District 14 Dallas City Council member was officially reprimanded by the council after using his office to post a video on Facebook about a fundraiser.

By Ashley Stanley
Special Contributor

Dallas City Council members engaged in a lengthy discussion on Wednesday about the so-called “Kingston ethical lapse.” The body was charged with voting on a recommendation from the Ethics Advisory Commission to reprimand Dallas City Council member Philip Kingston for using his city office to film a campaign video — a clear violation of the ethics code recently approved by Kingston and his colleagues.

I was there hoping to come away with a story about economic development and performing arts because I attended a presentation at The Kimbell Art Museum in Fort Worth the day before. I wanted to see how this meeting would go and what outrage might ensue, especially with the bond program vote concluded, which included funding to repair several cultural and arts facilities such as the Wyly Theater.  I missed the arts item, but I did hear enough to appreciate Dallas Observer columnist Jim Schutze’s bathroom-wall article posed early (4 a.m.!) this morning.

Schutze referred to his weekly paper as the dish. If that is true, then I write for the dirt! Councilmember Lee Kleinman called Kingston’s lapse “going too far” and said it was “just wrong,” according to a story in The Dallas Morning News by Tristan Hallman. I missed that part of the conversation, but I sat down in time to hear Councilman Adam Medrano (a personal friend of Kingston’s) say, “Philip made a dumb mistake.” Or did he? Who knows? Who cares? This meeting was all about Dallas City Council member Dwaine Caraway, and I heard every word from that dude. Council meetings with that guy in office are free, front-row tickets to the funny show.

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In reality, “discussion”was a pop quiz allowing organizers to check a “community involvement” box

My headline is a riff on yesterday’s Jim Schutze piece over at the Observer titled, “Flying Monkeys Shield State Fair Contract Just When it Should Be Set on Fire.” If last year’s citywide kerfuffle about the Fair Park sweetheart deal Mayor Rawlings tried to give pal Walt Humann, complete with a $20 million per year dowry, didn’t tick you off enough, Schutze ices that cake with a Powerball-size shaft State Fair has given Dallas taxpayers.  It’s not super long, go read it … I’ll wait.

Done? … Seriously, go read it … Yes, now … Sheesh!

Also in that piece was a snippet about the obfuscation the city is employing in seeking bids to take over the management of Fair Park (because evidence shows the city is too lazy and inept). That snippet had perfect timing since last night there was apparently the only community meeting the hired consultants will be having.

Who are those consultants?  ABI Dallas, also known as Alpha Business Images, which is owned by Sophia Johnson … the wife of Mayor Rawlings’ very, very well-connected advisor for south Dallas, Willis Johnson (Google him). Seems our mayor is unable to seek input beyond his earmarked Rolodex. First Humann (who attended last night’s meeting) now the Johnson’s.  Who’s next in the alphabet?

Ironically, it was Sophia Johnson herself who spoke about the “complete integrity” of the Fair Park process.

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Panel 8.1.16

[Editor’s Note: We’re hosting a robust conversation about the future of Fair Park here on CandysDirt.com ahead of the 8:30 a.m., Aug. 4 City of Dallas Park Board meeting that could help decide the iconic landmark’s fate.]

UPDATE: We have the entire agenda, including the unabridged version of the Walt Humann proposal for managing Fair Park, embedded at the end of this piece.

If you care about the fate of Fair Park, you may want to show up to the Park Board meeting this Thursday. Or at least read the 20-year, $12 million management contract that the Park Board will be voting on.

Park Board Agenda

Monday night’s panel discussion on Fair Park and the potential Park Board vote on Walt Humann’s management contract filled the Hall of State (around 300 attendees.) Despite Mayor Mike Rawlings’ last-minute press conference Monday afternoon to “make sure everybody knows the exact truth of what’s happened,” that everyone’s behind this approach (a private firm managing Fair Park), that the Park Board has been talking to Walt for two years, and “now it’s time to vote.” It was all too dismissive of the community meeting scheduled for later in the day.

The community meeting was organized in less than 1 week, in response to the July 21st Park Board special work session meeting where board members walked out (see about minute 31 of the meeting) in objection to the truncated meeting agenda which limited a thorough discussion on the proposed management contract.  They are expected to vote on the management contract at the upcoming meeting at 8:30 a.m. Thursday, Aug. 4, which would then set it up for a city council vote. To enact the management contract for the next fiscal year, the agreement would need to be passed through council before next year’s budget is approved in September. These boards meet once a month, and the council meets twice a month with time required to put items on the agendas … you see the rush.

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mike miles former houseI would like to think so. There are so many varying opinions out there on his performance, and as for this last round of doo-doo,  I am still not sure I understand. What did Mike Mikes do that was so wrong and grounds for dismissal? Oh, he did not support his board, that’s it. And he leaked things to Jim Schutze at the Dallas Observer courting his support I guess, and trying to make himself look better than the board, allegedly. You know what they say: sometimes you have to be your own PR person. Maybe he has been too heavy-handed, his ego has enjoyed too much mountain air. But it was pretty darn rotten of his “detractors” to protest in front of his Hockaday house on his son’s birthday!

Don’t protest there again: Miles closed Thursday on the home, which was not in MLS, so the sales price won’t be published. You know what that means: give me a few days.

Meantime, Mike, now that the house is sold, why don’t you and the board all go on a retreat together and do some ropes courses? Maybe take the board to Colorado Springs for some white water rafting… might cost less than a hundred grand!

