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Thread: Your Opinion of a Strong Mayor

  1. #701
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    Here is an article from DMN showing some of the end result of our "prideful" city council. I personally can not wait for strong mayor, and start getting some of these programs underway. It amazes me every time I listen in on the council meetings how one another well just through out slanderess remarks almost with a 'smile" and attitude, 'what you gonna do about it now.' Its embarassing for our city. 14-1 would work in some place like Plano, Frisco, Southlake where the majority of the population is at an equilibrium. Not in a city the size and diversity of Dallas. Someone in the Dallas is always going to feel left out and cause others to make more problems because they have the power and they can.

    City's inaction on downtown faulted

    As redevelopers express frustration, council remains divided


    08:46 AM CST on Thursday, January 27, 2005


    By DAVE LEVINTHAL / The Dallas Morning News



    It may be months before the city decides how to invigorate its downtown redevelopment efforts, despite Mayor Laura Miller's assurances that firm decisions will arrive within weeks, some Dallas City Council members say.

    Such talk infuriates downtown redevelopment advocates, who say that City Hall is, at best, dawdling, and at worst, telling lies.

    "Oh, they talk a good game," said David Biegler, chairman of the Central Dallas Association and chief executive officer of Dallas-based Estrella Energy, of the council. "They all say they're for apple pie and motherhood, but when it comes to picking apples and being a mother, they don't do it.

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    "If I sound frustrated, I am," Mr. Biegler continued. "I'd call it more disillusionment than frustration, even. It's a total obfuscation on their part, a cop-out."

    Interviews with more than half of the council's members reveal a body still deeply divided on how best to expedite Dallas' long-stagnant but slowly expanding downtown business and housing environment.

    Several council members contend that re-election campaigns and the May 7 strong-mayor referendum are overshadowing all council decisions these days, including decisions affecting downtown.

    "Everybody's focused on the charter-referendum issue. Downtown is going to take a back seat in terms of council time and attention," council member Gary Griffith said.

    Others say there's no need for haste – and that some downtown business people are more interested in grabbing power for themselves instead of doing what's best for the city.

    "I don't see why we have to rush through it. We have development going on every day in the city," council member Leo Chaney said.

    Said Deputy Mayor Pro Tem Don Hill, "There hasn't been very much discussion yet about what to do different downtown. We just haven't really gone back yet and tried to develop a consensus on what to do. This just hasn't really been on the front burner."

    Mr. Biegler's Central Dallas Association, which represents more than 200 businesses, wants the council to form a semiprivate local government corporation to manage downtown redevelopment.


    Consultant's suggestion

    That suggestion was included in consultant McKinsey and Co.'s study of Dallas economic development and code enforcement, released with much council fanfare in November.

    As the McKinsey consultants viewed it, Dallas could delegate much of its downtown development authority to a local government corporation, which would include a board of directors, chief executive officer and staff of 10 to 12 people. City Hall would retain oversight.

    Another option floated by McKinsey is for the city to make "dramatic internal organizational changes," increase funding to downtown efforts and hire a person equivalent in power to an assistant city manager to manage a staff of three to five people dedicated to city-center growth.

    Either way, "If the city wishes to accelerate development in downtown, the council and mayor must first commit to an aggressive vision for development," the McKinsey report stated. "In addition, the city must find a way to fund the significant increase in investment likely required to accomplish such a vision."

    In December, the council voted 11-3 to formally accept the report's findings.

    Ms. Miller, who supports creating a local government corporation, vowed then that the council would decide how to proceed with downtown development by February. She now acknowledges that deadline may not hold.

    Her goal now, the mayor said, is to vote on a downtown redevelopment plan during the first council meeting in March.

    "My fear is that I push this vote, and the council votes 'no' because they say they didn't have enough time. Is that a good result?" Ms. Miller asked rhetorically. "It's a shame, though, if council members want to hold it up because of the strong-mayor issue. That's just an excuse."

    Council members Lois Finkelman and Veletta Forsythe Lill, Assistant City Manager Ryan Evans and Central Dallas Association members are scheduled to meet privately today to discuss downtown redevelopment.


