Vonciel Jones Hill Stands Athwart Convention Center Hotel Schemers and Yells “Halt!”

This is probably the best case against making Dallas taxpayers responsible for the $550 million convention center hotel scheme that’s been made by any elected official. Take a bow, Councilmember Hill. Nice reportin’ too, Sam. (This is the best case against it from an editor.)

The Case for Divided Government

Two things in government are always in order: a motion to adjourn and gridlock.

In the spirit of that second, Dallas-based writer/editor Jacob Sullum makes a good case for divided government.

Wednesday Roundup: Homeowner Bats 500, Lupe’s Grades, Grannies Gone Wild, Cuckolds & More

  • Sheriff Lupe Valdez says of her first term, “I would say it was great.” Wonder what qualifies in her world as “just okay.” The jail she’s in charge of has failed state inspection each and every one of those four years of her first term. And her own employees have endorsed her opponent. So, you know, ouch.
  • Define cuckold,” and then find it in this story.
  • Via The Agitator, your Wednesday morning Econ 101 lesson. No, really, watch it. Now.

My Home Internet is Down

Will be at least until 8 p.m. Talk amongst yourselves.

I’ll turn comments on. Feel free to spit on the floor and call the cat a bastard.

Tuesday Roundup: “I Don’t See Anything Wrong With This,” Probing Paris, A Run on Guns, Mustaches & More

  • Dallas City Councilmember Ron Natinsky, on spending $12,000 in city taxpayer funds for shopping bags, pizza cutters, letter openers, and tape measures bearing his name: “I don’t see anything wrong with this.” I’ll turn comments on. (Nice work, Dave Levinthal.) (And appropriate Natinsky’s name is found on so many tools.)
  • Shawn Williams at DallasSouth Blog and Scott Henson at Grits for Breakfast are all over the recent, grisly murder in Paris, and the racial aspects involved. Solid work, guys.
  • Leaving aside standard TV reporter ignorance on the proper name for semiautomatic sport rifles, this is otherwise a pretty balanced report, if a tad overblown. And good on people for thinking ahead. The future of tomorrow’s black market (sorry, JWP) starts with you planning ahead today. Give yourselves a round of applause.
  • The Reuters newsroom in New York reports that the Reuters newsroom in New York was evacuated. Wait a minute, how did they do that?

Kill the Inland Port Master Plan Idea. Kill It Dead.

Today the Dallas Morning News came out in favor of forcing a master plan on the International Inland Port.

If planned and executed properly, this public-private partnership should swell the tax base for a part of the county that sorely needs swelling. It only makes sense that something this complex — in effect, an international “port” at the nexus of rail lines, highways and, importantly, developable land — should have a comprehensive plan for the needed infrastructure, specifically roads, water and sewer.

Allow me to retort.

Dallas County, Hutchins, and Wilmer oppose the idea. Only the city of Dallas, which constitutes a quarter of the inland port’s acreage, and Lancaster, which has its own problems, support the creation of a whole new layer of bureaucracy, red tape, meddling, and disincentives.

So those against must seem crazy right? The inland port is some 75,000 acres, it’s complex, and it’s multi-jurisdictional. How can you not have a master plan?

Well, for starters, the Inland International Port of Dallas exists solely on paper. It’s an idea.

The area is roughly bounded by Interstate 20 to the north, Interstate 45 to the east, Interstate 35-E to the west, and the proposed Loop 9 alignment to the south. Within these uneven borders lie two major north-south rail lines, a Union Pacific intermodal facility that performs about 300,000 lifts a year, Lancaster Executive Airport, and plots with triple freeport inventory tax exemption (city, county, and school business inventory taxes for inventory held less than 175 days). The area also has pending designation as a foreign trade zone, part of the NAFTA trade corridor, and as a Texas enterprise zone. (This last bit is exactly what government should be doing if they want development — getting out of the way.)

The only part of the inland port it that’s real is The Allen Group’s portion of it. The Allen Group is the development company that’s been working for more than two years and has spent $6 million creating a comprehensive plan.

The Allen Group plans to develop at least 60 million square feet of space for what it calls the Dallas Logistics Hub, a major component of the inland port concept. The Hub will be roughly divided up into 65 percent for industrial and transportation development, with the balance going for office, logistics, retail, and other development. The developer hopes the existing UP intermodal yard, which currently handles 360,000 lifts a year but has a maximum capacity of 600,000, can be matched with the construction of a BNSF facility, which talk about town says could be double that capacity. In other words, a million lifts a year. A single lift represents about a $500 benefit to the area. Chew on that.

So the Allen Group? They have skin in the game. They’ve done the hard work. And despite what some people might think, people who invest that kind of money do, indeed, take the long view. (The Allen Group’s capital comes from immediate Allen family members, not far-flung investors, and it’s the majority of the company’s investment.)

The Allen Group stepped into a place long neglected by government, put their money where their mouth is, and put into motion a plan that will create jobs and better the community. Government has done almost exactly jack and squat, and now it wants to latch on like a parasite.

Think about how excited other potential investors will be when they find out that a company like Allen Group can work for years in good faith and spend millions to get through existing red tape, only to find out the controlling municipalities have exactly no problem saddling them with more on a whim, after the fact.

It’s not like the city of Dallas and the rest of the towns haven’t known what the Allen Group was up to. I wrote about the inland port and the Allen Group almost two years ago. And now, from almost out of nowhere, there comes demand for a multi-jurisdictional master plan? This late in the process, when it’s too late for Allen Group to pull out? Doesn’t seem at all strange to you?

