In Memo to Council, Angela Hunt Asks Colleagues to Stop Talking Out of Their Asses

Angela Hunt has delivered a sound thwacking to fellow city council member Ron Natinsky and Assistant City Manager A.C. Gonzalez over some loose-lipped claims Natinsky and Gonzalez have been making about our upcoming referendum on a city-owned hotel downtown.

She says Natinsky and Gonzalez, in their eagerness to get people to vote no on Proposition 1 in the May 9 election, are saying things that will really screw up the city legally later on. She points out that the city is already seriously hammered in a decades-old lawsuit over police pay for exactly the same reason: council-members and staff running their mouths in public on legal issues instead of handling them in executive session with the city attorney.

Jump for an explanation -- and for Hunt's memo sent yesterday to Mayor Tom Leppert and the Dallas City Council.

In this case, Natinsky asked Gonzalez, who is not a lawyer, what legal effect a yes vote on Prop. 1 will have on the city's ability to subsidize hotel projects in the future. Gonzalez should have said, "I'm not a lawyer. Ask Tom Perkins," the city attorney

I would suspicion that Natinsky and Gonzalez didn't want to ask Perkins, because they knew they wouldn't like the answer. Sane, normal people with average-to-better I.Q.s who have looked at this question all have come to the same conclusion: no effect.

The referendum is about the city owning a hotel, not about the city subsidizing a privately owned hotel. That's really the core of the opposition to the city-owned hotel now on the table. It's not about the city helping somebody else's hotel project. It's about the city getting into the hotel business itself and operating The People's Ministry of Hotel Functions.

The question to the city would be: How about fixing the streets first. Show us how good you are at that, then we'll talk.

Anyway, Natinsky sets Gonzalez up with this slow-pitch question, and Gonzalez answers publicly that a yes vote will bar all subsidies in the future. It's a way-out interpretation of the ballot proposition intended to sound sort of scary and out-of-control. Mothers will not be allowed to feed babies, and wild dogs will run rampant in places of worship. That sort of thing.

In her memo to the rest of the city council, Hunt doesn't even argue that point. She just asks the council not to do this kind of stuff in public, because it establishes a record that can be used against the city later.

I felt like I saw this same thing big-time in the Trinity River referendum. The staff will say anything. Anything. They absolutely cannot be trusted to stand up to even the mildest breezes of pressure.Angela Hunt April 13 Letter to Colleagues

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Jim Schutze has been the city columnist for the Dallas Observer since 1998. He has been a recipient of the Association of Alternative Newsweeklies’ national award for best commentary and Lincoln University’s national Unity Award for writing on civil rights and racial issues. In 2011 he was admitted to the Texas Institute of Letters.
Contact: Jim Schutze