Archive for the ‘Mayor’ Category

Dwaine Caraway Elected Mayor Pro Tem

June 22, 2009

The 2009-2011 City Council has now been seated and sworn in, and as you can see there are a couple of changes in the Mayor’s Office.

Dwaine Caraway is now the Mayor Pro Tem, and Pauline Medrano is now the Deputy Mayor Pro Tem.

A big welcome goes out to new Councilwomen Delia Jasso (District 1) and Ann Margolin (District 13).

Final Count: 147 Guns

February 28, 2009

I felt that the gun buyback went pretty well. You never know what to expect.

UPDATE: The youtube clips are up right here (btw, I also had no idea that Dwaine had over 65,000 youtube hits):

No one said it was the cure-all, but you have to respect the fact Dwaine is willing to try everything to make the city safer.

In total, 147 guns were turned in the police, no questions asked.

The stories that some people told really hit home; Matthew Haag from the DMN did a good job of covering that aspect of the story.

Even though the event officially started at 9am, one woman showed up at 7am with several guns.

From 8:30 on there was a steady stream of people. Contrary to what some claimed would be brought in, all types of weapons were turned in to DPD (including a Tec-9).

And yes, my buddy Trey Garrison showed up and talked with Dwaine and the Mayor.

The event was well-attended by the media; we’ll see what the actual coverage looks like.

Thanks to Stephanie, Esmeralda, DPD and the city staff that showed up to help. Thanks also go out to Charles Terrell of Safer Dallas, Better Dallas, Kroger, Schepps Dairy, Radio One (94.5 KSOUL and 97.9 The Beat) for sponsoring the event.

Check out the slideshow:

There is No Profit in Getting Along…for some

August 2, 2008

For some, there is no profit in getting along. For some, the fact that the Mayor has a great relationship with Dwaine is eating them alive. Some blogs and “news” outlets have a major problem with people getting along and our neighborhoods cleaning up and creating opportunities. They can’t profit when we are getting along.

A paper like the Dallas Observer serves this function. They can’t stand that the Mayor gets along with Dwaine and the majority of the council. They loved it when Laura Miller and Maxine Reese were clawing at each other up at the horseshoe. They didn’t care that the hood got worse and worse because nothing could get done at City Council. They still won’t let Lynn and Rufus rest in peace.

I remember when Observer called me for the Royce West cover story that came out last year, looking for dirt. I guess my quote was too positive, because it was never printed.

I remember when they called me 2-3 times about the story about Pastor Freddie Haynes a couple of months ago. There’s no need for me to call back, because I already know the play. I know people in the community that did return the Observer’s calls and talked at length about the Pastor Haynes story, and I told them that their comments would never make print. I was right.

It was just like when the Observer went out of their way to praise Guardian Management about how great they were, and how they were good Samaritans for using millions in tax credits to buy apartment complexes in Pleasant Grove. This is the company that owns Grove Village Apartments (just east of Loop 12 and Jim Miller) and Pleasant Village Apartments (just north of Loop 12 on Jim Miller). They also tried to say I was wrong when I called them out about the story. I’ve walked the streets of the Grove, and knocked on doors in that area. Everybody who knows anything about those two places knows that they don’t care one lick about their tenants. Every summer they’re on TV because their tenants haven’t had A/C for weeks. Both complexes cater to thugs which hold good tenants hostage, and do nothing about it. You see, that’s what happens when you drop in to do a quick story and don’t return. When you don’t know about the hood and don’t really want to be there to find out what’s happening, you write half-baked stories about it. And it shows.

I personally was glad for Dwaine to get the Observer cover story out of the way in March. I tried to be me, and have a good attitude about it, but I knew what the end result would be. Almost every positive thing written was tainted with skepticism or a “what’s in it for him” tone.

