And speaking of Steve Wolens, aka Mr. Laura Miller, he's one of the attorneys helping San Antonio with their desperate lawsuit against online travel companies, including three based here in Dallas-Fort Worth.
The suit goes like this: Travelocity or some other online travel firm buys a hotel room in San Antonio at wholesale price - say, $75 - and the Travelocity customer ends up buying it for $125, which is still a bargain for the customer, since retail is usually $150. Travelocity currently pays hotel taxes on the $75 it paid for the room, not the $125 it charged the traveler.
San Antonio, which like so many other cities has all the fiscal discipline of a pack of teenage girls on a mall outing and eyes Internet commerce like a fat man does the buffet at Pancho's, thinks it deserves to tax Travelocity on the $125. Wolens says the suit is on behalf of all cities in Texas. It's hard out there for a pimp.
Well, it's pretty much an admission from the daily that their Saturday story on Mayor Laura Miller owning some AMR Corp. stock while she was on the D/FW Airport board was much ado about nothing, especially the wild overestimation of her potential profit - although to be fair, Dave Levinthal based his maximum on the range of profit reported, since she wasn't specific in her personal financial disclosure.
Not that it excuses her husband, attorney and former state representative Steve Wolens, who she says bought the stock without her knowing about it, and without him knowing it could be a conflict of interest. Right. I mean, either he's about as sharp as a bag of wet hair, or else he's not telling the truth. Pick one, Steve.
Far and away the money shot of this episode is finding out what Her Honor's real feelings for the daily's city hall reporter are. From an e-mail she sent to Belo and copied to other media.
“I never got a reply from Dave [Levinthal] to my email. Did Dave go out of town and not read DFW’s correspondence? Did he not receive my email? Is he lazy? Is he dumb? Does he have an axe to grind? Is he just not professional?"
"There is a reason that I have not spoken to him in months, and will only reply to his questions via email. Because he is a poor excuse for a journalist, and you all never do anything to address his repeated sloppy reporting. When I worked for The Dallas Morning News 20 years ago, you had better standards. I hereby formally request a written correction in your newspaper.”
Ouch. We've invited Dave Levinthal to respond, should he choose to.
Both the Texas House and Texas Senate adopted conference reports today on HB 4, the "liar's affidavit" portion of the Perry-Sharp tax proposal. The bill creates a presumptive value for sales tax purposes on private sales of used cars based on databases such as the Kelley Blue Book value. The vote in the Senate was 21-10. The bill must now be signed in the presence of both chambers, a formality likely completed within the next couple of days. Then it goes to the governor.
In reference to his $800,000 statue park plan that includes a proposed bust of himself, I button-holed Councilman Leo Chaney at City Hall today.
Bottom line: He says if the proposed statue of himself holds up the process at all, he wants his name removed from the list of the 75 or so South Dallas leaders in "Opportunity Park."
Following is his statement on the matter with nothing redacted, edited or taken out of context.
"I had an idea of creating a park that depicted the history of South Dallas/Fair Park. I made a suggestion to my park board member that he organize a commitee, which he did, of folks who live and breathe and work in South Dallas/Fair Park. Thgere was a nomination process that went out through the entire city. Different tier one, tier two, tier three people were nominated by the citizens of Dallas. And there was criteria established. I'm not saying it was a complete certified list. They had representatives from Black Dallas Remembered, the Washington/Lincoln Alumni Association, educators who'd been in that community for 40 years and they came up with a list of folks. If they thought enough of me, and I've not gotten any official recognition notice. I haven't seen the final concept the guy has planned for the park other than the fact that it's going to be very unique. I don't want the fact that the community thought enough of me as a councilperson as a person who conceived the whole South Dallas Walk of Fame, I don't want that to overshadow what we're attempting to do. It's a park with homemakers, barbers, people who do - I mean I didn't select this, I weas selected. I had nothing to do with it. So I don't want people thinking I'm trying to erect a statue to myself because certainly I'm not. I've told the folks I don't have to be on this."
