Fraternal Order of Police – Dallas 2013 Presentation Videos

Dallas Vies for 2013 Fraternal Order of Police Convention

I’ve spent the last few days in Long Beach, California, which is hosting the bi-annual convention of the Fraternal Order of the Police. The FOP is a national organization of law enforcement officials. Dallas’ FOP has been working for two years to bring the convention to our city in 2013, and the 3000+ FOP delegation will make the decision on Thursday. Dallas is competing against Cincinnati, Louisville, and Virginia Beach.

In January, I joined DPD officer and Dallas FOP executive board member, Fred Mears, and Dena Rambo of the Dallas Convention & Visitors Bureau, as we gave the national FOP officers a tour of Dallas’ police headquarters. Fred’s been working tirelessly to bring the convention to Dallas, which would be terrific for Dallas’ economy. I’ve been working with the Dallas FOP and the convention center to ensure we could bring the best deal possible to the table.

I was really impressed with the regional cooperation and statewide support Dallas received. Richardson, DART, Fort Worth and others have stepped up to help lure the FOP to Dallas. And the FOP lodges across Texas have been really working the delegates here at the convention, encouraging them to vote for Dallas.

On Monday, I met with Dena from the DCVB and DPD officer Mike Walton, president of the Dallas FOP. Mike has been working his butt off, campaigning every possible minute. We discussed our presentation for Wednesday (each city vying for the 2013 convention gives a ten minute presentation to the entire delegation).

On Tuesday, I spent the day at our convention hall booth with Dallas’ 20-member delegation. We were working hard to sell the delegates on Dallas. We had two main points. First, the entire delegation would be in just 3 downtown hotels, all close to the convention center (including the convention center hotel) and connected by light rail. This was a big selling point because the group is usually spread out across whatever city they’re in. This has been especially true in Long Beach, where some of us (the Texas delegation) are 10 miles from the convention center. Second, Dallas is economical. The three hotels have agreed to offer the prevailing federal per diem rate, which is $115 right now. None of the other cities could beat that.

Last night, Dena, Mike and I got together to prepare our presentation. We worked on it about 4 hours, and I think it paid off. Today, we made our presentation to the whole delegation (I’ll post the video shortly).

This has been such a great group to work with. I can’t say enough good things about the DPD officers I’ve gotten to know on this trip, and Dena from the DCVB could not be a better cheerleader for our city.

Tomorrow, the delegation will vote on the host city for 2013. I’ll give everyone an update on the results. Keep your fingers crossed.

(FYI — I didn’t spend any taxpayer funds on this trip; it was paid for by the FOP and out of my campaign funds.)

Statler-Hilton Tour

I’m not a huge fan of mid-century modern architecture.  It’s always seemed a little kitschy and plain to me.  The traditionally-designed Adolphus, the Magnolia, the Kirby, those buildings have style and class to spare.  But I’ve gotta say, mid-century modern is growing on me.  It’s still not my favorite, but I’m starting to appreciate the clean lines and blocks of color.  It’s something.  It’s the Jetson’s vision of the future made real (only without the jet-packs, air-cars, or robots, unfortunately).

The Statler Hilton (aka, Dallas Grand) is the quintessential mid-century modern building, with its blue glass paneled facade and Sinatra lounges.  Last week, I toured the building with Karl Zavitkovsky, Director of Economic Development for the city, and the style grew on me a little more.

As you’ll see in the pictures, the building needs some love.  But it has great bones and lots of cool mid-century flourishes.  I don’t know the structural integrity of the building, what it’d cost to do asbestos abatement, HVAC expenses, etc.  But aesthetically, the Statler’s no worse off than the Merc or Atmos buildings.  And the view is amazing.

I’ve heard again and again from developers that the eight foot ceilings are the killers — they’re just too low for today’s marketplace.  But the configuration of the rooms, combined with the wall of windows, make the ceilings seem higher than eight feet, and the rooms don’t feel small or cramped at all.

Imagine Main Street Garden is done, the UNT Law School has moved into the municipal courts building, and the modern streetcar is up and running on Commerce (with its mate on Elm).  The Statler could be one of the coolest addresses in Downtown.

