Irving’s Trevor Ahlberg likes shooting elephants, charging exorbitant fees on payday loans, and donating money to conservative causes. He likes that last one so much that — through his company, Cottonwood Financial — he’s donated close to $1 million to conservative Texas politicians since 2009. Texans For Public Justice released a report earlier this week highlighting the top recipients of predatory-lending cash, and the top givers. The recipients list was obvious: Texas Speaker of the House Joe Straus, Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst, Gov. Rick Perry, Attorney General Greg Abbott. Ahlberg topped the donor list, doling out $904,200 between 2009 and 2012. Arlington’s Texas Consumer Lenders PAC was second, with $544,775. TPJ’s Lobby Watch:
By far, the most politically active payday lender is Trevor Ahlberg of Irving-based Cottonwood Financial. This payday king single-handedly invested more than $900,000 in Texas’ last two elections. “The Top Recipients of Predatory Lender Money” table on the preceding page shows that Ahlberg is the industry’s top contributor to most of the politicians who are most indebted to the predatory-loan industry. Lieutenant Governor David Dewhurst collected the biggest Ahlberg payday ($60,000). Ahlberg’s Cottonwood Financial also is the industry’s top contributor to the Mexican American Legislative Caucus.
Two trade groups that doled out more than $500,000 apiece are the industry’s next-biggest contributors. The $62,500 that Lieutenant Governor David Dewhurst took from the Texas Consumer Finance Association makes him the top recipient of its largesse. Meanwhile, the Texas Consumer Lenders PAC was especially sweet on Speaker Straus, who scored $76,000 from this trade group. This PAC raised just over $700,000 in the 2012 cycle, collecting 43 percent of it in South Carolina, 33 percent in Texas and 24 percent in Ohio.
The money, TPJ said, ensures predatory lenders “will continue to have their evil way with the most desperate and least sophisticated borrowers.” If you haven’t read Forrest Wilder’s fantastic first-person story about getting a loan from one of Ahlberg’s Cash Stores, have at it. For the full TPJ report, hit the jump:
- It’s at State Highway 121 and Plano Parkway
- It’s for Nebraska Furniture Mart’s 560,000-square-foot retail showroom and 1.3 million-square-foot distribution center
- Nebraska Furniture Mart will anchor Grandscape, a 3.9 million-square-foot monolith that will probably have the capability to detach from Earth and self-sustain, should the need arise
Last point: the first person to snag a picture of themselves in the chair will win a free year’s subscription to D Magazine. I will pay for it myself, since I can’t imagine our marketing team is too keen on the idea of a contest where I tell folks to trespass. And I don’t mean next to the chair, or one of those photos where your fingers look like they’re smushing the chair. IN IT. Get to snappin, and send the photo to email@example.com.
UPDATE: I assumed an email like this would land in my inbox today. From Jeff Lind, chief strategy and development officer for Nebraska Furniture Mart:
“I’m contacting you because safety is a huge priority for Nebraska Furniture Mart and I believe this could put someone at needless risk of injury. I’m sure it was for fun but I can’t bury my head in the sand when safety is involved. Any action you could take to cancel the ‘contest’ could potentially help avoid an injury. I hope you will consider this course of action and I encourage you to do so. Thank you very much.”
So, contest off. It was fun (?) while it lasted.
Never thought embedding a 20 year-old clip from a Nickelodeon show would be in my job description, but here we are. Late Friday, Observer editor Joe Tone unearthed a letter Mary Suhm wrote to the City Council in advance of Wednesday’s Trinity East drilling hearing. Unearthed might be the wrong word here since it’s in the City Council’s briefing packet, but since Tone posted it at 10 p.m. on a Friday, that’s an unearthing in my book.
The City Attorney’s office has also affirmed that the City Manager had the authority to sign a non-binding letter with Trinity East — making no guarantees — to assist in moving the process forward through several different approvals and Council actions. Requests for assurance of assistance are often sought by outside parties in development deals and an example is provided in the appendix of the briefing.
In short: we’re cool. Nothing to see here. Why’s everyone so pissed?
