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The case against SMU—at least the legal one—may appear weak at first glance. After all, no one is claiming that SMU broke any law as it went about buying enough units at the University Gardens to take control of it and tear it down. The condominiums' governing documents allowed for this sort of exit strategy. Ironically, their purpose—as with other clauses like it—is to look out for the property owners.

No matter the strength of the case, the litigation has become a personal obsession for Vodicka whose home in Coppell is stacked with many of the 300,000 pages of documents he has unearthed during the discovery process. The case file spans 25 thickly stuffed court jackets; the district clerk's case summary sheet is 38 pages long—an average case summary sheet is about three, according to the Dallas County District Clerk's Office.

The empty site in front of the SMU campus is where the University Gardens Condominiums sat for nearly 40 years until being demolished to make room for the 25-acre George W. Bush Presidential Center.
Mark Graham
The empty site in front of the SMU campus is where the University Gardens Condominiums sat for nearly 40 years until being demolished to make room for the 25-acre George W. Bush Presidential Center.
On its Web site, the George W. Bush Foundation, whose primary purpose is the development of the Bush library, posted this 2008 site plan of the future home of the library campus, which included the land upon which University Gardens once stood.
Mark Graham
On its Web site, the George W. Bush Foundation, whose primary purpose is the development of the Bush library, posted this 2008 site plan of the future home of the library campus, which included the land upon which University Gardens once stood.

"He has no law office, he has no secretary. He has a laptop and a cell phone," McElhaney says of Vodicka, both of whom are SMU law graduates. "He works all day on this case, and this is about all he does. This morning—at 2 in the morning—he was faxing things to me."

But Vodicka, who also maintains a law practice, claims that the school has tried to demonize him to deflect attention from its underhanded land grab. As he discusses the case—and he can do so for hours without pause—Vodicka seems to nurse a grudge against SMU that no amount of money can cure.

Shortly after Vodicka filed his lawsuit in the summer of 2005, former resident and dentist Robert Tafel joined him as a plaintiff by intervening in the lawsuit. Tafel is represented by Larry Friedman, a controversial Dallas litigator known for his take-no-prisoners approach to practicing law.

Together they are making a novel argument alleging that SMU's condo-accumulating strategy was fatally flawed because once the school installed its own employees on the condo board, they had a fiduciary duty to the complex to be upfront with its residents.     

As part of that responsibility, allege the plaintiffs, SMU had the obligation to inform the residents that the school wanted to purchase the property as a possible site for the Bush library, which would have given residents more leverage in negotiations with the university. The plaintiffs also allege that as a condo board, the SMU-dominated association bore the responsibility of maintaining the value of the property by not allowing it to fall into disrepair so it could be demolished.

"My client is saying that 'when SMU infiltrated the homeowners association, they had a duty to protect the interests of the homeowners,'" Friedman says. "They had a duty of absolute candor. They knew what the plan was, but they didn't tell the homeowners." The board kept its true intentions for the property a secret, he claims, so that it could lowball the residents of University Gardens.

McElhaney dismisses Friedman's argument as "a bunch of sophistry—laced together with a lot of self-serving statements." His contention is that SMU was only able to gain control of the property because the condominiums' own rules allowed it. And he says Vodicka, Tafel and the other former residents bought their homes knowing that at any time, they might have to sell against their will if a super-majority of the homeowners association decided to close down the complex.

Regardless of whether SMU prevails, the plaintiffs have succeeded at frustrating SMU and, even worse, the man it attempts to honor. In April Judge Hoffman ordered that Bush testify in a deposition to answer the plaintiffs' questions about what he knew regarding the school's plans to take over the condominium complex. Although Hoffman's order was overturned by the 5th District Court of Appeals in Dallas, Vodicka, with characteristic resoluteness, vows to take the pre-trial issue to the Texas Supreme Court. 

Vodicka has also acquired sensitive documents during discovery that plaintiffs say depict the school's ruthless bid to secure land for the Bush library toward yet another property owner. In June 2004, as SMU was trying to purchase surrounding land to increase its options for library sites, its lawyers dispatched a letter to the owners of the neighboring strip center, Park Cities Plaza. At the time, SMU wanted to buy the shopping center, which runs perpendicular to Central Expressway. In its four-page letter, which threatened impending legal action, the school claimed that the shopping center was something akin to a modern-day Love Canal and that it needed to clean up its act.

"The Responsible Parties, therefore, are liable as generators of solid wastes and/or hazardous wastes, and as part and/or present operators of a treatment, storage, or disposal facility," read the letter, which was copied to the Environmental Protection Agency. "In its citizen suit, the PPI [SMU's real estate arm] will ask the court to order the Responsible Parties to conduct restoration and cleanup activities."

As McElhaney now admits, Park Cities Plaza, which includes a Le Madeleine restaurant and a CVS pharmacy, was never the source of any solid or hazardous waste. He says the school worked on a separate project with an environmental expert, who initially concluded that contaminants were leaking from the property. He was mistaken.

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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 like.author.displayName 1 Like

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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