Archive for May, 2009

Pools and Recreation Centers are Needed

May 30, 2009

I just came across an editorial from the DMN that talks about the budget decisions that the City Council will have to make.

While it is true that the City Council is going to have to make some difficult decisions, the article is looking at the wrong items. I may have a different opinion than council on the necessity for bill pay stations, but pools and rec centers are needed.

Most affluent neighborhoods are home to many families that have their own personal pool. I would guess that a few of those same residents have basketball hoops and exercise rooms as well. There’s no 24-Hour Fitness in South Dallas or Pleasant Grove, just so you know.

In southern Dallas, there are very few families with pools and other centers for recreation. Other than a scattering of YMCAs, which are usually at capacity, there’s not much cheap recreation. Oak Cliff has two YMCAs; South Dallas has one Y. Southeast Dallas? No YMCAs. Where are the kids going to go?

I wonder if they read this line item in the budget workshop report put together by city staff with respect to the pools (on page 119). It reads:

The 135,000 participants who visited these facilities in the past will not be served and the opportunity to conduct the 1,650 Teach A Child To Swim lessons will be lost.

The editorial is also written in a condescending tone which I don’t appreciate; I doubt the 135,000 citizens that use the pools would either. Closing of city pools has been a constant drumbeat of the DMN for some time. They wrote a similar article in July of 2008 (payment required).

When you close rec centers, you also close all of the programs for kids and seniors. For kids, this is their only safe haven from the perils of their neighborhood.

This runs counter to their “north-south project” for which the DMN is advocating. Idol time is a danger to our children; the pools and rec centers need to stay open. I know of 135,000 people that feel the same way.

Ideas for Our City

May 26, 2009

One thing I have noticed is that some of the best ideas regarding controversial issues can be found in the comments sections of various blogs and forums. Part of the problems is that those ideas stay mired in comment sections along with those from trolls who cut and paste hateful thoughts to as many blogs that they can find. Most people skip past them and move to the next hot headline.

These great ideas will languish in cyberspace unless you give them a bigger forum.

There are many opportunities for public comment during City Hall proceedings. Why don’t you bring those good ideas to someone that can do something about it? Put yourself and your ideas for positive change on the record. Just a thought.

Two Elected Officials that Care about Education

May 19, 2009

A lot of people think that all the Mayor and others are thinking about is the Convention Center Hotel. It’s easy to fall into the trap because the haters post more blog comments and call radio stations every single week. Really, it boils down to a lot of hating by a small handful of vocal people.

Meanwhile:

Here is a video clip from last Monday, in which Mayor Leppert is talking about the West Dallas Education Task Force. According to their website: The primary goal of the West Dallas Education Task Force is to “establish a multi-faceted network of public and private schools offering excellent educational options to West Dallas families.” This ties into the Mayor’s belief that improvement starts with education.

Also, as we speak Dwaine Caraway is in the middle of his “Teen Summit on the road” trip as he takes 200 underprivileged kids to Austin for education and experiences at our State Capitol. A similar trip occurred last year, when we traveled to Houston and Galveston with no city tax dollars involved.

I would bet that both of them have visited more than 100 schools since they took office to talk to students about their future.

While people are busy hating on the Mayor and Dwaine, all they have to do is look beyond the everyday nonsense to see the types of things they are doing on a regular basis to positively affect the lives of Dallas youth.

Tweeting for Food

May 13, 2009

Nancy Nichols of D Magazine (whose food recommendations have made me look good on more than one occasion) found this article in WaPo. It’s about a food truck that tweets its location as it moves through the city.

This is the kind of cool stuff that I want to make its way to Dallas. Tell me: would you sign up for tweets for lunch? I know a few restaurants that send out their specials via Twitter, so to me this is the next step.

Hot Dog Vendors = A Real Downtown

May 12, 2009

I saw this article in the paper, where a local restaturant owner is trying to get rid of a hot dog vendor that’s on the corner of Main and Ervay.

Vinny Navarro, the cart owner, got a permit from the city. He followed the rules.

Maybe the restaurant owner should think about it this way: someone walks by on their lunch break to get a hot dog…while waiting, they notice the restaurant and make note to check out the restaurant for dinner. Everybody wins!

According to the article, Vinny even sells hot dogs until 3am on club nights. To me, that’s genius. Back home, when the clubs let out there are certain food places that get tons of business. Go by a Williams Chicken at 2am and you’ll see what I’m talking about.

We were real excited when we saw the hot dog vendor on Main. To us, It’s a sign that downtown is growing and foot traffic is increasing to the point where someone is trying to make a living as a vendor. You want a “real” downtown? Well, a real downtown includes vendors along with sidewalk musicians and people like that.

As long as no one is down there selling gold chains from the inside of their trench coat, I’m cool with it.

We Won

May 9, 2009

As if you didn’t know, the hotel vote passed tonight. Rather than gloat, I think I pretty much summed up my feelings in my post earlier in the week.

I am proud of all the people that rolled with the punches and worked so hard to make this possible. When we were outspent 6-1, and the early vote was almost even I knew we would win. In a lot of places, especially southern Dallas, you could see that Vote Yes had the money but no idea how to effectively spend and appropriate dollars in a political campaign.

