10/24/05 Ray Hunt was
never taking his marbles to Irving.
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
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:
The mayor is winning the public opinion battle on the tax
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
"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.
process is not pretty," council member Bill Blaydes said.
... The event didn't go unchallenged, however.
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
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'
... 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
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
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
replaced Ruben Navarette with a race-baiter like
Read DMN front page article
on Hunt & Miller (Hunt
preaches cooperation, gets a quarrel)
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.
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
... 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
... 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
... 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
Never heard of
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.
How do you feel about the latest round of
billionaire vs. mayor?
06:00 AM CDT on Monday,
October 24, 2005
Laura Miller crazy to be picking a public fight with billionaire businessman
... 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
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
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
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
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
That Son of a Bigamist sure has his
team in place at City Hall.
Tax deals not taboo for Miller;
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
... 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
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
|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.
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.
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?