Judge Halts Dallas' Flow Control Plan, Basically Calls City Hall a Bunch of Liars

Categories: City Hall, Schutze

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A federal judge has ruled that the City of Dallas pretty much lied about every single aspect of its so-called "flow-control" trash program.

Judge Reed O'Connor granted a permanent injunction against a new city ordinance that would have forced commercial haulers to take their trash to the city-owned dump instead of farming it out to cheaper suburban commercial dumps.

This is all about a civil suit that the trash haulers brought against the city, but if you close one eye when you read it, Judge O'Connor's order reads like a criminal indictment of City Hall and everybody in it.

First he goes off on former Sanitation Department Director Mary Nix, who was demoted recently after a city audit found uncounted sums of cash mysteriously and disturbing missing from the city dump's coffers. O'Connor finds basically that every single thing Nix told the city council and the public -- that flow control was all about high tech green technology and cleaning up the city -- was a big fat lie.

"First, Sanitation Director Nix made a series of admissions that shows the purported justifications were not the true motivation," O'Connor writes in his order. "She admitted that the Flow Control Ordinance was not necessary to address illegal dumping issues; that the Flow Control Ordinance, while valuable, was not necessary to increase the recycling rate in Dallas; that no landfills were currently operating in the City without a permit; that solid waste within the City limits was currently being handled in an environmentally sound and cost-efficient manner; and that she could not identify any portion of the Flow Control Ordinance that would help generate data about commercial waste."

O'Connor found also that flow control was not implemented "to improve air quality, implement 'green' technologies, and provide new jobs."

You know what? To be a little nicer about it and maybe soften the blow, O'Connor could have tossed in a little line like, "Her name, however, does appear to be Mary Nix."

So what was Flow Control really all about? Well, for that answer the judge quotes our apparently very honest mayor, Mike Rawlings, who told the council the day they voted for it that it was "a business revenue issue," all about grabbing money from the trash haulers.

So what's wrong with that? Oh, I don't know. There's some technicality in federal law apparently that says if you breach a contract in order to take money out of another guy's pocket it's a problem. It's in the constitution or something. I think it's in the same part of the constitution that says, "No knocking over liquor stores," not in so many words. Let's hope our city attorneys are taking notes.

But the best part of O'Connor's order? The eagle eye of the good judge fell upon the so-called "South Oak Cliff Investment Fund," a million-dollar gift package that the council voted to award to the Rev. Stephen C. Nash, a Southern Dallas cleric, moments after Nash rose in council chambers to oppose his own neighborhood and speak in favor of Flow Control.

Here Judge O'Connor makes his point by quoting our mayor at some length, when Rawlings urged the council to vote both for the Flow Control Program and its sister initiative, the Special Memorial Rev. Nash Pocket Fattening Program.

"I'm not going to support . . . a manana approach to this thing," Rawlings is quoted as saying in the order. "I'm just not going to do it. I'll tell you why. Because . . . those citizens have waited long enough in this city for us to get them money. We've got real money here. A million dollars."

Yeah, that struck me to at the time, too, because the "real money" the mayor was talking about was money the mayor intended to pluck out of the pockets of the commercial trash haulers. Real money, indeed: just not HIS money. My money, your money: always a key distinction.

Like I say, this thing reads like a criminal indictment. Maybe Rawlings deserves credit for speaking honestly enough to give the whole thing away. But it's starting to get really hard to comprehend how the city manager and her top staff can survive this stuff.

Let me tell you just how bad this is. The judge in this thing sounds like me. You know that's got to be The End Times knocking.

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27 comments
MikeWestEast
MikeWestEast

Why didn't the city just say we decide where people that pick up our garbage dump it. If you do not like it, we either pull your license or not renew it. Why the stupid games? I know of no law that prevents that degree of municipal control. City staff keeps trying to get cute and they make us as citizens look stupid.

WatchingSouthDetroit
WatchingSouthDetroit

 How does Nix still have a job? Lies and theft of money?  Still on the payroll?

