Archive for the ‘Politics’ Category

My Response to Jim Schutze’s Post on May 10th

May 11, 2010

While the response below was included in the following blog posts (post one, post two),  in a issue so serious I felt the need to respond in a separate post. The answer to a question that he poses to me personally is also included.

Notice that even in Jim Schutze’s response dated Monday, May 10th he still hasn’t read the minutes that mentioned people opposed or the fact Oak Cliff Metals has illegally using land for years, nor why he bemoans the supposed fiefdoms of 14-1 except for this issue.  

It’s much more convenient when Schutze tries to make it a conspiracy headed by the Dallas Morning News.  The attempt to cloud the real issues with childish name calling is something I would expect from a high-school newspaper.  And if the best he can do is refer to me as a “little hench guy,” then I’ll just keep responding with facts.  For a so-called investigative reporter to use such a tone in such a serious issue makes him seem irrational and ridiculous.  It’s par for the course; the bully can’t take a punch back.  He’s done it before, and will again. 

Schutze only got involved after he thought he had a scoop on Mayor Pro Tem Caraway and figured he could use it to further his vendetta. As I mentioned before, no one at the Observer wrote about the issue on that day or in the days after, despite it being a contentious and contested vote at the City Plan Commission.

To claim that a council member can’t meet with a business owner “outside of the process” is one of the most ignorant comments I have heard about the zoning process.  So businesses should just apply for zoning and never meet with council members?  Such a process doesn’t happen in his district or others. Ask your councilperson if they’ve ever met with a business owner before the case got voted on.  In fact, Schutze should ask his own councilperson that question.  And in cases where a business lies near multiple district boundaries (Caraway’s council district is three streets down), the business will take the time to meet with all of them.  It’s perfectly acceptable and passes any ethics sniff test. Caraway was with the council member from that district at the time he was in front of Oak Cliff Metals, which was written by Schutze himself in his own article. 

What also is blatantly clear is that for someone that writes a political column as if he is a zoning expert, Jim Schutze has little actual knowledge of actual city zoning rules.  Regardless of what citations Oak Cliff Metals does or doesn’t have, the fact remains that they are operating illegally and are too close to residential zoning to get a Specific Use Permit.  This map proves it. The pictures show it. The City’s zoning rules do not allow it. Period. End of story.  I guess this means he’ll finally attend one of the hearings involving this case, since he hasn’t been at any to date.  

Oak Cliff Metals: More Ignored Facts

May 2, 2010

Tod Robberson on the Dallas Morning News checks in twice regarding the Oak Cliff Metals situation.

As he accurately reports:

They are seeking a re-zoning of part of their property, which they have been using without permission for industrial purposes even though it is currently zoned for retail use only.

 My hope would be that reporters like Schutze would more accurately reflect the situation instead of massaging stories and half-reporting for their own benefit.  But it hasn’t happened in two years, so I won’t hold my breath.  We will, however, continue to refute the lies that are reported by that paper.

Oak Cliff Metals: Half the Facts, and it never Mattered Anyway

April 28, 2010

(UPDATE: more on this situation in this newer post. Notice that even in Schutze’s response dated Monday, May 10th he still hasn’t read the minutes that mentioned people opposed or the fact Oak Cliff Metals has illegally using land for years, nor why he bemoans the supposed fiefdoms of 14-1 except for this issue.  It’s much more convenient when he tries to make it a conspiracy headed by the Dallas Morning News. And if the best he can do is refer to me as a “little hench guy,” then I’ll just keep responding with facts. Regardless of what citations they do or don’t have, the fact remains that they are operating illegally and are too close to residential zoning to get a Specific Use Permit. This map proves it. The pictures show it. Period. End of story.  I guess this means he’ll finally attend one of the hearings involving this case, since he hasn’t been at any to date.)

So Jim Schutze writes another article with a negative slant about what’s going on in Oak Cliff (He calls the area South Dallas, which it’s not. It’s Oak Cliff, which is inside Southern Dallas. But I digress).  So what else is new? They had a bunch of lead-up blog posts over the last month acting like they had a bombshell on their hands.  Not so much. Maybe he’s auditioning to be in a movie version of the book to the right. Who knows.

For whatever reason, Jim Schutze has had an agenda regarding Mayor Pro Tem Dwaine Caraway for the last two years or so.  I have talked about it from time to time this blog.  He claims to be even-handed, but the truth is the last decent story he wrote involving the Caraways was in March of 2006.  I only bring up this fact because he did.  Moving on.

