Somebody Wake Up Dallas City Council and Tell Them to Get to Work

Categories: Schutze

dog_horizontal.jpg
Wikipedia
The tail wags the dog at City Hall, and the dog just wants to keep sleeping.

Ran into a retired city department head on a parking lot in the afternoon heat yesterday, thought I was gonna die. This guy had an entire career's worth of anger and frustration to unload, and there I was in the sun with my head uncovered. I think I lost a couple IQ points just listening. Lucky I had a surplus.

His biggest bitch was about the sheer laziness of City Council members unwilling to do the intellectual work required to challenge the city manager on issues that ought to be the council members' responsibility. Like the budget.

The case that came to mind most immediately for both of us was council member Scott Griggs and his proposal to cut $3.8 million from the manager's proposed office budget in order to beef up libraries and animal control.

Griggs produced a spreadsheet showing where the cuts could be made. City staff, acting with uncharacteristic dispatch, fired back its own spreadsheet listing the dire consequences each cut would have. Oh my God! It was like Griggs was trying to kill Dallas!

Here's an example. City Manager A.C. Gonzalez said Griggs' cuts would force him to reduce the staff of the Office of Economic development from 11 full-time positions to 10 by 2015. He said reducing that one position would cause the city to lose 500 jobs and $30 million in new development.

Talk about burying the lead! You mean every full-time staffer in the Office of Economic Development is worth 500 jobs and $30 million in new development? Why didn't anybody tell us this? Why not increase the size of the Office of Economic Development staff by 1,000 new positions? I know that's a lot, but look what we get! Half a million new jobs and $30 billion in new development.

Damn! Let's increase Economic Development by a million full-time staffers, and then Dallas will have all of the money in the entire world, and we will let foreigners have a little money only when they do what we tell them.

See what I mean? Griggs makes an honest proposal. He gets back this absolute drivel screw-you propaganda from the professional bureaucracy. And then you know what most of the rest of the council members do? I watched them doing it two weeks ago. They sit there and give these lazy-ass corn-pone speeches about how "We hired the manager to manage the city, so we got to go by what he tells us."

No they don't! He works for them! Vigorously debating the budget isn't micro-managing. If they're not responsible for the budget, what the hell do they think they are responsible for?

The guy talking to me on the parking lot was absolutely acidic in describing how the staff snickers behind its hand at the council and writes it off to sheer laziness and abdication. But it's not funny.

Councilman Philip Kingston, like Griggs, got onto this issue back when the current city manager was being interviewed for the job. Both Kingston and Griggs insisted they weren't going to put up with the longstanding tradition by which the city manager waits until the very end of the budget cycle, delivers the budget to the council like a big Tom Thumb birthday cake and allows the council to make a wish and blow out the candles.

Griggs's spreadsheet may have run straight into the wall, but it was a worthwhile exercise, nevertheless, to the extent that it dramatized and illustrated the real problem. The tail wags the dog. The dog just wants to take a nap. And I need a hat.


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36 comments
Subnx
Subnx

The problem boils down to the curse of single member districts

bbb02
bbb02

And the Council wonders why they are considered "the summer help" by staff. 


If they dont challenge and force staff to do the right thing then they should expect to be treated the way they are by staff. They are begging for it. 


But its much easier to go along to get along, so they can make their community picnic and shake some hands.  

mavdog
mavdog topcommenter

I'm surprised that you're surprised that our Councilpeople are as a whole are nitwits who are more focused on their public persona and the hope that most citizens fawn over them, instead of actually doing the job they were elected to perform.

We certainly need more Kingstons and Griggs, but what are the chances that's going to happen? low probablity it would seem.

btw, here is a link for you. my dermatologist tells me to always have one when I go out, he says doesn't want to have to treat me for melanoma...

http://www.rei.com/outlet/c/mens-sun-hats?ir=category%3Amens-clothing&rank=rank_outlet&outpg=true&r=deals%3AOutlet+Products%3Bcategory%3Amens-clothing%7Cmens-clothing-accessories%7Cmens-hats%7Cmens-sun-hats

David487
David487

Jim,

I thought you taught us it was "bury the lede."  I've arrogantly mocked others for using "lead" and now you've abandoned me.

Anon.
Anon.

It is appropriate for the council to set its priorities through the budget.

