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05/25/04  Dallas Tops List -- Again!

Dallas ranks #1 nationally in crime again.  Aren't you proud?  The report made Drudge, so everyone all over the World knows how special it is to live in this town.

DALLAS TOPS CRIME-RATE LIST FOR BIGGEST CITIES...

That's not all.  Travelocity has compared the tourist taxes we are hitting  DFW arrivals with -- 61% over the original price of renting the car!  Per their review, Dallas ranks #2 nationally in ripping off visitors to our city. 

We rob you as soon as you land, and you are very likely to get robbed or worse before you get back to the airport.  That's a great come on to attract convention business.

This is huge news.  It's what DallasArena.com has been saying since 1998 when we started ranting and raving about what's wrong with this town and why we're NOW TOO BROKE to pay our cops and firefighters what they are due.

 

  Hidden Car Rental Fees Sneak up on You
From Lisa Bialecki, Your Guide to Business Travel.
 
   My jaw dropped when the car rental attendant told me that my final rental bill was almost $100 over the estimated rental cost.  ... The rental agent showed me a list of fees and taxes, which added up to the total as he explained that estimates often don?t consider average fees and taxes. ...
  
It turns out that several U.S. cities really do rack up the fees and taxes.  According to a study issued by Travelocity, the average car renter pays an extra 24.4 percent when renting a car at a major U.S. airport.
  
According to a recent press release, Travelocity conducted the survey because their Web site provides estimated costs for rental cars.  Like my experience, they didn?t want their customers to be surprised when they saw their total bill.
   In their study, Travelocity found that the worst offender was the great state of Texas with six of the top 10 airports with the biggest difference between daily rental rates and the actual costs.  California was ranked as the state least likely to surprise visitors with extra charges.
   According to their press release, Travelocity provided the top 10 culprits:
10 Airports with Largest Jump in Price Between Daily Rate and Total Price
*(averages only include the top 100 U.S. airports):
  1. Houston Bush Intercontinental 71.7%
  2. Dallas/Ft. Worth International 61.1%
  3. Austin Bergstrom 55.8%
  4. Cleveland Hopkins 51.7%
  5. Houston Hobby 51.7%
  6. Kansas City 48.1%
  7. Phoenix 48.0%
  8. San Antonio 44.1%
  9. El Paso 42.9%
  10. Albuquerque 41.6%
 

Convention planners, please look at Dallas for your gathering.  We don't have many tourist attractions, unless you count the street bums who will harass your conventioneers if they dare step out of the convention center.  We charge you an arm and a leg to rent a car and a hotel room once you get here, and there's a really good chance you may experience bodily harm before you leave. 

CBS-11 reported a woman in Uptown got battered on her way home by a mugger with an aluminum baseball bat.  She says she's grateful that was all that happened to her. 

This same week, my neighbor up here in NW Dallas sent out this crime alert:

     Six squad cars were just out in front of my next door neighbors' home.  A white Honda Civic had a Hispanic male shot in the head in the front passenger seat.  He was about 17 years old.  The paramedics were out, but just wrapped his head in gauze and did not take him to the hospital. 
   The police could not get any information out of anyone.  There were some kids playing soccer at the school who said they knew who shot him, but were afraid to talk for fear of being shot.  I advised the officers of this.  The driver of the car acted like he knew nothing.  One of the news reporters was out. 
   Well, so much for a peaceful afternoon in the hood.
 

We are the Nation's #1 Crime City because we don't have enough cops to protect us.  We don't have enough cops because we don't pay them as much as they can make in the suburbs working a lot less and in much less dangerous situations.  We don't pay them as much as they could make in the suburbs because Laura Miller ran the campaign opposing their 17% pay raise which would have only brought them up the top third in the County -- not to the top.  She lied to them to get their support for her mayoral race, and she lied to Dallas voters when she told them to vote against the 17% raise and the officers would be guaranteed a 5% annual raise for 3 years.

It is ironic how much Laura Miller has changed since we fought the arena sales taxes together, which taxes are the absolute cause of the collapse of our convention center business -- just like It's a Bad Deal!! warned. 

In 1998, Laura Miller joined our side in opposing the Hicks/Perot/Kirk arena sales tax on hotel/motels and car rentals in Dallas.  She rode that faux populist reputation into a seat on the city council, and then on to be Mayor with the support of police and firefighters and community activists and North Dallas conservatives in 2001.  She immediately dumped on the police and firefighters by opposing their fair pay referendum.  Now, she's dumping on her former allies from
It's a Bad Deal!! because she is most definitely trying to help Jerry Jones get taxpayer funding for his business facility.
    Esteban:
  
And, the winner of the 2005 Ms. Ego Award goes to none other than our supercalfragilistic....mayor, 'Dotty Do-Right'--whoops, I mean 'Queen Laura the First'--no I mean Laura, 'the world revolves around ME and MY genius', Miller! 
   Just sharing a thought or two with you, my dear Sharon--I was just thinking how proud I am of you and that you too finally saw the light where this obnoxious, pushy broad is concerned.  Guiliani, she ain't. 
   She isn't even fun......
   'Possessed by aliens', you are TOO kind, Sharon--more like possessed by hubris.
    Between you, Avi and Jim Schutze, I am just loving this stuff!! We couldn't make it up.
 