What’s more, the area in question already has zoning, so we’re not talking about chaotic, haphazard development happening. There’s even a loose agreement among the municipalities on how the area should be developed. And developers take a longer view than politicians — they have long-term profits; politicians think of the next election.

The DMN concludes by insulting one of the few men who made a difference in South Dallas.

(CEO Richard) Allen has a lot riding on the success of his Dallas Logistics Hub, so it’s not hard to understand his desire to be left alone. Harder to grasp is his significant trust issue with everyone at every level of government who wants to make sure sound public policy supports private enterprise.

Are you kidding? Look, this is not government wanting to make sure sound public policy supports private anything. This is about johnny-come-lately elected officials looking to create a new layer of hurdles developers have to negotiate, which gives those in government more power, influence, and — make no mistake about it — more opportunities to squeeze companies at every turn

Mr. Allen might see enemies behind every tree, but it’s time he realized that the city of Dallas, among others, already has invested significant public funds in the inland port. It would make no sense now to injure a major private investor and blow that investment.

No, it’s never a good idea to seriously injure your host organism. You just latch on, and bleed it a little at a time.

I’m sorry, but a case has not been made for a master plan. We should never work from the baseline assumption that we need a “five year plan” or whatever from government for something to work. In fact, a top-down, all-seeing, rigid master plan will serve only to stifle development, slow development, and make developers kowtow before elected or appointed politicians who all want a taste of the action.

The inland port needs to be allowed to grow organically and naturally. It’s called spontaneous order, and it happens all the time. The place for government here is to ensure that utilities are generally coordinated, and then get out of the way. When you lock in grand, top-down designs, you lock out innovation and ideas that you haven’t thought of. You lock out evolving technologies and business models. You prevent investors and developers from working out their own solutions to problems you couldn’t possibly foresee.

With existing zoning and cooperation, development can be coordinated as it happens — not years and possibly decades before dirt is turned — and it can be flexible enough to adjust to what’s happening on the ground and in the market. Locked in is locked out.

Remember, only 6,000 acres of the 75,000 of the inland port have any kind of serious plan or money invested at all. The rest of it is rough ideas on paper. The demand for a government master plan is asking for someone who has no money at risk to come in, cleave to the competing wishes of politicians, and commit the whole thing to ink, when it’s still a pencil sketch.

Let it go, Dallas, Lancaster, and NTCOG. Leave them alone.

Monday Roundup: Anti-Swinger Jihad Continues, Another “Isolated Incident”, DISD Hiring? & More

  • It’s real obvious these people are just swingers, and neither organized criminal masterminds nor promoters of prostitution. More obvious that the city is overreaching big time, and sticking its nose into the affairs of consenting adults who aren’t harming anyone else. But since when is it against the law to have “large amounts of liquor” in your home? This isn’t Russia, Danny. Is this Russia?
  • Speaking of, is it getting ridiculous when just touching a cop is an arresting offense? And this wasn’t some street thug being threatening. It was a Dallas Fire Rescue Department captain berating a cop who was too slow in responding to the call. At least that’s what it looks like. The story is pretty badly written.
  • And speaking of incompetent federal agents at work, here’s your Monday morning Moment of Zen, courtesy the DEA:

The Campaign Dance Off

So worth it. (The best part is when the VPILF shows up.)

Unbelievable McCain Vs. Obama Dance-Off – Watch more free videos

Friday Roundup: Sex Offender Scare Tactics, Lady Looks Like a Dude, Superintendents Gone Wild & Naughty Nuns

  • Scott Henson takes on law enforcement agencies that grandstand to the media (which laps it up) over “sex offenders” during Halloween. Even though there’s been one — yes, one — trick-or-treating abduction ever, and that was 35 years ago. Money quote: “Let the kids go get some candy and have some fun, for heavens sake, and if you’re worried what will happen, tag along. It’s called ‘parenting.’”
  • The female of the species is more deadly than the male…
  • Some guy wants a Dallas-area Wal*Mart to remove their “Naughty Nun” Halloween costumes. Bonus: The guy looks exactly like Ned Flanders.

  • TG Bonus: Here’s me and the missus at a Halloween party about 15 years ago:

Free Speech: Void Where Prohibited by Law, Which Is At The Polls

So this is new to me.

Apparently, its against the law to wear a t-shirt, button, hat, or whatever with your candidate on it when you go to the polls.

Against. The. Law.

May I be the first to ask why? How? And most urgently, whiskey tango foxtrot?

If one of our most sacred rights enumerated in the first 10 Amendments is freedom of speech, why would we restrict it in that most important of speech flavors — political speech? And on election day(s), no less.

It’s mind bottling. I’m wracking my brains trying to come up with why anyone would have a problem with someone wearing an Obama, McCain, or Barr (whoop whoop!) t-shirt at the polls. Here’s all I could come up with.

  1. It might influence someone’s vote? Seriously? Has anyone’s mind ever been changed by a t-shirt? (Except maybe the one in <—- that picture?)
  2. Something about secret ballots? Huh? The guarantee of a secret ballot is the government won’t reveal who you vote for. It doesn’t restrict you from telling the world who you voted for.
  3. Um, I got nothing for No 3. I bet they don’t either.

Like 90 percent of laws, this is one that should be overturned. Or at least ignored.

In fact, yeah, I’m going to encourage you to send a link to this post to everyone you know in The DFW, and encourage them to break this asinine law. Seriously. I don’t care if you back Obama, McCain, or my candidate, the guy who looks like an effete French maître d’. Say “no more” to government muzzles and wear your political t-shirt to the polls. Overwhelm them.

The Powers That Be need help remembering they’re there to serve us, not the other way around. So help them out. Give them a hand, or at least a finger.