Okay, so maybe the City Attorney said this is fine. Problem is, that sets up a domino effect of legal interests. If the City Council doesn’t approve the drilling application, Trinity East will likely sue the city, claiming its agreement with Suhm was above-board and should be honored. If the City Council does approve the application, the legal battle will begin from the other side, directed at the city again. Dallas’ anti-gas folks would cobble together some money, and the Sierra Club or Gus Van Sant and Matt Damon or the anti-fracking Illuminati will throw their money behind them to prove you can’t buy City Hall.
Either way, the city ends up in a multi-million dollar lawsuit fighting gas drillers or its own citizens. The entire letter and briefing are below, courtesy of Tone:
Yesterday, the United States Olympic Committee sent letters out to 35 American cities, to gauge their interest in bidding for the 2024 Summer Olympics. Some locals thought the letter said “ZOMG DALLAS HERE’S THE OLYMPICS.”
Problem with that: Dallas is not even close to being able to handle the Olympics. There are a lot of metrics that Dallas fails at (reliable public transit being the massive, festering sore on any bid), but let’s just look at one: an Olympic stadium. NBC-DFW quotes the CEO of Dallas 2024, Matt Wood, as saying that Cowboys Stadium would be used in any bid. Read: Cowboys Stadium would be the Olympic stadium. Except the International Olympic Committee would never let that happen. Here are the past eight Summer Olympic stadiums (plus Rio 2016′s) and their approximate distances to downtown:
Is the Dallas Police and Fire Pension System Overinvested in Real Estate? There are so many questions raised by this lengthy report on how the pension fund that owns Museum Tower ended up managing the luxury proprieties it propped-up with large cash infusions after the real estate bubble burst. For example: What are the properties really worth now? Should the pension fund be managing Hawaiian estates and Napa Valley resorts? Is fund administrator Richard Tettamant having too much fun hobnobbing on the taxpayer’s dime? If speculative land plays don’t pan out, is it really accurate to report them as investments in “natural resources?” Is Tettamant cutting sweetheart deals for developer buddies? Are his efforts to beat market returns putting the future of the our city’s finest – not to mention the pocketbooks of Dallas taxpayers – at considerable risk? Lots of questions. But here’s the one I want to ask: did the fund really need to pay to move a piano from Hawaii to the lobby of Museum Tower? I mean, they sell pianos in Dallas, right? Really nice ones, I bet.
As American Swallows U.S. Airways, Airline Field Thins: There was a time when airports were packed with brands like Pan Am, TWA, Eastern, Braniff — all of which have gone the way of the Concorde. Now the “extraordinarily complex” merger between American and U.S. Air leaves just four major carriers: American, United, Delta and Southwest.
Tim Tebow to Speak at First Baptist: The announcement that the incredibly meh quarterback will speak at Robert Jeffress’ First Baptist Church raises all the expected questions about whether or not Tebow endorses statements Jeffress has made in the past about homosexuality, Mormonism, Islam, and on and on. And I suppose those are pertinent questions to ask, even if I wish the only question surrounding anything regarding Tim Tebow was “who cares?”
I understand this happens sometimes. You’re unfamiliar with an intersection or set of on-ramps, and you accidentally take off the wrong way. I’ve done it, then corrected myself in a matter of seconds. A woman in Burleson last night went the wrong way for 15 miles. That’s like getting on Central Expressway in downtown Dallas, and staying on it until you hit the George Bush Turnpike. But you’re in the wrong lane.
Probably needless to say, she was eventually slapped with a DWI, after hitting two cars and getting taken down by a police spike-strip.
Plano native Lance Armstrong is currently a 10,000-1 underdog to become the next pope, trailing literally every single person OddsChecker.com cares to list. In slightly less offensive news, the cardinal of the Galveston-Houston diocese, Daniel DiNardo, is going off at 50-to-1 to 100-to-1, depending on the house. It’s also worth noting that he’ll be one of 11 United States cardinals choosing Pope Benedict XVI’s replacement; the United States has the second-highest number of cardinals (19) behind Italy (29). Only 11 will make the trip to the Vatican, since cardinals need to be younger than 80 to vote.