    Bygone era

    Meanwhile, council member James Fantroy is threatening to sue the city in federal court if the council creates a local government corporation for downtown. Such a corporation, Mr. Fantroy said, smacks of a bygone Dallas era when wealthy white businessmen effectively controlled city affairs.

    Mr. Chaney added that downtown, from what he's seen, is flourishing, and that's a credit to the work of Dallas economic-development staff members.

    "I don't believe there's a delay. The February deadline was arbitrary," Ms. Finkelman said. "The council has focused heavily on downtown. But there are still some outstanding questions, and everybody's efforts and concentration these days are related to the May 7 election."

    Without doubt, the city's center is growing in ways it hasn't for years. Developers are gutting derelict office towers and transforming them into apartments and condominiums. The council this month approved a retail recruitment initiative that offers hundreds of thousands of dollars in incentives to businesses establishing themselves on or near Main Street.

    But for Nancy Hormann, the Central Dallas Association's executive director, the council keeps presenting excuse upon excuse for not fully committing to making downtown the vibrant, around-the-clock district of Ms. Miller's dreams.

    "Decide: LGC no, LGC yes. With the McKinsey report, I thought they'd get direction. But I don't see any changes. They're still fighting with each other," Ms. Hormann said. "I'm here trying to do my job to bring businesses downtown, and we're hamstrung a lot by process and procedure."

    E-mail dlevinthal@dallasnews.com

  2. #702
    The smartest gal in town! trolleygirl's Avatar
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    Interesting that Beigler is complaining about how *slow* downtown redevelopment is now, today, in 2005. It's been in the tank for 20 years. It's better off- and moving faster- than it has in the last 20 years. Yes we need to be cautious about businesses making power grabs and the council need to learn this rule for life, one that everone and every group and organization should adopt: Always make sure that others don't try to make their agendaa our agenda. Unfortunately, it seems our Mayor has never adopted this rule for herself.

    And correct me if I'm wrong here, but I thought redeveloping the southern sector was the council's Number One Priority.

  3. #703
    Supertall Skyscraper Member TexasStar's Avatar
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    ^ I would hope they could do two things at once.

  4. #704
    Administrator gc's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TexasStar
    ^ I would hope they could do two things at once.
    I couldn't agree more. These people have admitted numerous times that they cannot multi-task.

    I guess the city cannot move forward until they beat this petition. TG, even you cannot defend the attitudes and actions displayed by the council here.
    “We shape our Cities, thereafter they shape us.”

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    Quote Originally Posted by gc
    I couldn't agree more. These people have admitted numerous times that they cannot multi-task.

    I guess the city cannot move forward until they beat this petition. TG, even you cannot defend the attitudes and actions displayed by the council here.
    It really is sad how pitiful of leaders these people are.

  6. #706
    dallacentric drumguy8800's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by gc
    I couldn't agree more. These people have admitted numerous times that they cannot multi-task.
    They can't even single-task. Downtown development = slow. Oak Cliff / South Dallas development = slow. Uptown = hot. (thanks to the city? err, no..)

    We need some huge mogul company like Harwood to stake a claim in Oak Cliff / South Dallas & Downtown. We can't rely on our government alone. After all, things should be laissez-faire.. must we rely on them to spark development?

  7. #707
    Supertall Skyscraper Member aceplace's Avatar
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    The real question is what the Dallas municipal government is going to change into.

    As for the fact that it must change, that is certain.

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    http://www.mayorcouncil.org/index.html

    This is a very interesting website that highlights strong mayor/council form of government.

  9. #709
    The smartest gal in town! trolleygirl's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by gc
    I couldn't agree more. These people have admitted numerous times that they cannot multi-task.

    I guess the city cannot move forward until they beat this petition. TG, even you cannot defend the attitudes and actions displayed by the council here.
    Well I do think that Chaney's words speak for itself: Mr. Chaney added that downtown, from what he's seen, is flourishing, and that's a credit to the work of Dallas economic-development staff members.

