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05/27/05  More of the same is less than what we need.

Last year, we had a mediocre city manager in Ted Benavides and a less than mediocre city attorney in Madeleine Johnson.  This year, we overwhelmingly rejected a proposal to change our city government.  Rather than show the proponents that the council could be better than it has been since 14-1 was inflicted on us by then Park Cities resident, Judge Jerry Buchmeyer, our council in their infinite stupidity decided not to continue a national search for new talent and new ideas.

Now, we will have a city manager trained by John BeWare and Ted Benevides, and a city attorney who served under "I'm afraid of the courtroom" Madeleine Johnson.  Not going to say Suhm or Perkins will be any worse than their predecessors, but they sure don't give me a level of comfort that we can expect things to improve.
    James Northrup:
  
The appointment of Mary Suhm as City Manager was an IQ test for the Council. Only Mitch, Gary and Laura passed.
   Of those that supported Suhm, many were lame ducks, getting that last IOU in before leaving the Council.
   Suhm placed 4th in a mediocre field of candidates.
   Appointing her indicates the Council did not "get" the wake up call of the Blackwood initiative, the Tipping Point report or even common sense.
   Just underscores the need to hold the incoming Council accountable to reform governance at City Hall. This was a litmus test about who is serious about reform.
   Lame ducks were clearly creating IOUs with Suhm - so they can come back like Lori Palmer and all the other exes - as parasites.
 

One councilman assured me before they voted on Mary Suhm that she would be getting rid of a couple of assistant city managers "that you hate".   I volunteered Charles Daniels and Ryan Evans as my first choice for termination.

A friend switched to supporting the Blackwood proposal late in the election.  He said we needed to blow things up.  I used the analogy that would be like fixing a traffic jam by blowing up a train station.  I'm having the very uneasy feeling that he was right.

This council should not have made this decision because four new council members will be sworn in next month.  When I listened to some of the excuses made yesterday for this rush to bad judgment, it was simultaneously disheartening and encouraging.

Linda Koop is no Lois Finkelman.  That is very encouraging.  Linda is a very modest woman who has been a leader on every board where she served.  She would never pick an inadequate candidate for a city position just to spite the Mayor like Lois Finkelman did this week.

The last thing we need is for Angela Hunt (who www.Barkingdogs.com says seldom bothered to vote) to win District 14, but she could not be any worse than Princess Velveeta.  I am looking forward to when Princess Velveeta announces she is running for County Judge against Margaret Kelleher.  It must be some right of passage for control freaks who become council members from District 14 to marshal their forces and run against a Republican County Judge.  Lordi Palmer made that mistake, and Princess Velveeta is patterning herself after Palmer, who just can't take her hands out of the pie even though she no longer even lives in Dallas County.  Princess Velveeta cannot be a zoning lobbyist at City Hall like Palmer for a year, so she has time to fall on the sword of partisan politics. 

We need for Kathy Ingle to win District 14.  She's more qualified and more experienced, but the smear campaign against her may be effective.  One issue politics is a losing proposition because you can cut off your nose to spite your face. 

This was a bad week for the Mayor, but she knew it was coming.  She didn't know Ryan Evans was going to sabotage the Mercantile complex deal.  This is the guy who never saw a Ray Hunt deal he didn't like, and can always find extra millions here or there to make Our Downtown Betters (the ODB) happy. 

I haven't worked Downtown in several years, and have to say I don't miss it at all.  Don't miss the traffic and outrageous parking costs.  Don't miss the street bums and ever present smell of urine and worse.  I really don't miss seeing the condition of the Mercantile buildings.  My mother was a bank teller at the Mercantile, and I had a part time job there in the summers during high school.  It was an incredible building with gold tile inlays with a magnificent banking lobby.  You really felt like you were someplace special.  You were Downtown!

A few weeks ago, I interviewed with a reporter for a London paper about the difference between Dallas 2005 and the Dallas portrayed in the old TV series.  Had him meet me at Neiman-Marcus and we walked around.  We walked around the Mercantile building, and I had trouble convincing him of how grand it had been and the pending plans for its rebirth would work.  It was understandable. 

Nothing we are doing Downtown will work so long as the Mercantile complex remains in its present state. 

