| Schutze |

No Matter How Many Would-Be Mayors Are in the Soup, the Recipe's Always the Same

If nothing else, Tom Leppert's a front-runner in the mayoral mailings, of which we've received more than a few.
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Sunday saw a major effort by Gromer Jeffers in The Dallas Morning News to slice and dice the very confusing mayoral race in Dallas. Of course, Jeffers neglected to raise the question -- maybe he just forgot -- what role his own boss, Robert Decherd, is playing.

We have to think major. Decherd, CEO of Belo Corp., the top Beloan himself, and Belo board member Bill Solomon, CEO of Austin Industries, were major architects, acting through the Dallas Citizens Council, of the original Ron Kirk candidacy. Kirk's main job for them, once in office, was to push big-ticket public works endeavors such as the Trinity River Project -- the kind of thing that Austin Industries builds along with Turner Construction, of which candidate Tom Leppert was CEO until recently.

Now, the personable but non-voting Mr. Leppert -- a big fan of the Trinity project -- is the Citizens Council's Manchurian candidate. And Decherd doesn't have a spoon in the soup?

In his analysis, Jeffers lumped critics of big-ticket public works projects as "Dallas a'ginners," which is O.K. I think I did that when I wrote about Kirk the first time for D. But, c'mon. The story here is not really about a big messy field of so many candidates nobody knows what's going on. Somebody knows what's going on. The Boys, as Mayor Laura used to call them before she became one, want the river project, roads and parks.

It's still the same cheer: Gimme an R, gimme an O, gimme an A, gimme a great big old D for Dallas! Oh, and, uh, gimme the money, willya?

As they did when they invented Ron Kirk, they have a major Southern Dallas strategy in the Leppert campaign, and it's not just hiring hacks and handing out cash to preachers the way some of the other white boys are doing. Get him one-on-one where he can talk, and Leppert has a pretty intriguing line on helping to establish "strong stable companies" in Southern Dallas.

But that's also the old Citizens Council line all over again: You folks down there get some little pork. Us boys downtown get some big pork. And together we will pork it to those to those sucker taxpayers in North Dallas.

Jeffers deserves credit for one thing. He has insisted all along that Don Hill must be taken as a viable Southern Dallas candidate. I think he's right. I hear more and more admiration for Hill's intelligence and for his personality. And hey! What is with that FBI deal? In Southern Dallas, anyway, being the target of the world's longest no-results FBI probe may turn out to be plus for Hill.

Dream with me here. Leppert and Hill at the finish line in the first election, before the run-off. Hill folds his hand and throws in with Leppert.

Who needs a run-off?

Of course, for me that's not a dream. It's a nightmare. But that's my problem. I still have nightmares about Robert Folsom, and you don't even know who he is, do you? --Jim Schutze

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