There's No "Search" for a City Manager. Are You Kidding? It's A.C. Gonzalez.

Categories: Schutze

In its own peculiar way, yesterday's editorial in the city's only daily newspaper was the perfect expression of the dilemma Dallas faces in choosing a new bureaucrat to run the city: Most of the people who even talk out loud about the topic are afraid to say out loud what the topic is about.

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There's a reason people are reluctant to suggest hiring a new city manager from outside City Hall.

It's not about choosing a new city manager. That was locked up months ago. It's A.C. Gonzalez, the acting city manager, the inside guy. Are you kidding? You think the boys would let this go outside?

In a very sideways cautious way yesterday's Dallas Morning News editorial did put its finger on the only real issue. Should the city's next city manager be an inside hire or someone fresh from outside city staff on the principle that a new broom sweeps clean? For perspective, imagine this as a mafia movie in which a minor boss goes to the don and suggests maybe the family should look for new leadership outside organized crime, like from Yale or something, on the principle that a new broom sweeps clean. Now imagine the next scene in which the minor boss is all bug-eyed with his tongue stuck out while being garroted from behind.

Look, I do try to keep tabs. I spoke with a senior City Council member last week, a pretty good vote counter, who assured me nothing has changed. It's still A.C. For A.C. to become anything less than a lock cinch he'd have to do something so evil you couldn't even picture Woody Harrelson doing it. Don't go there.

It's also not about any of the endless pious blah-blah-blah that various community leaders and professors and clergy and the like have been sluicing out onto the op page of the Morning News about it over the last few months, stuff like he or she needs to be a conciliator or a facilitator or a negotiator or some other kind of tater. No he doesn't. All he has to do is be inside.

Inside outside? Yeah, I know, most of this stuff is opaque to people who don't make their whole living off it, but let's reflect on a few things you can see from the outside. Our elected representatives, the City Council, tell the former city manager, Mary Suhm, do not, repeat NOT allow any gas drilling in our parks. She says sure. Then she goes to work immediately on a secret deal to allow gas drilling in our parks.

She tells the council we need a new law to force more trash haulers to haul more trash to the city-owned landfill because somehow that will make the city more green. A judge finds that her line is one big lie and all she wants is more money from trash hauling companies, which is not the kind of green we were talking about.

We find out last week that she has put us back behind a horrible eight-ball on race, something we thought we had taken care of 25 years ago, because she has been taking hundreds of millions of dollars from the feds, money she was supposed to be spending on desegregation, and spending it instead to promote racial segregation downtown. By the way, her point man on all that was A.C.

As for A.C., what have we seen him do during his brief tenure as the acting? His most visible act so far was an attempt, almost successful, to trick the council into passing a law without knowing that was what they were doing to help Yellow Cab run a competitor out of town. You remember Yellow Cab, of course. They have helped City Hall in the past by doing stuff like turning state's evidence against the City Council member they had been bribing. So of course, if they've got some damn competitor, our acting city manager should do anything to help.

I said the Morning News editorial is the perfect expression. That's because they take a mild little swipe at some of their own op-ed authors who had "asked you to read between their lines" rather than saying out loud that we need a new broom. But then the editorial does the same thing, never saying flat out we need an outsider. Instead it says we need, "a bold, fresh vision from a city manager untethered to the way Dallas always did business."

Why all the timidity? Go back to the scene with the bugged-out eyeballs. The consequences can be severe for coming right out and saying anything new-broom-like. A few of the op-edders did it, like former Mayor Laura Miller who said right out, "Go for change," but Laura Miller doesn't need the boys. She doesn't make her money off City Hall.

For anybody who needs anything out of Dallas City Hall, the game has always been go along to get along, take your licks, swallow some pride, and one day City Hall will open up like a big ATM machine and make you rich. That's how the system works.

