Archive for the ‘Tom Leppert’ Category

Recruiting Companies to Dallas – The One that Got Away

April 10, 2010
In difficult financial times, a city must still remain active and be successful with respect to getting companies to relocate and add dollars to our tax base.
This is one of the primary strengths of our current Mayor, Tom Leppert.  Since he became Mayor, many companies looking to move from various parts of the country now call Dallas home.  Texas has many pluses that make us more attractive when compared to other states (lower cost of living, pro-business attitude, etc), but you still need leadership that can close the deal when it’s on the table (kind of like the fine gent in the picture on the right).
One big fish that got away nearly ten years ago was Boeing. Dallas was a finalist for their relocation, but they ended up in Chicago.  In the following piece on the DMN Frisco blog (h/t Rudy Bush of the DMN), former Boeing CEO Phil Condit talks about many of the factors that cause Dallas to lose out of on a major relocation. Check it out.
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Absentee Experts on the Inner Workings of City Hall

August 25, 2009

It seems like city officials are always under fire for various things at City Hall. It comes with the territory, but it would be nice if writers dug a little deeper when working on complex and important stories.

If a so-called City Hall expert claims in an article that “people can’t go down there and get a fair hearing without paying off everybody in the world,” surely that person should have some evidence to back up such a claim. Surely you’ve been to a City Plan Commission or City Hall hearing in the last 2-3 years. Right?

Here’s my point: I’ve been reading some of the blog posts and newspaper articles in recent weeks, and been left in amazement. Some of the articles use quotes from people that I’ve never seen at one of our City Plan Commission Meetings or City Council Meetings, that never put public comments on the record about cases in their neighborhoods, but yet claim the fix is in on every case.

I wonder if these same people will support the consultant registration idea now that Mayor
Leppert’s plan has come to light. I know the answer to that one.

She must not have been down there two weeks ago, when Jim Dodd came to City Hall and singlehandedly fought a platting case against real estate giant Ridge Property Trust.

With his personally prepared handwritten packages and freehand maps, Mr. Dodd explained to us why he would be flooded out of his home if the plat was approved. Of course, if you just listen to some of the people quoted in these articles, you would think that we were playing Uno at the horseshoe until Mr. Dodd finished his presentation. On the contrary, what resulted is one of the longest discussions we have ever had about a platting case and the case was denied. Mr. Dodd, of humble beginnings and background, beat the well-financed developer. In fact, the story was covered here (before the vote) and here (after the vote). That’s just one example.

A lot has been made about the need for registration, and now it’s here as evidenced in the article cited above. Well hey, these quoted “experts” didn’t know everything. Now they know.

Just like the electronic campaign filing process that is now being used, more things are coming down the pike. Such news runs counter to articles and blog posts doubting that anything would be done regarding consultant registration or any related issue.

Contrary to what’s written in the paper, nobody on our commission is too naive to know what’s going on. Knowing how much a person gets paid for their work is their business. Whether they volunteer or bill by the hour at a high rate is not my concern. It’s our job as city plan commissioners to ignore all of the noise, campaigning, and random conjecture and look at the merits of the case. Such merits don’t change whether it’s a citizen like Mr. Dodd or a well-financed company looking to win a case. It makes for a boring backstory, but if you come to our meetings that’s what you’ll see.

Deion Sanders Prime Time Sports Center is Moving Forward

June 19, 2009

City Council just approved the Prime Time Association football park sponsored by Deion Sanders and led at the city by Dwaine Caraway.

This is a brand new football facility coming to Oak Cliff! This is the same center that I wrote about a few months back. One block at a time, this city will be transformed.

More than A Grocery Store in Oak Cliff (with Video)

June 10, 2009

Yesterday was a great day in Oak Cliff. The Save A Lot grocery store had its official ribbon cutting for the brand new Save-a-Lot store at the Crest Shopping Center in the 2600 Block of Lancaster (map). Note: the Google street view also shows how it looked before the renovation.

Dwaine and I, along with the Mayor, city staff, neighbors, and the shopping center developer have been working on this for nearly two years. We were first looking at putting the store across the street from its current location. Everyone settled on keeping the store in the shopping center. The neighbors’ input was used in creating the store, from the items stocked on the shelves and beyond.

