Dallas to Build City-Owned Convention Center Hotel

Tonight, Prop 1 failed 49% to 51%.

I would like to thank Harlan Crow for his effort to allow the citizens of Dallas to have a say in the city’s proposal to build a convention center hotel. I would also like to thank Anne Raymond for tirelessly debating the issue and educating voters. I have been in her position before, and it is a grueling, challenging task. Continue reading

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Last Night’s Trinity Meeting

Last night, the North Texas Tollway Authority and Texas Dept. of Transportation held a “public hearing” on the location for the Trinity Toll Road. I put “public hearing” in quotes because (1) you can’t see me doing air quotes, which are obnoxious anyway, and (2) it was anything but a public hearing.

I won’t use the word “sham” because it’s loaded and a little heavy-handed. But here’s what happened: Continue reading

Trinity Toll Road Public Hearing on Tuesday, May 5

In recent months, several facts have come to light that suggest that Dallas should reconsider its decision to locate the Trinity Toll Road in our city’s floodway.

First, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers announced that Dallas’ levees failed to meet their new, post-Katrina safety standards. The Corps also discovered sand in our levees, which presents a problem for toll road construction. Further, the Corps indicated concerns about allowing the toll road’s large concrete piers to pierce the levees, which could weaken them.

In addition, the North Texas Tollway Authority acknowledged that there is a billion dollar funding gap for the toll road. No additional funding sources have been identified. 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.

[mappress]

Juvenile Curfew

The council considered whether to renew the juvenile nighttime curfew, and whether to expand the curfew to include daytime hours (9am to 2pm) on weekdays.

The new law makes it illegal for children to be in public between the hours of 9am and 2pm on weekdays (there are several defenses: being accompanied by parent, school wasn’t in session, etc.). The purpose of the law is to punish truants with fines of up to $500. State law prevents schools from imposing fines or otherwise penalizing students until they have committed 10 offenses. Supporters argue that a daytime curfew will reduce juvenile crime.

While I understand the motivation of those supporting this ordinance, I cannot support a curfew that criminalizes children being in public places. I also cannot support an ordinance that will further burden our police when they are struggling to respond to serious 911 calls. Furthermore, because Dallas has dozens and dozens of private and public schools, all with their own calendars and holidays, imposing a juvenile daytime curfew will prove an administrative nightmare for police.

The daytime curfew is unnecessary. If the purpose is to get truants off the street, the police already have the authority to stop truants and taken them back to their schools.

I voted against the nighttime curfew (it passed 13-1). The council unanimously delayed the daytime curfew decision to May 13.

Why are the Mayor and Ron Natinsky Lying to Voters (Again)?

I have tried very hard to parse my words and not be so blunt about it, but the fact is, the Mayor is lying about the convention center hotel.

The Mayor (along with Ron Natinsky) has told voters that without a hotel, the convention center itself is going to be a drain on Dallas taxpayers, costing taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars. That is simply not true. Continue reading

Let’s Play “Who Loves Dallas More”

I am amazed by the rhetoric of some of the hotel supporters who claim to be “pro-Dallas” who argue that we MUST have a hotel or our city will die…. Really? So, we haven’t had a convention center hotel, our convention business is on the upswing and doing better than publicly-owned hotel cities like Houston and Denver, yet our city will be ruined without a hotel? I seem to recall our city was also going to fail without a toll road in the Trinity Park. How’s that working out?

If we’re going to play “who loves Dallas more,” then a fair argument can be made that hotel proponents who claim the sky will fall without a city-owned hotel are actually anti-Dallas. They see nothing beneficial or desirable about our city except huge, expensive projects (Calatrava bridges, Trinity toll roads, convention center hotels). They think so little of Dallas and what we have to offer that they desperately throw money at any unnecessary (but flashy) project just to convince people we’re a decent city. Whatever your position on the hotel, our city has much more to offer than the Mayor and others give it credit for, and we don’t need a hotel or any other massive, taxpayer-funded monument to excess to prove it.