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05/20/04  Who knows what's going on?

Let's see if we understand what just happened in Austin.  We had a special legislative session to resolve our school funding problems, but all the media and the politicos are talking about was that Grandpa Jones didn't get his amendment to the Brimer Bill to allow for car rental taxation related to a sports facility on park land, as in Fair Park.

We didn't get the school funding issue resolved, and we didn't get the Jones tax issue resolved. Apparently, not taking care of Grandpa Jerry Jones is a bigger failing than failing Texas school children from how both The Dallas Managed News and the Fort Worth Star Telegram covered the failed session.     Rad Field:
  The special session of the legislature was held to work out financing for the Texas Education System. 
   Why, on earth, are a handful of state senators and representatives wasting valuable time and our money trying to get a stadium bill through that would tax the public and provide revenue streams to private business? 
   Did those legislators forget why they went to Austin?  It is a good thing the stadium tax bill was tabled by the governor. 
   Let's hope it never surfaces again.

End of session leaves stadium funding bill up in air;
Dallas County officials say delay won't slow talks with Cowboys
03:36 AM CDT Tuesd, 3/18/04 By DAVE MICHAELS / The Dallas Morning News
   When the Texas Legislature adjourned its special session Monday without a new plan for public school finance, it left undecided another proposal: a bill to allow tax funding for a Dallas Cowboys stadium in Fair Park.
   Sen. Royce West, D-Dallas, filed the bill last month, but Gov. Rick Perry never added it to the Legislature's agenda. Mr. West said Monday that he would file the bill again if Mr. Perry calls another special session.
...  State law currently forbids local governments from using hotel and rental-car taxes to build sports venues on land that is part of a public park system. Mr. West's bill would undo that prohibition.
... "We wouldn't have an election unless there was enabling legislation," Commissioner Jim Jackson said.  ...

Typical of Sen. Royce West to put a rich White Guy's interest before DISD students, the majority of whom are minorities.  Royce West is the man responsible for that SW mechanic losing his job of 17 years with Southwest Airlines.  Royce West refused to join the dinner Belo tried to put together to find a solution to an ambiguous drunken statement that cost Mr. Bogg's his job.  Royce West may not have time to meet with a working class White Guy, but he's got plenty of time to carry water for Grandpa Jerry Jones, a Billionaire White Guy (per Forbes Magazine).

It's equally telling that Belo & the Startlegram think the biggest failing of the special session -- not that they failed to resolve the school funding issue -- but that they failed to accommodate Grandpa Jones.     Politicklish:
   Citizen D uses the phrase
"public-private joint ventures."
    Please allow me to offer your readers the definition for ALL public-private partnerships:
    The private PREYS and the public PAYS.  'Nuff said

It's hard to get fired up and it's hard not to get fired up about the Jones tax issue when everything is up in the air.  We don't even know where the stadium is going to be located, but we know the election is coming and we know the Jones gang is working on it and controls all the timing.  So, we can't just sit back and wait and hope it goes away.

All of this Fair Park stuff may not be binding anyway.  Grandpa Jones is Machiavellian enough to be playing a huge hoax on all of us.  He's tying up two State Senators (Royce West and John Carona) with his business rather than the business of funding the education of our children.  That really smart friend I often quote says the election language (whenever we have the election) will be worded vaguely so as not to bind Jones to Fair Park.  He will get his hotel/motel and car rental tax and still build his business facility in Irving where he's buying up all that land.

