How Mary Suhm's Departure Could Help Usher in a New and Improved Dallas

Categories: City Hall, Schutze

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Tons of talk already, of course, about this morning's announcement that City Manager Mary Suhm is stepping down. I tend to go with the end of the spectrum that's viewing it as ushering in the End Times. But I would.

Oh, not my End Times. Their End Times! The Citizens Council! I'm talking about the Dallas Citizens Council, the behind-the-scenes elite moneybags group that should not be confused, please, please, whatever you do, please do not confuse the Dallas Citizens Council with the old White Citizens Councils of the past, because, really, there is no connection whatsoever. It's just this unfortunate confusion that happens, like if we had a group in Dallas that called itself The Qu Qlux Qlan and everybody went around confusing them. Unfair!

See also:
Mary Suhm Signed a Secret Side Deal to Push for Drilling on Parkland as She Told Council It Would Be Banned

What were we talking about? Oh, yes, Mary Suhm quitting. Just got the memo. And, look, I'm not at all one of those Suhm-raggers. I have enormous and genuine respect for Suhm, whose job is sometimes impossibly challenging, mainly because of this stupid buck-stops-nowhere system of city government we have. In terms of her raw ability to manage complexity, I have always believed Suhm could take a simple little thing like American Airlines, pop it in and out of bankruptcy quickly and turn it back into a blue chip with her hands tied behind her back.

So why the End Times? Because in the end, I have always been wrong about the buck. When it needed to stop, it did. In the pocket of the Citizens Council. But there was a certain social compact involved. The Citizens Council had to get the right city council elected to support the city manager on things like secret fracking contracts, golf courses for the rich on city land and underwater toll roads.

As long as there was just one maverick on the council, that person could be isolated and shunned as a nutcase. City managers, with their Citizens Council backing, have always been good at that, starting way back before Angela Hunt, before Laura Miller even, when the single gadfly on the council was a guy named Max Goldblatt. He was actually both gad and fly, but that's another story.

When it became Hunt holding up the opposition on the council, it got harder to do, because she was way too smart to let herself get gadflied. Then it was Hunt, Scott Griggs, Sandy Greyson and sometimes Pauline Medrano, so all of a sudden it was exponentially harder to marginalize the opposition. Now with this incoming council it may be Griggs, Greyson, Adam Medrano, Philip Kingston and Lee Kleinman. Kleinman is sort of an X factor but he has shown dangerous signs of independence and integrity before as a member of the park board.

Kingston's not elected yet, I know. But I think District 14 in East Dallas is going to scent the dawn of a new day just ahead, and that excitement will bring people out to vote against Kingston's opponent, Bobby Abtahi, a hand-lad of the Citizens Council if there ever was one.

So what does all this crap mean to anybody? Oh, man, if we could get the Citizens Council off our backs? Think about it. Drive McKinney Avenue through Uptown on any weekend night, ride the bike trails through the Great Trinity Forest, take a look at Lower Greenville lately, have dinner in Bishop Arts: There's a whole new very exciting city just waiting to happen out there. All it needs to come into full bloom is to get the mossbacks off its back.

That's what I mean by End Times -- end of the old days, beginning of the new. And, look, the Citizens Council folks can always find something else to do with their time and money. Maybe they could form a new group called the Kaydo Institute or the Ego Forum and get themselves confused all over again.

Happy Days aren't here yet, but they are not far off, either.



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65 comments
BarackObummer
BarackObummer

I'm not saying I'm gifted or anything but I created my own birth certificate with Photoshop.

BarackObummer
BarackObummer

Yo Well, ah think if you say you going ta do somethin` an' don' do it, dat's trustworthiness or somethin`

BettyC1
BettyC1

Thank God just maybe we will have live music venues and people walking and enjoying life other that eating in an overpriced restaurant. Dallas seems to think good restaurants are all that's needed to entertain,however when dinner is over then what.

