Dallas Council Member Vonciel Jones Hill: 2014's Awful Person of the Year

Categories: Schutze

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Mark Graham
Vonciel Jones Hill demonstrates the difference between being educated and wise.
"2014: The year in Vonciel Jones Hill." That is my title for this essay. Why? Because I firmly believe that if you can understand what's wrong with Vonciel Jones Hill, you can understand what's wrong with our city. No, wait. You can understand what's wrong with the universe.

At some point in the distant past, any City Council member in Dallas who was a truly divisive force pushing the city centrifugally away from shared purpose was likely to be some big, old, golf-ball-whacking white man using elective office in the city to push his real estate interests in the suburbs, betting his own bucks heavily on the decline of the urban core.

We have moved beyond that. Now the role of intolerant, cantankerous, self-serving misanthrope is open to all comers regardless of gender or social, religious and ethnic identity. Vonciel Jones Hill, an African American woman in her late 60s, is proof that in the new Dallas anyone who really sets his or mind to it can become the problem.

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What Preconceptions about Dallas Will the New Dude at the Morning News Bring With Him?

Categories: Schutze

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Wikipedia
This is not Dallas barbecue. Yet.

You saw here yesterday that The Dallas Morning News named a new editor to replace Bob Mong, who is retiring. I always admired Mong, a fact I tried to keep to myself. I know nothing about the new person, Mike Wilson.

James M. Moroney III, president of A.H. Belo, owner of the News, said, "I was looking for someone with experiences leading a traditional newsroom's transition to the digital environment..."

The transition from print to digital journalism is of urgent importance to all of us in the field. In fact I think about nothing else. In fact I think about it so much that I have been searching the Bible for answers. I think maybe I came up with a pretty good one from Exodus 5:


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My Children, the Blacklands Toll Road is Undead. It Walks in the Night.

Categories: Schutze

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Wikipedia
Always be concerned if you ask a highway official a straight question, and he says, "Listen to them, the children of the night. What music they make."

A few quick updates for you on some of those Blacklands toll road issues I told you about earlier in the week. Apparently I was wrong about a lot of stuff.

See also: State Road Officials Balk.

I told you state Representative Cindy Burkett of Sunnyvale, our always sunny suburb to the east, had asked tough questions in a letter to state highway officials, and I told you she asked them to reply to her in writing. I also told you they balked at writing an on-the-record letter -- said it was too complicated -- and suggested a meeting instead. All good so far. That all happened.

But then I suggested that Burkett had been pretty stern with the bureaucrats thus far and probably would not accept their offer of a closed-door meeting instead of an on-the-record letter. I should have known better than to predict. She did accept their suggestion of the closed door meeting, her staff informed me yesterday.

I asked specifically about the door. They said definitely closed. To me anyway. But they said not to worry. They promised to tell me later what happens, which is really very sweet of them.


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Old Guard Strategy for Next May's Elections Is Opposite of Truth. Hey, Worked Before.

Categories: Schutze

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Library of Congress
In the next City Council election, the old guard, stubbornly opposed to change, will try to paint the new guard as stubbornly opposed to change. Not as dumb an idea as you might think.

I tend to keep a sharp nose out for possible nearby flatulence, and I am beginning to pick up strong whiffs from the old downtown political establishment -- the ones former Mayor Laura Miller always called "The Boys" -- in terms of how they will deal with next May's watershed City Hall elections in Dallas.

We have chatted here about this before -- the elections, not the flatulence per se. I have not been the Lone Ranger in proposing that next May's council election could be the biggest City Hall game-changer that anybody now living, even really old people, will remember.

See also: The Next City Council Election

Or not. Some people don't want the game to change. I'm starting to see where they will go and what they will say in order to head off change. And you know what? They may win. It all depends.

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State Road Officials Balk at a Few Straight Questions About that "Blacklands" Toll Road

Categories: Schutze

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David Leonard
Sooner or later we're going to find out who's really pushing behind the scenes for that private "Blacklands" private toll road they want to build northeast of Dallas from Rowlett to Greenville. And I don't mean the private dudes who want to build it for profit. I mean who in local government has been carrying their water.

Amy Silverstein told you here at the end of October that the very unpopular toll road idea, which was supposed to be dead on arrival, hadn't arrived and wasn't dead yet. State Representative Cindy Burkett, Republican of Sunnyvale, was trying to get state highway officials to explain why they seemed to still be pushing for it and who put them up to it.

See also: Unpopular Toll Road Idea We Said Was Dead Might Not Be Dead

This is the private toll road idea so hated by the region it's supposed to run through that fire officials had to shut down a public meeting because too many people showed up to express their hatred. Supposedly the regional agency that does road planning did a big apology dance after that and promised to deep-six the whole idea.

