The City Council recently elected a new Deputy Mayor Pro Tem. The title and job, a polite way of saying second-runner-up to the mayor, is ceremonial: cutting ribbons, attending ground breakings and presenting proclamations.
When the Council was considering settling the Cinemark lawsuit, an allegation was made that I gave confidential documents to the attorneys for Cinemark. Interestingly, the same Council members who lead the Council astray two years ago to vote against the Cinemark development were the same Council members who made the allegation.
They were doing anything to deflect the spotlight off themselves and onto someone else.
I became a convenient target. As I told a television station: “If I screwed up as bad as they did, I’d look for a scapegoat, too.”
So that there is no doubt, I did not, and would not, give confidential documents to a party opposing the City. It is absurd to think that any Council member would intentionally act adversely to the City’s interests.
Most people recognize this whole flap for what it is: a feeble attempt to place blame or fault elsewhere.
As you might recall, two years ago, the City Attorney’s office and the City Planning staff recommended that the Council approve the Cinemark development.
Based upon these recommendations, and my personal review of the facts, I voted to approve the Cinemark development. However, contrary to these professional recommendations, the Council voted 8-7 to reject the Cinemark development.
It became more apparent that the City was having problems with the lawsuit filed by Cinemark. Finally, at a pre-trial hearing, a state district judge ruled against the City on a number of legal issues. It was clear that we needed to reach a settlement with Cinemark.
In an effort to confuse the issue, some Council members wanted to delay the settlement so that an “investigation” could occur.
These Council members wanted an “investigation” of any information leaks related to the Cinemark matter. I agreed with them. I felt that the only way to clear my name was to have a full and complete investigation.
It was obvious that there were leaks to a newspaper reporter and to several lawyers. Any investigation also would have included these potential leaks. It appeared that at least two and up to five Council members could have been involved.
Then, the issue of leaks on other issues arose. Once you consider the release of confidential information related to the new sports arena, any resulting investigation would have been lengthy and divisive. In essence, every Council member would be a suspect.
Faced with this prospect, the Council was looking for a quick way out. Since I was the lightning rod, the solution was my resignation as Deputy Mayor Pro Tem.
Yes, I could have demanded the investigation, but three things were certain.
First, the proceedings would have been a cross between the Spanish Inquisition and the Star Chamber. It would have been a media circus.
Second, the conclusions would have been inconclusive. It would have been a swearing match between various parties.
And third, the most that the Council could have done was remove me from the honorary position.
I felt that the best decision for the City was for me to resign the position. I am proud that I put the needs of the City above my own.
Together we can continue to make East Dallas a better place to live and work.