Soon as I got back to the office, Jim Rogers showed up with a press release and a photo. Rogers, the first president of the Bryan Place Neighborhood Association perched in the shadow of downtown, came by to announce that he's running for Dallas City Council -- the District 14 seat, that is, presently held by Angela Hunt. Rogers, an attorney and accountant, says he's only a candidate if Hunt runs for mayor. Otherwise, he says, he's out and "she [Hunt] will win District 14 with my support."
Rogers, a former member of the Zoning Ordinance Advisory Committee, says he decided to run only a week ago, at the insistence of "neighborhood people." But he clarifies: "I've been thinking about it for a long time." In the press release he brought by, Rogers says District 14 needs "a vision focused on the importance of quality planning which respects our neighborhoods and the efforts to stabilize the city's tax base."
We talked a little about taxes. Rogers says they're too high and that the citizens of Dallas are "paying higher taxes than people in the other major cities in Texas. Part of my background is, I'm not only an attorney but also a CPA, and I want us to go through everything ... We need to compare the major cities, where they're spending their money and where we're spending our money. We need to be at least comparable to them."
I asked: With City Manager Mary Suhm about to tell the council she's expecting a $41-million to $96-million budget shortfall in the coming fiscal year, how would he address that?
Rogers says he hasn't seen the specifics yet, but says that during the coming budgeting process, "I would like to see all the details [because] I'm not sure there are that many with my kind of background that can understand what they're looking at and accurately delve into it. I find it very regretful to hear we could be $50 to $100 million below what we need. That could be scary."
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When asked if he was against the tax hike, which Hunt supported, he took a long pause, then said, "I would like to have seen the budget developed in such a way that a tax hike was not required."
He and Hunt were at odds not long ago over Woodard Paint & Body Shop, and Rogers' name surfaced a few years back as someone opposed to the $175-million mixed-use City Lights project near Live Oak and Good-Latimer, which the developer ultimately scuttled. But one thing he absolutely supports: Hunt and Pauline Medrano's plan for turning Lower Greenville into a planned development district. Says Rogers, "I think it's positive for that area. From my perspective, it's not my council seat. It's District 14's council seat, and I would like to involve the people as much as possible."
Update: Rogers would like to clarify my comments regarding his position on City Lights. He sends this via e-mail:
I think it is inaccurate to say I opposed the City Lights project. I enthusiastically supported most of the project. Early on we (I as the zoning chair along with the neighborhood association president) met with Don Silverman and I understood him to almost commit to aspects that would be sensitive to the Bryan Place neighborhood. He later ignored all our input and (from my perspective) abandoned all sensitivity.
The only portions of the project that I had problems with were those that were not sensitive to the existing neighborhood. Specifically I asked them to attempt to leave as much of the view corridor of Downtown as possible and his response was less than favorable. I did oppose his receiving all the city tax breaks, bond money, etc. unless he showed some sensitivity to the neighborhood's concerns.