Thursday Roundup: You’re Soaking In It

  • City council candidate John Jay Myers has the quote of the (yester)day regarding the latest foot-stamping, holding my breath ad from the astroturfers at RIP Dallas: “We want! we want! we want!” They sound like spoiled children. Go out and do, and stop trying to force me to buy you a hotel.” As Wick Allison notes today – it’s just a piss-poor deal for a dead-end industry..
  • If you doubt that government, by its very nature, is a bit of a shady enterprise — a protection racket where some are more equal than others — then take a gander at this.

Wick Allison: It’s a Bad Deal. Vote Yes.

sweepthelegMy sometime employer, longtime hero, and the guy I’d most love to see riding a Segway in the office, Wick Allison, sweeps the leg of the People’s Hotel, and offers a merciless explanation of why, even though we may need a convention hotel, the way the city wants to structure this deal is bad mojo and bad business.

To be blunt, the city is often not very good with numbers. For this fiscal year, it is projecting a $100 million operating deficit. For the hotel site, it paid $42 million to buy land appraised at $7 million (I’m still trying to figure that one out). Its projections for the hotel are so rose-colored that the pro-hotel campaign has not used them. The reason it hasn’t used them is that they don’t make sense.

But that hasn’t stopped the pro-hotel campaign from coming up with numbers of its own. For example, it trumpets the fact that the hotel will create 800 permanent jobs. At a $500 million investment (excluding the $50 million reserve fund), that’s a cost of $625,000 to create each job. If there is a case for such startling extravagance, this is a strange economic time to make it.

The pro-hotel campaign also tells us the hotel will not be paid for by our tax dollars. That is only true if we believe the city’s sunny-day scenario. But after the economic thunderstorms of the last eight months, is there anyone who would forecast that all future days will be sunny? A $50 million reserve fund may sound reasonable, until one remembers that the American Airlines Center was budgeted at $230 million but ended up at $420 million. So when the $50 million reserve runs dry, either from cost overruns or operating losses, where will the bondholders look for their money? To the taxpayers.

Money shot at the end — the bottom line is the bottom line:

It is the wrong deal at the wrong economic time based on the wrong numbers. Pardon me if, like our neighbors in Fort Worth, I don’t salute. I hope you won’t, either. Thank heaven Harlan Crow did not salute, or the bulldozers would already be digging the hole. Vote “Yes” on Proposition 1 – for good governance, fiscal prudence, and a healthy future for Dallas.

Read the full column here.

Wednesday Roundup: Taste the Creamy Filling

  • The corporate mandated pot-stirring from Belo for the People’s Hotel is bad enough — read any of Steve Blow’s bought and paid for house advertorials? — but is it so bad that writers aren’t putting their bylines on their assigned hit pieces?
  • DUI checkpoints a-comin’ unless they get derailed. “Your papers, citizen.”
  • Coinciding with the posting of my Star Trek movie review, there’s this bit of awesome — the instruction manual for the USS Enterprise.
  • Yes, but what about the local anchors now that the Great Hamthrax Panic is over? Won’t someone think of them?
  • ph2009050403123Finally, U.S. Rep Pete Sessions, R-Oh God It’s Dallas, has been partying it up at Tao in Las Vegas. Here’s the billboard for one of the GOP venues — “Always a Happy Ending.” (h/t Ed Cognoski.)

Tuesday Roundup: Star Trek is Back

  • …And my review will be up tomorrow.
  • New anti-hotel ad is good but there’s overreach where they quote Councilman Jerry Allen who said, “That’s an element of risk that’s out there. … Of course, by that time, I’ll be off council. So I cannot be held accountable.”
  • William McKenzie raises a lot of good points about the state of public schools in Texas, but the bottom line for me seems to be we should just return full control of schools to local school boards and let what happens, happen.

Full Pwnage*, Mr. Blow

(*Yes, I know, it’s old. Like Randall. I’m taking it back. It’s retro-hip as of now.)

Full disclosure please, Mr. Johnson

9:41 AM Fri, May 01, 2009 | | Yahoo! Buzz
Steve Blow/Columnist Bio |  E-mail |  News tips

Consultant Charles Johnson writes a scary guest column in today’s paper in which he dooms the proposed convention hotel in Dallas to financial failure.

I wish Mr. Johnson had also been honest enough to disclose that his opinion was bought and paid for by Harlan Crow, the hotel’s opponent in chief.


Strong and damaging accusation.

What’s your evidence his opinion was paid for?

I’d like to add, you’re asking for full disclosure.

The least you could do is disclose the hard evidence you have of your allegation.

Fair question. Anne Raymond told me.

So your saying he had no opinion or a contrary opinion to what he wrote today, and then when a check from Crow Holdings cleared, he either 1) did a 180 or 2) manufactured research to support a position he either did not hold previously, or didn’t hold at all?

Is that what you’re saying?

Oh, let’s not play cute. You know that full disclosure is simply about revealing personal/financial interests. How much importance to attach is left to readers.

What are the odds that a paid consultant in a political campaign would publicly proclaim anything other than what his patron wanted him to say? Probably worse than the odds that the convention center hotel would ever make money?

Oh, okay.