No one at the Observer, Jim Schutze in particular, can just believe that the Mayor and Dwaine don’t want to clean up the hood because it’s the right thing to do. They don’t believe that a southern Dallas councilperson can have an opinion about a major city project, especially one located downtown, without it having to be someone following what the business establishment or some powerful group wants to do. Maybe they just have the same opinion about things…imagine that. No, that would make too much sense. You need the manufactured conspiracy, supported by people’s ideals about what went on in Dallas way back in the day. In the Observer’s eyes, a southern Dallas councilperson can’t think for themselves. Notice I said southern Dallas councilpeople, not African-American. Our councilpeople south of I-30 include many races, and the Observer approaches them all in the same fashion (unless they support their side of an issue).

And that’s the rub. There’s no story in that; there’s no profit in people getting along and working together for the improvement of the community. Councilpeople and Mayors all over the country work together for that specific cause.

Just like the haters in the black community, which profited from the hood being in despair so they could get contracts and campaign for “a brighter day” that never came, they hate the way things are going right now. There’s nothing wrong with trying to get a contract to grow your business. But don’t hide under the guise of community service to get one and then let the community service disappear. Most of the attacks they made are baseless, because they aren’t even in the mix to know what’s going on.

But just like TMZ, there’s plenty of profit in manufacturing nonsense and keeping people at odds.

A sidenote: some of the haters have suggested that my enmity is because I wasn’t selected to work on a particular campaign. That’s pure foolishness. First, I’ve known the candidate involved for years, long before that person decided to run. He’s a great guy. Second, when it comes to campaigns I have a short memory. Third, I think my track record on campaigns is pretty good the past few years…basically everybody I helped in the last 2-3 years vs. the haters are in office except for one person. For them? Not so much. Most campaigns I work on I volunteer, so we can get good people in office. As a prominent Dallas leader told me a few months back, “we don’t need any more political consultants, we need leaders.”

I look at how many positive articles or blurbs have been written in the Observer recently about people that are trying to make a difference in southern Dallas, elected and unelected. There aren’t many.

It’s not about being sensitive to criticism or anything like that; it goes with the territory. I have been around politics all of my life, whether living in Dallas or somewhere else. But I can tell the difference between those that want to have an educated discourse or disagreement about real issues and those that simply want to stir up drama to keep us fighting with each other.

And there are people in the Black community that like to stir up nonsense as well. They have their own reasons, I guess, but most of it is because the hood is improving and they aren’t part of it. As I have written before, some people like to profit from pain.

It’s not an age thing either. I have plenty of people in the community to whom I listen that are 60, 70, 80-plus years old; it’s just not them. I know the difference between a hater and a mentor. A lot of the haters don’t have many young people around them. They avoided their chance to mentor the next generation so they could hold on to whatever power they had.

Notice when finding someone to talk bad about Dwaine, the Observer can never find a District Four resident to do it. That’s because the residents love what we’re doing. Come to our town hall meetings. You’ll see a few agitators, and we still work with them to get them help if we can. But most of the people are happy and are excited about the progress being made. Ask any of the major non-profits if they like what we’re doing in District Four. Ask residents if they get code and police response like never before. Or, put on your tin-foil hat and let the Observer keep you confused and running in circles.

The Observer never asks the haters, “what’s in it for them?” As one famous person once said, “we don’t believe you – you need more people.” I’ll take the community over a couple of rock throwers any day of the week.

The funny thing is that most of the big groups in north Dallas have volunteers that come to our communities and help clean up, and donate their time to worthy causes. We have people from all over DFW, that see us in action and know what we’re about. So they laugh when they see these stories, because they’re in our neighborhoods and see the improvement for themselves.

The haters find safe haven when talking to the Observer, but ask those haters when was the last time they were even in District Four doing anything of note. In the last year, have they ever knocked on the door of a drug house? Have they ever talked to the thugs on the corner and try to encourage them to start a new life? Have they taken bus loads of kids out of the hood to expose them to positive things? Have they been to one funeral of a kid claimed by teen violence, to try to promote peace? The answer is: NO.

