Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings: Great at Picking Wine, Terrible at Converting Currencies

Categories: Media

Mireya Villareal burst onto the local media scene this past spring with a CBS 11 I-team story revealing that people, some of whom live right here in North Texas, are doing naughty things on the Internet. It was a high bar for Villareal to set for herself, almost recklessly so, but she managed to clear it last night with a hard-hitting scoop on Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings' taste in wine.

The mayor, Villareal reports, is particularly fond of Chateau Haut-Brion, a well-regarded red with a storied history stretching backhalf a millennium. In the 17th century, it lured philosopher John Locke to the countryside outside Bordeaux. In the 18th, Thomas Jefferson became a fan. In the 19th, Napoleon's foreign minister used the stuff to score diplomatic victories at the Congress of Vienna in 1814.

It wasn't the wine's rich history that persuaded Rawlings to order three bottles for the table during a dinner last summer in Seoul, South Korea, attended by DFW International Airport board members and Korean Air executives. It was the $150 price tag, somewhere between one-third and one-fourth what it typically goes for in the States. Since the airport was aiming for nonstop flights between DFW and South Korea, it was a no-brainer.

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"I knew Chateau Brion as a good wine," Rawlings remembered. "I believed at $150 a bottle, it was a good value."

This is where Villareal does that TV reporter "gotcha" thing, handing him a copy of the receipt from the meal, which Rawlings refuses.

She forges on. "Each [bottle] was $1,500 apiece," Villareal says.


"Why not order a cheaper wine then?"

"I did. I did. I umm. In trying to make sure President Chi was treated in a first class manner, and wanted to get that $60 million, I decided that a good $150 bottle of wine was a good expenditure."

The thing Villareal is trying to highlight here is that DFW Airport board members spent $8,000 on a single meal, part of $2.2 million on travel expenses in 2012. A lot of money, to be sure, but one that is perhaps justified by the demands of global business. As DFW airport spokesman David Magana puts it, "You cannot bring a peanut butter and jelly sandwich to an airline CEO and call it a business lunch."

The takeaway instead is that Rawlings has a working knowledge of fancy wine and is terrible at doing currency conversions in his head. He has since written DFW Airport a $4,500 check to correct his mistake.

(h/t Frontburner)

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TheCredibleHulk topcommenter

Someone check the calculators at city hall, maybe this budget shortfall could be turned into a surplus with just a minor tweak in the placement of the decimal point.


Honestly, you can't walk around the block in this city without tripping over an actual scandal and this is the best Villareal could do?


Mireya Villareal is a stupid shitbag.  This is The Big City, you dumb cunt.

Sharon_Moreanus topcommenter

The 60mil would be for increased air service from five days a week to seven.

Spending 8k for a 60mil return is a awesome return on investment.


[Since the airport was aiming for nonstop flights between DFW and South Korea, it was a no-brainer.]

Except for the fact that Korean Airlines has already been flying non-stop between DFW and South Korea for over a decade.


He blew the decimal point in the conversion. An easy mistake, and it would have been real tacky to whip out a calculator during a dinner to impress, eh wot.

That 8k for din is nuttin compared to NTTA waste, and the amounts used to bribe legislators.



Direct, non-stop international flights are one of the best economic development tools this area has. The $60 million Mayor Mike is talking about is the annual ED impact to the region from one additional, direct, non-stop flight to Seoul, South Korea.

Even at $1,500 a bottle, if this helped close the deal, then the taxpayers paying for DART were well served.

observist topcommenter

Recognizing the name of a first-growth Bordeaux as "a good wine" is the equivalent of recognizing Rembrandt or Monet as "a good artist"   It shows the person is a literate adult who maybe a saw a James Bond movie, but isn't enough to even be considered "working knowledge".

I get to say this because I'm a pretentious snob posting anonymously on the internet.

Montemalone topcommenter

How much wine did you drink before you published this?

What $60 million?

Was the wine $150 or $1500?

If you're just gonna copy other outlet's reports, could you at least make them understandable?

I sure miss Wilonsky. To think he decamped to be in charge of weather reports at DMN.


@Anon I menat to say the folks picking up the airport's tab. The region is well served if the wine helped. It certainly couldn't have hurt!

observist topcommenter

@Montemalone That was the point. Rawlings thought it was $150, but it was really $1500.  And it was decent of him to pay the city back $4000 for his mistake when he probably could have made the case it was a legitimate business expense.  Must be thinking about running for higher office...

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