Save A Lot is an important part of this community. In these times, Save A Lot provides the opportunity for a family to get a healthy, balanced meal for $5. Compared to buying fast food every night for dinner because it’s cheap, a void is being filled in this neighborhood. People couldn’t wait to get into the store, as you can see people pushing carts by us even as the press conference progressed.

One major bonus: Save A Lot donated 5,000 pounds of food to the North Texas Food Bank! According to one of their reps that translates into 100 full carts of groceries for needy families at a time when donations are shrinking.

As I have said from the beginning, this is bigger than just a new grocery store.

In the process, the new store also provided us an opportunity to get rid of the asbestos filled theater that was on the north side of the center. The theater had been vacant for years and could not be rented due to the aforementioned issues. Now there’s a new grocery store in its place.

Mickey’s Catfish, owned by Vincent Hall, has just opened in the last couple of months. The mall and the neighborhood has a lot more energy now vs. before Dwaine took office.

You will also see that the entire mall is undergoing an extensive renovation and repaving, which was spearheaded by everyone working with the owners of the center as part of our Lancaster Road Initiative.

One of the comments that struck me the most were the ones made by Rick Meyer from Save A Lot:

“I’d like to take Dwaine on some road shows with me, (and) teach some folks in other communities what it’s all about to be a good partner.”

A comment like that makes it all worthwhile. When you see the various articles and conferences held with respect to what Southern Dallas needs to bring growth and development, this is what it’s all about. You can say it and claim you’re a leader all day long, but just like a World Series Championship baseball team you need a starter and a closer. We have that in our Mayor and Dwaine. This is one of the reason that I’m glad they’re both in office and in leadership positions on City Council. In his remarks, the Mayor also hinted at another store to be announced for District Four pretty soon!

This store and center will always be special to me. It’s where Dwaine’s campaign office was located when he first took office. The neighborhood was promised that this center would be a catalyst for positive change in that part of Oak Cliff and along Lancaster Road. I can’t count the number of nights we walked the center hoping that we could someday be a part of its turnaround. It’s here, but there’s more to come. The work is not done, but we’re moving in the right direction.

Video is below:

Remarks from from Rick Meyer, Vice President of Save-A-Lot.

Remarks from Vanessa Foster from Save-A-Lot and Dallas Mayor Tom Leppert.

Remarks from Deputy Mayor Pro Tem Dwaine Caraway.

Remarks from Cathy Misko and Vanessa Foster of Save A Lot and officials from the North Texas Food Bank.

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.

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

EXCLUSIVE: Hotel Showdown Debate

April 23, 2009

You heard it here first:

On Sunday April 26th, there will be a Convention Center Hotel debate at Friendship-West Baptist Church. It will feature members of the Dallas City Council and the Mayor on one side and hopefully the other side will show up.

Be there – this is last major debate in southern Dallas that is solely focused on the issue of the Convention Center Hotel.

Friendship-West Baptist Church
2020 W. Wheatland Rd.
Dallas, Texas 75232 (map)

Sunday, April 26th
2PM – 4PM

UPDATE: Gromer Jeffers of the Dallas Morning News will be the moderator.

Accountability not Required

April 18, 2009

Do the anti-hotel people really think that the funder of the Prop 1 referendum should not be accountable for talking with the people?

Check out this clip from Channel 8’s Inside Politics and see for yourself:

Learn the truth about the hotel issue at Vote No Dallas.

Prime Time Reaches Back to Help Youth

March 21, 2009

Deion Sanders has a dream for kids south of Trinity River

That headline says it all; I’m really excited about this project. I’ve been wanting to write about it, but wanted to hold off until it went public.

I’m glad that Deion and his PrimeTime Sports Association is interested in investing and partnering with the city to improve the lives of youth. When we walked the field and looked at the plans, you could really see it come together. Dallas is a can-do city, and the difference now is that this project did not end up in the suburbs.

Usually, the business people are ready and the city drags everything out; but things have changed. That’s due to the leadership of our Deputy Mayor Dwaine Caraway and Mayor Leppert whose goal is to make sure that deals get done instead of twiddling our thumbs and watching the surrounding cities benefit from our inaction.

For those of you that aren’t sure of the location, it’s the open park that’s next to Carter High School and across from the Friendship West parking lot.

Come to the tryouts at the Cotton Bowl – we will be there!