Peep-hole power

It's a scary world out there, but someone's gotta keep it under control. Jim Schutze uncovers the secret agony of the Dallas Citizens Council.

It may also be worth mentioning that Mayes and Caraway got to the council by unseating predecessors who were distinctly unappetizing to the Citizens Council crowd--public-housing activist Mattie Nash, who could be tough, but especially grassroots activist Diane Ragsdale, who probably really just did not like very many white people. If there was a method here--if the money was spent to get minority politics under control--then it was a very effective method, indeed.

The mix in Mayes' money pot is slightly different, but not by much. She gets money from Jan Collmer of Collmer Semiconductor, a former Citizens Council chairman; Pete Schenkel, of course; former mayor Robert Folsom (DCC); Ray Hunt (DCC); the apartment owners association; George Schafer (DCC) of the levee gang; J. McDonald Williams (DCC) of the Crow Companies, along with both Harlan (DCC) and Trammell (DCC) Crow (who stand to benefit hugely from the river deal); Cliff Booth, who is one of the downtown loft developers with their hands out to the council for tax subsidies; Biegler (DCC); Hughes & Luce, the law firm of Tom Luce (DCC); the Real Estate Council; and Bill Solomon (DCC) of Austin Industries. Solomon, again, is a former Citizens Council chairman, and his company stands to build a lot of the river project if it ever gets through the environmental impact process and receives a green light from the feds.

Mayes also gets money from the Southland Financial Corporation's JPI Good Government Fund, a PAC that distributes greenbacks for the Carpenter family (DCC), whose money is from utilities and real estate. Because of the imprecision of her reports, it's a little difficult to put a precise number to the importance of these contributions, but they appear to constitute well over 90 percent of all the money she collects.

Tom Hicks (DCC), who with Ross Perot Jr. (DCC) is building himself a new sports arena at our expense, shows up sometimes as Tom Hicks, mainly in the white districts, and sometimes as other people in the more diverse parts of town. That's not to say that Randall Fojtasek, who recently sold Hicks a large manufacturing firm and then was allowed to stay on as CEO, isn't sincerely interested himself in the city council career of District 2 representative John Loza, or that his sincere interest is not what motivated him to give Loza the legal maximum $1,000 individual contribution.

It is true that at the height of the arena debate, it was Loza who made a stirring speech in council chambers in which he denounced critics who called Hicks' arena deal "corporate welfare."

"It's time for those who would use that term to get off their high horses," Loza told the microphone, "and let's face reality. This will be a project that will benefit Dallas."

Fojtasek, who went to high school with Loza, calls his business deal with Hicks and his support of Loza "independent events." Other members of the Fojtasek family who made maximum contributions to Loza were Russell, Joe, and Olamae G. Fojtasek. Even though he lives in Highland Park, a few blocks from the Dallas Country Club, Randall Fojtasek says his only aim is good government for Dallas.

Loza joins other non-North Dallas council persons in benefiting regularly from the largesse of the Breakfast Group, Blair Goggan, and the other regular cast of characters.

Like Hicks, the Perots, junior and senior, are more likely to appear under their own names in the more North Dallas campaigns of people such as Lois Finkelman, District 11, and Mary Poss, District 9. Perhaps by coincidence, close business associates of theirs, such as Alliance Airport developer Bill Bueck (also involved in the Pinnacle Park industrial development), feel called to support candidates like the very reticent Steve Salazar, who warms the chair for District 1. It's touching to see that Bill Bueck's wife, Exa, also was moved to contribute the maximum to Salazar's campaign.

Salazar is far and away the most smiled-upon beneficiary of the downtown interests. In one reporting period last year, when he raised $12,925 in contributions, $12,150 of it came from identifiable downtown sources including the Real Estate Council, Biegler, Blair Goggan, Collmer, the family Beuck, Halff Associates (the engineering firm doing most of the design work on the river deal), Cliff Booth, Hughes & Luce, and the Dallas Breakfast Group.

The Citizens Council types have not thrown away their dollars. Instead of the troublesome Ragsdale or the nettlesome Nash, instead of the independent white council members like Jim Buerger, whom Oak Cliff used to send over once in a while, the Citizens Council now can gaze upon these same city council seats and see a veritable choir of support for their pet projects.

Deputy Mayor Pro Tem Salazar was a cheerleader with Mayor Kirk at rallies in support of the arena deal. The Morning News endorsed him, it said, because, even though he was suspected of being friendly with State Rep. Domingo Garcia (a News no-no), he had been a very good lad in his support of the river deal.

John Loza, passionate in his defense of the arena deal, summed up the other two biggies, the river and the 2012 Olympics, by saying, "Dallas can do both."

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