Fake Drugs Saga
09/29/03 It's Not Getting
Better . . .
Much of my adult life post-college was spent
living in Oak Lawn. I worked Downtown. My world didn't go much North
of Inwood (except for trips to Lewisville) or South of the Convention
Center. I considered Downtown the center of our municipal universe.
I was a real City Hall insider and spoke before the Council and DART frequently
regarding zoning cases, rail alignment - exciting stuff. City Hall was
very familiar to me, Downtown was like my hometown. My Dad was a DPD cop assigned to the beat of St. Paul & Main (Neiman's, Titche's),
and my Mother was a Mercantile Bank teller. Every school holiday, I got
to go to work with my parents and spend the day just hanging out Downtown --
even after we built a home in Lewisville.
When I started my business, most of my clients were in the Downtown/Oak Lawn
area. Then a couple moved North, and my client base was Preston at
Northwest Highway with only a couple left Downtown. I had run for council
and lost (twice), so City Hall was no longer a regular stop for me. When I
resigned from my last Downtown client, there was even less reason to head
South. Since most of my clients were North of NW Hwy, I started thinking of
leaving Oak Lawn.
As soon as the Mayor won her race, I began looking for a house I could afford in the part of town where I
worked. I considered Farmers Branch,
but found my great little house and left Oak Lawn/Downtown to become a North Dallas person.
K. Gordon, III:
North Dallas and City Hall have come to resemble a marriage where
the partners cohabitate, but don't talk any more than necessary."
Pretty good analogy.
Sometimes marital partners grow in ways that render them
incompatible, and perhaps the same is true of communities.
There is an enticing solution. And to an increasing
number of North Dallasites D-I-V-O-R-C-E (deannexation) is a tantalizing
Just imagine Northwest Highway as "Borderline
Rena Pedersen has an incredible article in DMN's Sunday Reader (9/28/03):
bugging North Dallas?; Bridging
differences with City Hall critical to success
CDT on Sunday, September 28, 2003
It's one of the toughest questions in town: Can Dallas be as great as it
can be without more positive leadership from North Dallas, the epicenter
of city affluence?
Over the years, North Dallas has developed the reputation as
the "ground zero for naysayers," balking at tax increases and
pro-growth proposals, retreating from direct involvement in city affairs.
That means if the city wants to shore up the tax base for the future, it
will have to shore up civic support in the north, which often delivers 70
percent of the vote in city elections.
. . . North Dallas increasingly became known for the cranky habit of
voting against ambitious city proposals ? against new arts facilities,
against mass transit, against improvements to the Trinity River. Political
consultants began joking, "People in North Dallas drive by the
neighborhood school every day just to see if there's an election to vote
. . . For starters, it would be helpful to examine whether the
perception is accurate that North Dallas residents vote against everything.
The honest answer is "no." North Dallas voters have
fairly consistently supported bond votes for the school and city bond
packages that stuck to basic nuts-and-bolts improvements.
Even before becoming an official North Dallas resident, I must have already morphed
into one, considering I am probably the ultimate Dallas
"naysayer". It's not just about saying
"No", but saying "No" to stuff we don't need when
City Hall cannot provide basic necessities for Dallas taxpayers.
Council passes laws we have no manpower to enforce. We have city personnel
who do not enforce basic code enforcement, and at least one Code Enforcement
guy who uses his position to retaliate against a citizen/taxpayer who reported
him sleeping out in the alley during the day in a city car.
. . "They don't have the same patriotic feeling for the city
anymore," said former Mayor Pro Tem Adlene Harrison. "They
have become more skeptical about the way the city is run and the way the
council votes to grant tax exemptions for things."
Knowing our money is being wasted and our
needs are not being met does not make us unpatriotic. It makes us
realistic. And, it makes us mad.
. . "North Dallas voters just don't like to be hoodwinked and given
a sort of 'trust me' mandate," observed longtime civic supporter
Walt Humann. . . . "They also want to know who's going
to benefit? If they feel somebody is getting a sweetheart deal, that
will turn off voters in general, but especially in North Dallas. In the
case of the arena, a high percentage felt it was not a fair deal for
. . . Former council member Max Wells, . . . "But a real
change came with the arena deal," he said. "It brought a
bitterness and a meanness to the debate that I had not seen before. It
brought out the strongest and loudest voices I had ever seen at town
hall meetings. There was this perception that 'I don't want to give the
rich guys the money.'