A report by the Miami New TimesÂ today indicates that Texas Rangers slugger Nelson Cruz may have received steroids or human growthÂ hormones from a Â Miami clinic that also catered toÂ San Francisco Giants outfielder Melky Cabrera, Oakland A’s pitcher Bartolo ColÃ³n, Cuban boxer Yuriorkis Gamboa, and even Alex Rodriguez.
The clinic in question isÂ Biogenesis, an “anti-aging” clinic that abruptly closed shop last month. A former employee gave the company’s customer spreadsheets to the New Times. As for Cruz’s alleged participation:
But there are also several prominent professionals in Bosch’s records who have never before been linked to steroid use. According to his July 2012 client sheet, Bosch sold $4,000 of product to Nelson Cruz, whom he nicknames “Mohamad.” Cruz, the power-hitting Dominican outfielder for the Texas Rangers, has whacked 130 bombs in his eight-year career without any links to performance-enhancing drugs. Until now. Bosch writes in his 2012 book: “Need to call him, go Thur to Texas, take meds from April 5-May 5, will owe him troches and… and will infuse them in May.”
The Rangers, according to DMN reporter Evan Grant, said only that the team was contacted by theÂ Miami New Times and that it then contacted MLB. The team had no further comment.
Prompted by this New York Post story today about unhappy Jets fans selling off their personal seat licenses, I headed to SeasonTicketRights.com to see what the scene was like at Cowboys Stadium. The result: lots of people, trying to sell lots of seats.
Like this one:
Amenities – Best sightlines in the stadium – Roomier, cushioned seats – Access to the Field Level Club – Private, exclusive Founders Club – All-inclusive food & Beverage – Complimentary, reserved VIP parking – Opportunity to purchase seats to all other events – Exclusive invitation to team events Have a friend that would like to sell her seat which is right next to mine. We bought 2 seats as a couple. These seats are a part of the founders club, which means you receive high incentives & benefits. Like 1. your own VIP Parking with your name on it. 2. 4 meals free prior to game and all during game. 3. Free Alcoholic beverages 4. Complimentary on field passes and much more….
That one goes for an asking price of $200,000, plus an additional $113,157.79 in debt. Reminder that this is for one seat, and doesn’t include the actual price of any tickets.
Or this one, which makes the previous one look like a steal, since it’s only $300,000 for eight seats:
We have 8 seats (4) in section C310 Row 4 seats 15-18 & (4) in section C310 Row 5 seats 18-21 asking $37,500 each for seat option. They are on the 50 yard line and are aisle seats. These seats come with Miller Lite access to the team tunnel to see players coming in and off the field. This listing is for season 2013
The Miller Lite tunnel! Huzzah!
I understand the PSL game is a money-making venture for many people. One that can pay off huge.Â But it’s also fair to say that the number of licenses for sale probably wouldn’t be quite as high if the Cowboys were even making the playoffs.
When I was five, my mother – inexplicably, without my consent – signed me up for gymnastics camp. I guess she thought I’d enjoy the jumping and flipping, plus it gave her a break from at least one head of her three-headed monster of a brood.
I did not enjoy the jumping and the flipping; I cried every day. There was only one other boy in the camp, and Jordan also seemed to dislike the jumping and flipping. Our only joy came from snack time, when we could finally get a goddamn rest from the jumping and flipping and just enjoy some cherry Kool-Aid
Earlier this month, I was invited to attend a media event for Cirque Dreams Holidaze, a show that featured the jumping and flipping that I so loathed as a child. They said I could try out some of the cirque acts, maybe have a dream of my own. I took them up on their offer.
The M4 assault rifle has been used by American forces in Iraq and Afghanistan, and a semi-automatic version available for civilian purchase can fire 45 rounds a minute. And it should be behind the desk of elementary-school principals, generic cialis online
/thehill.com/blogs/blog-briefing-room/news/273113-gop-rep-gohmert-wishes-conn-school-principal-was-armed” target=”_blank”>according to Tyler Rep. Louie Gohmert:
“I wish to God she had an M-4 in her office locked up so when she heard gunfire she pulls it out and she didn’t have to lunge heroically with nothing in her hands but she takes him out, takes his head off before he can kill those precious kids,” Gohmert said in an interview on “Fox News Sunday.”
