Is Dallas City Manager A.C. Gonzalez Running One Big Roach Motel?

Categories: Schutze

roach_motel.jpg
Wikipedia
Dallas City Hall Roach Motel: assistant associate assistant city managers check in, but they don't check out.

Déjà vu, that French term meaning "already seen," the feeling you get that you've been here before, it can be creepy, right? You start investigating your memory to find what it is you're remembering.

I got that feeling when I read about Dallas City Manager A.C. Gonzalez's so-called shakeup of top staffers at City Hall. Big shakeup. New people come in. But nobody goes out. Nobody gets fired. And then it came to me. Oh. This is a Dallas Times Herald shake-up.

We used to call it a Black Flag shake-up, after a TV ad nobody will remember now: "Kill roaches without poison, unpleasant odor or mess. Black Flag Roach Motel Trap. Roaches check in, but they don't check out."

I was working at the Times Herald, the city's other daily newspaper, when it went out of business in 1991. I had gone to work for them back when they were still owned by The Los Angeles Times. We put up a good fight, beating the Morning News in all the leading indicators. Briefly. Then Robert Decherd took over the News and kicked our asses.

When the competition got serious, the L.A. Times ownership, a California company called Times-Mirror, fought back, in its own gentle surfer-dude kind of a way. For some reason -- I wondered if it was a West Coast thing -- Times-Mirror couldn't stand to fire anybody. Hey, I don't like to see people I know get fired. And Times-Mirror's aversion to the ax was undoubtedly why I myself was able to endure there for so long.

But Times-Mirror's idea for the Big Fix, The Solution, The Next Big Thing, was always to bring in somebody new from the outside. Before each new man or woman arrived at the paper, he or she was painted for us as Jesus Christ, the one who will turn it around and save us all. Upon arrival, Jesus Christ was always given a title that had the words "managing editor" in it somewhere.

One day in the newsroom I counted more people walking around with the words "managing editor" in their titles than reporters. One of them even had an oxymoronic managing editor title -- at least I thought it was -- like "assistant associate assistant managing editor."

I called over a friend of mine, a guy I could talk to, who was an associate assistant managing editor, and I pointed it out. I said it was impossible for the other guy to be an assistant assistant. My buddy argued with me. He said, "He's not an assistant assistant. He's an assistant associate assistant."

I said there had to be an algorithm out there somewhere by which a certain number of words before the words "managing editor" equaled "not any kind of managing editor at all." My friend said, "Hey, Schutze, we may need to you to pinch-hit on night police beat for a while."

I dropped it. Like most of the grunts, I was already doing three jobs by that point.

When City Manager A.C. Gonzalez was selected city manager by the City Council six months ago, he pledged a major shakeup of top management at City Hall. I never believed that would happen. Gonzalez is a career insider.

I thought to myself, "Oh yeah? Hey. Before you roll out the guillotine, just show us how much of a stomach you've got by telling us what you're going to do about the massive concrete fake white-water 'feature' the city installed in the Trinity River three years ago, closed to recreational use ever since, just sitting there totally screwing up paddling in that whole stretch of river because it's such a stupid mess."

You know, a test. If a guy can't admit the white water feature was a mistake, he's never going to have the stomach to wield the ax on any of his lifelong buddies who made that mistake or others. And, indeed, that is just what we see in this current so-called "shakeup." He's bringing in a couple of Jesus Christ assistant associate assistant city managers from outside. All the top managers removed from their jobs have been sent to other easier jobs but with their top-job pay intact.

Assistant city managers check in, but they don't check out.

So what have I got against that? Do I just lust for bloodshed? Do I love seeing people get canned? No. No, I really don't. I believe that in heaven, no angel will get fired and no angel will take a cut in pay. All changes of assignment for angels will be lateral.

But right here, right now, I can't shake this nasty little case of déjà vu. On that awful last day at the Herald, we were allowed to go into the building to collect our personal items, and then we had to line up at the door to get back out so that security could check and make sure we weren't looting. Sad sad day. A hot day, as I remember, and the A.C. in that building was always weak (no pun intended).

I looked up and down the line ahead of me and behind -- everybody slump shouldered and sweaty, boxes and bags in hand, a few with tears in their eyes. Tragic. Then I looked again. Almost every single one of them was a managing editor.



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61 comments
noblefurrtexas
noblefurrtexas

Those of use who grew up in Dallas with two major newspapers remember how much better things were, and how much better news coverage was.  The day the Times Herald closed was terribly sad, but we had no idea then just how sad. 

