City Auditor Finds South Dallas/Fair Park Trust Fund Still Needs to Be Fixed. Still.

Illustration by Craig LaRotonda
Six long years ago I wrote about the dysfunctional South Dallas/Fair Park Trust Fund, the now-23-year-old program intended to put money into businesses and nonprofits and you-name-its intended to bring new life to the Fair Park area. By '05 it had doled out more than $6 million -- with little to show for the investment, save for shuttered businesses, loans that were never paid back and attempts by countless city officials to just be rid of the thing once and for all. Or maybe you haven't driven by the Bama Pie Building lately.

The beleaguered fund comes to our attention once more this morning -- and the more things change, reports City Auditor Craig Kinton, the more than remain exactly the same. Says Kinton in his five-page report, the entirety of which can be read here, proper guidelines still aren't being followed, loan payments still aren't being properly monitored, and grant applications are still being OK'd without proper documentation. Says Kinton, by '07 some $240,000 worth of worthless loans had been referred to the City Attorney's Office "deemed uncollectable." And as of last July, he writes, "nine Trust Fund loans with pay-off amounts totaling $254,103 were in default."

But whoa, whoa, whoa, say trust fund officials -- those bad loans in 2010 "were made prior to revisions of the Trust Fund Policies and Guidelines related to loan underwriting." Well, in that case.

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The South Dallas/Fair Park fund has been used as a political payola and grant fund for the 26 years I have been aware of it. Loans were made with no expectation or enforcement of repayment. A sugar daddy slush fund for the South Dallas power brokers for over a quarter century. But the money keeps flowing because to do otherwise is to incur the wrath of the "agitate whitey" politicians that get elected every election in South Dallas. God forbid should the black politicians call you racist. However, now that people are seeing this tactic on a national level every time some opposed Obama on policy grounds, the fear has worn off. With budget problems looming It is time to end the charades and defund this mess.

sandra crenshaw
sandra crenshaw

At first the money was to be used as grants, no difference from Ray Hunt getting tax abatements to induce development, but then it was to be for loans if Ross Perot had to pay back all of the money he saved in financial incentives, we may not be faced with large budget cuts. I am sick of hearing abut the politicians argue over pennies while rome burns.


One has to hope that all the train/infrastructure investment will begin to pay off. Fair Park could be Dallas's version of Navy Pier, West End, Leidseplein...etc. There's great ingress/egress, ample parking, gorgeous, architecturally significant public space, a stadium, a concert hall, an acoustically lovely amphitheater, and a whole cluster of smaller performance and entertainment spaces. It's all there.

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