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11/06/03  Ethics Commission Tainted by Ethics-Impaired Lawyer

Last week, the city's Ethics Advisory Commission threw out the bogus Lovie Lipscomb/Mary Hasan Complaint against Mayor Miller because it was fraudulent.  It was also bona fide evidence of a city employee conspiracy that includes Mary Hasan and Yolanda Lara.
 

Complaint against Dallas mayor is dismissed;
Ethics commission finds no firsthand knowledge of violations

11:21 PM CST on Wednesday, October 29, 2003
By COLLEEN McCAIN NELSON / The Dallas Morning News
   The city's ethics commission took six months and spent more than 20 hours in hearings before determining that a complaint against Dallas Mayor Laura Miller was fundamentally flawed.
   In the end, commissioners decided Wednesday that Lovie Lipscomb, wife of former City Council member Al Lipscomb, did not have firsthand knowledge of the ethics violations she described in her complaint.
. . . At issue was whether Ms. Miller and her chief of staff, Crayton Webb, violated the ethics code when she conducted a campaign news conference in the City Hall flag room.
   Mrs. Lipscomb alleged in a complaint that the mayor and Mr. Webb inappropriately coerced city employee Glenda Aguirre to secure a podium and a microphone for the campaign event in March.
   Mrs. Lipscomb . . . acknowledged that she did not witness the events she described and that a City Council assistant prepared the documents she signed.
. . .  the commission halted testimony and voted 6-1 to dismiss her complaint.
. . .  Mr. Wolens repeatedly warned Mrs. Lipscomb that she could be committing perjury if she did not have personal knowledge of the events that were described in her sworn statement.
. . .  Ms. Hasan said she asked Mrs. Lipscomb to file the complaint  . . . "We should have filed it ourselves because it came out anyway," Ms. Hasan said. . . .


Although DallasArena.com covered the Ethics Commission hearing and decision in City Hall Conspiracy, the Mayor raised a dust storm on Wednesday by opposing the reappointment of Atty. Linda Sorrells to the Ethics Commission.  Atty. Sorrells was the sole vote against dismissing the Lipscomb/Hason Complaint in the 6-1 vote.
 

Atty. Sorrells is defending Beat that Indictment Fantroy against a civil lawsuit.  That makes her service on the Ethics Commission a CONFLICT OF INTEREST.  According to a very smart woman who knows almost everything and forgets nothing, Atty. Sorrells is defending BTI Fantroy in the lawsuit filed by former Councilwoman Sandra Crenshaw.  Having Atty. Sorrells on the Ethics Commission may be why Ms. Crenshaw did not file an Ethics Complaint against BTI Fantroy.   Jerry B: 
   I
have call 911 a lot over the years.  I wish all the good citizens in Dallas, the Mayor and Council could experience this. 
   Try 911 on a Thursday, Friday or Saturday and if it is in the evening, you will more than likely get a recording that starts with " Don't hang up" and you go to an un-operator assisted hold.   Not what you want when you have an emergency, and you think help is a phone call away.  Sad but true.  Could the 911 operators be backed up with calls to dispatch to the "Smoking Police".
   We have many laws on the books that don't get enforced and may never.
   Welcome to Dallas.


Atty. Sorrells has a business relationship with a sitting city council member.  That is clearly UN-ETHICAL, and she knows it.  Assuming she was not his attorney when first appointed to the Ethics Commission, Atty. Sorrells should have resigned when she accepted BTI Fantroy as an active client.  Representing him in the past would not have been grounds for her not serving on the Ethics Commission.

A citizen observer confirms the Mayor's statements about the behavior of Atty. Sorrells during the hearing.  The Mayor was represented by one of the toughest lawyers in town, Steve Wolens.  Hopefully, he will now take Crenshaw's case against BTI Fantroy pro bono.  Wolens was able to function despite cat calls from city employee Yolanda Lara who sat in on the hearing ALL DAY.  Wolens was able to prevail for the Mayor despite what the Mayor calls efforts by Atty. Sorrells to assist the Complainant rather than being neutral before the Mayor presented her case.

