By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
Ware: I don't have that information. Cliff indicated that when he put this group together he wanted information and based on his request for the information as it relates [to] the assessment of the location of the facility over the Convention Center and whether or not it conflicted with the Convention Center master plan. Ms. Elam and staff in public works didn't feel that they had in-house expertise and since they had JPJ already under contract to do the Convention Center expansion, they went to them and JPJ charged [them] and we paid them for their assistance. And that's the information I have; I don't have any information to the contrary.
Garcia: Were any other groups paid besides...?
Ware: Two, JPJ and Austin Commercial.
Garcia: How much did each one make?
Ware: JPJ, $48,000. Austin Commercial, $1,500.
Garcia: Have you made contact with either of those two companies to see if they (unintelligible) with Ms. Elam and her staff?
Ware: That will come from Jennifer Varley. That's [why] we have regular vulnerability reports.
Garcia: I would like to have an audit done and an investigation done to determine how they felt they would make this decision. The last question I have is: Who cut it, who killed it? And who decided it doesn't go to council? Somebody higher up than Louise Elam said 'this plan's no good, we're going to start all over again and not worry about it.' Who decided that?
Keheley: I disbanded the study group. I didn't even know the study had been together. I was unaware that there was even a draft report. I didn't kill it, but I did tell the group that I felt like, due [to] the fact that we pretty much now had representation [on] the Crawford committee and knew what they were recommending--that they were not recommending any specific site--that we did not need to expend any further effort on that and told the committee to go about their routine business.
Garcia: I just think this hurts the integrity of the process. I think it hurts the integrity of logic, stats. And I'm concerned that outside interests will, for whatever intention or profit driven or whatever driven, are having a disproportionate amount of influence at least on the mid-level staff and then might be filtering up. And for me as a council member, it makes it really difficult to make a decision when we don't have all the facts. Now we're talking about lot "E" site and that was just thrown out and said (unintelligible) and now I get this and then the 'who' rumor starts, and I don't know how to respond.
Ware: I share your concerns, quite frankly. When Mr. Stimson came to talk to me about 10 days ago, the first time, we got into a spirited discussion even then. I feel after having that discussion, to find out that there is another document that exists, probably I would have had a different kind of discussion with him if I had known. I agree with you as it relates to not the city's integrity foremost and staff integrity secondly--that's why I've asked Jennifer Varley to go over there and take a look at our vulnerability on two bases--one relates to this particular project but two, as it relates to the capacity of any staff member to do this, regardless of intent, again, on any project.
City Councilwoman Sandra Crenshaw: I think that moving at the rate of speed and the level of intensity that this council has expressed an interest [in] and [with] all the publicity, that maybe perhaps we have some staff that were overzealous, who thought that it was in their purview to proceed, particularly when you mention the fact that the money that they paid for this was money that was left over [from] the convention study and this in fact could be used to determine whether or not this was going to conflict. I think that there was some concern when the Convention Center was built that it have a view of this city, is that correct? And maybe, perhaps, they found some kind of correlation. But I'm wondering if [it] becomes a bigger flap and this is blown out of proportion, what kind of signal will that send to our competitors, so to speak, that maybe Dallas doesn't have their act together, that we're struggling, that we can't even come up with a site selection of a place?
Fielding: That's what I'm telling you. You better convince me before I walk out of this room!
Crenshaw: That we're struggling, we can't even do something internally, that none of us know what we're doing up here and people that they send down to represent them and their interests are not being told. And I think that we'll lose in the long run if a big flap is made out of this--which I agree with Mr. Luna [about], and I'm sure that this is not the only time that this has happened--but considering the amount of publicity, the pressure, the intensity, the great speed in which we are moving, obviously someone thought they were doing the correct thing, and I would hate for it to just kill the whole project because of this misfortune.