Leading man

Leading man: How many times does a rumor have to be repeated before a responsible journalist passes it on? Beats us. We're Buzz, not Responsible Journalist Man, so here goes: Twice in the past week we've come across rumors that Mayor Pro Tem Don Hill was the leader in a voter poll concerning potential challengers to Mayor Laura Miller.

Commentator Rufus Shaw wrote on the Web site that Hill was the "number one challenger" in a poll taken by a "wealthy Anglo business person" but didn't cite a number. Another source told our own blog editor, Robert Wilonsky, that a poll commissioned by former council member Max Wells had Hill drawing 41 percent. Wells isn't releasing any of his polling data, chiefly because he doesn't want to either endorse or undermine anyone, but he told us 41 percent was way off base. "I don't think I'd want to give any numbers, but I can tell you no [potential challenger] was that high," said Wells, who doesn't plan to run for mayor.

So it wasn't 41 percent from Wells, but maybe Shaw was talking about some other Anglo. Regardless, some people--among the chattering classes anyway--consider Hill the man to watch. That's pretty impressive for a man targeted by a highly publicized search by the FBI last year as part of an ongoing investigation into alleged City Hall corruption.

Hill says he's heard rumors of polls that showed him faring well, but he hadn't heard 41 percent. (We spoke to Hill before we reached Wells. Sorry for passing on bad info, Mr. Mayor Pro Tem.) While Hill is intrigued by the rumors, he won't base his decision about whether to run on polls. The deciding factor will be whether "I can craft a clear vision that takes people where they want to go," Hill says.

Buzz suggested to Hill that the fact he is considered a viable challenger in the face of the FBI investigation might speak well of Dallas voters' grasp of civil liberties. Hill, after all, hasn't been charged with anything, and like anyone else, he's presumed to be innocent. Hill liked that suggestion. "I know many people who have encouraged me, who've told me to stay strong and focused...that speaks well for our citizens."

Either that, or they haven't been reading the papers. But let's be charitable.