Dallas Councilman Philip Kingston Wants to Kill Off "Wrongheaded" Lawn Whisperer Campaign

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You know the Lawn Whisperer. He's the vaguely irritating bearded gentleman, inexplicably decked out in safari garb, whose mug is plastered on buses, billboards and television sets by way of encouraging North Texans not to water their yards so much.

Philip Kingston, the freshman member of the Dallas City Council, is not a fan. At the council meeting this morning, he proposed killing him off.

"I have not been able to find any metric that shows the effectiveness of this campaign, and I think it's just wrongheaded," Kingston said.

His objections came as the council prepared to extend its "public awareness campaigns for water conservation and grease abatement" for five years at a cost of $7 million.

See also: The Legislature is Considering Letting Cities Sue Homeowners For Overwatering Their Lawns

That's a waste, Kingston says. "Here's the bottom line: You conserve water by paying a higher price." Charging commercial customers the same rate as residential customers would be a good start.

His colleagues were less eager to hike water rates on their constituents and, while they didn't exactly rush to Mr. Whisperer's defense, they did not share Kingston's animus for him either. Most seemed to buy interim City Manager A.C. Gonzalez's argument that "it's not so much either/or," in terms of pricing versus public awareness campaigns but "about how we blend" the two.

The council will take a closer look at the water conservation PR campaign, which had been on its consent agenda, but it seems that the Lawn Whisperer will live another day. Even so, it's never too early to start dreaming up the properly ironic way to kill him off. Something ending with him face-down in a torrent of water gushing from one of the East Dallas fire hydrants the city kept opening this summer would be fitting.


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43 comments
WylieH
WylieH

I was recently reading the report of one North Texas city (Irving, perhaps... if not Irving, a municipality in that same general vicinity.  The report stated that, as a matter of policy, they attempt to purchase as much water from Dallas as possible, since it is so much cheaper than water available from their other potential suppliers.

I agree with Kingston, the focus should be on pricing.  Also, I want to know who is getting a share of the $7 million.

ruddski
ruddski

One solution to water use is to piss in the backyard, no flush. That's the LA solution.

Jeeze
Jeeze

From personal experience it's true, if it costs more you tend to use less.  We used to live in a rural town in Ellis County.  Our water came from a small private well company & cost $33 for the base 2000 gallons & then a pretty high charge per gallon over that.  Sewer cost us $24/month. We had to pay for our own trash removal, too, at a cost of about $60 a month.  That was 8 years ago & it's probably higher now. Our Dallas bill is routinely under $20 for everything.  We are not heavy water users & to be fair, we have less yard & gardens than we used to have, but  I think it's because we learned the value of water when we were charged so much for it. 

tdkisok
tdkisok

Seems like this freshman Councilman is taking his cue for another freshman politico, Ted Cruz.

P1Gunter
P1Gunter

While it, much like the Caraway anti-sagging campaign a few years back, does nothing, at least the commercials are somewhat well done.

WhoBenefits
WhoBenefits

Can we get a breakdown of what companies are getting paid for this campaign. What's grease abatement?

MikeWestEast
MikeWestEast

"$7 million is not that much."  Someone on Council needed to tape that remark by Mr. Gonzalez for later use.  This guy, probably a well trained Suhm alcolyte, is just not ready for prime time.  It makes great sense to use the market to drive behavior.  People and businesses will respond or the city will make more money.

ScottsMerkin
ScottsMerkin topcommenter

Did they pay Gordon Keith for using his likeness in this ad campaign?  And doesnt he look like he is about to go on a safari?

observist
observist topcommenter

Here I thought The Lawn Whisperer was a landscaping service with a big ad budget.

dmtrousd
dmtrousd

Why not just have the City of Dallas levy fines against flagrant violators? It can't be that hard to catch them. It is not uncommon to see homeowners watering their lawns at noon in August for God knows what reason.

Also, I don't know if Richardson pays for Lawn Whisperer billboards, but they do post warning/reminder signs along major roadways. Seems simple and cheap enough.

wilme2
wilme2

Kingston, did you pick this issue up from Kevin Curley?  (If so, bravo - that is how the campaign process should work...)  

I know he was talking about water conservation during the campaign, and I mentioned this stupid ad campaign to him.

ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul
ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul topcommenter

What annoys me the worst about DWU is that it sells water to NTMWD member cities who then sell the water to their customers for less than what DWU charges me.

pak152
pak152

" Kingston says. "Here's the bottom line: You conserve water by paying a higher price.""

wow! a councilman who understands how pricing works. I was amazed at how cheap my water bill is compared to what I paid in Virginia. 

oakclifftownie
oakclifftownie

When I am constipated I just get out a water bill read it and shit bricks ! If only they were golden .

Rumpunch1
Rumpunch1

My real question is, what politically connected as company was providing this service? Why is a $7 million item on the consent agenda?

Ever since Rawlings gave a buddy that contract to provide those stupid trail safety signs, I have become increasingly suspicious of these ad campaigns.

whocareswhatithink
whocareswhatithink

I must be living with my head in the sand - I've never seen this "Lawn whisperer" you speak of

NotReallyThanks
NotReallyThanks

I was going through the radio dial and I stopped on a news broadcast that was "brought to you by Dallas Water Utilities."

Why the fuck is a monopolistic city utility spending money to advertise on the radio?

d-may
d-may

Great Job, Kingston. I've been saying for years that our water prices are ridiculously low. The only way to get people to take the drought seriously is if we start charging an appropriate price for water. 

Before people start yelling at me, go ahead and look up exactly what you pay for water. Most of your water bill is for other things, like storm drainage and sewer. The city could double the actual cost of water and you probably wouldn't notice the difference. 

ruddski
ruddski

These politicos who don't go along with everyone else are damn dangerous, especially if they defy the declarations of democrats or our Dear Leader.

NotReallyThanks
NotReallyThanks

@WhoBenefits Keeping grease from the sewer. I know of a business that got cited for overflowing grease trap. The code enforcement officer who issued the citation also just so happened to have a card on him for his other business... cleaning grease traps. 

scottindallas
scottindallas topcommenter

@MikeWestEast I think those ads are good.  Many overwater.  Twice a week is sufficient for turf, and people need to know that.  

Sotiredofitall
Sotiredofitall topcommenter

@dmtrousd Include in this the businesses watering their landscaping in the middle of the day in August.  

RTGolden1
RTGolden1 topcommenter

@Rumpunch1 Those stupid trail signs are what you get when you hire an advertising agency to produce signage instead of hiring a sign company to make them.

scottindallas
scottindallas topcommenter

@NotReallyThanks if their conservation message works, it can easily be justified.  PSAs are the only advertising utilities should do.   What's really fucking moronic is having choose among competing customer service branches for our electricity.  All that ad money is again wasted.   We should re-regulate our electric utility, as TXU could double their current customer service base and serve the whole state.  That would be MUCH MUCH more efficient and cost effective.  

NotReallyThanks
NotReallyThanks

@d-may If they doubled the price of water and no one noticed that would pretty much defeat the argument you made in the first paragraph, right?

tdkisok
tdkisok

@NotReallyThanks  


If true, and the key word here is *IF*, then that is highly illegal. The code officer should be reported.

RTGolden1
RTGolden1 topcommenter

@Sotiredofitall @dmtrousd Or UTSW hospital and all its satellite hospitals watering Harry Hines late in the afternoon all summer.  And, inexplicably, during every hard freeze.

P1Gunter
P1Gunter

@grunnah @NotReallyThanks @d-may Not that I actually expect an answer, but I still have to ask. How are these cities going to do it themselves? Build a pipeline for water from Missouri?

Outside of Ray Roberts and Lewisville the City of Dallas built and owns the rights to all the reservoirs around here (they may actually own the rights to Lewisville too),

Ft. Worthless has Lake Worth, Denton has Ray Roberts, and almost every other reservoir in North Texas belongs to Dallas. I'm honestly appalled Dallas isn't screwing them all over on price because they have nowhere to build a reservoir. If the City of Dallas/Dallas County decided to shut off the tap, do you want to count the suburbs that would be without water?

grunnah
grunnah

@NotReallyThanks @d-may 

You might want to look up concepts like "wholesale pricing" and "economies of scale". 

By charging other cities a wholesale rate we get them to buy from us instead of doing it themselves. By spreading the fixed costs over more customers we lower the cost to ourselves.

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