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Mary Lou Reports
Citizen D


Did our Forefathers expect us to be ruled by the least among us?

Here it is the Eve of July 4th, my favorite holiday, and I feel like I'm celebrating it in a foreign land.  Dallas doesn't feel like home anymore. 

When I flew back from Michigan last week, I didn't get that old rush when we approached DFW.  I told myself I'm more aware of the city boundaries, and we really were not in Dallas.  (Hope the anti-Jones tax folks stress that when Grandpa Jones sends his ghouls out for our money next year.)  When I flew back from San Antonio Saturday afternoon after speaking to a small convention , the same non-rush, and Love Field is in Dallas, but it barely looks like Dallas.  

Things are grubby and dusty.  Lots of vacant storefronts around town, but there seem to be fewer potholes.

Guess I'm in the "cup's half empty" mode, but it sure seems like the bad guys are running things.  I can't blame it on not winning the council election because that feels like ancient history.  I am still furious with Congressmen Pete Sessions and Jeb Hensarling for interfering with Roxan Staff's council race, and that feels like yesterday.  

What do they say about not wanting to see "how sausage is made"?  

That must be why many "activist" friends of mine are tuning out.  We have given so much of our time to "fight for the cause" under different candidates, only to have them morph into someone else once elected.  Why does holding office bring out the worst in people?  

Analyze any office holders you know best, and a pattern develops.  Any negative trait you notice (no matter how small) before they are elected becomes who they are as an office holder.  
Lack of enthusiasm during the campaign, expect a bump on a log.
Campaign speeches about the candidate and no specifics, expect a "pompous ignoramus".
Questionable business history, expect an overt crook.

Ron Kirk was the worst mayor in our history.  Other than Robert Folsom's ripping off the entire city to develop his Renner property, no mayor has caused more damage to Dallas than Ron Kirk.  He left this city in financial ruin and more racially divided than ever.  Granted, we were on a slippery slope before he took office, but he removed all  handrails and remnants of safety nets that might have let us climb back up.  Which makes it so distressing to see Our Downtown Betters keep him afloat and in play:

LATEST NEWS                           June 27, 2003
Ex-Mayor Kirk joins PetsMart board
 Former Dallas Mayor Ron Kirk has joined the board of pet supplies retailer PetsMart Inc.
   "Ron brings his proven leadership, innovative and strategic thinking, and concern for the community to the PetsMart board," said Phil Francis, PetsMart's chairman and chief executive, in a statement. "
. . .Kirk, a Democrat, served two terms as mayor of Dallas, from 1995 to 2001. He resigned . . . to run for a Senate seat . . . lost the race to Republican John Cornyn.  . . .Kirk was secretary of state for Texas under former Texas Gov. Ann Richards and was a legislative aide to U.S. Sen. Lloyd Bentsen. . . . boards of restaurant operator Brinker International Inc. ... (Web site: PetsMart Inc. (Nasdaq: PETM)

Is Con Jerk running for the Senate again when Kay Bailey Hutchinson steps down to challenge Rick Perry for Governor in the GOP Primary?

What is it we're missing that Our Downtown Betters see in Ron Kirk?  Is there a special Ron Kirk that he shines on the ODB and people of wealth and prominence that commoners are not allowed to witness?  
  "proven leadership"? 
  "innovative and strategic thinking"?  
  "concern for the community"?

Did Phil Francis say all that about Ron Kirk with a straight face?  Francis must want to head up American Airlines -- to show the AA folks he, too, can run a fabulously successful business into the ground.

As  a multi-pet owner, I have spent a lot of money at the PetsMart on Inwood @ Forest -- a lot of money every month. 
I will not spend another penny at any PetsMart at any location so long as Con Jerk sits on their board of directors.  If Con Jerk does for PetsMart what he did for the City of Dallas, it won't be a store where I would want to trade in the future. is collecting names of Dallas area pet owners who will no longer shop with PetsMart.  To be included, e-mail and say "I will not shop at PetsMart as long as Ron Kirk is on the board of directors of PetsMart.  I have ____ pets."  Furnish your name and e-mail address.

We know what Ron Kirk did to Dallas - the chaos and incompetence at City Hall he left behind.  Kirk hired Ted Benavides to mismanage the city just before Denton fired Benavides because he was doing such a lousy job for a city much smaller than Dallas.  It is more important to Kirk to have "yes" men around him than competent management.  Does PetsMart need that mindset?

Because Kirk hired Benavides, we have Terrell Bolton as our Chief of Police.

Because Kirk hired Benavides, we have city employees violating the Code of Ethics with no risk of punishment.  