A lot of things are left out of this week’s article in his paper, most of which is either by convenience, lack of investigation or both.

The truth is that Oak Cliff Metals is three blocks from the boundaries of District Four along Cedar Crest.  District Four residents are the ones that drive by these properties every day.

While Schutze was busy interviewing the security guard for Oak Cliff Metals, did he cross the street and ask the owner of the barber shop about Oak Cliff Metals?  No.  Did he interview the pastor of the church directly across the street? No. They would’ve told you about Oak Cliff Metals being a bad neighbor for as long as they can remember.In fact, they were at the City Plan Commission hearing.

While he claims this is Dwaine’s one-man crusade against the “fantastic” business that is Oak Cliff Metals, did he look at the minutes of the City Plan Commission during which multiple residents and business owners said that they were against the zoning application? No. Did he even attend the meeting that day? No.  Did anyone at the Observer write about the issue on that day, despite it being a contentious and contested vote at the City Plan Commission? No.

Did he writer ever have a problem with council members in North of East Dallas rezoning entire areas or streets? No.

Did he miss the entire process undertaken by the City Council more than two years ago against metal theft and metal salvage yards, on which Dwaine was the lead?  How many times was Oak Cliff Metals mentioned during that process as one of the most egregious of violators? Countless.

Even the owners of Gold Metals on South Lamar are willing to talk to the press about their business. Why does Oak Cliff Metals continue to hide?

Here are some facts about zoning in Dallas: A metal salvage facility must have a Specific Use Permit to operate (zoning rules), and even at that point can only have such a permit on land zoned Industrial Manufacturing.  Such a business cannot exist 500 feet from residentially-zoned land.  Oak Cliff Metals is less than 500 feet from such property. By that definition alone, the permit should not be granted.

Did Schutze mention anything about the fact that Oak Cliff Metals skirted the law by getting a CO for outside storage instead of their true use which is metal salvage? Did he mention that they currently do not have the Specific Use Permit needed to legally operate? Nope.

As mentioned by the Dallas Morning News two weeks ago:

City code enforcers warned Falcon Transit’s owner about several potential infractions last year. “Violation confirmed” and “illegal land use” appear on one Sept. 27 code-enforcement report. A separate notice of violation, addressed to Mr. Smith, lists an invalid certificate of operation.

Did Schutze mention that in addition to their application for a Specific Use Permit, Oak Cliff Metals wants to take land zoned Community Retail along Cedar Crest and zone it Industrial Manufacturing? No.  Then his story would be that much more meaningless.  All facts conveniently left out of his article.

I openly wonder how Schutze writes articles bemoaning “ward politics,” and then write an article about a councilman that has the supposed nerve of speaking out against a problem business that is blocks from his council district.  So which one is it?  Are you for or against so-called ward politics? You can’t have it both ways.

Schutze mentions that he doesn’t live on land zoned for industrial uses.  Of course he doesn’t; he lives in East Dallas where no such zoning exists on main corridors. Let’s see how his neighbors feel if someone wants to take some of their best land on Live Oak or Gaston near his house that’s zoned retail and make it industrial.

Why most of land that is zoned industrial is south of I-30 and not in his high-income neighborhood is a discussion for another day.

As I have mentioned before, they resent the fact that we are as educated about the process of improving our neighborhoods as any other area, and that we address problems. Oak Cliff Metals, Texas-by-Products, and others are on a long list of bad actors.  Clean up takes time.

They use their paper for undercover political motives as well.  I can’t respect writers like Schutze because they have no goal; it’s all about burning people with no real positive goal to bolster their efforts, while hiding behind the cloak of “good reporting.”

Keep writing, keep lying, and keep hating. We’ll keep cleaning up our neighborhoods.

Love Field, New Children’s Aquarium, and more

January 31, 2010

There are several interesting briefings coming to City Council this week.

There are a few things that stand out from reading these briefings.

Dallas Love Field Capital Development Program – Public Information Initiative

There is a $500 million modernization of Love Field currently underway. This briefing talks about the Public Information Approach that the city is using.

FY2009-10 Community Development Block Grant Extensions and Reprogramming

According to page 13 of the FY2009-10 Community Development Block Grant Extensions and Reprogramming briefing, there is still a good amount of money in the Minor Home repair program for the South Dallas/Fair Park area.  Here is the info on how to apply.

