Group Challenges Kirk’s Record

DALLAS–A group of taxpayer watchdogs Friday challenged claims

that former Mayor Ron Kirk left the city on sound financial

footing, saying that the city’s recent budgetary struggles tell a

different story.

Campaign advertisements by Kirk, the Democratic contender for

the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by Phil Gramm, have emphasized

his record of balancing budgets and cutting taxes, but the

taxpayers said their tax bills grew during Kirk’s six-year tenure

because of higher appraisals.

“The trick-or-treat antics of politicians claiming to cut

property taxes while ramping up assessments is nothing short of

financial trickery,” said Peggy Venable, director of Citizens for a

Sound Economy. “While claiming to have balanced the city budget,

Ron Kirk left Dallas to deal with a $95 million budget deficit.”

Kirk’s campaign spokes-man, Justin Lonon, disputed the claim

that Kirk is to blame for the city’s recent $94 million budget

shortfall, saying that the losses were tied to the economic

downturn after the 2001 terrorist attacks.

“No one could foresee the events of Sept. 11 and what effect

that would have on cities all over the country, especially a city

like Dallas that depends on tourism and convention business through

sales tax revenue,” Lonon said.

Several of the speakers at the news conference have been

longtime Kirk critics, including former City Councilwoman Donna

Blumer and city watchdog Sharon Boyd, who is backing Kirk’s

Republican opponent, state Attorney General John Cornyn.