01/20/03 The Mayor Should Not Have Paid Attention?
When Brett Shipp and his team broke the story about our tax money being spent at
topless bars to "entertain" potential convention center clients, we
were shocked! Well, not really! Those of us in the Bachman-Northwest
Highway area and the businesses in the Stemmons Corridor knew there was some
arrangement between the Convention Center folks and the sex clubs, but had no
It was truly shocking to have our Mayor and several council members pay
When this story broke in November, DallasArena.com congratulated Brett Shipp and
also marveled at our Mayor's response. Sex
Clubs. As one reader commented "The
ONLY reason this story sprouted legs was because Laura has the guts and the
integrity and the good sense to say this is NOT acceptable. Kirk would
never have done that....he would, as you exactly pointed out, have shut his
mouth and run from it."
You know who else knows things are different now and that dirt is to be cleaned
up and not swept under the rug or behind the door -- Chris Luna and David
As I have said many times, Chris Luna is an amazing guy. He is
exceptionally smart, articulate and funny -- but he has an extraordinary ability
to go South on himself and the rest of us.
he ran against and defeated former Councilman Ricardo Medrano for the
District 2 seat, Chris went after one of Medrano's campaign supporters
with a mean spirited "slap" suit. Not during the
campaign -- after the campaign, after he had won. Rather than
trying to mend fences with his opponents, Luna filed a slap suit and
made a life-long enemy.
he was on the council, he cost Dallas taxpayers millions in the Cinemark
case by personally giving their attorney data from Council Executive
Sessions. He and Ron Kirk pushed through a multi-million dollar
settlement with Cinemark when the court later ruled for the
there's the Tri-City Hospital mess.
he got a really important position as Chair of the Dallas Convention and
Visitors Bureau (DCVB), he again let his dark side rule his thinking.
But -- the guy is just so likeable! It took me awhile to see his charm
because I had never heard of him before he ran for city council and only got to
see his mean side for several years. But once he wins you over, you can't
help but marvel at his shear gall.
Much like Old Al Lipscomb! Take a bribe -- it was just a gift.
Accept a city franchise for your business while serving on a city board -- it
was just a mistake. Spend taxpayer money in sex clubs when the city has
spent hundreds of thousands of dollars in lawsuits against them, both as
Plaintiff and Defendant -- it was just keeping up with competition.
Last week Chris Luna and his cohort in crime, David Whitney, resigned from the
DCVB, and both went out blaming someone else for their own wrong doing.
quits as bureau chief;
parting shot, he says Miller doing disservice to convention industry
Luna resigned Thursday as chairman of the Dallas Convention and Visitors
Bureau, forced out by a mayor who he says has been reckless with the
convention and hotel business of Dallas. . .
. His resignation followed two months of media reports
about questionable expenditures by the bureau's staff, which Mayor Laura
Miller said caused her to lose confidence in her chairman's ability to
reform the organization.
. . . But he did not go quietly. He said the mayor had often
over-reacted to the media reports and imposed her authority on an
independent organization designed to market the city and its convention
"The mayor has done a disservice to the hospitality
industry, the hotel community and to this board," Mr. Luna said.
The bureau is a private
corporation with a contract to market the Dallas Convention Center. Most
of its budget comes from the city's hotel-occupancy tax.
. . . WFAA-TV (Channel 8) and The Dallas Morning News
began reporting in November that bureau president David Whitney spent
thousands of dollars on car service to Dallas/Fort Worth International
Airport and on liquor that he took home to entertain clients. Some of his
top executives expensed visits to topless clubs ? outings that the
bureau said were requested by clients.
The investigation also found that Mr.
Whitney approved paying his wife's law firm to do legal work for the
bureau. . . .
What exactly was the Mayor supposed to do
other than try to clean house at the DCVB? Was she supposed to be like Ron
Kirk and ignore it or laugh about it or attack the press for reporting the wrong
doing? Mayor PreTend Mary Poss said she would have handled it
quietly. How do you handle something quietly that is already a huge story
in the press? Why would you want to hide information from Dallas
taxpayers? MPT Poss is completely out of step with the rest of the city.
bureau president resigns
Whitney, the president of the Dallas Convention and Visitors Bureau,
resigned Friday, blaming the media for focusing on money the bureau spent
entertaining clients and associates. . .
. he has spent much of the last two months answering
questions about the way he and his staff expensed town-car service, liquor
and golf outings.
. . . "Let
me make it clear that the sole reason for this [resignation] is the
possibility that recent media attention to issues other than the
successful job done by the bureau could seriously harm our ability to do
[the] job" of president and CEO, he wrote.
. . . Dallas Mayor Laura Miller had criticized Mr. Whitney but never
called for his resignation.
"I think there was some bad judgment. I expressed that
to him," she said. "But it really wasn't my call. I really
didn't feel one way or another about whether he stayed on."