If you watch the movie Street Fight which talked about Cory Booker going up against the “establishment” in Newark you’ll draw a lot of parallels to Dwaine’s fight to get in office. Just like Cory, Dwaine broke through after some defeats and things are looking up.

Maybe I’m helping the Observer and the haters, because then they’ll link to this story and probably publish an article about it. Whatever.

But I want people that don’t come to the hood and think that they are getting an accurate picture of what’s going on to know what’s really happening. There’s a difference between being anti-establishment and trying to stir up a bunch of drama and hate to keep us running in circles. The Observer is mostly about the latter.

The haters? They hate everything we are trying to do. If they hate everything we do, do they like motels, crack houses, and crime? Do they hate seniors being able to sit on the front porch without getting hit in the head? Do they hate the fact that the motels are being torn down across from the VA Hospital with job training centers being built where the motels once stood, and that the VA may expand with positive residential development?

I guess you can’t please everyone, but all this does is take the focus off of what’s important. This is like the John McCain/Britney Spears ad; with all of the real issues going on THIS is what we’re talking about? This is what happens when we start focusing inward instead of thinking about how the community can improve, even if we’re not part of everything that goes down.

Click on the any of the tags that you see below this post, you’ll see what’s happening in District Four.

Bottom line: we have love where it counts…on the streets and at polls. The haters can’t do anything about it.

Hate that.

Mayor Leppert and the Homeless – Under the Radar

July 23, 2008

I came across this post on The Intermittent Volunteer’s Weblog, which talks about our Mayor and his involvement with issues involving the homeless.

Note that the poster said there were no cameras or press; just an engaged Mayor giving some of his time to pitch in. Says Karen Shafer, the blog’s owner:

He could easily show up for a photo-op (no press were present at this event), he could stay behind the glass counter, he could come and go quickly and say he’d made ‘a stop.’ He doesn’t. For the third time since I’ve known him, he’s come out among the homeless, touched them, talked to them at length one to one, spent time with them as though he did not have pressing time concerns.

For those of us that know the Mayor, this is nothing new. We appreciate the Mayor’s efforts in making Dallas a better city, and it’s good that people notice the efforts.

Some Great Things Happened at City Hall Yesterday

May 29, 2008

As you’ve probably heard, yesterday’s City Hall meeting went into the evening. However, a lot of things happened yesterday.

The hot-sheet motels across from Veterans Hospital will be torn down and a job training center with office space will be built in its place. The Urban League and City Wide CDC are partnering up to bring this great development to South Oak Cliff. When Dwaine Caraway, Bishop McGriff and the Church of the Living God, the Urban League, and I worked to close the Sunset Motel and the Southern Comfort motel, this was what we had in mind. The goal was to rid the community of blight and crime havens and to have positive things in its place. As you know, the first motel the Dwaine and I helped to shut down in South Dallas has been demolished and a community/health center is being built. Thank you to the Mayor and City Council for making this a unanimous vote.

People that are stopped for traffic violations and do not have insurance will be towed. This is a significant step in Dallas, and this has already happened in other major cities. In this issue, I look at it as protecting the single Mom with kids that has her car totaled when she’s hit by an uninsured driver. There are strong feelings on both sides of this issue, but as it has in other large cities this will be proven to be a good thing as time goes on. Even though I’m on the younger side, our liability insurance costs $220 for 6 months, which is $36-37 per month (about $1.20 per day). That’s much cheaper than the ticket.

The towing vote was 10-5 as follows:

Voting for it: Mayor Tom Leppert, Deputy Mayor Pro Tem Dwaine Caraway and council members Sheffie Kadane, Linda Koop, Mitchell Rasansky, Carolyn Davis, Ron Natinsky, Dave Neumann, Angela Hunt and Jerry Allen.

