While Dallas Leaders Talk about Paying Back HUD, the Feds' Real Payback Is on its Way

Categories: Schutze

ScottGriggs.jpg
Scott Griggs wants to know when Dallas owes HUD money. Vonciel Hill, not so much.
The other day, I was talking here and Rudy Bush was talking in The Dallas Morning News and Scott Griggs and Philip Kingston were talking on the city council about the $810,000 the city had to pay back to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). I just want to point out before the moment passes that the $810,000 pay-back story is not jack. It is a joke, in fact, next to the real story.

The real story about Dallas and HUD, the real drama, is the "voluntary compliance agreement" that Dallas is negotiating with HUD right now behind closed doors. That may be hundreds of millions of dollars but, worse than the money, a deal with HUD may require Dallas to concede it has been practicing deliberate racial segregation as a secret City Hall policy for more than a decade.

You think Ferguson, Missouri looks bad? What about an official policy of racial segregation in one of the nation's largest cities? Try that hat on for size in the 21st century.

City Hall, by the way, has been totally stonewalling attempts by me and by some elected officials to get a copy of the final HUD document laying out what HUD wants the city to do to settle the matter. The document has been at City Hall for at least two weeks and should be public, but city officials refuse even to acknowledge that they have received my repeated requests for it.

A lot of the weird language tossed around at the last city council meeting about the $810,000 payback probably had to do with this issue, not so much the $810,000. For example, council member Vonciel Hill told the council she didn't think they should vote to make the city manager release information about HUD to the council -- to themselves -- because of the "collateral consequences" such a requirement might have.

"I do not believe that this council at this moment is fully informed enough of the collateral consequences of this proposed language to take a vote on this issue."

Huh? What bad collateral consequences could there be from requiring the city manager to tell the council about money that was already paid back to HUD months ago? None, as far as the pay-back are concerned, but maybe major-major if the same language could force the city to show its hand on the big story.

The big story was birthed in December of last year, when HUD announced that a four-year federal probe had found Dallas guilty of a set of charges brought against the city by a downtown development partnership. The partnership, headed by Curtis Lockey, told HUD that Dallas pulled the rug from under their HUD-backed downtown tower re-do when they tried to obey federal law and include the required number of low-income units.

Lockey told HUD he had stumbled unawares into a conspiracy by Dallas to take hundreds of millions in federal money dedicated to de-segregation and spend it instead on re-segregation over a 10-year span.

No other city the size of Dallas has been accused of deliberate racial segregation on this scale since Orville Faubus stood in the schoolhouse door in Little Rock 57 years ago. But HUD has been ratcheting up the pain for suburban Westchester County in New York, cutting off more and more federal funding after Westchester was found guilty of the same thing HUD says Dallas did: deliberate racial segregation.

The issues Dallas must be negotiating with HUD now were laid out in HUD's latest memo to the city, a set of findings to which city officials more or less acceded informally, as we reported here. A huge part of any settlement will involve an agreement by Dallas to put all future HUD-subsidized housing outside of South Dallas. No, it's not going into Preston Hollow or the Park Cities (Put the pitchforks down now!), but it will go out into peripheral areas where land is reasonably priced, and not in South Dallas.

That's what's going on right now behind closed doors. This crap about $810,000 is the little bird egg. The big dinosaur egg is still to be laid.

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68 comments
bvckvs
bvckvs topcommenter

I think I know what the collateral damage is, that the black evangelical community is afraid will get out.  It's the fact that they themselves fought to protect segregation in Dallas.

Right now, the way to get elected in SW Dallas is through the churches - because many years ago, they used to stand up for the community and worked hard to bring investment into the community.

Once the folks there realize that the churches are blocking attempts to bring investment into the community, the voters there will no longer see them as saviors - but rather, as demons.


gregmarcydagama1
gregmarcydagama1

The white power structure of Dallas neither likes nor respects people of color, nor have they ever; nor do most of its white citizens. This is not new. Make all the excuses we want, in the end, as Dallas has always done, it will find a way to ensure the problem is not with the power structure but rather with those of color who simply don't seem to know their place. ~ / ~ OM

biggovdaddy_
biggovdaddy_

Big talk between Mayor Rawlings and HUD Secretary Castro this weekend concerning settlement of this matter. 

maxim2
maxim2

"City Hall, by the way, has been totally stonewalling attempts by me and by some elected officials to get a copy of the final HUD document laying out what HUD wants the city to do to settle the matter. The document has been at City Hall for at least two weeks and should be public, but city officials refuse even to acknowledge that they have received my repeated requests for it."

