Posts Tagged ‘Jim Schutze’

Kroll Report Vindicates Wallace Hall (Yet Again)

Wednesday, February 18th, 2015

Every time new revelations come to light about the UT Admissions Scandal, they’ve always proven that UT regent Wallace Hall was right to launch his investigation, and that his critics were wrong to attempt to bury it (and him). The latest revelations are no exception:

University of Texas at Austin President Bill Powers used his authority to get “must have” applicants admitted to the state’s flagship school and misled internal lawyers looking into influence peddling in the admissions process in both the undergraduate college and UT’s top-ranked law school, an independent investigation obtained by The Dallas Morning News has found.

The wide-ranging investigation ordered by former Chancellor Francisco Cigarroa found that Powers overruled his admissions office and exercised broad control when it came to favored applicants – some of whom had the recommendation of powerful people in this state.

That report is the Kroll Report. What they found was what Wallace Hall alleged: That there was one admissions process for ordinary applicants, and another for the well-connected. “Applicants with special connections had a 72% acceptance rate compared to 40% overall.”

Let’s look at some details of the process from the Kroll report summary:

Review of Undergraduate Admissions Process

  • When an inquiry or recommendation concerning a candidate for admission is forwarded to the President’s Office from a “friend of the university” or other “person of influence” – which may include a public official, a member of the Board of Regents or UT-System official, an important alumnus or alumna, a major donor, a faculty member or other UT-Austin official – a long-standing practice has been to place a “hold” on that candidate’s application. The purpose of a hold is to indicate that a negative decision may not become final until the party which placed the hold is notified.
  • Since 2009, certain hold designations have been entered on UT-Austin’s mainframe computer with the designation of “Q,” “L,” or “B.” A designation of “Q hold” indicates the application is being monitored by the President’s Office. An “L hold” indicates that the application is of interest to one of the college Deans. When both the President’s Office and a college Dean request a hold, the file is designated as a “B hold” applicant. (Several other types of holds exist for a variety of reasons; however, as explained later in this report, the only holds within the scope of Kroll’s investigation, and thus of interest for purposes of this report, are Q, L, and B holds.)
  • Due in part to the increased competitiveness of undergraduate admissions at UT-Austin, and in part because recordkeeping is now computerized, Q-hold volumes have escalated considerably 13 over the past several years. Under President Powers, Q holds have totaled as many as 300 applicants of interest per year. The majority of holds appear to be based on requests from Texas legislators and members of the Board of Regents, while others are instigated by requests from the Chancellor’s Office, donors and alumni.
  • The existence of holds combined with end-of-cycle meetings between the Admissions Office and the President’s Office, during which final decisions are made on all hold candidates not already admitted, has caused increasing levels of tension between the Admissions Office and the President’s Office. In recent years, President Powers, acting through his Chief of Staff, has at times made holistic determinations that differed from that of the Admissions Office. Consequently, it appears that a select handful of applicants each year are admitted over the objection of the Admissions Office. The President’s Office has acknowledged to Kroll that this has occurred, but insists that decisions are always made with the “best interests of the university” in mind.
  • Based on our investigation, there is no evidence that any applicants have been admitted as a result of a quid pro quo or other inappropriate promise or exchange. There also is no evidence that efforts were made to “save spots” for certain applicants or that a dual system of admissions has been informally established. However, it is acknowledged that additional acceptances are sent out each year to accommodate special cases. With certain “must have” applicants, the President’s Office ordered applicants admitted over the objection of the Admissions Office.
  • Because written records or notes of meetings and discussions between the President’s Office and Admissions are not maintained and are typically shredded, it is not known in particular cases why some applicants with sub-par academic credentials were placed on a hold list and eventually admitted. Rarely was it discussed why particular applicants needed to be admitted, or what, if any, connections the applicants had with persons of influence. But President Powers acknowledged to Kroll that “relational factors” do occasionally play an important role in determinations to admit some applicants who might not have otherwise been admitted.
  • Over a six-year period, applicants on whom a hold of any type was placed were admitted 72% of the time, compared to an overall admission rate of approximately 40%. Texas residents accounted for 82% of all applicants placed on a hold list. Email correspondence reviewed by Kroll further confirmed that a relationship with university officials has on occasion provided applicants a competitive boost in the admissions process.
  • The total number of arguably less-qualified applicants who have benefitted from the hold system and the President’s oversight of the hold candidates appears to be relatively small. Indeed, from 2009 to 2014, Kroll identified a total of only 73 enrolled applicants who were admitted with both a combined SAT score of less than 1100 and a high school GPA of less than 2.9. Kroll’s review of the available “outlier” files found that political connections may have influenced the admission decision in a small number of cases, while other cases suggested the possibility of alumni/legacy influence despite the prohibition under Texas law against legacy admissions. Several other cases, however, suggested a demonstrated commitment to ethnic and racial diversity and the consideration of other appropriate criteria.
  • While it is often not clear why a particular applicant was placed on hold or received special consideration, the President’s Office acknowledged to Kroll that legislative letters and calls are typically accorded more weight than other letters and calls because legislative oversight impacts the university.
  • In short, while it is impossible to conclude with absolute certainty from a review of the data and selected files alone that any one particular applicant benefitted from undue influence or pressure exerted on the admissions process, it is readily apparent that certain applicants are admitted at the instigation of the President over the assessment of the Admissions Office. The end-of-cycle meeting between the President’s Office and Admissions Office results each year in certain applicants receiving a competitive boost or special consideration in the admissions process. The data reviewed by Kroll confirms what President Powers and others have acknowledged, that relationships matter and are the deciding factor in admissions decisions for a select handful of applicants each year.
  • Although the practice of holds and exercise of presidential discretion over Admissions may not violate any existing law, rule, or policy, it is an aspect of the admissions process that does not appear in UT-Austin’s public representations.
  • Several other important constituents are at least partially complicit for this ad-hoc system of special admissions. For example, the Board of Regents sends approximately 50 to 70 names of applicants to the President’s Office each year. Similarly, many names are placed on a hold list as a result of requests from the Chancellor’s Office, the UT-System Office of Government Relations, major donors and alumni. In most years, there are certain legislators and Regents whose names are noted more than others. It would appear that these other bodies send inquiries concerning student applicants to the President’s Office with the expectation that such applicants be closely monitored by that office.
  • Kroll notes that the existence of holds and watch lists, and the end-of-cycle meetings between the President’s Office and the Admissions Office, were not disclosed or specifically addressed by President Powers and his Chief of Staff during an internal Admissions Inquiry previously conducted by the UT-System. Although President Powers and his Chief of Staff appear to have answered the specific questions asked of them with technical precision, it appears that by their material omissions they misled the inquiry. At minimum, each failed to speak with the candor and forthrightness expected of people in their respective positions of trust and leadership.
  • Review of Law School Admissions Process