BarackObummer
BarackObummer

Yo dere's uh huge trust. ah see it all da tyme when broddars come up ta me an' say, “ah don' wants you ta let me down ag'in.”

holmantx
holmantx topcommenter

I nominate Mayor Rawlings to assume the City Manager's duties, with the salary that goes with it.

Viola!  Instant Strong Mayor form of municipal governance.  Write it into his job description that he brings all major budget issues to the docket for council vote.

Think about it.  

He is accountable to the people at the polls.

WatchingSouthDetroit
WatchingSouthDetroit

I also do not understand the praise for Teflon Mary Suhm.  Story after story of waste, corruption, mismanagement, cronyism, nepotism, inefficiency, etc. - every negative word anyone can think of.  Much of which directly attributed to "managers" and "leadership" of the City of Dallas government.  Suhm either tolerated or was ignorant of this.  Either way, it was no way to run any organization.    

WylieH
WylieH

As another poster has already pointed out, the "search committee" has already been formed... and consists exclusively of highly controllable Dallas Citizens Council order-takers.

Donna Halstead and the DCC are going to pick Suhm's replacement... so I'm not really sure how things are going to change.  The only thing I can see changing, perhaps, is that the next City Manager will at least go through the motions of pretending to listen to constituents and serve residents--- Suhm's problem was that it was all too obvious she could care less about what the typical Dallas resident wanted.

Also, my sense is that the DCC does insist on having law and order under control-- that being the one item that CAN get the typically disinterested Dallas voter to actually start poking around City Hall.  All the repeated screw-ups and cover-ups associated with the City's 911 system may have accelerated her departure (which the DCC had previously scheduled for next year).

MikeWestEast
MikeWestEast

I do not understand the praise for Ms. Suhm.  We have seen screw up after screw up with minimal accountability.  We have had essentially almost no growth in population and business activity within the city during her tenure.  A charitable evaluation of her personal staff would have frequent use of the word mediocre.  City Hall as a management process simply does not work very well.  We need to get someone in there that makes the city government run well.  Deciding where the city should go is the job of the Mayor and City Council, not the City Manager.  Playing political games, carrying water for CC and maybe herself, likely extended her tenure and distracted her from her real job. 

The City Council and Mayor need to outline some ground rules for governance.  First rule should be any indication that the City Manager is not completely open and truthful with the Council is grounds for immediate termination.  The substance of the particular issue should not matter.  The Council as a body needs to ensure that they are the only ones that get to lie.  Everybody giving them facts had better be truthful.

roo_ster
roo_ster

Nobody likes shadowy cabals of money-laden, behind-the-scene political manipulators.  Well, _they_ probably like themselves, but you get me.


Instead of Rock Candy Mountain blooming in the wake of the Citizens Council, I suspect Dallas will just get more like Detroit.  At best, Dallas will be LA with worse weather and no movie stars.

Meanwhile, decent folk trying to make a living will keep moving into suburbs closer & closer to Oklahoma, up US75.

dallasdrilling.wordpress.com
dallasdrilling.wordpress.com

DMN just reported that 1 Term Mike has asked Alonzo, Kadane, and Caraway to join him as a search committee for a new manager while AC Gonzalez takes over beginning in July. LOL! 1 Term Mike might as well have stated: "hell yes, we've rigged this game, what are you going to do about it?"

Guesty
Guesty

"So what does all this crap mean to anybody? Oh, man, if we could get the Citizens Council off our backs? Think about it. Drive McKinney Avenue through Uptown on any weekend night, ride the bike trails through the Great Trinity Forest, take a look at Lower Greenville lately, have dinner in Bishop Arts: There's a whole new very exciting city just waiting to happen out there. All it needs to come into full bloom is to get the mossbacks off its back."

I think this is where things start going off the rails in your analysis, Jim.  We've all fed the idea that the only thing keeping us from where we want to be is the evil opposition.  If it weren't for the bastards trying to keep us down, we'd have everything we want.  But life is not nearly so neat.  