Clash on incentives kills bid for Merc; Miller angry as firm says staffer reneged on $8 million; offer would hurt projects, he argues
Wed, May 25, 2005
by DAVE LEVINTHAL / The Dallas Morning News
A deal to turn downtown Dallas' monument to urban blight into a beacon for renewal died Wednesday when the company slated to redevelop the long-vacant Mercantile Bank complex cut off negotiations with city officials.
   Company officials said Assistant City Manager Ryan Evans reneged on the deal the city made to provide Cleveland-based Forest City Enterprises an extra $8 million in incentives on top of $60 million in tax incentives.
   David Levey, a Forest City executive, said the city also refused to provide company officials with proof ? either cash or formal backing from a financial institution ? that it would receive the full amount promised to them.
   "Had we had that, we would have done the deal. No doubt," Mr. Levey said, adding that he doesn't believe Dallas had the money available to fund its incentives.
... "If we spent the amount of money Forest City was looking for, we wouldn't be able to reach our overall goal of creating a vibrant downtown," Mr. Evans said.
...  Mayor Laura Miller said she's displeased ? not with Forest City, but with Mr. Evans' negotiating style.
   The mayor said she told Forest City that Dallas would find the $8 million sought by the company after the National Park Service declined to provide the amount in historical tax credits. Mr. Evans' letter Friday to Forest City did not include that promise.
   "This deal was undone by one person," Ms. Miller said. Asked whether that person was Mr. Evans, she replied, "Yes."
   "He didn't operate in good faith," Ms. Miller said of Mr. Evans. "You don't do it this way.
... Forest City was seeking to transform the Mercantile building into hundreds of residential units and ground-level commercial space.
   The deal's failure effectively ends nearly two years of talks between Dallas and Forest City, both of whom expressed confidence, as recently as this month, that a deal could be reached.
... City officials have long considered the redevelopment of the Mercantile complex fundamental to a downtown Dallas renaissance and have spent years attempting to find new uses for the former 33-story commercial tower and smaller surrounding structures.
... Forest City had also expressed interest in redeveloping a nearby block of four office towers that Atmos Energy donated this year to the city, in addition to the Mercantile complex and Continental Building. That project, too, now may be in peril.
... Mr. Evans said the company's estimated project costs "increased substantially" beyond the city's original incentive offer. Because of that, he said, "the funding amount necessary under the Forest City scenario was exceeding $75 million."
   The city couldn't offer that much money without hindering other downtown development projects, Mr. Evans said. He cited the loss of $8 million in federal tax credits along with "complicated ownership issues, security for a potential line of credit and additional complications" as causing Forest City's incentive package to balloon beyond $75 million.
   Said Mr. Levey, "We never asked for $75 million. Ever." ...
Council member Veletta Forsythe Lill, who represents much of downtown, including the Mercantile site, defended the city staff's efforts to score a redevelopment deal.
   "I would not put this at the feet of any individual," Ms. Lill said. "The city managers felt they reached a point of over-subsidizing the project."
... Lance Josal of the architectural firm RTKL Associates said the fact that Forest City has pulled out will make it much harder to persuade another developer to revitalize the block.
   "This probably will be what causes the whole thing to get torn down," he said. "How are you going to attract new business and conventions to downtown Dallas with those buildings sitting there like that?" ... .

Did you notice that the Preservation Princess is willing to sacrifice a Dallas icon to endear herself to Ray Hunt and take a shot at the Mayor?

The Laura Miller in this story is the Laura Miller we campaigned to get elected as Mayor.  She took the gloves off and told us what was going on at City Hall.  She has been playing a part designed for Annette Strauss, and it has not been successful.  We elected a take names and kick butt woman.  That's what we want and need.  No more tasteful pearls!

Time will show Laura Miller made many right decisions as Mayor.  She lost her way on those String Thing Bridges and the Trinity Bonddoogle, but she seems to be breaking out of her Stepford Mayor programming.  That certainly makes me happy!

Our Mayor needs to tell us every week about the bad stuff that's happening at City Hall and let us know exactly who is doing us harm. 

The strong mayor defeat may have left us in the same or slightly worse predicament than we were before.  However, if the loss has awakened our beautiful mayor and released her from that Annette Strauss costume she's been wearing, it was worth the effort. 

Dallas needs for Mayor Laura Miller to be Laura Miller.  Expose those Ray Hunt deals.  Point out the bad guys.  Let us know the truth!

KTVT-11 is reporting that Mayor Miller, Councilman Mitch Razansky and City Manager Mary Suhm are heading to Washington to try to salvage the Mercantile deal.  It's very encouraging that Ryan Evans is being left at home.  Let's send him packing.  Even the idiots in Arlington didn't want him.

Maybe, just maybe, we will have more of Laura Miller and less of the status quo.

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