"My vision is that this is a historic site. In South Dallas/Fair Park since I've been on the council I changed the district, the PD, put in a PD, we made Juanita Craft's house a historic designation. My whole vision is history. South Dallas Cultural Center, the African American Museum of Cultural Arts, I developed the Project Re-Entry Program for the City of Dallas has, the living wage position that the City of Dallas has, that was me. The municipal art, I mean, so folks, and before that I was on the Plan Commission. So the people said 'Hey, we love you.' So I don't want to, I said nix me. I haven't even seen the concept or the plan."
"As long as I'm sitting on the council, no. I'm honored they would think of me. But if they would think of me, but if that's a deal breaker, take me off. That's the real deal. It wasn't about me. It's about those people in history."
The future for an aging, low-income apartment complex that Trammell Crow Co. owns and wants to tear down in favor of retail development may be decided at Wednesday’s council meeting.
Residents of the aging Timber Creek apartments at Northwest Highway and Skillman Street want the city to say no to Trammell Crow’s petition to rezone the property. Trammell Crow wants the property rezoned “regional retail.”
The developer has been a little cagey with exactly what they want to develop on the property, but it is their property. I smell the plot of "Breakin' 3: Electric Boogaloo Returns."
Texas Republican pollster Lance Tarrance was quoted in a story in the Washington Post over the weekend as saying that "this administration may be over. By and large, if you want to be tough about it, the relevancy of this administration on policy may be over." Tarrance was the leading Republilcan pollster in the country in the late 1960s through the 1970s and has been an active Republican ever since he worked in the research division of the Texas Republican Party in the 1960s. He later was President of the Gallup organization. According to the Post, a new poll by Tarrance's current polling organization (RT Strategies) "shows that 59 percent of Americans disapprove of Bush's job performance" while only 36 percent approve.
The Washington Post article reported that "Tarrance said it would be extremely difficult for any president to bounce back this late in his administration and reassert influence on Capitol Hill when his approval rating barely exceeds his party's base of support and half of all adults surveyed said they 'strongly disapprove' of his performance." Tarrance cited the increased opposition to the war in Iraq as a major factor in accounting for the President's loss of support: "We will have a referendum on Iraq for the first time in '06, and the '08 election may be similar. The two elections are going to be relatively bundled together because of Iraq."
The Tarrance poll comes on the heels of an AP poll Friday which showed that over 30 percent of self-identified conservatives hope that the GOP will lose control of Congress this fall.
Well sorta. And only for juveniles, who don't really count as people. An item on the consent agenda for Wednesday’s city council meeting may amend chapter 31 of the city code to “regulate the possession of graffiti implements commonly used to deface and destroy public and private property.”
This appears to be an adjunct to the city’s crusade to clean up graffiti on public and private buildings, a charge being led by Councilmember Angela Hunt.
Seems a little ominous and a little lazy. After all, spray cans don’t deface buildings – people do. Granted, a 16-year-old with a bag full of spray cans is probably up to no good. But then a 16-year-old walking down the street with a baseball bat may be on his way to a game, or may be on his way to go brain someone. Arresting people for what they might do? Don't seem right.
Different views are being expressed on President Bush’s pick for CIA Director. Foxnews.com reports that House Intelligence Committee Chairman Peter Hoekstra (R-Mich) said that Gen. Michael Hayden is the wrong person for the job since putting Hayden in charge of the CIA would mean that military officials would be in control of all the major spy agencies. Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) had similar comments and has said that the CIA is meant to be a civilian agency. Other influential lawmakers, however, have said Hayden is very qualified, citing his broad intelligence experience. Hayden is also backed by Director of National Intelligence John Negroponte.
In Idaho, some people are using the old fashion way of getting around – by horses. Idaho’s KIFI TV reports that locals in Rexburg, Idaho would rather burn hay than fuel. To make their point that gas prices are too high, the locals plan on saddling up on horseback at least once a month.