Compared to what Jones wants, Hicks and Perot were down right charitable toward Dallas taxpayers.

We were hemorrhaging police officers before the fair pay referendum because our officers' salaries were so low (and still are) when compared to other Dallas County cities.  Grand Prairie pays their officers more than DPD officers.  G-r-a-n-d  P-r-a-i-r-i-e?

Laura Miller justified betraying the police and firefighters who had helped her get elected by saying she had new information as Mayor and we could not afford fair pay for our public safety officers.  Since voters denied their referendum, we have lost many more experienced officers and new recruits.  Our Mayor opposed the arena sales taxes, but now will support much larger taxes for the Jones stadium.  She opposed raising taxes for fair pay for our public safety officers, but she is going to campaign for taxes to give money to one of the World's 500 richest men.

Even though we are losing officers every week to other departments in Dallas County, Our Mayor thinks we can recruit officers from surrounding cities on lateral transfers.  I'm not kidding!  She was talking about it on the news in all seriousness.  Well, she sounded serious.  Who knows whether she actually was serious?  Who knows when she is saying what she believes or what her Gorgeous Guru has programmed her to speak?

Our Mayor can't possibly think officers are going to leave higher paying jobs in cities with less crime to come to work in Dallas.  If she does believe that, it's only because Our Mayor knows nothing about working people and respects us even less than she knows about us.

A few weeks ago, Our Mayor and some council members had a PR stunt where they were on the phone calling local businesses asking them to have (or just keep) their conventions here in Dallas.  (Wonder if they called Mary Kay?)  Before that, she was out of town unsuccessfully trying to get companies to bring their meetings to Dallas. 

Convention planners see our numbers.  Dallas ranks #1 in crime for 7th year!  Dallas is the 2nd most expensive city to rent a car!  Pure idiocy!

Now, Our Mayor and her guru (Gorgeous Rob) will soon be selling us another Bad Deal.  She has some scheme to extend the convention business killer arena hotel/motel and car rental taxes to 2030 and give that money to Grandpa Jones for his football stadium.  Pure lunacy!

She knows from our experience with Reunion that any stadium we build today will be out of date in 15 years, much less 25 years.  We will still be collecting sales taxes for a stadium that will likely have been abandoned and replaced before 2030.

Add in the mix that our City Manager's announcement of November retirement, and you have a city without a rudder, with no management and no leadership.

Of course, Laura Miller will want the council to hire First Asst. City Manager Mary Suhm to replace Ted Benavides because Suhm has done a great job of sucking up to Our Mayor, who does not like hearing anything from anyone that isn't what she wants them to say.  Belo likes Mary Suhm, too.

If we needed to go outside for a new Police Chief, we absolutely must go out of state for a new City Manager if we can find anyone willing to take on this mess.  Belo's own report on the sorry state at city hall said one of our problems has been the incestuous practice of promoting from within to fill the City Manager's spot.  We need new blood.

In response to Avi Adelman's comments here, it's not just about management, it's about understanding our way of life.  It's about knowing what made Dallas work once.  We don't need Dallas to be international.  We need Dallas to be Dallas,Texas -- again as DallasArena.com says in Dallas, Texas -- not Dallas, NY or Dallas, Spain.  It would be great if Dallas were run as well as Plano or Ft. Worth or Arlington -- where their city management takes care of the citizens and local businesses -- with less of a tax burden on property owners than we have in Dallas.     Avi Adelman/www.BarkingDog:
   Forget going out of state for a new city manager.  
  
Where does the City Charter say he/she must even be a US Citizen??
   Why not solicit managers from outside the US - Great Britain, Israel, Canada, Spain?
    The US is so far behind on a national level in educational achievements we should consider looking for someone who is truly educated, really knows what it means to be (or want to be) an international city, and has no connections whatsoever to any special interest groups or persons within 3,000 miles of Dallas.
 
 
Editorial Page:
Benavides' Departure: Let someone else take over day-to-day duties
Thursday, May 27, 2004
   Ted Benavides' announcement that he will retire in November as city manager is a step in the right direction for a city wrestling with a host of strategic issues.
... we urge Mr. Benavides to step aside from the day-to-day operations of the city immediately.
... Allow First Assistant City Manager Mary Suhm or others in the office to demonstrate whether they have what it takes to lead this city into the next era. ...