What if some other City Hall official (elected or employed) were before that panel who could not afford the services of Wolens or any other attorney and who was complaining about a client of Atty. Sorrells?  That may be why no one has filed an ethics complaint against BTI Fantroy for accepting those security guard contracts with a developer while that company had a High $$ matter before the council.  What if someone like me who has been openly critical of BTI Fantroy filed a complaint with the Ethics Commission?  Can you imagine how Atty. Sorrells would treat me or my complaint?

Some think a lawyer behaving unethically is no surprise and certainly not unusual.  That's wrong.  Most lawyers have very high standards of conduct and follow the rules.  Unfortunately, most people only are aware of the low end of the scale who chase ambulances and/or those who run for public office.  I have worked for and with lawyers almost continually since graduating from college.  Some were great lawyers and great human beings.  Some were neither, and I moved on.

Sorrells is up for re-appointment and should not go back on the Ethics Advisory Commission.  While sherepresents BTI Fantroy, she should not be on any city board or commission.

Why can't Atty. Madeleine Johnson do her job and find some of these nominees ineligible?   She should have determined Old Al Lipscomb (Lovie's husband) was not fit for the Police Review Board -- or any city board or commission because of his confession in Federal Court to accepting bribes -- that's multiple bribes -- as a city councilman.  A man went to prison for giving Al Lipscomb a bribe.  After a promise of immunity, another man testified to bribing Al Lipscomb to get him to have police personnel at NW Substation stop enforcing city laws in Bachman Lake area sex clubs.  The sex club operator went on to get a license for another sex club and was illegally granted a dance hall permit for his Stratos bar by current Chief Randy Hampton.

City Atty. Johnson was wrong to rely on a determination by a very weak former City Attorney, Anna Leslie Muncey, and rule that Old Al is eligible to ever sit on any city board or commission.

Old Al got to serve on the city council in the first place because former City Attorney Muncey ruled his DRUG PUSHING convictions in California were not felonies because he served his sentence in a city jail.  In Texas, a criminal wanting a shorter sentence can opt to serve his time in County Jail because there are fewer amenities and it's less expensive overall.  Doesn't mean a felony conviction is reduced to something lesser.  Where a criminal serves his time only relates to the sentence. 
 

All that happened because Our Downtown Betters (the ODB) wanted Old Al on the council so he could keep a lid on racial unrest by doing his little song and dance routine at City Hall. 

One of many bad eggs laid by the ODB that hatched as deformed chickens who are coming home to roost.


DallasArena.com continues to call for the firing WITH CAUSE of  Mary Hasan (Administrative Aide to Beat that Indictment James Fantroy) and Yolanda Lara (Administrative Aide to Dr. Elba Garcia).  They have not only been engaged in a conspiracy to undermine the Mayor and other political activities that violate the City Charter regulations for city employees, they have been trying to unionize civilian city employees which is a violation of the City Charter.
 

Benavides resuming ethics inquiry
City employees' actions during mayor's race will be reviewed
08:58 PM CST on Friday, October 31, 2003
By COLLEEN McCAIN NELSON / The Dallas Morning News
   City Manager Ted Benavides has announced plans to reopen his investigation into whether politically inclined employees behaved inappropriately during the mayor's race.
   This year's local elections are long past, but questions about the rules of political engagement for city workers remain unanswered.
. . . when the city's ethics commission began hearings to consider similar issues, Mr. Benavides suspended his work, saying that he did not want the two investigations to conflict.
. . . The resolution of the mayor's case cleared the way for the city manager's investigation to resume. And Ms. Miller was quick to point that out.
. . . The city manager wrote in his memo that his investigation would include an examination of evidence that was submitted during ethics hearings.
. . . The mayor said she spent several thousand dollars on public records, including e-mails exchanged between city employees and other communications related to their involvement in campaigns.
. . . Council assistant Yolanda Lara, who supported Ms. Poss' campaign, said the presentation was irrelevant to the mayor's defense and suggested that the exhibits were presented in an effort to ensure that they would become part of the city manager's investigation.
. . . The mayor said only a few employees have openly and inappropriately politicked. But Ms. Miller said she wants to prevent a repeat performance during the next round of council elections in 2005.
. . . Ms. Miller said she has not asked the city manager to terminate anyone's employment.