Are you F-ing kidding me? This is against the law and Gonzalez, Ernst and Rawlings should be fired immediately. They cant strip the powers of the elected officials. If i were a council member i would move immediately with legal action and take over this situation. What the hell, i cant believe the audacity of these people, they think they are the bosses of the elected officials. WTF?!?!?!?

PerryMoore
PerryMoore

Mr. Schutze, if you want a person to agree with you that one of government's jobs should be to take his/her money to provide housing to people in cities, maybe you shouldn't be so good at your job. It makes government look really bad at theirs.

nationalmediapt
nationalmediapt

Soon to be National News proving Angela Hunt was the main wrongdoer in this horrible episode that caused all of this. 


Stay Tuned. 

greenvillite
greenvillite

The economic impact of this dispute with HUD will significantly impact Dallas for years to come; it will cross race lines and be felt by all...probably more so in poorer communities. You think we are having trouble funding Animal Services and basic street repairs now?   It is deplorable that Rawlings and Gonzales have the audacity to think that they can or even should secretly handle this matter without input from those elected by the community and the public. What are these two are trying to hide, who they are trying to protect?  And based on both of their track records to date, I have serious doubts that Rawling and Gonzales (and Warren) are capable of reaching the best resolution for the city in this matter.  The City Council should demand disclosure immediately.  Of course, steps should be taken to protect the city's confidential information.  But Gonzales and Rawlings don't have the right to decide that the City Council is on a "need to know basis....and they don't need to know what we are doing with millions of tax payor dollars."  The City Manager and Mayor do not have that power in our city government....unless we give it to them.  Just remember that when the city manager's office and this mayor are left to their own devices, they do things like secretly give our park land to gas drillers and get the city sued in the process. 

deepdiving6
deepdiving6

Isn't it against the law for the City Manager to deny elected officials the right to have a copy of the HUD letter?  

RTGolden1
RTGolden1 topcommenter

"City Hall, by the way, has been totally stonewalling attempts by me and by some elected officials to get a copy of the final HUD document laying out what HUD wants the city to do"

-Have you tried asking HUD for the document?

"No, it's not going into Preston Hollow or the Park Cities (Put the pitchforks down now!)"  - Why not?  That way the people who work on or at the homes in Preston Hollow and Park Cities could afford to live within a walkable distance to their jobs.

ozonelarryb
ozonelarryb

And what about HUD's willful ignorance over the years? Just pouring in more money, drinking the poisoned koolaid or crapola proposals and reports, oversight in only the neglect sense.

How many decades does this really attain to? No doubt several.

James080
James080

Isn't the charge of racial re-segregating mitigated by the fact that minority members of the city counsel demanded distribution of these HUD funds in their segregated districts so they could demand their cut from the developers? I'll ask Don Hill next time I see him.

deepdiving6
deepdiving6

"You think Ferguson, Missouri looks bad? What about an official policy of racial segregation in one of the nation's largest cities? Try that hat on for size in the 21st century."

Now that is a Big Hat befitting of Big D. 

melop21
melop21

"No other city the size of Dallas has been accused of deliberate racial segregation on this scale since Orville Faubus stood in the schoolhouse door in Little Rock 57 years ago. But HUD has been ratcheting up the pain for suburban Westchester County in New York, cutting off more and more federal funding after Westchester was found guilty of the same thing HUD says Dallas did: deliberate racial segregation." 


Well said Jim. When this is wrapped up it will be big national news! 

rusknative
rusknative

Segregation was ONCE about skin color only.  But today, 50 years later, it is more about culture and social norms...and the FREEDOM of choice to choose one's companions, venues, and social settings without being forced to sit or live next to someone because of that person's SKIN color, Sexual persuasion, or politics.  Frankly, it is time to take back the freedom to be free of social regulations and let CHARACTER become the Measuring Issue of acceptability for each of us....if someone wants to live in a crime filled ghetto of junk cars and trash houses, and they do not aspire on the OWN efforts to go somewhere else, then none OF US should have to accept having this mentality and behavioral norm forced into our living neighborhoods and environment.  The RACE thing is OVER and is dying a violent death due to the old hippie libs and the white guilt industry despirately using the Federal Govt to continue their aged and worthless old agenda of EQUALITY. Stuff is not good because of EQUALITY if the NORM is disgusting and worthless.

oakclifftownie
oakclifftownie

 Lockey told HUD he had stumbled unawares into a conspiracy by Dallas to take hundreds of millions in federal money dedicated to de-segregation and spend it instead on re-segregation over a 10-year span.

