Mayor Mike Rawlings Seeks Investors for Southern Dallas. Why Is That His Job?

Categories: Schutze

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Let me role-play this thing. I'm Daddy Jimbucks, sitting on a pile of dough. Maybe I'm looking for an investment. Maybe not. Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings is in my office pitching a major initiative to create prosperity in southern Dallas on terrain that has been racially segregated, bitterly poor and without benefit of typical American urban infrastructure since the Civil War. Ready? Go.

Why are you in my office?

Oh, you have a story to tell me! Surprise, surprise. Here I am sitting on a mountain of dough, and a guy has a story to tell me.

Well, OK, Mike, I like you, and I know you mean well, so you may begin your story. The first line only, please.

You are a salesman by nature and experience, and you have appointed yourself the official No. 1 Super Salesman for southern Dallas, which you think is a business opportunity and not a charity case, and you believe ...

Mike. Mike. Stop. I want to save us a little time. I have a question. Why are you here?

RawlingsGrowSouthDARt.JPG
Photo by Anna Merlan
No, I get all that about the super salesman and the charity and the opportunity. I speak English, Mike. That's not my question. My question is: Why are you here telling me about southern Dallas? Where are the southern Dallas guys?

You're a rich white guy, Mike. The southern Dallas guys are black and Hispanic, and I believe they are not rich.

Before I put my money in southern Dallas, Mike, I want to see those guys out front selling their deal to me. For one thing, I have some questions for them.

Sure, I'll tell you my questions. You want me to invest my money in southern Dallas, but the way this works, you have to invest your money as a city too. I want to see some skin in the game, and I also just need great big fat water pipes and sewer pipes. I need roads and bridges, Mike. Roads and bridges. Those suckers don't grow on trees.

What? You're going to do all that for me? You are? Roads and bridges? You? Mike, wait. Did you see that high school kid out front when you came in? She's my granddaughter. She's a student at Woodrow. Thank you.

That's supposed to be her summer job, sitting out there. She spends most of her time on her telephone "tweedling" or some shit I don't even want to know about.

Before you came in, I asked her if she might have time in her busy day of tweedling to Google something for me. I asked her to Google "southern Dallas roads and bridges." You know what came up? The fourth item down on Google, Mike.

"Channel 8 reporter says John Wiley price assaulted him."

Mike, I know who John Wiley Price is. He's the longest-standing, most powerful elected official in southern Dallas. As Dallas County commissioner for that district, he has more power and purse strings over roads, bridges and water pipes for southern Dallas than any other living human being.

He is also the target of a major federal corruption probe that seems to be focused on alleged shakedowns of potential investors. That's what I am -- a potential investor. So I have a personal interest.

I like you, Mike. I trust you. I know you were going to get to that. I cut you off. It's my fault. But here's the deal.

I don't want you here, Mike. This isn't about you being a good guy. This is about my dearly beloved mountain of dough, which, by the way, I did not amass by flipping coins.

I want the southern Dallas guys here. Royce. John. Tennell. The lot of them. Know why? Because I think they control he infrastructure down there. Not you.

Much as you may want to heap the blame on yourself and other rich white folks for the lack of infrastructure down there, and true as that story may have been 30 years ago, I don't buy it today. It just doesn't ring true any more.

Look, Mike, I assure you I don't believe a word I read in that damned weekly rag, the Dallas Deserver or whatever it's called. But I read it, you know, well, just for entertainment purposes. They've had a lot of stuff about Price and shakedowns in their newspaper and on their blog.

You say you're going to put in infrastructure around that new UNT Southern Dallas campus. But why isn't it there already, Mike? Houston School Road was widened and paved at millions of dollars of state expense recently, and no water pipe was installed when it was torn open.

Price is all about water pipes. Price wanted to hold up the Inland Port project -- which is the focus of that FBI probe -- just so he could do more water planning. Did he just forget to put a water pipe under Houston School Road when it would have been cheap to do?

I don't think he forgot. I think there's some kind of crap going on, and I bet it has to do with land acquisition -- somebody wanting to get in on the land while the dirt is still cheap before the pipe goes in. I don't know that. I could be wrong. But like I say, I've been around the block a couple times, and I try not to step in a manhole every little chance I get. I have a pretty good sniffer. I don't like what I smell.

