Not Very Super: The Weather, and Reaction To It, Has Mayor Tom Leppert Very "Disappointed"

Categories: City Hall, Weather
leppertatmainstreetgarden.jpg
Justin Terveen
Mayor Tom Leppert, with Ron Natinsky, left, and Downtown Dallas Inc. head John Crawford at Main Street Garden opening in November '09. Probably applies today too.
No doubt, in coming weeks the Dallas City Council will hold committee briefings during which officials with the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, Oncor, Atmos, the Texas Deparment of Transportation, Dallas Area Rapid Transit and various city departments will be asked to explain their responses, for better and worse, to this week's winter storms. After all, the very same thing happened after last February's snow storm, when Oncor was lightly scolded for its inability to keep the lines up and the power on.

Mayor Tom Leppert acknowledges as much: "First off, I think everyone's got to look at ERCOT and the rolling blackouts," he tells Unfair Park this afternoon. "And I think each of the groups you mentioned will say, 'There are things we could have done better, differently ... But having the Super Bowl was an advantage, because there were already a lot of contingency plans in place, and we've moved from Stage One to Stage Two, which involves getting 60 [sanding] trucks out on the road."

On the other side, Leppert talks about the impact of the ice and snow on the city. Long story short: "It's clearly disappointing." (I also asked him about last week's exit of Dallas County Elections Administrator  Bruce Sherbet, since, as Friend of Unfair Park Wylie H. notes below, thus far no elected city official has said word one about it.)

Clearly disappointing for whom?

I feel sorry for a number of the small business that clearly aren't going to see the kind of business everyone anticipated, and for so many people who worked for years on this. The controllable pieces have gone terrific. The feedback at various parties has been terrific, especially from the people from out of town. But the weather is the limiting factor. A number of events have been canceled, and I feel so sorry for so many people who put so much into and expected so much out of this.

Time and again, the number of sand trucks and plows kept by the city has come up -- whether it's from out-of-town media or a local just trying to get to work. Then again, people would be furious if we spent a fortune on those and kept 'em parked 363 days out of the year.

We'll look at all the circumstances and say, "Is there something we can do?" But it wouldn't be smart of us to all of the sudden say, "We'll match Chicago's snow plow inventory." But are there things we can learn from it? Yes. But keep in mind, I think it was ABC News said a few nights ago this the worst winter storm in 40 years. I don't know that we've ever had something like this. We've had snow, and we do get that every other year, but in 2006 we had six inches on a Friday night, and by Sunday everyone was out playing golf. Last year we had that storm on February 11, but it gave up the next day. This is something where we got hit the first part of the week, then the cold set in for four, five days, then the snow fell on top of it. I don't know if we've seen all of these circumstances all at once.

So, then, it's a ... teaching moment?

More like as doggone-it moment.

Honestly -- was there any point this week when you said, "Since I'm not running, maybe I shoulda stepped down, oh, Monday?"

[He laughs.]

That's no answer.

What I am sorry for are the folks, the awful lot of people who spent a lot of time working on this, and I was close enough to see it. The activities, all of the planning elements. I've been to a bunch of Super Bowls, and this was the finest effort by a host committee -- not even close. We lapped people. All of that work will not be overlooked.

What do you fear will most be erased by this whiteout?

We're clearly not going to get the economic activity people hoped for. The thought was, the hope was, people would come in, move around, spend time going from restaurant to restaurant, go to dinner and maybe a bar or two on the way, and during the day go off shopping at Galleria and NorthPark and wherever. But with the weather, we're not having that kind of activity. And people couldn't get in as early as we hoped. You can look at those canceled flights, and the airports did the best they could, but a lot of those flights being canceled are are due to the weather in Chicago and New York and elsewhere. It's not just here. But the combination really hurts. The economic activity will be a lot less than expected.

And we wanted people to come in and move all around and get excited about things happening here. You look at Woodall Rogers [deck park], you look at the [Perot Nature & Science] museum being built, the [Margaret Hunt Hill] bridge being lit up, and hopefully people are going to Oak Cliff for dinner and seeing that. But those things are happening, and we haven't had the chance to show off the great things happening here. It was about exposing the city and region to so many different people.

