In the comments of a blog item regarding council member Tennell Atkins's questionable campaign finance reports, someone using the name "joe" suggested that, along with being a hobbit, my motivation in digging around Atkins's reports was his support of the Trinity Turnpike and convention center hotel. Then he wrote: "cue next the 4 or 5," which I assume he meant to cue the next four or five council members who support both projects.
A quick reminder to "joe" and to everyone else: Only Angela Hunt and Vonciel Hill fall into the category of council members not on board with both, with Dr. Elba Garcia and Mitchell Rasansky having conflicts of interest on the hotel issue. That leaves Medrano, Neumann, Caraway, Salazar, Davis, Atkins, Kadane, Allen, Koop, Natinsky and Mayor Leppert.
Yup, that's 11 of 15 in the horseshoe who are backers of both the toll road and hotel, a fact Leppert stressed when he told the Dallas County Young Democrats that the majority of the votes on the hotel have been 11-2. The point here is that Atkins is hardly in elite company as a proponent of both, which got me thinking back to the Trinity River toll road referendum.
Leppert framed the debate by lining up all the council members against Angela Hunt, claiming she was the lone opponent working against a united council. And to sell the road to voters in 2007, several council members helped the mayor spread (I'm being very careful here) misleading statements and inaccurate claims.
As already discussed, Leppert said the NTTA would pick up a billion dollars of the tab for the Trinity Turnpike, which turned out not to be the case. And "joe's" comment triggered another memory from the campaign. Just four days before the election, I saw disturbing pictures of council members Atkins and Dwaine Caraway peddling the road at the sub-courthouse in Oak Cliff.
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Bill Betzen at StudentMotivation.org posted the photo you're seeing of Atkins and Caraway soliciting votes while standing next to a detailed rendering of the toll road. Throughout the area, signs reading "This has already been paid for" are visible.
So is this about kicking Atkins and Caraway in the crotch? No. Just consider this a friendly heads-up.
The hotel campaign has officially begun as both sides have been speaking to groups throughout the city and several debates are scheduled. And Leppert has already dusted off his old strategy from the toll road referendum by attempting once again to frame the debate as a strong council fighting against a lone opponent (that'd be Harlan Crow, of course).
Let's hope that's the only tactic Leppert and his council buddies revisit.