Steve Blow Apologizes for a Price-Perot Column, So I Also Apologize. But Not for Long.

Categories: Schutze

shovels.jpg
fortworthtexas.gov
All those grinning shovelers: Guess who they were burying?
In yesterday's Dallas Morning News, columnist Steve Blow apologized for calling me a "tinfoil hat" (nutcase) in 2008 when I reported that Dallas County Commissioner John Wiley Price was sabotaging a major shipping development in his own backyard while having compromising links to the powerful Perot family, owners of a competing enterprise in Fort Worth. Price's arrest July 25 and details of his federal bribery indictment have revealed that federal authorities are looking at those same links.

On Sunday Blow wrote: "So why am I apologizing to Dallas Observer columnist Jim Schutze? Because he was speculating about a Price-Perot connection back in 2008. ...Though he had no proof to offer at the time, Schutze ventured that Price's real goal was protecting Perot from competition to his Alliance transportation hub development in Fort Worth."

It was a gallant gesture on Blow's part. I have written over-personal, unfair and intemperate things about Blow and The Dallas Morning News over the years, of which I am not proud. I apologize to Blow for those remarks and for my language, which I always regret later.

But we still don't have the John Wiley Price/Perot story down quite right. Also in yesterday's News, a hagiographic recap of Price's career by Mathew Watkins and Randy Lee Loftis painted Price as a hard-battling champion of the downtrodden who also happens to be able to get along with businessmen sometimes:

"As a commissioner, his insistence on minority participation, his mastery of details, his tightfisted budgetary approach and his ability to work with some of his most conservative colleagues have been remarked on so often they're a local cliché."

That's not the story. And, by the way, the Dallas Observer has never published stories or columns by me or anybody else making serious allegations without "any proof to offer at the time." In fact over the years we have offered reams of detail on the Price/Perot connection.

The story here and now in the indictment is not about Commissioner Price standing up for minority economic opportunity. The allegations in the indictment, untested as yet in court, are that he worked to deprive poor black people in southern Dallas of important economic opportunities, preferring instead to line his own pockets with bribes.

The language in the indictment is all about an argument in 2006 over an application to the federal government to create a "foreign trade zone" in southern Dallas as an amenity for Dallas' "Inland Port" project -- a vast rail, trucking and warehousing development designed to be one of the largest on the continent. Price fought to delay the application so that the Perot interests, owners of a competing project near Alliance Airport in Forth Worth, could be included in the southern Dallas duty-free zone.

See also: Why is Mayor Leppert Putting the Brakes on Dallas' Inland Port Future?

But this was never about waiting a few weeks so somebody else could get in on the deal. As we reported in 2008, the application process for the free trade zone had already been underway for two years when the Perot interests called for a halt. The application process is ornately complicated, requiring approvals at several levels from the hyper-local all the way up to Washington. Had county commissioners agreed to pause the process for the Perots, the applicants would have been forced to launch the entire process again from scratch, delaying the designation by at least a year, maybe more, at just the moment when the southern Dallas Inland Port was ready to start selling and renting property to clients.

The trade zone application itself was the very smallest thing at stake at the time -- a fig leaf to cover the real thrust, and for some of that we need to switch from my own coverage to the excellent reporting on all of this in 2006 by Mitchell Schnurman, then at the Fort-Worth Star-Telegram, now at the Morning News. As I recapped in 2012, Schnurman in 2006 quoted Mike Berry, president of the Perot-owned Hillwood Properties, saying that the real contest between Alliance in Fort Worth and the Inland Port in Dallas was over billions of dollars in state and federal money that Alliance wanted to see spent on its own project -- specifically for improvements to Interstate 35, Loop 820 and Texas 183 -- rather than on the Dallas project.

Back to my own coverage in 2008: I reported that Hillwood was trying hobble the Dallas project by sponsoring a series of bills introduced in the Legislature (all of the witnesses who spoke in favor of them were from Hillwood) that would have created a new level of government over the Dallas project. The entity proposed not only looked like it would be dominated by Hillwood, one version was interpreted by some analysts as giving Hillwood power of eminent domain in southern Dallas.

Incredibly, top Dallas City Hall staff seemed to be helping Hillwood in these efforts to undermine the Dallas project. When Richard Allen, the principal behind the Dallas project, complained about it, the Morning News derisively dismissed him as ... guess what? ... a tinfoil hat. "Harder to grasp," the paper said of Allen in an editorial, "is his significant trust issue with everyone at every level of government."