Here's what I want to do, Mike. I want to watch that FBI deal, see how that unfolds and see what comes out of it. Maybe Price is innocent as the day is long and just got unfairly slimed by the Preserver, whatever it's called.

Maybe not.

One way or the other, eventually I need to see some southern Dallas guys here. Not you. Much as I love seeing you. I want to see the guys I'll be doing the real deal with.

I want them to explain to me why my sniffer's wrong, why the FBI's wrong, why it's safe now to invest large sums of money in their community. Then I can talk money. With them. Not you.

Dinner with Decherd next week, right? See you then. And thanks for stopping by. You're good people, Mike Rawlings.


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65 comments
Yvonne
Yvonne

As usual, no punches pulled.  I miss the Observer and your pieces.

Yvonne S. SparksSt. Louis, MO(formerly of the Foundation for Community Empowerment)

mark marky
mark marky

If he needs investors he should use the Allen Group. Oh wait....

Bettyculbreath
Bettyculbreath

Don't mention Price ask and Rep.Giddings sponsored a Dallas County Water District Bill that includes In Land Port property and has a five member Board of five  all white Attorneys.Our Black man Downtown sure loves doing that kind of business with Rich White Republican. Water is needed in part of District 3 and eight many homeowners in Dallas city limits still have wells and pump water from the ground.One main reason people do not develop is lack of inrastructure,Price has 9 million in his Road and Bridge budget today he could halp and could have helped for ths past 26 years,but he has only helped himself. If I hear another White Man say what he's going to do for Southern Dallas I will get drunk and I don't drink. Black folk need to do something about Southern Dallas.

sparechange
sparechange

Look, I don't know nuthin' bout nuthin' but there just might be sumthin' here that really ain't nuthin' at all....

cp
cp

Disagree, Jim, I think that you'e so close to Dallas politics that you've lost sight of the "big picture". High-dollar wheeler-dealer investor big money types really don't care about the minutiae of "local politics". This is EXACTLY where being the Mayor of a big Top 10 gets to be an important role. Rawlings is doing exactly as he should here. 

Guesto
Guesto

Mayor Mike Rawlings needs to light a match to South Dallas and his violin!  Segregation has been over for 40 years.  The Civil War for 140 years.

How about black people in South Dallas move to the prosperity instead of the expecting the prosperity to be served to them on a silver platter?  During the Depression, all those dumb white Okies moved to California to pick Grapes of Wrath.  After the civil war, the freed slaves with a spark of ambition in the South moved their families to Detroit and other cities in the industrialized North to find work.

J. Erik Jonsson
J. Erik Jonsson

Everyone should read The Observer, but I strongly doubt that Daddy Jimbucks does.

Southside
Southside

Nobody's answered the question:  who in their right mind would invest in S. Dallas right now?  It seems that any smart investor would do their due diligence and as soon as they learn about FBI probes, alleged shakedowns, subpoenas, etc., they'd take a pass to one of the surrounding cities. You can blame the corruption on the alleged "black intermediaries," the alleged "racist white investors," the alleged politicos, etc., or anyone else that you want to, but an investor with sense isn't going to buy land in an area where s/he has to deal with all of that, especially when there is other suitable land in other cities in the same vicinity...  S. Dallas understands this and that is why we are finally seeing challenges to career politicians and to the status quo. 

Paul
Paul

Jim:

Are you feeling OK?  It doesn't sound like you.  Have you turned into a Stepford Reporter?

Sincerely;

Paul

PS: I am going into JWP withdrawal.  Any stories on the horizon?

Mrs Cook
Mrs Cook

The mayor is showing us that S Dallas will survive and thrive after JWP is taken down and out.Otherwise, the racial situation could be explosive. S Dallas will rise-not from corruption-but from business practices MIke understands. I like the mayor, actually.

RTGolden
RTGolden

It's good fiction, not great fiction, but good fiction.  It's not reporting, that would have to be factual.  All in all, I'd say.... eh... not the worst thing you've written, but definitely not the best thing you've written.

Alfredo
Alfredo

Could somebody name the last mayor that wasn't going to improve southern Dallas.  Maybe this time it will be different but I doubt it

Aaronstew2003
Aaronstew2003

i dont like the article one bit.  you claim those who think they control what happens in southern dallas are crooks.  yet, when someone besides those who have done nothing comes forward you chastize him- tell him you dont understand why hes taken this on and not those few.  i understand.  because he's the friggin mayor. of all of dallas. maybe he wants to take control of finally making something happen out there. 