The person to head up a search committee for a new City Manager should be former DISD School Board President Roxan Staff.  She got us Mike Moses!  Wonder if there's a chance we could get him to take over City Hall?

We need a professional administrator to manage this city.  We do not need a politician who would ignore the restrictions of the City Charter.  Belo and a lot of people are making this about Laura Miller and Ted Benavides.  His problems at City Hall are not just due to a personality conflict with Our Mayor.  Ted came into the job with an air of resignation and has been running on cruise control from day one.  Laura Miller may have made his life miserable, but he is leaving on the date he picked years ago -- when he would be completely vested in his pension.  If they fire him now, it would look petty and vengeful and would not help in our search for a qualified replacement.        

Miller getting her wish after long battle of wills
Thursday, May 27, 2004

By COLLEEN McCAIN NELSON / The Dallas Morning News
   Laura Miller wins.
   The years-long battle of wills that pitted the hard-charging, in-your-face mayor against the low-key, poker-faced bureaucrat ended Wednesday when City Manager Ted Benavides announced his retirement.
   His departure is a victory for the mayor, who made replacing the police chief and the city manager top priorities, City Hall observers said. Terrell Bolton was fired from his job as police chief last year. And after withstanding a steady stream of public criticism and repeated efforts to fire him, Mr. Benavides called it quits during the weekly City Council meeting, wordlessly passing out a typed letter to his bosses.
   "You have to give the mayor credit," political consultant Pat Cotton said. "She went in saying, 'These are the two people I want to change,' and now she's got her wish."
... But many said this was an inevitable end to a relationship that was known as "Ted vs. Laura."
   "We understood the relationship the mayor had with Ted," Deputy Mayor Pro Tem Don Hill said.
... Mr. Benavides agreed to do the job when his friend Ron Kirk was mayor and the economy was booming.
... Ms. Miller opposed Mr. Benavides' hiring when she was a council member, and she campaigned for mayor on promises to "improve management" at City Hall. |
...
"I think Ted lasted longer than many of us felt like he would," former council member Alan Walne said.
... "He's taken a lot of shots from me and others," said Sharon Boyd, who runs a Web site that is often critical of City Hall and the man she calls the "City MisManager." "Part of me admires his stick-to-itiveness."
... Speculation that the city manager would leave when his pension kicked in started almost as soon as Ms. Miller took office.
...  Some deemed his departure a political win for the mayor. "But it's certainly not a victory for the city," said Mr. Kirk. ...  "for the city to turn around and move forward, we have to have a mayor and a manager that are on the same page," he said.
... "It might embolden her. It won't empower her," political consultant Lorlee Bartos said. "She's still just one vote out of 15. That's the bottom line."

Staff writers Dave Levinthal and Emily Ramshaw contributed to this report.

One reason Ron Kirk/Con Jerk was a more effective mayor than Laura Miller is or will be is that he understood the job.  As a former Asst. City Attorney and as a lobbyist for the city in Austin, Kirk had worked with City Managers and Mayors and understood their respective roles.  He knew his job as Mayor was to promote the city and preside over council meetings and keep the members whipped into shape -- not to manage it.

Ron Kirk could care less if anyone liked him (at least anyone who wasn't rich or connected).  As Mayor, he was absolutely ruthless with council members who challenged his will and tried to stomp on any citizens who got in his way.  He was not the least bit interested in "running" the city.  He knew that was the City Manager's job.

On the other hand, Laura Miller wants everyone to love her and wants to control everything.  Consequently, she is losing the affection and respect of people who did love her as she pursues those who never will.

Benavides to council: 'It's time for me to go'
Manager denies pressure by mayor forced him out