(And I didn’t wear the cool headgear throughout the tour — only in the stairwells and basement where it was dusty and/or smelly.)

Council Delays Booting Ordinance

This morning, the Council unanimously voted to delay the booting ordinance until it can be considered by the Council’s Transportation Committee in August.

The delay was critical for those of us who want an ordinance with teeth that protects our restaurants and retailers that have lost customers due to unscrupulous booting.

Here’s what happened: The booting issue was presented to the Transportation Committee of which both Councilmember Medrano and I are members. We represent the two districts most impacted by the booting problem: Downtown and Deep Ellum. Continue reading

Central Realignment in Downtown

After several months of work, the Council passed a new alignment for Central Expressway.

The part of Central Expressway we’re talking about is not the elevated portion, but the part that is a city street in Downtown. From Commerce to the Farmers Market, Central is a nice two-way boulevard with a green, treed median. But from Commerce to Live Oak, the street narrows and becomes one-way, creating a complicated and arguably dangerous entry to Downtown.

The new alignment will remove part of Pearl Street that divides a Downtown park, and widen Central to create a two-way boulevard. Rather than moving forward with the proposed alignment (which was 9 lanes of concrete), I asked Downtown Dallas and Larry Good to help redesign the road to make it greener and more pedestrian-friendly. Thanks to their help, we now have a better entry to Downtown, and an expanded park.


Proposal to Change the Name of Ross Ave. — What’s the Process?

I’ve received a number of emails about the signs along Ross Avenue indicating a proposal to change the name of the street to Cesar Chavez (between Live Oak and Houston Street). I wanted to explain the name-change process so those who want to participate in the decision-making process have the opportunity to do so.

Last month, the Trinity River City Council Committee unanimously passed a motion to recommend that Ross Avenue be renamed Cesar Chavez. The committee is comprised of Councilmembers Dave Neumann (Chair), Dr. Elba Garcia (Vice Chair), Dwaine Caraway, Carolyn Davis, Linda Koop, Pauline Medrano, Steve Salazar, and Mitchell Rasansky (who abstained due to a conflict). I am not on that committee and did not vote on this.

The name change proposal must now go through several more steps before it is finally approved or denied. The next step is for the Subdivision Review Committee to vote on the matter on September 18, 2008 at 9:00 a.m. in council chambers (1500 Marilla St., 6th floor). The Subdivision Review Committee is a subcommittee of the City Plan Commission, a board appointed by the mayor and city council that usually hears zoning cases.

The members of the Subdivision Review Committee are Plan Commissioners Clarence Gary (Chair), Sally Wolfish (Vice Chair), Michael Davis, and Tom Lueder. Prior to the hearing, each property owner on Ross Avenue will receive a reply sheet to advise the Committee of their position on the name change. Note that these reply forms are NOT ballots, and do not in themselves decide the outcome; they are provided to the Committee to advise them of the community’s position. The Subdivision Review Committee hearing is open to the public and the public is invited to make comments.

Whether the subcommittee votes in favor or against the name change, the next step is a public hearing before the full City Plan Commission on September 25, 2008 at 1:30 p.m. in council chambers. Ross Avenue property owners will again receive reply forms. This meeting is open to the public and the public may make comments. After that, a public hearing will be held before the City Council, but that has not been scheduled at this time. Because Ross Avenue is an historic street name, a three-quarter vote of the council is required to approve any name change.

Here is a page that more specifically explains the next steps in the name-change process as well as the governing city law.

Reunion: Should It Stay or Should It Go?

The City is discussing demolishing Reunion Arena and selling the site. Hunt/Woodbine have first right of refusal to purchase the site for 60 days after the city declares it surplus.

Right now, the city is losing about a million a year on Reunion. So why not just sell it?

Well, the real estate market, for one. It’s not a seller’s market right now (unless you’re selling land to the city for a hotel). If you had the option of selling your house right now or waiting for a market upturn, it would make more sense to wait.

If absolutely nothing can be done to utilize Reunion Arena before the market improves, then we could demolish it now and hold onto the land.

Another thing: Reunion Arena is incredibly close to the future Trinity Park, which could substantially improve the value of the property. Again, why sell now, in a buyer’s market? What’s the rush?