To put it bluntly, most of the stuff people want costs more than they are willing to pay for it, and usually takes away stuff other people want.  We are generally selfish people will little appreciation for how our lives affect others.  That fact doesn't disappear without the Citizen's Counsel, and quite frankly, it probably gets worse without a group with enough skin in the game to care about the big picture (even if it is the big picture from the view of a real estate developer).  

I see even more infighting, back stabbing, back room dealing, and general division in our future.    Like you said, right now the buck stops with the Citizen's counsel (even if that means it goes into its pocket).  Without the Citizen's Counsel, is there anything resembling a city government left?  

cynicaloldbastard
cynicaloldbastard

At least Mary can leave knowing she hasn't done shit to improve streets and traffic during her reign.  The lights at Northwest Highway and the Tollway were four way flashing red at noon today, like they always are after a heavy rain.

ozonelarryb
ozonelarryb

Jim, you are missing the point. Suhm and The Citizens Council have already made Dallas perfect.  It's what they have been telling us for years, and the House organ agrees.


Seriously, the only way the council gets a rap on the knuckles is Perot Jr. gets hauled into court for manipulating the Alliance numbers and killing Allen's South Dallas Port.

director21
director21

@BettyC1 Uh, Betty, it is not the City of Dallas that decides which and what types of businesses to open and operate. It is called free enterprise. Business people - business OWNERS - choose what types of business to open based upon their own expertise, money and market conditions. And, God doesn't have anything to do with it, either!

If you want some kind of cheap priced restaurant, dance club, live music venue or other form of entertainment in Dallas, then all you need to do is come up with the money, obtain the necessary permits, rent or buy a location, and then set up the business. Then, your pricing scheme has to be a good value for the services you offer and you have to attract enough customers to make the venture successful.

If you had actually ever started and run a business, then you would already know what I am talking about. I don't like Mary Suhm either, but you cannot appropriately lay a lack of modest priced restaurants or other forms of entertainment at her feet. Let's just stick to what she really did have control over, shall we?

primi_timpano
primi_timpano topcommenter

Ability and brains do not trump lack of integrity.

WylieH
WylieH

@WatchingSouthDetroit Well, it's no way to run an organization that serves the citizens of Dallas.  If her REAL job was to do something entirely different (which it was), she did okay... 

dallasdrilling.wordpress.com
dallasdrilling.wordpress.com

@WylieH I'm placing my bets on AC or Jill Jordan. 1 Term Mike is going to repeat Donna's instructions that they looked all over the country and they could not find anyone more capable than either of these two. Then, 1 Term Mike will say that the good thing about hiring within is that there is no learning curve and they can hit the ground running and keep Dallas being the world class city that it is.....in his mind.

scottie1620
scottie1620

@MikeWestEast This week, I attended a Dallas Water Utilities forum about future water needs, and I learned that the state demographer has charted the City of Dallas for zero population growth through 2070, though Dallas County is expected to grow by 1 million people during that same time. Considering the current lack of adequate drinking water to sustain our historic way of life, having no population growth may be a very good thing. In fact, negative growth will occur if we do not find a quick solution to our growing water shortage.

director21
director21

@MikeWestEast The problem is that we already have that requirement and that condition for termination, but if the Council is complicit in the deeption, then it is not going to exercise its legal authority to remove somebody who is doing precisely what the Council wanted done.

