City News Roundup
Fair Park and State Fair of Texas revelations rule Dallas news this week
Dallas is chattering about two favorite topics: Fair Park and the State Fair of Texas. Later in the week, there'll be a protest. Here's what's happened in Dallas news this week:
Fair Park rule
In May, the Dallas City Council will vote on what to do about Fair Park, and the Dallas Morning News has done some great scrutiny of that situation.
Right now, Fair Park is under the authority of the city. Mayor Mike Rawlings is pushing for privatizing it via a nonprofit foundation to be led by retiree Walt Humann.
Humann is demanding oodles of money: at least $25 million for operations, plus borrowing another $100 to $125 million for repairs.
But before moving forward, the Newssuggests first deciding on the goal. Would fixing up the buildings and adding a five-acre park really make people want to go there?
And if we're willing to give that money to Humann, why not just give it to Willis Winters, director of Dallas Parks & Recreation who has actually written a book on Fair Park (calledFair Park)?
State Fair of Texas fog
If Mayor Rawlings gets his way and Humann gets his foundation, the State Fair of Texas will get a seat on the board. The State Fair is the biggest tenant and wants to keep the status quo. Which means it will keep being grabby about the park. Which makes it getting a seat on the board seem like a bad idea.
That's even more true given the SFOT's lack of accountability. The State Fair claims it adds $300 million to the economy. But it has no way to prove that.
For one thing, the fair doesn't track attendance figures. Here's an amazing quote from State Fair president Mitchell Glieber: "Accounting for the accurate number of people is not critical to us," he said. "If somebody wants to say it’s 2.3 million or if someone wants to say it's 3 million, it doesn't really impact us."
One way to see if the fair brings positive economic impact might be hotel rooms. The Dallas Morning News compared nights during the fair to other times of the year, and found an average increase from 67 percent to 71 percent. That would be a measly 4 percent. No wonder the State Fair isn't into that whole accountability thing.
Making it rain
The city council approved two stupid and horrible expenditures this week.
The first was more money for outside lawyers on the city's lawsuit with Exxxotica. That brings the total to $245,000 in 60 days, which council member Philip Kingston points out amounts to $4,000 a day.
To make sure Dallas stands firm in its resolve against this soul-corrupting event, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton and the ladies of the Dallas Citizens Council have filed an amicus brief. A judge will review the case on April 17.
The council's second waste of money was to approve $2 million on a study of which city of Dallas buildings need to be fixed. As council member Scott Griggs notes, this money was supposed to be spent on improvements, not on studies. But city manager A.C. Gonzalez said the staff is so busy that it would take six years to figure out which buildings are in bad shape. So now we're spending $2 million to figure out where to spend more money.
Clarendon Drive protest
There's an event organized by Eric Willams and Ipayton magazine to protest the evictions taking place on Clarendon Drive.
These are the houses in bad shape that became a pet project of council member Carolyn Arnold. The council will be briefed on April 18. Dallas attorneys will go to court on April 21 and ask a judge to evict the tenants under the pretext that the houses are unlivable.
The protest will be on April 20, at 1320 E. Clarendon Dr., at 4 pm.