End of special session stalls stadium financing bill
Star-Telegram Dallas Bureau
Wed, 5/19/04
A bill that would pave the way for a Dallas Cowboys stadium to be built in Fair Park using tax dollars is stalled after lawmakers ended their special session Monday without considering the legislation.
   Although the bill's sponsor promised to refile the legislation if another special session is called, a spokesman for Gov. Rick Perry said he has not agreed to allow any items on the agenda beyond school finance.
... The legislation would enable the Cowboys to build a $650 million stadium in Fair Park using hotel and car-rental taxes. Such use is now prohibited by state law because the grounds are operated by the Dallas Parks Department.
   Sen. Royce West, D-Dallas, said that he plans to refile the legislation but that he has received no assurance that it will be placed on the agenda.
...  Even if Perry puts the stadium bill on the agenda, it's unclear whether lawmakers could act quickly enough to allow for an election Nov. 2 that would ask voters to approve the financing plan.
...  Dallas County Judge Margaret Keliher said a November vote is still possible if the bill is placed on the agenda soon. But a bigger problem in meeting that time frame may be the slow pace of negotiations with the team, she said.
... County Commissioner John Wiley Price said the fact that the legislation was not considered during the past session diminishes the possibility of building the stadium in Fair Park and having a November election.
   "It's curtain call for Fair Park unless we get some special legislation," he said.

Fair Park has been an opportunity for other rich, connected Dallas families to make money on the taxpayer's dime.  Citizen D reminds us:

