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Barbara Mathews Blanton
Casie Pierce
Michael Davis


09/05/05 There's still stuff going on in Dallas.

Looks like D'Angelo Lee is an eternal source of surprises and embarrassment for anyone who befriends him.  Mayor Miller was right to take a strong stand against Lee; she's right on the "residential overlay" and she was right to protect Dallas from the misguided good intentions of some people sorely short on common sense.

Revelations put planner's eligibility at risk; Dallas: Unpaid tickets, birth-date discrepancies found in Lee records
Saturday, September 3, 2005 by BROOKS EGERTON and EMILY RAMSHAW / The Dallas Morning News
   New questions have emerged about Dallas Plan Commissioner D'Angelo Lee's identity, debts and eligibility to hold public office.
   Mr. Lee owes nearly $1,600 for unpaid traffic violations dating to 2000, city records show. As such, he was ineligible to join the Plan Commission in 2003 and now cannot continue unless he pays the fines, according to city ordinances.
"We were not aware of his being in arrears," said Assistant City Secretary Deborah Watkins. Her office is supposed to notify the City Council about such problems.
   Mr. Lee also has given local governments three contradictory sworn statements about his birth date, a Dallas Morning News review shows. He declined to comment.
   The contradictions could constitute perjury, District Attorney Bill Hill said. ...
   Mayor Laura Miller was incredulous Friday when told of the birth-date discrepancies and unpaid fines.
   "It's a shame that the news media had to do what the city should have done, as far as doing a routine check," she said.
... The council is scheduled to vote Wednesday on Ms. Miller's effort to remove Mr. Lee.
... Council member Ed Oakley said he hopes the new revelations lead the plan commissioner to quit. ...  Three weeks ago, he voted to refer complaints about Mr. Lee to the city Ethics Commission, which has not decided whether to investigate.
   The birth-date contradictions:
? When Don Hill nominated him in 2003, Mr. Lee signed a form saying that he was born on Dec. 22, 1965. That matches his Texas driver's license.
? When Don Hill unsuccessfully sought to put him on a second city board, in May 2005, Mr. Lee listed the date as Dec. 23, 1966.
... Mr. Lee's 1995 voter-registration application. On it, he swore that he was born on Dec. 23, 1965.
... "I don't want to discuss any documents," he said Thursday
... What is your birth date? The News asked. Mr. Lee did not answer and retreated into the office of St. Paul's pastor, the Rev. Charles Stovall.
... Two of the six tickets were for failure to maintain financial responsibility. Such a charge usually means that a driver has no proof of insurance, officials say.
Four of the six unpaid citations were pending in 2003, when city officials were supposed to do a background check before letting Mr. Lee join the Plan Commission.
  The final two citations occurred in June, about a week before the FBI raided Don Hill's City Hall office and Mr. Lee's private office just south of downtown. Mr. Lee was driving a Mercedes reportedly supplied by office mate Sheila Farrington, who is close to Mr. Hill....

Several weeks ago when all this trash was first blowing up and CBS-11 broke the story about Lee and Mayor Pro Tem Don Hill driving cars they did not own, I asked Chip Northrup how you get insurance on a car you don't own.  His answer was short and true -- "They don't."  We have big shots at City Hall driving around town without car insurance.

All those who embarrassed themselves by trying to take shots at Mayor Miller while claiming to want "due process" for D'Angelo Lee owe the rest of us an apology.  I'm not going to call Lee "Commissioner" because he was not eligible to even be on the Plan Commission.  $1600 in unpaid traffic tickets?  That's crazy, which is the only explanation for any Lee's behavior.  The guy is certifiable. 

It is disappointing that Rev. Stovall has aligned himself with and allowed St. Paul UMC to be tainted by Lee.  As a man of God, he should be grateful the authorities are culling out African-Americans in public office who have abused their office, their constituents and the African-American community as a whole.  As I asked about Rev. Sheron Patterson, "
What's with these preachers?"

