Christine Biederman's recent article "Courthouse Coup" [November 27] was fun and entertaining. However, the article gave me too much credit, or blame, according to one's view. For example, while I supported Keith Anderson's race for a district judgeship, I did not recruit him to run. And, I would be honored to claim Danny Clancy as a protege, but that's a big overstatement.
Ms. Biederman is a very engaging reporter, and I enjoyed the interview. While the article wasn't entirely accurate, it was fair. But my wife, Sue, is upset. She has always believed that someone has to keep each politician's ego in check, and I am her charge. She insists that I remember the old political adage, "Take your job seriously, but never take yourself too seriously." The article doesn't make her job easier. And I am a little upset too. I don't wear "wet stuff" on my hair as the article described. But at my age, I am just glad she pointed out that I have hair.
On a more serious note, my seeming irreverence for politics and public service comes from believing government can and should be better. When I quit believing that, public service will lose its attraction. Nothing ever gets better without questioning the status quo. After 23 years on the inside of government, still acting like an outsider is my ambition and hope.
Although she didn't use it, I shared with Ms. Biederman my politician's prayer, "Lord let me know when it's over before you tell everyone else." Whenever it is over, I will retain many titles more important than Commissioner--Christian, American, Husband, Father, and Son. In these roles I take myself seriously.
Commissioner, Precinct 1
The rich get richer
Thank God someone like Laura Miller is here to report the facts concerning the sports arena ["Get real," December 4]. How can anyone think that Dallas is getting a good deal here by paying $125 million to two already very rich men? This is ridiculous.
I am sick to death of these owners holding me and the rest of the Dallas taxpayers hostage by threatening to go elsewhere with their teams. I say go if they want. If Arlington, Grand Prairie or anyone else wants to shell out the money, then let them pay for it. And for all those sports fans who want to complain about not having a sports team here in the city...then let me ask, do we not enjoy the Texas Rangers? The Dallas Cowboys? How tough is it to drive 30 minutes to see a game? If the teams are all that important to you to want to spend hundreds of millions, then they should be important enough to spend the extra five bucks in gas to drive to see them.
As Ms. Miller has pointed out, The city is getting the short end of the stick. The owners would amass another fortune (to add to the one they already have) on naming rights to the arena worth tens of millions, vendor deals, parking revenues, and development around the site. What does Dallas get? A lousy basketball team to call its own, an outdated Reunion Arena that may or may not be bulldozed, and a tax burden it will be saddled with for the next three decades. No thanks, I'll vote smart, and vote no!
I enjoyed the article in this week's Observer about Councilman [John] Loza and the burden the proposed "tourist tax" on rental cars will impose on those he cares about so much. However, the article dismissed questions about the effect of the increased hotel tax on residents. Meanwhile, right next to the article is an ad from the Stoneleigh for its special holiday rates. While I am sure the Observer has a wide distribution in other cities from which we attract tourists, do you suppose that ad may also have been directed toward local citizens who might want to spend a few days in a local hotel? Ironically, the same juxtaposition occurred in the original Dallas Morning News article about the arena, which ran next to an article about the Adolphus that included the statistic that 65 percent of their weekend guests were local people.
However, if we believe the rosy thoughts of Loza and his buddies that these increased "tourist taxes" will have no impact on those of us who live in Dallas, then why don't they take that "free money" and use it to actually reduce taxes? According to their estimates, these taxes will raise millions of dollars annually (well yes, you can't find out exactly how many millions in anything they publish, but take our word, it's a lot!). If we were to use that money to replace the taxes we know citizens are paying (especially property taxes, of course), then Mr. Loza and his ilk could actually reduce taxes on the city's residents.