By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
The first thing you notice about Mayor Laura Miller is her bright-red high heels with the red bows on the toes. She walks--no, glides--into the living area of her 2,552-square-foot home at 1109 Lausanne Ave. in tony Kessler Park. The home was built in 1928, is on the tax rolls at $650,000 and, according to public record, is owned by husband Steven D. Wolens as of the deed-transfer date 12/29/1986.
In Mapsco, it's smack-dab in 44-W.
The mayor, as some like to call her, is the picture of sophisticated grace. Her hair is coiffed. Her nails are manicured. Her lean and athletic--OK, let's call it spindly--body looks stunning in a Tahari pinstriped suit from Neiman Marcus ($498, retail). Except for one problem.
The suit is covered in vomit.
Miller does not vomit lightly. She's never been sick, never been hospitalized and never taken any medication--ever. Her medical records and interviews with her past seven personal physicians in three states confirm this. In her five and a half years as a city councilwoman and mayor, Miller missed three days at work.
Today she is ill. Not in the way my kids, with whom I've definitely spent a lot of quality time, mean ill, as in "sweet" or "crunk." She is literally sick because ghost columnist Laura Miller has blown up her pretty little world--all by showing Mayor Miller a mirror. Because I've brought with me more than 1,837 pages of documents that prove Miller has become just another downtown fat cat, the sort of person she used to rail against. Because on issues like building a taxpayer-draining new stadium in Fair Park, sucking up to Belo head snake Robert Decherd and making too much money to be considered a true populist, Mayor Laura Miller comes up lacking.
Because, in the end, Miss Mighty Mayor could stomach everything but the truth.
Mayor Miller was staring out her office window, which wasn't so much a window as a wall of glass offering a spectacular view of downtown Dallas.
Stationed at the window for a newspaper photograph, she wore the purposefully thoughtful, studied look of the person in charge.
But watching her brief survey of the urban landscape on that day, you had to wonder if Miller really saw what was laid out so starkly before her.
Her library looked in good need of a sandblast cleaning. Her homeless residents were everywhere, sitting on the plaza in front of the library, lying on the benches in front of City Hall, drifting down the street with their baby carriages in tow.
Did Miller also notice that a large number of downtown office towers were empty? That the streets were pitted with potholes?
If she did, she probably didn't notice today.
Because earlier this morning she'd had a secret meeting with Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, the taut-faced freak who runs the Dallas Cowboys. You remember them? Michael Irvin, who loved dildos, strap-ons, some kind of gizmo called a "butt plug," which I don't even want to speculate about. Troy Aikman, the strikingly handsome Cro-Magnon man. Those guys? Well, the man who paid them wanted to meet with Miller in private to get assurances she'd be on board with the plans for Jerry World, the stadium and theme park he wanted to build in Fair Park.
At taxpayer expense.
During a time.
When the city.
"Did you meet with him in private?" I ask Mayor Miller.
"Who, me?" she replied.
Yes, you--the statuesque one with the pretty beige pants and the matching sleeveless vest with the shiny silver buckles down the front. Yes, you--the one with the big graying mop of hair and the sleek high heels and one of the most painstaking makeup jobs I've seen off a magazine cover.
I showed her documents I'd uncovered that detailed the meeting, the subjects discussed and what each of them wore. (DKNY? Seriously? In June?)
That was the first time her stomach betrayed her.
Now, look, I'm OK with her having a meeting with one of the downtown boys. (Jones, Hicks, Decherd, Hunt, Perot--you know the white guys I'm talking about.) Everyone is entitled to schedule a meeting.
But not everyone is entitled to march down to City Hall, take over acres of prime city real estate and turn the site into a tacky, expensive-to-maintain theme park--all without more than a perfunctory nod to public process or protocol.
All of this, by the way, from a non-resident of Dallas--a Highland Park man--who appears not to care much that Dallas city roads and buildings and parks are deteriorating because of drastic budget cuts and dubious expenditures just like this one.