Archive for the ‘Crime’ Category

Stop the Violence Press Conference

May 5, 2010

Please join me, Mayor Pro Tem Dwaine Caraway, Rickey Smiley, Tom Joyner, District Attorney Craig Watkins, and local religious and community leaders today for a Stop the Violence press conference.  We are trying to shed light on a continuing problem in Dallas, and an announcement will be made towards that goal.

Time: 2pm
Location: Dallas City Hall, 6th Floor Flag Room

We hope to see you there.


Congrats to New Dallas Police Chief David Brown

April 28, 2010

I am so proud of Chief Brown as he has been named Dallas’ Chief of Police. He really cares about neighborhoods and getting rid of crime. I have always looked up to him and admired his courage. He does not play. Congrats and much love to the new Chief!

In addition to being a graduate of product of South Oak Cliff High School, he also has an MBA. He worked his way through the police ranks in Dallas.

Chief Brown also requested his new First Assistant Chief Charlie Cato get the chance to work in City Hall, as Chief Brown did as an Assistant City Manager. Chief Brown is already mentoring and setting up the future; THAT’S a leader!

I wish Chief Brown the best as he becomes Dallas’ top cop. The appointment is well deserved.

Full Press Conference Video from CBS 11

DMN Editorial: HUD props up an apartment complex failing its tenants

March 17, 2010
The following editorial follows up on an article written by the Dallas Morning News on Sunday.  I also wrote about the same article. This is such an important issue, I am going to print the entire editorial in its entirety. 
The one thing I question is if any landlord has ever “walked away” from a building because of the pressure from HUD or any other public entity. I am very curious to know the answer.
Next, the editorial.
Editorial: HUD props up an apartment complex failing its tenants
  Dallas Morning News 06:24 PM CDT on Tuesday, March 16, 2010
Harvard-educated Rene Campos Jr. made a fortune by buying, rehabilitating and reselling distressed private apartment properties. Today, at 46, he lives in a million-dollar University Park home, owns a $4 million vacation property in Hawaii, plays polo, rides a custom motorcycle and drives a Land Rover.
Nothing wrong with being wealthy.

The problem is whether Campos and his investment company, Eureka Holdings, are living up to his self-described “mantra”: “We provide clean, safe, affordable housing for people.”

Eureka’s tenants at the Ridgecrest Terrace apartments in west Oak Cliff might beg to differ. Despite a constant stream of federal rent subsidies to the complex – including $1.5 million from the latest stimulus package – they describe a hellish swirl of drug activity, mold and mildew simply painted over, carpet so filthy it causes blackened feet and rashes, water-leak stains on walls.

Our issue isn’t just with Campos, a guy apparently more concerned with maximizing income by holding down expenses than with fulfilling housing commitments. It’s also with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, which lets him get away with it.

Campos’ stimulus windfall was part of a $2 billion HUD effort to ensure that HUD-contracted landlords received a full year of rent subsidy payments. Ridgecrest Terrace was one of 14 Dallas County properties – nine in southern Dallas – to benefit. This, despite a record of failed HUD property inspections (later overturned on appeal), a city lawsuit to force repairs of substandard conditions (later settled) and the property’s failure to file audited financial statements on time (leading to a $3,000 fine).

If Campos is a slumlord, he’s giving other slumlords a bad name. HUD’s inability to separate worthy property owners from the chaff confirms criticisms of the $787 billion stimulus as larded with fraud and waste.

HUD’s response to this newspaper’s Steve McGonigle, whose research and reporting produced the Ridgecrest Terrace revelations, was dispiriting. A spokesman in Washington tried to explain the “delicate balance” between holding landlords accountable and making sure even the poor had decent housing. HUD supervisors locally and in Washington chose to not respond.

Campos tried to explain his side by blaming city vendettas for many of his problems at Ridgecrest Terrace.

Caught in the middle, of course, are the tenants, who just want that “clean, safe, affordable housing.” Landlords have the ultimate hammer, which is walking away if HUD leans on them too hard. With so much of southern Dallas’ housing stock tied up in complexes like Ridgecrest Terrace, tossing families into the street is a black eye HUD and the city don’t need.

Neither is looking away while people with few other options live in squalor.

If You Don’t Give Eric Johnson a Chance, I have No Words for You

March 16, 2010
Anyone with a pulse can read this interview with incoming District 100 State Representative Eric Johnson and see that he has something special going for him. 
I guess where I differ than some is that I feel Eric would’ve won regardless of any indictment looming over the incumbent. I believe he would’ve won anyway.  
Eric was willing to work for your vote.  He and his wife were everywhere…from the MLK DART station, to East and Southeast Dallas, to West Dallas and beyond.  It will be good to see if he actually owns any clothing other than suits or campaign shirts, since that’s what it seems like he’s been wearing for the last nine months.
Equally important, when he spoke or wrote, he had ideas. He didn’t hide when questioned about his campaign, he admitted mistakes, and he kept working.  The voters of his district took notice; and that’s why he won.
This race speaks to one of the core issues in Dallas, and probably in other impoverished neighborhoods nationwide.  To me, there is a general lack of political mentorship in southern Dallas, of which the end result is incumbents who win time and again based on the fact that “they’re there” so to speak.  
What also results is entire neighborhoods that exist in a virtual tailspin of mediocrity, hamstrung by the lack of original ideas and political will to change things.  It’s almost like some entrenched politicians avoid new ideas as if it’s an indictment of their leadership.  It’s not.  That’s the equivalent of sticking with Windows Me when Vista has been around for years and Windows 7 has been released.
There are some exceptions, but for the most part I am correct. There are some political leaders that will shrug off what I wrote, and that’s fine.  There are exceptions in Dallas to what I’ve written in this piece. However, if it makes you upset, take someone under your wing and prove me wrong. We need positive, encouraging guidance to continue improving our communities in the future.  
Go forth Eric, do your best to bring your ideas to fruition and uplift District 100.

