Are They Angels or Grinches at Dallas City Hall? Depends Which Project You're Discussing.

Categories: Get Off My Lawn
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Sometimes I think city staff may be demon-possessed. I'm sorry, I know it's a very weird thing to say. But I can't come up with another explanation.

One day they're so bouncy and positive and totally can-do. The next day they've been taken over by the negativity goblin.

I attended a city council briefing yesterday where Assistant City Manager Jill Jordan was talking about dirt bike trails in the Trinity River bottoms. Oh, my God, you'd have thought she was recounting tales of The Plague.

Long faces. I imagined sad violins in the background. It would cost millions of dollars to mark off a dirt bike trail in the disused floodplain, she said, and there would be terrible waste and duplication of effort. Though she didn't go quite this far, one sensed there would be awful tragedy and possibly even loss of life -- slow, agonizing loss of life -- if the city staff were compelled to mark off dirt bike trails in the Trinity River bottoms.

Earlier in the day Theresa O'Donnell, director of the City's Department of Helping Developers, sneeringly characterized the desire of certain council members for more bike lanes in the city as resembling her daughter's Christmas wish list.

Oh, ouch! That was negative right in the gut! See how they can be!

But not always.

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Schutze at yesterday's meeting of the Trinity River Corridor Project Committee
Sometimes they are sweet as honey. I can't help noticing the incredible difference of tone when the staff is talking about a Park Cities lady project like the Calatrava bridges.

When Dallas City Manager Mary Suhm and her underlings are talking about stuff the Park Cities ladies want, like decorator bridges over the Trinity River, Suhm and her minions sound like little enchanted angels on a Christmas tree.

Back in April, City Manager Mary Suhm said she thought Congress would give the city an extra $92 million for the Calatrava bridges because the Dallas was earning so many brownie points by aggressively building bike trails. I never quite got that, although it sounded very cheerful -- much more cheerful than the staff sounded yesterday about actually building the trails.

I hope we're not getting credit for something we're not going to do. That would be naughty and at a very bad time of year for that.

At the same time an unnamed Suhm deputy was quoted on a News blog saying it didn't really matter how much money the city gets from various sources, because the staff can just sort of schmeer it all around and do what it wants:

"The Texas Department of Transportation or the North Central Texas Council of Governments could bring additional moneys to the table," the unnamed staffer told the paper, "and literally we kind of swap the purposes for the money out. The $92 million goes for main lane reconstruction; TxDOT, state money, or COG regional money could go to the Calatrava portion."

So easy. So sweet. That's how they are when they're talking about projects they like -- when that nasty old negativity demon isn't in them.

Just last April when the city had to admit the decorator faux suspension bridges were under-funded by an amount between $50 and $150 million (or, as I might put it, "About $50 million, give or take a hundred million") Suhm wasn't discouraged at all. She told The News: "I really believe, with Calatrava's capability, we will have a very striking bridge that we will all be proud of."

Isn't that special? I remember, a little more than a year ago, being so cheered up when Suhm told The News that we shouldn't even worry about the money for stuff we just really badly want: "It's not about a set of rules everybody has to follow all over the city," she said. "It's what makes for a good quality of life in an area."

That's just what I told Santa in my letter.

But there you have it. Sometimes the staff is nice, sometimes naughty. Sort of depends, doesn't it?
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29 comments
Ellum08
Ellum08

Jill Jordan is always that grumpy. Or grinchy. Whatever.

Grumpy Demo
Grumpy Demo

The answer is easy Jim, the tone of voice reflects who the City Hall staff thinks are their bosses, hint: It's not Dallas City citizens.

FYI, KERA reported yesterday in a story on Fair Park, that the recently rehabbed fountains in Fair Park are are never run, unless a someone, i.e. an event sponsor, pays or them.

World Class, build parks with fountains that aren't turned on because Dallas can't pay for them.

The need to be a list of fountains and other amenities that the City builds and then can't operate or neglects.

Dougsterfresh
Dougsterfresh

I've got an idea.......call up all the good ol' boys on real dirt bikes.....the kind with motors, to come and blaze new trails without fear of getting in trouble for a few seasons, along with any DORBA folks who don't mind the risk, and I promise you some trails will magically appear! They may not be the best in the world, but they can be groomed and managed later when the funds and collective willpower shows up. I'd love a free local place to buzz around on my old YZ250.

RTGolden
RTGolden

Thanks Jim.  I made a guess under Wilonsky's earlier article about this, and wondered how close I might have come.  Seeing you write it here doesn't necessarily validate my assumptions, but at least I'm not the only one who thinks this way.