Later, as Silverstein reported, Burkett found out the Texas Department of Transportation had gone ahead and included the supposedly dead toll road route in a key statewide road-planning document. It was a big find.

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After Lies, Lies and More Lies, Trinity Road Supporters Ask, Where's the Trust?

Categories: Schutze

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Daniel Fishel
By the way and for what it's worth, I am aware that I have been talking about nothing but the Trinity toll road for about a month, and I promise that I am on the verge of checking myself in for a toll road detox. Temporary detox. But here's the thing. The Trinity toll road story is the story of life itself.

You've got this loved one or this colleague, business partner, longtime neighbor, someone important to you whom you would dearly love to trust. It would be so nice to be able to trust this person, if for no other reason than that then you might be able to stop hearing about the person's issues.

But. Every single time you have tried to trust the person in the past, in fact almost as soon as you decided the person might not be lying to you this time, you turned back around and there it was: The person's pants were already on fire.

So. I refuse to dredge back through the entire list of lies that have been foisted off on us over two decades about the highway they want to build along the Trinity River through middle of the city, and I won't do it for two reasons. 1) It's too depressing. 2) It makes us look like idiots. I'm not up for getting depressed right now. I already understand that I have been an idiot.

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Ronquillo Versus Rawlings Will Be Mr. Daylight Versus the Shadow

Categories: Schutze

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Wikipedia
I plan to use this illustration about 600 times between now and the elections in May.

The thing about Dallas lawyer Marcos Ronquillo, who formally announced yesterday he's running for mayor of Dallas, is not that he's Hispanic. We've seen that movie before.

If Ronquillo's last name can bring more Latino voters to the polls next May, then that may change the equation somewhat, but Domingo Garcia had a bigger Latino last name in his multiple stabs at it in the past, and identity politics was never enough to get him better than third place.

The real contest between Ronquillo and incumbent Mayor Mike Rawlings is going to be over the shadow government issue, and that's not an identity issue exactly. It's more about mindset.

See also: The Envelope Please


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The Dallas Green Alliance, a New Political Group Dedicated to Sanity, Has Real Promise

Categories: Schutze

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George Battle III
All I could do,the composure I could muster, at yesterday's City Hall press conference announcing formation of an anti-Trinity toll road political action committee, was force myself to sit in my chair, take notes, act like a reporter and not jump up slapping my forehead and doing a wild Jake-legged foxtrot all over the room.

I never thought I would hear words like these spoken in the august "Flag Room" of City Hall, or, as I call it, the Chamber of Dishonor. For how many years have I sat in this boudoir and watched corporate brides feed wedding cake to one mouth-wiping mayor after another?

So, look, rather than give you my version of what was said at yesterday's shindig, why don't I just let you read what they said:

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Face it. We'll Never Really Talk about the Toll Road. We're Going to Talk About Your Face.

Categories: Schutze

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Patrick Michels
This is Dallas. We can turn even a toll road debate Into an orgy of personal finger-pointing.

Lots of talk yesterday about today's upcoming announcement of a political action committee to kill the Trinity toll road, and, by the way, if you just moved here, it's perfectly OK to say, "Toll road? OK, I don't think I care about that."

But think of it this way: It's a big interesting local battle between old big-hair Dallas stereotype people (all the stuff that made you wonder if you were ruining your life by moving here) and pretty cool seeming forward-the-city types (all the stuff that made moving here seem possibly exciting and maybe more fun than wherever you were).

It's all very personal, this toll road, about virtuous people and wicked people. The newcomer would be justified in wondering how we can divide ourselves into heroes and villains over a damned highway. But, oh, believe me. We do. (For the newly arrived: it's a proposed but unbuilt big expressway along the river. Oh, yeah, forgot to tell you: We have a river. It's called the Trinity. It cuts sort of northwest to southeast through the city. It's hard to see. I'll show it to you some day if you want.)


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Anti-Trinity Road PACs Will Let Dallas Shrug Off Shadow Government, Get on with Life

Categories: Schutze

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Wiipedia
For too long, this has been the face of City Hall.

The unveiling later this week of a political action committee to kill the Trinity toll road will be in and of itself an enormous watershed moment in local politics. Unheard of.

The kind of people who oppose toll roads don't have PACs in Dallas. C'mon. They don't raise money for candidates. They don't interview people. Only big-dogs who want to see billions of tax dollars spent on public works projects to enhance their own real estate have PACs.

Other dogs, the kind who oppose big boondoggle projects, just sit around, bitch about it and get ignored. That has always been the Dallas way. And that is all about to change.


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