John Tyler
John Tyler

Well, for one, you are not sitting on a pile of dough and have no idea how most businesses hunt and secure new locations for theri operations. You have no idea why Mike Rawlings is attempting to grow ALL of Dallas and attempting to bring in and attract new business to Dallas. That is why you are NOT in a position to improve this city, or invest in new Dallas jobs, business or growth. People who DO need a place to grow their business need space, property, location, infrastructure, support and co-operation. If they don't get it from Dallas they will get it somewhere else. So, please just continue writing your lil pieces for your lil readers and let the grown ups with ability, desire and fortitude attempt to make All of Dallas a better place.

Urbandweller203
Urbandweller203

"Black folk need to do something about Southern Dallas". They have for the last 40+ years.

Mo
Mo

Agreed Betty, cuz the White Man Capitalist is coming to take Black People land on the cheap. Sounds like the story about the American Indians, all over again. 

Pmason5000
Pmason5000

Sparechange I like you, by the way have anyone heard anything about jwp's FBI probes? Obviously they have nothing because I have not heard a peep since the allegations.

JimS
JimS

You know, cp, I have been writing about real estate development for a long long time, and I think I have to tell you,with due respect, that you really have no idea what you're talking about here. The very first thing anybody thinking about investing in Southern Dallas would do, if they're sophisticated, is hire a local consultant to get them up to speed on what are usually called "entitlements" -- that is, local zoning, and, with it, local politics. Land is nothing -- a worthless void -- except for the zoning and the politics that control it. Anybody who has been around the block, here or in Singapore, knows that.  So, once you hire your consultant, he or she is going to whisper three names in your ear. John Wiley.  Royce. Tennell. That's who decides what your investment is worth. If you paid any attention to the Inland Port saga, if you have paid any attention to the ongoing FBI probe, then you know that John Wiley and Royce -- not sure about Tennell -- don't want you on their turf, no matter how much money you have, except under their thumb. The JWP trial, when it gets rolling, is going to be one long advertorial on why nobody should invest in Southern Dallas, as if anybody needed it after the Don Hill trial.  Look. People in Singapore, people form far away with money, do not pay less attention. They pay more.     

jfpo
jfpo

Other than taking care of his citizen's council buddies who bought land cheap in west Dallas, Rawlings realty doesn't give a shit. This is all about perception.

cp
cp

To clarify: nobody in Singapore who controls a multi-billion dollar holdings firm interested in diversifying in Dallas would give two shits about talking with anyone else who represents Dallas BUT the Mayor. Or a Senator maybe. Tennel who? Price WHO???

Mo
Mo

Great comment and very true!!! 

JimS
JimS

Beg to differ, RT. It is absolutely the best thing I have ever written. I can't believe how good it is.  They should teach it at Harvard.

Jabo
Jabo

How do you think they get elected? Insurance??? Cant live without it!!!

JimS
JimS

I understand, too. But there's a wrong thesis at work, here -- that the black elected officials who run Southern Dallas hve always wanted outside investment, but the racist white invfetsors wouldn't give it to them. The truth is the exact contrary. The lack of investment in Southern Dallas is the result of those same black elected officials running it off. And nobody can just step around that barrier. It's there, and it's in the way, and nothing is going to change until that changes.

Texaspainter
Texaspainter

 What Jim is trying to tell those who are not 'in the know' is that this situation is BIGGERthan the Mayor and the final result will be............ nothing happens.

Wylie H.
Wylie H.

Interesting, the assessed value hasn't moved an inch in the last 11 years.

Paul
Paul

 I like the $4,375/acre valuation. 

Think ol' Norm will bite if I offer him $5,000 even?

Wylie H.
Wylie H.

John, I would argue that Jim Schutze has been one of the greatest positive influences with respect to "improv(ing) this city."

Mico
Mico

Another "closet" JimS admirer!!!

Jealousy is a bitch! 

Amy S
Amy S

"People who DO need a place to grow their business need" reasonable rents, low taxes, safe neighborhoods, strong labor sources, and a great product or service. If you don't have these, you don't have a business, regardless of the amount of support and cooperation funding you get from the city.

catbird
catbird

John, you're missing the point...

