U.S. Attorney Erin Nealy Cox (center) announces the guilty plea of former Dallas City Council Member Carolyn Davis, and the indictment of Dallas developer Ruel Hamilton.

Former Dallas City Council member Carolyn Davis pleaded guilty to taking bribes from a local developer, the U.S. Attorney’s office announced Friday.

AmeriSouth Realty Group founder and CEO Ruel Hamilton was indicted on two counts of bribery as well, officials said. Documents for both Davis’ plea and Hamilton’s indictments were unsealed Friday.

US Attorney Erin Nealy Cox told reporters Friday that her office has “relentlessly” addressed public corruption cases in the last 14 months.

“And today, the reckoning continues,” she said.

Carolyn Davis

Davis admits to taking bribes while she was Housing Committee chair, sometime between November 2013 and June 2015. Her plea agrees that she took $40,000 from a developer for her assistance in getting an affordable housing project passed.

While Davis’ charges do not name Hamilton directly (he is called Person A), Hamilton is charged with two counts of bribery regarding local government receiving federal benefits.

Davis’ official charge is conspiracy to commit bribery concerning programs using federal funds.

“In return for the money — plus the offer of a consulting contract once her tenure at the City Council concluded — Council Member Davis admits she lobbied and voted for the authorization of a $2.5 million development loan to fund the Royal Crest housing project, along with a City of Dallas resolution supporting 9 percent tax credits for Royal Crest, which was competing with another project,” the DOJ’s press release said.

On its website, AmeriSouth touts 14 projects in six Texas cities, including Royal Crest. (more…)

Dallas City Councilman Kevin Felder surrendered Tuesday to felony charges stemming from an alleged scooter accident he is accused of fleeing from — and if convicted, those charges may mean more than a felony record.

Felder, who represents District 7, has been accused of fleeing the scene of an accident where he allegedly hit someone traveling by scooter in South Dallas.

Councilman Felder and his attorney, Pete Schulte, vehemently deny the charges. (more…)

Last night I broke the story on D Magazine of former Dallas Mayor Laura Miller’s apparent last-minute run for District 13’s council seat against incumbent Jennifer Gates. To review, I received an email inviting Athena condo residents to stop by HOA president Georgia Sue Black’s home to sign Miller’s petition. Candidates need 25 signatures to register as a candidate.

We checked at 3:30 p.m., and Miller had indeed filed the preliminary paperwork to be a candidate.

One reason (and perhaps the only) Miller seems to be running is her staunch opposition to any redevelopment in the area. Certainly, she’s been against every zoning case I’ve been aware of – outside area mansion add-ons – Highland House, sky bridge, Laurel apartments, St. Michael’s and all Angels, Pink Wall’s PD-15, etc..

The photo above was snapped in front of the 21-story Athena condos on Northwest Highway. Originally, these signs were near the St. Michael’s Frederick Square project. Coincidentally, Miller’s Campaign Treasurer is Doug Deason, the son of Darwin Deason who owns an 18,000 square foot condo on Douglas Avenue in back of the church’s proposed development.

Behind the Pink Wall, the irony of high-rise residents opposing any others is missed by a mile by residents. It smacks of a 2017 case where Toll Brothers sought approval for a high-rise in a high-rise-zoned area of Oak Lawn.  In that case, residents of The Plaza I & II high rises were bitterly opposed and equally oblivious to their own hypocrisy.

Now that Miller has filed, one imagines she can slap “Vote Laura Miller” on the “No More Towers” signs pockmarking the neighborhood.

(more…)

Dallas Housing Director David Noguera addresses members of the Greater Dallas Planning Council

The new City of Dallas director of housing and neighborhood revitalization, David Noguera, has jumped in with both feet — and seems to have a good handle on what he’s up against. The Greater Dallas Planning Council invited him to address to a group of dedicated local professionals last Thursday, and he made quite an impression.

(more…)

If you’ve looked to soften the blow of your property tax bill by renting out your back house or guest house, you may chafe under the rules which Dallas Development Code restricts Accessory Dwelling Units, or ADUs. But with a dearth of affordable rentals, more residents are keen to offer an option that wasn’t previously available. 

That’s why the City Plan Commission will review amendments to chapters 51 and 51A of the Dallas Development Code to allow ADUs and create more workable rules so that homeowners and renters can meet in the middle and close the housing gap. The draft ordinance allowing ADUs will go in front of the commission Thursday, June 22. The meeting starts at 9 a.m.

