COMMENTARY: SOUTH OF THE TRINITY By Rufus Shaw
by Scott Bennett    Fri, Oct 14, 2005, 08:00 AM

From South Of The Trinity - By Rufus Shaw

Friday, October 7th, the Dallas Morning News ran a front page story outlining some of the activities of South of the Trinity Councilman Leo Chaney, Jr. and his relationship with Southwest Housing. Both Councilman Chaney and the owner of Southwest Housing are being investigated by the FBI. As a matter of fact, all of the African-American council members have had information regarding their activities at city hall subpoenaed. I can only speculate as to the reason for this serious expose-looking piece which was supposed to expose a corrupt link between Chaney and Southwest Housing. Instead of convincing the Black community that Councilman Chaney has surely done something wrong, the Morning News article raised even more questions about its coverage of this unprecedented FBI probe of city hall and why Mayor Miller has somehow escaped the attention of federal investigators.

The Morning News story documented several actions of Councilman Chaney and Southwest Housing regarding Chaney’s fundraising activities and Southwest Housing’s non-profit donations. None of what I read involved any kind of criminal or unethical behavior on the part of Chaney or Southwest Housing. After burning up miles of ink trying to infer a “pay for vote scheme”, involving Chaney and Southwest Housing, the Morning News succeeded in only documenting activities that Mayor Miller has frequently been accused of doing.

According to the Mayor’s campaign records, Southwest Housing and its owner are some of Mayor Miller’s biggest campaign donors. Mayor Miller has also championed virtually all of Southwest Housing’s projects when they have come before the council even those now controversial projects south of the Trinity that the Black council members are being queried about. What is a mystery to the African-American community is why the Dallas Morning News has never done a comparison linking Southwest Housing’ campaign donations to Mayor Miller’s own vote and advocacy for Southwest Housing. This is exactly what the paper did in attempting to explain Leo Chaney’s relationship with Southwest Housing.

Councilman Leo Chaney, Jr. got donations from Southwest Housing for a non-profit organization he supports in South Dallas. Mayor Laura Miller’s own fundraising efforts for the Blackwood Strong Mayor proposal is no less troubling. Even though the Dallas City Attorney ruled the Mayor nor any city council person or board and commission member could raise money for or against the soundly defeated Blackwood Strong Mayor Proposal, it was an open secret that Mayor Miller worked the phones calling donors to donate to the group promoting passage of the Blackwood Strong Mayor proposal. One of the contributors to the Blackwood Strong Mayor proposal was none other then Brian Potahasnik, owner of Southwest Housing. South of the Trinity, we think these coincidences deserve the scrutiny of a concerned press and the attention of federal investigators.

If the lack of coverage of the Mayor’s role in the city hall scandal is not enough, the Mayor who lost the Dallas Cowboys is now trying to convince us that she really wants to keep the Texas/OU game. In truth the question of if the Texas/OU game goes or stays has been on the table at city hall since I was on the Park Board in 1992. One might recall during Mayor Steve Bartlett’s tenure, we floated a ½ cent sales tax referendum to the voters. If it had passed, the Fair Park and the Cotton Bowl would have received much needed improvements. But the measure failed at the ballot box because white North Dallas voters voted overwhelmingly against it. Which makes those of us South of the Trinity wonder if white North Dallas voters are really interested in investing millions of dollars in southern sector institutions so that Texas and OU alums can come see one football game The Dallas Zoo, located south of the Trinity, has had similar problems attracting money to make it more viable.

Those of us South of the Trinity cannot quite understand how Mayor Miller can continue to not be a subject in the FBI probe of city hall. We cannot understand how a Mayor who lost the Dallas Cowboys can possibly have credibility trying to keep the Texas/OU football game. I mean, from what I understand, she did not even go to the game! And she has free good seats and a parking pass! Those alone maybe reason enough for the Texas/OU people to move on. We certainly cannot understand why voters in North Dallas want to see this mayor with more power. That’s what it looks like from South of the Trinity.

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