In Preston Hollow Apartment Case, Staubach Gates Takes Recusing Herself to a New Level

Categories: Schutze

rsz_bssemaphore.jpg
Image from "The Dallas City Council Guide to Avoiding Conflicts of Interest"
Some forms of Dallas City Council recusal may even be based on the ancient naval art of semaphore. Everybody's an expert on something. I happen to be an expert on Dallas City Council recusing styles. One of my favorite all-time recusers quite a few years back was the late James Fantroy, who had multiple ornate styles of recusal.

In one variation, when Fantroy would recuse himself from voting on an item in which he had some egregious conflict of interest -- someone had paid him, for instance -- he would get up from the dais and march stiffly into the time-out room in the back, head held high. Later, if you looked closely when it came time for the vote, you could spy Fantroy in the darkened wings like Banquo's ghost making broad hand signals to show everybody how he wanted them to vote.

On another occasion Fantroy had vacated to the back room after a typically grandiloquent Nathan-Hale-style declaration of recusal. ("I regret that I have but one vote to give ...") Time came for the vote. All the members were straining around like storks trying to catch a glimpse of him back there in the wings. When he didn't appear, several of them got up and ran back to the time-out room to ask him how the hell he wanted them to vote. The general rule is that it's fine to recuse yourself and all, but you have to make sure everybody knows how you want them to vote.

The ongoing example now -- a candidate for my new favorite -- is North Dallas member Jennifer Staubach Gates, who recused herself from a zoning issue at Preston Road and Northwest Highway because her husband was involved in the deal. As it happens, her dad was involved, too, but, you know, you can't double-recuse, so I think just doing it once for the husband was enough.

The council affords itself an informal privilege -- custom but not law -- by which a councilperson has absolute say-so over any zoning question lying entirely within her district. Up until Staubach-Gates, if a council person recused, that was supposed to vacate the privilege and throw it out to the whole council to decide. Of course, as I have already explained, the trick has always been recusing without recusing.

Apparently Staubach Gates was too dignified for the Banquo's ghost routine, doing jumping-jacks back in the shadows at vote-time, so she created a whole new wrinkle on recusing. For the Preston Road issue she gifted her privilege to fellow council member Lee Kleinman.

Wow. Nobody even knew you could do that. She announced that because she was recused (double-recused if you want to get technical), she was giving her privilege to Kleinman so that he could decide the issue.

OK, let's be fair about this. Kleinman is a duly elected member of the City Council. At least she didn't give it to her cleaning lady. But now we do sort of have a problem. The privilege on this one is now in the hands of a guy who doesn't represent the district where the issue is taking place.

He doesn't have to run for re-election there. He really doesn't have to listen to people from that district if he doesn't feel like it. Recently when 13 neighborhood groups wrote to Kleinman asking for a public meeting on the issue, he said no. He said he already had gone to enough meetings about it, and he knew they wouldn't have anything to add.

Wow. You don't see that a lot when a councilperson is addressed by his own constituents. "Councilperson, as voters within your district we request a public meeting on this zoning issue."

"Nope."

"What?"

"You heard me."

But of course the voters requesting a meeting with Kleinman were not voters within his own district, and apparently Kleinman does not harbor ambitions for citywide office, so, sure. Tell them to kiss your butt. What's to lose?

Kleinman has not declared a position on the issue yet, but I don't blame the opponents for feeling nervous. Meanwhile I'm going to add this one to my collection of colorful Dallas City Council recusal styles, and I'm serious about possibly making it my new favorite. It adds a whole new dimension. This could even be better than Fantroy.


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28 comments
ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul
ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul topcommenter

"... (double-recused if you want to get technical), ..."


Is that anything similar to "double secret probation"?

catmarie47
catmarie47

Staubach-Gates has a lot of irons in the fire.  She, her husband, and illustrious father are really "working it" to their monetary advantage. 

ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul
ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul topcommenter

Another fine example of why 14-1 has all of the downside of ward politics and none of the benefits.

mavdog
mavdog topcommenter

Kleinman has not declared a position on the issue yet, but I don't blame the opponents for feeling nervous

hell yes the opponents should feel nervous, Jennifer Gates clearly has given Kleinman the hand signals on how to vote....that's why he "knew [the opponents] wouldn't have anything to add".

hmm, I wonder how she told Kleinman to vote......should we ask Roger and John what they told her to instruct Kleinman to do?

auntiecairo
auntiecairo

I'm enjoying the Preston Hollow outrage at a development in an area populated with those who overbuild anywhere and everywhere in the rest of our city.  The same who are anti regulation, big government -- but want to stop capital growth even though it's not even where they live.  Reminds me of when I lived in park Cities and went to a city council meeting to try and stop the never ending parking lots being built by the high school.  A couple of brother apartment owners wanted to expand their parking and it was vetoed by the council (made up of what looked like several Dick Cheney clones) - but it would congest traffic.  But when someone wanted to build the now doctors building in Snider Plaza -- somehow that wasn't going to impact the neighborhood.  Nice to see the Dallas `1% screwing their own. . .

raymondmcrawford
raymondmcrawford

I'm going to assume those protesting residents are the same ones who voted for Jennifer.

LOL! Life is good.

TheCredibleHulk
TheCredibleHulk topcommenter

Man the Staubach Gates! The proles are rioting for free education and libraries!

RobertStinson
RobertStinson

Coming soon: Mayoral Candidate Staubach Gates.

west75209
west75209

Jim, are you sure you wrote this? Sounds a lot like Laura Miller ...

EdD.
EdD.

I think "Staubach Gates" would make an excellent name for a private residential community for former Dallas Cowboys and/or a prison colony. 

lebowski300
lebowski300

Roger Starbuck should stay out of Dallas politics.

oakclifftownie
oakclifftownie

I wonder if by buying a buffer zone of outlying parcels  the developer has made any attempts at thwarting the project a fools game ?

PrestonHolla
PrestonHolla

Thank you for raising this issue. As a constituent of Mrs. Gates', I've been appalled at her appointees' patronizing arrogance in dealing with the neighborhood. One of her appointees recently stated, "We're going to do what's best for the neighborhood regardless of how the neighborhood feels." There are a lot of us who are second guessing our support of Mrs. Gates - I've even heard calls for her removal.

brock81
brock81

Come on, there is so many ways for Staubach to take care of "Staubach(s)" if you know what I mean. The fix is in!!! 


Nice window dressing, but orders are to give "Staubach(s)" what they want!


The show that never ends.......... 


This, and other projects, was the only reason JSG became a council member! After she does her work for her hubby and daddy over 4-8 years she will conveniently go into the family business!!! 

mcdallas
mcdallas

"This could even be better than Fantroy."  That's a bold, bold statement.

SCamp2
SCamp2

Did she give her "veto" power to Kleinman or did she make him the point person for her constituants to voice their opinions? I agree that his response is not the best but we don't know how many meetings have already been held.

thanks2
thanks2

I know you were being sarcastic but no one needs to say anything. Clearly she stands to benefit from this development. It is curious that this deal with the landowners and JLL's involvement started before she took office.

catmarie47
catmarie47

@RobertStinson No need, she already has the sitting mayor in her back pocket.

Lorlee
Lorlee

@PrestonHolla Perhaps you should have thought of this before the election.  You were choosing between a "Name" with no real experience and a candidate who had been involved in City matters over the years.  You made your choice and now you have to live with the consequences. 

JimSX
JimSX topcommenter

@MaxNoDifference @JohnSmallBerries @PrestonHolla  

This is even more specialized:

"CRY 'NO CHEAPO $5,000 A MONTH APARTMENTS WITHIN LINE OF SIGHT OF MY GATEKEEPER'S COTTAGE DOOR AND LET SLIP THE DOGS OF WAR.'"

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