By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
I'm not the only one upset.
"I honestly believed you couldn't buy privilege in Dallas," says the ghost of Stanley Marcus. "I honestly believed that. Ever since we got the council-manager form of government, I believed that things were settled on their merits. Maybe I've been naïve."
More than you know, Mr. Marcus.
Two days later, I was squeezing a tomato in Tom Thumb when I heard the news: Robert Decherd, Belo's Big Bad Bully Boy, and Mayor Miller were in bed together.
I couldn't believe my cute little ears. Decherd and his cabal of crafty moguls in three-piece suits and bad comb-overs had gotten Miller on board with a plan to cede power to the "Inside the Loop Committee," a group of downtown real estate interests who will be sure to line their silk pockets with public monies. Make no mistake, one thing is clear: The Loopy Loopers' committee is an overfunded, under-regulated, highly questionable expenditure of taxpayers' dollars. The sort of thing Miller used to use those exact words to disparage.
How could this come about?
Nineteen sources have told me, off the record, that Miller began seeing eye-to-eye with Decherd during a meeting last month regarding his desire to rule the city. Miller, these 20 sources say (one more just called), was set to tell Decherd no, I'm a populist, and we need to fix deep potholes and slipshod manhole covers. Then, things changed.
"You look hot," Decherd said. "Are those shoes Manolo Blahniks?"
Miller blushed. "No one ever compliments my choice of designer."
And that was that. How could it have been that easy, you ask?
Because Mayor Miller's flaw is that she's drop-dead gorgeous, and she knows it--which can be boring coming from most women but is downright scary when you have an elected official with real power who delights in seeing herself in the mirror. Miller is a preener, a neatnik and a clothes freak. Says a former co-worker, "We were just amazed that she always looked like she just stepped off a page of In Style."
Now, Miller promotes Decherd's plan for a unified vision of downtown. And it is frightening to think of how far Miller, who mysteriously and disconcertingly insists on doing all her mayoral deal-making in private, will go this time.
"Just because I support millionaires and the occasional billionaire doesn't mean I'm not a populist," Miller says. "I'm just an average person, like you or any other person who enjoys the circus, or the Crystal Charity Ball."
Must be printed.
I tell her I've arrived at her house to discuss with her the notion that she's still of the people. That she keeps it real. But, I say, no one is here.
"Are you on Lausanne?" she asks.
Why, no. I'm in Preston Hollow. At her home-to-be. Where that whole area south of Royal Lane, north of Northwest Highway, looks exactly like what it is: rich people who really want to (and deserve to) live in Plano, but can't stand the drive. The biggest question you have driving through here is how in the world our culture produced enough tasteless yet immensely rich people in America, let alone Dallas, to live here.
Once I arrive at her Kessler Park home, I show her the home where I went for our meeting.
The home she and her husband own.
The home at 5335 S. Dentwood Drive. The home that the Dallas Central Appraisal District values at $3.4 million. The home with 8,170 square feet of living area. The home they own that they plan to move into some day. The home listed as having one detached servants' quarters, two fireplaces and three wetbars.
I showed Mayor Miller the proof. That's when, once again, she knew she'd been caught. Her stomach roiled, and her Tahari suit took the worst of it.
"I'm sorry, Laura," Mayor Miller says, defeated and humiliated, like so many of my profile subjects. "I've failed Dallas. Worse, I've failed you."
It's a sad story, really. The truth is that Miller is a woman on the move. She makes no secret that she hopes four years as mayor will bring her fame and a little fortune after she steps down.
Unfortunately, to get there, she's become another political parasite who mixes public responsibility and financial opportunity like they were tequila and triple sec.
Down the hatch.
Dallas Observer staff writer and part-time spiritualist Eric Celeste contributed to this story.