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10/24/05  Ray Hunt was never taking his marbles to Irving.

  Last week, Councilmen Bill Blaydes and Ed Oakley were like Chicken Little - running around screaming the sky is falling.  They crowed if we don't give Ray Hunt $6.3 million in tax abatements for his new office building Downtown (which will create another empty Downtown Building, Fountain Place), that Son of a Bigamist was going to accept the City of Irving's NON-EXISTENT tax abatement and leave Dallas for Las Colinas.

As I said in Who's town is it, anyway?:

I want to say right here -- Ray Hunt is not going to build that monstrosity of an office building in Las Colinas.  If I'm wrong, that building is going to be the biggest eyesore in Irving. 

Instead, Dallas is going to have another pretentious building in our pretentious arts district in our never ending challenge to convince somebody, somewhere in the World that we are finally a "World Class City".

Thanks to bad decisions like giving a $6.3 million tax abatement to a Billionaire, it's not likely Dallas will ever be "Dallas Class" again.  When our city was great and clean and green and booming, we did not give out tax abatements.  We actually started dying on the vine about the same time former City MisManager George Shrader convinced a city council to start subsidizing Ray Hunt in the 80's with the Reunion/Hyatt deal.     10/25 Jeff Strater:
   T
he mayor is winning the public opinion battle on the tax abatement issue. 
  She needs to do a Viewpoint in the DMN talking about  future tax abatements, benchmarks, why this one was wrong, and the huge consequences.  If you talk to her, let her know that. 
 
 
  Although they had already paid the City of Dallas $71,000 in building and permit fees, neither Ray Hunt or any of his thugs paid even $1.00 to Irving to begin processing a building permit, or any city processing fee on an application for a tax abatement as set out in the City of Irving's "Criteria Letter".  All of those great business minds on the city council who insisted the Mayor of Irving was lying and Irving's form CRITERIA letter was an offer to Ray Hunt should have been really embarrassed when Mitch Rasansky exposed that Hunt had already paid over $71,000 in Dallas building permit fees.

They weren't and aren't embarrassed, because most of the council members who voted for the Hunt $6.3 million give away knew he already had building permits and site plans and was ready to go --- WITH OR WITHOUT A TAX ABATEMENT.  Don't hold your breath until one of Hunt's lackeys on the council steps away from the pack and admits he or she made a mistake.  Ed Oakley told one reporter they knew about the $71,000 building permit fees BEFORE his temper tantrum.  Maybe one or two of the 12 who voted for Hunt's rip-off actually believed Hunt would leave without the $6.3 million tax abatement, but most of them would have given Hunt our money just for the asking.

Hunt breaks ground days after abatement; Dallas: As construction begins, council member still fights tax deal
12:00 AM CDT on Saturday, October 22, 2005
By DAVE LEVINTHAL / The Dallas Morning News
   He sure didn't waste any time.
   Two days after securing a $6.3 million property tax abatement from the Dallas City Council, billionaire oilman Ray Hunt donned a hard hat and plunged a jackhammer into a crumbling downtown parking lot on which, by 2007, he plans to build his company's new 15-story headquarters.
  "This celebrates the courage and the vision of the City Council and the city staff," Mr. Hunt said. "They wanted us to stay here, and we are going to stay here."
   Leaders of the pep rally-like event, complete with T-shirts, balloons and complimentary barbecue lunch, used it to chide Dallas Mayor Laura Miller for her opposition to the tax abatement, which she argued was an unnecessary use of public funds to support a private business.
   "Sometimes the process is not pretty," council member Bill Blaydes said.
... The event didn't go unchallenged, however.
   City building permit application records indicate that Hunt officials first applied on Aug. 31 to build on the site the company owns between St. Paul and Akard streets along Woodall Rodgers Freeway. The city rejected the application but accepted a subsequent filing dated Sept. 21.
   The applications cost Hunt nearly $71,000.
... Council member Mitchell Rasansky, who joined the mayor in voting against the tax abatement, says such information indicates Hunt officials had every intention of building the company's headquarters in Dallas, tax abatements or no tax abatements.
   "We've been duped," Mr. Rasansky said. ... "We gave them a handout at taxpayers' expense."
... Karl Zavitkovsky, Dallas' director of economic development, ... "We can't afford at this stage of our downtown economic development to be rolling the dice," he said, noting that the development would generate an estimated $120 million or more for the city, county and Dallas Independent School District over the next 30 years.
   John Scovell, president and CEO of Woodbine Development Corp., a subsidiary of Hunt Consolidated, said Hunt obtained the permits in anticipation of developing on the site but had not firmly decided on locating its headquarters there until the council "decided it would be competitive."