Apparently, I'm not alone in questioning why any minister would not be glad to have wrongdoers brought down.  Here are some comments posted by the DMN:

Letters for Sunday, September 4, 2005
PATTERSON ON FBI investigation  "First concern, now alarm over FBI investigation," by Sheron Patterson, Tuesday Viewpoints.
  By Ms. Patterson's line of reasoning, the Mafia never should have been investigated because all the "players" were Italian-Americans, and no identifiable racial or ethnic group should be singled out for investigation and prosecution.
  Contrary to her conclusion that this unfolding drama could result in greater voter apathy, it should stir people so they participate more intensely ? and begin to elect representatives of integrity and character.
  At any rate, these revelations indicate a growing focus on redevelopment across the southern sector, and that is a positive, if we can avoid shady deals and bribes in the future.

Joe Sturgill, Dallas

Elect scoundrels, get scandal
  Good column, but it skirts the obvious: If we elect scoundrels, we get scandal. Paul Fielding, Sheriff Jim Bowles ... corruption is colorblind. Absolute power may corrupt absolutely, but a little goes a long way at Dallas City Hall.
   Any bright, young, articulate African-American could sweep any of these officials out of office. Now's the time for reform. Starting in the voting booths in the southern sector.
Chip Northrup, Dallas

Pass on perception and focus on the facts
   Sheron Patterson's column is an alarming, knee-jerk reaction that does not focus on the issue ? honesty. Justice is good, but don't hurt "political viability"? The end justifies the means?
   I don't see a "wholesale roundup." I see a confidential investigation that is the subject of much speculation. "Discrediting leaders" could discourage voters? On the contrary, voters will elect new leaders concerned about ethics and not so-called political viability.
  Ms. Patterson would be wise to not be so concerned about perception and concentrate on the facts and the truth.
Phil Turner, Frisco

D'Angelo Lee should be removed BEFORE he can resign from the Plan Commission, and it is time for Councilman Don Hill to resign, certainly to turn over his title as Mayor Pro Tem.  For Hill to preside over any councilman meeting under this FBI cloud is a disservice to all Dallas residents.

From the outrageous (City Hall corruption) to the mundane (city planning), we need to take up the "neighborhood stabilization overlay" that council will consider Wednesday -- among other things.  As a once staunch preservation, I now consider most of my former colleagues as Preservation Nazis.  These are a bunch of little control freaks who are absolutely out of control (no pun intended).  It is one thing to try to save something significant like Swiss Avenue and Munger Place, etc.  Comparing those homes to the "prairie style" houses of the Goodwin St. area, is like comparing my aging, banged up Blazer to an Escalade.  It's special to me, but I don't think it's going to get me much of a trade-in when it's time to get a new car.

If a property owner cannot upgrade or replace their single-family house with a newer single-family house that fits their needs, what does property ownership mean?  Is this a new, more insidious use of eminent domain? 

City, residents brace for a teardown showdown; Dallas: McMansions pit builders against preservationists
September 4, 2005 by EMILY RAMSHAW / The Dallas Morning News
... On Wednesday, homeowners and builders will come head-to-head before their most captive audience yet ? the Dallas City Council ? over a controversial zoning tool designed to limit teardowns and "McMansions" in Dallas neighborhoods.
   Supporters and opponents of the proposed "neighborhood stabilization overlay," which would give homeowners a quick fix to halt incompatible redevelopment, know the stakes are higher this time.
... And nearly six months after its design, council members are lining up on either side of the overlay ? and bracing themselves for what will likely be a marathon debate. A final council vote is scheduled Sept. 14.
   "We've got to make sure we don't recklessly impede the redevelopment of neighborhoods," said council member Gary Griffith, who represents District 9. "At the same time, we've got a strong obligation to help protect the characteristics that have made those neighborhoods strong."
  For years, North and East Dallas residents have sought creative ways to battle teardowns in their neighborhoods. Some became historic districts. Others achieved conservation district status, a less-restrictive zoning category.
... The neighborhood stabilization overlay was designed by the city's development staff as a short-term solution.
  Under the proposal, residents could, with support from a majority of their neighbors, regulate height, garage location, front- and side-yard setbacks and the paved surface of future construction.
... In the months since the overlay was unveiled, it has received harsh criticism from builders and real estate agents, who say it will stifle inner-city growth and inhibit the city's tax base.
   The details were so controversial that the overlay was held up at the city's Zoning Ordinance Advisory Committee ? the board directly below the Plan Commission ? for more than three months. And when the commission got it, members tightened it up, recommending, among other points, that height and story restrictions be taken out of the measure and that 75 percent of homeowners be on board to approve the overlay.
...  Ms. Miller said she thinks the commission's compromise is a "reasonable place to start." ..., saying that city staff's recommendation of "50 percent plus one is not a good number." ...  an overlay to apply to a neighborhood's "original platted subdivision," not a set number of homes.
... On one point, the mayor is more aligned with the homeowners. Ms. Miller thinks height and story limits are a fundamental piece of the overlay.
... Council member Angela Hunt, the overlay's staunchest supporter on the council, said she's deeply concerned that anyone wants to make the overlay contingent on the support of 75 percent of homeowners ? "by far the highest threshold" of any zoning category in the city, she said. She said the Plan Commission's version of the measure "eviscerated it." ...  "Where I'm hearing this going is that we're making it harder ... for an overlay than for a conservation district."
   Council member Bill Blaydes falls on the other end of the spectrum. In the overlay's original form, he said, "I wouldn't have voted for it if my life depended on it." ... "There's another way to take care of the kinds of problems they are dealing with, and it's called a conservation district," he said. "I do not believe it is in the best interests of this city, when you look at tax structures and increasing costs, to cut off the only thing we have today that is increasing in value, and that's our single-family homes."
... Wendy Segrest, an East Dallas homeowner ... "Now that builders have bought so many homes in the neighborhood, they would have a vote," she said. "There might not be enough of us left to get 75 percent." ...

