If Dallas City Hall Is a Ship of State, Who in the Hell is the Captain?

Categories: Schutze

smaller_patriots.jpg
Patriots Crossing, where the mayor wants to live next.
Normally I'm not here to say the left hand at City Hall does not know what the right hand is doing. Whenever I can, I hope to be able to say much worse stuff than that. But this here is a left-hand/right-hand missing-each-other type deal, I do believe.

Mid-morning last Sunday Scott Goldstein at The Dallas Morning News put a pretty damned amazing story up online saying the new city manager has ordered a sweeping investigation and reorganization of the city's housing activities, with specific reference to two stories I've been harping on here -- the recent federal investigation that found Dallas engaged in racial segregation, and a subsidized housing project on Lancaster Road called Patriots Crossing.

It's in the paper again this morning -- a major signal that Dallas is abandoning its initial line -- telling the feds to stuff it -- and may be ready instead for a scorched-earth reform. So there's your left hand.

On the other hand, here's a story I haven't seen in the news cycle (and forgive me for not putting it there sooner myself, but I've had a head cold): Two weeks ago Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings made a big-time last-minute Hail Mary to bail out that specific project, Patriots Crossing, that the city manager now wants to investigate. Rawlings' intervention was especially notable because Patriots Crossing is so emblematic of the very thing the feds are accusing Dallas of doing -- cramming subsidized housing into already segregated high-crime areas.

So why would the mayor stick his neck way out for a project if the city manager is just about to list it among projects he wants to investigate? Two weeks ago the project was coming up for an approval or denial by a state board that provides financial assistance. Dallas fair housing advocate Mike Daniel had written to the board saying they should not approve another project that would cram still more minority families and children into high-crime areas.

Rawlings wrote the board a rebuttal letter and even got a police official to write something about all the good deeds the department has done trying to make the area safer. I buttonholed Rawlings at a press conference about something else and asked him what made him to decide to go to bat for Patriots Crossing.

He said he didn't send a last-minute letter to the board a day before its scheduled vote on the project to help the project. He said he only wanted to correct an unfairly negative portrayal of the neighborhood in Daniels' letter. The board of the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs ultimately voted with Rawlings, to allow the project to proceed to the next level in the approval process.

Yeah, fine. One week the mayor of Dallas reaches way in to help Patriots Crossing. The next week the city manager lists it as one the city needs to investigate in order to "verify consistency with council approvals and identify any potential conflicts with existing policies, rules and regulations."

Tell me that isn't the sound of two hands trying to clap but missing each other.

In his memo to the City Council calling for a major shakeup of the city's housing programs, City Manager A.C. Gonzalez also refers pointedly to a need to fix and reform a federally required process called the "analysis of impediments." Yeah, I know. When I first saw that term, I thought, "Well those aren't really impediments. They talk that way at City Hall on purpose to keep us from understanding them." But it's not that kind of impediment.

The analysis of impediments is a requirement the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development makes of cities that want HUD housing money. It's an analysis of everything that can and does stand in the way of achieving truly fair and racially integrated housing in a city.

One of the key points in the HUD letter summarizing its four-year investigation of Dallas was that Dallas' analysis of impediments was a joke, kind of like two guys gazing out from a window at City Hall saying, "Nope, can't see any from here." The fact that Gonzalez is zeroing in on the analysis of impediments means that City Hall is taking the HUD letter very seriously and must want to make things right, notwithstanding all the macho so's-your-old-man rhetoric right after the letter came out. One reason cities don't like to anger or upset Mother HUD is that she has the right and ability to cut off federal funding, which no city wants.

Clearly Gonzalez is charting a course of major reform for the city's housing programs. Clearly the mayor is not totally on deck with that yet. It all just makes me glad the municipal ship of state is not an actual ship.

Rawlings Letter to TDHCA by Schutze

AC Gonzalez Housing Memo by Schutze

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21 comments
ozonelarryb
ozonelarryb

Captain??

Looks like Hazelwood. Land Deal Ho, indeed.

dallasdrilling.wordpress.com
dallasdrilling.wordpress.com

The Mayor has a new overseer without Mary Suhm sitting next to him, and her name is Vonciel Hill. He knows that with one slip up, Hill will trot out her race-slave ship- rant with Atkins playing back up.

Perhaps if the local media were to dig deeper into the players of this particular game( like Vernon Smith Jr and Sugre), we would have more answers. Why are you guys treating this with hands off? Outside pressure?