The term "competitive" usually means two equals on a somewhat level playing field.  To the Hunt thugs, "competitive" means Ray Hunt gets a 2 mile start on Dallas homeowners in a 3 mile race.  You have to remember that H. L. Hunt was not an oil man.  He was a claim jumper.  He cheated one of his best friends.  Like father, like son.  Wouldn't it be wonderful if a big church goer like Ray Hunt would actually give more than he takes from our city? 

Hunt's the ultimate Dallas ODB.  They look at Joe Taxpayers as their plantation workers.  They don't believe in Democracy.  What we have in Dallas is SOCIALISM.  You and I are allowed to keep just enough of our earnings to survive, while the elite, the ODB (Our Downtown Betters) live like European monarchs and pay little or no property taxes, while they drain our city and get willing council members to raise our taxes.  

Ray Hunt's people know Mayor Miller has exposed him as the greedy jerk a lot of us have long known him to be.  They know she has "wounded" his public image. 

Back in the day when the all the news in this town was controlled by Belo Corporation (
The Dallas Morning News, Ch. 8, etc.) after they forced out The Dallas Times Herald, the ODB and their lackeys at City Hall could do just about whatever they pleased.  Regular Joe Taxpayer never knew what was going on behind the scenes.

Things are just a bit different today. 

We have 4 very active television stations, who compete for news viewers.  For a while we had several radio talk stations that focused on local issues, now they are all focused on national issues because all the on-air guys are Rush wannabe's angling for a national gig.  We also have several local web sites that keep you informed.

The Dallas Morning News actually has some of the best reporters they have had in several years, but the Editorial Board and most of the columnists are terrible.  To make sure we all knew she had made the big time despite her humble South Texas roots, the DMN's new Hispanic editorial page columnist Macarena Hern?dez wrote an outright lie about Bill O'Reilly (a Ch. 8 alum).  The blowhard rose to her bait and gave her national exposure.  What makes it all so sad is that the DMN replaced Ruben Navarette with a race-baiter like Macarena Hern?dez. 
   

10/23/05 Gehrig Saldana:
  
Read DMN front page article on Hunt & Miller (
Hunt preaches cooperation, gets a quarrel) with much interest.  John Weekly's letter touched on how investing time, talent, and money coupled with Leadership would better serve Dallas now and in the future.
   The DMN's Sunday letters to the editor submitted by Dallas residents indicate a growing number of Dallas middle class are finally awakening and voicing their displeasure of having to bare the present and growing brunt of the city's property tax burden.  Let's hope it translates to an increase of informed voters who actually vote as well. 
   Also read DMN article "Eyesore blossoms into asset" where the teamwork, compromise, listening to parties involved and figuring out how to divide the pie so everybody's happy factored prominently on a land deal where elected and government officials, business and community entities made a troubled deal work for all involved. 
   I'm glad a growing number of the Dallas middle class are now engaged, the result will hopefully be a positive for the future of the City of Dallas. 
   Wish either the DMN, Dallas Observer, or Dallasarena.com would publish where Dallas stands on the percentage paid in taxes between homeowners and business entities in cities of comparative size to Dallas.