Here's the deal: The City Manager gives his budget to the council. The council can do anything it wants to that budget, all it takes is eight of them to agree on it. If that happens then the manager has no option but to do what he is told. As soon as the manager gives his budget to the council, it becomes their budget. When they pass any budget, they collectively own it. If the board does not like the manager's budget then the board needs to change the manager's budget.

Here's another little secret: You know that little balance you see that's usually left over? That really small number that's not even what you might find in the couch cushions at City Hall? That's all the council is supposed to raise a fuss about. They are supposed to fight and argue about how to use that really small amount for each of their little pet projects. They are clearly not supposed to jump into the budget process and actually provide substantive input.

The City Manager's response to Grigg's reasonable start to the conversation is disproportionate. That tells us all that Grigg's got out of line (according to the manager) and that he may have also gotten close to somebody's sacred cows.

The only way for the council to get in front of the budget process is for it to force the issue. They cannot ask nicely and expect any changes to be made. They must, as a board, set clear policy direction that they will be intimately involved in the entire budget process. What the council's process ultimately looks like is up to the council. That it needs to happen is obvious.

MikeWestEast
MikeWestEast

I thought the City Council worked so hard "running the city" that it needed full time wages.  It is no more than a part time Board of Directors that deserves part time compensation.

James080
James080

No doubt the "lazy council members" have their 30 pieces of silver coming from AC, probably in the form of protection for that chunk of the budget every council member steers to his/her friends, family and contributors. Wasn't Caraway recently ready to go to mattresses over some chunk of petty change his best friend gets every year to allegedly run some summer arts program for kids?  Keeping and promoting AC is going to prove to be a huge error, in hindsight.

ozonelarryb
ozonelarryb

Except for Griggs and Kingston, they are no better than bobbleheads. Slavish drooling approval of every load Amarillo Cab feeds them.

A world crass disgrace. Their acquiescence and obeisance are probably due to sweetheart deals they have been promised in return for their unswerving support.

IMHO
IMHO

This may be why Dallas needs a strong mayor form of government. Not that the mayor is anymore competent or less so than the staff ... but he would be the one proposing a budget and the council would be far more apt to push back on budget items, if purely for political reasons. It could not be anymore screwed up than what we have now. (famous last words).

noblefurrtexas
noblefurrtexas topcommenter

@Subnx There's a great deal of truth to that. The fear that it would create sacred cows, and promote ward politics and professional council people has come to pass, while the quality of leadership and intellect has dropped like a rock. 



TheRuddSki
TheRuddSki topcommenter

I bought several items from fashionfast.net. Not only was every single item wrong, they billed my credit card for three months. When I demanded a refund from fashionfast.net, they threatened to shoot my dog.

Avoid fashionfast.net at all costs, they are Russian scammers.

JimSX
JimSX topcommenter

Help me. I am being held prisoner.

Gangy
Gangy

@MikeWestEast This City Council was elected with very low pay.  This is evidence of the need to try to pay a wage that communicates high expectations and attracts candidates who want to work as a Council Member full time.

Gangy
Gangy

@Amy S This is where we can get money to fund our libraries, parks, and recreation centers - cut the staff by 2/3!  Thanks, Amy!

Gangy
Gangy

@James080 Keeping, promoting, and over-paying AC was a known huge error from day 1.  Only, it wasn't so much an error as an intentional protect-our-secrets move.

Gangy
Gangy

@ozonelarryb Lee Kleinman has been stepping up in the budget discussions and challenging AC's pronouncements.  He has also conducted himself in a manner that communicates that AC must answer to the Council.  Rick Callahan has also been assertive on the budget in a polite, yet skillful way.  Philip, Scott, Rick, Lee, and Adam are challenging the old guard consistently, and I think the momentum is beginning to shift.  We need to elect hard-working representatives of the RESIDENTS of Dallas in May.

noblefurrtexas
noblefurrtexas topcommenter

@IMHO I strongly disagree with your observation. 


Dallas at one time had a Strong Mayor system of government, and it was corrupt beyond all belief,  When we switched to the Council-Manager form of government, it was like night and day.  Dallas began to win awards for excellent management, you no longer had to bribe a city inspector to approve a building, and you no longer had to contribute to the mayor to be heard at a council meeting. 


Sadly, our current city manager could not hold a candle to George Shrader, and is incapable of managing our city's government.  But, that's the fault of the council who wanted a weak, indecisive, and pliable city manager they could push around and influence. 


