What's in David Dean's Closet? Oh. A Closet.
Oh, you say you want to know more about David Dean, the lobbyist who's getting a cool mil from the city concerning the Trans-Texas Corridor? Well, let me share this with you: This is the very same David Dean who, six years ago, was behind what city council members, past and present, like to call The Closet Case. Dean, who, in 1981, was appointed by Governor Bill Clements as his secretary of state, is the very same man who once threatened to sue the city if the council didn't allow him to add a "450-square-foot chamber roughly the size of a two-car garage to his recently acquired Swiss Avenue mansion," as Rose Farley reported in the paper version of Unfair Park on August 31, 2000.
Dean's case was an ugly one. In August of that year, the Landmark Commission denied his request for the add-on, which his Swiss Avenue neighbors detested and protested vehemently. (Fact is, the Dean case damned near tore apart the Swiss Avenue Historic District Association, from all accounts.) As Rose reported, the commissioners didn't think the closet was in keeping with the historic character of the home and the neighborhood--and "worse, they thought, approval of the closet would set a dangerous precedent for the district, where significant alterations to the exteriors of homes are a no-no."
Shoulda been that the commission's no vote ended the discussion right there, but Dean pleaded his case to the council, and it split the horseshoe in a major way. Though it passed on September 27, 2000, it did so by a vote of 9-4--with Mayor Ron Kirk voting against the closet, arguing that "it set back efforts to keep the early 20th-century boulevard a historically preserved street," as Tom Korosec wrote in the Observer in October 2001.
The issue over the closet got so out of hand that in late February 2001, the city council voted to take itself out of the process altogether: If a homeowner doesn't like what the Landmark Commission has to say, then they gotta take the case to the City Plan Commission.
Tom also noted five years ago that Dean had powerful friends going to bat for him in his case against the city: U.S. Reps. Martin Frost, Eddie Bernice Johnson and Ralph Hall, who wrote letters to the city on his behalf and insisted the closet would make the house look better. Said Johnson, the closet would "actually improve the appearance and balance of the home." (A side note: The missus and I are considering a little home makeover and would love some suggestions. If Johnson has the time.)
Ironically, it was only last year that the city's Park and Recreation Board approved giving part of the William B. Dean Park in Turtle Creek, adjacent to the Kalita Humphreys Theater, landmark designation. William B. Dean, of course, was David's father.
For more information about Dean, who formed his consulting companies Dean & Associates and Dean International after he left the law firm Winstead Sechrest & Minick in March 1995, you could also read this Dallas Business Journal story from November 1996, which leads with this sentence: "Political powerhouse David Dean's budding business empire is wilting." Turns out, not so much--at least not when you get a million bucks from a city council you threatened to sue over a closet six years ago. --Robert Wilonsky
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