Thursday, August 02, 2007

Sour Grapes at City Hall

Inquiry appears unlikely to derail toll-road vote

August 2, 2007

From Staff Reports
2007 WFAA-TV, Inc.
Copyright 2007

Dallas City Council member Angela Hunt says City Secretary Deborah Watkins and City Attorney Tom Perkins have told her that City Hall sent 47 Trinity River toll road petition sheets to the Dallas County district attorney's office to be investigated for fraud.

"I've verified this all with the city secretary's office," Ms. Hunt said.

City officials had refused to confirm these numbers until Wednesday.

"I had that conversation with council member Hunt," Ms. Watkins said. "However, because the cases have been forwarded to the district attorney, I could not elaborate any further."

Each page of signatures contains about 10 names, so up to 470 total signatures could be found to be fraudulent. The city secretary's office reportedly verified about 52,500 signatures – well over the 48,000 signatures needed to trigger a November vote on the toll road – so it appeared Wednesday that the referendum would go forward regardless of what any investigation concludes.

Meanwhile, District Attorney Craig Watkins said he received a package Wednesday from City Hall after complaining Tuesday that Dallas officials hadn't yet sent him potentially fraudulent petition signatures.

City officials contend they sent a package to Mr. Watkins' office Tuesday afternoon.

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