Mayor Tom Leppert Seeks Amen on Convention Center Hotel from South Dallas Churches

Despite Mayor Tom Leppert and the city council's plans to begin construction on the convention center hotel April 1 and rush to sell bonds on the project to quash the May 9 referendum, it's still a vote Leppert and his fellow Build the Hotel'ers (soon to be Vote No! Keep Dallas Open for Business) can't afford to lose. The mayor has already given his sales pitch throughout the city, and his speaking engagements will increase as the vote gets closer.

His latest effort to reach Dallas voters comes via Vernita Wilson, the assistant to Leppert's South Dallas consultant, Willis Johnson. You may remember Johnson as the leader of the "Inner Circle" that helped Leppert get elected, one of three black businessmen calling themselves the Service and Leadership Team involved in the Inland Port problems, or as a radio personality who has won lucrative contracts for himself at Dallas Area Rapid Transit, City Hall and the Dallas Independent School District.

Wilson e-mailed several South Dallas churches Wednesday to let them know that Johnson wants to visit one of their services so Leppert can do his hotel song-and-dance for the congregation. Of course, before Leppert blesses the church with his presence, Johnson requires a 20 minute conference call with the pastor "to assure his support."

We gave Wilson a buzz to find out which churches were sent the missive and to ask why support from the pastor was needed, but she didn't seem in the talkative mood, questioning where we got the e-mail and claiming she'd get back to us. We'll provide an update if she does call back, but until then, her e-mail is below.

Also, we just learned that Leppert has replaced Dallas Convention & Visitors Bureau CEO Phillip Jones as Anne Raymond's opponent at the March 18 CREW luncheon. Maybe he'll issue another classic line like this one.

March 4, 2009


I am contacting you on behalf of Mr. Willis Johnson who would like to visit one of your church services. The purpose of this visit is to allow Mayor Tom Leppert an opportunity to speak with your congregation regarding the upcoming Convention Center Hotel.

Prior to this visit Mr. Johnson is requesting a 20 minute conference call with the Senior Pastor to assure his support.

Please provide a date/time when the Pastor will be available to have this conference call. As well, we would like to know if you have a preferred service you would like Mayor Leppert to attend in the next several weeks.

Looking forward to your response.

Vernita Wilson Assistant to Willis Johnson [phone number and e-mail address redacted]

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