that collects taxes for those governmental bodies?
   Isn?t that a conflict of interest?  Could this affect her bar license?  What else?

Want you to think about this a minute.  Everyone keeps blaming Mayor Miller for "losing" the Cowboys to Arlington, when we didn't have them to lose.  No one talks about why the Arkansas Freak really took his team to Arlington.  First and foremost, he knew the political crooks in Arlington would be an easier touch than any other local government.  Second and possibly just as important, we had an impossible hurdle at Fair Park, and that would be Starplex (or Smirnoff). 

The Starplex deal was cut during Mayor Annette Strauss term, and the beneficiary was and is Ted Strauss.  If there ever was a conflict of interest, it was the Starplex deal.  The lease is for three 20 year renewals.  The Strauss people can continue to renew the lease forever.  The city is prohibited from not renewing the lease.  If the city wants out of the lease, we must pay the Strauss group $40 million.  I don't know how much they are underpaying the city, but I hear they are fighting to keep the city from reviewing their books to figure out the size of the problem.  

I don't know if Max Wells was on the city council when the horrible Starplex deal was done, but it would have been about the time Wells served (1987-93).  If Mitch Rasansky was on the council during a disaster like the Starplex contract, we would have heard about it. 

Max Wells is surrounding himself with the likes of John Ware and Ted Strauss, who ought to get some kind of dual award or conviction for the deepest shafting of Dallas taxpayers in the past three decades.  Max Wells was a go along to get along councilman.  Never stood up for Dallas taxpayers -- not once.  As a banker, it's a good thing not to make waves.  You want a little more presence from a councilman, more so from a mayor.

Wells has served on lots of city boards and commissions because that's how Our Downtown Betters (the ODB) and ODB wanna-bees used to network.  The same 100 or so people rotated around on the city boards, occasionally allowing some new face into the ruling class as long as that new face voted right and never challenged the status quo.

Max Wells and Sandy Greyson kept DART commuter rail off the Cotton Belt line.  Whenever you are sitting on the LBJ parking lot, you can thank them for that.  Now, Ron Natinksy wants to spend a billion or so putting less than 2 miles of rail under ground on the same route.  For some odd reason, Councilwoman Linda Koop seems to be siding with Natinsky -- even though her district is desperate for something to alleviate the traffic on LBJ.

I'll get back to the Cotton Belt in another commentary because that's a whole other horse that has been rode hard and put up wet.

Let's compare the way
The Dallas Managed News  covered Max Well's announcement (above) to how they reported Darrell Jordan's campaign kickoff (below):

Darrell Jordan kicks off campaign for Dallas mayor
06:21 PM CDT on Thursday, October 19, 2006

By DAVE LEVINTHAL / The Dallas Morning News

   Attorney Darrell Jordan ceremonially launched his mayoral campaign Thursday at the Dallas Zoo, outlining an agenda built upon public safety improvements, economic development, long-term urban planning and political ? and racial ? unity.
   "We must have a mayor who listens to differing views, and who is respectful of our city's diversity," said Mr. Jordan, who placed second behind former Mayor Ron Kirk in Dallas' 1995 mayoral election. "We have far too much racial polarization in this city, and we cannot effectively meet the first three priorities unless we return a tone of civility and teamwork to City Hall."
   Mr. Jordan joins two-term council member Gary Griffith, former Mayor Pro Tem Max Wells and magazine editor Zac Crain among actively campaigning mayoral hopefuls. The election is in May. Mayor Laura Miller said in July she will not run for a third term.

Did you see a picture of Darrell Jordan?  Did you see a list of Jordan's credentials?  Like being the President of the Dallas Bar and the State Bar?  Or, what about his efforts (until Ron Kirk derailed them) to dome the Cotton Bowl, back when it was still affordable? 

I have already advised readers of my support Darrell Jordan for mayor.  He has an incredible group of supporters from all over the city, most people I truly respect. 

It looks like
The Dallas Managed News  will do the least possible to acknowledge Darrell Jordan in this campaign.

As for Gary Griffith, I don't think he's going to run for mayor.  His poll numbers are really low.  Being on this council, makes him an easy target for criticism.  His recent support of David Dean's ludicrous public relations contract and all the booze included in Dean's 2006 expense report is indicative of what we could expect of Mayor Sandra Dee.  He could be a hero next week and call for a reconsideration of the vote, since he went with the prevailing side (7-6 vote).  He could, but he won't.  Gary Griffith couldn't take a stand on anything if someone propped him up with a broom.