  • By design and practice, UT Law School also utilizes a holistic admissions process. Although the law school requires no minimum LSAT score and only a 2.2 undergraduate GPA from an accredited institution, it is apparent that GPA and LSAT scores play a prominent role in admissions decisions. This fact, which is true of virtually all nationally ranked law schools, is driven in large part by the importance of GPA and LSAT in the perceived competitiveness of the law school and how it affects national rankings.
  • Unlike many law schools, UT Law School does not rely on an Admissions Committee to review application files or to render individual admissions decisions. Instead, almost all individual admissions decisions are made by either the Assistant Dean for Admission and Financial Aid or by the Director of Admission Programs. Consequently, although Kroll found that the professionals in these positions perform their jobs with expertise and integrity, the system as designed insufficiently prevents final admissions decisions from potentially being influenced by external factors, including informal discussions with the Dean after receiving letters, phone calls or contacts from persons of influence. For example, members of the Texas legislature and other persons of influence frequently call or write in support of particular law school candidates outside of normal application procedures, and the Dean’s Office receives numerous calls from legislators urging the admission of certain applicants.
  • Kroll found no evidence that the Dean or others at the law school acted improperly or in any way compromised the integrity of the admissions process. Nevertheless, the system as designed presents these well-intentioned professionals with potentially difficult balancing acts and ethical quandaries.  When the Dean’s Office receives information about a law school applicant from a trusted source, the recent practice has been for the Dean to informally review the applicant’s credentials and determine whether a case for admission is plausible. If so, the Dean discusses the matter with the Assistant Dean for Admission and Financial Aid. As long as a final decision has not been made and communicated to the applicant, the Dean feels free to discuss any information received about an applicant with the Assistant Dean. In some instances, the resulting discussions have changed the mind of the Assistant Dean regarding a candidate for admission.
  • The President of UT-Austin also receives calls and letters from persons of influence concerning law school applicants. When this occurs, the President’s Office advises the law school (usually the Dean) of these interests. From 2006 to 2012, former Dean Larry Sager received 10 to 20 calls a year from Nancy Brazzil about President Powers’ interest in certain law school applicants. Brazzil made clear she spoke for the President’s Office. Sager acknowledged that the intensity of Brazzil’s interest in a candidate may “have on occasion swayed my decision.”
  • There’s a good bit more, but those are some of the highlights.