DallasArena.com is very close to becoming a big fan of the City Manager.  When he was first named by Ron Kirk (make no mistake it was exclusively Con Jerk's call), I thought it was a good decision.  Although no fireball of energy, Benavides had always appeared to be a "steady as you go" guy who would bring some stability to City Hall.  I thought he was a guy with both feet on the ground who would rein in some of the big vision stuff and remind the council of our basic needs that were already in dire neglect when he came on 5 years ago.
 

Dallas' perfect bond rating downgraded; Agency cites soft economy, budget issues, aging infrastructure
11:00 PM CST on Wednesday, November 5, 2003
By COLLEEN McCAIN NELSON / The Dallas Morning News
   Dallas lost the distinction of being the largest U.S. city to earn a top-tier bond rating this week when Standard & Poor's downgraded its assessment of the city.
   For 20 years, Dallas had received an AAA rating ? the highest awarded ? from the agency.
. . .  The agency cited Dallas' sluggish economy, ongoing budget pressures and aging infrastructure as the primary factors that led to the city receiving the second-highest rating.
. . .  A lower bond rating will probably mean slightly higher interest rates when the city issues bonds, said Dave Cook, the city's chief financial officer.
. . . Council member Mitchell Rasansky . . . "I'm disappointed because it costs us more money," he said.
. . . In June, another agency, Moody's Investors Service, rescinded its Aaa rating for Dallas and awarded the city its second-highest mark: Aa1.
. . . Alex Fraser, a director at Standard & Poor's, . . . added that Dallas leaders' failure to maintain aging infrastructure was also a factor.
   "The city's infrastructure is important in a lot of ways," Mr. Fraser said.
   "It can create expenses down the road. It also can impact the ability of the city to attract new business and retain those that it has."
   Mayor Laura Miller said she had hoped that the passage of a $555 million bond package ? the largest in the city's history ? would have helped Dallas hang on to its AAA rating.
. . . But Mr. Fraser said that the city is simply playing catch-up and that $555 million in bonds will address only a fraction of the billions of dollars in needs that have been identified.
. . . Council member Gary Griffith said he and his colleagues could not atone for past leaders' decisions. . . .


Councilman Griffith makes a valid point.  What we are dealing with are mistakes made by past leaders who wanted to leave a legacy.   Some of them were nice people like Mayor Annette Strauss, but doesn't keep them from making bad decisions.
 

Like destroying our convention business with a crippling tax on our hotels/motels and car rental agencies?
 
Like building a symphony hall when we needed to rebuild our streets?


In Ch. 8's Chris Heinbaugh's 11/5/03 interview, Don Hill claims his Southern Dallas strategy and even Downtown strategy will turn around our reduced sales tax revenue.  Baloney!  City Hall needs to focus some attention on North Dallas.  That's where the city gets over 80% of our property tax revenue, and it's where people want to shop if they can get there over the deplorable streets we have to traverse.

If South Dallas or the Southern Sector would elect some officials who weren't lining their own pockets and/or cow-towing to the ODB, there might be hope for development in that area that would meaningfully add to the city's tax revenue.  It's not going to happen. 

With Beat that Indictment James Fantroy and his ilk supporting apartment houses in an area already in terrible distress, there is no hope for long term gains in the bottom half of the city.
So long as Maxine Thornton Reese sets the agenda for Pleasant Grove, there is no hope things will improve there either.
 
South Dallas/Fair Park should be a very productive area for Dallas.  The State Fair certainly generates a lot of revenue and activity.  Unfortunately, South Dallas wants a shake down artist who uses his position to divert our money to his buddies and not to the community's good.  We LOSE almost $1 Million annually so some people can pay their utilities at the MLK Rec Center, rather than put them in the mail with a 37? stamp.

When Ch. 11 ran a story about the cost of making color copies of crime stats for council members, Shakedown Chaney's response was at the rate of $500 a week for color copying, it would be near a $50,000 savings to go to black and white copies (even cheaper with the Mayor's suggestion of using computer transmittals to council).  Chaney said with $50,000 "we could get back our hot lunches at City Hall" -- not we could hire another police officer.  That's how he thinks. 
  Citizen D:
Even when you try to throw these guys a life preserver, they end up tying the rope around their own necks and pulling DOWN!

Unfortunately, you are right again ...

