Hunt Asks: What Makes a "World-Class City"?

Categories: City Hall
dallasmug.jpg
As Sam notes below, Angela Hunt was the lone council member to vote against paying architect Santiago Calatrava $10.7 million to design a second version of the Margaret McDermott Bridge. The District 14 council rep believes spending all those many millions on a "signature" component added to a bridge TxDOT desperately needs to replace due to its poor condition sends "the wrong message." Her colleagues disagree: "This is Dallas," said Vonciel Jones Hill. "This is how we do things. We do it in a big way." To which Steve Salazar added: "No one remembers the little things we do."

A short while ago, Hunt took to her blog to address those comments and the underlying belief that this city cannot be "world class" without such expensive baubles. Why oh why, she asks, do we chase after so hollow an appellation?
Does it reflect an expansive, visionary belief in the future of Dallas? A noble effort to create lasting landmarks so that our fair city may one day be considered in the same breath as London and Paris?

Or does it reveal a pathetic neediness to be noticed by foreign tourists and cited by visiting journalists? Or worse, is it an indictment of egotistical leadership intent on leaving their imprimatur on massive public projects, no matter the cost?

I think it's a little bit of all of that.

But most residents I talk with aren't really interested in being a "world-class city." They just want a great city to call home. Unfortunately, as we heard today, many city leaders dismiss that as too prosaic. They figure even if we could fix all the potholes, mow all the parks, address all the code complaints, pick up all the stray animals -- all of those things will just be forgotten in time. But an ornamental bridge, a convention center hotel, a big toll road -- those are lasting monuments.
Read the whole thing. Then get your souvenir coffee mug. Then fill it with beer you bought on a formerly dry side of town. And don't forget to tip your council members.
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NYCRules
NYCRules

I think it's always good to have someone in opposition to the majority to ask the tough questions, and create a real debate. However, I'm also a big supporter have having iconic public buildings, and bustling, well-defined urban areas. Dallas is NOT a small town, and yet many people here seem to think it is. Having just pretty parks and boxy buildings doesn't make a world-class city.

Dallas Diner
Dallas Diner

A cautionary note frm Percy Shelley on people who only want to be remembered for the "big things>"

I met a traveller from an antique landWho said: "Two vast and trunkless legs of stoneStand in the desert. Near them on the sand,Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frownAnd wrinkled lip and sneer of cold commandTell that its sculptor well those passions readWhich yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,The hand that mocked them and the heart that fed.And on the pedestal these words appear:`My name is Ozymandias, King of Kings:Look on my works, ye mighty, and despair!'Nothing beside remains. Round the decayOf that colossal wreck, boundless and bare,The lone and level sands stretch far away".

Mister_Mean
Mister_Mean

The city council and staff could not find themselves from their arses with post it notes to show them the way. What a bunch of clowns. Will those who have opposition be re elected by their constituencies? They should not-they deserve to be shown the door for their gross mismanagement of the affairs of the city. This "finding ones self" has been going on for what seems like an eternity with no end in sight fueled by tax dollars.

LaceyB
LaceyB

I know. It's a city where, on a popular bus route, you can catch that bus in less than 45 minutes during a popular time. I called DART yesterday to let them know how happy I was with that situation, and asked who was gonna send me a check for the $11 cab ride I had to take (which, still, made me over 30 late for my meeting). My response "rhymed with 'tuck you itches'" and they said, "have a nice day, ma'am". Still waiting on my $11.

busterkeaton
busterkeaton

Try to get ahold of that one spanish architect dude (oh what's his name???) and ask him for a reimbursement. I heard he just got a paycheck for $10.7 mil, and who knows, he may be interested in investing some of it back into the local economy.

Jim Bob Guthrie
Jim Bob Guthrie

I like that Angela Hunt is tightening our city's belt. But here, she seems to be protecting TXDOT, which has screwed Dallas in every way it can (e.g. Central Expressway's dead trees and ripping out shrubs to fill them with rocks and weeds). If the money is to be spent on the "signature" items in Dallas, then that is what is should be spent on.

We don't need a signature bridge, and it isn't going to attract any development. But the portion that is already paid for should stay in place. Don't throw the money away to TXDOT. They'll just spend it on highways designed to encourage more suburban sprawl.

anon
anon

Correct me if I'm wrong but I thought that TxDOT planted those plants on the agreement that Dallas would be responsible for watering them.

Jim Bob Guthrie
Jim Bob Guthrie

Nope. TxDOT was responsible. Then it got too expensive so they tore 'em up and just stopped watering, god bless 'em.