But then you might not get a chance to button hole the mayor I guess. The funny thing, he wasn't going to give up any truths to you despite your ability to talk to him. He's more afraid of Hill than the media inquisition. Very sad.

homedpl
homedpl

This housing department is an absolute corrupt mess, nuff said. 'Bout damn time AC got off his Ass to clean it up! If your not against it, your with it.

Montemalone
Montemalone topcommenter

You do understand that so long as one side says/does one thing, and another something else, all attention is focused on this while the true business of making/stealing money continues full steam ahead and unnoticed, right?

JimSX
JimSX topcommenter

@dallasdrilling.wordpress.com  

I have reported on the amount Smith collected as a consultant on the Lelah deal ($170,000).
http://blogs.dallasobserver.com/unfairpark/2014/02/loan_docs_paint_a_picture_diff.php
I don't know what Sugrue's role was. Without a more smoking-type gun, I'm not comfortable suggesting that their presence in a deal is prima facie evidence of mischief.
But I think your take on Vonciel is probably spot-on. She's the one on the council who knows how to push the scary button on the white folks.
Sent from my iPad

putt4do
putt4do

@homedpl  


Funny thing is, AC was over both the Housing Department and Economic Development Department over the past decade as Assistant City Manager. He has no choice but to "look" as if he is cleaning it up, as the new CM. 

James080
James080

@Montemalone  

That's rather the point wouldn't you say? AC creates a diversion to get the feds looking left, Rawlings creates a diversion to get the feds to look right, and
Yigal Lelah slides out the back door with surplus funds generated by purchasing run down shacks at 5X actual market value. 


JimSX, it's past time for you to stop wishing Rawlings was merely a good natured, well meaning if naive public servant. If he were not a Democrat, you would be savaging him in your columns. Why the hall pass?

Anon
Anon

She tried it on me once. All it did was piss me off.

dallasdrilling.wordpress.com
dallasdrilling.wordpress.com

@JimSX I think it's really important that you show some background on who Vernon Smith Jr is, and his family tree. That he collected that $170,000 fee is not only a red flag, it's a block long banner. I've also been told that he is an ass hole. His family tree is so deeply rooted in Dallas politics that I can guarantee there's a story that's easy picking. 

Anyone from 50-65 years old who grew up in Dallas remembers how Vernon Smith(the daddy-developer-city council) made it well known via his marketing, that he was Dallas' best friend. It would be interesting to see who on the council has collected money from him, DCC ties, and is he in line for any future projects like Mid Towne Center on LBJ? He could even be another Jack Matthews.

Montemalone
Montemalone topcommenter

@JimSX @dallasdrilling.wordpress.com 

Mayor should go to Hill first and make her specify exactly what it is that she wants for "her people" from whom and why? Make her tell us why southern Dallas is southern Dallas.

TheCredibleHulk
TheCredibleHulk topcommenter

@putt4do @homedpl  

You've just hit upon the unwritten Job Description / Mission Statement of every politician, ever.

Justify Your Existence

Gangy
Gangy

@James080 @MontemaloneRawlings is not a Democrat by any measure except that he gave money to Democratic candidate who were likely to win.  That's how big donors do it.

JimSX
JimSX topcommenter

@James080  

Well, the HUD accusation is that in Dallas it's all about race. 

James080
James080

@JimSX @dallasdrilling.wordpress.com 

I don't think it's necessary to toss race into what is essentially a run of the mill private/public land development scam.

Dillinger used to say the reason he robbed banks was because that's where they kept the money.

North Dallas developers pursue land deals/scams in south Dallas because that's where the politicians who are for sale control hold sway.

JimSX
JimSX topcommenter

@dallasdrilling.wordpress.com @JimSX  

By the way, I think that will be Dallas's ultimate argument to HUD: "C'mon you guys, admit it. What everybody really wants is segregation" -- a sentiment expressed here often by some commenters.

JimSX
JimSX topcommenter

@dallasdrilling.wordpress.com @JimSX  

A not unimportant theme in all of this is the solid agreement between the old white leadership and the old black leadership that segregation is a good thing.

Montemalone
Montemalone topcommenter

@JimSX @dallasdrilling.wordpress.com .

dallasdrilling.wordpress.com
dallasdrilling.wordpress.com

@Montemalone @JimSXBased on my experience of witnessing her behavior and being on the shitty end of her diatribe,anyone that dares to question her motives or appears to know more than she, will catch her wrath. Unless you go in loaded yourself with facts and data, and are prepared to go head to head, she will take you down. In his own low key way, only Scott Griggs is capable of doing it without any scars.

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