 

 
 
Don Hill is so smart, but so ruthless and power hungry.  For all his blustering, he has accomplished little.  The Mayor has been very foolish to trust him after he has stabbed her in the back over and over.  She keeps dreaming the next time he will do what he says.  He must keep thinking "I can't believe she fell for that again."  Sort of like Charley Brown and Lucy with the football in a reverse gender thing.
 
Ed Oakley is obsessed with the Trinity River Project.  The huge 95% plurality he got in the north precincts of what was then District 6 got him on the council.  He said "thanks" and then turned his back on them and devoted all of his energies to Oak Cliff and strengthening his District 3 base.  He truly believes building more roads and projects to separate Oak Cliff further from the city proper will some how be good for Oak Cliff. 


Now, we have a whole new Trinity River debate.  Guess what!  They lied to us in the first Trinity Bondoogle!  I know, I know -- that's so hard to accept.  But you better believe it!  They lied!  They had enough dead votes harvested by Kathy Neeley and her goons to overcome the real votes and squeaked it through the same year Con Jerk pitched the arena. 

We have no development and no increased revenue from the arena, and have seen a dramatic drop off in our convention business caused by the arena sales tax.

Yet, this council believes they can sell another lie to Dallas voters to pour another $101 Million into the Trinity.  They are coming after you again, and they may buy another election again.

Why would be so bad about leaving the Trinity River alone?  When was the last time it flooded?  Why not spend 1/10th of the money and buy out those Cadillac Heights people whether they want to go or not and just LET THE RIVER  BE A RIVER?
 

Trinity options floated; Most on council back river plan's extra cost; critics allege 'switch'
08:32 PM CST on Wednesday, November 5, 2003
By Victoria Loe Hicks / The Dallas Morning News
  Dallas council members expressed their determination Wednesday not to let a trifle like $110 million stand in the way of the city getting a first-class river project.
   In particular, several council members said it would be foolish to build lakes near downtown without including features such as moving water and pedestrian promenades to make them a magnet for visitors.
. . . In 1998, voters approved $246 million for the project. Agencies such as the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the state highway department have committed about $800 million.
. . . "I don't think we've ever known 100 percent of what it was going to cost until today," said council member Ed Oakley, chairman of the council's Trinity River Committee.
. . . Ms. Miller said Trinity Commons, a group devoted to seeing the river plan realized, is willing to hire a full-time employee to raise private money for the project. Council members applauded such efforts, but some said the council must accept the possibility of having to ask the voters for additional money as well.
. . . "Bait and switch is a harsh term," council member Sandy Greyson said. "But when you show people something wonderful in the spring and then in the fall say, 'You can't have it unless you find more money.' ..."
. . . Mayor Pro Tem John Loza echoed the sentiments of several council members when he urged the council not to accept a second-rate project. . . .


This is madness!.  We cannot pay our staff what they deserve.  We underpay our police and firefighters.  Our police officers drive around in overused and worn out Crown Victorias.  Our streets look they have been vandalized.  Many of our parks and rec centers have been vandalized by our lack of maintenance.  Water mains frequently break Downtown.  Our AAA bond rating is lost.

The council is acting like a chorus of Scarlett O'Hara's.  "I won't think about it today.  I will think about it tomorrow!"  In the end, that line of thinking did not work so well for Scarlett and will not work for Dallas. 

They might want to remember that the Trinity Bonddoogle only passed with less than 1% plurality.  There was no hue and cry for this project.  Half the city (probably more than half of the LEGAL voters) opposed it.  Do they think we went away?

That kind of thinking got us in our current mess.  Remember Annette Strauss on the cover of a business magazine proclaiming Dallas as a "Can Do" city because we had built a new city hall and symphony hall.  Too bad the picture could not show the sublevels below the city that are collapsing.

The week was not a total loss.  The council may put a conflicted attorney back on the Ethics Advisory Commission.  We may have to pay more money to fix our streets than when we were neglecting them.  We may divert another $110 Million from more important projects to drown in the Trinity Bonddoogle. 
 

But -- the council is looking at an ordinance to make it a $500 fine crime to take a shopping cart off the parking lot of the business  where it belongs.  It may not sound like much, but it's the most productive thing that will likely happen this month at City Hall.


 

                                        

    





                            

 

  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