ARLINGTON -- In the midst of a heated campaign for a new Rangers ballpark, Arlington Mayor Jeff Williams hinted the campaign was much closer than publicly disclosed, and described those leading the opposition to the proposal as "mad" and unemployed.
The comments were made public Monday by the Citizens for a Better Arlington, coordinating the "Save Our Stadium" campaign opposed to the proposed $1 billion retractable roof replacement for Globe Life Park.
A spokesperson confirmed to News 8 on Monday that Williams made the comments on Friday to a small group of what was described as young business leaders.
But in a move similar to warming up in the bullpen and going into pitch for the other team, someone in the Chamber of Commerce-aligned group recorded Williams and provided the audio to the opposition.
In the 19-minute recording, Williams says he is frustrated with the group opposing the stadium.
“You have the C-A-V-E’S – the citizens against virtually everything," Williams said. "They’re mad – they don’t want anything happening – you wouldn’t leave your kids with them to babysit them. Then you go to the polls – and you see it. These people don’t have jobs, they’re mad. I don’t know how effective they’re being.”
It turns out, it could be very effective. Williams is heard on the recording saying a majority of early voters on the ballpark have turned out against the measure.
"We know more of the 'no' people have voted than 'yes' people to date, we know that," Williams said. "That tells you the first day of early voting was predominantly 'no' people."
The Vote Yes! campaign on Monday alleged those opposed to the stadium have verbally harassed supporters at early voting locations, a claim that was not supported with evidence and denied by stadium opponents.
"I feel bad - a lot of these people are working so hard, they don’t have the facts right," Williams said. "Either that or they do not have the intelligence there to be able to translate that we're investing money in the entertainment district to make money.”
Faith Bussey, president of Citizens for a Better Arlington said in a statement that voters opposed to the stadium plan are doing so because they believe it is a 'bad deal' for taxpayers.
"I am appalled that my Mayor would characterize voters, our supporters, and our team in this manner," Bussey said.
Williams has publicly touted the economic benefit to Arlington at $77 million annually if voters approve a continuation of a hotel / motel and car rental tax currently being used to pay off AT&T Stadium. In the private discussion with about a dozen members of Action Arlington, Williams warns the fallout if the Rangers vote doesn't pass.
"A vote no almost definitely ensures your property taxes are going up or your services are going down," Williams said.
Williams also privately confided that the news media could not be trusted, pointing specifically to a News 8 Investigates report in June that chronicled the public / private partnership between the Marlins and taxpayers in Miami-Dade County.
“It’s the worst stadium in the major leagues period and Miami has a long history of corruption," Williams said. "Yes we’re not Miami, for crying, we’re not Dallas – we’re better than that.”