Griffith was on KRLD last Thursday after Mayor Miller had been on their morning talk show about the Dean contract.  He contradicted himself several times.  He said he wouldn't vote to reimburse anyone for liquor bills, BUT he did the day before.  He said he read the Dean contract, BUT he admitted later that he hadn't read the contract.  He said the contract was thoroughly reviewed by the appropriate committee (council members don't read every contract - except Mitch Rasansky), BUT $Bill $Blaydes added over $100,000 to the contract the "appropriate" committee had reviewed and approved.

Look how The Dallas Managed News  covered Griffith's announcement of his mayoral campaign:

Council member Griffith to run for mayor
Wednesday, April 12, 2006
By DAVE LEVINTHAL / The Dallas Morning News

   Two-term Dallas City Council member Gary Griffith will officially announce Thursday that he is running for mayor, his campaign office said Wednesday.
Gary Griffith

The announcement would make him the first candidate to publicly launch a campaign, although several people, including Mr. Griffith and Mayor Laura Miller, have previously filed mayoral campaign treasurers -- often a precursor to a formal run.
   Ms. Miller says she's definitely running for a second full term, and third term overall.
   Mr. Griffith represents council District 9 and serves as vice chairman of the council's finance, audit and accountability committee.
   Council members Bill Blaydes, Ed Oakley and Don Hill have also said they're considering mayoral bids.
   Former council members Max Wells and Veletta Forsythe Lill, attorney and 1995 mayoral candidate Darrell Jordan and businessman Phil Ritter are also considering running.

Griffith's picture is not enlarged.  It's the same size as appears on, at the link shown.

I hear that Ed Oakley has commitments for a bunch of campaign contributions.  Is it just me, or isn't there some rule somewhere in the City Charter that you must declare a treasurer for a campaign BEFORE you solicit endorsements or accept contributions or pledges for contributions?

It's going to be an interesting campaign season.  It looks like all the candidates are planning to run against Laura Miller, including my guy.  I think that's a big mistake.

In everyone's poll, Laura Miller would have won had she run again.  The ODB may not like her, South Dallas may not like her, but a whole bunch of people (including me) still like her very much.  We like her "in your face" approach when the council is assuming the receptive position every time some fat cat sticks his hand out for a tax abatement. 

Last week, we saw the Laura Miller most of her supporters wanted her to be.  We didn't want a Junior Annette Strauss, always smiling and acquiescing to all the ridiculous scams and schemes that happened in the 80's -- like Starplex and City Place.  We wanted a Laura Miller who would say NO to "bad deals" -- loudly and abrasively if necessary.

I promised to get back to the Starplex component of the Arkansas Freak not building a new football stadium at Fair Park.  There's no room in that big old park.  Part of the area needed for stadium and related space includes Starplex.  The city would have had to spend several millions to buy out Mayor Strauss' widower.  That would have limited the money that would be available for necessary infrastructure improvements.  No one expected the Arkansas Freak to put his own money in the kitty.  So, if any mayor is to blame for the Cowboys going to Arkansas, it would be the late Annette Strauss.

There's a second component to the dead Fair Park deal.  The people who own the VERY MODEST homes around Fair Park have some big voices to come to their defense if the city tried to condemn their homes for next to nothing -- like what happened to the homeowners in Arlington.  Good old Shakedown Chaney would be ready and willing to get his people on the street marching in opposition -- like he didn't do when Starplex paid them off with what Commissioner Price called "blood money".

The first mayor who let the Cowboys leave Fair Park for Irving is now considered one of Dallas greatest mayors.  That would be Erik Jonsson.  Time will be kind to Laura Miller's tenure as mayor.  We are going to miss her style, her wit and her character.

Hopefully, the current crop of candidates will start running against each other.  Griffith, Oakley and Wells will be easy targets for their opponents.  They have voting histories that have been great for the ODB but really bad for Dallas taxpayers.

Griffith is hooked up with Tom Hicks, and Max Wells is hooked up with Demetris Sampson, John Wiley Price and Kathy Neely.  As I said, "you are known by the company you keep."






  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