The new and worthless Ethics Commission just let Yolanda Lara get away with clearly violating the Ethics Code:

City worker cleared in political ethics inquiry
. . .  three-member panel of the Dallas Ethics Advisory Commission dismissed a complaint Tuesday against Yolanda Lara, a council administrative assistant. The complaint, filed by Laura Miller supporter Allen Gwinn, alleged that Ms. Lara used city resources to send e-mail supporting Mary Poss' mayoral campaign. The ethics review panel disagreed, saying there was not enough evidence. Ms. Lara said the ruling means that city workers can be involved in politics if they follow the rules. "I knew the lines, and I went up to the lines, but I didn't go past the lines," Ms. Lara said. . . .

From now on, people who are paid by taxes that come from you and me (if you still live in Dallas) will get to use facilities and equipment paid for for by taxes that come from you and me to support politicians who they think will give them more in salary and benefits and hit up you and me for more taxes while delivering less services.  It's time to pack your bags. Looks like Yolanda Lara is off the hook.  Wonder if any  members on the panel were her friends or friends of those supporting Ms. Lara or Mary Poss. I was amazed to read this report when there was compelling evidence of her abuse on the job.  She is nothing more than a disgruntled employee who should be terminated.

There is no one between the bad guys and us.  The few honest City Hall employees left are nearing retirement and keeping low profiles.  You can't blame them.  They are closer to the mess than you and me, and they know the vampires are in control.  Dig out your copy of Stephen King's
Salem's Lot (you know you still have it somewhere).  Toward the end of the book, the Town's surviving police officer tells the beleaguered 
main character he knows the town's in the control of the vampires and he's packed and hauling.

One side of me understands why Mayor Miller has made peace with the ODB and has signed on to the BIG TICKET agenda.  She has more information.  She needs to be in office to get things done.  She is better than any of her opponents.  But, but --- what about the basics?

Jim Schutze has a great column this week about the Trinity River Project's latest configuration:

Pointless Exercise  How they got the media to miss the point on the Trinity River  By Jim Schutze | originally published: July 3, 2003
 . . .   four hours of PowerPoint on the Trinity River plan last week at City Hall--
 . . .   The big news last week? The Trinity River project will cost way more than any new tax base it will supposedly create. But you didn't see that in The Dallas Morning News, did you? 
 . . .   Costs more than any new tax base it will create in the next 30 years!
 . . .   exciting new plan to rebuild the Trinity River where it runs through downtown Dallas, and it's got a big fat stinko expressway on top of the river."
 . . .   In 1998, they said they wanted to put a stinko expressway on top of the river. We got rid of the gang who were running City Hall. We elected this big scary bomb-thrower named Laura Miller for mayor, because mainly we just wanted City Hall to shut up and fix the damn potholes.
 . . .   I'm sitting there thinking, "It cannot be. Laura Miller is not up there proposing a big fat highway on top of the river."
 . . .   Sandy Greyson  . . .   "We have spent a great deal of time, energy, effort and money to go from an eight-lane high-speed toll road to a six-lane high-speed toll road."
 . . .   Lois Finkelman  . . .   I appreciated the pretty pictures. I appreciated some of the information. But I was very frustrated, because there were not any hard numbers.  . . .   What's missing in terms of the analysis of that is the hydrology of those lakes.  . . .   What kind of sediment will or won't occur?  . . .   How long will or will not those lakes be flooded, at what level of flood? How often do they have to be dredged?"
 . . .   Laura Miller went through exactly this exercise herself when she first went on the council and started trying to get a handle on the Trinity River project. 
 . . .   Now Miller's the mayor.  . . .   She's showing the council pretty pictures of lakes with sailboats on them with no hydrological data to back them up. 
 . . .   All of the freeway and roadway alternatives being considered at City Hall will have very serious negative financial impacts on City Hall. All of them. For 30 years.
 . . .   The very best fiscal impact on the city is from building the park with no road at all--a negative hit of only $15 million over 30 years.
 . . .  
This is why they can't fill the potholes. They keep giving away the store. And the worst news is that Laura Miller, the bomb-thrower we sent in there to clean it up, is already dancing the mad fandango with the big boys, .. . .   

There's something Schutze missed.  Where were questions from Finkelman and Greyson concerning the hydrology or sediment or fast cars during the Trinity Bond Project Election?  The plan proposed back then was even worse than this.  An engineer with a big ODB engineering firm that expected to design and build the Project follows around the new Trinity Project dog and pony shows asking questions that were just as relevant to his design with a fake lake in the middle of a stinking river that would cost Dallas taxpayers over $3 Million a year to maintain.  

Why can't we just leave the river alone?  
Why not just plant some trees on the existing levees and leave the river alone?
Why don't we just buy out homeowners in the flood plain and absolutely make it illegal to ever build in the flood plain again and leave the river alone?

I've been to big cities with rivers running through them.  Many of those fancied up city rivers are not as wide as the Trinity and what runs through the city is really just a diverted creek from the main river.

