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Shell Game in Mayor's Race

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05/07/04  Nothing under any Option

You know we're in trouble when newcomers from Houston start giving us advice.  There was a letter from a newcomer to Dallas touting the new mantra at The Dallas Managed News that the cure all for all our problems in Dallas is to have a strong mayor form of government:

Letters for Monday
12:01 AM CDT on Monday, May 10, 2004
Dallas vs. Houston
   We relocated from the Woodlands (north of Houston) to Dallas a year ago.
... Dallas government has its "head in the sand" ? they're in almost total denial and living on past glories.

Environmental concerns ? like pollution and recycling ? again almost total denial.
Wake up, Dallas City Council. We feel helpless electing a mayor who has no power.
Laverne Wiginton, Dallas

First off, being "north of" or "south of" is not being from anywhere.  Living in the Woodlands and knowing beans about the inner workings of Houston government or the realities of living and paying taxes in Houston are two entirely different realities.  My sister and her grown children live in Plano, and they know who the players are in Dallas, but that doesn't mean they understand the consequences of the games our leaders play.

The last time I was in Houston (two or three years ago) left me with no better an opinion of the city than any other time I've been there.  It's hot, it's humid, it's difficult to get around if you don't know the streets.  Once you get where you're going, it looks like every place else.

I can't speak to their recycling efforts, but Houston certainly has nothing to tell us about environmental issues.  Houston's air quality is so bad, they got the same kind of ridiculous exemptions from the Feds as Los Angeles because it would take too long to get either city up to Federal stands -- if ever.  Even though Dallas was in bad shape when compared to Houston, we were "fixable" and given a very short time to get it done.  The problem is that Houston is Harris County and the source of much of the area's bad air.  Much of the problems in the Dallas air quality come from Ellis County.  That's not to say we don't need to be addressing the problem, but please don't hold up Houston or its suburbs of examples of communities who are dealing with their "environmental concerns".

We don't need to look to Houston for any advice on anything.  Their strong mayor form of government hasn't done all that much for them.  They have no zoning, and someone can open up a plumbing business in the house next door to you.  They have two football stadiums, but their employee pension plan is so under-funded it makes the Dallas pension mess look solvent.  All they have over Dallas is that it's been bad for so long, people are accustomed to it.

If you have lived in Dallas for 1 year, you have no frame of reference except wherever you left.  If you don't like Dallas, go back where you think things are better.

If you have lived in Dallas for 10 or 20 or 30 or more years, you know it has not always been as bad as it is today.  Our Big Ticket Mayor who ran on a Back to Basics platform frequently mentioned as a candidate how beautiful and clean and green Dallas looked when she first moved here. 

Our problems started when real estate developers began using the Mayor's office to make their Far North Dallas projects happen back in the 70's.  That's how we got all that Renner land, which is outside Dallas County, into the City of Dallas.  What sealed our fate was the election of Mayor Annette Strauss who let her husband and others convince her that we could continue to neglect our infrastructure and spend our way out of our problems with elitist facilities like the Meyerson and the DMA.  Style over Substance!

You and I have been subsidizing Downtown property owners to the tune of millions in one failed pipe dream after another since the 80's when Council first approved the Downtown PID (Planned Improvement District).  Since the City owns the streets and large parcels of land Downtown, Dallas taxpayers kick into the improvement fund as well as other property owners.
    Citizen D:
This was an especially good editionI read the other features in the e-mail and had no idea things were getting so crazy out there.  You would think our only paper (loosely used) would report things better!  What do they have to lose?  Even by accident they should have a higher "get it right" record than they do.
   Thanks for all you do.  You are a very hard friend to lose because you give people the benefit-of-the-doubt, a second and third time.  They literally have to hit you over the head with a baseball bat before you suspect MAYBE they are not worthy of being your friend.  Laura and Ed did that you.
   I wonder how Laura got so far off track.  The back to basics approach would have worked had she stuck to it.  Yes, it is not glitzy.  Yes, it will not leave the kind of legacy of a Meyerson Hall.  But, if having people and businesses move BACK into Dallas, stay in Dallas and expand in Dallas over the next 20 years is a measure of success, then Laura Miller just blew the golden opportunity of her political lifetime.
   While I think Dallas County voters will not approve a tax-supported stadium, we must stay the course and assure a "slam dunk" victory that sends a firm NOT JUST NO, BUT "HELL NO", message to Jerry Jones and company. 
   In all of the debates and discussions, we must know "up front" Jerry's fall back position.  We should demand the discussions play out to the very end. 
   So far, supporters say if we do not approve this, the Cowboys will go somewhere else (yeah, RIGHT).  OK,  WHERE?  With so little time remaining for an election and striking a deal, who else is out there with a 70/30 deal that will delight Jerry and company?
   We need to stop acting like such suckers!  [I almost said two-dollar crack whores -- but I did not want to
offend two-dollar crack whores .] 
   In North Texas, other cities are thrilled they are not being considered by the Cowboys.  Irving is being so quiet because they know the Cowboys have to stay there.  If so, Irving can negotiate a much better deal than before and balance some of the excesses of the past 30+ years of the Cowboys organization sucking the life's blood out of them.
    We should call Rob Allyn's bluff and ask him to tell us exactly what Uncle Jerry does when we say no!
    As far as any Texas legislator who votes to allow a change to allow this to happen to Dallas County, I say "VOTE THEM OUT -- and QUICK"!

