SMU, both in and out of court, forcefully maintains that it has done nothing wrong. John McElhaney, of counsel with Dallas-based law firm of Locke Liddell, which represents SMU, says the school looked at the University Gardens site "at a fairly early stage" as a possible location for the presidential library, along with other school uses. But the university didn't hatch a stealth plan to steal people's homes; it merely followed the complex's own rules, which allowed the school to take over the condos once it owned a super-majority of units.

"SMU definitely wanted the property," he says. "What's false is this accusation that there was this evil plot to get it for the library. That's just baloney."

For SMU, a university that lacks a stellar academic reputation outside of Texas, the presidential center could raise its national profile for generations. The library would be ground zero for any historian wanting to learn more about the seminal events that highlighted, if not plagued, Bush's presidency. And those historians won't care one bit about how that library came into being. 

Below: Attorney Larry Friedman, who represents former resident Robert Tafel, claims that once SMU started stacking the condo board with its employees, those board members had a duty to protect the interests of the condominium’s residents.
Mark Graham
Below: Attorney Larry Friedman, who represents former resident Robert Tafel, claims that once SMU started stacking the condo board with its employees, those board members had a duty to protect the interests of the condominium’s residents.
Attorney Gary Vodicka is now suing his alma mater, alleging SMU defrauded him and other residents of the University Gardens in its plan to acquire land to build the Bush library.
Mark Graham
Attorney Gary Vodicka is now suing his alma mater, alleging SMU defrauded him and other residents of the University Gardens in its plan to acquire land to build the Bush library.

On February 22, 2008, SMU landed the presidential library complex with its accompanying Freedom Institute think tank. Its efforts to generate real estate options for the library paid off handsomely. All but two residents at University Gardens sold their homes to SMU, which then demolished the complex in 2007.

But the two that held out, Vodicka and Tafel, have made life miserable for the image-conscious university. In August 2005, Vodicka  filed  a lawsuit against SMU (Tafel would sign on later) that has resulted in the discovery of thousands of confidential documents that show just how desperately SMU wanted the presidential center and what the school was willing to do to get it. More recently, the plaintiffs convinced State District Judge Martin Hoffman to order the deposition of George W. Bush—an unprecedented inconvenience for an ex-president—so that the plaintiffs can discover what the university was telling the president about its plans.

Vodicka and Tafel don't make the most sympathetic plaintiffs. Tafel, who owns a thriving dental practice in Euless, once rankled some of his fellow residents in a meeting by bragging about his personal wealth. Vodicka, who represents himself, had been mired in a contentious lawsuit with his own brother over the mortgage of his old condominium, until they recently agreed to a settlement. Friends and foes often remark how obsessed Vodicka is with defeating, if not humiliating, SMU in court. 

The university, meanwhile, has employed a team of high-powered attorneys, who have savagely attacked the plaintiffs' character; in March, SMU's lead trial lawyer Mark Lanier from Houston told The Dallas Morning News: "SMU has been overly generous. You don't negotiate with terrorists, and you don't give in to a shakedown."

That comment came after the plaintiffs rejected SMU's settlement offer of $1 million each.

"They tried to accuse me of being greedy when they stole dozens of people's homes from them—if not over a hundred—solely for the purpose of saving tens of millions of dollars." Vodicka says. "I ask you who is greedy."

----

Just why SMU would want the Bush library may have as much to do with its past as its future. Given its handsome campus and location in a big city teeming with high-dollar patrons, SMU should be among the best schools in the country, a complaint many professors are quick to repeat. In fact, in the latest U.S. News and World Report ranking of the country's best universities, SMU came in 66th, two spots behind Texas A&M.  SMU simply isn't that selective in its application process.

"I think the board has a parochial view," says former SMU anthropology professor David Freidel, who was a critic of the Bush library complex before joining the faculty at Washington University in St. Louis in 2007. "They want SMU to be a place for their children to attend if they don't go to Stanford or Vanderbilt or Duke; they want a good school in their neighborhood."

 Freidel, who speaks fondly of his former students and colleagues, says that while SMU has little trouble raising money, its backers tend to funnel it into showy new buildings and monuments, including a new football stadium. Even the Bush library complex, which will be paid for by private donations, will likely take away contributions that could have gone to elevating SMU's academic standing.

But for a university still widely known for a generations-old football scandal, a presidential library might provide a new platform for global exposure. And yet the pay-for-play scandal still pops up in debates over the library, notable not just because its particular brand of cheating was approved by then-board president Bill Clements, who was between terms as governor, but also because the NCAA decided to institute an unprecedented "death penalty" against SMU, which canceled its next two seasons and destroyed its football program.

The man who came to SMU's rescue was Ray Hunt, the pragmatic son of legendary oilman H.L. Hunt. In the wake of Clements' departure, Ray became the president of the school's board of trustees. He recruited a new university president to replace Donald Shields, who knew about the cash payments to players but didn't stop them. Hunt and the new board tapped Kenneth Pye, a well-respected legal scholar and administrator from Duke who quickly garnered the respect of the faculty for his emphasis on academics.

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3 comments
ajain31
ajain31

History is here and now and it does not bode well for George W Bush the 43rd President of USA with a library or witout one!