(more…)

It’s true: municipal bonds can help Dallas catch up on long-neglected infrastructure upgrades and repairs, but they can make projects cost more in the long run. (Photo: Luis Tamayo via flickr)

By Ashley Stanley
Special Contributor

City Council members were briefed last week about the Citizens Bond Task Force’s and city staff’s recommendations for an $800 million bond program that will appear on November’s ballot.

Stop what you are doing and ask yourself this question: “Do I know what a municipal bond is?” Allow me a minute or two to explain what they are and how they work in layman’s terms.

(more…)

john_carona

[Editor’s Note: Candy Evans is the founder and publisher of CandysDirt.com and is now running for Dallas City Council in District 11. The opinions expressed in this column are her own.]

Statement from former State Senator John Carona:

As your state senator, I always strove to propose and support pragmatic, fiscally responsible solutions to the state’s biggest problems. I made it a point to listen to everyone affected by a policy issue and craft solutions that served all of their interests. I believe Candy Evans is that kind of leader. It’s time for District 11 to be led by a uniter, a pragmatist, and someone who will treat people with the respect they deserve. I am proud to endorse Candy for Dallas City Council District 11.

I could not be more excited and HONORED to have just received the endorsement and trust of one of the most respected men in Texas politics or, as D Magazine so aptly put it, the last of the old-school Republicans, John Carona.

John was first elected to the Texas House of Representatives in 1990 then won a special election to the state Senate in 1996 to succeed Republican John N. Leedom. He was a state senator until January 2015. In the 2013 Texas legislative session, John Carona chaired the Senate Committee on Business and Commerce. He was also a member of the Senate Criminal Justice, Education, Jurisprudence and Redistricting committees. About that time, both our sons played football at St. Mark’s, and I enjoyed getting to know John, Debbie and Jeff.

Why is this so important to my City Council campaign? Because I share many of the “old” values of politics that John does, basic principles I believe we need to come back to our city in every single district. John always supported pragmatic budgeting in the State Senate keeping taxes low but funding the important infrastructure Texas needed for economic growth.

It’s too bad we didn’t have similar balance down at Dallas City Hall where critical infrastructure needs are being ignored. (more…)

District 11 map

[Editor’s Note: Candy Evans is the founder and publisher of CandysDirt.com and is now running for Dallas City Council in District 11. The opinions expressed in this column are her own.]

I was in New York City right after Thanksgiving, and the two largest mouthpieces in the world — the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal — were basically trashing Dallas. Everyone was talking about our police and fire pension problems, using the “b” word (bankruptcy!), putting us in the same league as Detroit.

Things have not been going so well in our city and in my District 11. In fact, over the last four years, they have gotten worse.

Lee Kleinman supported what I believe is a fiscal giveaway of Fair Park, a near billion-dollar plan that would squander the potential we have for real estate development and private sector job growth in southeast Dallas.

There was his proposal to kill the Dallas Film Commission, citing a “waste” of a measly $200,000 a year grant that results in about $475,000 in tax revenue and terrifically measurable branding for the city. Remember a little show called Dallas?

He has been working hard for the suburbs. He supports the Cotton Belt Corridor commuter rail alignment as a priority over a much-needed subway line reliever route in downtown Dallas. The Cotton Belt project will be a lot more beneficial to our northern neighbors, not us.

Crime has been on the rise in Dallas and in my district, and I don’t see it getting any better with record low police morale and a billion-dollar shortfall for their Police and Fire Pension fund. We are down to 3,252 officers, well below the target of 3,500.

We get less for our money: property taxes are going up, city services are going down.

And we obsess over grand scale projects when all we really need is to fix the damn streets.

All of this was supposed to get better come May. The rotting streets, parks, and other infrastructure (like drainage, to prevent flooding), failing traffic signals that don’t work when it rains, crumbling buildings, were all going to finally get fixed.

Lee Kleinman voted to postpone the bond election, kicking the can down the road just like everyone else. Even worse, he acted without an iota of input from the folks in our district, District 11, his constituents.

On one of the most important issues to Dallas voters, street repair, what does Lee Kleinman do? He cancels not one but TWO scheduled meetings on the bond.

Does he even know what the people he represents want? Does he care?

I am running for his seat because I want to inspire a culture at Dallas City Hall that puts us, the taxpayers, first.  Rather than turn our back on our police, we need a positive working relationship: listen, compromise, don’t bully. We need oversight and accountability in city government at every level, to use every tax dollar efficiently for the best return on taxpayer investment. We need to be available and accessible to the people we represent, communicating with district residents regularly through modern channels, not a list of haters.

Join me in bringing a respectful, transparent vision to our great city, a city that can truly have it all. Every Friday we will bring you a report from the campaign trail as we dig into the issues and find solutions, together.