Chris Danger
Chris Danger

This is why I like Angela Hunt, I respect her style w/ common-sense neighborhood level politics and it stinks she didn't run for mayor. The real problem w/ our cities style of government is the fact we don't give the actual mayor power to decide and sign off on an issue, which is needed in any city with a population over a million. Council-mayor style of government is great if your waco or duncanville, but a major metropolitan city needs a mayor to run the affairs and make the "trigger-pulling" decisions. Instead, we trust our cities affairs to people like Pauline Medrano and temporary mayor D-wayne, which is something that should scare the common voter..

Montemalone
Montemalone

Imagine Leppert as a strong mayor with trigger pulling capability.

Thelisma Partridge
Thelisma Partridge

"The real problem w/ our cities style of government is the fact we don't give the actual mayor power to decide and sign off on an issue"

This is why I don't want Hunt to be the mayor of Dallas.

I want her to be the City Manager.

warden62
warden62

I guess Village Voice also thinks pop ups in the lower right corner make a world class blog.

Dallas Diner
Dallas Diner

To which Steve Salazar added: "No one remembers the little things we do." You mean the "little things" like provide your constituents with a livable city? Act in a fiscally responsible manner? Replace broken street lights? Mow the parks? Open the libraries? Fix the DAMN potholes? What a $%^&* jackass!

Thelisma Partridge
Thelisma Partridge

More accurately, we are all reminded of the little things they DIDN'T do.....

Jay Hawk
Jay Hawk

Other than chasing the topless clubs away from Bachman Lake, Salazar has done "little else" for those of us in District 6. Looking forward to a change in leadership - no matter who wins.

Wylie H.
Wylie H.

Once again, Angela Hunt is the voice of reason. One thing I've never understood in all my years living in Dallas--- why is the general quality of local elected representatives so abominably low?

It seems as if nearly every politician in Dallas County is either: an unindicted criminal, running sideline businesses which present unresolvable conflicts of interest (i.e. soft corruption: ministers serving on public boards and taking large "donations" from powerful entities, elected officials simultaneously offering legal services, "public relations" and/or "consulting" services to public entities and/or private interests while they have matters pending before public bodies.

How did things get so bad here? One only needs look so far as Tarrant County to find much more "normal" types of people serving in elected office. Why does Dallas serve as a magnet for so many loathsome characters who end up in public office?

Eam0061
Eam0061

By the way, Paris smells like urine when its really hot. So thats a lot to live up to I guess.

Coleman
Coleman

and Shibuya in the heart of Tokyo smelled like an open sewer. weird.

Daniel
Daniel

Downtown Dallas = "Paris on the Prairie"

Mike3647
Mike3647

And you can't walk a block without stepping in dog shit. And what have the socialists there done in the last 100 years to improve the city?

anon
anon

I took my ex to France a few years ago, first time for her, and she was astounded by all the dog crap everywhere- and not just in Paris, but in Perpignon, in Versailles, in Colliure, all across the country. She wouldn't shut up about how "nasty" it all was. Then we ate at a cafe and I showed her the last part of the bill where the tax was something north of $20%, and I pointed out a gainfully employed man across the way sweeping shit and told her, "This is why there is dog crap everywhere, because it creates a job for someone, and this is how that job gets paid."

Mister_Mean
Mister_Mean

I guess that this is the type of thing that Dallas too wants to be known for. Recall reading a historical novel (Neal Stevenson) that described the Palace at Versailles during Louis XIV’s reign --it appears that, in the mirrored halls, was littered with human turds. We have them already too down at city hall.

Trudat
Trudat

IMHO this vote is the very reason Dallas will always chase the dream of being a world class city and never achieve it, because pretentious acts like this and the people who shove it down the citizens throats are the very reason people find Dallas such an unlikable city. Sad.

Jyhpom1955
Jyhpom1955

Hunt is correct here. But I would also add that spending money on trying to make lowest Greenville Avenue into something that is deemed by a small faction of people to be what's best for all (i.e., to be "Austin-esque") is also a waste of money. Same can be said for the rather silly and naive street/trolley cars idea and "floating parks." (Why are some ideas a waste of resources when others, as equally non-essential, are considered much needed?) So let's repair the roads, properly; let's maintain the parks/complete the already under construction bike paths; etc.. But let's also look at ourselves critically and see if whether we endorse one boondoggle at the expense of another...and let's make sure that the things we do spend our money on is indeed what's best for all of the fine denizens of Dallas, and not just certain factions. After all if we praise diversity and equality, then we'd better be utilitarian about our spending.

Craig
Craig

You are absolutely correct. Angela Hunt is to be commended, though, for so selflessly and ruthlessly indicting herself along with all the others.

The only differences between her and the monument builders and the hipsters and the no-car bikesters with respect to "a pathetic neediness to be noticed by foreign tourists and cited by visiting journalists? Or worse, is it an indictment of egotistical leadership intent on leaving their imprimatur on massive public projects, no matter the cost?" are that they play to different constituencies.