Perhaps not quite as sad, but certainly disappointing, was the day A.C. Gonzalez was elevated to Dallas City Manager, more for his weaknesses than his strength and leadership and management success.  He was more of a bureaucratic mechanic  than either a manager or a leader.


But, calls for a Latino city manager combined with his tendencies to be every councilperson's "friend" as well as obedient functionary prevailed over the bold and stronger decision to find a star of a city manager elsewhere in the country. 


This isn't to say Mr. Gonzalez is a bad person; he's not, as far as we know.  But, while he makes a good #2 or #3 assistant, he's just not at the levels of a George Shrader or several of his predecessors, or even a Mary Suhm or Jan Hart - both with municipal finance experience.


I wouldn't suggest Mr. Gonzalez is related to any roaches, but he could certainly be the poster child for the Peter Principle.  And his first several management decisions have confirmed that. Cutting the police department by 35 officers, when we have a horrible rate of actually solving cases, is just such an example.



flyaway44
flyaway44

Our wonderful mayor stated in a meeting that if you wanted fair treatment then go to fair park. So everyone lets run to fair park and see if we can find some fairness like the mayor said. What a Jerk he is.

flyaway44
flyaway44

AC is going to do anything to change things. As a city employee I am fed up with the executives that have no idea what there doing and if you say anything then the retailation starts. I do not interview for job promotions anymore as there is no use as its all predetermined before they even start. In 5 years I have had 1 raise for 3.5 % even though all reviews have been good. Where do they get all this money to create new positions and give big raises. It was learned that city of Dallas employees are paid 15% less than other competing jobs so if they have all this money why don't they correct this instead of over paying others that do nothing.

WylieH
WylieH

I was chatting with a former senior City staffer earlier today who told me he was invited to participate in a kickback scheme on his second day of work.

WylieH
WylieH

What exactly is Mary Nix, head of sanitation during THAT department's scandal currently doing at City Hall?  I think her title is something like Assistant Director of Public Building Works.  Did she have to take a pay cut? 

Did they ever fix all the financial control issues at the city dump that surfaced after she left?

And what ever happened to the guy that flew them to Europe for "due diligence?"  The guy who appeared in an on-camera interview in an obviously staged office (a can of identical sharpened pencils on a desktop in an office with absolutely no other signs of human habitation?

dallasdrilling.wordpress.com
dallasdrilling.wordpress.com

I find it interesting that the "little shit" MarkDuebner-Director of Aviation was promoted after he lied to the Park Board about surface drilling for gas while Suhm was working a deal at the poker table with Trinity East. But I've been told that he was once considered one of Mary's favorites, knows a lot of shit on everyone and for that reason, just gets moved around instead of being let go. It seems to be safer for them to keep him on the payroll rather than suffer the consequences if he were to get axed.

Greg820
Greg820

Lessee here, one councilman in the Fed pen, a commissioner arrested by the Feds, HUD money having to be returned, etc.  Don't think the Fed's are watching?  Like Jim wrote last week, the first to the Feds get's the best deal.  There are a number that should be knocking on that door, if they have not already.

Sad to say, but a Fed takeover or oversight is the only thing that will get rid of The Way Things Have Always Been Done.

TherealJoeMorales
TherealJoeMorales

There is no one who deserves to be shown the door more than Forrest Turner.  The man is as useless as (fill in the blank).  Nice guy, funny, engaging, charming and good looking, but completely and utterly worthless.  Fat Elvis kept him around as the prime "yes, ma'am" man.  At that, he was unparalleled.  But does AC have the cojones?  Doubtful.  

Montemalone
Montemalone topcommenter

He can't fire anybody, they know too much.

Don't want a disgruntled former employee getting too friendly with the eff-bee-eye.

holmantx
holmantx topcommenter

Maybe the key players archive all their email correspondence on thumb drives so they can't be fired.

MikeWestEast
MikeWestEast

On Sopranos, going into Witness Protection was another phrase for getting whacked.  They did not expect those people to come back.  City Hall can't even do that part right.

Annonnymous
Annonnymous

Gonzalez is doing exactly what FAT ELVIS (Suhm) did by allowing the low/non performing executives/tyrants to go quietly into the executive protection program. The problem is is that they eventually come back out when things have "cooled" down. Best example is Sweckard coming out of hiding and taking over Code Enforcement. His second time around will be another failure. Just like Duebner at Love Field who has been given far too many chances to repeatedly screw up work, people and the citizens of Dallas. Don't forget, Dallas, that we are still paying for the idiots from the Sanitation Department who were called out by the City Auditor. Remember Mary Nix? Still on the payroll clutching that big fat paycheck.