The official version is that we have a city manager system with a weak ribbon-cutting mayor in order to insulate City Hall from politics. The truth is that we have such a system in order to insulate City Hall from voters. Once the voters have been cut out, then all the special-seekers who want to drill for gas in parks or run a competitor out of town can line up at the City Hall ATM, punch in their pass-codes, grab their money and run. When City Hall isn't paying out to the inside boys, it pays itself, as in devising a wildly irresponsible trash hauling policy just to get revenue for its own payroll so it can keep itself ensconced.

Hey, this only works one of two ways. City Hall answers to the voters. Or City Hall answers to the boys.

The only way for voters to enforce a broad vision on City Hall is by ditching or seriously modifying the city manager system in favor of a strong mayor system. There has to be somebody down there we can fire if they do exactly the opposite of what we told them to do.

The single-member City Council system will never get there. Individual council members will always get elected or unelected based on small-bore neighborhood issues. Nothing wrong with that at the level of council districts. It's how it should be, as a matter of fact. But you need a CEO over it who works directly for the voters, not a mayor who cuts ribbons and a CEO who works for the boys.

A.C Gonzalez will get this job because the only thing that counts to the boys is continuity. The existing system works for them. As a developer once said to me, "City Hall works like a gumball machine, if you know how to work it."

By the way, Gonzalez is very good at what he does. Would it make things better for somebody else to get the job? No. The job is still the job. Might as well have somebody in there who knows what all the buttons and dials are for. (Please remember how flattering I was, Mr. Gonzalez.)

What people really cannot say, what no one will say out loud, is that we need to get rid of the job. We need a strong mayor. We need to convert the city manager into the mayor's chief administrator. But don't hold your breath for that. And meanwhile, it's A.C. all the way, so don't waste your breath. That tater done been cooked already.


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32 comments
ginger4v
ginger4v

Exactly what the city needs. Another crooked ass who's gonna steal from we who live here.

Subnx
Subnx

14-1 is a huge problem. I only get to vote for 2 and the other 13 clowns run things even though most of them have never really run a real business. There are some districts where no one is qualified to be on the city council of a major city. The city manager system worked well when all of the voters could vote for all of the members of the council. Ward politics is awful and Chicago is a horrible town.

WylieH
WylieH

Depressing post... but, as others have pointed out, we have an obligation to try, at the very least.

halldecker
halldecker

Remember,  Jim,  we got somebody new and from the outside,  able to bring a fresh new vision ...


Mike Miles.



ozonelarryb
ozonelarryb

And the A is for Amarillo.... yellow.

dallasdrilling.wordpress.com
dallasdrilling.wordpress.com

WFAA January 15, 2014:

Our top story today.......... With AC Gonzales winning the City Manager's job at Dallas City Hall, the real City Manager Mary Suhm, resumes her position of City Manager after a 6  month hiatus. Suhm told us that the only way she will leave Dallas City Hall, is in a pine box.

Gangy
Gangy

I'm not giving up the fight.  We won't have better government until citizens demand it very publicly.  It is up to us to force a change.  I know it won't happen instantly, but the sooner we start, the more momentum we build, and the sooner we get positive results.

finley5
finley5

"By the way, Gonzalez is very good at what he does. Would it make things better for somebody else to get the job? No. The job is still the job. Might as well have somebody in there who knows what all the buttons and dials are for. (Please remember how flattering I was, Mr. Gonzalez.)"

The above cant be true. If we cant change the system to a strong mayor, then the next best thing is to carve out the cancer in the existing system, starting with AC. He is the one, along with others, that have created the messes of recent past. He cannot be trusted, which is the most important trait we need of our next CEO, integrity. 

Montemalone
Montemalone topcommenter

Would it really matter?

Chicago has a strong mayor, and Daley looted it for decades at the behest of the voters.

Until we perfect AI, we're screwed.

Let's put Skynet in charge.


