Source: Coalition for Community Housing Policy in the Public Interest

Source: Coalition for Community Housing Policy in the Public Interest

Hiring outside professionals to assess the systems and structure of a condominium is often scoffed at by HOAs because of the expense.  It’s as shortsighted as complaining about the cost of toothpaste. Condominiums are larger and definitely more complex than single-family homes. It’s negligent not to have plans in place that understand the current condition of the overall building coupled with a plan for regular maintenance that stretches out as far as the longest-lived components.

It’s also critical that reserve studies are performed by outsiders.  HOAs and management companies may either lack the expertise required or want to soft-pedal the truth to avoid uncomfortable conversations with residents.  We are generally “shoot the messenger” kind of people.

Another reason for using an outsider can be managing companies that also have their own staff contracted to perform repairs.  If they’re the ones doing the capital reserve studies, isn’t that a whopping conflict of interest? Didn’t Fair Park teach us that competitive bidding is best?


Most Endangered Historic Places in Dallas

Fair Park’s Hall of State (Photo: Michael Cagle)

My tip came in last week, this is what I was told by an anonymous source:

“The city attorney’s office is now telling Mayor Rawlings that the Humann plan won’t fly, that they were wrong, and they do need to open the bid up to RFPs.”

As a blogger, I guess I could have published that last week. Instead, I made a few phone calls to the Dallas City Attorney’s office. No response. Then I made a few phone calls Monday. No one has yet to return my call. I sent an email to Paul Simms yesterday, he responded nearly immediately that he had not heard anything.

Then today, Jim Schutze writes in the Dallas Observer — good Lord he posted at 4 a.m., my kind of hours — that the rumors are flying around City Hall that the Fair Park privatization plan is on its deathbed:

 …close observers around town are beginning to place bets on strong rumors that the Walt Humann Fair Park deal will fall apart soon. The ostensible reason – the one for public consumption — would be that a new adverse city attorney opinion says it wasn’t done right.



Monte Anderson fave

City Hall has been incredibly quiet about the Humann Foundation proposal for Fair Park.  We thought it would be on the agenda last Wednesday, when the City harangued the budget. In fact, money is in the new city budget for the Foundation’s first year.

But no word. We assume, that is, I assume, that the three City Council peeps assigned to hammer out the contract that was unappealing to the City Council August 30 are still working away.

Or this could be the reason. Mayor Rawlings has received an email from at least one developer (that we know of) asking for 30 days to get another proposal on the table:

From: Monte Anderson <>

Date: September 20, 2016 at 3:56:26 PM CDT

To: Mike Rawlings <>


Subject: Request to Submit Proposal for Fair Park

Dear Mayor Rawlings,

Michael Jenkins and I have put together a team to present an alternative proposal for the management of Fair Park.  We think we can improve upon the economics of the Humann Plan that is currently being considered.

We are asking you for 30 days to present our proposal.


Monte Anderson

Options Real Estate


Whoa Nelly: is this another plan for Fair Park that might include a park from the get go?

When it comes to developers who have had incredible success developing real estate in the not so savory neighborhoods of Dallas, the name Monte Anderson comes to mind rapidly. (more…)

Most Endangered Historic Places in Dallas

Preservation Dallas today held a conference to announce their 2016 most endangered listoric places in Dallas list. Photo: Irene Allender

“Historic preservation is the dynamic and deliberate process through which we decide what to keep from the present for the future, and then working to keep it.” —W. Brown Morton

Many historic buildings in Dallas face an uncertain future. Today, Preservation Dallas held a press conference to announce their 2016 “Most Endangered Historic Places in Dallas” list.

These are properties too important to lose, for their historic integrity to be diminished, or for the loss of their ability to be used to their full potential, said David Preziosi, Executive Director of Preservation Dallas.

“This list is a roadmap for advocacy, education and development of programs in the preservation community that address the needs of these endangered properties,” Preziosi said. “We must work diligently to protect the places on the list as they are important to the history and fabric of Dallas, for once they are gone, they are lost forever.”

These historic places are irreplaceable community assets that tell the story of the city’s development.

“We hope this list of endangered properties makes the citizens of Dallas aware of how many important historic buildings are at risk of being lost forever,” said Nicky DeFreece Emery, Board President of Preservation Dallas. “Preservation Dallas sees this list as an opportunity for all of us to be more thoughtful in how the city grows and develops.”

Some of them, like East Dallas’ Elbow Room, won’t surprise you. But others will. Read on to see the list.



It’s a bit long, 1 hour and 20 minutes to be exact, but this is the video you have all been waiting for. Full disclosure: it was provided by the Foundation for Community Empowerment, founded by Don Williams.

A week ago last Saturday morning, a lively panel discussion about the Fair Park proposal took place at Paul Quinn College. It was sponsored by the African American Leadership Institute and put together by state senator Royce West.

At the podium were Mayor Rawlings, Walt Humann, Don Williams, Royce West, John Wiley Price and Michael Phillips (author of White Metropolis).

Michael Phillips (who you see, above) was the first speaker, and he immediately launched into his concerns over the lack of public input, the lack of public communication, and his fears that the real estate around Fair park could become the latest victim of what he calls “domestic colonization.” I think a lot of people worry about that.

“I’m concerned by the fact that this valuable piece of Dallas real estate would be governed by a board that could meet without any public record. It’s a private corporation, right? A private foundation,” he said. Great points. Then he said this:

What’s really going on with “gentrification” is domestic colonization. And when you have a colonial relationship, that is designed to be unequal. That is not equal. You have an imperial power that extracts wealth out of a colony. That’s land, products and low wage labor, and that’s what goes on with gentrification. And then the colonial power then sells products at a grossly inflated rate and rips off the people who live in the colony. That’s what going on with gentrification. I want to make this clear.