Voting against: Mayor Pro Tem Garcia, and council members Salazar, Medrano, Atkins, and Hill

Larry James, John Greenan, and CDM got more funding for their Citywalk project. I have written about this project in the past, and it will be a great step in ending chronic homelessness in Dallas.

Dallas’ scrap metal ordinances were strengthened yesterday. We must combat this plague and place as many roadblocks as we can in this insidious practice that is severely impacting our neighborhoods, and we don’t need to wait for other cities or counties to toughen up to do so.

The St. Regis hotel/condo project was approved. This $200 million+ development (with no tax abatements) will add needed property taxes to the city once its completed.

All in all, it was a great day at City Hall and a great day for Dallas.

The Mayor is Listening! Convenience Store Crime is being Addressed

May 28, 2008

For some time, I have been writing about convenience store crime in the City of Dallas. I am glad the Mayor and DPD are working to assemble a group that will make recommendations to address this issue. The panel is tentatively called the Mayor’s Convenience Store Crime Task Force.

According to reports, DPD officers responded to more than 6,300 calls to convenience stores from 2004-2007. These recommendations should come back to council committee near the end of June.
Here’s the clip from CBS 11 news:

Live Blog of Convention Center Land Purchase Vote

May 14, 2008

This vote, which involves the city of Dallas essentially committing to build the hotel, is one that will change our city.

I will be live blogging the folks that are in support/against of this hotel:

Vote Tally: 5-1

So far:
Mayor Tom Leppert: In support
Deputy Mayor Pro Tem Dwaine Caraway: In support
CM Natinsky: Made the motion, In support
CM Allen: Seconded the motion, therefore in support
CW Davis: In support

Mayor Tom Leppert: Why our city needs to finance and own a convention center hotel

May 14, 2008

This is a reprint of the DMN op-ed written by Mayor Tom Leppert on the Convention Center Hotel. Most things that have been written on blogs are by folks that are against the hotel, so I wanted to post something that supported it:

The full op-ed is after the jump.

This week the Dallas City Council considers moving forward to buy the land for a convention center hotel and for the city to finance and own the hotel itself. With such an important decision ahead, I want to answer some key questions so taxpayers know their City Council is moving forward in a fiscally responsible way. Why is this so important?

The Dallas Convention Center is a $1 billion asset for the city, an economic engine we must protect. But without an attached hotel, its financial future and Dallas taxpayers are at risk. Each year, more major conventions ­ those bringing 20,000 to 50,000 people ­ won’t even consider Dallas without a convention center hotel. That means less revenue to service the center’s existing debt. If that decline continues, taxpayers will have to fill the gap. Like any business, we must reinvest to remain relevant to our customers and compete.

Is convention business that significant?

Yes! In 2005, the hospitality industry had a $2.6 billion economic impact in Dallas and supported 50,000 jobs, and those visitors reduced our property tax burden. Convention-goers spend on average $290 a day, including sales, hotel, ticket and car rental taxes. When they go home, we don’t have to educate their kids or pick up their weekly trash. Without tourists, Dallas homeowners would pay on average another $844 a year in taxes to make up that revenue gap.

Why is the land at Young and Lamar streets the right choice?

More bang for our buck. The eight-acre site next to the center will house the 1,200-room hotel and the meeting and ballroom space our customers say we lack. It also leaves room for a retail-entertainment venue and creates an economic engine, an anchor in that part of downtown to draw conventioneers into the West End, downtown core and Victory Park, reinforcing the exciting things happening there now.

Will the city run the hotel?

No, the city will hire a professional hotel chain to operate the hotel. The city will simply own the structure. This isn’t unusual. The city owns the American Airlines Center but contracts with someone else to operate it, and that facility is considered a resounding success.

Why would the city finance and own the hotel?