There was also this expectation that there'd be an energy in Dallas the likes of which we'd never experienced before. And now it's been ... dissipated.

On a personal basis, I am disappointed the same way everyone else is, but I'm more sorry for the ones who took the lead on this. I am disappointed, clearly, but everyone in the community is as well.

Say, while I have you. Some folks, including us, have wondered why no one at the city has said anything about the departure of longtime Dallas County Elections Administrator Bruce Sherbet last week and how that went down at the county. Any thoughts -- especially with the May mayoral election right around the corner?

I was surprised. I don't know the gentleman, but the people who are here [at City Hall] always felt he did a terrific job and was responsive. I haven't done the homework to talk to the people involved and find out what happened.

But shouldn't the city ask the county: What happened?

It's a fair concern, but am not so sure that effort would do much good, given the action has been taken.
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26 comments
Jack E. Jett
Jack E. Jett

It seems our electricity goes out at the slightest storm activity. I just assume it is because I live near Wilonsky and he is running his blow dryer for hours.

Breed
Breed

Leppert, resign now it shows you are a DISGRACE!

Wylie H.
Wylie H.

"I haven't done the homework to talk to the people involved and find out what happened.

It's a fair concern, but am not so sure that effort would do much good, given the action has been taken."

--Tom Leppert, Profiles in (Lack of) Courage (and Intellectual Curiosity), 2011

Thanks for getting the money quote, Wilonsky. Now I'm even more depressed.

It's just the ability to conduct municipal elections in a manner that appears open and transparent-- no biggie. Certainly not as important as, say, lighting up a bridge under construction.

CityofDallasfirst
CityofDallasfirst

I don't understand why Mayor Leppert is taking the blame........last time I looked the game is in Arlington. Dallas has done what it needs to do to take care of its responsibilities. Why does our Mayor have to take on what clearly is a Host Committee obligation, City of Arlington responsibility........Where is Mayor Cluck the Chicken of Arlington. Why is Mayor Leppert taking the responsibility for the region. He is the Mayor of Dallas, isn't he? And shouldn't he only care about how Dallas is taking care of its responsibilities?

Mayor Cluck should be responding to what is happening or not happening in Arlington. I hear the Host Committee had to secure heaters from the Texas Motor Speedway in an effort to burn off the parking lot ice. It would appear from all accounts that Bill, the leader of the Band, Lively is so focused on his new gig, that he forgot to take care of his current responsibility.

Are you looking at this Dallas Symphony.......The entire Host Committee is an embarassment.

Mayor Leppert, you need to stay focused on what Dallas is responsible for.........let the other take care of their responsibilities.

Trinity River Visionary
Trinity River Visionary

I have commissioned the Trinity River's fleet of solar powered water taxis to act as zamboniis and spread sand and salt over all of DFW.

Montemalone
Montemalone

I figured out why I didn't have to endure rolling power cuts. Jerry's manse is just a couple blocks from me, and they sure weren't going to cut his electricity.

Dallas Diner
Dallas Diner

Uh, sorry Mayor Tom last Feb. 11th it wasn't gone in a day, at least not for those of us who sat in freezing houses for three days waiting for the power to come back on. But then I'm sure that Mayor Tom's street was a much higher priority for Oncor than mine was.

John_McKee
John_McKee

The event might be over but the bills won't be gone, the bills we were promised we would be able to pay with tax revenue from the event that appears to be rapidly evaporating.

Anonymous
Anonymous

Something tells me that even if the weather was sunny and 75 for the entire week and weekend, every restaurant, bar and store was packed chock a block with people and it all went off without a hitch, y'all would still find something to bitch about.

Never good enough, is it?

John_McKee
John_McKee

So how much money is Dallas going to lose on this con? And don't blame the weather, you have been telling us for months how prepared you are for every eventuality and about all the imported sanding trucks, etc.

You Fired Tom Landry?
You Fired Tom Landry?