Michael Pollard

Some residents near White Rock Lake woke up to a tragedy – massive numbers of dead bees all over neighborhoods that were subject to ground spraying by the City of Dallas last night. Sure, I hate mosquitoes just as much as anyone else, and with a toddler, I’m really scared of West Nile Virus, but should we be using pesticides to fix this problem, or education and enforcement.

That’s the stance that the Brandon and Susan Pollard of the Texas Honeybee Guild are taking. Through its Facebook page, the guild shared a video of bees dying from broad-spectrum pesticides sprayed overnight by City of Dallas trucks. Photos are coming in from Lake Highlands and Lakewood of dead honeybees twitching and writhing on porches and lawns. And according to Jim Schutze, as far as preventing deaths from West Nile Virus, the spraying doesn’t do a darn thing.

The guild, which was featured in the Lakewood/East Dallas Advocate, is a champion of local agriculture and sells its raw and unfiltered “Zip Code Honey” at nearby farmers markets. What will the guild do if the city’s unfettered spraying kills all the bees? What about local agriculture?

Still, the city will continue to spray despite the deaths of pollinators and many other beneficial insects. Kind of makes you wonder if it’s even worth it to have an organic garden if the city is just spraying pesticides all over the place willy-nilly. If you’re wondering where the city will be spraying next, check out the schedules and maps on the City Hall website.

Tonight the city will be spraying in the Lake Highlands/Audelia area, the Scottsbluff area, and areas surrounding Lake June Road, so be sure to bring your pets inside. And just to be safe, stay inside this evening, too. OK?

Do you think that pesticide spraying will put people off from buying homes in Dallas?

 

Museum Tower J. SughrueStop whatever you are doing and read this column by The Observer’s Jim Schutze. He asks the very same question I had when I first read the Dallas Morning News story over a week ago about Mike Snyder’s fake Facebook accounts. The question is: if the Dallas Morning News analyzed Snyder’s IP addresses (those are numbers that link on-line comments to the source of the commenting, like a crumb trail) on his comments on the Dallas Morning News website, which are supposed to be anonymous, did they also check on others? In other words, did any “fake” comments or fake people make up comments on behalf of the Nasher? Did anyone check?

“I asked Rodrigue why the paper thought it was fair play to use information from its servers to out Snyder but made no equivalent effort to out another frequent pseudonymous commenter, “Wylie H.,” a fake-name warrior who fights on the side of the Nasher. By the way, my own very inexpert Internet sleuthing last week showed me that Wylie H. has accessed Facebook from within City Hall but also from within The Dallas Morning News building.

We do not know. The News traced only one side. They analyzed comments and saw similarities in some of the ones made by Mike himself and the fake persona. “

With apologies to Wylie H. Dallas, I generally do not like anonymous commenters. I think people can get carried away when they post anonymously and say things they might not say if they were looking you in the eye. Then the discussion gets mean and nasty, and begets more anonymous mud-slinging, especially is passion is involved. I also like to do one-on-one interviews, but that’s because I’m old-fashioned.

But here’s what people tell me: “I cannot use my name, it will get me in trouble. I’m a (insert occupation) professional.” Using anonymous comments with Realtors is like opening Pandora’s box because of the competitive nature of the biz. Can you imagine? Someone could post: “This home has bad juju” or “the owners are about to file for bankruptcy” or Lord knows what. I want some accountability, so we use Facebook-registered comments here, and I pray they are legit. This has not, however, stopped people from sending anonymous emails alerting me to things of which I need to know or, perhaps, check out.

Because that’s something else Jim Schutze points out: anonymous information can be very valuable and even lead to a revolution! Read this:

First of all, is there something intrinsically wrong, morally or ethically, with anonymous speech or its trickier cousin, pseudonymous speech, in which the speaker assumes a fake name to further camouflage his own identity?

Hope not. Anonymous and pseudonymous speech are stitched deep in the American concept of free speech, as they were woven into the very origins of our nation. The first public discussion of freedom and liberty in the colonies began when the letters of “Cato” (not his real name) began to appear in American newspapers in 1720.

Tom Paine‘s pamphlet, “Common Sense,” published in 1776, one of the most important sources of the popular concept of American liberty, did not include anywhere on its pages the name Thomas Paine. It was signed “An Englishman.”

From the beginning of our nation, American courts and especially the Supreme Court have protected anonymous and pseudonymous speech as essential to the preservation of liberty. The idea has always been that you should be able to challenge the legitimacy of the crown — or even say the king’s a fool — and not pay with your head, your livelihood or your freedom.

Ah, yes, American History 101, it’s eeking back: now this has me totally re-thinking my position. Suffice it to say that you can send me anonymous emails, and I will go to court to protect my sources if I have to! But when you get down to it, every move we make, every stroke we take, is traceable. I am on my cell phone 24/7. It’s not just a blueprint to my life, it’s a damn map! My husband tells me he is working on an app that will alert him whenever I walk into Neimans!

Please note,  I am NOT taking sides here. In my opinion, both parties should be spanked: Museum Tower failed to think of the future ramifications of it’s height and the energy-efficient building design. The Nasher was certainly here first and is a treasure to our city, but does that give them control over the whole neighborhood? Maybe each side should give in a little and see what happens. This is very much like two neighbors sparring over a property line or tree disagreement or house shadow or whatever. What bugs me is that that the media-based blogosphere, which Schutze says amounts to about 80 people,  seems to have taken one side quite firmly, screaming loudly.

In his weekly radio program with Eric Celeste, Schutze said “Dallas is a one-horse town.”

Well, it’s about time we got some more horses, because we are going NOWHERE with just one!