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When You Go Down to City Hall Today, Just Make Sure You Pay the Parking Lot Box

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Should be an interesting Dallas City Council meeting today -- if, that is, the Deep Ellum Association knows it needs to send its people to City Hall before 1 p.m., as the council will vote on the parking-boot ordinance well before lunch break, according to city officials to whom we spoke last night. The City Code change probably would have sailed through all but unnoticed, had Carol and Laura Reed not gone to work for the parking-lot owners and convinced the council to give up the electronic monitoring in favor of "video auditing." But now that the mayor's top campaign consultant's firm is getting money to hound the council on behalf of business owners who don't want to play by the council's months-in-the-making rules, it's likely they'll go into summer recess with a louder-than-expected "have a kick-ass summer" yearbook signing.

(Update: Sam and Patrick are at City Hall, where the council has punted on the booting issue for various reasons. Look for a separate item shortly.)

As Sam reported yesterday, despite the Reeds' involvement as lobbyists for the parking-lot owners, the mayor will not recuse himself from today's vote. What ever would ethics-reform-calling-for mayoral candidate Tom Leppert have thought of that?

"Without strong rules, it just creates, in the mind of the electorate, more questions about the process," former Turner Corp. chairman and chief executive officer Tom Leppert said. "You should know where people are coming from and what purpose they're there at City Hall for."

Oh, and speaking of Turner Construction, the city council today will vote whether to pay, um, Turner Construction $576,235 for "soil remediation" for the Annette Strauss Artist Square project. (It's Addendum Item No. 14, for those playing along.) Put simply, the money -- which comes from the '03 bond program -- will be spent on dirt. (Update: The mayor cited a conflict of interest before the vote.)

As in: "Because it is an outdoor venue where people will be sitting on the lawn, the decision was made to replace the old dirt with new dirt," says Maria May, the very nice spokesperson for the Dallas Center for the Performing Arts and the one stuck explaining the expenditure after assistant city attorney Ramón Míguez failed to return Unfair Park's calls yesterday. "It's nothing different than what you'd find in your backyard. It was a conservative decision made because of the nature of the venue."

She's not sure who made the decision or when, but does add that "even with the additional expense of the new dirt, Annette Strauss Artist Square is still under budget."

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