JimS
JimS

Tell it to the FBI, John.

For the record...
For the record...

And that's the answer to the question, "Who keeps empowering John Wiley Price?" Ignorant, short-sighted, racist fools who would rather be pimped for poverty than powered by progress.

Guest
Guest

That you haven't heard a peep doesn't mean they don't have anything.  I'd guess the next thing anyone will hear will be an indictment or nothing at all.  The feds could already have an indictment for all we know:  Indictments can be kept secret for a fairly long amount of time while the Feds collect more evidence.  Indictments also can be amended or replaced to include additional evidence. 

Urbandweller203
Urbandweller203

Yep, Tennel included. Yet, the real deal is that these guys have leverage, no real power, just leverage that goes as far as their based of an older lower income voting based. Outside the county, JWP is ineffective. Change the demographic and the problem goes away and the developers come in. OR the developers come in on the district's perimeter line to change the demographic and the problem goes away to make room for more developers. It's a 7-10 year process. I clearly see this in Mike's plan. This is why I think he is on to something.  But you are right about investing in S. Dallas right now; it's a gamble.

Bettygarrado91
Bettygarrado91

"Royce. Tennell. That's who decides what your investment is worth. If you paid any attention to the Inland Port saga, if you have paid any attention to the ongoing FBI probe, then you know that John Wiley and Royce -- not sure about Tennell"

If you are regular citizen that wants anything from Mr. Tennell Atkins at City Hall, he will stick his helping hand out and ask "How can I help?"  That's your cue to grease his palm real well or he will rush you out of his office.  Just another useless, corrupt city politician that makes your typical Congress critter look honorable.

Realestatepro
Realestatepro

Jim you are absolutely correct. Real estate folks from Dallas bring the deals to outside investors. Anyone who sits through one Dallas City Council meeting will run for the hills before they invest in South Dallas. Our city council meeting are an embarrasement and a joke. Every zoning case is a controversy that requires hiring expensive consultants to get past. Often a single P&Z commissioner or council member holds the keys to success for a project where there has been a large up front investment. There are safer and more predictable places to put your money and the investment community knows it.    

JimS
JimS

And it will take them two minutes to figure out that the Mayor of Dalals is not a mayor anyway but a mere council member with one lousy vote.

Guest
Guest

The person in Singapore that makes investing decisions for a multi-billion dollar holdings firm doesn't give two shits about the mayor.  They care only about what they are buying.  When it comes to real estate, that always means asking the question "What can I do on the property?"  That determines value more than anything else. 

The investor will ask a local real estate consultant who he can rely on, who will tell them, "You can't do very much on the property in South Dallas without:  (1) zoning changes; and (2) improved infrastructure.  There will be red tape." 

The investor, having done this before, will then ask:  "What is the likelihood of getting these things done?  What will it cost me?  How long will it take?" 

The consultant will tell him:  "Well, it's hard to say.  If JWP et al. don't sign off, you can't get it done.  You might have to give up some 'equity' and hire some no-show or incompetent contractors who have the right connections.  Because the people you are dealing with are corrupt, I can't promise you the numbers won't change after we work out a deal." 

The investor will then say:  "Let's not waste our time.  Find me something without all these risks." 