Pete_Delkus_Sleeves
Pete_Delkus_Sleeves

its too early on monday after icemageddon for this. I need cleon snark and stories of children frolicking in the ice, along with the obligatory story of the mom who is pissed that school closed again so she is STUCK with her kid another day. oh wait, ill just go turn on the news

JimSX
JimSX topcommenter

@Subnx

Single member districts are not the problem. Weak mayor/strong manager is the problem. Chicago is one of the world's really great cities. You'd be happier in Tyler.

Montemalone
Montemalone topcommenter

I'm still waiting on my pizza.

dallasdrilling.wordpress.com
dallasdrilling.wordpress.com

Yeah, but everything ran on time, the streets' were spotless, the flower boxes were always full year round, and you could depend on the Alderman's office to take care of that shitty neighbor by making a little phone call.

JimSX
JimSX topcommenter

@Montemalone

You ever notice that Chicago really is a world class city while we're still a  wannabe?

Montemalone
Montemalone topcommenter

It's time to change your shirt.

ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul
ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul topcommenter

That is is the point.  With 14-1 Dallas has all of the disadvantages of ward politics with none of the advantages.


Essentially, Ms. Suhm realized is that all she had to do to keep her job was to keep at least 8 of the 14 council critters happy at one time and she could do anything that she wanted as long as it stayed out of the media. (IMHO)


Don't forget that Mussolini also made the trains run on time.

RichGans
RichGans

@JimSX  you mean like the out of control murder rate they have in Chicago?  yes, I envy them tremendously.

MargaretHuntHill
MargaretHuntHill

I must be confused about what "World Class" means.  High crime, violent police, byzantine regulations, and fiction-worthy public corruption? JS, even NYC with its comical nanny mayor (and atrocious police, btw) would have been a better defense example for strong mayor.


Council-Manager can work very well for the interests of the People provided that everyone does his job in a mostly, reasonably honest way.  The manager has to be at least sort of competent and transparent, and the Council has to demand competence and transparency maybe 75% of the time.  No one has to be perfect or even really exceptional.  And yes, that tells you where I think our system is today.

Montemalone
Montemalone topcommenter

I lived there, and keep trying to figure out how to return.


This brisk weather has made me even more nostalgic.

TheCredibleHulk
TheCredibleHulk topcommenter

@JimSX @Montemalone


Wannabe Chicago? *bleah* Chicago has all of the problems of Dallas, and then some, and crappier weather to boot. (notwithstanding last weekend)


Dallas is fundamentally no different from any large political organization in the respect that dollars rule the day. Cronyism runs rampant in any government because all of the same types of birds are drawn to a well-stocked feeder.

Montemalone
Montemalone topcommenter

In Chicago it's true you may get shot if you live in gangland. Innocents killed all the time. Not good.

But here you're as likely to get shot by your neighbor or a relative.


finley5
finley5

@TheCredibleHulk @JimSX @Montemalone This is exactly why the absolute best City Manager would come with personal first hand experience from one of the Chicago's of the US. He has seen it all, experienced it all, but most importantly been, instrumental in the "clean up" part of it! Dallas is as good as it gets on the corruption side of things, time to move to the clean up phase with someone that's done the clean up thing! 

finley5
finley5

@TheCredibleHulk @finley5 @JimSX @Montemalone Copied straight from the dictionary:


the gradual development of something, esp. from a simple to a morecomplex form the forms of written languages undergo constant evolution

finley5
finley5

@TheCredibleHulk @finley5 @JimSX @Montemalone Evolution involves "sophistication and efficient" corruption and clean up process'. Said differently, Chicago is further in the clean up process, or the "broom" Schutze speaks of. "Been there, done that, sort of thingy......................"

finley5
finley5

@TheCredibleHulk @JimSX @Montemalone Yes, agreed, Chicago has had all the same problems Dallas now has, but that is the point. Its (Chicago) much further along in its maturation process, so its dealt with Dallas' problems years ago. Dallas is 30 years behind Chicago. Dallas seems stuck in the 70 or 80's as compared to Chicago. 

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