No means yes

City council speaks with forked tongue on tax funding for the Olympic bid

To its credit, the subcommittee agreed with Miller that the full council should be briefed and take an official position at its next meeting on the issue. But City Manager Ted Benavides refused to put the briefing item on the council agenda, saying he would brief the council on it next month when he deals with several other legislative issues.

Saul, of the News, did not report on the controversy at the subcommittee meeting in his newspaper the next day. Nevertheless, word bubbled to the surface when Mayes, chairperson of the subcommittee, complained that Mayor Ron Kirk had threatened to strip her of her chairmanship for even suggesting the issue be brought to the full council.

Kirk denies threatening her.
In the meantime, there are frequent indications that Olympics boosters in Dallas are finding their ways around the no-taxes vow to ensure that Dallas won't be left out of any lucrative tax deals the Legislature might pass.

Rep. Arthur Reyna, a San Antonio Democrat, is sponsor of the House bill to provide Olympics funding for cities seeking to host Olympic and sub-Olympic events in the future. Reyna says the main person he has heard from on his bill is Ron Kirk.

"Right around the time all the excitement started in Dallas with Laura Miller," Reyna says, "he called and assured me he supported the legislation and that she didn't speak for the whole council."

Kirk confirmed that he had called Reyna, but only, he said, because he knew reporters would start calling him after Miller called Tom Luce a liar over the issue of tax support. "I called him privately to give him a heads-up after Laura Miller slashed around indiscriminately at a council meeting and called Tom Luce a liar and so on. I wanted to let him know that a majority of the council supported Luce and supported the effort to bring the games here."

Casto, the city's lobbyist, says he is pursuing a strategy that sounds much like what Hicks had suggested at the subcommittee meeting: Casto is telling legislators that Dallas doesn't have an official position on the tax-support legislation right now, but that the city doesn't want to be left out of it.

"That's pretty much a standing order on any legislative issue," he says. "Even though we don't have an official position, we wouldn't want to see anything done that would put Dallas at a disadvantage with regard to other cities."

Kirk says he thinks the council will be briefed on the issue and have an opportunity to give Casto official walking orders before the Legislature passes an Olympics bill. Reyna says he, too, thinks that may happen, because the bills in both the House and Senate are being re-jiggered this week to provide more time to resolve Dallas' special predicament.

Mayes predicts the council will vote to tell Casto to go for the gold. "That's how I see it happening," she says.

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