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Good News Dallas
by Trey Garrison    Thu, May 18, 2006, 09:22 AM

Praise for the bond package and City Manager Mary Suhm was thick and sweet Wednesday afternoon, even if some think the thing needs some tweaking between now and November, when Dallas voters will give it the either the upturned thumb or the finger.

“I will see what my constituents think before I decide how big this should be. If Frisco can pass a $1 billion bond package and they have a fraction of the population, we may want it to be bigger, especially since we have $7 billion in needs,” Councilmember Elba Garcia said.

Mayor Laura Miller was against that, saying she didn’t think voters would support anything north of $1.28 billion.

“It’s as if they listened to each and every one of us and put in the things that are important,” said Councilmember Ed Oakley.

“I’m 90 percent with this. That’s better than 50 percent,” Councilmember Maxine Thornton-Reese said helpfully.

Councilmember James Fantroy said that the investments in the Southern sector in the bond program would help offset increased home appraisals in North Dallas.

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by Scott Bennett    Thu, May 18, 2006, 09:18 AM

Reuters is reporting that former top aid to President Bill Clinton Mac McClarty believes the United States and Canada should join in a "Marshall Plan" for Mexico.  Echoing Mexican Socialist Presidential candidate Lopez Obrador, McClarty suggested that at least $20 billion needed to be provide to Mexico over a 10 year period.  McClarty noted that the amount was considerably less than that being spent on the Iraq war.  McLarty is now president of Kissinger McLarty Associates, a consulting firm that includes former U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger. He is also senior adviser to the Carlyle Group.

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by Trey Garrison    Thu, May 18, 2006, 09:15 AM

Southern sector council members said they want discretionary funds included in the 2006 bond program, but Mayor Laura Miller was adamant in her opposition.

Miller said there’s no way she wants discretionary funds included.

Dallas City Councilmember and 2007 mayoral candidate Gary Griffith says he agrees with City Manager Mary Suhm that current 2006 bond proposal doesn’t need discretionary funds included as they were in the 2003 bond program, but at the same time he wants to work with her to develop an alternative and more transparent means to address smaller projects within districts that don’t “rise to the manager level.”

Griffith also said that the public perception of discretionary funds as a slush fund for council members that can be used with little oversight may not be accurate in reality, but it’s not a vehicle that lends itself to public trust.

“So I’d like to come up with some other way to fund these smaller projects through the city manager’s process, rather than as discretionary funds,” he said.

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by Scott Bennett    Thu, May 18, 2006, 09:05 AM

The Center for BrainHealth at The University of Texas at Dallas (UTD), a facility dedicated to cutting-edge research in the brain sciences, has received a $1 million donation from Irving, Texas, businessman Dennis Berman and his wife Claudia to establish the Berman Laboratory for Learning and Memory.

Primary research initiatives of the laboratory will include understanding how learning occurs, understanding how information is retained and deciphering how knowledge and memories are maintained throughout an individual’s lifetime. Researchers also will study how long-term information storage and memory maintenance is affected by aging.

In addition, the gift will fund the Berman Scholars Program, which will support young investigators through post-doctoral training in memory research, as well as the Berman Lecture Series, which will host a national or international expert each year to give a public talk about memory-related issues.

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by Trey Garrison    Thu, May 18, 2006, 08:09 AM

From public statements:

"[Love Field] is here to stay, and we are going to make sure Southwest Airlines keeps its headquarters here while protecting the integrity of the surrounding neighborhoods."
- Dallas Mayor Laura Miller

"I would be surprised if Dallas doesn't move forward to do something for consumers...The only issue that is meaningful in this is the restrictions on competition at Love."
- Southwest Airlines CEO Gary Kelly

"If we're going to discuss changing public policy, we just want the entire spectrum of options to be put on the table, and that includes closing Love Field as the cities intended."
- AMR Corp. Chairman & CEO Gerard Arpey

And as the Startlegram reported yesterday, Rep. Jeb Hensarling, R-Dallas, said he plans to “hit it and hit it hard on June 1,” if local leaders can’t pitch a proposal to Congress by the deadline he set. Hensarling and Rep. Sam Johnson, R-Plano, are pushing to repeal the Wright Amendment and are threatening action in Congress if local leaders and the airlines don’t act.

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by Scott Bennett    Wed, May 17, 2006, 06:40 PM

Dallas Blogger Michael Davis at notes that Dallas Park Board member Gloria Hogg is running for City Council in District 4 but seems not to have filed a Treasurer and would appear to be violating the City Charter by continuing to serve on the Park Board.  Good reporting Michael.

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by Tom Pauken    Wed, May 17, 2006, 06:08 PM

The Dallas plaintiffs law firm Baron & Budd, which specializes in asbestos litigation, was "number 3" in Business Week's rankings of "corporate benefactors" of Congressmen.  The list is composed of corporation and business entities that provide private, corporate jet service at a discounted price to Democratic and Republican Congressmen for their travels to various campaign events.  The Dallas law firm has been heavily involved in lobbying in Washington to oppose efforts to curtail asbestos litigation.  Fred Baron was a major supporter of John Edwards' campaign for President in 2004.  Only UST (a tobacco company) and Fedex provided more discounted private jet service to members of Congress between 2001 and 2005, according to the report by Rick Dunham in the May 22nd issue of Business Week. 

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by Tom Pauken    Wed, May 17, 2006, 06:02 PM

One week after Sen. John McCain gave the commencement address at the Rev. Jerry Falwell's Liberty University in a bid to woo the religious right for his 2008 Presidential campaign, McCain will appear in Delaware Saturday at a fundraiser for a leader of the liberal Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives, Rep. Mike Castle.  The Arizona Senator, who is widely viewed as the current frontrunner for the Republican nomination for President, obviously is engaged in a delicate balancing act as he tries to garner the support of the various factions of the Republican party.

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by Scott Bennett    Wed, May 17, 2006, 05:13 PM

Oil prices today dropped to $68.20 on the New York Mercantile Exchange and experts believe the may drop a bit more.  But that didn't assuage inflation worries as the core rate of inflation (excluding volatile food and energy prices) rose an unexpected .3% for the month of April and .6% when energy and food are included.  The stock market responded with a 214 point drop in the DOW on fears the Federal Reserve may further raise interest rates.  European exchanges have fallen 7% in value over the past few days. 

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by Trey Garrison    Wed, May 17, 2006, 05:12 PM

Jim Schutze writes this week again about the rezoning of Timber Creek apartments over at Northwest Highway and Skillman. Here it is. And while I respect the heck out of the guy, he’s not just wrong on this one - he’s beating the proverbial dead horse like DART cops beat hippies. And come on, how many times does he use “babies and mommas” in the column?

Schutze argues Trammell Crow shouldn’t have had the right to ask for its own property to be rezoned. In his argument, the wishes of renters are more important than the interest of the entity that owns the property. Sorry – that’s just not right. Not legally and not morally.

The renters want to have the property stay, which is certainly understandable, even though their only guarantee is the length of the rental contract they signed. Trammell Crow, meanwhile, has the right to seek rezoning. And in the end, even if the drama is “poor babies and mamas” cast against evil, rich developers, rights trump wants.

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