Queen Crank

Brash and abrasive, political outsider Sharon Boyd snipes at City Hall from her perch on the Internet, but does anyone care?

Late last year, Boyd began yet another attack on the arena project, filing a taxpayer lawsuit that, if successful, could end up being a big headache for the Arena Group and Ross Perot's Hillwood Development Corp., which is developing acreage around the arena site. The suit alleges that the plan to repay the developers for the project's roads is illegal under state law. Boyd is specifically targeting the tax district created to reimburse the Arena Group $25 million for streets and other improvements -- money that will be raised by new taxes on the new development.

The suit alleges that such a district can only be set up for blighted areas that otherwise would not be improved. "It's a serious lawsuit," says Boyd, who is paying for it herself. "We think the land there would have been developed privately. If they want to put the arena in there, fine, but they shouldn't do it with this additional taxpayer money."

In its legal response, the city takes its sharpest aim at Boyd, all but calling her a bad loser. Boyd, the response says, is an "ardent, steadfast opponent of the new downtown arena" who has no right to continue her opposition in the courts.

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Mark Graham
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Battleground: Sharon Boyd tours the site of the downtown arena that she came within a few thousand votes of defeating in a 1998 referendum.
Mark Graham
Battleground: Sharon Boyd tours the site of the downtown arena that she came within a few thousand votes of defeating in a 1998 referendum.

James Murphy, a Dallas attorney who filed the suit, says Boyd came to him hoping to press a case against what she has called the "smelly" relationships between the arena interests and voting members on the council. Kirk's wife, Matrice Kirk, continues to hold valuable stock options from one of Tom Hicks' companies, and Councilwoman Veletta Lill's husband works for American Airlines, which bought the arena's naming rights.

Murphy says he thinks the "blight" issue is more compelling legally. "There has been development in the works there for the past five to seven years," he says. "The city is trying to say the area was blighted because there's [chemical pollution] in the ground. We say that's a cost of development." As with most contested civil litigation, the case is crawling through the early stages of discovery. It's yet to become enough of an issue to warrant a city council briefing. Murphy says Boyd has standing to sue as a taxpayer who can force governmental bodies to follow the law. It doesn't matter that she has criticized everything about the arena project, save architect David Schwartz's retro red-brick design. The look offended cutting-edge art critics, but it suited Boyd -- a lover of country music, spaghetti at Sal's, and Elmore Leonard novels -- just fine.

Casey, the former friend, says she isn't surprised Boyd has found a new way to carry on the arena fight. "She's the sort, in the Nietzschean school, who believe it's a fault not to have conviction, conviction above all else. To me, it's not recognizing truth. But to her, conviction is everything. It's her greatest fault and greatest strength.

"It makes her a very bad loser. It's hard to lose when you know you're right."

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