 Why the Hell is Dallas taking MILLIONS in Fed Gov and Making it available to highrise developers in the first place ?

becoolerifyoudid
becoolerifyoudid

Is there anyway to do a trade like in baseball? 


I hear there is a 13 year old named Gaby that managed to get to the US from Honduras on her own. I would think a teenager that can make it across the continent is probably more of a go getter than Hill and epitomizes the can-do American spirit we need leading our city.


Maybe we could trade Vonciel Hill for Gaby and a player to be named later. 



Amy S
Amy S

OK, so maybe city hall is stonewalling, but why not ask HUD for a copy? Aren't they bound by the same Freedom of Information requirements?

TheRuddSki
TheRuddSki topcommenter

If your records request results in coincidental crashing of hard drives, their subsequent destruction, and the disappearance of legally-required backups and emails again coincidentally related to your request, I'd say you're probably looking at some serious malfeasance.

Montemalone
Montemalone topcommenter

"I do not believe that this council at this moment is fully informed enough of the collateral consequences of this proposed language to take a vote on this issue."


OK.

Vonciel says the council doesn't know what's in the document so they shouldn't vote to see what's in the document? Why? I'm guessing she's read it. And probably knew all along what was happening. Maybe even had a hand in crafting the policy.

burganse
burganse

@bvckvs


Interesting perspective which may have merit, still doesnt change the fact that laws are being blatantly broken. 

burganse
burganse

@biggovdaddy_


I guess we will see if Castro is the kind of leader that upholds the laws of his office or does deals with other politicians that sells out minorities. If he does a deal with Rawlings and lets them off in any way, he will be no better than JWP. If so, he will have a short lived political career, but I'm betting he takes the high road, based on what I've heard about him. 


We can all sit back and see what happens versus what is said. Talk is cheap, so lets see what he does. 

86753099
86753099

If council doesn't do something about it then they can share in the blame, all of them. Council needs to grow some balls here.

longballer
longballer

@nationalmediapt Many more involved than just Hunt. Gonzalez, Suhm, Zavitkovsky, Killngsworth, Larry Good, Natinsky, Mike Harling, Dan Blizzard of Belo, Steve Salazar, other council members........

RTGolden1
RTGolden1 topcommenter

@deepdiving6 Probably, but that isn't the case here.  This is a case of some elected officials not wanting to have access to the documents, not wanting any of the elected officials to have that access.  Probably a plausible deniability thing.

riconnel8
riconnel8

@RTGolden1 why not is a very good question.
 I understand that land may be more expensive in those areas but isn't that when you build vertical rather than horizontal?

JimSX
JimSX topcommenter

@James080

I think Dallas thinks you're right. The reasoning would be, "How can it be segregation, if the black leaders in South Dallas want segregation?" A parallel argument would be: "How can it be against the law to hold up banks in the Park Cities if the elected leaders of the Park Cities are OK with holding up banks?" 


The answer is that the law is the law.

The peculiar exceptionalism that has always emanated from Dallas City Hall -- the fact that Dallas City Hall never looks elsewhere for experience or best practices -- is not unrelated to the conviction of the old guard, shared by white and black old guards, that Dallas has its own laws and its own rules about segregation. 


Even without reference to that old saw, the law of the land, the problem here is that Dallas has been spending millions of dollars of somebody else's money, the feds', to carry out its own peculiar version of race relations, a scheme that would be described and is described by anybody else as segregation. If I had to bet, I would say one of the big sticking points in these negotiations is convincing the elected leaders of South Dallas that we can;t spend any more money strengthening segregation. 


Faced already with significant out-migration of upwardly mobile black families from South Dallas, the elected leaders, who represent the old public-employment-based black middle and upper middle class in South Dallas, will view the use of federal money to spur further dilution of their base as a mortal threat. 