Thursday, May 27, 2004

By DAVE LEVINTHAL, EMILY RAMSHAW and GROMER JEFFERS JR. / The Dallas Morning News
   After months of speculation that City Manager Ted Benavides would resign or be fired, Dallas' top appointed official said Wednesday that he will retire Nov. 19.
   Mr. Benavides, 53, stressed that continuous pressure from Mayor Laura Miller and other council members to resign did not contribute to his retirement.
... Council member Veletta Forsythe Lill said First Assistant City Manager Mary Suhm's name has been mentioned as a potential replacement for Mr. Benavides. Council member Lois Finkelman said she expects Ms. Suhm to "throw her hat in the ring."
... Although some council members, such as Mitchell Rasansky, said they wanted Mr. Benavides to step down immediately, others expressed concern that his absence would hinder Dallas' upcoming budget process, in which the city manager plays a crucial role.
... Council member Steve Salazar said he wants Mr. Benavides to stay on through the budget process.
... From the moment Ms. Miller took office, Mr. Benavides became one of her prime targets for criticism. Ultimately, she called for his firing ? at least once attempting to orchestrate it. ... she needed a two-thirds majority of the 15-member council to do so ? prompted council members who support the city manager to line up votes to block the effort.
... "It's been going on for months," council member Elba Garcia said.
... Ms. Miller has said she wanted Mr. Benavides to suffer the same fate as former Chief Bolton,
... Ms. Miller and several other council members vowed to conduct a nationwide search for a new city manager. "It's going to be exhaustive," Ms. Miller said.
   She said she's open to Ms. Suhm becoming interim manager.
... Mr. Rasanksy said it may be time for the city to explore a "strong mayor" government, as opposed to a city manager/city council division of power.
... Mr. Benavides rejected that notion.
   "We should stay with the council/manager [system]," he said. "It's a system that works. It all depends on good people."
... Council member Ed Oakley said Mr. Benavides' retirement is wise ? he's exiting the city on his own terms at the time of his choosing. ...

Staff writer Tanya Eiserer contributed to this report.

The same people who would not support her desire to fire Ted Benavides will block anything else she wants to do or who else she prefers.  There's a real animosity toward Our Mayor on this council.

But enough about Ted, let's talk about our crime rate some more.  In fairness to Our Meddling Mayor, Dallas was #1 in crime under Ron Kirk, too.  This is our 7th consecutive year with this ignoble distinction.  We might have been further along toward controlling crime in this city had Laura Miller not successfully fought the 17% raise the cops and firefighters needed to get them to the top 1/3rd of salary scale in the County -- not the top, just in the top 1/3rd.  So, she is most definitely responsible for the current mayhem in this city.

Ron Kirk was always the ODB's man.  He knew who he was, and we had no illusions about from whom he took his marching orders.  We thought Laura Miller was going to be there for us, but as my smart friend says -- SHE'S JUST RON KIRK IN A SKIRT! 

Unfortunately, Laura Miller is not as smart as Ron Kirk.  She's not smart enough to recognize that there are others who just may be as smart as she is.  It's that Hillary syndrome.

As an example of why we should never have a "Strong Mayor" form of government, and why the Mayor is supposed to preside over the City Council, which is supposed to set policy, and let the City Manager run the city:

Council's $100 million dream: providing electricity without view
When Dallas Mayor Laura Miller envisions the future Trinity River project, she sees scenic parks, busy sidewalk cafes and sold-out luxury condos.

Unfortunately, the article's link is not working.  It was very telling. 

  Our Mayor thinks we should spend $100 million to put Oncor's power lines underground in the Trinity Corridor so that someone in a condo will not have to look out a ugly power lines.  These are new lines that were only installed a few years ago.  It's more of the build it/tear it up/replace it mentality at City Hall.

Ugly power lines would be perfect accruements to her ugly String Thing Bridges.  We could put lights on the power lines and tell people they are the latest thing in Europe, and all the elitists and arts crowd would love them and raise money to do them everywhere.

Are the aesthetics of Our Mayor's plans for the Trinity corridor the highest and best use we have for $100 million when we are at the bottom of our municipal barrel?  We are broke! 

  We are No. 2 in ripping off potential tourists and convention attendees.  Rather than find a way to generate more revenue, Our Mayor is trying to help Grandpa Jerry Jones put a stake the heart of our ailing convention business.  Short term gain, for long term and possibly permanent loss in what used to be our golden goose, which is now just costing us money in feed and maintenance and laying no golden eggs.

We are No. 1 in crime, but Our Mayor thinks spending $100 million to hide power lines is more important than finding $10-20 million to give raises to all of our city employees, particularly the public safety people.

We always knew where Ron Kirk/Con Jerk got his marching orders.  Now, we know where Laura Miller gets hers -- right down the street at Belo!

Ted Benavides has strange timing.  He fired Terrible Bolton two years too late, but he finally did it.  He all but ignored the recommendations of that consulting firm the council hired regarding a new Police Chief, but he picked a good one.  Now, he has announced his retirement and Our Mayor still wants to fire him.

All Laura Miller accomplishes by firing Ted Benavides at this stage will be to save a hundred thousand or so and make the city look worse -- not to mention making herself look mean and petty.  Since she's willing to spend $100 million to hide some power lines, it is hypocritical to claim she's trying to save money by terminating Benavides at this point.

In baseball, it's 3 strikes and you're out.  At City Hall under Laura Miller, it looks like it's 3 hits (fired Bolton, hired Kunkle and announced his own retirement) and Benavides is out.

Our Meddling Mayor needs to show some class and recognize we need Ted Benavides to stick around through the budget discussions and let him leave gracefully in November.

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