Tom Luce and Mayor Rawlings Are Taking the Wrong Approach With Museum Tower

Today, Mayor Mike Rawlings and Tom Luce, the lawyer who was mediating the discussion between Museum Tower and the Nasher, tried to put pressure on Richard Tettamant, the man who runs the Dallas Police & Fire Pension System. Luce threw up his hands and quit, saying, in part:

Richard; recent events have made clear that the conditions and spirit under which I agreed to serve to help find a mutually beneficial solution for all parties are not being adhered to by you.

Then, just a couple hours later, Rawlings released a statement:

Tom Luce has worked hard to resolve the issue between Museum Tower and Nasher Sculpture Garden and I am grateful for his leadership and commitment to our city. I don’t blame Tom for resigning. To be effective, he must have leadership on both sides that are forthright and working tirelessly on this issue; unfortunately, he has not had that. I know that attitude does not represent the sentiment of the Police and Fire Pension Board of Trustees. They have told me they want to resolve the issue quickly because the financial success of Museum Tower, the retirement security of our brave fire fighters and police officers as well as the future of Nasher Sculpture Garden is at risk. We need to work harder.

First Luce throws Tettamant under the bus. Then the mayor does it. Between the lines of his statement, he is clearly saying that Tettamant has not provided the leadership necessary to resolve this problem.

Here’s the problem with that strategy: it won’t work. Richard Tettamant is not a man who feels public pressure. He has worked for the pension for far too long to be bothered by such a minor nuisance.

10 comments on “Tom Luce and Mayor Rawlings Are Taking the Wrong Approach With Museum Tower

  1. Here is the real interesting thing, which is apparently lost on the Mayor and D Magazine. Under state law, Richard Tettamant is independent from City Hall, is not under the direction or thumb of the Mayor. In fact, the way state law structures it, Tettamant actually outranks the Mayor, who has no basis in law to give Tettamant or the Dallas Police and Firefighters Pension System any orders. The pension system derives only part of its money for retirement accounts from the city directly. About 33% of DPFP funding comes from the city, individual police officers and firefighters contribute about 33% of their own money and the rest comes from money made on investments. Do your own research, I have. In other words, the Mayor has no power to order or force the pension system to do anything. The Mayor injected himself into the reflection issue between the Museum Tower developers and the Nasher Sculpture Center, two private businesses facing a problem the mayor has no business meddling in. He doesn’t give a flip about the rank and file police and firefighters out here, only making his political friends happy.

    Tom Luce says he is throwing up his hands because he says the pension system did not honor his gag order. All the pension system did was start an advertising campaign to sell its condos. You mean to tell me the owners of the building, that being every police officer and firefighter in this town, have no right to sell their condos? Who is doing harm to whom? Yet Luce says nothing about the rich friends of the Nasher out there almost every day conducting a PR campaign trashing Museum Tower. You think the Nasher is not behind that campaign? Get real. Luce took sides with the mayor and the Nasher against Dallas police officers and firefighters who own that building, pushing a solution called “louvers” that will not solve the reflection problem, in fact they could make it worse because the louvers reflect sun too.

    Then there are the facts you didn’t or won’t report that are difficult to ignore now. Experts quoted in the Dallas Morning News this morning dispute Nasher claims that any damage has been done to the greenery in the Garden. I have been there with my family recently, and just like those experts said, we found the place is very green and growing, only damage to the grass is from folks walking on it. You ought to go down and see it for yourself to understand the Nasher folks are stretching the truth about the reflection causing damage to the garden. BTW, the day we were there in mid afternoon the sun was very bright, temp in the low 90′s, not a cloud in the sky. The trees provided a nice shade for our walk in the garden, and we had no problem enjoying the sculptures outside.

    As for fixing the reflection on the Nasher building, the Mayor has no business picking which solution is best, any more than President Obama has any business picking winners by giving money to Solyndra, Fisker and other failed green energy enterprises. Rawlings is not an engineer or an architect and is pretty much trying to bully the Museum Tower owners to swallow a solution that won’t work, instead of letting the developers finish their work on the solutions they say show promise to really fix this situation. Despite what the mayor says, the pension Board of Trustees don’t want a “quick solution” they want the “right solution” that will stand the test of time. Why is the mayor doing this? What does he have to gain by choosing sides and trying to run down Tettamant? Check the contributors to his campaign for Mayor, you might find some interesting high dollar people listed there, who are also friends of the Nasher and behind the “Stop The Glare” petition drive.

