Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Concern Over Growth Sparks A Revolution In Richardson

Elections in Richardson have long followed the pattern of most suburban cities: low interest, low turnout, and long tenure for incumbents.
This [year], however, the status quo in Richardson was radically reshuffled. After an unusually spirited campaign, voters dumped three incumbents.
Source: D Magazine.
Just kidding. That D Magazine story is not from this year. Or 2015. It's from 1987. But it's worth reading. It's like seeing Richardson in a funhouse mirror, an alternate universe where the Palisades scandal resulted in the defeat of Mayor Maczka and key council members in their re-election bids in 2015. But in our reality, in case you forgot, Mayor Maczka and four council members ran unopposed in 2015. The issue in 1987 was a familiar one. Only the electoral outcome was different.

The issues that sparked the Richardson revolution are familiar to most Dallas voters: how to balance rapid growth and its attendant headaches with the need for a thriving economy and a healthy tax base. Newcomers [Charles] Spann and Mary Ann Fraley are past presidents of the Canyon Creek Homeowners Association; along with challenger Ken Bell, they campaigned against a council they claimed was inaccessible and too friendly to developers. The challengers were particularly frustrated by a council decision in October that gave twenty-nine million square feel of development rights to Herbert and Bunker Hunt in exchange for the right of way necessary to complete proposed Slate Highway 190.

In his campaign literature, Spann warned of the "Canyons of Concrete" that would engulf the city if the pro-development trend continued. Fraley boasted that she was "not afraid of stepping on toes, however powerful or influential."
Source: D Magazine.
What adds a healthy dose of irony to the story are the names. That Ken Bell, who "campaigned against a council they claimed was inaccessible and too friendly to developers"? He's none other than the Ken Bell who serves today as treasurer of the Richardson Coalition PAC, the political action committee whose reputation is synonymous with development and growth.

And the development they opposed in 1987? Today, the "proposed State Highway 190" is called the President George Bush Turnpike. Texas Instruments has a mega-fab there now, soon to be two. State Farm has three high-rise office towers. Raytheon has a sprawling campus. And there are more apartments than you can count. The development greatly exceeds the rights granted to the Hunt brothers in 1987.

No matter who you supported in this year's election, know that it doesn't always matter in the end who wins. Many revolutions are followed by new regimes indistinguishable from the old regimes. New king same as the old king. That's the outcome predicted by the author of that story, John Keohane, all those years ago.
The new council will probably chart its own course on development in Richardson. Developers will be granted fewer blank checks, but it’s unlikely that any anti-business clique will dominate the council. All the new members are in business themselves: two of them. Bell and Gary Slagel, are executives at Texas Instruments.
Source: D Magazine.


donham said...

Mark, so ironic with the then and now quotes. Just what we needed to see. Working with Janet DePuy to help get more action on developers than we have seen. Many thanks, Carl

Unknown said...

Not surprised Ken Bell turned out to be on the side of developers while campaigning to stop them. As a fresh college graduate in 1981 he worked hard to stymie my career at T. I. because I refused to be sexually harassed by his protege Pierre A., whom later was found to have given a clean audit report on what was a $150,000 defalcation. — Dana Atchley Hall