City News

Richards Group gets canceled after CEO remarks and more Dallas news

Richards Group gets canceled after CEO remarks and more Dallas news

Richards Group Headquarters
Built in 2015, Richards Group's headquarters block the view of downtown Dallas if you're driving into town on US-75. Photo courtesy of Guardian Sunguard

This weekly summary of Dallas city news involves a downtown hotel, two public park spaces, and an ad agency in Dallas that's imploding right before our eyes.

Here's what happened in the city of Dallas this week:

Richards Group debacle
Dallas ad agency the Richards Group is in a tailspin following a charged comment made by now ex-CEO Stan Richards.

Richards told NBC 5 that the comment in question was made while agency staff were going over a campaign for one of their clients, Motel 6. "Two of our creatives, both white, presented a direction I thought was not multiculturally inclusive enough. I misspoke and commented using words I greatly regret, including three I never should have said: 'It's too black.'"

"To be clear, though, I have never used racial slurs about any ethnic group nor tolerated it from anyone around me," his statement said. "Those words were said innocently, but they were hurtful to members of our staff. I have apologized for that, as I should have. Having spent much of my adult life fighting prejudice, I should have known better."

What he actually said was that the campaign was too Black for white supremacist constituents. Left that part out in his statement.

Motel 6 terminated their contract, probably not thrilled their customers were described as white supremacists. Other Richards Group customers who've since rushed for the exits: Home Depot, Keurig Dr Pepper, and the biggie, H-E-B.

Richards Group was also being considered by Cracker Barrel, but not happening now.

Stan Richards resigned on October 15.

Shady hotel payment
The city manager's office was caught trying to smuggle through a $1.8 million diversion of COVID-19 relief money to the Lorenzo Hotel in the Cedars district.

Dallas City Council member and financial watchdog Cara Mendelsohn spied the sneaky payment, sneaky because it did not mention the money would go to the hotel.

"You don't get to use this money that is for people suffering from coronavirus to pay off a four-star hotel. We should be helping small businesses stay alive, feed people, provide mental health housing," Mendelsohn said.

The city council made a deal in 2013 to use HUD money on the Lorenzo Hotel. But the owner is struggling which means the city will owe HUD. Mendelsohn called that "a shocking deal," shocking as in awful.

Other council members were grateful to city staff. Which other council members? Tennell Atkins, surprise surprise.

"Whether or not the developer pays the city, we are obligated to pay HUD," Atkins said.

Fish Hatchery committee
Dallas City Council member Paula Blackmon has created the "Old Fish Hatchery at White Rock Lake Advisory Committee" to address a recent clear-cutting incident by Oncor at the Old Fish Hatchery at White Rock Lake.

Co-chaired by Park Board member Maria Hasbany, the appointees include lake-watchers Brent Brown, Ben Sandifer, David Hurt, Kathryn Bazan, Kelly Cotton, Charles Elk, Ted Ellis, Garrett Boone, Sandy Greyson, Collin Koonce, Jill Kotvis, and Ted Barker.

The first virtual meeting will be on Thursday, October 22 from 6-7:30 pm via Zoom. Members of the public are welcome to make comments during this call and should email district9@dallascityhall.com to sign up. Written comments can also be sent to that address.

To join the Zoom meeting, click here. The meeting ID: 915 2052 8701. Passcode: 857646.

The Jacobs Lawn
Jacobs Engineering Group, a downtown Dallas firm, has donated $8 million to the expansion of Klyde Warren Park. The money will go towards building a 1.65-acre extension of the existing park to the west, over Woodall Rodgers Freeway toward Field Street. Construction is scheduled to begin in 2021, with completion in 2024.

What Jacobs gets in return: the rights to name a 36,000-square foot lawn that is part of the project. It'll be called The Jacobs Lawn, and will feature a winter ice rink among other amenities.