Eat This

A million here, a million there--shoot, it's not the council's money

No word from the doctor. But she's got something cooking on that shopping center, doesn't she? It's gotta be something, because $3.7 million is not chump change. You know what it costs you and me to give Maxine Thornton-Reese that much money? If the city sells $3.7 million in 20-year bonds, by the time you and I pay that off with our tax dollars, taking interest into account, we will pay out $7.4 million. For what?

Laughter. "We don't do that. That is to be determined."

Just for grins, I looked on the appraisal district's Web page, and according to their values you could buy every single parcel of land contiguous to that shopping center, residential and commercial combined, for $1.2 million.

Hey, Maxine, could you tell us why you want our $3.7 million? Pretty please?
Steve Satterwhite
Hey, Maxine, could you tell us why you want our $3.7 million? Pretty please?

So, somebody will tell me those values are not market values. Market values are higher. Yeah. But they're not $3.7 million. They're not more than three times higher. And why would the city buy all of the land on all four streets surrounding this shopping center? And...


I drove through the Ann Arbor/Marsalis Shopping Center the other day, and I must say it was bustling. It looked to me to be fully rented up, with trade walking in and out of most of the doorways.

Herron pointed out that the anchor tenant, a grocery store, closed recently. He said he's in the process of finding someone else to fill that space, "which isn't that easy." But he said that generally speaking the shopping center does well for him.

The shopping center is appraised at $1.5 million. An interesting thing about the number Thornton-Reese is going for: It would be just enough to buy the shopping center and everything around it and still have a million bucks left for street improvements..

I wonder if anybody at City Hall could tell us if that actually is what they have in mind?

Laughter. "We don't do that. That is to be determined."

The last thing I want to do is create the impression that funny business with bond dollars is a uniquely southern Dallas thing. I wish you could have heard North Dallas council member Ron Natinsky talking about why council members last week were tacking $71 million in add-on projects onto an already record-setting bond program, even though some of those projects were clearly extras, glamour deals and party favors not even included on the city's $11 billion inventory of crucial deferred maintenance.

The deferred maintenance inventory, which is sometimes called the needs list, is every wrecked street, busted truck, washed-out alley and leaky roof that the city is supposed to be keeping up but can't because it doesn't have the money. City Manager Mary Suhm tried to limit this bond program to things on that list.

But Natinsky pooh-poohed the list. He said if a council member wants to do a project for somebody in his district and the project isn't on the list, just put it on the list. And foo on you. "Just because it wasn't on list when it was prepared and given to us doesn't mean it couldn't be on the list," Natinsky said.

He said his own motto, drawn from what taxpayers had told him, is, "We will spend what it takes to keep this city great as we move forward." He said when he jotted down his own several million in pet projects, "There wasn't a perceived limit. I wasn't counting dollars when I did it."

Isn't that special?

The $71 million grab bag tacked on last week by the council, opposed only by Miller and North Dallas representative Mitchell Rasansky, was the brainchild of council member Ed Oakley, who represents parts of Oak Cliff and southwest Dallas. The best quote of the day, I thought, came when Miller asked him what the rules were when he went around asking council members how much money they wanted for their own pet projects.

Miller asked, "Was there a cap on the amount to be added by each district?"

Oakley answered, "I basically said, 'You gotta give me a list not to exceed four, three or four million, five million dollars, whatever that might be."

Don't you just love that? Not to exceed four. Three or four million. Five million dollars. Whatever that might be. It's so bouncy, like a song. When Oakley talks about tax money, he always reminds me of those wonderful Depression-era Tin Pan Alley ditties. You know: "Forget your troubles and just get happy. Ya better chase all your cares away. Sing hallelujah, c'mon get happy. Get ready for the judgment day!"

So guess when judgment day is, Bubba? November 7, 2006. That's when you color in that YES dot and tell them all this is A-OK with you.

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