THE STRAW MAN COMETH
by Scott Bennett    Sun, Oct 16, 2005, 11:52 AM

Convention-Center.jpgThere seems to be a consensus. Having canvassed a half dozen developer types around Dallas I found they are unanimous in asserting that it would be nearly impossible to make a bad deal with Ray Hunt so long as the city rids itself of Reunion Arena and its $1 million per year loss and unites the City's half of Parking Lot E with Ray Hunt's half of Parking Lot E. The fact Mayor Miller opposes almost any deal short of Mr. Hunt donating the land is given as an example of why ex-Muckrakers shouldn't run cities. Actually, there is a more practical side to the Mayor's anti-Hunt rant.

The Mayor put a lot of political chips on the strong Mayor election earlier this year and then rolled snake-eyes. The fact that half a dozen politically savvy, well financed, capable campaigners are lining up for her job is indication enough that she might be returned to muckraking come next election.

What the Mayor needs is to rally her base of angry taxpayers who are tired of so-called tax giveaways, pot holes and general governmental incompetence. In other words, she needs a "straw man." Now comes her favorite straw man: Ray Hunt. Look out Dallas she cries here comes another zillionaire trying to pick your pockets for fun and profit. Luckily, of course, the Mayor is here to defend the little taxpayer.

In this case the zillionaire is allowing the city to consolidate land that will garner $100 million in investment next to a convention center that is sitting idle all too often (yes, the same one where they Mayor is determined to build a hotel). It also unloads a White Elephant costing those Dallas taxpayers a million bucks. In a separate deal Mr. Hunt is asking for tax abatement on a new downtown office skyscraper that will keep his company downtown. Tax abatements are bad but if Dallas doesn't play this game it will evaporate in a few years. What kind of businessman would Hunt be if he spent a few million he didn't have to spend by moving to Irving ?

Even if the as yet to be fully disclosed deal could have been a better deal two-thirds of the Council has already said it cannot be a bad deal. It seems they see through the straw man.

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