If the city's shutting down another hookers-n-drugs party shack around town, you can bet Mayor Dwaine Caraway's going to be there for the photo op, and so it was this morning at the Luxury Inn Motel in Southeast Dallas. Backed by a posse including neighborhood leaders, council members, City Attorney Tom Perkins and Police Chief David Brown, Caraway positively beamed this morning as he announced the old motel had rented its last room.
"The message today is that crime, prostitution, drug dealing -- these crimes will not be tolerated," Caraway said. The neighborhood, he said, "does not deserve to have to deal with these types of unpleasantries."
A statement from the city said neither the Luxury Inn, nor the Sundial Inn a few blocks down Buckner Boulevard, had applied to stay in business after the city council voted to ban hotels in the area with fewer than 60 rooms. The city said both motels "have lengthy history with prostitution and drug use."
Carolyn Davis said she turned up for the presser because she's got another pair of motels she'd like to see closed in her district. "We want some more restaurants and ice cream and flower shops," she said. Ron Natinsky said shuttering the Sundial and the Luxury Inn -- "basically a cancer on the neighborhood," he said -- will make it easier to act in other neighborhoods next.
At which point the press conference broke up and the cameras were meant to follow the guy from Building Inspection who strolled to the Luxury Inn office with a letter from the city revoking the motel's certificate of occupancy (read it after the jump).
Except that the motel's lawyer, Frank Hernandez, took the chance to corner Chief Brown and air his grievances with the city's action -- an exchange that made for much, much better TV.
Hernandez repeated what he told Unfair Park just before the press conference -- that the Luxury Inn had been a long-term residence until the city suggested they apply to rezone as a motel in 1991. That even today, this is not "a hot-sheet motel," and that there haven't been any police calls out to the motel lately. (Neighbors and employees at the Burger King next door told me they regularly see prostitutes loitering around the motel -- even one this morning who wondered what the cameras were doing there.)
Hernandez mentioned before the presser that he'd previously sued Caraway on behalf of another client -- and even with the mayor looking on and the cameras rolling later, he didn't mind making things personal, calling Caraway a "racist" and "a hypocrite" because "the only people he goes after is the Indian motel owners."
Speaking with me before the press conference, Hernandez suggested Caraway was just showboating to draw attention away from "this thing he just went through."
"I saw the police chief is coming," Hernandez said, "and I hope he didn't lie to the chief again."