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Gary Turner
Stan Aten

                             

02/12/04  Sweetheart Deals and Lopsided Priorities!

There have been some interesting developments and disclosures and discoveries the past few days.
 

Let's see -- there's the Harry Hines hospital site where the Weisfeld brothers were apparently doing a little family planning.  Since, it's only taxpayers getting ripped off and NW Dallas being damaged, who at City Hall cares?     Roger Levin:
  
Poor Hershel.   He is probably a mess with all this negative publicity.  He has been telling people he will be running for city council when Velveeta retires. 
  
Princess Velveeta won't hear of it ... she has some protege (or as she  would say "proootege") from  one of her artsy groups.

 

Then, there's the Trinity River Project where the Mayor and Martin Frost may have been too clever by half with his announcement of federal money for the Mayor's String Thing Bridges.     James Northrup:
 
Looks like Frost may have put the kibosh on the architectural folly to Singleton Blvd. 
  
Just what Dallas transportation grid needs - a $130M suspension bridge to a 2-lane, 30-mph thoroughfare.


Once again, CBS 11's Sarah Dodd takes a little nugget and finds a million dollar vein of insider manipulations at City Hall.  If you will recall DallasArena.com posted the following picture from the site a few weeks ago:
 

Pretty fancy digs for 900+ people who contribute nothing to our tax revenue or our community. 
 


Did you note the broker's name on the for sale sign?  Sarah Dodd did and wondered if there was a relationship between R. Weisfeld and Herschel Weisfield, Vice Chair of the City's Cultural Affairs Commission, who has been lobbying council members to support the Harry Hines site, even though it would be devastating for nearby businesses and neighborhoods.
 

CBS 11 Exclusive on Possible Conflict of Interest
Feb 11, 2004 5:16 pm US/Central
CBS 11 City Hall reporter Sarah Dodd reports:
    Dallas mayor Laura Miller responds to a story you saw only on CBS 11 News.
   We reported on a possible conflict of interest involving the vice-chair of a city commission trying to lobby for a business deal that would financially benefit his brother.
   The majority of the city council wasn't aware that there was a potential conflict of interest here, until they watched our story Tuesday night.
   Now the mayor says the situation makes her uncomfortable, and she thinks this commission member's actions are inappropriate.
   He?s offered guided tours, bent the ears of council members, and pitched the benefits of buying specific property on Harry Hines.
   Now Herschel Weisfeld is defending himself against allegations of unethical behavior, and misusing his city position.
* Didn't the Mayor visit the site at least once since it made it to one of her top 3 choices?  Pretty hard to miss that for sale sign at the entry.  See picture below.  None of them thought it was coincidental that Herschel Weisfeld was lobbying them to pick the Harry Hines site and R. Weisfeld was brokering the property (turns out he's a co-owner).
   The mayor says, ?I am very uncomfortable, he has slipped me notes during meeting asking me to make announcements about his property. He needs to either be on the commission which I think he does a good job at, or sell us property, but not both.
   Weisfeld is the vice chair of the city's Cultural Affairs Commission. And as CBS 11 news uncovered, Weisfeld has actively lobbied council members to purchase his brother's 5 and a half million-dollar property to be used for a new homeless shelter.
 So, does that mean they are going to forget all the private moments they shared with the Vice Chair of the Cultural Affairs Commission?
   Weisfeld told us, ?I have no financial involvement in this transaction, and I?m not negotiating on behalf of my brother or the city.?
   Weisfeld is a licensed realtor but says he will not make any money off of this deal, even though his brother could make at least a million dollars.
   Weisfeld says he's only taking an active interest because he has a history of helping the homeless in Dallas.
  Give me a break!  Herschel Weisfeld has justifiably been trying to force the street bums out of Downtown ever since he decided to invest in the old Christian Science Sanctuary which he converted to the Weisfeld Center (named for his parents).  It's difficult to entice wedding parties to risk their guests' persons and property after dark with street bums swarming all over the place.
   Mayor Pro Tem John Loza says, ?i think the relationships he had with council members preceded his seat on the commission. I don't see a problem with it.?
  What a shock that Send Me Some Money Loza would not see an ethics issue right before his eyes -- involving his appointee to the Cultural Affairs Commission!  The problem is that Herschel Weisfeld gets to hang out behind the velvet ropes in the council chambers, and NW Dallas community leaders aren't even invited to the discussion table until after the deal may have been cut.
  But even council members who don't see a technical violation of the city's ethics code, say, there could be the perception of impropriety.
   City council member Ed Oakley. ?I don't think he should be out lobbying the council, he needs to back off and let everybody make their decision.?
   Weisfeld told us late Wednesday that if the mayor feels this strongly, then he will stop campaigining for his brother's property.
  Little too late for Weisfeld to back off.  The damage is done.


