[Editor’s note: Jon Anderson is a columnist for CandysDirt.com who lives in District 13. His opinions are his own.]

I have to admit, had I been drinking milk, it would have squirted out of my nose when I was forwarded an email from a few Preston Hollow residents. It blared out:

CHANGE IS COMING to District 13!!! (and I don’t mean Staubach’s supersized version) Click the links below – AND: SIGN the change.org petition – AND: GO PARTICIPATE IN DEMOCRACY FEBRUARY 19th at 6:30pm at Hyer Elementary!!!!!!!!! SPREAD THE WORD NOW!!!!!
(three pro-Laura Miller links)
SORRY JEN: LONG LIVE DEMOCRACY!

Its poor grammar, bombastic language, and the accompanying misleading images reminded me of the sound of a group of seagulls hovering over a restaurant dumpster – or basically, the internet. I wonder if they’ll be yelling “LONG LIVE DEMOCRACY” if Laura Miller loses her race against council member Jennifer Gates?

First, the campaign seems to be run by the same people who delivered the recent towers meeting. Everything is assumed to be the evil plot of council member Jennifer Gates – almost like it were politically motivated.

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[Editor’s note: Jon Anderson is a columnist for CandysDirt.com who lives in District 13. His opinions are his own.]

It’s only been a few days since I broke the story of former Dallas mayor Laura Miller’s candidacy for city council District 13, and the whirlwind of sound bites has already begun. Multiple news outlets have reported variations on Miller’s bite of being a “mellow” 60-year-old in an attempt to distance herself from her combative days as mayor. Any news outlet covering Miller’s campaign will quickly see that for the political lie it is. Ignoring Miller’s combative attacks on council member Jennifer Gates, how “mellow” is it to join Twitter for the express purpose of calling out Gates in six tweets that now seem to have been scrubbed? But as you’ll see below, Twitter never forgets.

(Editor’s note: Miller did not delete her Tweets, they were all replies to Gates, which we documented in this December 2018 story. In the interest of transparency, we’re linking to it now, and indicating our error with a mark through).

Ignoring campaign rhetoric japes, Miller is unabashedly running for city council because of zoning – specifically, two zoning cases that haven’t made it to plan commission yet. This myopathy pigeonholes her as a one-trick-pony candidate in a district and city that requires more.

Equally telling is a seeming lack of research by Dallas news outlets. WFAA identified Miller supporter Steve Dawson as a “resident.” Dawson lives in University Park and can’t vote for her. His family owns a small apartment complex behind the Pink Wall. As regular readers know, seemingly to keep competition out, Dawson fought the Pink Wall’s Laurel development at Miller’s side and continues to fight area progress. In the WFAA story, Dawson claims Miller has wide support in District 13. If that were true, why didn’t she offer up a “reference” who actually lives in the district?

In Miller’s announcement, she names former Sen. John Carona and former city council members Donna Blumer, Mitchell Rasansky, and Sid Stahl as supporters. Given their admitted ignorance of the zoning issues in the district, I wonder if their support is little more than the toll of friendship.

That a city district with many needs is reduced to a single issue in a single area should be troubling to residents living outside the Preston Center orbit. To get very specific, anyone who is untouched by St. Michael and All Angel’s proposed development of Frederick Square and the redevelopment of Planned Development District 15 (PD-15) within the Pink Wall should be very wary of Miller’s desire to do much for you.

For those involved with these two zoning cases, Miller may wind up being a paper tiger.

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Recommendation carves Preston Tower separated to maintain existing commercial office space

The original, decades-old PD-15 documentation is faulted for its lack of clarity. Unfortunately, the new document reflecting city staff’s recommendations has its own issues with clarity (Draft PD and Presentation).  You will recall that last November, Council Member Jennifer Gates sent the second neighborhood committee home after being bogged down a second time by non-negotiable towers’ representatives. During the two ensuing months, city staff were to have created their own recommendations based on their research and experience. Unfortunately, given the output, I suspect work only began after the Christmas wrapping paper was cleared.

First, the document doesn’t stand on its own as an obviously understandable document. Instead, questions abound, requiring significant explanation by city staff at last night’s meeting. Hopefully as the draft tightens, these ambiguities are made clear to future readers.

For those who enjoy spoilers, the city’s recommendations call for the area between northwest Highway and Diamond Head Circle to support 240-foot heights, while from Diamond Head Circle northward to the alley could build to 96 feet in height. Overall, the PD would equalize density at 90 units per acre. The rough result would be 540-750 total units (405-615 new). Why the spread? You’ll have to read to the end.

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Dallas electionsFourteen Dallas City Council seats and three Dallas Independent School District trustee seats are up for grabs on May 6. I’ll start saying this early — as I always do: It can cost somewhere around $1 million to hold an election, and in most May Dallas elections, we see less than 10 percent of voters turning out to vote.

