Arena games

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"Dear Mr. Ware:
"I would like to acknowledge receipt of your letter of May 17, 1995 and the draft agreement accompanying the letter relating to Lot E. Unfortunately the draft agreement is not acceptable for a host of reasons, and I feel that providing specific comments on it would be counterproductive to our mutual desire to have the new sports complex located in downtown Dallas.

"I would like to reconfirm that we will play whatever supportive role we can with respect to the sports complex remaining downtown. As I have mentioned in previous correspondence, we have some ideas which we think could have as an end result the City acquiring Lot E in a method which would minimize or eliminate the amount of cash required and also meet various third-party requirements for the facility. We are prepared to meet whenever the City and/or the Mavericks would like to visit further on this subject.

"Sincerely, Ray L. Hunt."
We may, based on 23 years of past pecuniary behavior, assume that Hunt's "idea" goes something like this: "I'll give you Lot E (all of 7.6 acres). In return, you give me all your downtown, city-owned land--including City Hall, the convention center and the J. Erik Jonsson Central Library. Oh, and don't forget all those lovely air rights."

Earth to Hunt: Be like a Bass (as in Fort Worth) and donate your sorry-ass parking lot, pal.

Earth to City Hall: When he doesn't, condemn it.
Georgia A. Hardy, a Children's Medical Center employee and a resident of East Dallas, is some kind of pistol.

Last February 20, the 45-year-old wrote a letter to her councilman, Craig McDaniel, who had just announced publicly that he had no intention of allowing the taxpayers to vote on the arena. It reads:

"McDaniel: I see you have chosen to support the latest City Swindle, this time a $400 million sports arena to replace the one we haven't yet paid for so the lazy rich can hang out in comfort. If you want this, you pay for it. If the rich want this, they can pay for it. If the team wants it, the team can pay for it. Stop swindling me you lazy bum. I'm not in the mood to further your career by footing the bill for your handlers.

Hoping you find yourself unemployed, destitute and homeless in the near future, I remain, Vigilant, Georgia Hardy."

McDaniel, a tepid sort who, in 18 months, has added absolutely nothing to the arena debate, responded:

"Dear Ms. Hardy: Thank you for writing me regarding the proposed new sports arena. I believe you have misinterpreted my position regarding this issue.

"I have not 'chosen to support' the project on the basis you stated. I support private funding of the arena with city participation limited to what we would provide other businesses relocating or expanding in Dallas. Sincerely, Craig McDaniel."

What's the matter, Georgia? Don't you think the city offers every relocating or expanding Dallas business $35 million?

It should be duly noted here that some of our elected officials--unlike McDaniel, who was nice enough to share his nasty constituent letter with us, like to play fast and loose with the Texas Open Records Act.

Either that or they somehow get no constituent mail on the hottest topic of the day. Either that or they find it boring to keep files on a controversial and expensive public project.

"Information found in the files for council members Domingo Garcia and Charlotte Mayes were [sic] duplication of material already submitted by other council members," city council liaison Rhonda Hart wrote in a memo responding to our records request. "Councilman Larry Duncan has no documents related to the sports arena."

The response to my open-records request--for everything pertaining to the arena--also included nothing from the files of former Mayor Steve Bartlett. No surprise there. Over the past year, in response to two other records requests, Bartlett has provided a whopping 26 pages. The notion that Bartlett--the arena's number-one promoter--has nothing in his files on the matter is preposterous. Bartlett similarly turned over nothing when we requested his documents and correspondence on the Pinnacle Park racetrack project, another scheme he was water-boying for Hunt.

Last week, when I asked his former administrative assistant, Kristi Sherrill, now working for Mayor Ron Kirk, why I had received no arena documents from Bartlett on this latest request, covering the period from December 1994 through June 1995, she responded the same way she had in the past: she shrugged. "When we got the request, we looked through the files," Sherrill said, "and we sent you everything we found."

Sure. We also remember Bartlett's favorite motto: "No tax dollars will be used to pay for this arena."

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Laura Miller

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