 How does Suhm still have a job ?  Story after story of corruption, incompetence, waste, etc. yet still has a job?

scottindallas
scottindallas topcommenter

Typo Jim   "she could not identify any portion of them Flow Control Ordinance"

 

I described this as the city trying to make a utility/monopoly out of what is and should be a free market.  The judge agrees. 

Iminside
Iminside

Jim, can you explain how/why Mary Nix still has a job? Why on earth are the Dallas taxpayers paying her salary and pension? Why is she still authorized to sign documents, spend money, authorize contracts and supervise staff in her new position in the Public Works Department where she is still protected by the City? She is the evil twin of Jody Puckett, Director of the Water Department who preceded Mary Nix as Director of Sanitation. Mary Nix is well known for being a thief, bully and liar. Several news outlets have caught her and now a judge has said it. Mary Suhm needs to stop protecting her buddies. One by one, they will bring her down. And if you think the lying and cover up has stopped in the Sanitation Department, you are fools. Forrest Turner is not much better than Nix. Kelly High has been his tool for years. Nothing is improving. The covering up and lying is just getting better. There needs to be a massive cleaning starting with Mary Suhm. She's known for Y E A R S what was going on in Sanitation. She closed her eyes and ears to all of the evidence brought forth by one employee after another. Mary Nix called them all liars, discredited them and threw them out the door. Mary Suhm and her Assistant City Managers sided with Mary Nix because that's just what people of THAT color do to support Mary Suhm's buddies. And now look. It all turned out to be true. Hmm. Sounds a lot like the case of Worris Levine. Employees contacted Suhm & told her what he was up to. She didn't believe them. Message to Suhm: STOP defending your friends and start listening to your employees!!

Jbone
Jbone

"Like I say, this thing reads like a criminal indictment. Maybe Rawlings deserves credit for speaking honestly enough to give the whole thing away. But it's starting to get really hard to comprehend how the city manager and her top staff can survive this stuff.

 

Let me tell you just how bad this is. The judge in this thing sounds like me. You know that's got to be The End Times knocking."

 

Right on JS, their time is "soon coming to its end." And this aint shit compared to what is on the horizon!!!! 

 

JimSX
JimSX topcommenter

use of Judge O'Connor's first name in second references a mistake.

1dailyreader
1dailyreader

Hallejuah!!! Finally, something's happening to someone in (was in) the city government.  Mary Nix couldn't have been in this alone.

TheCredibleHulk
TheCredibleHulk topcommenter

I once served on a jury for a criminal case the honorable Judge O'Connor was hearing and he struck me as an intelligent, fair and reasonable public servant

 

For myself, I would tend to believe what this man has to say.

TexOHara
TexOHara

No knocking over liquor stores."  Jim, can we see your copy of the Constitution?

WylieH
WylieH

For far too long, the City of Dallas has been run with an attitude of "exceptionalism," for reasons I don't fully understand.  Municipal leaders (both elected and appointed) act as if the normal laws of physics don't apply here, for some reason.

 

If you don't like a federal law, you get Sen. Hutchison or Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson to finagle some sort of special exception for Dallas; failing that, they just ignore federal laws entirely.

 

With respect to transparency and freedom of information laws, their consistent attitude is to give the citizens of Dallas, the news media and the state Attorney General the middle finger.  Want to know what Mary Suhm and others at City Hall are really up to-- good luck getting them to divulge that information, even when they are clearly required to do so.

 

Rather than look around the country at best practices adopted by other locales, the City's leaders spend far too much time slapping each other on the back, congratulating themselves on how supremely "world class" Dallas has become-- dare to challenge this mantra, and you're declared an enemy of the state.  If you point out how quality of life surveys consistently rank Dallas below other cities in the region (Fort Worth, Austin, San Antonio, Houston, Oklahoma City, etc.), they trot out the excuse that Dallas is "an old city," while completely ignoring the successes of many other "old cities."

 

The problem with Mary Suhm and her pals is that their primary skills are managing the City Council and navigating the shark-invested waters of City Hall, rather than actually knowing how to successfully deliver high quality services to the citizenry.

scottindallas
scottindallas topcommenter

 @MikeWestEast Further, the facilities they run are just in Irving (So. NWHwy, and in Plano (just off Ave K)  There are a few other dumps there.  The flow control attempted to say that we can't dump our Dallas waste there.  The other dumps collect trash from Dallas apts and offices collected in commercial dumpsters. 

