South Side Story: Turns out the story isn't true. The southern Dallas vote did not deliver the No-vote victory for backers of a city-owned convention hotel in the May 9 referendum. Not according to an analysis done by Brooks Love.
True: Brooks Love was campaign manager for Vote Yes—the side that lost the election. But also true: Love was City of Dallas elections manager for eight years before becoming a hired gun.
Buzz has a tendency to believe that Love knows how to parse Dallas' perplexing map of voting precincts, split precincts, sub-precincts and other electoral hen-scratchings. And after checking a sampling of the data on Love's Excel spreadsheet, Buzz is prepared to agree with him:
In this case at least, the story of the southern Dallas voting bloc is largely a figment of somebody named Gromer's fevered imagination.
On May 13, writing on The Dallas Morning News' typically less than tight four-day deadline, Gromer Jeffers, the News' local politics writer, came out with a story positively gushing on Dallas Mayor Tom Leppert and the marriage he had performed between north and south in the previous week's election. Jeffers said Leppert had created a "new city" coalition.
"His political base now makes up much of North Dallas, though he's also gotten traction in the emerging neighborhoods in the south," Jeffers wrote.
Not too much traction, according to the numbers. It took Love several days, but he finally was able to take the entire YES vote and NO vote and array them by city council districts. For anybody who thought southern Dallas was a bastion of support for the half-billion-dollar hotel, Love's results make for a big slice of humble pie.
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The Vote No (save the hotel) campaign lost in Districts 5, 7 and 8, all represented by black incumbents who were re-elected. It went down by a tough 10 points in Tennell Atkins' District 8.
Vote No was absolutely drubbed in the southern, western and central precincts represented by Hispanics, losing against a two-thirds majority for Vote Yes in the districts of incumbent council member Steve Salazar and termed-out member Dr. Elba Garcia.
The Morning News editorial page had the temerity to complain after the election that not enough people had voted in the south. Dallas County Commissioner John Wiley Price responded with a tart May 16 letter to the editor claiming that black votes have delivered all of Belo's most treasured initiatives, and warning them "not to bite the hand that feeds you."
And Buzz is left to ponder: "This is the new Dallas?"