I was especially proud of Jerry Allen, who won his District 10 council race by a sizable margin even though he was the victim of a hit job by one of Dallas’ weekly papers which was picked up by Vote Yes. For the entire campaign said paper and Vote Yes seemed to be the same organization. I was glad to help Jerry in certain neighborhoods, and that his constituents could see through the smokescreens.

There are two runoffs in June, so it will be another month before we learn who will be on the 2009-2011 City Council.

This is why You should Vote No

May 6, 2009

You know my track record. For years I have been standing up for you and making sure that your voice is being heard at City Hall.

Let me tell you about my journey to Dallas. I looked at cities all around the country, and after going to school in Atlanta I knew I wanted to be somewhere vibrant, progressive and on the move. So I moved here.

Just like you, I did not pick up my entire life to move somewhere dead and stagnant. A lot of you are in the same boat. We could live anywhere, and we chose Dallas and have stayed in Dallas. A lot of folks that are from Dallas have stayed here for the same reason. We are in this fight together!

This is a long post but I have to make sure you fully understand what’s going on here. These are important issues and crucial times.

So let’s get down to business:

This is about two propositions on the ballot that both jeopardize the future of this city. Proposition 1 is about the hotel. Proposition 2 is about limiting the city’s ability to attract and recruit companies.

WHY VOTE NO (instead of Vote Yes):

There has been a lot of confusion as what “Vote No” means and what “Vote Yes” means. It’s set up this way because the people against us are the ones that wrote these propositions. It’s meant to confuse people into voting YES because a lot of us support these projects and this city moving forward.

In this case, vote no means you are for Dallas moving forward.

Let’s look at the hotel first:

If you Vote No, the city will be allowed to help finance the building of hotels within the city of Dallas.

The other side and their $5 million are claiming that hotels are empty, and we shouldn’t do it. You do have to wonder why someone that owns a hotel would spent $5 million if they thought the hotel wouldn’t be a success.

Well, 30 Dallas hotels are supporting Vote No. The hotels that are closest to the location to the Convention Center support it, including the Hyatt Regency and the Adolphus Hotel.

Why? Well if a convention brings 10,000 room nights, and the convention hotel has just 1,000 rooms guess where else they stay? The other hotels!

Here’s a question that I see often: If it’s such a great deal, why doesn’t someone build it privately? The answer is twofold: The city can get a lower interest rate than a private company. The threshold for private industry and their cost of capital is different than the city. Also, the city cares about the overall tax base as well as the economic impact and revenue generated, which is something a private developer doesn’t care about. It’s that simple.

People can say it’s the wrong time to build, but Denver built theirs in 2001 right after 9/11 when it was said that people won’t fly anymore. Denver’s hotel is profitable.

The anti’s also keep comparing Dallas to St. Louis, whose hotel has gone into foreclosure. The difference between Dallas and St. Louis has already been addressed on this blog.

Remember: we lost the Dallas Cowboys, the Texas Motor Speedway, and other things because we bent to people that didn’t want development. What the anti-hotel people aren’t telling you is that in the last 5 years we have lost conventions and tons of money because we don’t have an attached convention center hotel. We have lost conventions that would have brought in $1.5 billion of economic impact.

We cannot attract large conventions if we don’t have an attached convention hotel, and it’s for weather days just like we’ve had the last few weeks. Nobody wants to walk three blocks to a convention in the rain or in 90-degree heat with all of their books and packages. That’s why we’re losing. If you look at the list, the reason next to almost every “decline” of Dallas being chosen is lack of attached Convention Center Hotel.

If we can’t bring in tourists to generate revenue, then we have to make up the difference through higher taxes. Wouldn’t you rather have tourists help pay for what we need?

We are already in the hotel business at DFW airport with the Hyatt – and it’s successful. The DFW Hyatt was financed the same way as our proposed hotel, but not one peep from any anti-hotel people. Why is that? We’ve been waiting for the response for months.

If convention center hotels aren’t needed how can places like the Gaylord Hotel & Convention Center, in the middle of nothing but an outlet mall and a Bass Pro Shop, charge higher rates than those proposed for the Dallas Convention Center hotel? I know. A couple of months ago, we paid more than $200 a night to stay at the Gaylord for a retreat. The food was expensive. The parking was expensive. We still paid it, and I’m sure the City of Grapevine appreciated the revenue.

I found it strange that the anti’s have always said that the Mayor made it personal, when it was the Vote Yes side that immediately called the Mayor arrogant and has continued the name-calling throughout the campaign. However, notice that when it came time to debate in Southern Dallas last Sunday (the day before early voting), the event was ignored and they had to find someone to stand in at the last minute. The Mayor and the hotel supporters at City Council have been accessible to address questions and concerns.

I have to talk about the attacks on our Mayor and City Council. What kills me the most is that I see our Mayor and Deputy Mayor everywhere in the city trying to affect change! The Mayor said in his campaign and his inauguration speech that the hotel was a priority.

Consider some of the sources of most of the anti-hotel sentiment.