 

But, I digress. We were talking about lead ODB Ray Hunt being exposed by Mayor Miller.  Isn't it just awful that the Mayor of this city would stand up for Joe Taxpayer against the wants of a Billionaire?  What's worse?  Joe Taxpayer isn't buying the Hunt spin machine.  Why do you think Temper Tantrum Oakley and Not-so-Texan Blaydes continue to bash Mayor Miller in every article Belo has run since last week when they orchestrated Hunt's run on our municipal bank?  They know Dallas taxpayers and voters are really ticked off.  Both are planning to run for mayor, and neither can win without North Dallas.  They both voted to raise our property taxes, and both had very public orgasms as they justified writing off $6.3 million of Ray Hunt's rightful property taxes.

Hunt preaches cooperation, gets a quarrel; Executive's latest plans for downtown development inflame battle with Miller
06:46 PM CDT on Sunday, October 23, 2005
By SUDEEP REDDY / The Dallas Morning News
   Over lunch in his office high above Dallas, Ray Hunt is steadfastly refusing to be drawn into a very public spat over downtown redevelopment involving his company and Mayor Laura Miller.
... Mr. Hunt won't take a reporter's bait, won't go tit for tat with her.
... Mr. Hunt, 62, offers a somewhat oblique discourse on civility in public debate. ... "Tell the truth. Don't fight in the halls. Do your homework."
... Still, he has been in this territory before. Three decades ago, Mr. Hunt, a legendary oil magnate's son and a man who carefully protects his privacy, found himself in the spotlight over the same downtown venture.
... The result was the Reunion complex, a gleaming hotel accented by a dandelion-like tower with a revolving restaurant, which became a signature of Dallas' skyline.
   This month, Ms. Miller attempted to block $6.3 million in tax breaks that Hunt Consolidated sought for its new downtown headquarters. She also renewed her charge that the original Reunion deal shortchanged Dallas residents.
... Many of Ms. Miller's City Council colleagues see her campaign as part of a long-running feud against Mr. Hunt that began a decade ago in her days as a columnist for the Dallas Observer.
... Ms. Miller maintains that her latest battle with Mr. Hunt is not personal. "I think he's a very shrewd businessman," she said. "But the taxpayers have a right to know how much money they are asked to give Hunt and what they're going to get for it in return."
... His net worth is estimated at more than $2 billion, a fortune so vast that he hardly needs to go to work every day.
... The elder Hunt had three overlapping families with 15 children. Ray Hunt was the youngest son, the one who became executor of his father's will in 1974 and the head of Hunt Oil Co.
... Some of his earliest lessons about civic involvement came from Erik Jonsson, the Texas Instruments Inc. executive who was mayor of Dallas from 1964 to 1971.
... Mr. Jonsson and other TI leaders, Mr. Hunt said, carried forth a message of a social contract: If the city had helped them, "you should pay back, and you should do something good for the city."
... Interest in the civic debate ultimately led Mr. Hunt to become lead investor in D magazine in the early 1970s. Dallas was changing, and Mr. Hunt gathered backers for a publication to cover an increasingly sophisticated city, founder Wick Allison said.
... That reputation was built as Mr. Hunt developed into a civic impresario over two decades, leading the Dallas Citizens Council, the North Texas Commission and numerous boards and committees. He also became a strong backer of mayoral candidates such as Steve Bartlett and Mr. Kirk.
... Despite the many millions of dollars in contributions, not a single building at the school ? not even a bench ? bears his name.
... A Hunt-funded and city-approved planning project led to a complex land swap and joint development effort. The agreement was approved by the City Council in February 1974, drawing national attention as a unique public-private partnership. Reunion Tower and the Hyatt Regency Hotel opened four years later. Reunion Arena was completed in 1980.
... Rather than be pitted against each other, public and private entities should cooperate.
... But if the Reunion project exemplifies the best of public-private partnerships to Mr. Hunt, to Ms. Miller it was just another "sweetheart deal."
  The Hunt deal with the city envisioned ? but did not require ? additional land uses, including a shopping center and office buildings. The 1980s real estate crash halted new development in the city. Mr. Hunt also owns air rights in the area and a 100-year lease on part of Union Station at $100 a year.
... Ms. Miller said she simply wants a "thoughtful review" of Mr. Hunt's original deal and what it has meant for the city.
... In 1998, ... That same year, Mr. Hunt was drawn into the public eye when his company received a $2.9 million abatement to expand the Hyatt hotel. He attended a City Council meeting to publicly address the facts surrounding that first effort.
... Today, what might appear as a billionaire's pursuit of a few million dollars in tax breaks on a $120 million building is, to Mr. Hunt, a battle for larger principles of fairness. ...

