Campaigning for Dummies, Rule #1 - Don't attend political events

(Updated Wednesday, 930am) BD grew up in Philadelphia, where ward politics was an art, nay it was a science. When he tells people "I knew Frank Rizzo", the wise ones shake their heads in deep reverence.

But Dallas, when he moved here in 1980, was a backwoods town. This was when there were at large seats (way before 14-1) and elections are (still) held on Saturdays. You can't even use a large bullhorn on your car to get out the vote on Election Day.

Fast forward 33 years later, and things are still going downhill. We've got Council Districts (fledgling ward politics), a county government, which has nothing to do with the City government and outgoing council reps bless their chosen successors.

But today, we reached a new low. In District 14, the outgoing council person is not only endorsing her successor, but she even speaks for him.

By Avi S. Adelman under Elections , Lower Greenville
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Enforcement committee crawls back into sewer, does not file against 5902 Goliad home

After nearly six months of harassment, intimidation, threats of legal action and two contentious Board of Adjustment hearings, the so-called Belmont Addition Conservation District enforcement committee has decided to crawl back into whatever sewer it came out of and has not filed any legal actions against the City of Dallas or the owners of the home at 5902 Goliad Avenue.

The Board voted 3-2 on February 21 to uphold the decision by City Staff to issue a building permit for the house (under construction since December 2012) despite the claims of BACD's Melissa Kingston that the home did not meet the intent of the CD's design specifications. In order to continue the protest, the committee was required to file a lawsuit against the City of Dallas within ten days of that decision; that deadline passed last Monday, but to make sure the legal beast was dead, BD and others added four more days to count for the intervening weekends before declaring the fight officially over.

By Avi S. Adelman under Elections , Legal issues
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Bullies: The Story of a SLAPP Suit Gone Wild / Allen Gwinn

What is a SLAPP suit? It stands for a Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation. How does it work? It is filed, well, by bullies usually in an attempt to shut someone up on an issue involving the public's interest.

As a wild example, let's use Walmart. Say Walmart was building a supermarket across the street from your house and, as an example, their parking lot lighting was perhaps not up to code. You're a contentious sort of person so you start making noise.

A lot of noise.

Eventually somebody sues you and abuses the legal system to torture and punish you--hoping to shut you up.

Thus the name SLAPP suit.

Because of the popularity of SLAPP suits, many states have adopted anti-SLAPP suit laws. Texas just adopted special legislation, addressing this problem, recently. Coined the Texas Citizens Participation Act it passed with unanimous support from both houses of the Texas Legislature.

Let's translate that: in a rare showing of complete unity, all Republicans and all Democrats supported it and voted to pass it.

But before we tell the story of the lawsuit, we need to introduce the personalities.

Click here for the complete story

By Avi S. Adelman under Neighborhoods , Lower Greenville
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Kingston and BACD go down in flames at Board of Adjustment hearing

If you have an hour to kill, listen to the BOA hearing on 5902 Goliad - click here!

The City's Board of Adjustment voted 3-2 late Thursday afternoon to deny the Belmont Addition's demand to overturn the building permit for the home under construction at 5902 Goliad Avenue. {Click here to see the Board's agenda, and jump to page 82}

After a presentation by Melissa Kingston / BACD, who said City Staff had to be contortionists to approve a structure similar to one they denied a year ago, and challenging definitions of what is a story and what isn't, the City Attorney made it very clear - Building Inspections followed every rule and then followed them again to make sure the structure met not just City Code but the Belmont Addition CD's rules.

By Avi S. Adelman under Neighborhoods , Lower Greenville
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Belmont Addition CD 'enforcement committee' is gonna sue over 5902 Goliad, and we will be the ones paying for it

Update Thursday afternoon - The Board of Adjustment denied the BACD appeal to revoke the building permit for 5902 Goliad - click here for details!

BD Exclusive - Read the email from the so-called Belmont Addition CD enforcement committee, threatening to take the couple building 5902 Goliad to court if they don't change a design already approved by the City. If you live in the BACD, did you authorize a lawsuit that might cost you big bucks???

Many years ago, there were no Conservation Districts in Dallas. Battles between long-time residents and new home builders made the Hatfields and McCoys look like a food fight at the elementary schools. Vandalism against construction sites, including spray-painted walls (or worse) and damaged construction supplies were not uncommon.

Soon, smart people in at City Hall stepped in to stop the wars. City Planners and forward-thinking residents created the world of Conservation Districts (CD) and Historic Districts (HD). It was a unique way to allow neighborhoods to organize, set standards and goals for how they would develop. Conservation Districts would grow and flourish, and eventually could become Historic Districts.

But this great change came with an unusual requirement. A neighborhood could organize a CD (or HD), collect the proper amount of signatures to apply for it, hold the meetings needed to collect design ideas from residents, and develop the design and construction standards they (collectively) wanted applied to all future construction and renovations.

The enforcement of these standards, and the approval of permits, was a power completely reserved to the City. If someone wanted to build or renovate in the CD, they had to pass a review at City Hall to make sure all the conditions of the CD were met. Once that test was passed, Building Inspections would review the construction plans to make sure they met city, state and national codes for building structures (in English - Is it safe, is it the right height, etc). If the plans passed the review, a building permit was issued.

By Avi S. Adelman under Neighborhoods , Legal issues
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