And it really couldn’t be much easier. Check and see if you’re registered to vote here.  If you’re not, you can click here to register. If you vote early, you can vote at any early voting polling location in the county – so on your way to work, during your lunch break, on your way home, or even on a Saturday. The last day to register to vote is April 6. Early voting begins April 24 and will continue through May 2 for all Dallas elections.

The last day to register to vote is April 6. Early voting begins April 24 and will continue through May 2. You can even vote on a Saturday or a Sunday.

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Screen Shot 2016-12-06 at 11.28.55 AMThis is one of the biggest pickles Dallas, or really any U.S. city, has been in.

As we have mentioned, the police and fire pension is asking the taxpayers of Dallas to make up a $1.1 billion shortfall. At the same time, the police are SUING Dallas for $4 illion in back pay, IF they are victorious in ther lawsuit.

The mayor of Dallas has personally filed a lawsuit against the fund, asking it to put a halt to the DROP program, which he maintains is bleeding it. And the Dallas City Council will be hashing it out all day tomorrow.

A real estate connection: the mayor’s lawyer, by the way, is Mike Gruber, husband of Dave Perry-Miller’s Diane Gruber, father of Dave Perry-Miller’s Becky Gruber.

There are a trifecta of issues to consider, and Jennifer Staubach Gates sent the entire briefing to her email list. That woman is the queen of transparency.

On the one hand, we have the police filing suit against the city of Dallas, the taxpayers, in a lawsuit that goes way back to 1994, more than twenty years ago. The lawsuit is over a pay differential: that is, the police say that every time the city gives one member or group of members (such as new recruits) on he force a raise, everyone on the force gets one. Whole new meaning to “Let the force be with you.” Dallas says no, but a stupid state law from 2005 is fueling that flame.

We have put the briefing up for all to read. Of note: (more…)

H-E-B

DFW Internet was set ablaze yesterday after H-E-B announced the purchase of six Sun Fresh Market stores in the area. (Photo by Dave Stone/Flickr)

Monday afternoon, the Dallas-area Internet exploded: It wasn’t just a rumor, the long-desired H-E-B grocery store chain had bought up six Sunfresh Market sites — four in Dallas, one in Grapevine, and one in McKinney.

Interestingly enough, it seems like the drumbeat for expansion may have been happening even earlier than this, judging from this thread in Retail Watchers.

As neighborhood NextDoor pages and Facebook groups filled with the requisite 15 reposts of the same Dallas Morning News article, people began to express their joy at the possibility of the area finally getting the stores that are ubiquitous in Central and Southeast Texas, but not so much around here. They also began to guess about which it would be – Central Market, or H-E-B. (more…)

Task Force Title SM

UPDATE:  Both D Magazine’s Frontburner and Dallas Morning News’ City Hall Blog referenced this posting today.

 

The session on Feb. 16 was different from the recent Preston Center Task Force meetings. Nearly all the task force members were there … and about 50 residents showed up as well! Before I run through the high points, a pair of interesting things …

During the meeting, I was paying particular attention to Laura Miller, as she tends to speak often and with some authority. I’m not sure if her demeanor had softened with the blue jeans she was wearing, but at some point I realized she’s smart-smart versus just opportunistic-political-smart. I’m not saying I completely agree with her, but she connects the dots quicker than most. And lately, I’ve been in too many rooms filled with people unable to connect the dots.

Secondly, after the meeting I approached councilwoman Gates to make a (constructive) suggestion (that I’ll get to later) and her preemptive question was to ask if what was said tonight matched up with the plan I’d crafted oh so many months ago. “Kinda” I said, caught a little off guard. (In truth, I’ve said I don’t have the resources to drill into development comparisons as these consultants have, but my plan and conclusions have a lot of similarities.)

Anyway …

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It was probably the most beautiful memorial service most of us will ever attend, and it was totally befitting Ebby Halliday Acers, the Duchess of Dallas Real Estate as her pastor, Dr. Jim Denison, called her. The sanctuary at Park Cities Baptist Church on Thursday afternoon was loaded, as was the balcony, and I’m told it holds 3000. The church hall, which holds another 1000, was set up for the overflow.

The afternoon service was laced with beautiful music, beginning with a performance by the Happy Hill Farm Academy choir, Happy Hill being one of the many charities Ebby supported.

Mary Frances Burleson, president and CEO of Ebby Halliday Realtors, remembered Ebby first. Mary Frances started with the company as a temporary secretary, who Ebby asked to stay on permanently. Back then she said she made about $2.50 an hour — “Ebby was my graduate school,” she said. (more…)