Never heard of SUDEEP REDDY before, but he or she sure has a way with words.  Isn't "tit for tat" just a bit sexist and inappropriate to describe the relationship between Mayor Miller and Ray Hunt?  "The elder Hunt had three overlapping families with 15 children".  Wouldn't "simultaneous families" be more accurate? 

If Joe Taxpayer doesn't pay his taxes, he loses his property.  Yet, we are about to give Ray Hunt some very valuable land on top of letting him off the hook for $6.3 million in property taxes?  If Joe Taxpayer has two wives and two sets of kids at the same time, he goes to jail, but H. L. Hunt and his son are Dallas icons?

This Hunt tax give away brouhaha is not going away.  Everybody has one last word on the matter. 

James Ragland:  How do you feel about the latest round of billionaire vs. mayor?
06:00 AM CDT on Monday, October 24, 2005
   Is Mayor Laura Miller crazy to be picking a public fight with billionaire businessman Ray Hunt?
... The mayor, as everyone in town knows by now, threw a tantrum when she found out that Mr. Hunt was seeking a $6.3 million tax abatement for a new corporate headquarters he plans to build downtown.
   But with a whopping 11-2 vote, the City Council stuck a dagger in the mayor's heart by giving Mr. Hunt his tax break.
   The council also authorized the city staff, which Ms. Miller publicly berated, to continue negotiating a deal with Hunt Consolidated that calls for swapping city-owned Reunion Arena for a parking lot near the convention center.
   From where I sit, it sure looks like Mr. Hunt is getting the better end of that deal, especially considering that the city still owes a reported $19 million on Reunion, which would be razed under the plan.
  
Mr. Hunt is obviously a shrewd businessman. But I've got a feeling that most people would agree with the mayor's position that City Hall shouldn't be handing out tax abatements willy-nilly to fat cats.
... Here's the rub: Only Mr. Hunt knows for sure. And I've got to believe that if Mr. Hunt's company was interested in relocating to Dallas, most folks wouldn't blink twice at the city offering a tax break.
   But Mr. Hunt's already here. And I'm curious why a billionaire would feel the need to sock the city for $6.3 million at a time when our residential tax base has surpassed our business tax base?
  
In a city that can't afford to put enough cops on the street, that's a fair question. And it's one that Mr. Hunt and his team ought to give some serious thought.
   The problem, however, is that Ms. Miller may have shot herself in the foot politically by slinging mud after it was apparent she couldn't muster enough votes to squash the Hunt deal.
   A day after the mayor's conniption, she got at least 25 e-mails from people weighing in on the brouhaha, said her chief of staff, Frank Librio.
   Some of them told her that she appeared to be the only one at City Hall with a lick of sense.
   How do you feel about it?
   Do you agree with the mayor, who says City Hall shouldn't have given Mr. Hunt the tax abatement?
   Or do you agree with the city staff and council majority's position that the $6.3 million is a good investment in the future because Dallas couldn't risk losing another business to the suburbs?
   I'd like to hear directly from you. I'll share your thoughts in a future column. 

Actually, last Wednesday, Mayor Miller was quite cool and collected.  It was Ed Oakley who lost his composure and started banging on the table like a little kid screaming for his turn, to make sure he got all the attention.  There was a whole lot of emotion around the council table, but it was coming from Hunt's water carriers, not from Mayor Miller or Councilman Rasansky.

Here's what I sent to James Ragland (one of the few good columnists the DMN has left):

Only doing the right thing when you know you have the votes is not leadership.   Ray Hunt never had an offer from Irving.  City Hall staff and everyone on the council knew it, and the Mayor of Irving emphatically denied there was any offer to Hunt from Irving.

