Mitchell Rasansky, who served with Don Hill on the Dallas City Council for six years and is listed as a potential witness in Hill's ongoing federal corruption trial, says any direct ties between Hill and developer Brian Potashnik weren't apparent to him because the majority of the city's affordable housing projects at the time were built by Potashnik's company, Southwest Housing. Hill is accused of accepting bribes from Potashnik, who will testify against Hill as part of a plea agreement.
Potashnik's developments were "good projects that would help the southern sector," Rasansky recalls, and they were supported by city staff. "I thought his fees were a little on the exorbitant side, but on the other hand, he was going into a virgin area with a very expensive product," he tells Unfair Park.
When Bill Fisher, a former Southwest employee who became an FBI informant in the Hill case, started seeking the council's approval for similar projects in close proximity to ones planned by Potashnik, it created an intense rivalry because only one project could be built within one mile of another.
"He went on his own, and that's the American way and the American dream," Rasansky says. "And I don't blame him for wanting a piece of it."
But other council members weren't supportive of the competition, as Rasansky claims there was "mudslinging" against Fisher at some council meetings. "I knew where that was coming from because he was a competitor, and he was jumping in there to get some," he says.
As Fisher's deals were delayed by the council (one was ultimately approved), two of Potashnik's were approved. "I got the sense that there were some people trying to kill Fisher's deals," Rasansky says. "There is no question in my mind about that."
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Rasansky refused to name those people on the record, referring to them only as "other council members."
D'Angelo Lee, Hill's appointee to the City Plan Commission and co-defendant in the corruption trial, was seen by Rasansky at council meetings several times, but he says he only met Lee once or twice. "When I meet somebody like that ... I have a devious mind," he says. "When I saw him up there ... I always wondered why [Hill's] people were up there."
This behavior stood out to Rasansky because of his relationship with former council member Donna Blumer, as he claims she never called him in his eight years as her appointee to the plan commission. However, the practice is hardly unique, as current Mayor Pro Tem Dwaine Caraway's appointee to the plan commission, Michael Davis, is often seen at council meetings.
Rasansky adds that he was unaware of Hill's affair with Sheila Farrington, who provided Hill with that infamous BMW, until it became public.