Reliving the Trinity River Toll Road Campaign With Mayoral Candidate Ron Natinsky

VoteNo_Natinsky.jpg
Photo by Sam Merten
Ron Natinsky
In our cover story about the mayoral race, perhaps you read the section about council member Ron Natinsky and noticed a glossing over of sorts when it came to his public comments during the contentious 2007 Trinity River toll road referendum.

As is often the case, space constraints kept us from fully examining the issue, but that doesn't mean our conversation with Natinsky wasn't a fascinating walk down memory lane.

Our back-and-forth about the toll road and convention center hotel referendums during a late afternoon sit-down last month at the offices of The Reeds, Public Relations Corp. in Uptown is one of several experts to come from our lengthy interviews with each candidate.

During the Trinity debates leading up to the referendum, do you feel like anything you said was not true?

I don't think so. [Laughs.]

You don't think so?

If you've got something that you think is untrue, then test it on me.

You said the city will be reimbursed for its $84 million.

The only money that's on the table is the city's $84 million.

Right. But you said those funds would be reimbursed by the NTTA.

If you say I did...

But you'd agree that's not true?

Yeah. That's right.

You said Angela Hunt wrote the ballot language.

On the referendum?

Yes.

I believe she did. That's what was told to me when the petitions were turned in to the city attorney's office that they came with the language on there.

The city attorney's office and bond counsel wrote the ballot language.

[No response.]

You also said the referendum would kill the road. Do you think that's still true?

Had the referendum passed, that it would kill the road?

Yes.

Yeah, because the referendum prohibited building the road inside the levees.

Right. Inside the levees. It could have been built on Industrial Boulevard.

Well, I've seen the financial projections of what it would take to build it along Industrial, and it's not anything that anybody would undertake.

But would it have killed the road?

The referendum?

Yeah.

Yeah.

Consultant Carol Reed interjects: Well, the referendum was only about the road inside the levees.

Natinsky: The referendum wasn't about the road outside.

That's what I'm saying. If your side would have lost, it wouldn't have killed the road. It could have been built along Industrial or anywhere else, just not inside the levees.

Reed: Oh, I see what you're saying.

Natinsky: Oh, OK. But I still stand by what I said because what we were voting on was whether we were gonna build the road inside the levees, and I think based on the information I knew then and the information I know now about the cost of decimating Industrial Boulevard, we would not have ever done that. Talk about dividing the city. We would have never done that, so then there would be no road.

Another thing you said was there would be no Project Pegasus without the toll road.

Well, I haven't heard anybody say we can build Pegasus without it, but, at the time, the experts were telling us that the toll road was needed for Project Pegasus to be enabled, and there are letters from TxDOT and the COG and so forth saying that.

And one from the hotel referendum: You claimed repeatedly that the convention center would continue to lose $3 million annually had the hotel not passed. Do you still believe that?

If you're asking me: Did I believe it at that time? Yeah. We were continuing to slide in business, and we weren't booking the convention center enough. And the projection at that point was we'd continue to losing $3 million a year.

But [former city of Dallas CFO] Dave Cook said at the time that the refinancing of the convention center itself covered any losses, and actually past loses were reimbursed to the city's general fund.

Right. But you've got to calculate in ... I think part of the convention center thing is not just the convention center itself, it's the whole convention center department. So I'm not sure what Dave Cook told you or said.

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30 comments
Law Guy
Law Guy

What's Carol Reed doing there? Is she the puppet master?

yeahIsaidthat
yeahIsaidthat

He looks like he came from the Bush family. That's enough for me to kick him oudda here.

Oak Cliff Townie
Oak Cliff Townie

The Vote NO ( which meant yes ) lapel sticker says volumes about the man and how he has helped guide our fair city.

elbueno
elbueno

I'm waiting for the day when you guys expose the inner electronics of Mike Rawlings cyborg brain...

Dallas Diner
Dallas Diner

It really annoys me when people misue the word "decimate," does he really think one in ten of the businesses on Industrial (or whatever they are calling it this year) would have been destroyed?

pepe
pepe

What a hatchet job! You forgot to include Natinsky's comment at the end:"Let me finish my answers' next time."

This Guy Wants to be Mayor?
This Guy Wants to be Mayor?

So he is so clueless that "Consultant" Carol Reed has to jump to his rescue? Is Carol Reed going to be there all the timne to fight his battles for him and to tell him what to say? Natinsky sounds like a real "leader".

Marc
Marc

During the toll road debates Natinsky (my councilman) and Leppert repeatedly told the general public that the levees and the toll road would be able to withstand a 500 year flood, and they cited recent floods of great magnitude to support their claims.

In a meeeting at the Greek Orthodox Church on Hillcrest at Alpha I asked them, point blank, what the term "500 year flood" means. Both stated that it means a flood of that magnitude will only occur once every 500 years. That is patently false. The term means that there is a 1 in 500 chance of a flood of that magnitude EVERY year! We had just had two such floods in a 3 or 4 year period, but I guess that fact escaped them!

I challenged both Leppert and Natinsky to call the US Army Corps of Engineers and tell them what they had been telling the general public. I warned them to be ready when the USACE laughed in their faces. Now, I don't know if either of them ever made that call, but I do know, for a fact, that both Leppert and Natinsky continued using that same false definition in later public presentations even though they had been specifically told how very wrong their interpretation was.

Leppert and Natinsky are two guys who never let truth and fact get in the way of what they are seeking to do. Leppert just went away. Natinsky should do us, and himself, a big favor by doing the same thing. He is patently dishonest and unconcerned about how his lies adversely affect people. Natinsky cannot be trusted.