What we need is a renegade City Council that will NOT get its marching orders from the City Manager or Dallas Citizens Council. We need a City Council that gets its marching orders directly from the electorate, and one which heeds the needs and wishes of the general public over the interests of corporations, especially those located outside Dallas. With this new Council we are well on our way to getting just that.

scottie1620
scottie1620

@roo_ster You could be right about the population exodus. Richardson, Plano, Frisco, Allen, McKinney, Prosper, Celina, Gunter, Melissa and other towns to the north of Dallas are quickly growing and expanding. It will not be long before Sherman and Denison are merely Dallas suburbs.

primi_timpano
primi_timpano topcommenter

Has the Council hired a professional recruiter who may at least bring in some quality candidates?

heart_and_soul
heart_and_soul

@dallasdrilling.wordpress.com  And it says that AC takes over in July but Mary stays until Dec. 31? What? Why do we need AC to take over in July if Mary is there until Dec.? So from July until Dec what's her tittle. Ghost in the machine? Are we paying for 2 managers? What the heck is going on here?


scottie1620
scottie1620

@Guesty Well, with people and attitudes like you and yours I would have to surmise that the City of Dallas is doomed. Thankfully, not everybody is as negative and skeptical as you appear to be, and some of us realize that we can take back our city from those "chosen ones" and make it a far better place for all citizens rather than just a few from far north Dallas.

director21
director21

@Guesty Everything you said will be true IF the citizens of Dallas fail to manage and control our elected officials. As long as citizens remain dumb and uninvolved this crap will ensue. If we have not learned anything else from the fracing debate, then we should have learned that we CAN fight City Hall and we CAN win! It just takes enough citizens caring enough to study, learn the facts and truth, and then hold our elected and appointed leaders accountable.

Democracy only works when the citizens are involved. Any society where the citizens are uninvolved and apathetic eventually devolves into a totalitarian state.

holmantx
holmantx topcommenter

@JimSX Kingston's vote record is solid Republican but signed an affidavit required by the Stonewall Democrats to fully support the Democratic platform, before they would endorse him..  

Now, there's something to hate from every quarter.

primi_timpano
primi_timpano topcommenter

Many city's promote cultural events, even concerts. Houston's Discovery Green is a great treat for its residents.

primi_timpano
primi_timpano topcommenter

Many cities promote cultural events, even concerts. Houston's Discovery Green is a great treat for its residents.

WylieH
WylieH

@dallasdrilling.wordpress.com I think you're right--- AC or Jill Jordan.  One thing's for sure-- they won't risk the job on a top tier, highly qualified  city manager from outside who might want to do something crazy like start importing best practices or benchmarking Dallas against other cities.

Guesty
Guesty

@scottie1620 @Guesty But your posts make my point.  You don't like the folks in North Dallas, or Uptown I'd guess.  You want more resources diverted to the South.  And probably to places like Deep Ellum and Bishop Arts.  And bike trails, and public transportation.  But that's only because those are the places and things you are into (as am I).  You think a good and responsive City Counsel would make the decisions you want.  In other words, you think a good government is one that agrees with you.  But there are many others who think a good City Counsel would make decisions you disagree with.    

This is a symptom of a broader problem.  As a society, we've become far too superficial in our views.  Conservatives think America is behind them, except those damn illegals, and bribed minorities, and voting fraud that is keeping the silent majority from expressing its will (B.S.).  Liberals think America is behind them, except those damn Koch brothers and other corporations buying elections (also B.S.).  Life is not so simple.  Controversial issues are all much closer than either side wants to admit.  And those complexities and the conflict they create don't go away just because the figureheads of everything wrong with the other side go away.  

None of that means the City is doomed.  But let's not pretend that just getting rid of the Citizen's Counsel will solve the city's budget problems, or the fact that almost anyone with a decent paycheck and kids has left the city altogether unless they can afford private school, etc., etc.  The Citizen's Counsel may not have been a force for good in this city, but it is not the source of everything that is bad.  For better or worse, it has been the glue holding it all together.  Now that it isn't holding things together, what is?  



Guesty
Guesty

@director21 @Guesty You have more confidence in the citizens than I do.  If they all get more involved, I expect what we get is more people asking for "theirs" from the City without much concern for anyone else.  When it comes time for splitting the pie, all most people really cares about is getting the biggest piece, even if it's at the expense of shrinking the pie.  That's true whether your talking about race or economic issues, or simple things like parks and bike trails.