Our Downtown Betters (the ODB) may
have won the arena battle, but they are just now realizing they lost the
war. No one will ever trust them again.
We heard their lies -- some bought their lies -- we have their number. We
know how they pulled off that election. One good thing that came out of
last year's legislative session are the tighter rules on vote harvesting.
Doesn't mean the bad guys can't steal another election or that Kathy Nealy and
her gang won't play some of her cheating games, but they will have to work a
little harder. Guess Grandpa Jones is going to have to pay her better than
Ross and Tommy compensated her.
. . Mr. Garcia, who ran for mayor against Ms. Miller in 2002,
said, "One of the other reasons Laura Miller got elected is that
she had John Wiley Price picketing her house because of things she wrote
about him and she stood up to Al Lipscomb when he was a council member.
She was seen as a white person standing up, and Ms. Miller exploited
that. It's ironic, that she came out of Oak Cliff (in the southern
sector), but she knew how to play the game (in northern Dallas)."
Domingo Garcia is a lot of things. I
have frequently described him as smart, but not recently. His behavior in
the mayoral race was absolutely nutty. Him thinking "she knew how to
play the game" speaks volumes about his attitude toward voters. Laura
Miller did not "play the game". She was the best candidate of
the slate we were offered in 2002 and in 2003. For some people, politics
and government is a game. Unfortunately, those kinds of people frequently
That's not to say Laura Miller is not talented and smart, but she has been
blessed with wonderfully terrible opponents in every race she has run to
date. Luis Sepulveda? Tom Dunning and Domingo Garcia were both
living in the 80's, and neither realized how the city has changed.
District 6 is so gerrymandered it is easy to control the vote outcome. You
cannot play those cards on a citywide basis.
Laura Miller was what the voters wanted, and both of her mayoral races were
foregone conclusions. I coordinated the volunteer phone-banking in her win
over Dunning. Her numbers were incredible from all parts of the city.
. . When
Ron Kirk was elected the city's first African-American mayor in 1995, he
won with a strong minority vote in the southern sector and captured only
about 42 percent of the Anglo vote in the city. After making concerted
efforts to bridge divisions between the northern and southern sections
of the city, he handily won re-election with 70 percent of the vote in
North Dallas. But North Dallas was a tough sell, he acknowledges. . .
. "It was clear that North Dallas was obsessed about 'order'
at City Hall." . . . Mr. Kirk says today, is that he still
gets grousing about the arena vote from North Dallas residents, even
though most of the season ticket holders for the basketball and hockey
games at the arena are from ... North Dallas.
. . . Council member Sandy Greyson, who represents Far North
Dallas, said that even though the arena passed in her district, many
voters are still complaining to her about it. "They think it is a
wonderful arena, they are glad the teams are winning, but they felt it
was not a necessary expenditure of public dollars. When they
believe something is worthwhile , they will vote yes, but they
don't want someone to say, 'trust me, it's going to be good.' They tell
me all the time, 'you make my neighborhood look nice and give me the
quality of life I need to have, then I'll invest in the city.'
Here's the deal, Ron. Most people who
go to hockey and/or basketball games don't vote! No one said Ross and
Tommy should be denied a new arena if they wanted one. We just didn't
think Dallas taxpayers should have to pay for it, or let them have it tax
free. Taxpayers did not pay for Texas Stadium. Had Ron Kirk and John
Ware not sold us out to Ross and Tommy, we could have done a bond deal for them
like Irving did for Clint Murchison.
Whether you like sports or not, this was a lousy deal for something Joe Taxpayer
did not need.
The arena sales tax has been a disaster for our convention business and has
resulted in lost sales tax revenue, which has been a primary reason for our
budget shortfalls since Kirk bailed.
