Museum Tower To File Lawsuit Against the Nasher?, Ctd.

Just a bit ago, the Dallas Police and Fire Pension System issued a statement about the hubbub today. It reads:

The Dallas Morning News article about pending litigation is inaccurate. As a result of the Dallas Morning News’ numerous open record requests, we asked the Texas Attorney General to review parts of each request as allowed by law. A copy of that letter was required to be sent to the Dallas Morning News. The letter to the Attorney General is simply a prudent and conservative measure as allowed by law in response to the threat of litigation against Museum Tower as speculated in the press. More importantly, we agree with Mr. Luce’s statement today that last week’s discussions were successful, cordial and professional. We’re confident that the process will continue and we’ll have a positive outcome. The System has not changed its mission to try to resolve this matter in a reasonable and professional manner.

It’s an interesting statement. It says the DMN story is inaccurate, but, you’ll notice, it doesn’t say exactly what the inaccuracy is. The DMN story said that Richard Tettamant, the head of the pension fund, confirmed that a lawsuit is being considered. If that’s not the case, why not say that in the statement? Is it just an unclear, poorly written statement?

Meanwhile, Unfair Park has a letter written by the pension fund’s lawyer, Gary Lawson, to the DMN accusing the paper and D Magazine of practicing advocacy journalism. Following is an excerpt, with my comments in [brackets]:

We are a nation and state built upon the foundation of laws. Without laws there would be lawlessness. [And without feckle, there would be fecklessness.] That notion depends, in part, upon the exercise an open and free press that is obedient to the Society of Professional Journalist cannon of ethics to report the facts of a story objectively and not take sides. [I think a preposition is missing from that sentence. In any case, a state built on laws doesn't depend on a free press. East Germany had plenty of laws. Beyond that, it is possible to report the facts of a story objectively while taking sides. The two practices are not mutually exclusive.] However, Dallas Morning News reporters, and at least one other media organization in Dallas [Say it! Say our name! Would it kill you to say it?], have chosen to ignore the SPJ Code of Ethics, which they so fervently hold up as a shield of honor [Really? When?], and instead are pursuing advocacy journalism to serve the agenda of one side of this complex situation. The Dallas Morning News has engaged in a coordinated campaign [It's a large organization run by managers. I hope it works in a coordinated fashion.] to move public opinion toward the Nasher side of that agenda, because your own reporter openly stated he, and by projection your paper, hold the rule of law in disdain. [Whoa! Need more details here. Which DMN reporter openly stated that he (or she) holds the rule of law in disdain? And did he (or, again, she) really say it that way? "Mr. Lawson, you should know, sir, that I hold the rule of law in disdain." Like that?] The Dallas Morning News, by this unethical act, has declared its advocacy agenda to influence public opinion with such pejorative fervor against our client in an attempt to force them to change their building. [Note: when you find yourself typing phrases like "pejorative fervor," you're working too hard to make your point.]

The Dallas Morning News and D Magazine [Thank you! See? You're still alive.] have failed to explore other Renzo Piano projects elsewhere around the world that have been embroiled in controversy over his aggressive and purposeful designs that disregard the surrounding community. [Um, point being? Renzo Piano could have tortured kittens while he was eating veal scallopini, and it wouldn't change the situation we're faced with in the Arts District.] Likewise they have failed to explore Piano’s flawed analysis of what future effects his buildings may project upon the immediate area. [Wha?] To suggest the Dallas Morning News independently and benevolently sought out Piano for his comments on the Museum Tower and Nasher situation is a stretch of the imagination. To invite, perhaps by suggestive questioning, a quote from Piano that a lawsuit will be brought in the Museum Tower and Nasher situation the Dallas Morning News has poisoned the well for any real hope that mediation will succeed.

You see what the upshot here is, right? Gary Lawson, it seems to me, is laying the groundwork for the pension fund to break off talks with the Nasher. It’s poorly laid groundwork. But there it is.

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14 comments on “Museum Tower To File Lawsuit Against the Nasher?, Ctd.