Then in the interest of full disclosure, will you now provide a comprehensive list of the land holdings around the CHH owned by the company that signs your paycheck, and its parent company? Since it is speculated the value of these parcels will rise, then that, too, is a personal/financial interest.

Then we can let readers decide how much importance to attach to that when evaluating your arguments for the hotel.

“Full” doesn’t mean half, after all.

Sorry that I can’t find it online. But in the Sunday, April 19 paper, a map ran along with a convention hotel story (page 16A) showing the location of all Belo property near the hotel site.

I’ll see about getting it posted online.

So it would be equally fair to say your position on the hotel is likewise “bought and paid for,” yes?

Hmmm… No, not equally fair.

I work for a company located in the vicinity of the hotel. My personal financial stake in the future of the hotel is near zero.

Your back peddle skills are Armstrongesque.

Wait – I’m confused. Was Charles Johnson paid to write the column, or was he once paid as a consultant for his real estate expertise?

Because if it’s the latter, well, yeah, there are similarities between Steve Blow and Charles Johnson.

Charles Johnson wrote something that just happens to jibe with an employer’s view, which he holds because he either thinks the hotel is a bad idea, or he thinks it will cut into his profits. Or both.

Steve Blow wrote something that just happens to jibe with an parent company’s views, because they think the hotel is a good idea, or because they stand to benefit substantially through real estate holdings.

I was pleased to see the map in Sunday’s paper, and the Belo property holdings have been mentioned as part of news converage.
But the Editorial Board urged voters to vote No on Prop 1 without a mention of said holdings. I know this isn’t their blog, but it’s worth noting here.

“My personal financial stake in the future of the hotel is near zero.”

This is a family friendly blog, so I won’t repeat my spontaneous utterance when I read this sentence.

1. Your employer owns a huge amount of land in the area of the Hotel.
2. Your employer has a broken business model and little hope of a course correction with out massive restructuring (try less than 1/4th of your current head count, and ceasing the publication of the paper version of The Paper).
3. Your employer has stated, publicly, that they intend to bridge the revenue gap by selling excess real estate. Therefore, your employer has a special interest in the value of the land they own around the convention center.
4. Therefore, so do you. If the hotel doesn’t get built, the cost of the land in the area won’t rise and the land will have to be sold for less money than your bosses would like. Less money from the land sales is less money for payroll, faster head count reductions, possibly bankruptcy, and maybe not existing at all.

How much longer do you think it will be before someone figures out this news paper probably doesn’t need three metro columnists anymore? It’s safe to assume the answer depends on the outcome of the Prop 1 vote.

You absolutely have an interest in seeing the value of your parent company’s land increase.

If it doesn’t, who gets the axe next?

My guess is the “journalists” who write drab, miserable human interest pieces.


RIP Dallas Challenges Me Debate. I Accept. Then, Radio Silence.

The head punchline of the joke that is RIP Dallas, “Grim,” challenged me to a debate via Twitter. I accepted, stipulating that they set up the venue, we work out a contract on the details (moderation, rebroadcast rights, editing, etc.) and that they pay me an honorarium for my time. And then…nothing. What gives?


Thursday Roundup: Does This Look Like a ‘Q’ to You?

  • There’s no part of this story about Ryan v Margolin that I don’t love. Keep. It. Coming.
  • Meanwhile, Bud Kennedy shows that the Guv is really going after the mouth-breathing crowd. I mean, yeah, I believe it’s been 100 days/100 epic fails, but are we really going to continue hearing this “Obama’s not a citizen!” stuff for the next four years? This is the right-wing’s version of the water-headed left-wing’s “the 2000 election was stolen!” whine.
  • Seriously though, if you are really worried about the swine flu epidemic, your risk factors, and possible symptoms, here’s a web site that will help you self diagnose —
  • And in two bits of Twitter news, first, if you’re not following the anchors and reporters from all three of the primary local network news stations, plus NBC, then you’re missing dozens OF cheery “morning” updates!!!! LOL :) that … well, it’s like getting a new blog post from Jane McGarry every 10 minutes. Or having Steve Blow text you.
  • Also, I’m getting love tweets.12

Merten Does Dallas. Dallas’ Mayor.

Been waiting for this feature story since Sam told me about it last week over lunch. Sam takes on the mayor and the People’s Hotel. Hie thee.

On My Reading List: Jim Schutze’s “The Accommodation”

Like Rod, I haven’t read it yet. But it’s now on the list for both the reasons Rod cites and because I just love reading Jim Schutze. Thus, The Accommodation is next, right after I finish this, this, and this. (h/t FB)

RIP Dallas Pulls Its Ads with the Ripped Off Soundtracks

picture-15I raised the question yesterday of whether RIP Dallas had secured the rights to the Rage Against the Machine music they used as a soundtrack.

Guess that answer is a 21-dot, red NO, because they’ve pulled the ad from Youtube.

(RIP Dallas’ campaign is becoming a case study for PR firms, to be filed under F.)

UPDATE: They pulled the first ad “This Is Our City” that “borrowed” the music of Citizen Cope and had to cost a bundle to shoot and produce, even if they saved on music costs.


UPDATE 2: Bethany Anderson offers free advice on free music.