Give her what she wants

Olympics committee finds Dallas boosters' attitudes toward our city council a little scary

Duncan says harping on it is just a way for Miller and Blumer to "generate publicity and controversy, unless somebody wants to intervene in the negotiations, which there seems to be a pattern of."

That pattern of city council members wanting to "intervene in the negotiations," of course, is what some people call governance.

The initial issue that spurred Miller's interest in the bid process--the IOC's demand for a government guarantee of the entire 2012 budget--may well get resolved. Mayor Kirk has argued from the beginning that the bid committee and the city would negotiate their way out of it.

Dallas lawyer Tom Luce, who heads the bid committee, predicted this week in Phoenix that the issue of a guarantee will go away long before 2012 arrives.

"It's a totally false issue," Luce says. "This is a 12-year process, and I feel sure at the end of the process when we submit a bid that this problem will be worked out to the satisfaction of everyone."

Luce suggested there may be other ways to guarantee the budget--"a third party in the private sector or event insurance, for example"--that will meet the IOC's needs without tying up tax dollars. He said he thinks no American city will agree to the guarantee the IOC seems to be asking for now--an assessment supported by a number of seasoned Olympics watchers in recent weeks.

"I am not going to ask the city of Dallas to enter into an open-ended guarantee, period," Luce says.

The "third party" idea seemed to be something USOC manager Saye might already have heard about before the gathering in Phoenix last weekend.

"We want someone guaranteeing deficits in case the money isn't there when needed and the bill collectors come calling," Saye said. "The city of Dallas may say, 'We have this third party over here to guarantee the deficit.' Maybe it's some rich oilman, or whatever. And that's probably fine."

The irony is that the Dallas bid committee could succeed in putting the issue of a financial guarantee to bed but put Dallas out of the bidding by looking too much like a cabal. It's that old problem the city has always had when it tries to take its lock-step act on the road: The marching makes people nervous.

Whatever else comes out of it, Miller succeeded last week in achieving a significant but typically under-reported triumph: In an extremely rare show of backbone, four other council members joined Miller and Blumer in overriding the mayor's flat refusal to let the council vote on any of this.

Miller and Blumer had asked that the issue of getting information from the bid committee be put on the agenda last week, so that the council could at least discuss and debate the issue. Kirk used his official mayoral power to refuse to allow the proposal to come up for a vote.

The charter provides that five members of the council can override the mayor's veto and get the item back on the agenda, after a delay of six weeks. Miller and Blumer persuaded John Loza, Charlotte Mayes, Don Hicks, and Barbara Mallory-Caraway to join them in a resolution calling for a vote next month on Miller's demand for information.

All of that will be beside the point by then, of course, because the U.S. Olympic Committee has made it plain: They want Luce's group to show Miller and the rest of the council everything they want to see, and the USOC wants a resolution from the council confirming that they have seen it and know what the deal is.

Of course, that leaves the question of what the USOC can do if the Dallas City Council decides it still doesn't want to see the documents because it still doesn't want to know what the deal is (the "we're not worthy" school of governance). But probably what they do in a case like that is just send the games to Los Angeles anyway.

Great murals out there.

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