And, the current mayor had a great deal to do with that.

RobertStinson
RobertStinson

@IMHO With strong mayor, how do you know the electorate will stop voting for the Citizen's Council candidates or someone else from the Dallas political machine?

mcdallas
mcdallas

@TheRuddSki fashionfast.net immediately caused my baby hippo to have bulimia.  It wasn't funny.  Poor little "Pottamus" (that's what I named him) can't even walk without assistance.  Have you ever tried to assist a hippo with walking?!  Trust me, it's difficult, even for a bulimic one.



mavdog
mavdog topcommenter

@JimSX 

Fedoras are for hipsters Jim, we're both way too old to pull that off.

Annonnymous
Annonnymous

Callahan and Medrano DO NOT belong on that list. Callahan is too busy schooling everyone on the map of Pleasant Grove. Medrano is in wayyyyy over his head. Everyone sees little birds flying above his head all the time. He rides on the coat tails of Kingston and Griggs.

IMHO
IMHO

@noblefurrtexas @IMHO Dallas has had it's current form of council/manager government since 1930. When I moved here in the 1970s Dallas was called the 'City that worked'. It was because we had strong personalities for Mayor and a weak council. But I dont see how we can get that humpty dumpty put back together. You may disagree with my observation about needing or trying a strong Mayor, but the corruption that was seen back then was also during a time when transparency at city hall and in government was a foreign concept. Dallas needs a government where we dont get bogged down with the idiocy that is our current city council. One strong mayor can overcome this problem. The current method has run its course.

IMHO
IMHO

@RobertStinson @IMHO I am not the perfect solutions guy ... but the current mess is not getting anywhere ... a strong mayor might open things up a bit. If the electorate is the problem ... then phttt... nothing will work. I plan on retiring to anyplace other than within the city limits of Dallas.

TheRuddSki
TheRuddSki topcommenter

@mcdallas

The bulk of fashionfast.net is from endangered species. In fact, that's where I get my hippo balls (which make great kebabs as well as revitalizing my vitality).

Gangy
Gangy

@garrison.griffin @Gangy @MikeWestEast The current City Council members are paid $37,500 annually, and the mayor is paid $60,000.  For the level of responsibility, complexity of the responsibility, and more than full time hours, this is not much incentive to perform at a high level nor to give up one's current job.  I think to attract more hardworking and talented candidates, we need to pay them at the level we expect them to perform.  On the ballot in November, will be an amendment that changes their pay to $60,000 for Council Members and $80,000 for the mayor.

noblefurrtexas
noblefurrtexas topcommenter

@IMHO @noblefurrtexas What caused the current set of problems was Single Member Districts.  The concern was always that Single Member Districts would promote ward politics and create sacred cows, and both of those things have happened. 


I believe Dallas is much better off with a Council-Manager form of government, because we have the continuity of city staff from year to year, and we don't end up with career politicians. 


That we have a weak pushover for City Manager right now is actually the fault of the council; he just does what he's told to do. 


Dallas still has far less corruption in city government when compared to strong mayor systems like New York and Chicago and Houston. We also don't have the Mafia-like characters who we have to pay to get anything done. 


If you really want to see the models for corruption from Strong Mayor systems, look no further than the State of Louisiana.

noblefurrtexas
noblefurrtexas topcommenter

@IMHO @RobertStinson Before long, you couldn't afford to retire in Dallas to someplace pleasant, safe, and convenient to those things you need most.

mcdallas
mcdallas

@TheRuddSki fashionfast.net is also the main importer of solar powered water taxis. 


furthermore, it's the biggest importer of Shutze's angst, even though they flatly refuse to properly collect tolls and taxes on said imports.

TheRuddSki
TheRuddSki topcommenter

@mcdallas

Good reporters were born angsty. Why, I'll bet that right now, a UP intern is busy uncovering the lies, deceit, malfeasance and violation of International Law practiced by the enslavers hiding at fashionfast.net.

James O'Keefe has videos of fashion.net staffers buggering baby goats before slaughtering them for their patented Goat Heads Soup, and line of goat undergarments and running shoes.

At fashionfast.net, even the moose slippers are made of goat. (Stay away from the patè.)

mcdallas
mcdallas

@TheRuddSki fashionfast.net is the reason I can't think of a better response than yours.

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