Abtahi and Kingston: Who's the bigger SOB?

It takes a hard case to represent council District 14.

So now we go back to Abtahi and Kingston and ask the truly important question: Who has what chains? When I said Abtahi was a blank-blank candidate for the mafia, I was talking about the Dallas Citizens Council, a private group that acts as a political broker for development and public works interests. I based that accusation in part on endorsements he had received from three former council members, all three of whom have been advocates and partisans for Citizens Council issues, two of whom were occupying paid patronage jobs at the time.

But in East Dallas, there is one big test question that pretty much clears the ground. Are you for or against the Trinity River toll road? Call it a litmus test if you like. The question is useful because it sheds light on the who-brung-you issue. A candidate chained to the Citizens Council cannot speak against the toll road. Lips. Are. Zipped.

I asked Kingston once. He said, "Against." Not a lot of nuance.

Daniel Fishel

I asked Abtahi twice. The first time his answer was off the record. The second time, on the record, he said, "A lot of this, and I will admit, there are these feuds and these battles that have happened I guess over the last even maybe 30 years or 20 years that I wasn't a part of, and I'm not privy to. I see that as maybe the greatest thing that's holding our city back, that we have this, I don't know whether it's just, so-and-so doesn't like so-and-so because something happened 20 years ago.

"I see myself as kind of the next generation of leadership that is looking forward to things that matter and not rehashing old wounds."

That was a pretty long quote, and I think I need to pause and translate it into East Dallas language. That quote means "For it." I told him that.

He's right. In East Dallas the knives and the memories are long. Therefore, not giving a simple declarative answer one way or the other on the toll road question will always be greeted by a great clanging and hissing as people unsheathe their scimitars. A too-long, non-declarative, all-over-the-map answer means you're for it. Scimitars!

Abtahi challenged me on my assertion that he's a Citizens Council lackey, more or less daring me to find the Citizens Council anywhere in his campaign finance reports. We agreed that the Citizens Council never makes contributions in its own name, only influencing members and allied groups and associations.

I said one evidence of the nature of his support is the amount, more than twice Kingston's in the two most recent reports, allowing Abatahi to hire Allyn & Co., a political ad agency and campaign consulting firm normally associated with establishment candidates and causes. His campaign manager, baby-sitting our interview from across the table, intervened to suggest that Allyn & Co. was only helping out because of personal friendship, an assertion so absurd that both Abtahi and I agreed not to dignify it with further discussion.

I found only four Citizens Council members or spouses of members in the ranks of $1,000-and-above donors on Abtahi's lists. But that's four more than Kingston has.

Other people I found among Abtahi's $1,000-and-above donors were Donald McNamara, an investor/developer associated with the Bass family in Fort Worth; Mitch Hart, founding investor in Home Depot; Kenneth Aboussie, an investor/developer; Marc Andres of the Lower Greenville real estate family; Marshall Payne, an investor in Dale Gas Partners; Josh LeComte, a home builder; Craig Hall, developer; David Cain Jr. (Note: In the print version of this story, I incorrectly identified him as David Cain, a lobbyist for the Citizens Council and father of Cain Jr.); Gerald Stool, principal investor in FCS Construction; Robert Crouch of Arcadia Energy; Louis Corna, a lawyer who with several other big Abtahi donors is associated with Luna Ventures, which owns the land next to the Elm Fork Soccer Complex where Trinity East Energy wants to build a natural gas facility; and Susan Reese, pissed-off owner of a building on Lower Greenville where zoning was denied for a bowling alley under Hunt's regime.

Kingston's list had a couple of look-twice donors. One was Brian Loncar, the billboard lawyer we once accused of stealing our newspapers out of the news boxes. Gilbert Aranza, the Love Field concession king, is on Kingston's list, along with Don Silverman, a big-box retail developer, and Michael Montgomery, an oil and gas guy. I already mentioned Lisa "Glinda" Blue.

Confused? Please don't be. I'm sorry. It's my fault. Too much information. Remember, there's a magic key, a simple way to get to the bottom of it. Are you for or against the Trinity River toll road?

If you live in District 14, the Abtahi/Kingston runoff election is June 15. Please practice safe scimitar.

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18 comments
Joseph
Joseph

What Schutze invariably fails to disclose in his Trinity road obsession is that Dallas voters have twice voted for the road. If Abtahi is for it , it might be because he supports democracy whereas Schutze would defy a democratic election to have things his way.

Barack
Barack

As long as Sandra Fluke gets her free birth control pills what difference does it make?