You might have missed the little story in the DMN about where the elite of the city will be watching the Trinity fireworks -- high above the masses in air conditioned tents.  Much like they view events at the Hicks/Perot arena and Texas Stadium and what Grandpa Jones plans for his new facility (where the commoners will stand in the end zone and look up at their betters in the elevated seats).  

Fireworks go upscale in Big D
A lawn chair or a blanket on the ground are all most people need to watch Fourth of July fireworks. But for some, that just won't do. They'll be enjoying an exclusive, high-dollar perch in an air-conditioned luxury suite. It's Trinity Fest's version of Texas Stadium's famed skyboxes.
The blue carpet is rolled out atop Reunion Arena's parking garage for July 4 revelers who will pay $125 a ticket to watch Trinity Fest's fireworks display in air-conditioned comfort.

The Mayor will probably be up there in the white tent.  That's what Mayors do.

Don't expect to start campaigning against Laura Miller.  She's our choice, warts and all.  Unlike some of her backers, I have never given her mythical proportions.  She's a human being.  Her opponents were so bad, they made her look surreal.  Laura Miller is real, and human and subject to the same flattery that has undone lesser mortals.

When other former (and current) Miller supporters complain or criticize her, I use the following analogy to explain my support for her.  Laura is like the "prettiest and smartest girl in school".  She pulls people in when she needs them and discards them when they become a liability -- a very human thing to do.  You don't notice it when Suzy Smith or Billy Bumpkin does the same thing.  

Think back on high school.  The prettiest girl in school (usually not the smartest) had her clique.  Normally, she was not overtly mean -- just very busy.  No time for the less popular other than a beaming smile, because she was everywhere, every campus club and every class committee and everyone wanted to be in her clique.  That's pretty much where the prettiest girl in high school stopped, but at every class reunion she's the one everyone watches for -- regardless of what she looks like now.

Laura is more than the prettiest girl in high school, she is cursed with a very bright mind.  Until this latest disaster of all three of her endorsees crashing in our respective city council races, Laura has had as spectacular success rate.  Even her failures have been stepping stones to bigger successes.  The arena campaign vaulted her to politician, and we lost that one.  Getting sandbagged by the Park Board and Council over her wading pools gave her a new platform and more supporters.  Having the establishment, the DMN and every ODB in town back Tom Dunning made her win seem more than an election.

But, it was just an election and Laura Miller is just a human being -- albeit a very smart, very focused and very accomplished human being. 

Laura Miller has a lot on her plate.  If you don't like the portion she is doling out to you or your agenda, ask yourself what you would get from anyone else in that office.  

I cannot support her convention hotel initiative.  I don't like it that Steve Wolens snuck in the legislation to allow more hotel tax revenue to be diverted from the general budget to finance a city owned hotel that will compete with existing Dallas hotels.  Our convention business is in the toilet, but no fault of Miller or Wolens.

Steve Wolens is responsible for all those Tax Increment Financing Districts that are draining our coffers dry, but he is not responsible for the Hicks/Perot/Kirk arena sales tax which has killed our convention business.

Laura Miller is not responsible for the lack of ethics at City Hall, but she is responsible for creating an Ethics Commission without a clue about "ethics".  Her motives were good, but she lacked the council votes to get a commission to do what is needed.  With their Lara ruling, it looks like the cure is worse than the disease.

Laura Miller is not responsible for the ODB promoting Ron Kirk, but she refuses to publicly blame him for the mess he left behind.

Laura Miller is not responsible for the Trinity Bondoogle.  Con Jerk and his Large White Shadow did that to us.  As Mayor, she must attempt to implement what was approved by the voters, even if the voters were duped by Kirk and Carol Reed.  She should be applauded for trying to make a silk purse out of a pig's ear, but it is an effort doomed to failure.  She knows any changes to the Trinity River are going to cause future flooding.  That's why it is so hypocritical of Lois Finkelman to be raising environmental issues now when she was silent during Kirk's reign of terror.

If Laura Miller cannot get this city back on track, it's not going to happen.

This July 4th will be much different for me than July 4, 2002 when I had a big front yard party at my house to introduce Mike Martinez to my neighbors (he lost his DISD race to Joe Thug May) and to confirm to my friends and neighbors that I would be a candidate for District 6.  

It's like waking up from a long nightmare with lots of time to dig in my yard and play with my cats and dogs.

In other ways, the past 18 months (starting with Laura's first election) have been a fun roller coaster ride that gave me an opportunity to meet people I would have otherwise never known.  As a candidate, you get to walk right up to strangers and introduce yourself and start talking to them about things that concern you.  For someone as opinionated as me, it's very cathartic to know that others share your concerns for the city and want to make it better.

Instead of frantically pulling everything together to be ready for a bunch of people, I'm going to a couple of get-togethers.  I am even going to see the fireworks from an elevated and air-conditioned penthouse -- just not at Reunion.

Hopefully, the fireworks and festivities will put US in a more optimistic frame of mind.





  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