I called Karl Zavitkovsky, the city's director of economic development, hoping he would tinfoil-hat me for suggesting city staff could be involved in any such effort, and he did, right on cue. Then I asked him if it were true he personally had written one of the Hillwood bills. After a stunned pause, he said, "That's right, and that's something that went absolutely nowhere."

As in, yes, I wrote the bill, but it didn't pass.

Let's stop for a moment and screw down the focus. The Dallas director of economic development authored a bill then sent to Austin that, had it passed, would have mortally wounded the single biggest economic development project -- 40,000 to 60,000 jobs -- ever to come to southern Dallas, North Dallas, East Dallas, all of Dallas.

I reported all of this. Other people at the Observer reported pieces of it. Mitchell Schnurman at the Star-Telegram reported very important pieces of it. All those of us who reported on it provided reams of evidence.

And then there is this: Has anybody from the Morning News gone to D/FW airport or beyond D/FW to the Alliance Airport area in Tarrant County in the last five years? Because if they had, they would have seen all of those billions of dollars that Hillwood wanted from Austin being plowed into he ground in the form of massive infrastructure improvements to that entire portion of the region -- improvements that are not being plowed into the ground in southern Dallas, but might have been.

In other words, wait a minute. Forget about this wonk stuff about trade zones. Drive to the airport. Go to DFW. Look out your goddamned car window, will you? Do you not see cranes and bulldozers and concrete trucks and crews and barriers as far as your eye can see? Can you really tell me you never once wondered why all of it was going to the Hillwood corner of the region and not to us? Bullshit!

Wow. That apology didn't last long, did it?

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67 comments
baker24
baker24

All of the brouhaha doesn't hide the fact that when the Panama Canal opens its shiny new BIG locks and the large container ships start docking and unloading in the Port of Houston, it will still be true that the Dallas Inland Port is still the only Texas logistics center that has been built in the right place. When all that traffic from Houston comes up I-45, it isn't going to go to Alliance. And the added traffic will possibly get BNSF to build out their intermodal yard in south Dallas county. Ross Jr. built his operation in the wrong place, and he knows it - which is why Hillwood worked so hard to stop Richard Allen.

hotdogthatshit
hotdogthatshit

Pretty sad when the "gossip rag" is scooping the regions major paper by 7 years.  Bravo on the reporting, please keep it up as you seem to be one of the few true journalists left in Dallas.

noblefurrtexas
noblefurrtexas

The masthead may say Jim Schutze is a writer, but apparently Steve Blow doesn't know that Jim is also the spiritual guide for the magazine. 


Schutze is known for being honest, candid, fair, and a skilled craftsman at word smithing.  (He also bites sometimes when it's deserved.)  Many people at Dallas' only daily would kill to have his professional reputation in this town.

holmantx
holmantx topcommenter

The Ed Board initially took Price's side against Allen when he and this posse were caught shaking him down.

I apologize on behalf of the Ed Board even though I am not, nor have I ever been . . . a member of that club.

It was not one of their finer opinion-crafting event lollapaloozas.

churchlady
churchlady

Mr. Schutze,

Respect for all that you do!

As a resident of the southern sector I have followed all your

reporting on the Inland Port.

May those who shafted my community,GET WHAT THEY DESERVE!!





casiepierce
casiepierce

I want to know why the DMN sent in their little lamb to apologize but nothing from George Rodrigue or Tod Robberson? Didn't they both get into a flame war with you on this subject a few times?

JimSX
JimSX topcommenter

And while we’re on the topic, let me just say that certain scribblers on certain other blogs at certain daily newspapers (http://dallasmorningviewsblog.dallasnews.com/2014/08/when-our-blog-attacks-get-personal-journalism-industry-suffers.html/ ) have a way of turning every issue into a personal attack in which they accuse their adversaries of smutty dirty sex things. I wish they could understand that when professional journalists accuse other journalists of smutty dirty sex things, they just make it look as if certain journalists at certain daily newspapers have smutty dirty sex things on their minds 24/7. That makes it very difficult for other journalists to have meaningful dialogue with certain journalists on certain blogs at certain daily newspapers, because other journalists must worry that certain journalists at certain daily newspapers just pretend to want to have meaningful dialogues about important issues so they can secretly keep thinking about smutty dirty sex things while they talk about serious issues. I rest my case.

