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Dallas Finally Sent the List of Council Members Who Used the VisitDallas Suite at AAC

Was that really so hard?
By Shawn Shinneman |
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Photo by NoTalkMan

We did it!

Last week, we got fed up enough with the city of Dallas’ open records runaround that I wrote a story complaining. We were due a list of City Council members who have used VisitDallas’ suite at the American Airlines Center since 2016. The Office of the Attorney General told the city to give it to us. But the city hadn’t. A records official claimed the city never got the ruling from the AG.

Yesterday, the city magically found the ruling and sent the list.

Today, we present the list to you. Is it the most exciting list in the world? Maybe not. Two Council members, current southern Dallas representative Casey Thomas and former West Dallas member Monica Alonzo, accepted tickets. Here is what they attended over the last three years:

Monica Alonzo (June 6, 2017—Enrique Iglesias & Pitbull)
Monica Alonzo (November 12, 2017—Latino Mix Live!)
Casey Thomas (June 3, 2016—R. Kelly)
Casey Thomas (May 27, 2018—Justin Timberlake)
Casey Thomas (July 20, 2018—Sam Smith)
Casey Thomas (August 17, 2018—WWW Big 3)
Casey Thomas (October 14, 2018—Bruno Mars)
Casey Thomas (December 12, 2018—Michelle Obama)

That’s all, folks.

I am curious how a Council member gets their hands on these tickets, particularly in light of the aghast look on the faces of several of them in February. That was when this first came up, when then-Councilman and mayoral candidate Scott Griggs questioned VisitDallas officials about use of the suite. VisitDallas says tickets go to elected officials to help build relationships with outsiders that VisitDallas hosts.

I’ve reached out to Thomas for comment and will update this story if I hear back.

Also in the document, we get a glimpse of the names of VisitDallas board members and Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center staff who have used the suite. Finally, there’s a list of VisitDallas employees who’ve used it. That part is quite long; VisitDallas had at least two representatives present during each event. We see that ousted CEO Phillip Jones saw Stevie Nicks, a ho-hum Mavs-Pistons game, and—two straight years—the Trans-Siberian Orchestra.

Here’s something the city sent us about how the suite is used. It says elected officials are invited “to help demonstrate the city’s interest in the business.” City Council members and VisitDallas board members accounted for about 1 percent of the 4,275 tickets that were used from 2016 to 2018.

“The use of these tickets plays an important part in how we build relationships and showcase the destination in order to get positive stories written about Dallas and convince decisionmakers to host their meetings and events here,” the memo reads.

Here is the whole list. If you see anything interesting, let us know.

Anyway, if there’s a moral here, it’s that you should always complain.

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