The Mayor is not all that innocent here.  Last week on KLIF AM 570, she said the Harry Hines site was close to Parkland Hospital (4 miles South of the site).  She either had never been to the site (not likely) or she was deliberately deceiving Dallas citizens who were listening to their Mayor. 

Weisfeld property (Harry Hines site) is 4 miles North of Parkland.
Parkland Hosp is 3 miles North of City Hall.
Parkland is closer to City Hall than to Harry Hines site.
   
Do you see Parkland Hospital anywhere near that blue mark, which is about where you see DART maintenance barns and Dry Gulch Recycling?  The proposed street bums' day spa is directly West on Harry Hines.  Look how close it is to NW Hwy and Bachman Lake Park.


Our Mayor knows this area.  Drive Shorecrest East past Lemon Ave, and you are in Bluffview.
 

Colleagues fault Frost for I-30 bridge talk; He defends publicizing budget request; some fear it threatens project
09:56 PM CST Tues, 2/10/04
DAVE LEVINTHAL/The Dallas Morning News
   A top congressional official says U.S. Rep. Martin Frost has jeopardized federal funding for Dallas' highest-profile public works project because he decided to "grandstand" instead of work with his congressional colleagues.
   Republican Rep. Don Young, chairman of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, said Mr. Frost, a Democrat, was unwise to publicly announce a $27 million federal transportation fund request he made to help construct a $130 million suspension bridge over the Trinity River as part of Interstate 30 in Dallas.
   Eddie Bernice Johnson, Mr. Frost's Democratic colleague from Dallas who sits on the committee, said she's upset, too.  . . .
... 
Mr. Young said ...   "This is a good way to jeopardize a project."
...  At issue is the T21 transportation bill, which Congress reauthorizes every six years.
...  Mr. Frost said. "I hope he wouldn't be so petty as to oppose the No. 1 priority of the Dallas business community.
...  Mr. Sessions ...  said his designation is "a balanced designation."
...  Under House procedures for the transportation bill, transportation committee leaders allot each congressional representative a tentative dollar amount to be used for transportation projects in and around their district.  
... 
Mr. Frost requested that $27 million of his $35 million allotment go toward the Interstate 30 bridge and another $5 million for a proposed bridge along Interstate 35E in Dallas to be built later. City officials say they already have $55 million in federal, state and private grant money to build the bridge.
...  "It's really out of procedure ? we've functioned as a team in the past," said Ms. Johnson, the Democratic Dallas congresswoman. "It has indeed hurt the bridge, the possibility of the bridge. I've put money into Frost's district before, but I didn't go have a press conference.
...  Ms. Johnson received a $45 million designation, of which she recommended $15.3 million go toward the bridge project, she said.
...   the mayor was unavailable for an interview. She instead released a statement.
   "It's going to take the entire Dallas congressional delegation to get the support we need for the Trinity River Project," Ms. Miller said. "I am committed to keeping this effort above politics. This is the most important public works project the City of Dallas will ever undertake. And I am working with and will continue to work with every member of our delegation."
. . .  Mr. Young, the transportation committee chairman, said . . .
"She's out of line," he said of Ms. Miller. "To give [Mr. Frost] credit for anything at this point is inappropriate. To kiss up to somebody who hasn't done anything yet ... is inappropriate."
. . .  Mr. Frost said. . . .  "I'm just doing my job for the city of Dallas."


What about doing your job for the people of Dallas, Mr. Frost?  What about getting us money to do the NW DART rail line through your district, Mr. Frost?  What about getting us some federal money to improve our Dallas Zoo, so it can be a bigger money maker and tourist draw for your district, Mr. Frost?

She may not think she needs her old friends since she's in office for 3 more years, but the Mayor may have reason to regret shafting her base.  When that Park Cities suckup, Wick Allison, was criticizing her, our support was important.  Now that Laura Miller is the darling of Allison's rag, she has no time and no concern for her old friends.     Jeff Martin:
 
In today's DMN article about Martin Frost and funding for the string bridges, Laura released a statement:
 
"This is the most important public works project the city of Dallas will
ever undertake".
   I think your alien theory may be correct.

This process is a 6-year decision.  Our Mayor and Mr. Frost would put all of our transportation eggs in one very leaky basket.

 

                                        

    





                            

 

  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