This, of course, is not the first time Gohmert’s said something ridiculous about guns, because he also said the victims in the Aurora, Colo. shooting should’ve been better armed.
A Dallas criminal defense lawyer has agreed in federal court documents to plead guilty to a money laundering charge for helping a drug dealer hide large amounts of ill-gotten cash.
Patrick Robert Simon’s plea has to be approved by a federal judge before it becomes official. If that happens, he could face up to 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $500,000, according to court documents.
Simons was paid $6,000 by the dealer and an undercover agent to create a bogus company that would be used to launder the money. Simon then offered a few options for how the drug dealer could get $100,000 in cash to Simon, with the dealer eventually settling on an attorney trust account which would cut checks to the dealer’s family while he was in prison.
Breaking Bad returns for the second half of its final season this summer.
That’s the American-Statesman’s humor columnist (Still a thing? Really?) John Kelso. According to Romenesko:
I didn’t pull this stunt because I’m a big fan of Big Bird. Nope, this one is Mitt Romney’s fault. If the Mittster hadn’t said during one of the presidential debates that he loves Big Bird, not likes but loves, I might have rented a Daffy Duck or a Tweety Bird suit instead. I prefer those two birds to Big Bird.
But when Romney said he would cut off funding to PBS, Big Bird’s boss, I decided to go to bat for the yellow guy.
Mark this under “Things I’m glad I didn’t do, but am happy someone else did.”
Speaking of Mismanaged Pension Funds, Teachers Squander Millions on Bad Investments: The Dallas Police and Fireman’s Pension System is not the only public pension program getting bad press for risky investments. In this two part investigation by the Dallas Morning News’ Steve McGonigle, the Teacher Retirement System of Texas is shown to have blown $100 million gambling on a casino company. Part one looks at the pension fund’s risky investing, which the DMN reports to involve losses of upwards of $1 billion. Part two raises suspicions about the relationship between the casino company and Governor Rick Perry, who was the beneficiary of campaign donations from the casino owners. It’s worth a read (if you know how to skirt the pay wall).
Run Katy Trail At Your Own Risk: Three separate incidents of armed robbery along Katy Trail were reported over the weekend, all occurring between 11:30 p.m. Saturday and 6:30 a.m. Sunday. Wallets, credit cards, and iPhones were stolen. The victims describe the similar incidents here.
Winning Lottery Ticket Still Hasn’t Surfaced: If you purchased a Lottery ticket from the Crossroad Shell on Western Center Boulevard in Fort Worth, you may want to dig it out and double check the numbers. The Texas Lottery Commission believes a $28 million ticket was sold at the store.
Josh Hamilton Breaks Historic Bat in Angels Rout: Hamilton got his 44th RBI and his average rose to .402 with a broken bat single he hit in the seventh inning of last night’s game. It was the last swing for a bat that Hamilton used to smack four home runs in a single game a week ago Tuesday in Baltimore. All together, Hamilton hit eight home runs with the bat, which is now off to Cooperstown for enshrining.
An alert FrontBurnervian points us to the news that Oklahoma State is sad that it followed T. Boone Pickens’ investment advice. Pickens is a famously generous OSU booster. In addition to money, in 2007 he suggested a plan for OSU: 1) Buy life insurance policies on old OSU alums. 2) Wait for them to die. 3) Ca-ching! Problem is, no one died, which kind of ruined the math. OSU wound up wasting $33 million on premiums. A federal judge just ruled that the university is not owed a refund.
Here’s what I find most troubling about this development: I go panda hunting with T. Boone in odd-numbered years. He told me about this whole death bet insurance scheme, and I took out a rather large policy on Zac, figuring if T. Boone’s plan was good enough for OSU, it was good enough for this country boy.
Um, yeah. Zac’s still alive, too.