Because the city can issue tax-exempt bonds, borrowing costs are dramatically reduced. And expert analysis shows a solid, positive cash flow from day one. Other cities have done this too. Houston, Denver, Phoenix, Chicago and more have financed and own their convention center hotels. With private ownership, the city would have to pay cash out of pocket, fund a significant financial gap and never get that money back. Owning the hotel is clearly the best deal.

What is the risk?

While Dallas taxpayers are ultimately responsible for the debt, the financing will be structured with several stopgaps in place, including $50 million in reserves. So, if tourism takes another 9/11 type hit, those reserves all would be tapped before taxpayers.

Shouldn’t the private sector build this?

Ideally, we’d all prefer that. But while we’ve waited for those perfect economic conditions, other cities have built their own hotels and lured away conventions. Houston was never a major competitor of ours. It is now. And its hotel has proven so successful, Houston is selling it and using the profits to build a second hotel.

Won’t this hurt other hotels?

It will offer some competition, but other hotels will also benefit as major conventions return to Dallas. When a convention draws 30,000 people, only so many of them can stay in a 1,200-room convention center hotel. In fact, cities like Denver have seen their hotels perform better once a convention center hotel has come in.

Wednesday’s vote will be a crucial step for Dallas, and could send a very clear signal that Dallas is confident and able to compete. With all the exciting things going on in our city, we clearly believe that, with a level playing field, Dallas will regain its convention standing as a world-class destination.

You’re Kidding…Right?

December 5, 2007

I have had some great meetings and built some relationships with folks at the Dallas Morning News surrounding the reporting of the paper and how it can be improved with respect to southern Dallas. Some of the writers do a great job, and many of the editors “get it” and are working to improve media-community relations. Some don’t.

I read today’s DMN paper and saw that there was an article written by one of the metro writers about the holiday party that some of the council attended a couple of days back. Also included in that article was a mention of the council retreat that occurred just after the inauguration.

Two words: who cares!

Really…are we seriously concerned with the City Council retreat from last summer? Who in the ‘hood really cares about if the Mayor and other officials went to someone’s Christmas party? So if I have a party at my place and invite the Mayor, some councilpeople, and others I have to invite a couple of reporters or everybody gets upset? It’s ridiculous. Plus, Dave Levinthal already covered the topic when it happened. To Dave’s credit, today he chose to write about the gift made to a Fair Park-area community that will transform the neighborhood.

It may make a couple people read but it does very little to effect real things in this city. People don’t care. We care about real issues. I care that the Mayor is constantly in Oak Cliff to bring the issues straight to negligent motel owners and derelict drug-house operators.

Thanks to reporters like Dave Levinthal and Scott Goldstein; the DMN should take good care of them. They are respected reporters in the community; you have to get out of the office to make that happen.

Where Have You Been?

October 31, 2007

People keep asking me where have I been on the Trinity referendum. Here’s your answer – I dropped out of the campaign a while back.

The bottom line is this. There are certain people I will never work with. You can guess who they are.

I also don’t agree with people coming down to City Council and campaigning during the public speaking time. Period – no excuses. It makes a mockery out of the process and is fake citizenry. Someone with concerns about crime, safety, and other issues gets bumped off of the morning Council schedule because it’s clogged with campaigners. If Vote No sent a bunch of people down there people on the other side would be crying foul.

You also don’t insult the intelligence of Black voters by using a flyer with Laura Miller plastered all over it. I’ve taken my hits at Laura, but she’s not even in office anymore.

I have been around politics my whole life, and this is a rule that should always be observed. Disagreement is one thing, but pseudo-civil unrest is another. Could you imagine how much of a circus the City Council meetings would have been in May and June if everyone that spoke at Council was tied to a Mayoral candidate?

There are people on the Vote No side for which I have a tremendous level of respect. And for fake civil discourse to be used to sully their reputations is not right. Dwaine, Tom Leppert, Jerry Allen, Dave Neumann, Linda Koop, and others deserve better. I don’t support any of that type of nonsense.

Make sure you go vote by next Tuesday.

You asked – and now you know.