1) GEORGE W. BUSH oversaw the suffering of millions in New Orleans in KATRINA disaster and did little in a timely fashion resulting in the death of thousands! 


2) GEORGE W. BUSH increased our deficit by fighting TWO wars on the credit card, implementing the Medicare DRUG Plan on the credit card and two BIG TAX CUTS on the credit card. 


3) GEORGE W. BUSH presided over the greatest economic meltdown of the American economy since the Great Depression.

4) GEORGE W. BUSH presided over the greatest terrorist attack on the US soil since Pearl Harbor which was responsible for more than 3000 deaths. 


5) GEORGE W. BUSH's IRAQ war was responsible for nearly 5000 American soldier deaths and 3000+ American contractors. 


6) GEORGE W. BUSH had Osama Bin Laden in his sights in Tora Bora in Afghanistan but he let him escape by not providing enough troops to capture Osama Bin Laden. 


7) GEORGE W. BUSH shifted focus from a legitimate war in Afganistan to an unnecessary war in IRAQ. 


8) GEORGE W. BUSH's Administration has been conclusively linked by a 576-page report from a task force of the bipartisan Constitution Project to have used torture.


9) GEORGE W. BUSH turned a surplus nation into a debtor nation by advocating for so much deficit budgeting.

10) GEORGE W. BUSH's Administration had a GDP growth adjusted for inflation at 2.2% with a ranking of 9th in 13 recent Presidents.


11) GEORGE W. BUSH's Administration had a 0.3% increase in jobs with a ranking of 11th in 11 recent Presidents.


12) GEORGE W. BUSH's Administration had a inflation-adjusted changes in worker per capita income of 1.3% with a ranking of 8th in 11 recent Presidents.


13) GEORGE W. BUSH's Administration had a increase in national debt of 88% during his Presidency with a ranking of 3rd HIGHEST in 12 recent Presidents.


14) GEORGE W. BUSH's Administration had a Dow Jones Average’s annual change of -2.0% with a ranking of 11th in 13 recent Presidents.


15) GEORGE W. BUSH's Administration had a final job approval rating of 27% with a ranking of 11th in 12 recent Presidents just above Nixon.


16) GEORGE W. BUSH's Administration had a lowest job approval rating of 19% with a ranking of FIRST in 12 recent Presidents i.e. the LOWEST among all 12 recent Presidents. 



Ajay Jain

ajain31@gmail.com

Twitter Handle @ajain31.

Mobile: 214-207-9781

ajain31
ajain31

50 Reasons We Despised George W. Bush's Presidency: A Reminder on the Day of His Presidential Library Dedication


1. He stole the presidency in 2000. People may forget that Republicans in Florida purged more than 50,000 African-American voters before Election Day, and then went to the Supreme Court where the GOP-appointed majority stopped a recount that would have awarded the presidency to Vice-President Al Gore if all votes were counted. National news organizations verified that outcome long after Bush had been sworn in.

2. Bush’s lies started in that race. Bush ran for office claiming he was a “uniter, not a divider.” Even though he received fewer popular votes than Gore, he quickly claimed he had the mandate from the American public to push his right-wing agenda.  

3. He covered up his past. He was a party boy, the scion of a powerful political family who got away with being a deserter during the Vietnam War. He was reportedly AWOL for over a year from his assigned unit, the Texas Air National Guard, which other military outfits called the "Champagne Division.”

4. He loved the death penalty. As Texas governor from 1995-2000, he signed the most execution orders of any governor in U.S. history—152 people, including the mentally ill and women who were domestic abuse victims. He spared one man’s life, a serial killer.

5. He was a corporate shill from Day 1. Bush locked up the GOP nomination by raising more campaign money from corporate boardrooms than anyone at that time. He lunched with CEOs who would jet into Austin to "educate" him about their political wish lists.

6. He gutted global political progress. He pulled out of the Kyoto Protocol which set requirements for 38 nations to lower greenhouse gas emissions to combat climate change, saying that abiding by the agreement would “harm our economy and hurt our workers.”

7. He embraced global isolationism. He withdrew from the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty, over Russia’s protest, taking the U.S. in a direction not seen since World War I. 

8. He ignored warnings about Osama bin Laden. He ignored the Aug. 6, 2001 White House intelligence briefing titled, “Bin Laden determined to strike in the U.S.” Meanwhile, his chief anti-terrorism advisor, Richard Clarke, and first Treasury Secretary, Paul O’Neill, testified in Congress that he was intent on invading Iraq within days of becoming president.

9. Ramped up war on drugs, not terrorists. The Bush administration had twice as many FBI agents assigned to the war on drugs than fighting terrorism before 9/11, and kept thousands in that role after the terror attacks. 

processtheologist
processtheologist

Truly shameful. SMU and the Methodists detested the Bush2 administrations' botched Iraq invasion. I can't think of a worse place to try and polish the turd that is the Bush2 presidential legacy; a Bush2 "think tank" isn't going to do it.

That SMU treated these good people in such a way, many alumni, is truly disgraceful. There is a cloud already over the Bush2 Libarary.

 
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