Gates Takes Exception to Laura Miller’s Pink Wall Op-Ed, Both Take to Twitter

Sunday may be a day of rest, but it seems that journalists, politicians, and Twitter never really rest, and that was borne out yesterday when Dallas city councilmember Jennifer Gates took to Twitter to air her feelings about a recent op-ed about Preston Center traffic woes that former Mayor and Preston Hollow resident Laura Miller wrote for the Dallas Morning News.

We were, of course, sitting up for this super straight. Because over at CandysDirt.com, we’ve been writing about Pink Wall/Preston Center shenanigans for years now, and our own Jon Anderson has been doggedly covering the issues Miller wrote about — to a different conclusion, natch — for years now as he covers PD-15. And before he picked up the baton, Candy was writing about it as well. Candy has also been transparent about owning property there, as does Miller (through her husband, Steve Wolens, who inherited an Athena unit) except she was not so transparent. And we were the first media outlet to report the terrible Preston Place condo fire in which a woman lost her life.

Miller wrote in the Dallas Morning News about the prospects for the Pink Wall and Preston Center (and that interchange), and then said this:

“On the other side of Preston Center, council member Jennifer Gates and Plan Commissioner Margot Murphy have been pushing for 18 months to up-zone the 12 acres in and around the Athena and Preston Tower so developers can demolish four low-rise condo complexes and replace them with rental-apartment towers as high as 25 stories. Hal Anderson, who designed and developed the iconic Pink Wall community 60 years ago — one of the last fully owner-occupied, tree-lined, condo communities in Dallas — would be heartbroken.”

And that was news to a lot of people, including Jon (more on that in a minute), who not only lives at The Athena but has been faithfully covering the meetings surrounding the issue for years, and, apparently, to Gates, who took to Twitter to insist she hadn’t taken a position, and in fact had been seeking neighborhood input

Whew. That’s a lot to unpack.

You’ll notice that Gates tweets a link to Jon’s most recent PD-15 story, which details the emails Miller sent out to schedule a meeting with Gates regarding PD-15 and the whole Pink Wall issue. “Laura Miller enlisted a group of former politicians and personal friends to stump for a cause that many, if not all, had little personal stake in and who are highly unlikely to fully understand the issue outside what Miller has told them,” Jon wrote.

“Based on email exchanges obtained from an open records request, the purpose of the meeting seemed to essentially be to harangue Council Member Gates and Commissioner Murphy into disbanding the authorized hearing,” he wrote in a piece about the meeting itself.

“With smoothness hinting at practice, Gates simply closed the doors to Crazytown – without the finger-pointing I personally couldn’t resist. She outlined and reiterated what has been said and reported for over a year. Simply:

  1. Developers can file for a building permit only if they want to rebuild exactly what exists/existed.
  2. Developers can file a zoning case for the 65-ish surplus units that remain unbuilt in PD-15. But the case would be “DOA” at Plan Commission and City Council because assigning those surplus units to one property would enrich them at the expense of the other property owners in PD-15. Translation: Not gonna happen.
  3. The representatives from the six properties within PD-15 could unanimously agree to changes to the PD and present those to Plan Commission and Council. That process failed a year ago almost entirely because of Preston Tower and the Athena.
  4. The current Authorized Hearing process is the only way to increase the limitations within the PD and move forward.

So the plan for Preston Tower’s Bob Bowling to call for a dissolution of the Authorized Hearing to force developers to file zoning cases directly with Plan Commission was always a fool’s errand. It was comical to listen to towers representatives surprised to (again) re-learn the truth behind this process.”

So what do you think? Should Gates debate Miller? What are Laura Miller’s real motives? Is Gates correct in being exasperated with Miller’s op-ed? Also, how stoked are you to find out what kind of snark Jon will lay down about this later this week? P.S: Mr Deason owns a major property in the area… stay tuned.

Bethany Erickson is the education and public policy writer for CandysDirt.com. She is also the Director of Audience Engagement for Candy’s Media Group. She is a member of the Online News Association, the Education Writers Association, the International Academy of Digital Arts and Sciences, the National Association of Real Estate Editors, and the Society of Professional Journalists, and is the 2018 NAREE Gold winner for best series, and won a 2018 Hugh Aynesworth Award from the Dallas Press Club for editorial opinion. Contact her at bethany@candysdirt.com.

2 Comment

  • Most Dallasites… those who have really LIVED here for many years… know well that Laura Miller always has an agenda, and that whatever that agenda may be, she does not share her true intent. We first must remember that we lost any possibility of the Cowboy stadium solely due to Laura Miller – acting on her own. SHE decided we didn’t “need,” the income from such a large undertaking. Many other shenanigans – but, that is the easiest to remember for all of us.
    NEVER trust Miller, or her words; they are meaningless.

  • Laura Miller needs to get lost……her behavior and conduct are appalling, and she’s been a detriment to the city.