    Indeed, Cigarroa admitted that “Fairness has at times been compromised in the admission of students into the University of Texas at Austin.”

    Over at Watchdog.org, Jon Cassidy puts the total admissions number of unqualified applicants as in the thousands.

    He’s not the only one who thinks it’s a big deal. Over at The Dallas Observer, Jim Schutze says “To every single applicant who ever got turned down by UT, I say this: Your wildest most paranoid imagining of why you got screwed and how they really do admissions at UT was nowhere near wild or paranoid enough. We’re talking about admissions meetings where university officials shred all their notes before leaving the room.” He also notes, yet again, what a horrific whitewash job UT’s own internal investigation was.

    Also this: “Kroll looked at a sample of 73 smelly admissions files tied to legislators. In that sample, four affluent high schools in Texas accounted for 45 percent of the sample. Among the four, Highland Park High School was way out ahead at No. 1 with a third of all the dicey admissions in the whole sample.”

    Well, who could possibly object to rich, well-connected kids getting to cut into the admissions line ahead of mere commoners?

    While UT defenders are quick to assert that “no criminal activity occurred,” Cassidy believes that the blatant favoritism for legacy admissions may have violated the state education code, which states “the university must continue its practice of not considering an applicant’s legacy status as a factor in the university’s decisions relating to admissions for that academic year.”

    The Dallas Morning News piece notes:

    Many of Powers’ current problems can be traced to the work of UT Regent Wallace Hall, a man who has been pilloried for personally examining the admissions process.

    The Kroll report appears to vindicate Hall’s work and add weight to his concerns that political and financial influence dictated some admissions decisions.

    Hall’s inquiries into the admissions process led to him being targeted by state legislators, including House Speaker Joe Straus and former Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst.

    Dewhurst was forcibly retired by Dan Patrick. Straus, have course, has been one of Hall’s staunchest foes, and shows every sign of desiring to continue UT’s culture of admissions favors for the well-connected indefinitely…

    LinkSwarm for November 14, 2014

    Friday, November 14th, 2014

    There’s been so many people offering up so much information on “GruberGate” that I assume anyone reading this blog has seen coverage of it already. The fact that Jonathan Gruber not only lied to the American voters he called “stupid” about ObamaCare, but also got paid $400,000 to do it certainly adds insult to injury. As does the fact that both Nancy Pelosi and members of Obama’s MSM praetorian guard like Vox’s Sarah Kliff are now lying about Gruber’s central involvement in ObamaCare despite having cited him in that capacity earlier.

    In other news:

  • Some really interesting nuggets of midterm statistical analysis from Sabato’s Crystal Ball. (Hat tip: SooperMexican’s Twitter feed.)
  • Republicans did very well picking up governorships, including some in deep-blue states.
  • Scott Walker just keeps winning.
  • More on the theme: “Does Walker sizzle? Not exactly. Is he a particularly charismatic speaker? No, he isn’t. But does he sit upon a throne made of the skulls of his enemies? Yes, yes he does.” (Hat tip: Moe Lane.)
  • Britain is poised to silence “extremist” speech. And who gets to determine what’s “extremist”? Why, the government, of course!

    Last month, May unveiled her ambition to “eliminate extremism in all its forms.” Whether you’re a neo-Nazi or an Islamist, or just someone who says things which betray, in May’s words, a lack of “respect for the rule of law” and “respect for minorities”, then you could be served with an extremism disruption order (EDO).

    Why do I get the impression that people pointing out Pakistani Muslim involvement in the Rotherham child rape scandals will be among the first targeted by this new law?

