Did anybody else have a serious gag reflex reading our former mayor's what-a-good-boy-am-I essay on the op-ed page of The Dallas Morning News yesterday? Does Tom Leppert just assume people don't remember a single thing about him? Or does he not remember a single thing about himself?
His op-ed piece is a paean to his own virtues. He starts off: "I'm a businessman. While Washington tells us a $14 trillion debt is the cost of doing business, you and I both know that's how you destroy a country's economic prospects."
Yeah, he's a businessman, all right. A really bad one. How would Leppert dare even open his mouth about debt? If he'd been at the wheel in Washington two years ago, we really would be bankrupt.
He was on the audit committee of the board of directors of Washington Mutual when it crashed in September 2008 -- the biggest bank failure in American history.
Two weeks before the meltdown, Leppert told reporters everything was coming up roses at WAMU: "The feeling is that there's sufficient capital and good things ahead."
But he knew better. Exhibits from an April 2010 hearing of the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations include an April 17, 2006, memorandum to the audit committee providing detail of massive losses rolling in already to WAMU at that point from $837.3 billion in bad house loans made in one year by WAMU's Long Beach Mortgage Company (LBMC).
The memo to the audit committee members from Randy Melby, WAMU's chief auditor, cited "relaxed underwriting guidelines...loan sales with provisions fundamentally different from previous securitizations...and breakdowns in manual underwriting processes."
It went on to say: "These factors, coupled with a push to increase loan volume and the lack of an automated fraud monitoring tool exacerbated the deterioration of loan quality. Additionally, an effective communication process to advise the production team of early indicators of deteriorating loan quality was not in place."
So, summing up: 1) Better part of a billion dollars in lousy loans. 2) Shitty business practices. 3) Major management push to get the loans out the door anyway. 4) No fraud control. And, 4) Nobody talking.
Least of all Tom Leppert.
And this was two years before the WAMU crash! No one has ever come up with a single instance of Sunny Tom raising a single finger at WAMU, let alone his voice, in all that time. And that would not be his style, would it? He told us the Trinity River toll road was paid for.
Oops. Wasn't. There's a couple billion we'll need to look for.
He told us the Army Corps of Engineers had signed off on the safety issues with the levees.
Oops. Hadn't. Well, once you're already short two billion, who cares?
His op-ed talks about how the bad people in Congress need to stop giving out money in special earmark appropriations. "It is time to end the earmarking process," Leppert says. He acknowledges that he used to defend earmarks when he wanted them for the Trinity project (to make up for the money he had already told us we had but we didn't really): "Several years ago, I made the case that it was better for elected officials to direct spending rather than leaving it entirely up to government bureaucrats."
Actually it was only a couple years ago, but he says everything has changed in that time.
"Unfortunately, Congress abused the privilege," he writes. "Spending is out of control and the process has become completely corrupted."
Wow. Already! Just since he was in favor of them.
Well, anyway, he's against them now. But wait! Apparently there is an exception even to that very new conviction. Leppert says the Trinity River project should still get earmarks because it's a worthy project: "Even as other programs are cut, the Trinity River project should be able to stand on its own merits under a tougher fiscal regimen in Washington. Less worthy programs, however, should be eliminated."
So let's sum up again. 1) Comes out against earmarks for the Tea Party vote in his ongoing U.S. Senate bid (kiss-ass kiss-ass kiss-ass). 2) Comes out for earmarks for the Trinity to keep the money boys in Dallas who are funding his campaign happy (kiss-ass kiss-ass kiss-ass).
I think that's pretty much 360 degree ass-kissing.
I just keep wondering when in Dallas we will get tired of these pin-striped board-room drummers with the haircuts and the suits and the 24/7 bullshit. Why do we vote for guys most of us wouldn't buy a casket from? They'll say whatever some paid consultant tells them to say. Whatever sells! They figure nobody remembers the words anyway, just the suit, the haircut and the smile.
Tom Leppert. WAMU. Tom Leppert. WAMU. That's all you need to remember.
Keep the Dallas Observer Free... Since we started the Dallas Observer, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Dallas, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Dallas with no paywalls.