Fracing might actually be a good example.  If South Dallas got really involved in that fight, how confident are you that they would have been on your side?  Lots of folks in South Dallas would gladly trade some more pollution for better city services and a few jobs (when you struggle to put food on the table, it's hard to worry about anything else).  

director21
director21

@holmantx @JimSX Abtahi is the Dallas Citizens Council candidate. That, alone, will sink him in the D14 run-off. I expect Kingston will win in a landslide and then drilling in Dallas gets even harder to do. Angela would not have endorsed Kingston if he was anything like YOU claim he is.

JimSX
JimSX topcommenter

@holmantx @JimSX

In District 14, there's really only one voting record that counts. Abtahi Bobby on Plan Commission. ·

At the April 19th meeting, he voted to deny without prejudice an amendment to the Lakewood Special Purpose District over objections by neighborhood residents of District 14 (including Joanna Hampton, Rene Schmidt, and Gay Hopkins) who were seeking a denial with prejudice (to put the issue to rest).

·At the July 19th meeting, he voted for an extended SUP for a late-night permit, over the 1-year permit that District 2 Commissioner Liz Wally had requested.

·At the August 2nd meeting, he voted for a replat that appears to be in Greenway Parks over objections of many current and former District 14 residents (including Molly Van Ort, Neil Emmons and Virginia McAlester).

·At the September 20th meeting, he voted for approval of an MF-2 district over objections of the neighborhood residents and over Liz Wally's opposition.

·Also at the September 20th meeting, he voted for a PD subdistrict in Uptown over the (many) residents’ objections and over Liz Wally’s opposition to it.

director21
director21

@holmantx @JimSX And you know this how? I think you are again showing us that you are full of shit and proud of it.

One thing is a certainty - Kingston is adamantly opposed to fracing in Dallas, the Trinity Toll Road and the Trinity River Corridor Project. That automatically makes him somebody that YOU don't like.

director21
director21

@primi_timpano It is true that many cities promote cultural events, including concerts, but Betty was talking about commercial operations and comparing entertainment to restaurants. Let's try to stay focused on the specific conversation.

To my knowledge, the City of Dallas does not own any "overpriced restaurants." Further, the number of cultural or entertainment events sponsored or promoted by the city pales in comparison to those of commercial interests. Let's keep in mind Betty's own word, "

Thank God just maybe we will have live music venues and people walking and enjoying life other that eating in an overpriced restaurant. Dallas seems to think good restaurants are all that's needed to entertain,however when dinner is over then what."

THAT is specifically the comments to which I responded. In cases like this reading for comprehension is always a good idea. I stand by what I stated before.

Guesty
Guesty

@director21 @Guesty As I recall, Trinity East paid a multimillion bonus to the City to get the gas leases.  So it does have some money to throw at individual counsel members and their districts to push through its agenda.  I'm not saying I'm for this--I'm not.  What I am saying is that I'm not confident that the "citizens" are as high minded as you or me.    

director21
director21

@Guesty @director21 Yes, I did see that abyssmal turnout, and it is the same as it has always been. Then, those people who did not bother to vote complain the loudest when the ones they did not help defeat win elections and start doing things they don't like.

But, I also saw us win victory after victory against XTO and then Trinity East over the past three years, and during that time I know that we educated and mobilized a lot of citizens who had previously been unaware of the issue. I saw the participation of citizens steadily grow and become more vocal in demanding a halt to the idiocy.

The problem with what you hypothesize is that oil and gas contracts do NOT spell out how much, or even if any, money will be earned, and therefore they cannot promise anything other than "tens of thousands of new jobs" and "millions or billions in local tax revenues and royalties", none of which will ever accrue to those who do not own a mineral interest.

If the gasholes do start making those false promises, then you can bet your "sweetner" that we will be on hand to dispel those myths and set the record straight by pointing to the history of the last 5 years.