Dominicide
Dominicide

Soooooo this is the turd that thinks Dallas is a corporation with 13,000 employees, right? Or is it the other guy who thinks that under that we are simple slaves under corporate corruption? Cum slut Republican bitches will continue to fuck with you until you get pissed off. Okay, I am taking a deep breath now. Let me put it this way: if you fuckers (the kind citizens of Dallas) elect anything resembling a Republican this time you deserve to have eight billion hideous convention center hotels; fifty gazillion bridges to nowhere and more tax breaks for billionaires. Natinsky's campaign slogan should be, "that and a dildo in every purse."

Wylie H.
Wylie H.

Although I agree that Natinsky is garden-variety sleaze, in a sense I feel sorry for him. At the time all that B.S. was being slung around, lying to the voters was the "in" thing to do. You had Leppert, backed up by the DMN and others, throwing around all sorts of nonsense.... doing whatever it took in the form of disinformation and hostile attacks to get what he wanted.

Now, Leppert has bolted before he can be called to account on any of this, and Natinsky is left to defend the indefensible (and even coaching from Carol Reed can't help).

Mister_Mean
Mister_Mean

So what ever happened to David Crook? Looks to me like he bailed the ship of Dallas as it is steaming twards the iceburg?

Donfordtx
Donfordtx

hey ron you got my vote! na! i just decided to use your style of double talk, half truths and bald-face lies. with being so twisted...how do you get to and from work every day? after hearing some of your comments, and your stand on many of the issues, i can't think of any job that i would want you to have....none that have anything to do with dallas, texas, or for that matter the country that i am living in....the u.s.of a. time for you to get out of the public sector

Lola
Lola

definitely not getting my vote

md
md

"the refinancing of the convention center itself covered any losses, and actually past loses were reimbursed to the city's general fund"

What's that mean? It sounds like it still lost money. They saved some money by refinancing at a lower rate?

Don
Don

he is a sack of shit. He delivers no "increased shareholder value" for the shareholders of the city of dallas--the voters.

Lee
Lee

Natinsky: Yes, I said those thing but they were not intended to be factual statements.

Downtown Resident
Downtown Resident

I can't wait to see Natinsky get his ass handed to him. His concession speech will probably be something along the lines of: "At least I beat Okpa".

El Rey
El Rey

Backpedal, backpedal...

"Carol, who invited them here?"

Montemalone
Montemalone

If only Leper did go away. He, being a typical repub, wants Kay Bailey's job so he can screw the entire state, not just Dallas.

Montemalone
Montemalone

"Cum slut Republican bitches"

Isn't that a new show on Fox?

Sam_Merten
Sam_Merten

Take a gander at the links embedded in the story. But the short of it is that the convention center was losing money at one time--around $3 million--but refinancing it lowered the payment and enabled the city not only to make payments without dipping into the general fund, but it also provided extra dough to reimburse the city for the couple years when it took money from the general fund to pay the bonds. Natinsky used that $3 million figure to project losses well into the future--$150 million up to $300 million, he said--which wasn't accurate. At all.

Let's also remember that Natinsky pushed to sell bonds for the hotel before citizens had a chance to vote and said, ""It is not a taxpayer-funded hotel."

http://blogs.dallasobserver.co...

TimCov
TimCov

You are assuming that enough people who are informed enough to make that decision will vote. Considering who usually turns out for most city elections, it will most likely be whoever their voter's guide printed by the Dallas Citizen's Council tells them to vote for.

Mister_Mean
Mister_Mean

Don-correction he is a lying sack of shit! He has the morals and ethics that would make the whores of Gomorra blush. He deserves to go back to the private sector no ifs ands or buts. What a piece of work.

Hasanmary
Hasanmary

Will you have more on Kunkle? I think not! At least nothing negative.

Marc
Marc

Wanting and getting are two completely different things. There are several other high profile Repukelikans out there that will beat up on Leppert, and you can bet that his fiscal irresponsibility will be aired far and wide. I doubt that being the Mayor of Dallas will be enough to win that Senate seat.

DoubleOJoe
DoubleOJoe

Rupert thought that title was too dignified.

Nat
Nat

Sam, can you look into exactly what Ron Natinsky's businesses were? I can't seem to find any information about them other than vague generalities like "serial entrepreneur", "he installed tape decks in cars in college", and "information services, databases, etc." all pulled from the bio from his website.

I know that Rawlings was a CEO of Pizza Hut, I know that Kunkle was former Chief of Police, and that Kunkle is a real estate consultant...but what exactly was Natinsky? Why exactly is he labeled the "business friendly" candidate? What are his credentials other than serial entrepreneurship? That sounds like a label for someone who never really became good at anything. His many overseas trips are mentioned...was he a middleman in getting jobs outsourced out of our city? was he an opium dealer? or was he setting up sweat shops in Thiland? His bio also shows he was on a thousand task forces/committees. How does someone run a set of serial businesses while volunteering for so many committees? Was his family independently wealthy? Did he marry into wealth?

Lastly, since he's the "Republican" candidate, that obviously means he'll be following in the footsteps of Tom Leppert who is heavily opposing gay marriage. I realize that the mayoral office is "non-partisan", but I can't help noticing that the literature coming out of the RN camp is heavily Republican in its subtext, and the fact that the business people that are 75+ years old all seem to be backing him...not necessarily the champions of civil rights if you know what I mean.

Sam_Merten
Sam_Merten

His business ventures were briefly mentioned in last week's cover story, but I plan to explain more in an upcoming blog. Stay tuned.

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