Citizen D:
    How can we leave Starplex out of this discussion?
The AAC, Reunion Arena and STARPLEX!  Remember Starplex -- The then-mayor's husband's company's dip into the City's honey pot! 
    Ted and Annette Strauss.  (It makes you wonder why Danny Faulkner ever went to jail.)
    Add Starplex to the list of City-backed public-private joint ventures that promised us revenues and development and brought us NOTHING! 
   Nothing may be a bit harsh -- let's see:
   Starplex - Displaced Black neighborhoods and poor people in the Fair Park Area.  Most of them are dead or moved away, so the historical memory of this urban neighborhood genocide is too faint to recognize the same thing is about to happen again.  Starplex is DARK (not booked) most of the year.  How does that bring us money and development to the City?  I doubt it even pays for itself as far as maintenance and upkeep. 
  CityPlace Towers -- OOPS!  Only one tower got built because the private sector could not do a proper pro-forma to know the office market was 400% overbuilt at the time!  Twenty years later, we see a fraction of what was promised then, and only at a fraction of the scale envisioned. 
   Fancy lofts subsidized with CDBG money for low to moderate income people who earn $50,000 annuallyA past City Council redefined the median Dallas income figure by including Highland Park, Addison, Duncanville, etc. median incomes in a regional average rather than a Dallas City Limits average.  That Council had the option to limit it to the city limits and thus focus on the most needy (the people the funds were intended to serve).  Dallas City Limits median income back then was under $30,000 for a family of 4.
   We can expect the same unfulfilled promises from a Jones stadium tax as we have experienced with Reunion, Starplex, the AAC, etc., etc., etc.
Citizen D has a long memory.  The Starplex fiasco has several chapters.  There was the original question of conflict of interest with the husband of a sitting Mayor using her influence to do the deal in the first place.  As Citizen D recalls, families were forced out through eminent domain from neighborhoods where they had lived for a couple of generations.  Then there was the controversy of selling the naming rights to Smirnoff for a facility in the Fair Park area where the community had been fighting for years to diminish the impact of all the liquor stores in the area.  Councilman Leo Chaney earned his "Shakedown" nickname when he dropped his threats of street demonstrations against the "Smirnoff" name on Starplex after the liquor company put millions on the table for Chaney to distribute to his team in South Dallas.  Commissioner John Wiley Price called the Smirnoff bribe "blood money".
Not only did Starplex never deliver on the promises of related development and economic stimuli for the Fair Park area, it is very likely to become a parking lot for the Jones stadium if that happens at Fair Park.  The Dallas Observer asks the right questions:
Paved Over Could the proposed Cowboys stadium spell the end for Smirnoff Music Centre?
    Among the miles of sentences The Dallas Morning News has constructed about the proposed Dallas Cowboys stadium at Fair Park, here's one that caught Buzz's attention: "The footprint for the project, which would be north of the midway, would affect some areas of the park, including the sheep and cattle barns, the coliseum and Smirnoff Music Centre. " Which means...what? The story didn't say what would become of the Amphitheater Formerly Known as Starplex, which got Buzz to thinking: If the Cowboys persuade county commissioners, the Dallas City Council and county taxpayers to cough up $425 million for Jerry Jones' $650 million project, is it last call for the Smirnoff?
   According to several city officials, the Cowboys' proposal likely will reduce the Smirnoff to a parking lot, which is no great loss as far as Buzz is concerned. ...  According to Paul Dyer, director of the city's Park and Recreation Department, the city's lease with House of Blues, which operates the Smirnoff, runs out in 2009, around the same time Jones hopes to open his new stadium. Demolishing the Smirnoff "is something to consider," Dyer says.
...   some of the concerts that go to the Smirnoff might move to the American Airlines Center; some might even go into the new Cowboys stadium, where the money would be kept by the team, ...   But no Smirnoff means no money going to the South Dallas trust fund, which collects 15 cents for every ticket sold--some $40,000 annually. Councilman Leo Chaney, who represents the area, says the Smirnoff also provides some $110,000 in additional money to the area in grants and contributions. "So I need to replace $150,000 a year, and it is going to be replaced," insists Chaney, a proponent of the Cowboys' relocation to Fair Park. "The Cowboys are going to develop real strong community relations with those neighborhoods south of downtown. The question is not loss but how it's going to be replaced, assuming the Smirnoff lease is not renewed."
Well, there will be lots of new developments and new comments on the Jones stadium tax in the next few months, but it is unlikely we will be voting on it before February, if then.  I think we should vote on it next May with the council elections.  Make the candidates tell us where they stand on the Jones tax.  Of course, they could all pull a John "Send Me Some Money" Loza on us -- run as anti-stadium sales tax and then see much they can grovel before Grandpa Jones once they are elected.
There will be lots of opportunities  for us to drive over the potholes Our Meddling Mayor has put on the back burner so she can work on her big ticket projects.  Things will go on just like they always have with City Hall spending millions and billions of our money on wacky ideas they will later spend millions and billions of our money undoing.
City looking to lure downtown's tunnel businesses aboveground
11:12 PM CDT on Wednesday, May 19, 2004
By DAVE LEVINTHAL and EMILY RAMSHAW / The Dallas Morning News
... And in a year when top City Council officials are lobbying to close the tunnel network and considering granting $2.5 million in rent and building improvement subsidies to retailers who open shop aboveground, Dallas' underground fraternity is holding out.
... Geraldine Hale Florist has been in Grady and Nancy Smith's family for nearly 75 years. And for 17 of those years, it has been in the Dallas underground. ... "Sure, it would be nice to have the outside visibility," he said. "But who wants to be out there with boarded-up storefronts and street people walking around?"
   Ms. Miller and Mayor Pro Tem John Loza, for two.
... The city's tunnel system is an idea born of 1970s urban planning that reasoned that business-filled, climate-controlled corridors linking Dallas' skyscrapers are preferable to pedestrians ambling along sweltering city streets in a downtown devoid of business life.
... "Ideally, I'd like to see the tunnels phased out completely," said Mr. Loza, noting that some tunnels are privately owned. "We've got to have a more aggressive approach to downtown retail, and the tunnels are certainly detrimental to street-level retail."
   Ms. Miller agreed: "In a perfect world, the tunnels would be gone."
...  Alan Levy, general manager of the year-old City Tavern, said that moving underground businesses up to street level would only improve the plight of downtown's pioneers.  ...  "The underground does nothing to help the traffic to places that are new and are trying to get a foothold down here."
It's just taxpayer money.  Who cares if we waste it and then have to spend money undoing the mistake?  It's not like we don't have water mains breaking all over town because we started deferring infrastructure maintenance under Mayor Annette Strauss' watch to build "revenue generators" with taxpayer funds.  So, we build an economic generator like Starplex or like Reunion or like the Hicks/Perot Arena rather than tend to our basic needs. 
We then get ready to tear them down before they are paid for, and certainly before they have ever delivered on the promise of economic development and new tax revenue.  And the tradition continues today.
We will never know how much money was spent on those Downtown tunnels and skybridges, but the new "urban planning" says they are not an asset but a drain on Downtown.  Anyone working Downtown in the 70's could have told the experts what was coming.  With each block of tunnel and/or skybridge, more street level retail closed their doors and headed North to Valley View or NorthPark.







  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