$800 Grand, Sex Extortion, Pit Bull Attacks: No Red Flags Seen at City Hall.

Categories: Schutze

The old HUD cash drawer: If you don't hurry up and grab some, some other less deserving person will steal it.

Late yesterday, just before finally answering my days-old question about it, the city manager sent a memo to the City Council characterizing $800,000 repaid to U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development as a kind of technical accounting error and no big deal.

Most of it involves money stolen by city employees from a fund intended to help recently released felons with HIV -- about the most helpless, friendless, lost, vulnerable wretches on the face of the Earth. One city employee sentenced to 15 years in prison for it a couple days ago was using the money to set up a love-nest for a woman from whom he was extorting sex. Another one, the person in charge of the program, indicted but not yet tried, was using the money to give an apartment to her relative who was in trouble for setting a pit bull on a person.

The memo from City Manager A.C. Gonzalez is below. You can read it for yourself. I just know too much about how outrageous this really is. For example, another 67 grand the city had to turn back to HUD was money that went to the South Dallas Fair Park Inner City Development Corp. That's the entity run by former City Council member Diane Ragsdale that has been a central player in a saga I have been telling you about for years -- the car wash on MLK in South Dallas that the mayor wants to run out of business so Ragsdale or somebody else can have the property.

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It's a Contest! Photograph Mary Suhm at City Hall and Win a Fabulous* Prize

Categories: Schutze

City Hall needs to look like this next time Mary Suhm shows up.

I wanted you to know that I am still trying to find Mary Suhm at City Hall, and I need your help. Last week I made a movie based on my hunt for the former Dallas city manager, who is rumored still to be lurking somewhere in City Hall. It was a very bad movie.

See also:
My Search for Former City Manager Mary Suhm, Who's Apparently Lost in City Hall

But if you watched that movie all the way through -- and I don't think anyone did -- then you would know that I did not find her. In fact that was the big un-surprise ending.

But there were clues. First of all, if you go back and look at the movie, and frankly I can't recommend it, you might notice several things. When I asked people at City Hall where her new office was, they said she didn't have an office, but they didn't say she wasn't there, except for the one woman who told me she was on vacation.

She's retired. How can she be on vacation? If somebody thinks of her as being on vacation, doesn't that person also think of her as still working there?

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Looks Like Nearly Everybody Is Against the Trinity Toll Road Now. Does that Matter?

Categories: Schutze

Wikipedia Commons
Please refer to above diagram for assistance with metaphors in this item

Reaching for a badly mixed metaphor, I guess I would say those of us personally involved for a long time on the opposition side of the Trinity roll road issue feel right now like we're breathless flies on the wall with our fingers crossed and our dukes up (flies have three sets of extremities, I think).

On the one hand, we never thought we would see this much informed opinion against it. On the other hand, we know how little this project has to do with informed opinion.

We have learned a grudging respect for the advocates. Opinion against them, especially smart opinion, is just another barricade to blast their way through on their way to a goal they have sought for a half century.

May 4, The Dallas Morning News published a letter-to-the-editor from prominent Dallas architect Robert Meckfessel renouncing the plan. An op-ed piece in the paper followed on June 1 from architect Larry Good, saying he, too, was jumping ship. Both Good and Meckfessel had been forceful voices in defense of building a highway along the river near downtown in 2007 when the plan was temporarily threatened by a referendum.

In announcing his own change of mind and heart, Good's tone was almost contrite: "I have changed my mind," he wrote, "and now confess publicly my opposition to building this highway."

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Dallas City Hall Has Repaid $800,000 to HUD in the Last Year, but for What?

Categories: Schutze

Thumbnail image for KingstonScreenshot.jpg
District 14 City Council Member Philip Kingston
WOW. Looks like bigbexardaddy knows whereof he speaks.

Little over a week ago bigbexardaddy commented on an item I had posted here about the Bexar Street boondoggle, giving away a lot of detail that sure sounded like it came from inside City Hall, including a claim that Dallas, even in advance of getting hit with a big HUD judgment in the 1600 Pacific case (that will happen this week) , has already had to pay back "hundreds of thousands" to HUD this year.

Councilman Philip Kingston decided last week to check that out. According to the email exchange, the payback is even bigger than bigbexardaddy suggested. What we don't know: What the hell was it for?

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Perry Will Cement That Strong National Image If He Sends the Guard to the Border

Categories: Schutze

Orval Faubus at Central High School, taking his place in history.

The Austin American-Statesmanand The Houston Chronicle this morning are reporting that Governor Rick Perry will hold a press conference this afternoon to announce he's sending 1,000 Texas National Guard troops to the Mexican border to defend Texas against an invasion of unarmed Central American children. This, of course, goes nowhere fast, which Perry already knows.

