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DALLAS MAY JUMP INTO ONLINE HOTEL BOOKING FEEDING FRENZY
by Trey Garrison    Tue, May 23, 2006, 07:50 AM

Remember how we told you a couple of weeks ago about how Mr. Laura Miller, aka Steve Wolens, was leading the charge by San Antonio in filing a dodgy lawsuit to shake down online travel companies?

Well, now Dallas wants to get in on the action, only it's a bit of a sticky wicket that the mayor's consort is already involved in such a suit.

For those just joining the game, the suit goes like this: Travelocity or some other online travel firm buys a $150 hotel room in, say, San Antonio at a wholesale price - say, $75 - and the Travelocity customer ends up buying it for, say, $100. That's still a bargain for the customer, since retail was originally $150. Travelocity currently pays hotel taxes on the $75 it paid for the room, not the $100 it charged the traveler.

Cities like San Antonio and now, apparently, Dallas think they deserve to tax Travelocity on the $100. No way this will end well.

The most chilling quote comes from Councilmember Ed Oakley. City and state politicians jealously eye Internet commerce, but Oakley sounds like he's salivating when he says, "It's really critical we get our hands around this. This may be the tip of the iceberg with Internet sales."

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LIKE AN OUTHOUSE RAT
by Trey Garrison    Tue, May 23, 2006, 07:36 AM

Just in case you forgot why commercial developers still hate having to deal with the City of Dallas, Dallas Mayor Laura Miller reminds you.

She and a few councilmembers want to arbitrarily pull the plug on the Cityplace TIF 14 years into a 20-year deal, because that's the way the wind blows this week - nevermind commitments or anything. Not that TIFs are a smart way to work anyhow, but in business a deal's a deal. Not so at 1500 Marilla.

When the TIF was created in the early 1990s, what is now a successful New Urbanist development with chi-chi shops and high-end condos and apartments was an ugly eyesore. The developers who pushed for the TIF put their own money at considerable risk to rehab the entire area, and the city committed to reimbursing them for the cost of some of the improvements for 20 years.

And now, Mayor Miller basically wants to punish them for their success by renegging on the deal.

Nice.

That's a great way to do business, Madame Mayor.

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SEVEN GAMES. POETIC MILESTONES. by The Fish
by Mike Fisher    Tue, May 23, 2006, 12:54 AM

Before the Mavs move on to the Western Conference Finals, we glance back at the milestones that helped keep us hostage for the last two weeks of Dallas-vs.-San Antonio. Click into the 'School of Fish':

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PERRY LAUNCHES TV CAMPAIGN TO TOUT SESSION ACCOMPLISHMENTS
by Will Lutz    Mon, May 22, 2006, 09:58 PM

Gov. Rick Perry's campaign announced that it is running radio and television ads touting the results of the recently concluded special session. The ads feature Perry describing the results of the special session. They focus on record property tax relief, new taxpayer protections, and the teacher pay raise. “A $15 billion property tax cut and more money for schools. We kept our promise to you,” Gov. Perry says in the ads. “The average homeowner will receive a $2,000 tax cut. Every teacher will receive a well-deserved pay raise. We closed corporate loopholes and passed new protections to keep taxes low. And we’re protecting our job climate – the best in the nation ...L ower property taxes, higher teacher salaries and the largest tax cut in history. That’s good for Texas.”

Comptroller Carole Keeton Strayhorn's campaign issued a statement criticizing the ads. “After more than six years of failures, the Governor apparently is not going to let the truth get in the way of a good story,” said Brad McClellan, Strayhorn’s campaign manager. “But Texas voters are smart and they will see his plan for what it is – the largest tax increase in Texas history. And the plan is still a staggering $23 billion short of the funds needed to pay for promised property tax cuts over the next five years.”

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DALLAS GRAND JURY HEARS CLOSING ARGUMENTS
by Brian Bodine    Mon, May 22, 2006, 05:13 PM

A Dallas grand jury will soon begin deliberating on the case of a former minister and import-export company founder who allegedly defrauded religious investors, according to the Houston Chronicle. In the closing arguments made on Monday, prosecutors claimed that company CEO Greg Setser was operating a “ponzi scheme” to pay some investors early with the money of other investors. Defense attorneys have argued that Setser was misled by close associates. Others in the Setser family have pleaded guilty to securities fraud.

In July of 2000, Setser and his associates fraudulently offered and sold unregistered securities to people in evangelical Christian congregations by using the IPIC and the Home Recovery Network Inc. to raise more than 160 million.

Click here for story 

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SOUTHWEST HOUSING HAS BEEN BUSY, IT SEEMS
by Trey Garrison    Mon, May 22, 2006, 10:25 AM

Dallas-based Southwest Housing, the low income housing developer smack dab in the middle of the FBI's investigation of various Dallas City Council members for bribery and other politician-related charges, has apparently been plying its questionable trade in other places in Texas, according to former CBS 11 and current San Antonio Express-News reporter Todd Bensman, linked here and here.. (Tip of the hat to Tim Rogers over at the FrontBurner.)

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NOT MUCH SUPPORT FOR BUSINESSES THAT HIRE ILLEGAL ALIENS
by Trey Garrison    Mon, May 22, 2006, 08:15 AM

An online poll over at the Dallas Business Journal seems to put to lie the contention that the business community is a big supporter of illegal immigration because of the economic benefits of cheap labor.

They ask "Should the federal government put more resources into enforcing laws against employers who hire illegal immigrants?" and as of this morning, it's running 86 percent "yes," 13 percent "no."

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WHOLE NEW MEANING TO COCK FIGHTING
by Trey Garrison    Mon, May 22, 2006, 08:03 AM

Guy brings home some chicken. Brother takes a piece without asking. Naturally it ended with a call to 911 and a trip for one of them to the jail and the other to the morgue.

Over chicken, remember.

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TEXAS KICKS OFF 'CLICK IT OR TICKET'
by Trey Garrison    Mon, May 22, 2006, 07:55 AM

Police officers in Texas are about to start cracking down on seatbelt scofflaws, kicking off their "click it or ticket" campaign between now and June 4.

Cops say the annual program with an upsurge in seatbelt use, from 76 percent in 2002 when the program started to 90 percent today.

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MAVS-SPURS: NUMBERS & PHILOSOPHY by The Fish
by Mike Fisher    Sun, May 21, 2006, 10:36 PM

Regarding Mavs-Spurs Game 7: Opinions are like. ... um, noses. Everybody's got one and they all smell. Except for my opinion, of course. Read all about it in the 'School of Fish':

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