Get used to it, taxpayers. Fat Elvis aka Mary Suhm has not and never will leave the building. Therein lies part of the problem. The biggest problem, however, is city council members who meddle/interfere with the City's hiring/promotion process which is run by a Human Resources Director who is Emvis' friend. And these council members want us to give them a pay raise! VOTE HELL NO in November.

holmantx
holmantx topcommenter

EXTRA - CITY LAYS OFF 830 IN BUDGET CRISIS ! !

Courage!  It takes courage to fire people, and Mary Suhm did just that.  Why she had Joe Don Baker Walking Tall COURAGE, man!

So don't even begin to tell me that rat's nest can't FIRE people en masse.

Of course, no doubt they hired 'em right back as soon as they pulled a Billy Sol Estes and sold Trinity East some nonexistent drilling leases (ha!).

So thinking about it a little harder, maybe it's best A.C. doesn't lay off anybody.  He might just sell the Horse Shoe.

Then where would the kids be without their daycare facility?

ozonelarryb
ozonelarryb

Fire? That would mean instant witness for the prosecition.

But new hires at big money guarantees loyalty to Amarillo Cab, not the city.

ray.stafford
ray.stafford

Nice to see you're still around, Jim, and giving them hell. Keep up the good work!

Gangy
Gangy

I don't think we should ever expect A.C. to make changes.  We should expect and insist that City Council fire A.C. and the City Attorney in order to clean up City government and management.  These lame duck Council Members think they should just lay low.  If they want any future elected office, they had better show their own guts and integrity, if they have any.


Greg820
Greg820

Has Mary Schumm even checked out yet?

Annonnymous
Annonnymous

I think the Mayor's exact words last year while defending merit pay which is nothing more than rewarding the a$$ kissing employees of the corrupt city manager's office was "life's not fair." Obviously, Gonzalez wasn't paying attention to the Mayor at that meeting or he just have him the finger.

JimSX
JimSX topcommenter

@WylieH

Think what you could do with a hat-cam. I know somebody who might give you one.

Annonnymous
Annonnymous

Good question regarding Mary Nix. Perhaps Kingston or Griggs can ask the City Manager what she is doing? They need to ask in a public forum so taxpayers can hear what we paying for.

So you think things are better and have been cleaned up in Sanitation? I have more beach property at the Grand Canyon to sell you. Look at your sanitation bill which is going up again in October. The head of the department is Turner's protégée and Fat Elvis' buddy. There's a trend here. If you dance with Fat Elvis, you are an incompetent and deceitful tyrant. You also make a lot of money for doing nothing while your minions do all the work that you take credit for.

wcvemail
wcvemail

@WylieH

Thanks for the chance to use the rare "Kafka-esque" term. That's better than the equally applicable "third-world-like." 

86753099
86753099

This is the same reason most people rarely get fired from city hall, everyone has dirt on each other!

WylieH
WylieH

I'm also aware of one decently-funded effort to engineer a state takeover, which actually presents far less legal issues than a federal takeover.

yamonrtc
yamonrtc

@Greg820


I heard the Fed's regard Dallas political arena as a cesspool.  

Annonnymous
Annonnymous

@TherealJoeMorales

"Nice guy, funny, engaging, charming and good looking" ..... never heard of the man you describe as Forest Turner. Vindictive f-bomb throwing, door slamming, screaming psycho is what employees have witnessed. He, Suhm, Duebner, Kelly High, Nix, O'Donnell and many others could get a good group rate at a mental institution. Wait. Strike that. The other incompetent Elvis fan who serves as the City's Human Resources Director is in charge of employee health benefits.

ScottsMerkin
ScottsMerkin topcommenter

@Montemalone It'll never happen but wouldnt it be great if a City Hall insider left and went to writing for an Alt weekly, think City Hall would shit its pants then.  

bmarvel
bmarvel topcommenter

@Annonnymous Just out of curiosity -- what's the screw-up at Love Field? I thought construction was ahead of schedule and within budget.

primi_timpano
primi_timpano topcommenter

They don't care for future office as much as City Staff largess.

JimSX
JimSX topcommenter

@Greg820

Schumm... Schutze ... hmm ... disturbing.

flyaway44
flyaway44

@Annonnymous Well i got his wonderful merit pay which amounted to a whopping 1/2 %. The increase in the retirement fund ate that up very easily.

WylieH
WylieH

Sweet. Let's meet at the usual place-- Lakewood Landing. I'll be driving the blacked-out Dodge Charger with push-bars, sitting inconspicuously in my usual seat, wearing the gorilla suit w/ascot and sipping an old fashioned w/ Old Tom.

if you let word leak, the meet is off, for obvious reasons.

yamonrtc
yamonrtc

@86753099


Yeah, the org chart just gets wider and wider and wider..............as Schutze says, soon enough we will have 55 Assistant Managers at City Hall! 