 There may be more people living Downtown, but it looks shabby and seedy when I'm down there on occasional trips to City Hall.  There's a whole other issue of how it smells.. 

The last thing we need Downtown is one more park, or a series of small parks, that we cannot maintain or police. 

Unfortunately, the same woman who duped us with her Back to Basics, pro-neighborhood spiel now thinks the only thing that matters in Dallas is spending all our money on tourist attractions, revitalizing Downtown and getting the Cowboys to Fair Park.  One former supporter calls Laura Miller "Kirk in a Skirt".  I won't go that far because it would be disrespectful to Ron Kirk.

Ron Kirk or Con Jerk never pretended to be a man of the people or concerned about basic quality of life issues.  He was a lobbyist who was always in the right place at the right time -- until he ran for state wide office.  His job was to placate the minorities and get the job done for Our Downtown Betters (the ODB).  If you crossed him, you got punished -- nothing personal (except maybe for a couple of particularly uppity White Women).

Nothing good happened under Ron Kirk.  He left the city in the hands of Ted Benavides, who he picked.  He left the DPD in the hands of Terrell Bolton, who he told Benavides to hire.  He led the campaign to inflict the Hicks/Perot sales tax on our tourist industry, which has all but destroyed our convention business.  When Laura Miller is out of office, there will be even less good to say. 

It's not just she abandoned her campaign promises, she has caused such disillusionment in the activists community it will be hard to ever get them unified behind another candidate again.  We really and truly believed in her.

My attitude toward Our Big Ticket Mayor is nothing personal.  She sold us a bill of goods and used honest, trusting and loyal people to get it done.  She thinks people supported her because she snowed us with her wit and charm and fashion sense.  She thought we were a bunch of idiots who once enchanted would stay mesmerized as she morphed into the ODB's kind of Mayor. 

A few weeks ago, the
Dallas Observer had a little tidbit about the rift between Laura Miller and me.

The more things change; Sharon Boyd visits the land of disenchantment  
...George Orwell and his political fable Animal Farm, about animals that stage a revolution and take over a farm. ...  ends with poor, hungry livestock peering through a window at the pigs who assumed power, as they share drinks with neighboring humans: "The creatures outside looked from pig to man, and from man to pig, and from pig to man again; but already it was impossible to say which was which."
... Mayor Laura Miller, and to be honest we've had this bit stored away since she first announced she was running for city council in 1997.
... So why now? Because we just got off the phone with political gadfly and Web publisher Sharon Boyd, after we spent the morning looking through her Web site, the unofficial voice of conservative North Dallas. Boyd, it seems, has joined the list of former Miller supporters who have become disenchanted with the mayor.
   "I'm convinced that aliens got her," says Boyd, who was an early and ardent grassroots volunteer for Miller's mayoral campaign. "That's just the only explanation, because she doesn't act like the Laura Miller I knew."
   Boyd and other contributors to her Web site are particularly puzzled by Miller's push to complete the Trinity River project and its ornate suspension bridges--the "string thing" bridges, Boyd calls them. They are angered at the mayor's comments concerning disability pay for injured police and firefighters. They're annoyed at the possibility the city may construct a homeless center on Harry Hines Boulevard in Northwest Dallas. They're suspicious of her attitude toward public financing for a new Cowboys stadium. Where's the old Miller who would have rained vituperation down on the head of Jerry Jones?
... "This whole Trinity project is really what's broken my heart," Boyd says.
... We asked her if she thought any local politician anywhere could ever forego putting his or her name on a brass plaque on some big, honkin' shiny doodad for posterity. Forgetting that Boyd is conservative, we pointed out that even former San Antonio Mayor Henry Cisneros, a good mayor and Democrat, had his Alamodome. (Long story short: Many thought San Antonio needed a domed stadium the way Dallas needs a suspension bridge.)
   "Henry Cisneros has always been an arrogant self-promoter, but that's not who Laura was," Boyd shot back.

Honestly, I was not surprised Laura Miller went out of her way to endear herself to the ODB.  She's smart.  A smart politician follows the rule "Keep your friends close, and your enemies closer."  She just forgot to keep her friends close.