MargaretHuntHill
MargaretHuntHill

There are 2 things that affected the early opinion pieces at DMN on this story. The first is a function of the way that ed boards and news desks function; the second is just boosterism, a Dallas habit but not healthy.  First, there's supposed to be a separation between ed board members and reporters, but ed boards have to rely on reporters to tell them the facts on which their opinion pieces are based.  The DMN was slow to understand the Inland Port shakedown maybe because the initial news reporting by Gromer Jeffers really, totally missed the story (probably because it was sourced from Kathy Nealy). It was some bad reporting, and it was all the ed board had to go on at first.  


The second problem is boosterism.  You might expect that a local ed board would tend toward being homers.  That doesn't bother me. At the paper, though, it has manifested itself for years as blind support for the Mayor and the City Manager.  "Thou shalt not criticize the Mayor or Manager" I believe may be posted in the lavatories at the DMN.  Tom Leppert was at the center of this Inland Port crap.  Before JWP began to object to the project, the charge for developing the Inland Port was led by Bill Blaydes and then Sandy Greyson.  When Leppert showed up and got whatever sleeper cell signal he got from the Perots, he pulled all that stuff away from Greyson and gave it to Ron Natinsky who promptly went along with JWP's strategic planning demand and all but shut down Inland Port development.  We still haven't totally recovered.


TheCredibleHulk
TheCredibleHulk topcommenter

How to parse this one?

"I'm sorry. You were right."

or

"I'm sorry you were right."

bmarvel
bmarvel topcommenter

"I have written over-personal, unfair and intemperate things about Blow and The Dallas Morning News over the years, of which I am not proud."

At least your jabs at the News are sometimes entertaining, Jim. It's the chattering monkeys on this blog who take up the chorus.

yamonrtc
yamonrtc

"I called Karl Zavitkovsky, the city's director of economic development, hoping he would tinfoil-hat me for suggesting city staff could be involved in any such effort, and he did, right on cue. Then I asked him if it were true he personally had written one of the Hillwood bills. After a stunned pause, he said, "That's right, and that's something that went absolutely nowhere."

As in, yes, I wrote the bill, but it didn't pass.

Let's stop for a moment and screw down the focus. The Dallas director of economic development authored a bill then sent to Austin that, had it passed, would have mortally wounded the single biggest economic development project -- 40,000 to 60,000 jobs -- ever to come to southern Dallas, North Dallas, East Dallas, all of Dallas."

Karl Zavitkovsky is a big part of the problem at City Hall regarding its dealings against the interest of South Dallas. Also, he was right in the middle of all the HUD stuff now hitting the ceiling. Its time for him to go! 

We need a fresh new perspective running ED at City Hall. Now, dont get me wrong, none of this could have happened without approval by his boss' Suhm and Gonzalez, but Suhm is gone (so to speak) and Gonzalez is not going to remove himself, so that leaves us one option - get rid of Karl Z. 

Time to get it done! After all, Gonzalez did promise so and this musical chair charade announced Friday didn't cut the mustard: 

http://cityhallblog.dallasnews.com/2014/08/dallas-city-manager-a-c-gonzalezs-vision-of-change-arrives-hires-two-new-assistant-city-managers.html/


ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul
ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul topcommenter

Thank you Jim for fighting the good fight.


That being said, it didn't take much to see that the fix was in on deep sixing Allen's Inland Port Development at the 11th hour.  With all of his planning, it would have been impossible for any level of local government to go; "Where did this come from?".


I feel certain that Perot was just ignoring it on the basis that the Inland Port would never come to fruition.  With the FTZ designation being basically the last step prior to tenants committing, it doesn't come as a surprise that a monkey wrench was thrown in.


ALL of our elected leaders in this time frame owe all of us an apology for how they derailed one of the most important developments in our area.


The problem with Dallas is that it adores and worships wealth.  It does not praise accomplishment.


The only thing that Perot Jr ever accomplished was to choose the right daddy.

wcvemail
wcvemail

Ref the Dallas city hall legislation against the Inland Port, this is like a football coach who bemoans his own team's penalties. Dallas can't win in competition with other teams because it's also battling against some of its own side.

rusknative
rusknative

@churchlady YOUR COMMUNITY continually shafts itself totally without needing ANY help from outside.

JFPO
JFPO

Good God, the arrogance behind Robberson's post is astounding.

PlanoDave
PlanoDave

@JimSX 

Jim,

He does have a point with regard to the approach to discourse on this blog.  It is personal-attack-centric.  It is pervasive across the blog with virtually all writers and commenters seeming to prefer making attacks on people's motives rather than discussion substantive matters. 