JimSX
JimSX topcommenter

@WylieH

Oh my God! You're my son?!!

holmantx
holmantx topcommenter

@yamonrtc @86753099

dunzel - A part which serves no useful purpose. In the original series of Star Trek Captain Kirk was referred to as Captain Dunzel by another Starship Commander. This was because the Enterprise was being operated by the M5 Computer and not the crew of the Enterprise. Because Kirk did not have a crew to command he did not have a useful purpose.

JimSX
JimSX topcommenter

@d-may @JimSX @Greg820

I keep hearing from people who tell me they thought they had good shots of her. When they got home everybody else was in the picture but the place where Mary had been standing was blacked out. 

Annonnymous
Annonnymous

Yes, Duebner is the co-conspirator in the Trinity East deal. Is THAT who Dallas citizens need and want running Love Field and Dallas Executive Airport? The man has some serious problems that affect the work force and operations that he oversees. It's in the public record and doesn't require an open records request. Plus, he's been the subject of numerous investigations at Dallas City Hall which is why he's been shuffled around from department to department.

If you think the financials at Love Field are in order, then I have some beach property in the Grand Canyon to sell you.

Annonnymous
Annonnymous

Fat Elvis is still in the building. The problem with the contest is people are too afraid to take her photo for the contest. They fear getting fired. Yes. Only at the City of Dallas will an employee be fired for taking a picture of the "retired" City Manager. But executives who cannot/will not do their job are allowed to keep theirs for the same pay while doing nothing. Gotta love the Mayor and City Council who allow this to happen with our tax dollars.

holmantx
holmantx topcommenter

@WylieH @holmantx @yamonrtc @86753099

Micro Center's got one! $295, 30-day warranty.

no screen.  a Terabyte would suffice for all the email traffic the City doesn't keep for liability purposes.

Micro also sells kid computers for the Horse Shoe folks.

WylieH
WylieH

@Annonnymous My recollection is that Duebner was the one person during fracking who was actually caught telling straight up lies to council... and that he has done the same thing with respect to Dallas Executive Airport.

Is that true?

Greg820
Greg820

@Annonnymous  I'm a big fan of Kingston, but his "shocked, shocked I say" pronouncements on FB of how city staff run the place with no concern for council or taxpayers is starting to wear a little thin.  Do something about it.  There is certianly enough racketeering going on out in the open, not to mention egregious use of HUD money, to get the Feds involved in a little investigation & oversight.

Annonnymous
Annonnymous

That is correct. Just like Nix, Duebner was caught lying but still has a job. Fat Elvis rewarded bad behavior that she modeled for others. Duebner's wife should have been fired when she worked for Ron Natinsky. Pays to friends with Fat Elvis. Nothing will ever change for the better as long as she and Turner are allowed to remain on the 4th floor at City Hall.

dallasdrilling.wordpress.com
dallasdrilling.wordpress.com

@Greg820 @Annonnymous He along with Scott Griggs has done plenty up to this point, it's time the others grow some balls and do the same. Those two can't be expected to do it all by themselves. After a while, digging up the bodies gets to be a full time job as there plenty more.

Annonnymous
Annonnymous

@WylieH if he's doing everything humanly possible then he's failing. He's too busy with LGBT equality. For a guy who whines about government waste, he's lost focus. Payroll costs just went up and people who should have been fired just got promoted. That includes the new idiots who just received a key to the executive suite for being friends with the "right person."

The lives of executives just got easier. It all proves the point that Griggs made last year during the budget battle with Rawlings: the City of Dallas merit pay benefits the a$$ kissing friends of an incompetent and corrupt City Manager. Ditch that ridiculous idea and institute across-the-board pay for all employees EXCLUDING the Assistant City Managers, Directors, Assistant Directors and "Third Tier Executives" (whatever the hell that position is/means).

Annonnymous
Annonnymous

Agree with all of these posts. Kingston needs to organize and lead the charge to move the deadbeat executives off the payroll and DEMAND that qualified candidates be hired for positions. He needs to use the same furor and energy that he's used to push other issues for this personnel problem.

This nonsense of promoting someone who served in the position on an interim basis or who is friends with a council member must stop. Look at the credentials and work experience of the candidate. Anyone who is not a friend of Mary Suhm's is probably the best candidate.

It's a very sick culture at Dallas City Hall. You can thank Suhm for that.

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