Dang It. Turns Out Those City Council Members Really Are Important After All. Son of a ...

Categories: Get Off My Lawn

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For the elite few among you allowed entrance to The Dallas Morning News behind-the-pay-wall pages, I recommend a piece in today's paper by Roy Appleton about Oak Cliff.

He quotes neighborhood activist Jason Roberts, pushing for bike lanes and stuff, as saying North Oak Cliff really isn't asking for big money items:

"Our focus is let's just get things on the ground," Roberts says. "We're trying to show you don't have to spend $20 million to have a better place."

My heart aches.

All they want are some street closures to create plazas, bike racks and safe lanes for cyclists and walkers. How tough can that be? But too many years covering City Hall have taught me how difficult it is to move that mountain, even a micron.

Worse, over the years I have even come to see things from the mountain's point of view, once in while, even though every time I catch myself sympathizing with City Hall I want to gouge my eyes out and perish of shame.

The City Hall paid staff sees this stuff coming and going year after year. Sure, one group wants to close a block to create a plaza. But then the business owners on that block come downtown with torches and a noose looking for the council member from that district. The council member bravely points down the hall toward the paid staff and says, "They went that-away." And sometimes in bad cases some 20-year veteran staffer gets walked out the door with a cardboard box and a chopped pension.

So City Hall does not jump when somebody snaps a finger. It does not jump if somebody cracks a whip. It does not jump if somebody fires a shotgun at it. I know. It just plain does not jump.

But why shouldn't a smart, activist, optimistic part of town like North Oak Cliff be able to remake itself in its own image? They should. They can. They do. But it all comes down to one thing.

The council member.

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The council member can make it happen or refuse or fail to make it happen. Look at the Lower Greenville Avenue plan that Angela Hunt got done for her constituents. That was very tough going every inch of the way, but it got done and it means life and death to the neighborhoods that had been locked in a losing battle for years with a metastasizing scum-bar scene on Lower Greenville.

The reality is that only a city council member, acting in the interests of his or her single-member district, can effect real change. It's just how it is. The council member can't do it alone. He or she has to be smart enough and effective enough to be able to line up seven more votes from other members, but only the council member can get it going and see it through.

One place where people might want to keep all of that in mind is District 12, where former council member Sandy Greyson is in a run-off with a Tea Partier who seems not to know or care where City Hall even is. A district that saddles itself with a politically ineffectual representative is in for two years of absolute Siberia at City Hall. If the council member can't schmooze and get the deal done, there is no deal to do.

That's why I always cringe a little when I hear people criticizing the single-member district council system. I know it has its flaws, but I'll tell you what: You take away that system, deprive the council members of their hegemony in their own districts, and nobody will ever be able to get City Hall off the dime. They'll wear out the dime. Then they'll say, "I'm sorry? Which particular dime was it you were referring to? Please go online and fill out a missing dime request for consideration of possible inquiry form at www.dallascityhall.gov.texas.us.kissmyass."


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30 comments
Bob Mounger
Bob Mounger

On the other hand... Sandy Greyson blew me off the way Ron Natinsky did. At least Donna Starnes will talk about real problems.Our street sits on the boundary of Dallas & Carrollton. The north side is Dallas, & the south side is Carrollton. The boundary is the curb on the Dallas side, therefore the physical street is in Carrollton.Since the Geo. Bush tollroad was constructed our street has become a shortcut. The Carrollton traffic engineers confirm that 1700 cars travel down this residential street every day & 85% of these cars are going at least 40 MPH which is 10MPH over the limit. Horrific traffic accidents occur on a regular basis, including cars running off the road & crashing into peoples' houses. The neighborhood has been trying to get Carrollton to put speed bumps on the street, e.g., I circulated a petition that 98% of the residents signed asking for speed bumps. Before I started, I did not think 98% of anyone would agree to anything.Carrollton traffic engineering says 4 speed bumps would cost.$50,000.Dallas traffic engineering says that if the residents could come up with the money, Dallas could do it for $5,000. ($1,250 per bump)I am going to wait for Carrollton's next budget retreat before I give up on Carrollton, but I am not optimistic that they will spend $50,000 on this project.(to be fair, both Ms. Sutter, & also Mr. Falconer on the Carrollton council are trying to help)I originally was going with Ms. Greyson because we had gotten a public library (timberglen) in her last term. But when I emailed both of them to discuss this issue, (specifically, to see if we could conceivably change the jurisdiction of the road from Carrollton to Dallas) Donna Starnes replied immediately & offered to meet with us & help. Sandy Greyson never replied.My house is paid for. I'm reluctant to move & sign up for a new mortgage @ 51.Mr. Natinsky ignored me for 4 years.I'm voting for Ms. Starnes.

md
md

Best political blog headline ever. The entry was a disappointment.

Billy MacLeod
Billy MacLeod

Scatter-shooting is fun when there are multiple targets. I agree that individual council members have the ability to take the initiative or in the above instance take the ball from another to make positive things happen. Recent history would suggest that most locally elected officials very rarely proactively use their positions to institute positive change; with few exceptions they have typically eaten what has been served (and gone back for seconds). On the flip side the courageous few who have stepped in to defend reason simply cannot stop the other council members from jacking Dallas residents, business owners, and visitors as they did this week with video billboards. For all but a few solid citizens on the horseshoe, WIIFM is the only station playing in the Dallas City Council chambers.

Mountain Creek
Mountain Creek

So are you saying that good things are ahead for D3 with a new councilman?  Now that we have a neu mann in office?

