A Convention Center Hotel Round-Up, Starring Mayor "No Conflicts" Tom

A very emphatic Mayor Tom Leppert from Sam Merten on Vimeo.

In Wednesday’s paper version of Unfair Park, we'll take a look into the madness of Mayor Tom’s relentless pursuit of the convention center hotel. But until then, we offer this video from the September 24 Build the Hotel shindig, along with a response from Leppert regarding a potential conflict in the pro-hotel press release.

While downloading files from my camera this weekend, turns out I forgot that I ran video for 40 seconds during the press conference in between taking notes and photos. And I must be getting good at predicting Leppert gold by now, as I was rolling tape when he issued what I would refer to in my wrap-up as the laughs for the day when he said, “We’re not going to run the hotel. There’s going to be competent people.” Flanked by Phillip Jones, president and CEO of the Dallas Convention & Visitors Bureau, and Deputy Mayor Pro Tem Dwaine Caraway, Leppert’s statement took a while to settle in, but once it did, it was a virtual giggle fest.

Also, when the Build the Hotel’ers responded to the 60,000 signatures dropped off by Citizens Against the Taxpayer-Owned Hotel, Trey Garrison put on his fact-checking pants and went nuts. His biggest revelation was that one of the women quoted in the press release, Sophia Dowl, owns Alpha Business, which created Leppert’s mayoral Web site.

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“There is no conflict. Ms. Dowl was simply stating what occurred to her,” Leppert tells Unfair Park. “Many, many people experienced the same thing when approached by those people paid to gather signatures.”

We didn’t get a chance to ask him about this one, but the following was cut from our April cover story about the hotel. Now that we’re talking about conflicts, it seems appropriate to bring this one to light.

Through researching Leppert’s campaign contributions, the Observer learned earlier this year the mayor received a $500 contribution from Gerald Alley, president of Con-Real, Inc. Alley’s brother, Troy, is the one who performed the Con-Real appraisal. Gerald Alley is also mentioned among “a diverse group of Leppert supporters who gathered at the Tom Leppert Campaign Headquarters,” according to a May 31 press release on Leppert’s Web site.

When asked for comment, city council member Mitchell Rasansky said, “Oh, Jesus Christ, are you serious? That smells. That’s disgusting.” --Sam Merten

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