When you have so-called papers like the Observer chasing down the Dallas residents who are in the pro-hotel ads for quotes, I wonder if they did the same to the actors in the Vote Yes ads. We know the answer. Their whole existence for publishing seems to be to create an anti-campaign against Mayor Leppert, Deputy Mayor Pro Tem Dwaine Caraway, and anyone else that supports southern Dallas. The campaign has been an epic FAIL so far. After the elected officials, the Observer went after the Black churches. It never stops.

One Dallas Observer political writer lives in Frisco, and the other thinks southern Dallas is a third-world slum. Why is this important? Because if the area that you live in has development and all of the things that other neighborhoods don’t have, why wouldn’t you want other areas to have a chance to thrive?

Such a campaign will continue to be an Epic FAIL as Caraway has no legit election competition and most people in southern Dallas continue to see the Mayor work and be seen in southern Dallas. The newspaper that gave us Laura Miller as Mayor is in no place to dictate who should be the Mayor, Deputy Mayor or any other elected position.

AND WHAT ABOUT THE POTENTIAL $$$

$500 million of economic impact is already on the hook if the hotel gets built – these are conventions that are definite if the hotel gets built! In addition, there is another $1.9 Billion in economic impact under consideration from other conventions based on the hotel being built. WE CAN’T AFFORD TO TURN OUR BACK ON THAT OPPORTUNITY!

The city is losing more business than the hotel would cost. Again, we have lost $1.5 Billion in economic impact because of the lack of an attached convention center hotel. $2.4 billion dollars of economic impact and $800 million in direct spending is waiting for us if we VOTE NO!

They also aren’t talking about the things that will go around the hotel, such as more restaurants and shops in this part of downtown. A minor-league baseball park on Industrial that wants to be there BECAUSE of the foot traffic and spending that will come with hotel visitors.

Also remember the jobs: 3,000 jobs during construction of the hotel. 800 permanent jobs, and the thousands of jobs at surrounding places as this part of downtown gets developed! The haters hold their nose at hotel jobs, but these jobs feed families.

If Prop 1 passes, then the city could be bound from doing any type of financing deal for a hotel which includes incentives. Prop 1 is so badly worded that this may be the case.

Is there a risk? Yes. There’s risk in anything, and there’s also reward. We have paid the price time and again for sitting on our hands.

Let’s look at Proposition Two:

Proposition 2 will require Dallas to conduct a citywide vote each time it wants to offer $1 million or more in subsidies to private developers of hotels, condominiums and retail facilities-when just 500 Dallas voters petition for such a vote.

No company or developer is going to wait until next May or November while we have an election. If we cannot help to finance economic development and recruiting of companies, this city will dry up.

Proposition 2 will prevent the city from being able to recruit companies and generate jobs and business in the same way as other cities.

This is a fight against business as usual.

In both cases, we have to decide if one small group is going to decide our future and the future of this city. I don’t want that, and if you’re willing to stand with me and with us, we can succeed.

We finally have a Mayor and City Council (well…most of them, anyway) that understands that to build a great city you must build south of I-30 as well as downtown.

We won’t be able to effectively bring back South Dallas, Oak Cliff, Pleasant Grove, and West Dallas if we don’t VOTE NO. How are we going to pay for it if we don’t VOTE NO?

Now that early voting is over, the election is May 9th.

I want you to vote and to get your friends to vote just like you did last November because it’s just that important. VOTE NO FOR YOUR FUTURE – VOTE NO and SAVE DALLAS.

Find your Election Day polling place
(link)

Demonstration of Touch Screen Voting Machine (Flash player required) (link)

Services Available to Voters with Special Needs in Texas (link)

Early Voting – Last Two Days

May 4, 2009

My vote is in….is yours?

Remember, you can vote at any voting location no matter where you live in the city. Don’t forget to Vote No on Prop 1 and 2, and to vote for your city councilperson.

Of course I voted no; anti-hotel ads using the Texas Tea Party with people “holding” Vote Yes signs didn’t sway me . You know that those logo’s were done via CGI and not from any real rally, right?

You know that the last claimed “independent study” and “guest column” was paid for by the anti-hotel group, right? Was that part of the $5 million they spent on this campaign or was that separate?

You know that Dallas is already in the hotel business with the Hyatt at DFW, right? Did you know that the Grand Hyatt DFW is turning a profit? (see question #11)

Just curious.

Early Voting: until Tuesday May 5, 2009
http://www.dalcoelections.org/may92009/EARLYVOTINGLocations.html

Election Day: Saturday May 9th.

Check your voter registration by name or address
http://www.dalcoelections.org/voters.asp

Demonstration of Touch Screen Voting Machine (Flash player required)
http://www.essvote.com/flash/demo.html

Services Available to Voters with Special Needs in Texas
http://www.sos.state.tx.us/elections/pamphlets/services.shtml

State of Texas Early Voting Rules
http://www.sos.state.tx.us/elections/pamphlets/earlyvote.shtml

Google Map of All Dallas Early Voting Locations
http://tinyurl.com/alldallasearlyvotingspots