Matrice Ellis-Kirk's NTTA Appointment Gets Diversity Without Greasing the Price Machine

Categories: Get Off My Lawn

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So, Lakewood is in southern Dallas now. Either that, or all black Dallasites are residents of southern Dallas, no matter where they live.

Dallas County Commissioner John Wiley Price tells The Dallas Morning News in a story today that the proposed appointment of Matrice Ellis-Kirk to serve on the board of the North Texas Tollway Authority is "a southern sector appointment."

Except that she doesn't live in the southern sector. Ellis-Kirk is the wife of Ron Kirk, President Obama's U.S. trade representative and our former mayor, and her home address is on Mercedes Avenue in Lakewood in East Dallas.

In any case, Price can claim credit for this appointment about as much as he can claim credit for the Mavs beating the Heat.

If anything, Kirk's nomination to the NTTA board, which definitely will be approved by Dallas County Commissioners Court next Tuesday, is a workaround to keep Price's hands out of the cookie jar.

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Commissioner Price, as you know, is the principal target of a major FBI public corruption investigation focusing on government contracting. That investigation has been an unspoken backdrop for ongoing controversy over the board of directors of the tollway agency and the agency's contracting behavior.

Before getting hit with FBI search warrants, Price was leading the charge to diversify the NTTA board, which was all white forever and ever, and to open up contracting. The Dallas Morning News has done a great job exposing decades of cronyism and insider self-dealing at the NTTA, and now the toll agency itself appears to be the target of FBI investigators.

But there was always this troubling background. How was it a good idea to open up the agency to John Wiley Price? Diversity, sure. A level playing field for contractors, some turnover and some daylight, sure. But not if it meant rendering the place prostrate before the Price machine.

Here is the irony in Price's trying to attach himself politically to Ellis-Kirk: He and she may both be black, but she comes from way over on the other side of the tracks. Her husband was the city's first black mayor, but he was recruited for the job by the city's mainly white business elite. His wife comes from an upper-class banking family.

Ron Kirk disdained the handout culture of old southern Dallas politics more vehemently than most white guys, who were the ones handing out the walking around money to the right kind of black politicos. That's probably because he saw through the system more clearly.

Not that the Kirks didn't get handouts. In 1995, when he agreed to run for mayor, Ron Kirk was given a no-show partnership at the prestigious law firm Gardere & Wynne. Later, when he was negotiating a development deal for the American Airlines Center with financier Tom Hicks, Matrice Ellis-Kirk was handed a board-of-directors appointment with a Hicks company that netted her the better part of half a million bucks.

But here's the difference: Even if some of that had an unpleasant odor, all of it was done within the letter of the law. Those are not actions that earn you a target letter from federal prosecutors. Law partnerships, board appointments and half a million bucks are things that make your mother proud of you.

Ellis-Kirk's appointment is clearly a workaround, and the thing being worked around here is Price. This is a way for the NTTA to diversify its board -- can you believe this still needs to be done? -- without opening the door to the Price minority-contracting machinery.

She's a southern Dallas appointment like I'm an astronaut, but I did just think of something. Instead of waving his race wand and declaring Kirk a resident of southern Dallas, why doesn't Price just wave the wand and declare all of the other NTTA board members black?

He'd have a total victory.


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23 comments
Diane Birdwell
Diane Birdwell

Hell, I am more "South Dallas" than she is, since they have put my area in South Dallas' voting bloc. Geesh. Okay, Betty--someone---Jim S---answer me this after the set up:I get why J W P would do this, but WHY would she, the wife of an Obama administration trade rep, get on board with this, pun intended? What is in it for her? Is this a way to give R K some "street cred" if Obama loses his re-election, and R K is suddenly out of a job? This does not feel right, but I do not know why...

Oh, but I do intend to ask her, unless someone else can answer: Why do we still have to pay ANY toll for the original portion, from downtown to LBJ? I could have sworn that we were told, that like the D-FW Turnpike, once it was paid for, it would be free. There was--but I was a kid--- no mention of, "Well, unless we extend that sucker right up under Oklahoma's ass."