In spite of the very strong impression Perry created in the rest of the nation in his 2012 presidential bid, most of us here in Texas know that he is not a total idiot. We must assume he or somebody on his staff knows the story of The Little Rock Nine.That means Perry knows where this is headed -- some form of federalization of the guard. The question would be why he wants to go there.

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Why Isn't Clay Jenkins the Headline on the Immigration Story? Guess.

Categories: Schutze

Send me door-to-door to find quotes on how people feel about shelters for immigrant children, I can find this family to interview. Half hour max.

As a lifelong reporter, I can't help looking at the babies-at-the-border story and worry about the way my own craft tends to tilt a narrative like this. And don't think I think I'm Goody Two-Shoes. If anything I know the drill too well.

A front-page story in The New York Times yesterday was called, "Towns Fight to Avoid Taking In Migrant Minors," and included quotes like this one from a 51-year-old volunteer fireman: "That's my tax money taking care of a foreign national or however you want to classify them. I don't want to take care of a foreign national. It's not my problem."

I'm not saying there's anything wrong or illegitimate with that quote. I'm just saying you could dump me out of a car with a notebook and a pencil anywhere from Nome to Key West, and I could spot the dude in the crowd who would give me that quote.

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My Search for Former City Manager Mary Suhm, Who's Apparently Lost in City Hall

Categories: Schutze

"A Note for Mary," a small hat-cam film by Jim Schutze, should be viewed -- and no one's saying it actually should be viewed -- as a cry for help.
Tuesday was a very strange day for me -- an experience I am sharing with you today (or inflicting on you, never quite sure) both here on the blog and also in a short film I made called "A Note for Mary." I made it with my hat-cam, a small camera device that I have used to similar ill effect in the past.

See also:
A Brazen Attack on Jim Schutze's Hat-Cam: Film at 11! No, Wait, Film at Now!

Here's the thing. Since she retired as Dallas' city manager, Mary Suhm has been beyond my reach. It's possible she regards not talking to me as one of the perquisites of her retirement. She may even have that written out somewhere in her contract: "No longer required to return phone calls or emails from Schutze once I am retired."

If I were convinced she was truly and fully retired, I swear I would leave her alone. No, really, I would. I would certainly try. But I'm not convinced.

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How Ruling on Race in UT Admissions and Charges of Backdoor Deals Tie Together

Categories: Schutze

Thumbnail image for abigail-noel-fisher.jpg
At least Abigail Fisher had the decency to sue to get into UT, instead of paying off a legislator.
Yesterday's ruling by a three-judge panel of the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upholding race as a criterion for admissions to the University of Texas at Austin comes on the heels of another big UT-Austin story -- the alleged role of under-the-table political influence in admissions at UT and the precipitous resignation of UT President Bill Powers. Are the two stories in any way linked?

Maybe. UT Regent Wallace Hall of Dallas has dug up evidence of what he says may be a kind of black market in UT admissions. He and a small group of investigative reporters have suggested that powerful legislators are able to get unqualified applicants admitted to UT and its graduate schools through the back door.

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Watch that San Antonio Redistricting Trial for a Good Picture of Texas Tea-publicans

Categories: Schutze

Kate Greenaway

That Texas redistricting trial that started up yesterday in federal court in San Antonio? Watch that one. It could be third side of the magic triangle that turns Texas blue.

The trial is not about whether the tea-tinged Republican-dominated Texas Legislature gerrymandered the vote maps in 2011. Asked and answered. Two years ago a panel of federal judges in San Antonio tossed out the Texas maps and drew new ones with more Democrat-friendly districts.

This trial is about why. Texas Republicans are arguing they didn't put their thumbs on the scales to discriminate against blacks and Hispanics, only to discriminate against Democrats. It's a fine point. Under last year's ruling by the Republican-dominated U.S. Supreme Court, discriminating against Democrats is totally OK, but racial discrimination is not quite yet totally OK.

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The CDC's Problems Are Deeper Than Mailing the Wrong Stuff, as They Proved in Dallas

Categories: Schutze

Dallas Observer
Why was the CDC so gung-ho to promote aerial spraying and ignore risks here?
Sloppy handling of deadly viruses at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, including shipping a deadly virus to a lab by mistake, has spurred calls for an independent investigation of the agency. The head of of it concedes in a New York Times piece this morning there may be a "potential for hubris."

But hubris may be the least of it. Based on our experience here with the CDC and its role in promoting aerial spraying for West Nile Disease, we need to hope whoever does an investigation looks at the cozy relationship between the CDC and Big Chem/Big Pharma.
After aerial pesticide spraying here in 2012, CDC experts rushed out a "preliminary study" showing the spray campaign had been achieved a 93 percent kill rate in the local mosquito population. Six months later the same experts quietly released a more careful study showing that local mosquito populations had actually increased during the spraying.

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