By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
Leaking dollars: Buzz is not what you'd call a materialistic person. A loaf of bread, a jug of wine and thou is paradise enow for us. Still, there come moments when we're gob-smacked by how much money other people make and become a little bit envious.
OK, a large bit envious.
Say, for example, we have to pay a plumber to fix a leak at our house, which happens about every other week. (Apparently, what we thought was a house is actually a fountain made of brick and soggy wallboard.) "You want how much?" we ask, agog. And then we pay him. Gotta have water.
But for true agogedness, you should take a look at the copies of e-mails between Bill Fisher, the housing developer turned informant in the City Hall corruption trial in federal court, and local big shot political consultant and lobbyist Carol Reed. Reed was one of several political consultants hired by Fisher to win council approval for his affordable housing projects in southern Dallas. Reed has not been accused of any wrongdoing in her work as a lobbyist for Fisher—a point raised repeatedly by defense lawyers whose clients have been accused of tons of wrongdoing for similar work—and we're not saying she broke any laws either.
Now Reed is a savvy political strategist, which probably explains why Fisher was willing to pay a $10,000 nonrefundable retainer for a meeting with Reed and her associates—just to, you know, talk about the deals. (Reed's company stood to make $100,000 if all three of Fisher's deals were approved.) By way of comparison, Buzz's plumber usually charges $39 just to come to our house and a tad less than $100,000 to actually fix a leak.
The appalling part of all this isn't that Reed gets such a large, nonrefundable retainer. She's entitled to grab whatever anyone is willing to pay her. The sickening part is that ANYONE could make that much money to influence what are essentially basic government services—deciding issues of land use and housing density and affordability. Imagine if the plumber who fixes a leak at Buzz's house demanded an extra fee to persuade a city council member to call on a code inspector to come out and OK the work.
Uh, wait. Don't imagine that. And for God's sake, don't mention it around your local council person, 'cause you don't want to plant any ideas. Buzz is due another leak soon, and we don't have $10k just to chat with Reed and associates. —Patrick Williams