Guesty
Guesty

@director21 @Guesty It's called a sweetener, and it's how politics get done, unfortunately.  All the gas companies have to do is promise to implement some minority hiring requirements and convince a few South Dallas reps to divert part of the gas contracts (several million) into a few south Dallas development projects. Presto, you've got a few south Dallas jobs and developments on the line.  

I'm not saying it's right or good.  But let's not pretend that the "citizens" are just waiting to be unleashed to ensure good government.  They just aren't.  Did you happen to see what the voter turnout was like for the most recent counsel elections?

director21
director21

@Guesty @director21 Exactly how is South Dallas going to receive jobs or benefits from fracing along the Trinity River? There are no jobs in natural gas exploration. There are a limited number of rigs and rig crews. Drilling and fracing a well takes about 20-30 days, and then those jobs are gone. The crews that already exist move with the rig to the next well they are going to drill, so it is the same 20-25 people on each crew drilling every well.

We have been extremely successful in getting citizens educated, motivated, mobilized and speaking with one voice on the issue of fracing, and we can continue doing that. In fact, there has NEVER been a single regular citizen who was not associated with the oil and gas industry EVER appear to defend drilling in Dallas - EVER!

We, on the other hand, have filled City Council chambers MANY times with a very vocal group of ordinary citizens who demand protection of our water, air, soil, environment, property values, quality of life, health and safety and other things that are common to all of us. Our group is very diverse and includes men, women, straights, gays, whites, blacks, hispanics, Asians, American Indians, rich, middle class, poor, smart, dumb, liberals, conservatives, educators, attorneys, City Council members from adjoining communities, citizens from adjoining communities, godly and godless - you name it - we are ALL represented by our common needs and desires, and we have presented a unified voice of opposition.

That same thing can happen on any other issue if those promoting a specific agenda know their subject, believe in it and then work to attract their fellow citizens. That is how a democracy is supposed to work, and we just proved that it can and does work.

director21
director21

@holmantx @director21 @JimSX 

Well, you are certainly entitled your opinion regardless of its lack of factual basis. D14 elected Angela Hunt and then re-elected her until term limits caused her to give up the position. D14 rejected the DCC in the past, and I see no reason why it will be different this time.

Most of the votes that went to Jim Rogers will probably go to Kingston, and that alone would be enough to give him a victory. Your ascertion that all who voted for somebody other than Kingston or Abtahi last Saturday will go to Abtahi now is laughable, and I would be willing to bet you $100 that you are wrong.

I think you know it, too, but you just like being a controversial asshole for the fun of it. Everything you have ever said here about the gas drilling issue has been dead wrong, so why should your record change now?

holmantx
holmantx topcommenter

@director21 @holmantx @JimSX 

I thought 14 is Kronos, the Klingon (DCC) Home World?  

I bet the majority of the votes that went to the candidates who did not make the runoff will go to Abtahi.  And since the only people who are going to vote are the ones who already voted - 

4929 ballots were cast

1669 for Kingston

1274 for Abtahi

394 spread

1,990 votes cast for others now available for the two runoff candidates

I think Abtahi is going to win because Kingston has a big negative.



Alfredo
Alfredo

@JimSX Tinfoil hat out again, Really, most of these votes were to uphold Paul Ridley's, Hunt's appointee, motions which means they are as much Kingston's votes as they are Abahis.  Ridley, Hunt's appointee to the  plan commissioner, Kingston's friend & political ally and someone Kingston has said in public forums he would reappoint.  The SUP vote was the difference of a 2 year SUP OVER a 1 year SUP and many of the commissioners voted against the 1 year motion because they thought there was prejudice due to this being an application for an LGBT bar.  The Lakewood PD, with prejudice motion, would have made no difference, the property owner came back and did what he had the zoning to do already.    This is nothing but hypocrisy.  


holmantx
holmantx topcommenter

@director21 @holmantx @JimSX 

Now that's an ugly, incivil thing to say.  And, based upon his promise to the the Stonewall folks, it appears any wind can blow him.  No pun intended.

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