One of the problems with this Superbowl in Dallas, besides of course is the weather, is no central place to party - a concentrated downtown full of restaurants and bars. My God - you have the whole thing stretched out over a 200 mile radius from Fort Worth to Arlington to Dallas to Irving. The Metroplex area, or whatever you call it down there, is just a bunch of suburbia. Even Jacksonville had a central place to party when they hosted. It just seems like Dallas is a country bumpkin town built only because of the oil there. And now with their lack of preparation for the storm as well as their unrealistic expectations of streets lined with gold because of the Superbowl- there obviously is a large disconnect with reality that exists in the area.

Guest
Guest

Where in the Constitution does it say that the government can remove ice and snow?

If removing the ice and snow was a good thing, the market would've had it all worked out to everyone's satisfaction. This country does not need any big government, nannystate solutions to these sorts of "problems"

Guest
Guest

You'd think he'd be concerned. He might need some of those votes that get stolen from him come 2012.

Dallas Diner
Dallas Diner

Damn good idea! Maybe the horsies can pull sleighs down the horsie trails.

cp
cp

Oh please, I live in very unfabulous South Dallas and my electricity never got cut.

Bettyculbreath
Bettyculbreath

mine was off 7 days.people from Green Bay are accustomed to this kind of weather.

John_McKee
John_McKee

And if Jerry Jones personally delivered a baby unicorn to everyone in the metroplex...

We were asked to pick up a big price tag for this event in exchange for promises that many of us thought sounded to good to be true, now that we are holding the bag have the right to be upset.

Bettyculbreath
Bettyculbreath

People need to park their car and walk.I was in Atlanta when the weather was just like this and we still had fun.Stop the complaints and find happiness.

Clark
Clark

Shoulda build the damn thing in Dallas, Jerry. Weather wouldn't have impacted it.

Dallas Diner
Dallas Diner

Boy kiddo, you watched too much TV in the 1970s and 1980s, Dallas grew as a transportation and trading hub, not an oil town. But "Dallas" sounds better for a TV how than "Houston," "Midland" or "Tyler."

And exactly what bustling metropolis do you live in? Does your city have once-in-twenty-year weather events? Is all the equipment to deal with that weather event sitting in mothballs somewhere waiting to be brought into service? How would theSuperBowl have gone in NYC a couple of weeks ago when the monster storm hit there, or in Minneapolis when the roof of the stadium collapsed because of the snow? Last weekend it was 70 degrees here in Dallas, and I was outside in a T-shirt. It will probably be the same in a couple of weeks. But please, keep telling folks how much Dallas sucks, maybe they will stop moving here.

DFW_lifer
DFW_lifer

200 mile radius? It's 35 miles from down town dallas to downtown fort worth, check google maps. Where do you get 200 mile radius? That would be a 17 mile radius. It's 200 miles from DFW to Austin. Seriously, JACKSONVILLE?!?!?! What central place is there in Jacksonville other than the crappy landing? Have you actually been there? Bottom line, the weather sucked this week. Last Saturday I went and partied in the stockyards and sundance. It was 70 degrees and absolutely wonderful. It's the winter in Texas. It's a crap shoot. The organizers knew the risk, the small business knew the risk, the league knew the risk. S*** happens. "Just a bunch of suburbia" So much so that we have every major sport, (Rangers, Cowboys, Stars, Mavericks) Two major Universities that made bowls this year (TCU, SMU) Along with other nationally recognized institutions (UTD, UTA, UNT) are based here. Please if you haven't been here don't comment. Yes things are spread out, which is why we have many and large highways. No, this area is not prepared for icey conditions. The mayor is right. We get 2-3 days of this weather a year, tops. Why spend millions for 3 days a year. DFW is awsome, Texas is awsome. National Unemployment rate is 9%, Texas is at 7.5%. We're growing and people are moving down here like crazy. Please educate yourself.

Brianwfg
Brianwfg

Dallas is a country bumpkin town. Really? DFW is the 4th largest metropolitan area in the country with 6.4 million residents in 2009. We are also the fastest growing area in the country with 150,000 new residents each year. Where are you from?

Dallas Diner
Dallas Diner

I live in Oak Cliff and I had three 15 minute blackouts in four hours on Wed.

Revismike
Revismike

When you mention the distance from downtown Dallas to downtown fort worth, you are failing to consider North Dallas, Grapevine, Plano and every other suburb. All of these counties are considered part of the metroplex- dallas, tarrant, colin, denton, ellis.

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