  • It’s not just the British who fail to investigate sex crimes: New Orleans police only investigated 14% of sex crimes.
  • Professional feminists have spent more time and energy denouncing video games than the sale and rape of girls in Nigeria and Iraq.”
  • “Honest, decent and intelligent people rightly perceive feminism as a limitless doctrine of fanatical hatred….Feminism isn’t about equality. Feminism is about hate.”
  • “Twitter has empowered leftist feminists to have a censorship field day.”
  • Just when the authoritarian left thought they had finally won the culture wars along came #GamerGate.
  • Time has a poll on which word should be “banned” in 2015. “Feminist” not only gets the most votes, it pretty much gets as many votes as all the rest combined.
  • Ted Cruz was right about the shutdown. It turns out that showing Republicans are opposed to horribly unpopular Democratic programs is popular with voters. Who knew?
  • Fake Maine hate crime ends up with accuser charged with “reckless conduct with dangerous weapon and driving to endanger.”
  • Democratic state Rep. Ron Reynolds’ barratry case has been declared a mistrial.
  • Islamist suicide bomber kills 50 at a high school in Nigeria.
  • Via Dwight of Whipped Cream Difficulties comes this Jim Schutze piece on how The Texas Tribune’s vaunted independence meant bupkis when it came to the Wallace Hall case.
  • China Vows To Begin Aggressively Falsifying Air Pollution Numbers.”
  • Price manipulation in the gold market?
  • Correction: Last week I gave the impression that Republican Carl DiMaio had won his California U.S. congressional race. That is what the early returns indicated, but he ended up losing a close race.
  • Here’s a dog story that will make your blood boil.
  • “Wallace Hall Was Right About UT All Along”

    Tuesday, September 9th, 2014

    That’s the headline on this Dallas Observer story by Jim Schutze (who you may remember from my piece on Tom Leppert’s term as Dallas Mayor).

    The Hall piece details what members of the conservative Texas blogsphere (myself included) have been saying for over a year: Hall was right, his critics were wrong:

    When Hall began to criticize the way UT-Austin was run on strictly administrative grounds, he was roundly denounced as a sort of fifth-columnist for Perry’s assault on tenure. Later when he accused the university of corruption, he was hunted like a witch.

    A campaign launched against Hall included impeachment proceedings in the Legislature and a criminal complaint brought to the Travis County district attorney. Even the establishment press turned on Hall, whose greatest sin was doing what the press is supposed to do — ask questions that make powerful people uncomfortable. An unbroken chorus of editorial page shrieking from Texas’ biggest newspapers denounced Hall and called for his resignation.

    The dramatic denouement is threefold: Hall has been vindicated of charges he abused his role as a regent. The charges of mismanagement and corruption he brought against UT are all being re-investigated because now people are admitting he was on to something. And finally, Hall’s biggest accusers are starting to look like the biggest rats, the ones who had the most to hide.

    In fact it’s hard to recall a case in Texas history where a person so roundly denounced has been so completely vindicated.

    More:

    Williamson, the reporter at The National Review, said in an email: “The Texas dailies have fallen down on the job covering this story, mainly because reporters perceive this as a confrontation between Rick Perry and the University of Texas, and they are reflexively hostile to Rick Perry.

    “I’ve spent most of my life in the newspaper business, and I know bias when I see it: If there were a suggestion that Rick Perry were twisting arms to get family members into A&M, it would be on the front page of The Austin American-Statesman. But when the malefactors are UT administrators and the whistle-blowers are Perry appointees, reporters in Austin, Houston, Dallas and San Antonio become strangely incurious.”

    While there isn’t a whole lot new to Schutze’s piece if you’ve been following the story on this and other blogs, the fact that even lefty alternative weeklies now have the same take on the scandal as Michael Quinn Sullivan is a big step forward for justice and transparency, and I commend the entirety of the piece to your attention.

    (Hat tip: Push Junction.)

    Texas Political Metro Tidbits: Pat Lykos and John Wiley Price

    Tuesday, June 5th, 2012

    Here’s a small virtual bucket for a few pieces that I didn’t catch earlier:

    I meant to post on the defeat of Harris County District Attorney Pat Lykos in the Republican Primary. This was not an issue of ideology so much as incompetence and abuse of office. For the full details, check out Dwight’s pieces on Whipped Cream Difficulties and keep scrolling. (Or do the same at the Life at the Harris County Criminal Justice Center blog, which has been following the Lykos story for a long time.)

    Now a few more John Wiley Price tidbits:

  • It looks like the details of the John Wiley Price affidavit were delayed until after the primary. Hmmmm….
  • Speaking of Price, his lawyer expects a federal indictment soon.
  • Jim Schutze of the lefty Dallas Observer provides more background on Price and Kathy Nealy. A few excerpts:

    In 2002, when I asked Nealy what she did with all the money sluiced into her account by the Citizens Council candidate, she called me a racist.