Bettyculbreath
Bettyculbreath

You are so right,there was a man who had been coming to City Hall 17 years trying to get the city to give him the deed to right of way they said he owned,city used part of land for drive way crossing,people said he was crazy,Lipscomb tried,Fantroy tried make a long story short he came to Plan Commission to ask again,I went over all his paper work and he had it all in order,also letter from City Attorney saying land was not his,In meeting I ask one question of staff,,Show me the deed document that gave land to City,after 17 years,they could not show any legal document transfer of property from original owner,this man spent all that time being correct and was denied his right to do any thing with his property. City Hall will string you along until you die. They also don't like simple,simple don't keep all that staff busy.With simple there are not a lot of room for no.Keep the faith North Oak Cliff.

choraleboy
choraleboy

Sang it.  With you on this and the reason District 14 loves Angela.  She takes no prisoners.

Stan
Stan

If you don't like the Trinity Tollroad, then vote for Sandy.  It is one more nail in the coffin for the road to no where.

Texaspainter
Texaspainter

Dave Neumann is on the way out and now we must get Sandy Greyson in office. The opposition candidate worked for Stefani Carter who is Karl Rove's baby. Did i say that? You saw how WFAA profiled her a couple of weeks ago? She got in office via the Tea Party and her thugs on the street. She's as dirty as it gets. As the other poster said, send any available cash to Greyson. We gotta rid the stink of Natinsky and Carter's people.

By the way Jim, NBC Channel 5 is doing a story on the whitewater debacle at 6 pm tonight. Tune in.

scottindallas
scottindallas

"...Stefani Carter who is Karl Rove's baby"

I didn't really think Karl Rove was a breeder.

"In January 1986, Rove married Darby Tara Hickson. She is a breast cancer survivor, a graphic designer, and former employee of Karl Rove & Co. Their son, Andrew Madison Rove (b. 1989), is an undergraduate at Trinity University in San Antonio, Texas."  according to Wikipedia, which sort of surprised me.

RandyE
RandyE

Ah, kiddies, not right wing , just tired and amused by Jimmy's and the the rest of the kiddoes reductionism, or what ever . You kids gotta plan 'cept cheering and jeering.? 

The man with the shotgun  who you think is really just coolio,for all his white-boy liberal bullshit- I'll go to to the grave believing he and Angela, not alone, but were the primary movers

preventing a potential real catastrophe.  That said kids, get back to me when 'ol Jim's populism seeps into the shallow end.

JimS
JimS

Advice: blog first, then drink.

scottindallas
scottindallas

I have no idea what you are trying to say.  I'd love to oppose, support or expound on something, but it's indecipherable. 

Thelisma Partridge
Thelisma Partridge

That Davis/7th/Tyler/Kings Hwy intersection lies right on the boundary of Districts 1 and 3.  Knowing who the councilpersons are for those two districts answers all your questions on why City Hall is unresponsive to ideas like this.

Rob
Rob

Um - Thelisma, I think you're a little off in your comment... the idea has been very well received and Delia Jasso has been working hard to make it happen. Getting rid of Neumann should be the last hurdle. I'm guessing this park will be a reality in some form or fashion before the end of the year.

Thelisma Partridge
Thelisma Partridge

That Davis/7th/Tyler/Kings Hwy intersection lies right on the boundary of Districts 1 and 3.  Knowing who the councilpersons are for those two districts answers all your questions on why City Hall is unresponsive to ideas like this.

RandyE
RandyE

Ah Jimmy. so now ti's progressive feudalism.  "My heart aches." Don't doubt it. God love the white liberal bourgeois, but you gotta plan?

mm
mm

Please leave ti out of it.

Grumpy Demo
Grumpy Demo

This comment reads like a Sarah Palin speech-a series of Fringe Right Wing catch-phrases that don't express a single coherent thought.

Downtown Resident
Downtown Resident

Hahaha, like Sarah Palin would know what the word "bourgeois" means.

Handsome Lance Manion
Handsome Lance Manion

There is such a thing as a "Left Wing Brain?" The people with brains are the ones that do not have to associates themselves with either right OR left because they have the capacity to understand both.

Montemalone
Montemalone

Right Wing brains (I use the term brain loosely) are incapable of coherent thought. Hence the term Right Wing brain. A conundrum, wrapped in an enigma.

Grumpy Demo
Grumpy Demo

But Jim, aren't you saying the only time City works is when the council and city employees ignore the city Charter?

City Manager form of government is suppose to mean, Council has no interaction with city staff, it just reviews the managers work.

JimS
JimS

The charter is toilet paper.

DavidSmith
DavidSmith

Grump Demo, you have hit the dysfunctional nail on the head (though it of course took a few whacks). Our City Council never got the memo about not being allowed to tell / ask / cajole / whine to staff without going through the official intermediary.

Why do you think certain City Staff folks get more power or respect in the community than others? Because they give the Council Member what they want without getting it approved. Of course, this only happens when HRM Mary Suhm lets it be known that she is approving by fiat which council members get bread and soup, and which get crackers.

Snookie Pie
Snookie Pie

David, you really know your stuff. So few people realize this happens

RS1963
RS1963

All I needed to learn about the Tea Partier running in District 12 was that she helped get Stefanie "I don't know what bill you are talking about/oh that one that I just got eliminated?/I don't know anything" Carter elected to the Texas House. That's enough reason to vote against her.

Dogs Rule
Dogs Rule

just remember to get out and vote for SANDY GREYSONshe's maybe even better than 10 Angela Hunts.  Sandy is the best ever.

and go to her website and give $$$sandygreyson dot com

any amount is appreciated.

DaLew
DaLew

I wonder if that teabagger has a criminal record like the teabagger that Lewisville has in a run off for their council. Maybe they can compare notes.

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