Ms. Miller had forced the resignation of Chris Luna,
the chairman of the bureau's board of directors, for what she called his
tepid response to the questionable expenses.
. . . WFAA-TV
(Channel 8) and The Dallas Morning News began reporting in early November
that Mr. Whitney spent thousands of dollars on town-car service to the
airport and on liquor that he took home to entertain clients. His staff
expensed out-of-state golf trips and visits to topless clubs that the
bureau said were requested by clients.
The investigation also found that Mr. Whitney approved paying
his wife's law firm to do the bureau's legal work. It paid Jones, Day,
Reavis & Pogue about $70,000 over four years.
. . . Mr.
Whitney earns more than $200,000 a year. Bureau officials would not say
how he might be compensated as he leaves. He had three years left on his
contract. . . .
Neither Whitney or Luna get it! They both abused their positions with the
DCVB. Whitney was making $200,000+ annually, not to mention all the perks
(trips, booze, fancy meals), but he still funneled over $70,000 to his wife's
If there was nothing wrong with Luna's Pizza Inn contract, why did he give it
up? If there was nothing wrong with taking clients to sex clubs on the
taxpayer's dime, why did Whitney agree to stop the practice?
Bad guys in this town have become accustomed to doing as they will with no
interference from the media, and certainly no oversight by the city council or
the Mayor. Did they not notice we have a new Mayor who's biggest
issue is Ethics Reform at City Hall?
It's not just Luna and Whitney who should resign over this DCVB mess. City
MisManager Ted Benavides needs to go as well. This guy who makes (not
earns) over $250,000 annually also used Mavericks tickets he got from the DCVB
rather than pay for his own entertainment.
raised about use of Dallas city credit card
Platinum tickets for Dallas Stars hockey games.
To some, those tickets may be a dream, but they are
just one of the perks offered by the City of Dallas to visiting VIPs.
News 8 is investigating allegations that some of those
tickets are going to city officials.
The confusion results in part from a small piece of
plastic - . . . the credit card carried by the
former manager of the Dallas Convention Center. . .
has, in fact, been used by at least one top Dallas city official. .
. . Sources told News 8, however, that what was supposed
to be used for city business has allegedly been used for personal
pleasure. . . . But sources said instead of
using those tickets to attract business to Dallas, some city officials
took them for personal use.
Benavides was asked, "What
about local officials - including yourself - taking advantage of Stars
tickets, Mavericks tickets, etc."
"I did that, yeah," Benavides said.
"I've gotten tickets, yes sir." . . .
So, does that mean the tickets are for use by city officials?
"I don't know," Benavides said. . .
. "We probably shouldn't have used them - no," Benavides
On this DCVB issue, Mayor Miller has done
just what we elected her to do -- clean up things at City Hall. Had Chris
Luna or David Whitney done nothing wrong and used some common sense, they would
not be the subject of all this media scrutiny. Blaming the Mayor for his
own bad judgment is very sociopathic. That's not to say Chris Luna is
psychotic, but his behavior over the years certainly leads people who care about
him to be concerned.
Not being in the restaurant, hotel or convention business, I had never heard of
David Whitney before this mess. Just from what his various TV interviews,
he does not look like a Dallas person. He looks and dresses like that guy
who showed us how the "Rich and Famous" live. Whitney may be
well respected in the convention business, but what has he done for Dallas
lately? Owners of football teams and college athletic directors fire
coaches all the time when they have one off year, regardless of past
successes. What worked two or three years ago may not be what is needed
This DCVB issue is the real difference between Laura Miller and Mary Poss.
Miller appointed Chris Luna. When she realized her mistake, she took
action to correct it. Poss would not have admitted to a mistake. As
much as Poss loves a camera, she would not have responded at all and waited for
it all to die down. It shows how dim Poss really is that she would have
gone on camera last week and agreed with Chris Luna that the Mayor was wrong in
her public handling of this matter.
Excuse me? The press broke the story. The press asked legitimate
questions and exposed some very questionable doings at the DCVB. The Mayor
acted swiftly and prudently. Exactly what would have Poss have done
|Those of us who live or work near
sex clubs know they are not good neighbors.
scandals relate directly back to Dallas sex clubs. Probably
the saddest was that DPD officer Johnny Hernandez who tried to get
Michael Irvin whacked over his sex club dancer girl friend.
Now, we have the football player who was hanging out at The Lodge and
Silver City before he went on a killing spree on Stemmons. He and
the sex club operators claim he didn't drink while he was there.
He may not have had to pay for any drinks, but no way do I believe he
just stood around for a couple of hours and looked at naked women.
The clubs need to go -- the City Manager needs to go -- the Chief of Police
needs to go -- thinking like Mary Poss needs to go. We need to stay on
this new road toward honest, clean government at City Hall.
If you don't want the Mayor to respond to your bad press, don't give the press
something to write about.
The bad guys need to wake up to
2003. No more cover ups.