I once wrote a story about DISD, the headline for which was, ":SEGREGATION FOREVER!" Sadly, in some instances, the motto still stands. (Rusknative: they're on YOUR side.) 

riconnel8
riconnel8

@rusknative actually I agree with you.  It's almost impossible to live a quiet, peaceful life in the metroplex.  I moved to an HOA community hoping to find a life where the jerk across the street isn't sitting in his garage every Friday and Saturday night drinking beer with his buddies or the garage mechanic isn't working on his hot rod (with aftermarket mufflers) every day after work and all day Sat. and Sunday. And these are the whites doing this stuff. I found HOA's are just about useless.  When 200K won't even buy you some quality of life it's time to leave.  And I hope to soon.

melop21
melop21

@rusknative


Says the late 60's year old white guy! 

ozonelarryb
ozonelarryb

Who would take Hill? Not even a pool service would give her a second look. But her pride in her willful ignorance makes her a perfect candidate for DISD admin, DMN ed bored, or geez, Dallas city council...

Amy S
Amy S

Sorry, I now see I was like the third to mention this. Happy Fridays all!

WylieH
WylieH

The northern suburbs and Park Cities have a great friend, indeed, in Vonciel Jones Hill. As an aside, is anyone here aware of her plans once she departs Council ;)

deepdiving6
deepdiving6

@RTGolden1 @deepdiving6 If that were true, the City Manager should find one "friend" on the council every time they want to cover something up! 


Sounds like a recipe for major corruption, if this were true! 

riconnel8
riconnel8

@JimSX very interesting.  So you're saying that it is in the best interests of some council members to keep Dallas segregated so that the council members have a strong voting bloc/voice.  Isn't that the kind of power play JWP has used all these years?  I think condos should be built in Preston Hollow and Park Cities.  When captains of industry are isolated from the realities of life they will never be able to understand the hardships others are facing.

James080
James080

@JimSX 

mit·i·gate mitəˌgāt

verb:make less severe, serious, or painful.

I didn't write "justify" or "excuse." I wrote mitigate.


Largely from your reporting over the years, I got the impression that the old guard wasn't directing HUD funds primarily for the purpose of trying to segregate downtown, but instead they were rewarding minority council members who cooperated with their agenda by ensuring that HUD money was allocated to their districts. 


Either way, it will be interesting to see what HUD's take is.

ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul
ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul topcommenter

@JimSX 

Jim, what else would you expect from the 14-1 system.

The southern Dallas Councilmembers actively lobby for these types of developments.  And by the custom, since the Councilmember for the district where the development is to be located is for it the other Councilmembers vote for the development as well.

As a result, our segregated City Council is responsible for maintaining the segregation in the City. 

ozonelarryb
ozonelarryb

It's not as clean as that Jim. More than warm and fuzzy district based status quo, it's all about fiddling the game for personal gain, cconstituents and the law be damned.

rusknative
rusknative

@melop21 @. why do you single out a comment for a racial slur, melop21? are you ignorant, or merely a foolish jokester type.

melop21
melop21

@Amy S


No, HUD will claim "its an ongoing investigation" which, per regs, allows them to withhold the documents until the investigation has concluded. A little trick of the trade. 

James080
James080

@WylieH 

Always keep your eye on the pro quo when there is a quid in the offing. I recall a former Dallas City Manager cutting an unconscionably sweet deal for developer "H" to build an arena and take ownership of surrounding private property. As I recall, that former Dallas City Manager then retired and took a cushy, well paid position with a private equity firm controlled by said developer "H." Ah, probably a mere coincidence.

unclescrappy
unclescrappy

@WylieH Maybe she is the Jr John Wiley Price in the city of Dallas. She is getting paid off to keep things south of the Dallas Mason-Dixie line. Who knows, maybe we will read soon of the FBI raiding her office & home.

burganse
burganse

@riconnel8 @JimSX


One of the dark secrets: South Dallas leaders fighting to keep their own people down and concentrated so they can hand over voting blocks, just like Nealy and JWP did for Rawlings to become Mayor. 

deepdiving6
deepdiving6

@ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul @JimSX


Said differently, this project downtown that spurred all of this was in Angela Hunts district and she wanted to lynch it, so the rest of the council members accommodated her wish. 

leftocenter
leftocenter

@rusknative @melop21

"White guy" is not and never has been or will be a "racial slur."

Now, the "old" comment concerns a protected group.

If you don't want to be a "jokester type" at least learn the vocabulary of serious discourse.

deepdiving6
deepdiving6

@leftocenter


The "old" part is necessary though, because its that generation that carries the baggage. 

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