Justin1234
Justin1234

Every time I see that picture of Bobby grinning ear-to-ear with Veletta Lill, Ed Oakley and Craig Holcomb, I immediately feel a cold chill running down my spine. I think Phillip Kingston ought to feature that picture on his own campaign flyers, it would work much better as an anti-Bobby flyer rather than something to actually brag about. I live in District 14 and will NOT EVER vote for someone who will push the Trinity Toll Road. 

Myrna.Minkoff-Katz
Myrna.Minkoff-Katz topcommenter

Abtahi has been endorsed by the right-wing fanatic, David Blewett.  I'll hold my nose and vote for Kingston.

Willie
Willie

Good stuff.  Gotta love Abtahi's I-Gotta-Pee wiggling over the toll road question. Did you notice if he was also sitting on his hands, holding his crotch, or just grimacing in general?  

bealotcoolerifyoudid
bealotcoolerifyoudid

You mention Brian Loncar but not Larry Friedman?  That omission probably hurt Larry's feelings. 

MisterMean
MisterMean

@Joseph As I recall the last vote on the road was worded (by the city attorney?) to be misleading.   Many were confused on if to vote yes or no not sure what effect it would have.

JimSX
JimSX topcommenter

@Joseph 

That's certainly a legitimate argument for the road. It goes way wide of the issue here. The question is not for or against the road. It's about why Abtahi won't answer the question. I've thought from the beginning he might have been able to sell a pro-road position to District 14, maybe by couching it just as you have: the people have spoken, who am I to interrupt? His problem is not manning up about it. And even there, I suspect his own personal inclination would have been to man up. The scary thing is that apparently he wasn't allowed to do so  by his sponsors, which means he won't be able to vote his convictions in office.

This whole Avi thing about attacking Kingston over his wife is fraught with many ironies. First of all, Avi, whom I have loved, is completely nuts about this, and wow does it show. Secondly, if it were anybody else saying this nasty misogynist stuff about strong wives, the whole district would be up in arms. The fact that people let it pass is evidence of how unseriously everybody takes Avi these days. But lastly, the hate-his-wife stuff combined with the McCarthyite business about his party affiliation is an attempt to turn the real race on its head.

In fact, Kingston is the one who has manned up on all the issues, said exactly where he stands and stuck to his guns, while Abtahi has been doing all this embarrassing weaseling on the toll road.  I don't know if this is coincidence or more than  that, but this kind of night-for-day swift-boat big-lie campaign strategy is straight out of the big money Citizens Council playbook.

Anyway, Joseph, take this as a challenge. Why don't you take a crack at this question: why won't Abtahi answer the question about the toll road? C'mon. You might surprise yourself.

James080
James080

@Joseph  

Texas voted to secede from the United States in 1861. By all accounts it was a democratic election. It was also an unmitigated disaster for the state and it's people. The fact is that the voters of Dallas have twice voted in favor of the submersible tollway based on incomplete, or false, information provided by the city, along with the usual backroom purchase of support from South Dallas voters. 

Unlike JimSX, I'm fairly confident that now that Kay Baily Hutchinson is out of office, the Corp of Engineers will never approve the inane idea of building a road inside a flood plain, and the federal government will never provide funding for it. I see the question of support of the road as a non-issue, but if lip service is what it takes for a candidate to secure campaign funding, it's really a harmless gesture. After all, what politician doesn't lie about their real agenda, or for whom they intend to carry the water once in office?

JimSX
JimSX topcommenter

When I saw that photo, I recognized most of the family, but I thought, "Where's Lurch?"

harry24lewis
harry24lewis

@Myrna.Minkoff-Katz   I know what you mean.  I got a political flyer in the mail before the election from Blewett insinuating that he's more qualified than some of the other candidates because they weren't married and/or had no children.  I'm single and have no kids myself!  Do you think that jackass got my vote?

joseph
joseph

i don't know Mr. Abtahi's mind. If I had to guess, I would speculate that since the toll road is settled after 2 elections, it is waste of time to keep beating a dead horse. There are lots of other issues, why waste energy on one that is settled?

joseph
joseph

A good local example of a road built in a flood plain is the stretch of Northwest Highway between Lawther and Buckner in the White Rock Creek Flood Plain.

joseph
joseph

The only thing Texas secession and the toll road have in common is that they were both settled long ago. Why in the world would you think that in a world where causeways cross swamps and water that a road in a flood plain couldn't be built?

James080
James080

@joseph  

Reading comprehension is key my friend. I never wrote that it couldn't be built. I wrote that I didn't believe it would ever be built due to lack of approval form the Corp and lack of funding from the federal government.

 
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