Jerry-rigged

Jones' stadium tax is in for one rough fight

But if they're right, then who's the next weak sucker industry to get milked for the benefit of some rich honcho with hired guns in the Legislature? How about a special tax on rendering plants, 25 cents for each dog and a nickel per cat rendered? The total take to be delivered in cash on Christmas Eve to the home of Jerry Jones in bundles wrapped with red and gold foil.

Just to avoid any possible misunderstanding: The preceding paragraph was intended as a joke. It was in no way meant to be a serious proposal for consideration by Senators West and Carona as potential legislation. Now that it's out there, local rendering plant operators would be advised to kick over a little campaign contribution to the forenamed senators in order to avoid unhappiness.

One of the nasty ironies I can't make myself forget in this, by the way, is that John Carona was a major factor in the defeat of a proposed half-cent sales tax in 1992 to restore Fair Park. He was zealous in defeating a one-time-only two-year tax to save a public treasure--a key community asset--which he painted as a form of socialism. But he's a team leader in the effort to impose a tax to go into the personal pocket of Jerry Jones. I guess that's OK because it's not socialism. It's theft. I also guess Fair Park's problem was that it didn't have $140,000 in grease to spread around Austin.

I tried to reach Carona and West last week, but neither returned my calls.

Let me tell you just how much of a team leader Carona is. When he helped pass the Jones tax in Austin, his work for Mr. Jones was not done. A few weeks ago, when Mary Kay cosmetics announced it would pull its 50,000-delegate summer seminars from Dallas if the stadium tax were approved by voters, Carona wrote a letter to the editor of The Dallas Morning News accusing Mary Kay of being "shortsighted" and a "bully."

Mary Kay? A bully? What next? Mother Teresa, you ignorant slut!

At the end of last week, Capps held a formal "kickoff" event for the No Jones Tax campaign at a hotel on Stemmons Freeway. When I arrived, he and his supporters were muttering over a letter they had received hours before the event from Senators Carona and West and Senator Bob Deuell of Greenville. Naturally, since the letter was personal and private, I asked to see it. Understandably, they gave me a copy.

Signed by all three senators ("John," over Carona's name at the bottom), the letter basically asked Capps to call off his dogs. The three solons urged Capps "and others who may have concerns" to hold off on "rendering a final opinion" until all of the details of the Jones deal have been negotiated. Wow, those senators must have some serious skin in this game.

I'm trying to think what their letter even means. Two guys come out into the middle of the street at high noon and face each other with six-shooters. But one of them says, "I'd like you to hold off on drawing, sir, until I'm done sighting in this new weapon."

Gee, I don't think so.

Capps' kickoff event was well-attended. One suspects the crowd of more than 100 probably was augmented by everyone who ever worked for Capps rentals. Some of the evening was pretty awkward and staged. But compared with the grassroots campaigns that have preceded it in recent Dallas history, this one was Oscar night.

A professional public relations firm distributed very useful press kits. Radio personality Alex Burton gave a bitingly funny speech. Longtime anti-stadia gadfly Sharon Boyd agreed to stay away, to help give the effort its own fresh start.

Capps is clearly hoping other deep-pockets opponents of the tax, especially in the hotel industry, will start pumping money his way once they see him on the dance floor and decide he's cool. For my two bits, I predict that's exactly what will happen.

I think Capps is going to give the boys the toughest run for their money they've ever had. So we're ahead either way, you and I. Win, lose or draw, at least we've got a horse race.

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