It was admirable for Mayor Miller to make her power point presentation and state her opposition even though she knew 80% of the council were salivating to endear themselves to a Billionaire who has already taken Dallas taxpayers to the cleaners for over $20 million in tax abatements.  Billionaire Ray Hunt never built out his promised development under the old Reunion deal.  It looks like he and George Schrader set the deal up for the city to hold the land under Reunion Arena for him for 20 years until he was ready to do something with it.  To make matters worse, under the land swap deal Ryan Evans, Bill Blaydes and Ed Oakley are pushing, we have to pay several million to demolish Reunion before we GIVE the land to Ray Hunt.

Contrary to Ray Hunt's obnoxious full page DMN advertisement praising 12 council members who sold out Dallas homeowners, the only heroes at City Hall last Wednesday were Mayor Laura Miller and Councilman Mitch Rasansky.

What Billionaire Ray Hunt did to Dallas last week was use his wealth and status to steal $6.3 million from the general budget that will not go to hire more police and firefighters.  The DMN puff piece on Billionaire Ray Hunt claims he does charitable and civic stuff behind the scene.  That's baloney!  He steals money from our general budget behind the scene.

Mayor Laura Miller taking on Billionare Ray Hunt may look like Don Quixote tilting at windmills, but her cause is right.   It was really more like a David and Goliath situation where she tried to take out a giant with a slingshot.  Ray Hunt may not have gone down with a thud, but his image is damaged, his greed has been exposed.  With her slingshot, Mayor Laura Miller has sounded the alarm to Dallas homeowners that 12 council members gave away $6.3 million in property taxes to a Billionaire just weeks after voting to raise our property taxes.

All in all, Mayor Miller and Mitch Rasansky are looking very tall in the saddle of integrity these days.

Laura Miller may have lost the battle last week, but don't be surprised if Ray Hunt loses the war.   He and his PR mob have done some polls and they are not pleased to find the Mayor's numbers still very high. and the general public is not happy about the tax give away.

Did you known our city
Director Of Economic Development Karl Z. was Hunt company's former bank officer until we hired him from Bank of America on June 1 (just 3 months before Lying Ryan Evans finalized the deal to give Hunt $6.3 million of our property taxes)?  Did you know Councilman Blaydes and Hunt's Go-To-Guy John Scovell played high school football together?  Plus, it was Assistant City MisManager Lying Ryan Evans who orchestrated the 1998 giveaway to Hunt for Hyatt expansion - $100,000 payment for $1.7M worth of land, plus 10-yr tax abatement, plus rebate of ALL construction permit fees

That Son of a Bigamist sure has his team in place at City Hall.

Tax deals not taboo for Miller; Mayor railed against one for Hunt but has supported most others
Monday, October 24, 2005By DAVE LEVINTHAL / The Dallas Morning News
   When the Dallas City Council last week overwhelmingly granted billionaire oilman Ray Hunt a $6.3 million tax abatement to build a new downtown headquarters, Mayor Laura Miller cast one of the two votes against it, decrying the incentive as a "classic example of us needlessly and excitedly giving away millions of tax dollars simply because we are asked."
   Since becoming mayor in February 2002, however, Ms. Miller has almost always supported tax abatements for business developments, voting to approve 23 out of 25 abatement proposals before the council, according to city records.
... Ms. Miller says she's not against all abatements. She has voted for most of them as mayor because they jibe with her philosophy for giving them.
   The mayor described that philosophy as such: Tax abatements should be offered to businesses planning to rehabilitate deteriorating buildings, creating an initial economic spark in an area such as downtown or locating to "a part of town that, but for the subsidy, would not be developed ? risky and unattractive to developers."
... The Hunt abatement did not fit those criteria, Ms. Miller argued.
... The downtown property on which his headquarters will be built is among Dallas' choicest and shouldn't be eligible for a tax abatement, Ms. Miller said, especially when Hunt Consolidated is moving from only a few blocks away.
... Bill Blaydes, chairman of the council's Economic Development and Housing Committee, said Ms. Miller's support for most subsidies but not the Hunt abatement is caused by "the disdain she has for this individual. It's almost a vendetta."
   Said council member Ed Oakley: "The Hunt vote for her has nothing to do with what's right and what's not. The issue is personal in nature for her."
... Ms. Miller defended her support for other downtown tax-abatement and tax-incentive programs. She noted that the Mercantile Bank complex is utterly blighted and that the 7-Eleven project will be the first downtown office tower built in nearly two decades. They're different projects and required public subsidization, she said.
... As a council member between 1998 and 2002, Ms. Miller voted several times against tax abatements for high-profile companies.  
  