    It’s strangely heartening to learn that black political functionaries are just as eager to play the race card on their fellow liberals as they are on conservatives.

    I want to point out that black southern Dallas has consistently voted against honesty, against progress, against inter-ethnic neighborhood cooperation and against any kind of civic responsibility in citywide elections.

    But we are told nevertheless — we are beaten about the ears, in fact — that it’s everybody else’s job to clean up and bring prosperity to the black precincts.

    After decades of watching this dismal scam operate, you may have to forgive me if I have become a bit jaded. I look at the editorial campaign of The Dallas Morning News, 10 holes in the bucket or something, about all the stuff it’s my job to clean up in South Dallas, and I can’t help wondering if this isn’t part of the same old sleazy political deal.

    You know what? I’m starting to wonder if maybe it isn’t time for southern Dallas to clean up its own crap and leave me the hell alone.

    Mr. Schutze and I might differ over our respective definitions of “progress,” but I suspect the rest is accurate.

    Maybe it’s time for the rest of Dallas to start consciously and deliberately voting against southern Dallas, as long as southern Dallas continues to support the Price/Nealy machine. How the hell can we be expected to fix all the holes in southern Dallas’ damn bucket if we don’t fix the holes in our own first?

  • Moving from the specifics of the Price case to the issue of urban black machine politics in general, a few politically incorrect questions:

    1. How pervasive is this type of black political machine corruption in other cities with significant black populations?

    2. To what extent has black America’s overwhelming allegiance to the Democratic Party created such corruption, since it prevents the sort of inter-party competition that could sweep the corrupt from office?
    3. To what extent has the Democratic Party’s need for black votes encouraged such corruption, by making them turn a blind eye to it as long as they votes keep rolling in?
    4. Fair or not, the impression I get from the Price case, from the decades-long mismanagement of Detroit, etc., is that a significant portion (and perhaps a majority) of the urban black community is just fine with pervasive political corruption, as long as it’s black politicians that are the ones with their fingers in the pie. Is this impression correct, or is it too cynical even for me?

    Jim Schutze on the New Black Panther Party

    Wednesday, February 1st, 2012

    I must admit that I have not kept up with the doings of the New Black Panther Party. I knew of the Philadelphia voter intimidation case, and involvement in the various corrupt practices the likes of ACORN and their ilk get up to (voter fraud, etc.). And it doesn’t surprise me that the New Black Panther Party might be pretty weird, since the original Black Panthers were quite weird themselves. (Search for “Huey Newton, Bobby Seale, bullwhip”…but not while at work or eating.)

    But I didn’t realize just how weird until I read this Jim Schutze piece. (Schutze was the source for this critical look at Tom Leppert’s term as mayor of Dallas.) It turns out that Dallas City Council member John Wiley Price has a protege named Aaron McCarthy (aka Aaron Michael) that Price wanted placed on the “homeland security advisory committee” (“whatever the hell that’s supposed to be” says Schutze). And it turns out that Aaron McCarthy is a member of the New Black Panther Party.

    And what is it the NBPP believes? Well, hold on to your hats for this quote from NBPP leader Khalid Abdul Muhammad, speaking at a protest in Baltimore, Maryland, February 19, 1994: “Our lessons talk about the bloodsuckers of the poor. … It’s that old no-good Jew, that old imposter Jew, that old hooked-nose, bagel-eating, lox-eating, Johnny-come-lately, perpetrating-a-fraud, just-crawled-out-of-the-caves-and-hills-of-Europe, so-called damn Jew.”

    Wow. Even by the very low standards of Black Nationalist rhetoric, that’s a pretty breathtaking dose of Julius Streicher by way of H. Rap Brown antisemitism. If I put that in some of my fiction, an editor would reject it as being an unbelievable caricature. Hell, I think Al Sharpton would send that back to his speechwriter as being beneath even his standards of subtlety and tact.

    But wait! There’s more where that came from! Take a look at this fine, grade-A rant from King Samir Shabazz, head of the NBBP Philadelphia chapter:

    I hate white people. All of them. Every last iota of a cracker, I hate it. We didn’t come out here to play today. There’s too much serious business going on in the black community to be out here sliding through South Street with white, dirty, cracker whore bitches on our arms, and we call ourselves black men. … What the hell is wrong with you black man? You at a doomsday with a white girl on your damn arm. We keep begging white people for freedom! No wonder we not free! Your enemy cannot make you free, fool! You want freedom? You going to have to kill some crackers! You going to have to kill some of their babies!