 

Now, why would we destroy a competitive market to make it a utility/monopoly?  I want to see electricity returned to a monopoly, and other utilities run and regulated as monopolies, but we should be careful not to create utilities markets where competition viable.  Doing business with these firms is optional, and is a market that exists cause the city refused to serve them. 

 

If the city would like to compete for those services, or offer them as an alternative, then that would be a better entry into the market. It would give the established firms time to adjust, and if the city is so efficient, they will fail gradually.  If so, the city is indeed offering an efficiency to the market, and the citizens of Dallas will be well served enjoying same.  But, the city may not be able to beat the market.  If so, a gradual entry will tell us, without having to ramp up the capacity risking grave cost to the citizens. 

 

Gov't had better enter carefully into markets, and only markets that are utilities.  In these markets essentially everyone must enter, and the distribution channels are more extensive and the problems of externalities (pollution, public born debts...) are inevitable such that they must be actively managed.  I'd argue commercial banking, major healthcare, gasoline, are utilities among the classics, water, sanitation, roads, electricity, zoning, fire, police and in a way militaries.  This fits that definition, as our trash/waste is an externality, but the distribution channel isn't as absolute as sewage. 

 

scottindallas
scottindallas topcommenter

 @MikeWestEast but the city doesn't pick up all garbage, and not all waste is Garbage.  I recycle vast amounts of organic waste to be mulched by LETCO, the state's largest recycler.   They run a legitimate business and have more than one location.  The city has only one dump site open on Wednesdays, McCommas Bluff.  This policy would cause more pollution (from vehicle use and traffic) than the status quo. 

Jbone
Jbone

 @Iminside It might be that Suhm is an accomplice or the master mind behind the criminal actions you speak of. 

 

The employees and/or the people who have evidence ought to file a false claims lawsuit against the CIty of Dallas. That will surely nip the problem in the bud. 

joe.tone
joe.tone moderator

 @JimSX This has been fixed. It would be cool if we just started referring to judges by their first names -- "Judge Jimmy handed down the death penalty today" -- but now's not the time.

Barron
Barron

 @TheCredibleHulk I hope this mean Judge O'Conner is not part of the cronyism that is so rampant in Dallas. I have heard good things about him, but reserve judgement until later. In my opinion, its amazing that he was appointed by republicans like Cornyn and Hutchison and good make great rulings against the City of Dallas. Judicial restraint at its best. 

JimSX
JimSX topcommenter

 @TexOHara The judge calls it stuff like, "contract clause," "due process of law," improper use of police power, stuff like that. I call it, "In order to get money, no knocking over liquor stores."

RTGolden1
RTGolden1 topcommenter

 @TexOHara Nah, that's not in his copy of the Constitution, that's just one of the rules Mama Schutze has to remind him of every now and then.

But maybe not anymore, since DPD policy may have given Jim an idea for an even better way to get free liquor.

Jbone
Jbone

 @WylieH I promise you, change is coming to Dallas City Hall. And I share all your concerns, they are 100% true and accurate. 

 

If criminal actions are proven these people will lost their pensions...................take it to the bank.....................and this aint shit compared to what is on the horizon for staffers and City Attorneys like Perkins..............

Montemalone
Montemalone topcommenter

 @WylieH Dallas, and the surrounding leeches, I mean suburbs, is a giant shithole that is periodically sprayed with Chanel #5 to make people think it's a glorious mecca for the chosen few.

Barron
Barron

 @TheCredibleHulk ****Correction**** I hope this mean Judge O'Conner is not part of the cronyism that is so rampant in Dallas. I have heard good things about him, but reserve judgement until later. In my opinion, its amazing that he was appointed by republicans like Cornyn and Hutchison and could make great rulings against the City of Dallas. Judicial restraint at its best. 

TexOHara
TexOHara

 @RTGolden1 I'm just curious to see if Jim's copy has any handwritten amendments in the margins.  And whether his copy elaborates on the meaning of the Necessary and Proper Clause. 

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