Several Friends have asked, privately, in recent days: Whatever happened to Mayor Pro Tem Dwaine Caraway's threat to drown Keep the Dollars in Dallas? As you may recall, when it came time for the council to call the election that will allow the off-premise sale of beer and wine citywide, Caraway delivered a lengthy, impassioned tirade that ended with this promise: "It's gonna be a hell of a fight." But ... where? And when? Andy Siegel, the attorney repping the anti side, didn't even take his promised legal fight to the Supreme Court of Texas. So, what happened?
"It's loud on our end," Caraway tells Unfair Park today. "We had a debate this weekend on Inside Texas Politics, so I invite you to look at that. We had a debate yesterday on Robert Ashley's show that went very well. We had a debate last night at the Urban League that went well. We have signs throughout the southern sector. There are radio ads airing as we speak on KHVN. And there are people working the early-voting polls in the southern sector since Day One. We've turned up the volume."
Caraway, though, is among the few public figures leading the anti charge. He says he's working with the No Alcohol PAC/Neighborhood For Safety group -- but as evidenced by its recently filed campaign finance report, that consists solely of two liquor stores. Goody Goody and Centennial parent Vantex have contributed $15,000 each to the cause -- and that's it. On the other hand, the Kroger-led Keep the Dollars in Dallas campaign has raised more than $150,000 from the likes of Sprouts Farmers Market, Brinker International, and real-estate companies and property owners from Preston Royal to Oak Cliff.
Says Caraway, Goody Goody and Centennial "have come together to do whatever they're doing. They stepped up to the plate, and if those are the folks who they got, fine. I'm still waiting to hear from Mothers Against Drunk Driving and those people." Still, he will acknowledge: The fact that the anti side could only get two liquor stores to contribute to the cause "does concern me."
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Nevertheless, he insists, "They're putting in because they also understand they're at-risk as well. Once concern I have is not just liquor stores but beer and wine. Fuel City, for instance. We put all that focus on the Trinity? It's going to kill Fuel City. Why should people come across the bridge to Fuel City if Oak Cliff gets wet? Is that new revenue or just exchanging revenue from one side to the other? It's not new revenue. And we're killing people who have been an economic generator to our tax base.
"And the $33 million in tax revenue Keep the Dollars in Dallas says this will generate? From one end it sounds good. But the millions they're talking about, me and you and everyone else will have to get drunk on a daily basis to make up $33 million in revenue. The best thing we can do is to get our point out there the best we can. Am I disappointed that there aren't a lot of entities out there fighting this deal? Of course. But again, it goes back to what you asked me: What was my pledge? And I'm out here kicking ass."
So much so, Caraway's invited me to make the rounds with him this afternoon, after the council meeting, to see what he's up to. Sounds like a date.