I see Phillips’ point, particularly because of the history of this neighborhood, which is terrible. But it was really terrible in a lot of places in the world in the early part of the 20th century, NOT just in Fair Park. And it seems to me that “domestic colonization” has been going on around Fair Park for a long time. Few residents own their own homes, most are tenants. A cursory search on MLS shows few homes even for sale in this area.

Screen Shot 2016-09-19 at 8.58.34 PM

Which is why I think there is still a fighting chance for the people of this neighborhood with the right plan, a neighborhood park, and some help with home ownership. (more…)

White people on their annual pilgrimage to Fair Park

While the Dallas City Council — well, at least the three appointed Council members Mayor Rawlings asked to work on it — are busy re-shaping the Fair Park proposal that was presented to the entire Council by Walt Humann on August 29, others are still trying to slow the train. The City Council meets on September 21 to finalize the changes, accept or reject the plan. Word is the vote will be 10 for, 5 against.

Mayor Rawlings is now comparing Fair Park to Obamacare. “President Obama said “we gotta get health care done” and then he powered through it”…  that’s how Rawlings wants to “power through” Fair park Care.

Last Saturday morning, a lively panel discussion about Fair Park took place at Paul Quinn College sponsored by the African American Leadership Institute and state senator Royce West.

At the podium were Mayor Rawlings, Walt Humann, Don Williams, Royce West, John Wiley Price and Michael Phillips (author of White Metropolis). The panel was said to be full of fireworks.

Well, now you can take a look for yourself. We’ve posted some of the shorter videos here. You can clearly see that the audience was not pleased with the Mayor’s plan. Listen for the applause after Don Williams spoke. Folks like the notion of getting a park first and serious economic development underway, not just more low paying jobs mowing lawns etc. John Wiley Price –yes! — was amazing. Oh and the 800 lb. gorilla was mentioned, too.

But my favorite part was how Mike Rawlings compared the urgency for getting this plan shoved through to Obamacare: sometimes you just have to get ‘her done. Even if it turns out to be as messed up as Obamacare.



Future of Fair park mtgOn Thursday evening, Dallas City Councilwoman for District 7, Tiffinni Young, held an evening meeting at Fair Park in the African American Museum to fully inform her constituents about the Humann Plan for Fair park.

John Jenkins from the Dallas Park & Recreation Board was there to explain proposal basics, and Walt Humann took the stage with microphone to talk details. We are posting videos of the meeting here. Full disclosure: they were created by The Foundation for Community Empowerment, founded by Don Williams.

Just for your information, the videos are broken into eight segments. The meeting started with Mr. Jenkins, then Walt Humann took the stage, then Tiffinni Young wrapped.

Instead of offering Q&A with the audience immediately after the presentation, Tiffinni explained they would have break out groups, one with her, one with Mr. Humann, one with Adam McGough.

Young, McGough, and Monica Alonzo are the three Dallas City Council members charged with negotiating and revising the contract presented at the Dallas City Council briefing August 29.

At least one of the attendees thought the break-out method was unusual – I have been to many seminars and while break-out groups usually occur within a meeting, I have never seen them used as AFTER a meeting, unless you come back to everyone and “report” on what each group produced. This gentleman used this as another example of the City’s refusal to discuss the Fair Park Foundation plan openly. Why NOT an audience Q&A? (more…)

City Hall Fair park

There were a few empty seats at City Hall on Monday, but not many…

That’s why he is pushing this plan so hard, even if it costs taxpayers $7 to $9 million a year. Even if it doesn’t include a park. Even if it is just a camo jobs program that will be shifted to a private foundation where more shenanigans with taxpayer money can be hidden.

Even if it might be illegal.

I learned a lot by sitting through Monday’s four hour briefing. Which by the way, should have been held at a taxpayer-convenient time: evening or weekend.

One, I wondered why the mayor was so eager to get this thing done. Why did he say, at the end, “if we don’t pass this it doesn’t happen in the next twenty years. This is a democracy. Let’s talk, let’s get it done.”

A democracy all right: that’s why, after four really great hours of debate, five and a half council members ripping the plan apart, the Mayor hands it off to three of his buddies: Tiffany Young, Adam McGough and Monica Alonzo. He refused to include Adam Medrano — Fair Park is mostly in his district — because Adam said he was against it.

“It is near impossible to negotiate a deal with 30 people,” Rawlings said.

But isn’t that what a democracy does, what government does? Even McGough, his former chief of staff, who had posed some of the tougher questions, wanted to go on record as saying he was not ready to vote for the plan — and that was OK with Mr. Mayor, right?

The best recap of the afternoon can be found here, at

It’s clear now that Mayor Mike Rawlings doesn’t have the votes to ram through a version of the plan that would commit the city of Dallas to $600 million-plus in repairs, salaries, and fees, while leaving the actual park contingent on the success of some future fundraising drive. The issue is likely to come down to the votes of three African-American council members: Casey Thomas, II, Carolyn King Arnold and Erik Wilson.

I counted Jennifer Gates as a “half”, because she did ask some good questions, including the one I starred in my notes:  why are they offering jobs to all the current employees without performance reviews?

“Park and Recreation to evaluate performance,” was the response.

It’s stuff like that that has many people angry. Same old same old. Maybe its the last vestiges of Dallas holding onto its old small town ways. Still, I bet Jennifer and Lee Kleinman, my fiscal watchdog who was very reserved yesterday, vote with the mayor.

It’s not that we don’t want to implement a plan to revitalize Fair Park, restore and preserve the historical buildings properly, and finally give them the love they deserve. (more…)