I'm on the side of the McMansions.  I lived in East Dallas in the late 70's.  To lock that entire area into having to restore a lot of too small "bungalows" rather than building what a homeowner wants guarantees Greenville area goes into further decline.  Some of the houses have been well maintained, but many have been rent houses or were neglected by the resident owner. 

Ramshaw's second story
In East Dallas, dream mansions are taking on dream bungalows shows how selfish the Angela Hunt forces really are when she quotes Ms Brown:

"It's legal, according to zoning," she said. "But it's unfriendly, unneighborly and lacking in any sense of community."  Brown wants someone else to have less than they want so she can have what she wants. 

Dallas is an urban city. To call 2-story houses "suburban" is ludicrous.  They are a better use of land than ranch style houses like my own.  If either of my neighbors wanted to tear down their house for a rebuild, I could care less.  There are 2-story houses intermixed in my neighborhood and we don't find them unneighborly.  Angi Brown and Angela Hunt are typical liberal control freaks who think they know best what others want.

The 75% rule is right when you consider we are dealing with people's property rights.  So long as single-family neighborhoods are respected and the city is not allowing multi-family in single-family zoning, there should be no rules about height or appearance.  We should limit "re-builds" or "in-fill" structures to the same footprint as the previous structure so as not to change the front, rear or side yard setbacks, but having your neighbor's balcony overlook your backyard is not an intrusion.  When Angie Brown's neighborhood was built.  You only had to stand in your backyard to see into your neighbor's backyard.  That was neighborly.  Living behind a six-foot solid wooden fence (as I do) is not neighborly.

I just love reading Emily Ramshaw's stuff.  Hopefully, she will stay with DMN a long, long time.

Here's her second story on the subject.  It is important to read both to understand the issue.