Our Big Ticket Mayor is likely annoyed that anyone is paying attention to what a nobody like Sharon Boyd might be saying with Miller's world so removed from common people.  After all, I didn't win my city council race.  That worked out just fine for me.  I questioned a couple of decisions my councilman has made since last May, but more often than not he has been very protective of his NW Dallas constituents.  Unless something horrendous happens between now and May 2005, I expect to endorse and support Steve Salazar for a second term.  Our Mayor asked me to run, and I did.  It would have been a real coup for a White Woman to win a district drawn so surgically to be a safe Hispanic district, but I tried.  My supporters prayed that God would do what's best for me -- they forgot to pray that he would let me win.

Laura Miller's endorsement did not hurt or especially help me in that race.  Her No Smoking Ordinance actually cost me more votes than anything.  Won't even touch the Police Unions backlash.  Laura Miller gave me a large contribution campaign contribution, but I worked untold hours in her first campaign for nothing.  My anger with Our Mayor is over her flat out deception of me and many other campaign supporters.

Now, the
Dallas Voice has done a story about the Miller/Boyd rift.

Miller loses key supporter as Boyd jumps ship;
Grassroots activist attacks mayor?s support for tax to help fund new Cowboys stadium in Fair Park
Dallas Mayor Laura Miller responded this week to growing criticism from some former supporters who complain she has failed to keep her ?back to basics? campaign promises and has deserted them in favor of big business interests and developers.
?When you are the mayor you have to have a citywide perspective,? said Miller, who noted that the downtown skyline is dotted with buildings that are near-empty. ?That?s got to change, and I?m focused on doing that,? she said.
Miller said that revitalization of downtown Dallas and development of the Trinity River basin are essential to luring new businesses, conventions and tourists to the city. Without those improvements Dallas will continue to stagnate, she said.
?We just fell off the list of the top 25 cities in America to go to, according to Travel and Leisure magazine,? Miller said. ?People say they?re not going to come to Dallas because there is nothing to do here.?
...  Miller?s remarks came in response to criticism from former campaign volunteer and failed city council candidate Sharon Boyd, who operates the Web site Boyd, a community activist who has worked closely with Miller for several years, recently began targeting the mayor in columns posted on the site.
In one column, ?Duped: Was Laura Miller Ever Sincere?? posted on April 26, Boyd accused the mayor of turning her back on her most ardent volunteers ... ?I?ve had a year to adjust to the reality of the real Laura Miller versus the person we thought we were electing,? Boyd said.
...  The mayor bitterly fought an arena sales tax five years ago to help support the construction of the American Airlines Center in downtown Dallas, the activist noted.
... In an interview this week, Boyd said she felt compelled to go public about her unhappiness with the mayor?s agenda because she had worked so hard to help Miller get elected. ?I?ve run out of excuses and stood by her as ?I?m not mad at Laura, [but] I don?t know who she is anymore,? said Boyd, who complained that Miller was not elected to revitalize Dallas. ?She was elected to do the basics. We believe that if she did do the basics that the other stuff would happen.?
... ?I think there is something in the water at city hall,? Boyd said. ?You drink the water, and you get big ticket fever ? and it?s not curable.?
Miller defended her support of Jones? plans, saying that it would be good for Dallas.
?I know they [the supporters] would just like me to say that in principle I don?t want to give a nickel of tax money to a sports team,? Miller said. ?That?s not my position.?
... The mayor said that she still enjoyed significant support from average residents of the city. Her visits to the grocery store and other routines remind her of it on a daily basis she said.
?People admire that I am honest, that I am ethical and that I don?t talk like a politician out of both sides of my mouth,? Miller said. ?I tell people what I think on every single subject, and I have not one hidden agenda.?

What can you add to that?  Here are some comments from other former Miller backers who read David Webb's article:

Citizen B:  Laura is just delusional about herself. 
Rad Field:  The Voice article "kind-a" says it like it is.  Jerry is too greedy on this venture.  He will lose, hopefully by at least a 60/40 split.  If Jones loses, Laura loses.  North of LBJ, there are not many at all who support Laura's viewpoint on the Stadium.
JP : The Pothole Queen has no hidden agenda because she's all me, myself, and I.  Downtown Dallas will only be fixed when there is a development authority in place like Central Houston, Inc. to fix it. The City has failed to revitalize downtown. It's time to privatize that process. Another photo op for the PQ, then get the h.... out of the way.

There are still a lot of former Miller backers who are complaining, but still fence-sitting on Laura Miller.  There are others who backed her opponents who are now on her team.  She thinks she can trust them and count on them later on -- yeah, right!

I believe in good government and there are people who want to do what's right.  Unfortunately, they may not be electable.  We don't need to change our form of government at City Hall.  We need to change the players.  We need a capable and competent City Manager, and we need a Mayor who can work within the confines of her powers and responsibilities to lead and promote the city.  We don't need someone with no experience in management running this city.

In 2002, we had a shell game with three choices.  In 2003, we had a shell game with two choices.  What we didn't know when we make our choice was there nothing under any cap on the table. 






  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