Anon
Anon

cp, that ain't exactly true.  Multi-billion dollar companies play ball with the locals. Even in cities that are much smaller than Dallas. These global corporations are very sophisticated. They sniff out a place to locate a facility, or several places, and then take a hard look at them, compare and contrast. These companies hire very knowledgeable site locators. These folks know their shit. Down to the last semi-colon. Without their recommendation, that global, multi-billion dollar firm ain't goin' nowhere.  Want that much needed investment in South Dallas? It is fully within the control of the City Fathers and their staff. JWP may control where and how county funds are spent in his district, but he ain't the big cheese, really. The City of Dallas can build those roads and bridges without his blessing and without the county participation. As a Dallas County resident, I'd just as soon that none of my county taxes be used in his district. As a City of Dallas taxpayer, I'd just as soon the city remove his ability to approve or deny projects by just doing them without his say-so at all. And while they are at it, plan for growth by installing those water and sewer lines as part of street projects. It is easier to plan for growth than to try to catch up to it! The fact that the City of Dallas will not and does not put in the infrastructure within its corporate boundaries without involving JWP is disconcerting, to say the least.  Dallas has the ability to sideline JWP. All it takes is money and the realization that they are better off without him than with him. In fact, the entire DFW region (fourth largest MSA in the country and one of the most internationally connected areas on the planet) needs to be shed of his corruption. And his cronies. cp, I appreciate and respect your opinions. They always come from experience. In some respects you are right - JWP and friends are small potatoes. They really are. Global companies do make location decisions based on their business needs, and the local lay of the land is almost always the last thing they look at. At the global level. But site locators are much closer to the ground and they are a very conservative bunch. They have to be since their next paycheck depends on the success of the current deal. They can't afford to let a deal get jacked by the likes of local thugs, er, policy makers, like JWP and Co. Look at Mayor Mike's announcement as an opening salvo in a long term campaign to clean up the mess that's been tracked all over South Dallas and is stinking up the rest of the region. For all of our sakes, I hope Mayor Mike is successful. The entire region has been paying JWP's tax long enough.  In fact that would be an interesting study, but impossible to complete since we have no idea of all the development that hasn’t happened because of JWP. What is the economic impact JWP has had on our region?

RTGolden
RTGolden

I believe your book would be a better read, but the Amazon price for it is way way over my paltry budget!

DCtoo
DCtoo

Any risk taker types who might take a risk are probably put off as much by having to compete with taxpayer funded projects, usually property tax exempt taxpayer funded projects, than by the inherent geography risks (crime, blight, vagrancy, etc.) There are too many white companies lapping up City dollars in west and south dallas. Hanover, Sapphire, Altura, Kaminski and a whole bunch of mostly north dallas white-led 'charities'. The pastors and south dallas pols probably get less than their white counterparts. It's not just pay to play but the added problem of competing with taxpayer funded and subsidized loser projects that are never good, never workable, never sustainable. Just endless money slurpers.

PoPo
PoPo

JimS - one question: Who/why empowered the "Black" intermediaries in the first place? Wouldn't have to be City Hall, that would have empowered them many years ago? And if so, for what purpose? Accommodation? Accommodate what? To Further Segregation? Federal/taxpayer dollars misappropriations??? Doesn't it reason, that only the politico's, those having the power, could be the only sources handing out power to the black intermediaries? 

DCtoo
DCtoo

Check Dallascounty.org, any property taxes owed? In official public records, are there weed liens? other code liens? money owed? did the City chip in anything to buy it? In the same focus area, Sapphire can't seem to keep good with Code at their City funded ($4.5m$) property across from VA, Veteran's Place. Owner lives in nearly five million dollar Preston Hollow digs.Mayor also wants to focus on The Bottoms. That Heavenly fronts Hanover Dev, offices in Travis Walk. What, about $1m$ in bond funds there?Despite DMN 11th hour support to torpedo evil Bill Fisher's TOD project in favor of saintly beloboardmember favorite 'charitable' project, county records sure seem to show a forprofit company (SALT alum president) owns the site?Just more to it than DCAD.

Adam from East Dallas
Adam from East Dallas

A place to grow their business... with no political corruption.  Corruption is THE reason Mexico cannot compete with Canada and the United States and just like the Rio Grande, no one will want to invest south of the Trinity until politicians stop demanding their equity.

JimS
JimS

By the way, I agree with you. I think Rawlings is doing the right thing. He's doing what he should do, what he sort has to do morally. I think what he's doing is courageous. I just don't think it will do any good.

Mo
Mo

Case in point: 

Pizza Man decides he wants to be Mayor. Hook up with Dallas Citizens Council (DCC). Then, DCC hooks him up with the people that can sell him the South Dallas Vote. Boom, he becomes Mayor after having 0 political experience. 

Isn't JWP and the likes, selling the same thing? Just Illegally! Access? Influence? Results? 

JimS
JimS

Alternative theory: they empowered themselves.

PoPo
PoPo

Proofreading, maybe?JimS - one question: Who empowered the "Black" intermediaries in the first place? Wouldn't it have to be City Hall, that would have empowered them many years ago? And if so, for what purpose? Accommodation? Accommodate what? To Further Segregation? Federal/taxpayer dollars misappropriations??? Doesn't it reason, that only the politico's, those having the power, could be the only sources handing out power to the black intermediaries?

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