JS
JS

Calling Ellis-Kirk's new gig a diversity appointment shows how bogus that concept truly is.  She represents "diversity" about as well as Rick Perry represents intelligence. 

Bettyculbreath
Bettyculbreath

Maybe its to gain favor from the Fed's through Ron Kirk's relationship and position, but I know John Price could not think Ron or Matrice can forget him marching in front of their house andcalling t him names with his girls present. Price will pull every trick avaliable to be reelected to his 26 year public tax payer job.What does John Price and Rick Perry have in common? Both have never had non taxpayer jobs in past 25 years.

David Kaplan
David Kaplan

I call "malarkey" (I am trying to be classy) on the "handout/law firm partnership" comment directed at Ron Kirk. I openly confess my bias from having worked as a summer law clerk for Mr. Kirk in the mid-1980s when he was Assistant City Attorney and interacting with him in Austin when he represented City of Dallas interests before the Legislature.  He is as brilliant  attorney and a master at understanding the legal and public policy impacts of solving problems in the legislative and public arenas.  To imply this former Texas Secretary of State was essentially GIVEN a prestigious legal position he did not merit is both offensive and without basis.

Oak Cliff Res
Oak Cliff Res

The Kirks lived in the Red Bird area of Oak Cliff before they moved to Lakewood. FYI...

Torpor2006-test
Torpor2006-test

On a call in to KKDA am  radio this morning, John Price acted like it was his idea.  

Gangy
Gangy

Although Price can't claim any victory on this appointment, it's the same game being played.  Matrice Ellis-Kirk has business connections with Mike Rawlings and toll road connections through her husband who was less than honest in the Trinity toll road campaign.  I think a Price appointee would vote the same way that she will - with the Big Boys.

LakeWWWooder
LakeWWWooder

The Dallas Morning News wants to classify Lakewood as North Dallas.  They can only see north and south.   Well, I am proud to say we are EAST DALLAS.

Buckeye
Buckeye

Number of NTTA Tollways in South/East Dallas: 0

Bettyculbreath
Bettyculbreath

Ron Kirk purchased his home in Red Bird area as a single man,shortly after he married he purchased large home in Lakewood a very long time ago.

Urbandweller203
Urbandweller203

I don't think that is a fair assumption. There is nothing wrong with having connections with the Mayor and the Big Boys as long as she stays honest. I rather see an accomplished lawyer there than some connected incompoot. Citizens are looking for office holders with integrity. If the Big Boys are voting for progress,  why wouldn't she vote for progress if it make good fiscal sense. The problem is when these appointee's start cheating and lining their pockets, approving incompetent consultants, buying 200K bat-mobiles, etc. We ought to be careful how we tagged people before they get a chance to proove themselves. This is why good folk don't like to run for office or be in the public eye. And this is why we end up with the less disirable people from our community to hold office. Give the lady a chance. I think she will be be just fine.

cp
cp

The people who run the DMN don't even live in Dallas so they have no clue where any neighborhoods are actually located. 

Bob
Bob

Number of proposed Tollways in Southern Dallas: one big fat controversial tollway

Jim Schutze
Jim Schutze

My  mistake. Sorry. In East Dallas it's all a question of granularity. I should have said "Good side of street in East-Central Wilshire Heights."

Paul
Paul

The publisher is a Dallas resident.

Scruffygeist
Scruffygeist

Number of existing NTTA tollways bounding my Collin County city of residence? 3.

J. Erik Jonsson
J. Erik Jonsson

No skin off my back; I was just trying to save you from the Lakewooders proper who were no doubt going to give you the frowning of a lifetime.

camarillobrillo
camarillobrillo

Number of drivers/passengers with breast implants using said tollroads: PRICELESS

Jim Schutze
Jim Schutze

Lakewood: "Desperate Housewives" meets "Cops."

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