OneDAY Dallas
We are one month away from citywide implementation of OneDAY Dallas. OneDAY Dallas is the name of the initiative to collect garbage and recycles on the same day.  This is a great idea, and it will save the city money.  Most trash consists of recyclable materials, and landfill space is a finite resource.
One thing that was interesting in the briefing is the Southern Dallas council districts are requesting a recycling roll carts at a much lower rate

Districts that are primarily southern are in bold

District 1 41%    District 6 40%*    District 11 74%

District 2 51%     District 7 32%      District 12 79%

District 3 46%    District 8 27%      District 13 75%

District 4 29%    District 9 65%       District 14 78%

*District 6 has a large portion of area in Northwest Dallas.

Children’s Aquarium at Fair Park

This briefing discusess the effort underway during which the Aquarium at Fair Park was closed and is being repurposed as the Children’s Aquarium at Fair Park. It will be open for a sneak preview during this year’s State Fair, and open for good in 2011.

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).

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.

Campaigns are Fun

March 20, 2009

I am standing in front of the home of the challenger for the District Four city council seat. Looking at the signs down both sides of his block, it would seem that his neighbors aren’t big fans of his council run.

Let the games begin.

James Fantroy, R.I.P.

October 26, 2008

James Fantroy, the former city councilman for District 8, passed away today. He did a lot of good in southern Dallas, and I’m glad that Channel 8 and the DMN at least tried to talk about it and not just the controversy.

For those that don’t know, he is responsible for (among other things):

  • The Wal-Mart on Wheatland near 67.
  • The new Target and coming shopping center at Hampton & Wheatland.
  • The Inland Port in southern Dallas County.
  • The new South Central police division and station near Camp Wisdom & Lancaster.
  • The new fire station on Hampton, just north of Wheatland.

On the last city council, he was the only one to speak up in support of our efforts to get rid of the hot-sheet motels.

When I last saw him and got a chance to talk with him, I’m glad I got to thank him for helping to give me a start when no one else would. I appreciated the talks and encouragement when I first made my way into Dallas politics. I won’t forget the talk we had the night of the election in 2005.

Thanks for spending time and sharing with me when you didn’t have to. One day it will all make sense.

Do They Really Get It?

September 30, 2008

As you’ve read, the House of Representatives failed to pass the $700 Billion Bailout bill yesterday.

Because the bill failed, the market lost $1.2 Trillion in value yesterday. That’s not the money of “Wall Street Fat Cats.” That’s the money in your 401k, your pension fund, and your personal investments (if you’re blessed enough to have any).

Sure, House Speaker Pelosi’s speech was a little over the top. But to not vote for a bill because of a speech is absurd.

The current financial situation is not the end result of “low income people who bought houses they couldn’t afford.” Pelosi, like it or not, is right. Our country in this financial place because of the awful financial policies that have occurred over the last eight years.

We continued to ship away jobs to other countries, and provided tax-amnesty holidays that allowed companies to bring back the profits with little or no tax consequence. These were good-paying jobs (and even lower-paying jobs). Those jobs paid people a meaningful wage which allowed workers to afford these homes. When an “anything goes” oil policy caused workers to pay double the amount to be able to get to work, something had to give.

Sure, maybe some homeowners were reckless in buying homes that required them to stretch to afford them. When people used adjustable-rate mortgages (ARMs) they knew the low-interest payments were for a defined time period, but when the economy went south they had no way to refinance. Contrary to what you may have heard, banks were not willing to work with people that were trying to work out their troubled mortgages until a few months ago. Most banks were willing to leave people on the hook at high rates to make their quarterly profit projections. At some point, something has to give and people simply couldn’t afford their new house payments which may have doubled or tripled at that point (remember that house payments in the first few years are almost all interest and not principal). This is the story that is not being told by the media and self-serving congresspeople that voted against this bill.

As it stands now, some small business owners cannot get short-term financing to make payroll and buy supplies and inventory. These businesses now have to lay off workers. The student loan market is freezing up. That’s not a Wall Street problem, that’s an “Our Street” problem. When small banks don’t have funds to make basic loans, you’re going to feel it. The average American will began to feel the pinch as the 529 college funds that people scraped together for their kids evaporate. Check the balance of your pension fund this morning and get back to me.

Unless Congress gets its act together and passes some form of this bill, you will see the affects of such actions in an even more profound way than you already have. This bill now costs us $520 Billion more than it would have yesterday ($1.2 Trillion Market drop – $700 Billion Bill= $520 Billion). It’s simple math.

Stop the posturing and get this done. The country can’t afford many more days like yesterday.

Old School Throwback

September 20, 2008

I had to bring it back with a cartoon from my childhood. Surely you remember this one from School House Rock about how a law gets made.