In East Dallas, dream mansions are taking on dream bungalows; Residents, newcomers wrestle with issues of the law, good taste
Sunday, September 4, 2005 by EMILY RAMSHAW / The Dallas Morning News
   When Angi Brown and her partner moved to Goodwin Avenue in Old East Dallas more than six years ago, their block was an integral piece of a stable neighborhood.
...  then William Wallace and his wife bought the house next door and tore it down to start building their dream home.  ...  They had good friends in East Dallas and loved the area's neighborhoods, restaurants and urban-suburban feel.
   When they found a ramshackle house for sale on Goodwin, Mr. Wallace said, it felt like a natural place to start. The structure was termite-infested and decrepit, he said, and the couple figured they'd be doing a service to the neighborhood.
... The house that used to sit on the Wallaces' property was "in need of some repair," Ms. Brown acknowledged. But what has replaced it is her worst nightmare, she said.  ...  three times the size of her house, leaving her with dark shadows and drainage problems. And the new structure is so close to the property line that, during construction, cement and roofing materials were flung onto her house, she said.
   "It's legal, according to zoning," she said. "But it's unfriendly, unneighborly and lacking in any sense of community."
...  "They've tarred us as the poster children for the evils of slash-and-burn builders, McMansions, starter castles," he [Wallace] said. "I'm not real pleased."
   And although many of Ms. Brown's friends have told her to buck up ? her land will be worth more at the end of the day ? ... "It doesn't make up for the sun coming in my windows that's now going to be blocked or their second-story balcony that looks over into my back yard," she said.
   Mr. Wallace ... "But one man's aesthetic is another man's nightmare," he said. "For people to try to impose their view of what architecture should look like ? the question is, how far do you go?"
   Ms. Brown ... says the proposed neighborhood stabilization overlay is essential to help residents protect the integrity of their neighborhoods in a speedy fashion. A year and a half ago, Ms. Brown and her neighbors sent a petition to the city to create a conservation district. To date, the paperwork is pending, and homes are being razed one after another.
... Mr. Wallace understands historic districts and conservation districts; they preserve architectural significance. ... "To start applying that same sensibility to an area of town that's iffy to begin with is pretty ridiculous," he said.

There are several thousand people now in Dallas who only wish a neighbor's balcony was their only problem.  Thank goodness, Mayor Miller stepped up and said there is a bottom to our well.  What was Judge Keliher thinking:  Keep bringing them, and we'll absorb them.  The council is asking us to support a multi-million dollar bond proposal to build a homeless shelter (in addition to the multi-million proposal we have already approved).  Now, we are going to have 15,000 new residents to house and feed (most will be with us at least 2 years, if not permanently). 

Trying to cut off evacuee flow; 'We can't handle anymore,' Dallas County judge says
Saturday, September 3, 2005
by EMILY RAMSHAW / The Dallas Morning News
  Gov. Rick Perry sought to cut off the flow of Hurricane Katrina evacuees to Texas on Saturday night, after Dallas and other cities in the state warned they wouldn't be able to accommodate any more.
... As a massive wave of Louisiana evacuees flooded into North Texas on Saturday, Dallas city leaders had issued their own desperate SOS, pleading for state and federal relief, and beseeching neighboring counties to step up to the plate.
... Amid broken lines of communication, a reluctant regional response, and rising tensions between Mayor Laura Miller and County Judge Margaret Keliher, Dallas managed to stay one step ahead of the seemingly endless flow of buses, filling downtown shelters to capacity and directing others to the suburbs.
... Dallas got its first call from FEMA on Saturday, nearly a week into the crisis. Mr. Perry's homeland security team has been coordinating air and bus traffic into Dallas, giving little warning to city officials. And Ms. Miller and Ms. Keliher have sent mixed messages to both bodies ? one angry and pleading for relief; the other, calm and open to accommodating as many evacuees as it takes.
...  Saturday, after a full-court press from Dallas city and county officials, several suburbs and small towns mobilized to meet needs that spilled from the big city.
...  By Saturday night, at least 15,000 evacuees had arrived in the Dallas area. About 8,200 are staying at the Dallas Convention Center and Reunion Arena, and thousands more have registered to receive services and supplies at those facilities.
... The response of area communities varied from enthusiastic to tepid.
... "Everybody has really stepped up to do their part, but we can't handle any more," Ms. Keliher said.
... Saturday morning began with a desperate plea. Dallas' evacuee population had doubled to more than 6,000 overnight, Assistant City Manager Ramon Miguez said, and at least 90 more buses were on their way into town. The downtown shelters, already near capacity and running low on cots, would be saturated within hours, he said.
... Ms. Miller had called the governor's office on Friday night, after a less-than-enthusiastic response from neighboring communities, to ask for help securing shelters. At that time, she warned them the region could take no more than 15,000 people. State officials, who had originally asked Dallas to take 25,000, agreed.  ... "I said, 'We cannot take them. We're full,' " she said.
   On the same conference call, Ms. Keliher delivered a different message. According to the mayor, Ms. Keliher ? who orchestrated the relief effort in North Texas ? encouraged the governor's office to send even more, saying "Keep bringing them, and we'll absorb them."
... Despite the outpouring of support, the logistics have been a nightmare, Ms. Miller said.
... To make matters worse, city officials weren't notified of the pending arrival until bus caravans showed up at the state line, giving Dallas three hours to figure out where they would go.  ... I'm enormously proud of the effort here, with the American Red Cross, and with the citizens of Dallas and Fort Worth," Ms. Miller said.

