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Re: Chaney to the Rescue?

Leo Chaney's campaign treasurer is the executive director of the Ferguson Road Initiative. Only took us a day to put that together.

Yesterday, we posted an item about a city-issued press release in which council member Leo Chaney said he was desparate to help the poor, poor people of the Ash Creek Mobile Home Park, who're getting tossed out the first week of February. We mentioned how two women from the Ferguson Road Initiative would be joining Chaney Saturday morning at the Dallas Central Church of the Nazarene, where they would try to help the nearly 100 displaced Ash Grove residents experience "a smooth transition into alternate housing." And we mentioned how that meeting was probably not gonna go so well, since Ash Creek residents blame the Ferguson Road Initiative as much as Chaney, in whose district the park sits, for their inevitable ouster.

But several Friends of Unfair Park pointed out last night that the FRI and Chaney are pretty much the same thing anyway -- more or less, kinda-sorta. See, Chaney's on the board of the FRI -- an non-voting member, but a board member nonetheless. And his campaign treasurer, Vikki Martin, is the FRI's executive director. So that makes the FRI family.

Speaking of Martin, she was one of two FRI members mentioned in Chaney's press release yesterday. She'll be there Saturday, lending a helping hand. Like I said, family.

The connection between Martin, Chaney and the FRI was made in an October 7, 2005, Dallas Morning News story about...wait for it, wait for it...how Southwest Housing Development Co. and Brian Potashnik "contributed $64,000 to council member Leo Chaney and several programs he supports after state law was changed to require public backing for low-income housing projects."

Chaney denied that the money given to him by the F.B.I.'s favorite developer (hey, whatever happened to that investi...oh, never mind) influenced him in any way, shape or form. Nonetheless, Reese Dunklin and Gromer Jeffers pointed out in The News that:

"Southwest Housing's financial relationship with Mr. Chaney began blossoming about two years ago, just as Texas' affordable housing landscape changed.

State legislators heeded constituents' concerns that a high number of low-income apartments in their neighborhoods might become future slums and in June 2003 passed a law requiring developers to show public approval in order to receive economic incentives.

The new rules meant that developers wanting to build in cities with twice the state average of subsidized housing units, such as Dallas, needed a formal endorsement of the deal from their city council. And they needed support letters from residents' groups affected by the proposed developments."

After the rules changed, Southwest donated more than $11,000 in donations to the Ferguson Road Initiative. The exec director of which is Vikki Martin. Who raised money for Leo Chaney. Who's on the board of the Ferguson Road Initiative. Which wants the Ash Creek Mobile Home Park gone. Which it will be after 5 p.m. on February 9. After which it likely becomes a fancy-schmancy real estate development full of big, bright and shiny new homes. --Robert Wilonsky

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