City records indicate they included a pair of abatements worth more than $1.3 million each for Yahoo, a $2.9 million abatement for Mr. Hunt's downtown Hyatt Regency Dallas hotel and a $1.95 million abatement for Allegiance Telecom, which declared bankruptcy in 2003. In each case, the abatements passed over Ms. Miller's wishes.
... "She's been reasonably consistent, with a couple of blips," said Sharon Boyd, a former council candidate who edits the political Web site Dallasarena.com. "When she became mayor, she began to go along to get along a little bit. But now, if Laura Miller does nothing more than shine the light of day on these backroom deals and the unfair distribution of taxes, then she has had a successful term."
   Mr. Oakley, however, says the mayor's vote against the Hunt abatement is also politically motivated. Ms. Miller is up for re-election in 2007.
   "She's absolutely trying to play to her conservative base up north," he said. "What other motivation is there?"
... "What I'm singularly unsuccessful in doing is stopping the constant subsidies that staff puts together. And when they come to council, the council is happy to give away money," Ms. Miller said. "All I see is us raising the tax rate on homeowners almost every year now to pay for them."
 
This homeowner is outraged that Blaydes and Oakley voted to raise my property taxes, but they have no shame about giving Ray Hunt a $6.3 million tax break.  Oakley was the biggest proponent of raising our property taxes, and the most emotional about giving Hunt a tax break.

This homeowner is glad Mayor Miller and Mitch Rasansky didn't go along with the crowd.  If we are going to be robbed blind by Ray Hunt with the assistance of Not-so-Texan Blaydes, Temper Tantrum Oakley and Lying Ryan Evans, this homeowner is glad Mayor Miller put some light on their shady doings.
   

Gehrig Saldana:
   Levinthal offers up some light on Dallas' tax abatements. Take note of Mayor Miller's comment "
All I see is us raising the tax rate on homeowners almost every year now to pay for them."
   Great job Dave, now how about a follow-up article on where Dallas measures up on the percentage paid in residential vs business taxes in comparable sized cities along with comparison of criterias utilized to determine who receives tax abatements?
   Mayor Miller is on track when she brings up the need to raise the bar on the criteria for issuance of tax abatements. Some council members paint this issue with a broad stroke of personal attacks & vendettas, but I sense the majority of Joe Public will continue to vote their pocket book and for individuals who have honesty and integrity.
   As for apologies, lets see, it seems like only yesterday when some within Dallas' business leaders  utilized those white envelopes to gain favor from minority council representatives. Who apologizes to Joe Public for that? Fast track to the year 2005 and those envelopes are much bigger.  Now, the business leaders are on the receiving end of those envelopes in the form of tax abatements for campaign contributions.
   With the huge FBI investigation at Dallas City Hall in play and these Hunt deals, honesty & integrity attractions are a bit obscure at City Hall, right? So Mote It Be.

 
 
  Not-so-Texan Blaydes and Temper Tantrum Oakley are not as happy as they pretend to be.  They've seen the Mayor's numbers in Hunt's poll.  All their huffing and puffing and sucking up has not helped their prestige.  Just like Chicken Little, Blaydes and Oakley claimed the sky is falling.  No one believed them last week, and no one believes them now.  Both have lost all credibility and are now in the same league with Shakedown Leo Chaney, Brain-Dead Thornton-Reese and the FBI's Favorite Target Don Hill.

Dallas homeowners are not going to forget how they all lied to justify giving Ray Hunt $6.3 million of our tax money.  Why not take a minute and tell James Ragland what you think? E-mail jragland@dallasnews.com

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