    You might think these are just some made-up quotes from a random weekly alternative newspaper. (And I would agree that anything that appears in The Dallas Observer should be taken with a grain of salt unless verified elsewhere.) But no, those quotes are directly from the leftist-friendly and conservative-hostile Southern Poverty Law Center, and you can be pretty sure they’re not just whistling Dixie.

    While these are particularly virulent quotes, how many times has the media just decided to ignore the latest racist or antisemitic rants from the black community? (Here’s one from today of a black radio host refusing to shake the hands of a black GOP candidate because he doesn’t want her “whiteness” to rub off on him.) How many times has the MSM passed on reporting on corruption and cronyism in the black political community out of political correctness, or because black America is such a reliable vote farm for the Democratic Party?

    It doesn’t fit the narrative.

    Tom Leppert Critic Jim Schutze on Problems During Leppert’s Term as Mayor

    Monday, January 23rd, 2012

    Before I interviewed Tom Leppert, I wanted to research several controversies that came up during his term as Mayor of Dallas. Unfortunately, because of The Dallas Morning News paywall (and, as you can read below, possible DMN involvement in some of those controversies), information about them was hard to come by.

    Lacking a good Dallas political connection to pump for information, I ended up reaching out to Jim Schutze, one of the writers for the Dallas Observer‘s Unfair Park section on local Dallas politics. Schutze had foolishly generously offered to dish the dirt on Leppert’s term as mayor, and when I called him up I was evidently the first person who had taken him up on the offer. I ended up talking to Schutze on the phone for over an hour.

    I’ve edited the notes from that phone call into the semi-coherent form found below, and the material in block-quotes represents the gist of what I was able to transcribe from Schutze’s description (I can only type so fast, so word-by-word transcription of a one-hour phone call in real time is quite beyond me). I’ve also included some links to columns where he covers some of the issues we discussed.

    I should point out that neither The Observer (which is the Dallas equivalent of The Austin Chronicle, but not as sad) nor Schutze could be considered conservative (though Schutze says that a quarter-century of observing local politics firsthand has “beaten the bleeding liberal” out of him). As such, everything said below should be taken with a grain (or several grains) of salt, and adjusted as needed for bias. However, while Schutze’s version of events should not be treated as gospel, all of the below seem to be real controversies that occurred during Leppert’s term as mayor, and I believe all should be looked at and investigated more thoroughly than they have been heretofore.

    I conducted the interview with Leppert on September 19, and I really meant to have all this up considerably earlier, ideally just a week or two after that interview, but events intervened. I’ve been both busy (including a new job) and lazy, and this material needed considerable editing, which meant it got put on the back-burner while I grappled with the endless press of current events.

    Trinity Toll Road Controversy

    Angela Hunt (East Dallas progressive City Council member) put up a referendum on wonk infrastructure issues. Leppert mischaracterized it as an attempt to kill the toll road, but it was really a debate over where to put it: outside the flood plain or (as Leppert wanted) inside the flood plain. The 1998 election to authorize the bonds for the original project didn’t say “highway,” it said “park road” on top of the levee, not a highway. When it became a freeway, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers said you couldn’t build one on the levees, because it was unstable and too big a risk. Plan B was to build the highway between the levees. None of the numbers for this road work, because the road is way too expensive for the amount of traffic to be carried.

    Angela Hunt referendum said the road would flood, and the plan would diminish the carrying capacity of the floodway and increase flood risk. Five rightaways were under consideration, only one in the flood plain. A levee collapse would be worse than Katrina.

    In 2007, Leppert was anointed by the business leadership to defeat the Hunt referendum as Job One. Leppert could sell any board of directors on anything. He was a developer in Hawaii. He was the one who moved to Dallas, Turner Construction didn’t. He wasn’t CEO for long, and I [Schutze] don’t know why he left.

    Carol Reed (of a consulting company now called The Reeds) lead the campaign to defeat the referendum. Leppert said the Corps of Engineers had signed off. But the Corps said: “We haven’t signed off on anything.” The North Texas Toll Road Authority told reporter Michael Lindberger they hadn’t signed off on the money. The Dallas Morning News sat on the story; the owners are landholding families in favor of the road.

    The referendum was narrowly defeated, meaning the road stayed between the levees.