  2. Bottom line no one will want to buy an expensive condo in a building
    that has Museum Tower’s reputation for being a bad neighbor.
    It doesn’t matter who owns the investment. Maybe they took a risk
    they shouldn’t have.

  3. Horton,

    You know better than anybody that the mayoral position is one of influence, not decision-making. It’s an at-large city councilor with a good title and better bully pulpit.

    Sometimes the Mayor is helpful, like “encouraging” a city workers’ pension fund to invest in risky real estate. Sometimes the Mayor can use his influence to squash business. Right?

  4. SK 1,

    And sometimes the Mayor can just be a bully. This mayor is a political neophyte, despite his self aggrandized official city bio, and he is dipping his wick in oil that will eventually burn him. A statement heard near the Mayor’s office in one of his brow beating sessions with Mr. Tettamant, “you are messing with my money people.” His money people? Does he really think he has some political legs after the job he is doing at Dallas City Hall? He claims he is just trying to protect the investments of “his” police and and firefighters. I’ve got news for you, Rawlings has never given a flying flip for the guys and gals out here protecting this city, and protecting our pensions is not his job. Rawlings has never been after “options” or exploring the best solution that will be good for the Nasher and Museum Tower. Rawlings has been pushing the louver idea since day one, putting venetian blinds on the outside of the Tower because that is what the Nasher has told him is the perfect solution. No engineering studies, no scientific data was ever presented to him, only a lame power-point from the Nasher’s architect who made the sales pitch, the same architect that lost the job to design Museum Tower. The Pension did send experts and engineers to Germany to check out the very louvers the Mayor had claimed were the 100% solution. Guess what? Those “blinds” on the German building were part of the original construction, made to reflect the sun to make the building more energy efficient. The louver/blinds do nothing to diminish reflection, just the opposite, plus they look awful. Just the thing to doll up our Dallas skyline, a building that looks like a 42 story jail. The mayor got suckered by his “big money” people at the Nasher and by Luce, who took sides against the Museum Tower developers. Luce was no “neutral” arbiter, good that he is gone. The mayor needs to bow out of this fray as well, he has real city business to tend to. BTW, did you know the Dallas Police and Firefighter’s Pension loaned the Nasher’s millions of dollars to expand Northpark Center? Strange how the Nasher’s are now biting the hand that gave them help when they needed it. Talk about good neighbor. Don’t get me wrong, I love the Nasher too, but this reflection deal is blown way out of proportion, the Nasher’s ego, refusing to allow its roof to be fixed and paid for by the Pension system, is the real problem. The Nasher would rather pick the pension pocket of every police officer and firefighter in this city trying to force Museum Tower to put up astronomically more expensive blinds that won’t solve the reflection and will look ugly as hell.

  5. Horton….well said.
    “Paid” consultants are just that….paid to put out the spin and say what they are paid to say.Both sides are doing this. The facts should speak for themselves. The mayor taking sides reminds me of Obama taking sides on issues that are none of their business. PERIOD.The mayor should stick to running the city and work on city improvements, budgets and photo opportunities.

  6. Want to see this problem get solved? Withdraw the Certificate of Occupancy on Museum Tower on the grounds that it is a public nuisance. I’d bet that they fix that problem so fast it would make your head spin.

  7. The Museum Tower’s approach to selling condos appears to be to piss off all people who would be prospective purchasers – the Dallas arts community. It’s tone deaf to the nth degree and beyond stupid.

    The problem will not be solved until the tower is put into foreclosure. Then a new owner can purchase it on the cheap and use the savings to fix the reflection. With a new owner and better PR, buyers will materialize and everyone will be happy.

  8. The North Park expansion would never have found a willing investor other than the DPFP, cause all other investors hate earning easy money.

  9. Thank you Gary, I agree. We were considering
    buying but right now no way. I couldn’t see anyone buying there.
    I don’t care about inside ball with the Mayor’s
    office but I do care about preserving the Nasher.