Friday, May 3, 2013

Protecting Richardson From More Apartments

Tell me a story, tell me a story
Tell me a story, remember what you said
You promised me you said you would
You got to give in so I'll be good
Tell me a story, then I'll go to bed

Once upon a time I remember long ago

Don't go back in history your memory's kinda slow
Source: Lyrics by Terry Gilkyson.
"Protecting Richardson From More Apartments." Uh huh. That's the story that we're being told. Not from a PAC but directly from the candidate himself, Amir Omar. Who wants to be mayor. Who has hired a high-priced political consultant to achieve that for him. Who has said he conducted telephone polls to determine the issues that are relevant to our residents. So protecting Richardson from more apartments must be one of those issues that plays well with voters. So, that's our story. But does the story match the history?

Let's go back in history to find out. After the jump.

  • August 9, 2010: Amir Omar votes to approve the construction of the Evergreen apartments in Richardson's panhandle.
  • January 31, 2011: Amir Omar votes to approve the construction of 3,900 apartments at US 75 and President George Bush Tollway.
  • September 10, 2012: Amir Omar votes to approve the construction of apartments in The Shire.
  • January 28, 2013: Amir Omar votes to approve the construction of the GreenVUE apartments at Greenville and Collins
  • Have I missed any votes? Maybe, but no matter. The point's been made.
  • May 1, 2013: Amir Omar distributes a campaign ad: "Amir Omar for Mayor. Protecting Richardson from more apartments."

Am I the only one who finds this dishonest? Cynical?

Seeking salvation:

Full disclosure: I support multi-family, mixed-use development. Up until now, I thought Amir Omar did, too. In fact, I suspect he really did, and will again once this election is over. Maybe the campaign he's running is just a momentary fall from grace. He wasn't thinking. He listened to bad advice. Everyone's doing it. He felt attacked so he struck back. Something. Uh huh.

Or maybe it's not a moment of weakness, but a calculated political scheme. Maybe he's pandering to voters who fear the dreaded "A" word (not amnesty, acid or abortion, but apartments). If so, he is being dishonest, telling voters one thing and voting something else. No salvation there.

Or maybe he really has flip-flopped on his own past support for multi-family, mixed-use development. If so, he should admit that his four years on city council were all wrong, that he's sorry for his votes for more apartments in those developments, and if he could take the votes over again, this time he really would "protect Richardson from more apartments." Possibly a path to salvation there. If he takes it.

Frankly, I can't find any good explanation for the campaign Amir Omar is running. He's misrepresenting both his own and his opponent's positions. He has to know it. It's cynical politics that I hadn't believed was in him, but maybe I was fooling myself. His detractors certainly have accused him of such since the beginning, but I was won over. I remember the candidate from 2009 who ran a positive campaign despite the smears that his detractors were spreading about him. Now, in his 2013 campaign, he himself is ruining his reputation, and for electoral victory. For mayor. Of Richardson.

I'm reminded of the scene in "A Man for All Seasons" where Sir Thomas More confronts his accuser, Richard Rich, who committed perjury against More in return for a political appointment in Wales. Thomas More says sadly, "Why Richard, it profits a man nothing to give his soul for the whole world... but for Wales?"


dc-tm said...

Mark, you seem to be the most vocal supporter for the idea of high density apartments.

How strongly do you support high density? Do you support it so strong that you have sold a single family home and moved into one of the high density apartments complexes in Richardson? Or is this one of those items you completely support for other people and exemption yourself?

If you live in a single family home, it would be interesting to know why it is that you have not moved into Brick Row, Eatside or some other high density environment somewhere.

Dave Chenoweth

Mark Steger said...

When I bought my first house in Richardson, DART and PGBT didn't exist. When I bought my second, Brick Row and Eastside didn't exist. Moving is a big expense. But give me time. Give me time.

But so what. I supported the gymnastics center without ever intending to do a backflip. I support Wildflower! without attending. I even support revitalization of southwest Richardson neighborhoods, though I doubt I'll ever live there. The attitude "What's in it for me?" is counter-productive. I support mixed-use, high density development because it's best for the future prosperity of Richardson.

Luke Lukas said...

What is mixed-use and how is high density development best for the prosperity of Richardson?? High density seems to lead to tunnels and affordable housing. We need affordable housing in the Canyon Creek area so I can afford to buy a rental there.

Mark Steger said...

Luke Lukas, you ask important questions that deserve serious discussion by the candidates. Misrepresenting your own position and your opponent's position, as Amir Omar is doing in this campaign, is not serious discussion. Richardson is poorly served by Omar's electoral tactics.

Luke Lukas said...

Mark Steger: how in the world did I misrepresent my position?? I just asked a question.

Mark Steger said...

Luke Lukas, you didn't misrepresent anyone's position. Amir Omar is the one doing that. And it's not your position he's misrepresenting. It's his own and Laura Maczka's. Sorry for my poor wording. I hope it doesn't show up as a quote in an attack ad.

Adam W said...

Simple explanation: pandering to the Tea Party that helped him get signatures for the mayoral referendum.

Mark Steger said...

Reminder: Comments not identified by the poster's full name are subject to deletion.

Mark Steger said...

In the blog post above, I offered three hypotheses for the discrepancy between, on the one hand, Omar's claim to be protecting Richardson from more apartments, and on the other hand, his votes on city council for ... exactly that, more apartments.

1) He was rash and didn't think about the contradiction.
2) He was making a coldly calculated political move.
3) He had a change of heart and now regrets his past votes.

If I were writing the blog post this afternoon instead of this morning, I'd be inclined to rule out hypotheses 1 and 3.