Emily Ramshaw is everywhere!  She always gets the behind the scenes stuff that makes our head spin.  A really great reporter, and very young!

I am appalled that the City of Dallas is having to help so many (15,000 +) and the whole of Tarrant County is only taking 3,050, and rich Collin County is only housing 650.     
9/05 Michael Davis:
It is appalling that Collin County is only taking 650 people.  Even
Philadelphia, PA said they'll take 1,000 people.  This should be much more highly publicized.  The wealth of Collin County is exceeded only by the unbelievable selfishness of their elected officials
'll never live anywhere but Dallas.
   Collin County gets 2005 NIMBY award, hands down.
Texas plans to airlift evacuees; Perry seeks airlines' help in moving some storm victims elsewhere
Sunday, September 4, 2005 by ERNESTO LONDO? / The Dallas Morning News
   As Hurricane Katrina evacuees continued to arrive in Texas on Sunday, Gov. Rick Perry began to plan airlifting some to other states in coming days.
... Mr. Perry asked officials from Utah, Pennsylvania and New York to host some of the victims currently in Texas.
... Dallas City Manager Mary Suhm said Sunday that there are no immediate plans to move any of the estimated 14,000 storm victims who registered at Dallas shelters, which are being administered by the Red Cross. North Texas officials said they're not expecting to receive many more evacuees and are barely coping to provide basic services to those already here.
... "Looking back, there were moments where I felt we were fixin' to drown," Ms. Suhm said Sunday. "But we handled things pretty well."
... Dallas County Health and Human Services medical director David Buhner said physicians are taking extraordinary precautions to prevent an outbreak of communicable diseases at the shelters.
...  The Dallas Police Department is securing both facilities. The city intends to spend $500,000 per week to keep enough officers at the shelters. City officials said they have been assured the federal government will reimburse its evacuation-related expenditures, Ms. Suhm said.
... Several evacuees walked around the city holding photographs of loved ones. Others posted hand-written signs outside the city's two main shelters.
... Collin County is housing about 650 evacuees in shelters in Plano (130), McKinney (300), Lavon (95), Wylie (112) and Murphy (17), said Jamie Nicolay, a county spokeswoman.
... Tarrant County has received about 3,050 evacuees in 20 shelters in Fort Worth and surrounding communities.
... So far, in addition to Fort Worth, the following Tarrant County cities have offered shelter assistance to evacuees: Arlington, Azle, Benbrook, Burleson, Euless, Grand Prairie, Grapevine, Keller and Lake Worth.
... In Lewisville, officials put plans in place to acclimate about 550 evacuees. City officials surveyed hotels and found that 500 to 600 evacuees were staying in the city's hotels.
... In Ennis, city officials have provided emergency shelter for 55 evacuees from New Orleans at Tabernacle Baptist Church. The church has the capacity to handle up to 90 displaced people in the family life center and gym.

Part of being successful is knowing your limitations.  When you cut a pie in too many pieces, no one benefits from the whole.  It is always tempting to overreach.  We all want to do something!  The problem comes when you take on too much and no one benefits.  Mayor Miller was right to go public and insist other cities of the Metroplex step up to the plate.  Ft. Worth could take at least another 4500 evacuees (half of what Dallas is helping). 

There have been and will be many instances where I have disagreed with Our Mayor big time and very publicly.  Currently, she's on the right track.      09/05/05 xxxxxx
How many people are being housed at the AAC?
  Mayor Miller was right to try to get Lee removed from the P&Z regardless of any ethics complaints.  Anything else and she would have appeared to acquiesce to Hill and Lee's shenanigans. 
  Mayor Miller  is right on the neighborhood stabilization overlay.  There should be a 75% support level any time the city puts restrictions on someone's property rights when their plans are "legal, according to zoning".   
Mayor Miller will be proved right on her stance on the number of evacuees Dallas can effectively aid and house.

A pasture can only feed so many head of livestock before it is played out and there is no food for any of them.

Have the best Labor Day you can under the circumstances.






  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