  1. What kind of ammunition do professional journalists use in their ‘Cannon of Ethics’?

  2. Lawyer offering a couple possibilities here:
    1. Some Freshman from the Law Magnet hacked into his phone.
    2. More likely, the PR hack or the client wrote this and made him sign it. By the lord of all holy, please don’t have let a $700/hour Strasburger partner be the author of this crap.

  3. Ah, the heighth and breadth and depth and wonder of The Law! The Majesty of its Expression. The Suppleness of its Reasoning. The sheer audacity of turning a silk purse into a sow’s ear, then suing the sow.

  4. So Brooks Egerton at the DMN reported the following at 11:44 a.m. today (emphasis added):

    “Purchasers of condominiums have canceled contracts and sales of additional units have been ‘substantially adversely affected,’ Lawson stated in a letter he provided to The Dallas Morning News. [Presumably this is the letter to the Attorney General the PR jockey mentioned in her statement]

    ‘It is reasonable to anticipate that litigation will take place within the very near term, days if not weeks away,’ Lawson wrote.”

    So, Gary, did you or did you not predict that litigation would occur in the “very near term, days if not weeks away”? Are you telling us that you didn’t write this letter? Are you telling us that Brooks Egerton misquoted the letter? Because if the answer to both of these questions is no, then you’re just pounding on the table, which is what lawyers do when they don’t have the facts or the law on their side.

    Good luck to you sir, and to your idiot pension fund client.

  5. Really, the gall of a news organization to report news and include a quote from a relevant party!
    Lawson’s not just laying the groundwork to break off talks, but also preparing a case against the News and D as responsible parties that made litigation necessary.

  6. The letter of Mr. Lawson borders on … let’s just say highly flawed.

    First there is the broad sweeping statement missing a rather critical piece such that the letter must be redone to receive course credit. Yes, “we are a nation and state built upon the foundation of laws.” But that alone does not support the “notion” that it thus “depends, in part, upon the exercise an open and free press that ….” Only a nation where there is a fundamental principal within its laws and Constitution to protect liberty of its people will have an open and free press. Probably more than a third of the nations do not have an open and free press, but are nations built upon laws – just laws we do not favor. Redo for credit.

    Mr. Lawson links an open and free press to adhering to cannon of ethics for reporting facts objectively, etc. But who thinks there was not reporting of facts objectively? Citing no facts other than casting dispersion on Mr. Piano and threatening litigation is a crusade to stifle opinion or the reporting of facts as others see them. That action is the antithesis of a nation of laws that adheres to the protection of liberty.

    Then there is Mr. Lawson’s statement ” Likewise they [not sure who they is] have failed to explore Piano’s flawed analysis of what future effects his buildings may project upon the immediate area. [Wha?]” This statement is nothing short of your Wha?. Really? Would all of the Strasburger partners lineup to support that statement?

    This is the “Art District” and the Nasher is the world gem of that District. It is not the “High Rise Residential District”. I mean, really? The Nasher was there ahead of his client…..and looking at the impact it has the immediate area….well the Nasher was sensational. Then there are the more than 1 million visitors that come to the Art District each year ….and they do not come to see Museum Tower!!

    If Mr. Lawson is concerned about the impact the criticism has upon sale of units in Museum Tower then he should not have written his letter and NOT said a law suit (against who?) would be filed. Letters like Mr. Lawson’s heightened the criticism and a law suit? – well that may just shut down sales completely until resolved….say 5 years.

    Perhaps DMN and D Magazine should look at the problem here in terms of the high risk investment made and the super sensitivity to the New York Times report that among public pension funds this Pension System has the highest risk investments in the nation. Couple that with the 2010 Annual Report in which his client reported that benefit changes were required (reductions) since “actuarial projections in 2010 indicated that System funding would deteriorate over the next few years to levels that threatened the System’s ability to pay benefits in the future. “

    A $200 million loss on a high risk investment does not bode well.

  7. Would love to be a juror at this trial. Good luck Mr. Lawson-you will need it.