Owner of Oak Cliff Apartment Complex Sees Nothing Wrong with Mold, Drug Baggies, and Unhealthy Apartments

March 14, 2010
This article is in today’s Dallas Morning News. Read for yourself.
The blog Katy’s Exposure also says what I already know, having lived in an apartment with mold.

And regarding the skin rashes from the carpet, that is from the mold coming from the vents.

The reasoning that such conditions are OK just because it’s Section 8 housing has nothing to do with the interior quality in the apartments. Nobody is asking the owner to put a fountain or media room in the middle of the complex. You take the government money to provide safe housing for lower-income people.  That means the outside environment should be safe as well as the inside.  In addition to mold, I have lived places with termites, roaches pouring out of crevices, rats, mice, and other issues.  I was blessed to be able to move; everyone is not. 
This article disgusts me. Poor people deserve to live without mold, drug baggies all over, and leaking walls. This owner should be ashamed of himself, but obviously he is not.

This is a front page article in the Sunday edition of the Dallas Morning News; it doesn’t get much bigger than that. Hopefully some elected official reads this article and does something about it. It’s obvious that the owner could care less.

The Six Finalists for the Next Dallas Chief of Police

March 8, 2010
H/t to Rudy Bush from the DMN on this one:
The finalists for chief are:
Art Acevedo, Austin chief of police
David O. Brown, Dallas first assistant chief
Robert L. Davis, San Jose, CA chief of police
Daniel V. Garcia, Dallas assistant chief
Floyd D. Simpson, Dallas assistant chief
Robert Crump White, Louisville, KY police chief

Public Meetings to Discuss the DPD Police Chief Search

January 26, 2010
There are two neighborhood meetings left at which the City of Dallas will be gathering input from residents and business owners for the process of selecting a new police chief. Residents and business owners can also take an on-line survey.
The link to the survey is here.
The last two meetings are listed below:

January 26, 2010 (tonight)
6 p.m. – 7:30 p.m.
Beckley-Saner Recreation Center; 114 W. Hobson (map)

February 2, 2010
6 p.m. – 7:30 p.m.
Walnut Hill Recreation Center; 10011 Midway Road (map)

Two More Southern Dallas Motels Set to Close

January 15, 2010
In Council District Four, two more hot-sheet motels are set to close. Both are in the Piedmont neighborhood in Dallas. The motels are:
Sundial Motel at Buckner & Ricardo (map)
Luxury Inn Motel near Buckner & Scyene (map) – pictured below
Both motels were magnets for prostitution and other crimes.
The motels are set to close in January 2011.  In addition, regulations requiring landscaping and displays to be much closer to the storefronts (e.g. racks of tires and rims) and not along the streets and sidewalks.
Other motels will be announced in the coming months.

Transformation has No Limits

December 8, 2009
I remember reading the story about a small block in the Fishtown neighborhood of Philadelphia some years ago.  The story detailed the 2500 block of East Gordon Street, once called “The Skid Row of Fishtown.”  It was a block so dangerous, it is the only block in the area without a Google Maps Street View image.  It was essentially an alley with houses.
I remember reading the first article like it was yesterday.  The block reminded me of the the one that held my late Grandmother’s house, a street so small you had to park your car 3/4 on the curb so cars could get through.

Now, according to the new story, the Lost Block has been awarded Philadelphia’s Most Beautiful.
This can be done in any city.  It didn’t require one politician.  It took a group of determined neighbors that said “enough is enough.”
There’s not much I can add, but I hope that this story will inspire you to work to clean up your own neighborhood. It may take years (eight years in the case of Gordon Street), but it can be done.

Sign Blight Ordinance is Needed

November 12, 2009
This week  has brought news that the City of Dallas is being sued to fight the sign blight ordinance that was enacted last year. Apparently the plaintiffs feel that their free speech is being violated, when the reality is that the city is trying to clean up its neighborhoods.  Corporations like 7/11 have their own store rules and do not permit excessive covering of windows, and it would be nice if all stores would follow suit and clean up a bit.
When you go downtown to Neiman Marcus, they don’t have 10 signs papering the windows. You know what Neiman’s is offering inside. Well, the same theory should apply to stores and businesses throughout the city. Sharon Grigsby of the DMN states need need for such an ordinance here.
I know that the City Attorney’s office is confident that this case can be defended. This ordinance took quite a long time to be presented to City Council to make sure it would stand against the inevitable lawsuits by various groups.
Dallas’ ordinance leaves ample opportunity for businesses to promote at their location. I’m glad the city is deciding to fight. For neighborhoods like Oak Cliff, South Dallas, and others, such an ordinance is needed.