Another Chapter Unfolds in the Rasansky-Leppert Hotel Feud
If you thought we couldn’t possibly have left anything of interest out of Tuesday’s lengthy post regarding last week’s city council meeting, there’s one tidbit we’ve been following. Turns out Mayor Leppert kept council member Mitchell Rasansky from speaking on an item that he says city attorney Tom Perkins said he could talk about, and, once again, Rasansky is not happy with Mayor Tom.
As detailed in the previous post, the council chambers were packed for two addendum items related to the convention center. One authorized refinancing the debt on the convention center to free up money for upgrades, and the other triggered $4 million in pre-development costs to begin construction on the hotel before the May 9 referendum.
At 3:33 p.m., Leppert took a quick poll of the audience regarding both items to gauge how many speakers there would be, and he said both items would be combined. Rasansky quickly noted that he had a conflict on one item (the hotel) but not the other (the refi). Leppert told Rasansky he had filed conflict of interest disclosures for both items.
“Sir, do not tell me what I have a conflict on,” Rasansky said. “That’s between me and the city attorney.”
Leppert agreed to vote on the items separately, but said the speakers would be combined, so Rasansky was forced to recuse himself as Anne Raymond was speaking. After both sides finished at 4:13 p.m., Leppert said the items would be combined, contradicting his statement to Rasansky from 40 minutes earlier. Both items were voted on with Rasansky out of the room, with council member Vonciel Jones Hill casting the lone vote in opposition.
Rasansky tells Unfair Park he’s “very upset” with Leppert and says Perkins gave him the go ahead to speak on the convention center item, even though he filed conflict of interest disclosures for both items. “The guy is something else,” Rasansky says of Leppert. “Does that mean when the mayor says something, he’s not going to stick with it?”
Chris Heinbaugh, Mayor Leppert’s chief of staff, says Perkins told Leppert that Rasansky filed conflicts for both items as the speakers were being heard. “Mr. Rasansky said he did not have a conflict on addendum 15, so the mayor agreed to split the vote. But the city attorney pointed out that Mr. Rasansky had filed conflict paperwork for both 8 and 15, so he could not participate in the discussion or the vote. Consequently, there was no longer a need to separate the vote.”
We contacted Perkins to help shed light on exactly what happened, but he refused to comment on what was said to either Rasansky or Leppert, only saying that Rasanksy had filed the conflict disclosures. Heinbaugh was kind enough to e-mail us copies of the statements, which show the word “possible” written and underlined above the word “conflict.” The statements are below.
“The mayor was wrong,” Rasansky says. “I mean, the mayor gave me his word, and then … when I was out of the room, he conveniently heard both of them together when he knew I asked to speak.”
This marks the third time in a month that Rasansky has been in attack mode with his anger pointed directly at the mayor. First it was disappointment about the budget process, and then the real fireworks went off when Rasansky said Leppert “doesn’t give a darn about the citizens of Dallas,” called his plans to build the convention center hotel “a résumé-building tool” and mentioned the mayor’s ties to Washington Mutual.
“I’m extremely disappointed in the mayor -- extremely disappointed,” Rasansky says. “I took the man for his word.” --Sam Merten
Get the This Week's Top Stories Newsletter
Every week we collect the latest news, music and arts stories — along with film and food reviews and the best things to do this week — so that you’ll never miss Observer's biggest stories.