Replay
Replay

If it's that difficult (and expensive) to "build" dirt bike trails between  the levees, think about how difficult (and expensive) it would be to build a road. Let's face it......the folks at City Hall just ain't that bright.

ScottsMerkin
ScottsMerkin

Whats the difference between the Grinch and Dallas City Hall?  The Grinch only steals at Christmas

SteveT
SteveT

There's a simple reason for this:  Upper management at the city know it's better to be friends with the most powerfull people in the region than the average citizen grunts when it's time to leave "public service" for the private sector.

Tom L (No, Not That L)
Tom L (No, Not That L)

Here's an idea. Be a grinch on everything until you can get basic things done like fixing potholes.

orangemike
orangemike

"I hope we're not getting credit for something we're not going to do."

Jim, these are the same people who took gobs of money for affordable housing in downtown without building affordable housing, aren't they?

P.S. I told Santa in my letter that I want a new city manager to replace Mary Suhm, new assistant city managers to replace Jill Jordan and Suhm's other minions, and new city staff to replace people like Theresa O'Donnell. I may have been too naughty to get what I want, however.

Darrd2010
Darrd2010

Dear SantaPlease bring me $15 million really fast because the Army Corps is being mean to me.

Love Mary

Montemalone
Montemalone

The thought of dirt-bikers following a sign is funny.

Kate
Kate

So is T. O'D.

Tracyj
Tracyj

Exactly Grumpy Demo.  Or Taxpayers approve bond money for projects where the money is used elsewhere.  Look at the Dallas Farmers Market.  $6.6M bond package for improvements approved by the City of Dallas Taxpayers. Ms. Suhm told neighborhood stakeholders that half of the money had been spent, then said the money was still available and THEN said the improvements would not happen in 2012 because the city had no money.  Apparently, the city can magically pull $8.3M out of the air for a consultant to hire for their billing in IT.  Now, the city wants to build more parks downtown?  Give me a break.  They are all over run with homeless and vagrants now and major public safety risk.  What about all of the expense involved to  keep them clean, safe and operating.  All the housing deals  (HUD, Low Income Housing, Supportive Housing, etc) are done behind closed doors and shoved down the communities throat.  Isnt it interesting that the same people are involved in all the projects?  There needs to be an internal investigation on where all this money is really being spent and who really benefits here? Who are we really helping?

Anon
Anon

a long list of amenities is important for "marketing" - it doesn't say whether they work or not. that's an assumption the reader makes (to his error)

Grumpy Demo
Grumpy Demo

There you go thinkin' again.

The City Mangers Office asks you to stop that, it causes problems.  Please focus on the model of the Calatrava Bridge and keep repeating: "Pretty, world class, pretty, world class, ..."

Feel better now?

Darrd2010
Darrd2010

Babooom! That was Scott ladies and gentlemen, and he will be here all week. Don't forget to tip your waiter and drive home safely! Comedy brilliance.

camarillobrillo
camarillobrillo

Also, the Grinch actually learned the errors of his way. As for Dallas City Hall...not so sure they ever will.

camarillobrillo
camarillobrillo

I'm not holding my breath on fixing those things(potholes,sidewalks,etc) as there will always be something new, to come along, that will enrich the big developers pockets and be described as "a real game changer!" or "World Class!"...so, no, those potholes will have to stay that way...remember, Dallas, just wants to put newer, designer lip stick on the pig, while keeping the inside of the sty, FILTHY 

DMac
DMac

"Jim, these are the same people who took gobs of money for affordable housing in downtown without building affordable housing, aren't they?"

Short answer: Yes! The same people that defrauded the federal government out of Billions of dollars for lower income people to have better opportunities and surroundings. 

Mister_Mean
Mister_Mean

I told Santa that I want all the city council members and staff to be under Federal inditements for various criminal causes.   I want them in the slammer with Don Hill et. al.

pak152
pak152

give or take a hundred million

TimCov
TimCov

Actually, most of us who ride mountain bikes do follow the signs and do our best to be respectful of others and the environment. Considering that the majority of mountain bike dirt trails in this area (which are also used by people on foot) have been built by volunteer organizations like DORBA (Dallas Off Road Bicycle Association), I wonder where the city is getting its numbers from.

Guest
Guest

Oh they will, the hard way. 

Blaw
Blaw

Here is how bad this problem is! 

Largest City in Texas', Housing Department taken over by HUD federal government for their misdeeds and abuse of federal dollars:

http://www.chron.com/news/hous... 

Bob
Bob

TimCov - is there any mention of Jill Jordon's on the DORBA site?

TimCov
TimCov

That's what I would like to know.

Bill Holston
Bill Holston

I thought DORBA was building these trails. What is all this talk about city millions about?

TimCov
TimCov

Not that I know of.

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