We have a new arena, but our city civilian personnel have gone without a raise
for 3 years and our cops and firefighters are paid less than they could make in
. . Mr. Allyn cautioned that North Dallas voters should not be
mischaracterized as being selfish curmudgeons. As he put it, "They
are simply more interested in value and care intensely about city
services. When you ask them what their highest priorities are, 39
percent will say fixing potholes, but many more ? 50 percent ? are
concerned about cleaning up ethical problems at City Hall and 65 percent
want to reduce wasteful spending, bad business deals, catering to
Rob Allyn worked for the arena people and is assisting Grandpa Jones in his
effort to shaft Dallas County voters rather than spend some of his own millions
to make a lot of money for himself. But, Allyn is right on
Many people in North Dallas don't want special stuff, we want honest
We don't mind money being spent for infrastructure improvements in South
Dallas. We do mind hearing that public monies are being wasted on pet
projects so certain council members can reward their political
cronies. We do mind spending almost a million every year to have a pay
window at MLK Rec Center where people can pay their utilities rather than
mailing them like the rest of us -- or even paying them at the the grocery
store. We want our city money spent on basic city services.
. . "The fact that Ron Kirk was behind so many of the previous
projects made some people suspicious," observed former North Dallas
council member Donna Blumer. "They always felt he was working with
people who were out to do things for their own advantage. That factor
helped Laura Miller because she was so often at odds with Kirk. I was
not her supporter for her re-election, but I do feel people believe
their money will be watched over better and not benefit any fat
. . . conservative Republicans in North Dallas preferred her to
Democrat Tom Dunning, primarily because Mr. Dunning was supporting
former Mayor Ron Kirk's bid for the U.S. Senate. They adamantly did not
want the more liberal Mr. Kirk to get the Senate seat instead of
Republican John Cornyn. So Ms. Miller ? the enemy of their enemy ?
was more palatable.
. . . "The perception was that Mary would go along with City Hall
to get along, and we had done that before," said longtime
Republican worker Kay Copeland. ". . . Mary was too close to
Rena Pedersen finally gets it in print that Ron Kirk is not our town's favorite
I don't agree with many decisions that Laura Miller has made as Mayor, but I
don't think she has made those decisions for self-gain.
Never smoked in my life, but the no smoking ordinance was untimely and not
enforceable. Now, it turns out people are smoking in Dallas restaurants,
and there's no one around to put a stop to it. When you have laws on the
books, you need to have the personnel to enforce those laws. When a law is
not enforced, respect for government is diminished.
With Kirk, you knew every deal he promoted had something in it for him, like his
stock option kickback from Tom Hicks.
"No Jones Tax" camp must feel like Br'er Rabbit --
Oh, No, Commissioners, please don't put Ron Kirk on your team.
Please don't give us an opportunity to remind voters of the lies he told
in the arena and Trinity campaigns, etc.
. . "We'd like Dallas to prosper," Mr. Leedom said, "but
what is Dallas? It's never going to be a tourist center or have anything
like the Alamo, and I don't think the Trinity will turn into anything
like Lake Travis. But so what? It's still the finest place to do
business and raise children in the nation. We need to keep the focus on
fire stations, good roads and an honest police force."
Why is it not enough for Dallas to be a good
place to do business and raise a family?
Look at Ft. Worth. They have a Downtown that's alive at night, all sorts
of cultural opportunities and a zoo that generates revenue. They
have not had budget woes like we have experienced, like Arlington is
experiencing. Ft. Worth citizens are aware and involved and just blocked
the council from building a city-owned convention hotel. They have a sales
tax that goes directly to their police department. They don't have a
. . Mr. Rasanksy jokes that when he first took his seat at the
horseshoe-shaped council desk, he noticed that the word "no"
had been worn off the District 13 button by Ms. Blumer.
Donna Blumer didn't say NO just to be a contrarian, she understood what the
council is actually supposed to do for us. They are not there for social
engineering or jumping on every liberal cause or trying to interfere with
national matters. The council is supposed to set policy that will direct
the City Manager to run our city in a way to keep our streets smooth, our parks
green and we and our property safe. Pretty simple.
If wanting the council to focus on the basics is exclusive to North Dallas
residents, then it was fate for me to have found my home among clear