By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
So if we can have them living indoors decently and paying their own way, that's better, right? That's why the city council has made permanent supportive housing a priority. But federal law says if you're going to use federal money—DHA money, for example—then you cannot ghettoize the supportive housing units. You've got to spread them around.
Margolin, Allen and Kadane explained all of that to their constituents and made the case that those districts that came to the table first might even get the better part of the deal. Some units are targeted for women and children, for example, or senior homeless. The reward for being reasonable might be a bit of cherry-picking.
The permanent supportive housing programs for the homeless in all three of those districts are now done deals. It wasn't accomplished without push-back. Allen, in particular, caught flak from organized homeowners, for which he may conceivably pay a price at the polls next election. But they all got it done with a minimum of bloodshed.
Now for the counter-example. Mr. Neumann has conceded in some of his public statements that in addition to the April 2, 2009 briefing, he was informed personally soon afterward of the plans to create housing units for the homeless at Cliff Manor.
I have spoken with neighborhood leaders, who asked that I not name them because they are afraid of alienating Neumann, who told me Neumann had told them that he put the kibosh to the Cliff Manor proposal at that meeting.
But he didn't have a kibosh. There was never a way for him to stop this. People familiar with Neumann's conversations with DHA, who asked me not to name them because they must continue to deal with the councilman, said Neumann did complain passionately about the Cliff Manor plans but that DHA's response was always, "It's happening."
Everything DHA has done publicly and officially since that time tends to confirm that it never told Neumann or anybody else the Cliff Manor units were off the table.
Did Dave Neumann, nevertheless, somehow believe he had stopped the plan for units at Cliff Manor? I have no idea. I tried to reach him for comment for this story, as I always do when I write about him, and he did not respond, as he never does. I consider him a weird guy. I'm sure it's mutual.
But here is the important thing: Last May after The Dallas Morning News published a story about the plans for Cliff Manor, Neumann insisted the whole thing was a shock. On his own website, Neumann wrote: "The community and I were amazed to hear via the Dallas Morning News of DHA's plans to transfer 100 homeless residents to the DHA Cliff Manor on Fort Worth Avenue for permanent supportive housing."
Amazed to hear?
In another story in the Morning News, Neumann and some Fort Worth Avenue activists insisted they had been "blindsided" by the Morning News story. The activists may have been blindsided—by Neumann—because they believed him earlier when he told them he had made the whole thing go away.
One of them, Scott Griggs, president of the Fort Worth Avenue Development Group, told me Neumann has never explained to him or other parties to the dispute why he led them to believe the matter had been resolved when clearly it had not.
"He really hasn't," Griggs told me, "not anything that I would consider a satisfactory explanation. It would be a great question to ask him, why he did that."
Yeah, wish I could have asked him.
So was he blindsided, as he has suggested publicly, because he learned of the plan for the first time in the Morning News? Clearly not. Was he blindsided because he thought he had killed or stalled the plan? Possibly.
He did declare on his blog: "We have secured a HOLD on the proposal to move 100 units for homeless into the Cliff Manor on Fort Worth Avenue by Dallas Housing Authority and Metro Dallas Homeless Alliance."
But given the clear record of DHA's own public statements and actions, that means Neumann was both blindsided and deaf-sided, not to mention delusional.
Neumann spent a month setting up a June 9 town hall meeting, going around to handpicked neighborhood leaders beforehand, cranking them up with a lot of crap about how they were being blindsided, too.
The blindsided leading the blindsided. There's a formula for success.
Then he runs this Comanche ambush town hall meeting, prancing around like Jerry Springer with a wireless mic, ginning up the crowd to shout vituperation at DHA officials.
I wasn't there. I was on vacation. I talked to lots of people who were and people who weren't but heard about it. It's sort of the talk of the town in Oak Cliff. The most telling version was from David Spence, a longtime Oak Cliff developer who normally would line up on the side of the North Oak Cliff people concerned about the units at Cliff Manor.
Spence was not there, but he said everybody he knows has been talking about it, and he has found a consensus among "everyone who was not one of those who were at the microphone in the meeting.