Until this changes, Tod's comments are 100% accurate.

roo_ster
roo_ster

@JimSX 

Looking at some of the comments to a certain over-personalizing  journalist's (OPJ) post:

"They do it because it's easier to throw darts at the big guys rather than do any actual journalism. Way easier. These blog attacks are the instruments of the lazy."

Huh?  The last spat I recall was  OPJ's baseless accusation at a car wash owner & patrons...without ever actually visiting the place.  Whereas our own JS had actually spent time there.


"if you think the original blog posts are bad you should take a look at the fever swamp that is their comment section. makes the comments section here look like kindergarten spats"

You must be THIS [holds hand up at waist level] tall to get on this ride.  Come back when you've grown [a pair].

bmarvel
bmarvel topcommenter

@JimSX Smutty dirty sex things and important issues are not always mutually exclusive.

leftocenter
leftocenter

@JimSX

First of all, how can you take a guy seriously who has a cartoon name?  Steve Blow?  Blow Steve Blow!  And a guy named "Gromer". 

Second, you're a dude.  Your nemeses are dudes.  Word has it that Dudes have smutty dirty sex things on their minds 24/7.  Have I been misinformed?

Third, I forget...oops.

yamonrtc
yamonrtc

@MargaretHuntHill


Doesnt surprise me a bit that Ron Natinsky was right in the middle of this.........he is an arrogant piece of shit..........

Chattering_Monkey
Chattering_Monkey

@bmarvel So when people comment and say things that you dont like or are above your head, they are just chattering monkeys?  Boy has time passed you by old man.  I thought Shutze was the only get off my lawn guy here

rusknative
rusknative

@ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul and until sonny boy took a helicopter ride around the entire humongous world globe to prove his creativity and manhood, he had never done anything at all.....and THAT was his shining accomplishment.  His Daddy merely enabled a Democrat to win the Presidency by stupid ads and a bunch of kids cheering his ego on.

casiepierce
casiepierce

@ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul As MHH commented above, there were at least two council members who wanted to and tried to help Allen's Inland Port, Bill Blaydes and Sandy Greyson. At least one of those two are on the council again and making what appears to be very sensible decisions (once again). There might be some hope yet.....

ozonelarryb
ozonelarryb

It is NOT that Dallas worships wealth. It is that Dallas has such a violent NIH redponse, that anything from anywhere but its favored few is relegated to fringe status. Like the radical ideas that thr earth revolves around the sun, the infection model of disease, honest developers regardless of origin, deserve hospitality and letter and spirit of the law, not locals with pitchforks.

WylieH
WylieH

@wcvemail You see this over and over and over again at DFW Airport... the City of Dallas reps on the board regularly side with the reps from Ft. Worth to take actions that are directly harmful to the economic interests of Dallas.

generalpoole
generalpoole

@rusknative @churchlady I understand completely but things are not always what they seem.  Our family has owned commercial property in that area for more than 50 years but none have lived there for 40 years.  I have been saddled with it for more than the 20 years it has been listed for sale.  It's on a busy corner but the area is economically dead.  The taxes are high and we probably will never recover them.  Much of it is due to the corruption and those who vote for it.  I don't go there except to pay the mower. BTW, for those who don't know the law, we're not allowed to vote there because we reside in a faraway precinct.

hotdogthatshit
hotdogthatshit

@PlanoDave @JimSX Dave dont ever expect there to be open and honest discourse on a service that lets you stay anonymous.  Double that for anything operating on the internet.

You cant do anything about the crazies who post in the comments.  Especially the ultra crazies with the Top Commenter badges who seem to go out of their way to shit all over actual discussion.

Mervis
Mervis

@PlanoDave Kind of a reflection of the whole political process in our fair country.

fred.garvin.mp.713
fred.garvin.mp.713

I read both the DMN and DO comments, and I'd have to say the DO section is WAY tamer. Sometimes I even learn something. And over time the commenters on DO tend to agree in certain areas, and develop some type of cordiality. This happens so often that I often forget which DO commenter I'm supposed to hate.

Call me elitist, but when I look at the most virulent DMN posters' profiles, more often than not under education it just has ___High School. Oh, you graduated high school!

Sunshine
Sunshine

@bmarvel How wonderful you got to say "dirty" and "sex," grampa!

ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul
ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul topcommenter

@casiepierce @ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul 

That is very true casie, but as we have seen in the past, very often the right thing is seldom done at City Hall.  The key thing is that Blaydes and Greyson were removed from this project at the 11th hour as well.  My main point was that after five years of planning by Allen, who wouldn't have heard of Allen's project.

My favorite example was Ms. Miller asking about the parcel of City land near to the AArena that was sold to Jr for about 1/10 of market price.  IIRC, didn't Kirk call her the b word over it and proceeded to remove her from any committee positions?

Anon.
Anon.

@WylieH


Dallas got the active participation of the NCTCOG in nailing the coffin shut. Here is the report on what the COG says are needed infrastructure improvements. This report was used to help show (incorrectly, in my opinion) that the project was not affordable. It was carefully calculated to cause sticker shock, especially for all the smaller cities that participated.


http://www.nctcog.org/trans/sustdev/landuse/funding/plan/sdcia/Final/SDCIA_FinalReport_Oct2012.pdf


Look at page 8-8. This is the section that reports the conclusions of the study.

curmudgeon
curmudgeon

@WylieH @wcvemail Not that I expect you to know Wylie, but how did we go from leaders who HATED Ft Worth and the outlying burbs, to leaders who purposefully plot against the city in collusion with the burbs? 

Chattering_Monkey
Chattering_Monkey

@bmarvel @Chattering_Monkey you sad sad soul.  keep living in the old days, keep thinking all these damn kids have no idea what they are doing.  These kids these days are gonna fix a lot  of the shit the old guard could only write about.  I love Jims rabble rousing.  It's so much better than your comments that come across as, "Iv'e been around a lot longer than you, therefore I am smarter"  

Mervis
Mervis

@bmarvel Yeah but there are still some usual suspects missing, Unless they created @Chattering_Monkey today.

ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul
ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul topcommenter

@Anon. 

I read the conclusions of the study.

For the size of the development, that amount of money is chump change.  It also would be spent over the course of the development, which would be at a minimum 5 to 10 years.

Everything that is said in that report is typical of any development in an undeveloped area when it comes to utilities.  Why is there no telephone, gas, water, drainage, electricity?  Because no one is there.

For Jr's  Alliance playpen, whole new highways are being built.


I shudder to think of the number of trees that gave their lives so that report would be printed.


If you take the attitude of this report as the project being insurmountable, nothing would ever get built.


The report is a sad commentary on consultants.  It is basically the consultant asking what conclusions are wanted, then digging up the evidence to support that conclusion; while ignoring evidence that would lead to another conclusion.


Did anyone notice if anywhere in the report what the ad valorem values and resultant tax income would be there as the result of the project?

yamonrtc
yamonrtc

@curmudgeon @WylieH @wcvemail


Because since the beginning of time in Dallas its been a tradition to rape, steal and pillage from South Dallas (with the help of black politicos) for the benefit of the white wealthy people that truly run Dallas! And City Hall pricks carry it out for them.............

Mervis
Mervis

@Chattering_Monkey @bmarvel @Ruddski is that you?

Anon.
Anon.

I became aware of this report when it came out. The numbers were presented as if the various cities would have to pony up that amount of money all at once. Most council members in these smaller towns are not all that familiar with how CIP projects of this magnitude are programed over a number of years, and not done all at once. Hence the sticker shock reference. The sticker shock effect was carefully calculated.

Jim, and Wylie are right about how the "Master Plan" approach was really a successful effort to take the whole thing away from Allen. I can just imagine the conversation: "Who cares about Allen? He's not from around here! We can't condemn his property for economic development, so how can we take it away from him? I know, let's bleed this thing dry with a thousand tiny cuts until he goes broke, and then we'll take it off his hands out of bankruptcy for pennies on the dollar!"

Even if that particular conversation never took place, that was clearly the intent, one way or another.

rusknative
rusknative

@yamonrtc @WylieH @wcvemail what actually do all the black folks living in South Dallas CONTRIBUTE to the well being of anyone, anything, or anywhere of good and lasting value?

yamonrtc
yamonrtc

@WylieH @wcvemail


Does anybody think South Dallas ended up being a concentration camp for blacks by accident? 


If you do, your missing the facts. 

TheRuddSki
TheRuddSki topcommenter

@Mervis

Ruddski is that you?

I'm not sure, but if it is me, I'm not sure I agree with me, whoever I am.

yamonrtc
yamonrtc

@Mervis


It may be Edward Holman. You know him as holmantx 


He was exposed and may have gone underground.........

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