There will be no "Dallas City Limits" entertainment development, it appears.
Backers of the proposed $250 million, 400,000-square-foot entertainment complex near the downtown Dallas Convention Center were given two weeks to answer a list of questions on the financials and details of the deal they proposed with the city, and they couldn't get it together.
After a three hour executive session two weeks ago, Dallas City Limits partners Bill Beuck (the developer of the 900-acre Pinnacle Park), Billy Bob Barnett (of Billy Bob's Texas fame) and Spencer Taylor (who was instrumental in bringing Gilley’s to Dallas) were asked to show the council and ciuty staff their financials and other details, including guarantees on their own funding for the project, for which they were asking the city to kick in $20 million in infrastructure.
Despite the backing of some members of the council, Mayor Laura Miller took a hard line, saying she wasn't going to put up $20 million in tax money if the developers didn't have their own bank account for the project in order.
Donna HowardWith 40 of 40 precincts reporting (including early voting) Democrat Donna Howard defeated Republican Ben Bentzin 58% to 42% for a vacant Austin House District. The vote turns a Republican seat Democratic. The seat came open when the Republican incumbent resigned. The race was closely watched throughout the state and is considered a bell ringer victory for the Democrats.
The seat was also once held by State Ag Commissioner Susan Coombs who is now seeking to replace Carol Strayhorn as Comptroller. Coombs and Gov. Rick Perry's organization played an aggressive role in attempting to hold the house district for the Republicans. Although special elections can be tricky and unpredictable the GOP candidate, Ben Bentzin, was a handsome, well-financed, ex-Dell executive. Democrat Howard was an attractive campaigner who did not pretend to be anything but a liberal.
The primary issue was education and Howard's victory is heartening for candidates in both primaries who are critical of the governor's handling of that issue and the overall GOP performance. However former US House Majority Leader Tom DeLay's conduct was also a key issue as was the governor's quick call of the special election.
Many political observers believe that Howard's victory could mean that a Democratic takeover of the Texas House is a possibility.
A recent Rasmussen and Associates poll shows Gov. Rick Perry at 40 percent in a four-way race for governor, with Comptroller Carole Keeton Strayhorn at 31, Democrat former U.S. Rep. Chris Bell at 13 percent, and Kinky Friedman at 9 percent. With former Supreme Court Justice Bob Gammage as the nominee, the numbers change to Perry 38, Strayhorn 29, Gammage 18, Friedman at 8 percent. The margin of error is plus or minus 4.5 percent at a 95 percent confidence interval. The survey is based on a telephone poll of 500 likely voters.
Needless to say, the candidates are all putting their own spin on this. We have received press releases from Strayhorn and Gammage. In addition, Gov. Rick Perry’s campaign spokesman is quoted in the newspapers stating that Perry governs on principle, not polls. Strayhorn forwarded the poll to the press with a subject line “Perry in trouble, Strayhorn within single digits of him.”
And the Gammage campaign notes that it did better than Bell against Perry. "Our positive, progressive campaign for change is growing day by day", Gammage said. "Block by block, city by city, county by county we are revitalizing the Democratic Party and building for a better tomorrow."
Chris BellAnother interesting endorsement today in the ayem paper. The DMN likes Chris Bell, the fresh face in the Democratic primary for governor, over longtime pol Bob Gammage. The ed board prefers Bell's "pragmatic tone on issues like school funding that would position Democrats in the center" and feels he would work better with Republicans. Gammage, who has sat in various political chairs -- legislator, congressman and Supreme Court justice -- appears too progressive, too old-school Democrat. Gammage, however, seems to be attracting much of what's left of the Democrat loyalists, although many say they'll support Bell if he gets the nomination. Will it matter? Who knows. Dean Barkley, campaign manager for independent candidate Kinky Friedman, said last week in Dallas he has never seen a state Democratic party so down and out as the one in Texas.
Paul HackettThe New York Times reports today that, less than a year after Democratic leaders recruited him to run for the U.S. Senate in Ohio as a Democrat, Iraqi war vet Paul Hackett has been unceremoniously dumped by Senate Democratic leaders in favor of an incumbent Democratic Congressman Sherrod Brown.
The Democratic nominee will face incumbent Republican Mike DeWine in November.
Hackett ran a very strong race for Congress in a special election last year in what was thought to be a solid Republican district and was recruited by Democrats to run for the U.S. Senate this year.
In bowing out of the U.S. Senate race yesterday, Hackett had this to say: "This is an extremely disappointing decision that I feel has been forced on me." Hackett fingered Sen. Charles Schumer of New York and Sen. Harry Reid as being behind the effort to force him out of the race, according to the Times.
The Iraqi war vet indicated that the Democratic leaders wanted him to run again for Congress instead. But, Hackett said that he had already given his word to other Democratic candidates in that race that he wouldn’t run against them. Hackett was quoted as saying in the Times: "The Party keeps saying for me not to worry about those promises because in politics they are broken all the time. I don’t work that way. My word is my bond."
The Democrats have made a major effort to recruit Iraqi and Vietnam vets to run on the Democratic thicket this year with Hackett and Vietnam Veteran Jim Webb (recruited to run for the U.S. Senate in Virginia) being the most notable examples. Given the treatment Hackett has received, other vets may have second thoughts about running as Democrats going forward. To read the complete New York Times story, link here (registration required.)
Harry Whittington, the 78-year-old Texas lawyer shot by Vice President Dick Cheney Saturday during a South Texas hunting trip, has suffered a minorheart attack, the Associated Press has reported. Whittington has some birdshot in his heart and a Corpus Christi hospital administrator said he had the heart attack early Tuesday while being evaluated.
Like the Armstrong family, on whose ranch the quail hunt took place, Whittington is a longtime Texas Republican who has been close to governors and presidentsand was well known among political leaders and activists. He owns the Vaughn building in Austin, which has hosted Republican campaign headquarters for decades. George W. Bush used the building for his gubernatorial campaigns, current Texas Gov. Rick Perry has an office there now, and Karl Rove, former Gov. Bush's political guru, used to have an office there, the AP reported.
But Whittington has been involved in Texas politics going back to the 1960s, when he worked on John Tower's campaign for Senate. In the 1980s, Republican Gov. Bill Clements appointed him to the old Texas Board of Corrections, which oversaw a state prison system that had been declared unconstitutional by a federal judge. In 1999, he was named by Bush to lead the Texas Funeral Services Commission. He has served on other state boards and worked with other troubled agencies.
Whittington was reported to be in stable condition at Christus Spohn Hospital.
We recently had a lengthy talk with Mike Modano. Now, our conversation pre-dates the recent NHL gambling scandal. But in terms of the intellectual muscle of the world of hockey, the conversation is still revealing (oh, and funny, too). Check out 'The School of Fish'':