Dallas began as a trading post on an unnavigable river and despite all pretensions to the contrary to this day remains only marginally anything more than a trading post on unnavigable river. Apart from hosting the assassination of a president, Dallas has no significant history, nor any noticeable natural features.

So why not just make Dallas the nicest and best of all it originally was intended to be anyway? Why not make it the nicest and best 21st C world-wide trading post on unnavigable river it can possibly be: just ultra-clean, ultra-functional, ultra-liveable with everything anyone in the world could possibly want for sale?

If you want some particular fetish - a fancy bridge, a little bike path, a flock of bats - just put it in your own back yard on your own dime.

Bigjondaniel
Bigjondaniel

Dallas is better than the shitty places, and cheaper than the decent places. That's it. It could be better, but it's not.

Daniel
Daniel

Dallas is better than the shitty places, and cheaper than the decent places.

Wow. I'm stealing that.

RS1963
RS1963

That is one of the best descriptions I've heard of our city. I wish it weren't true, but it is.

yeahIsaidthat
yeahIsaidthat

Gone are the days when integrity meant something. Tonight on the news, Dave Neumann had his big ol pumpkin head saying in effect, 'hell, yeah! we're gonna build that bridge'.Now since he's on a 'my balls are so big' roll', when will he fess up and say, 'hell, yeah I deleted those files and skimmed that money from the dress factory, whatcha gonna do about that?'

Angela appears to be the only one left with her integrity intact.

Salazar's Heap
Salazar's Heap

Well, we could just start renaming all the fancy monuments. Not only does this stuff get thrust down our throats, then we fall into the trap of reciting the names of donors as indexes and destinations ad infinitum.

For instance, when I think of, or pass by, the scrap yard Salazar voted on today--the one that has a five year guarantee--I'm going to refer to it as "Salazar's Industrial Blight and Metal Works." Or "Salazar's Heap."

That way, I'll never forget the small things. Hunt is spot on in her analysis. The Big Boys and Girls are always thinking about the image on the postcard, while the small people look at scrap yards, mangy dogs, and worry about the levees.

Montemalone
Montemalone

Don't any of these doofusi watch teevee? Texas is the laughingstock of the country. You can't buy class. But I guess the illusion is what keeps this place going. A bunch of shallow delusional people that get their self worth from things that don't matter.

Coleman
Coleman

We'll never be THE laughing stock of the country as long as there's Mississippi.

CJ
CJ

How is TX the laughing stock when our economy is kicking everyone else's ass?

RS1963
RS1963

Are you living in the same fantasyland that Rick Perry is? Our deficit is LARGER than California's (as a percentage of the overall budget) and our jobs are crappier than theirs. As soon as the housing bubble finishes destroying everything, I think California's economy is going to come back stronger than Texas'.

Jonathanyrbrgh
Jonathanyrbrgh

lol doubt it Texas will over take California soon

Bigjondaniel
Bigjondaniel

Wait until the bob situation gets better where they have decent schools. I can't wait to hear the Perry peaply trying to explain the outflow of skilled workers from TX

Scruffygeist
Scruffygeist

That kick-ass economy has led to that massive state budget surplus.

Oh, wait.

Bigjondaniel
Bigjondaniel

Because that "economy is kicking ass" stuff is a lie?

Eam0061
Eam0061

If anyone wants to drive on any of these multi million dollar bridges that have to get there on crumbling roadways? I don't get it. Its ass backwards as my dad says.

Harvey
Harvey

Isn't the idea of good government that no one remembers the little things you do? You just do it? If they have delusions of grandeur, they need to do it on someone else's dime.

Ricky
Ricky

Why? When we're so willing to pay for all their foolish expenditures.

CK
CK

I'm with Angela on this. Seems like she is the only sane council member we have. Any word on who she is supporting for Mayor?

Becky
Becky

Don't know who she's supporting for Mayor, but I do know that when Kunkle filed to run for mayor, Angela's hopes of running were squashed. She knew she would share her voter pool with him. I've heard this is why she chose not to run.

I'm supporting Rawlings because he did not decide to run until AFTER Angela said she would not run for Mayor. I'm told he's a really classy guy.

Brenda Marks
Brenda Marks

Your theory is incorrect. Kunkle's decision had nothing to do with it.

Guest
Guest

This is a very strange analysis. One can make arguments for either Rawlings or Hunt, I suppose, but they have very different visions for the city and I can't think of many issues on which they would agree. Rawlings is another Leppert, and I can't think of many Hunt supporters who would also support another Leppert.

I also doubt very much Rawlings decided to run because Hunt decided not to. In fact, I bet he wishes she had run for the very reason you cite: she would share the voter pool with Kunkle.

Hunt decided not to run for the very reasons she gave: the timing was bad and she still can do a lot of good work for her district. Anyone that knows Hunt would tell you that she wouldn't let a little competition squash her hopes, not even competition from Kunkle.

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