    The estimated $400 million turned out to be $1.4 billion (2007), $1 billion over budget, now over $2 billion. (Leppert’s dodge: “I am very comfortable with their [the Corps'] position.”)

    Leppert said there were fewer issues with a toll road than there actually were, and promised numerous recreational facilities would be built as well. Angela Hunt said that “Leppert’s not a liar, he’s a salesman, and he believes his pitch.”

    After Katrina, the Corps of Engineers reexamined levees and said they were useless even in a hundred year flood.

    Police Statistics

    Urban Crime statistics have been dropping nationally. When Leppert came into office in 2007, Dallas had the highest crime overall per capita for cities of over a million people. Leppert vowed to change that. Leppert called in Police Chief David Kunkle (a tough, respected chief) and said he wanted the crime numbers down. DPD changed the way it reported crime statistics to the FBI for the Uniform Crime Statistics. Dallas Morning News did a terrific series of investigative news on the process. For burglary, an incident would no longer be counted unless something was stolen. Most other cities disagreed with the Dallas redefinition and called it a “Lawyering of the language.” As soon as they put in the new guidelines, crime rates dropped, and Dallas was no longer number one.

    SAFE Teams

    Another Leppert crime controversy was the creation of SAFE (Support Abatement Forfeiture and Enforcement) teams: A team of cops, code inspectors, health department inspectors, etc. would “wallpaper” cheap apartment complexes with code violations in order to seize properties. The Property Owners Association got involved, since property rights were being trampled, and in some cases apartment buildings were turned over to connected city council friends.

    The City-Funded Hotel

    Built by the city, owned by the city, funded by bonds, unless there’s enough revenue. Trammel Crow was against it and said the Dallas hotel market was flooded. Leppert pushed it forward anyway.

    Lynn Flint Shaw and Willis Johnson

    What role did Lynn Flint Shaw and Willis Johnson play in Leppert’s campaign and administration? And what role did they having in steering/approving minority business contracts with City Hall and/or DART?

    Shaw was a black woman who was well liked by sophisticated white arts people, a liaison between rich white Republicans and poor blacks. That vote has been important in pushing big Business Establishment initiatives (sports stadiums, etc.). Shaw was chair of Leppert’s fundraising committee.

    As soon as he was elected, she sent an email to all business contacts to go through Willis Johnson (then a radio DJ). The email said that all requests for minority contracts with the city should go through Shaw, Johnson and a small cabal of black leaders who called themselves the “Inner Circle.” Willis Johnson is at the center of an FBI investigation as a major minority contractor and lobbyist. He had a regular weekly meeting with Leppert when he was mayor.

    Shaw had no official roll in City Hall, and an unpaid role at DART.

    Rufus and Lynn Flint Shaw’s Murder/Suicide

    Lynn Flint Shaw and her husband, columnist Rufus Shaw, were found dead of an apparent murder/suicide on March 8, 2008.

    Shaw was about to be indicted on a fraud charge that had nothing to do with politics, on a debt/signature forging issue. Circumstances of her death are mysterious. She had started to run for the council, then lived on the campaign funds, and made up phony expenses. Police determined there was nothing there to investigate. She was still Leppert’s campaign chair at the time of her death.

    The Inland Port

    Richard Allen in California buys up 5,000 acres, says he’ll create an “inland port,” a transshipping hub in south Dallas that will create 65,000 jobs. This would compete with a Ross Perot initiative in Ft. Worth. (Perot was a big Leppert backer; Leppert had his mayoral victory party at Ross Perot, Jr.’s pad). Dallas County Commissioner John Wiley Price, longest tenured and most powerful among Dallas’ black politicians, stopped the project. He said there needed to be more planning, and Leppert backed him up. Allen had been planning for six years. Price sent cronies (the SALT group), including Willis Johnson, demanding $1 million to be paid to them, and 15% cut of profits. It was a classic shakedown. Allen refused, they blocked the project, and now Allen is in bankruptcy. (Note: The FBI raided the offices of John Wiley Price on June 27, 2011.)

    Despite all the foregoing, Schutze wasn’t universally negative on Leppert. He said Leppert’s friends thought he was a good guy, more of a chamber of commerce guy than a politician, and would would probably be naturally somewhat shy and retiring if he weren’t in politics.

    As soon as this goes up, I’ll send a query to the Leppert campaign to let them respond, and I’ll post their reply (if any) unedited here.