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    Uptown is flourishing, DTD is gradually improving.

  11. #711
    The smartest gal in town! trolleygirl's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by drumguy8800
    They can't even single-task. Downtown development = slow. Oak Cliff / South Dallas development = slow. Uptown = hot. (thanks to the city? err, no..)

    We need some huge mogul company like Harwood to stake a claim in Oak Cliff / South Dallas & Downtown. We can't rely on our government alone. After all, things should be laissez-faire.. must we rely on them to spark development?
    Let me explain this: Uptown didn't "happen" overnight. It was largely due to the work started by two individuals who owned property and restaurants in the "Vineyard" neighborhood in 1982. And they lobbied the council for changes, got some private $ and some grants, peeled back the asphalt to expose bricks on McKinney Avenue, installed antique lights and bought some trolleys to run up and down McKinney Ave. between two restaurants. That was long before the Hard Rock Cafe invested in McKineey Avenue and before the Crescent was built. It has been over 20 friggn' years in the making. So if you wanna complain about downtown getting short shrift in the last 20 yaers, you might want to blame the business owners in Uptown. Remember, we did have a real esate crash in the '80's.

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    ^TG, very good points. We all want everything done now and it doesn't work that way.

    But, do you honestly think that our current city council & form of city government is aggressive and proactive to promote development in downtown? It seems like there is always in-fighting and we all suffer.

  13. #713
    Mile-High Skyscraper Member rantanamo's Avatar
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    sorry, but no excuses for downtown. Other cities have turned their downtowns around in much less time. When I read a statement saying no one has met about downtown, I'm sorry, but strong mayor or not, there is no excuse for that, when you keep reading/hearing politicians saying that downtown is important. It makes one wonder what other 'important' issues are being talked about.

  14. #714
    Administrator tamtagon's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by St-T
    ^TG, very good points. We all want everything done now and it doesn't work that way.

    But, do you honestly think that our current city council & form of city government is aggressive and proactive to promote development in downtown? It seems like there is always in-fighting and we all suffer.
    The in-fighting is not unique to Dallas' form of municipal government, that's the status quo for all government. Dallas' form of govt forces the in-fight to take place out in public - and that's perhaps the single most favorable aspect of this type of city govt. As much of a jerk as Fantroy (e.g.) might appear to be and as much as he might seem to hold up progress, I think it's vital for motives and beneficiaries of the city's actions to stimulate any economic landscape are a matter of public record. A strong mayor form of govt would give the perception that good things happen much faster, but you can also be sure that some arms would be twisted in the shadows.

    Isnt lack of disclousure the root cause for a Supreme Court decision which eliminated the previous strong mayor style of government? Race issues may seem to be ridiculous to folks less than 45 years old, but that's precisely why Dallas has it's current form of govt. This was forced onto city hall only ONE generation ago. These young, more enlightened voters need to consider that the people with the most power to impact today's municipal actions are those who found no problem with the way Dallas city govt operated before the courts said it was wrong. The old folks who remember the past are the ones who dont want to see similar yet less extreme mistakes happen again. Those who had been short-changed in the past may be the only large group of the population capable of spotting the inequities in a well intentioned modern-day plan to improve business, retail and residential activity in the CBD, and they are also one of the first groups to called road blocks to progress when they would point out that any New & Improved Plan continues to jip South Dallas residents. Why does it always turn into a race issue, because it STILL is a race issue. The most common persecetive is not always best, especially in politics.

    --well that rant should hold me for a couple day....
    Last edited by tamtagon; 28 January 2005 at 01:19 PM.

  15. #715
    High-Rise Member columbiasooner's Avatar
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    ^Dallas has never had a strong mayor form of govt. You are talking about the Federal Court ruling that Dallas had to move to a 14 single member district structure. The strong mayor ballot referendum does not touch the 14-1 system.

  16. #716
    The Urban Pragmatist Mballar's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by columbiasooner
    ^Dallas has never had a strong mayor form of govt. You are talking about the Federal Court ruling that Dallas had to move to a 14 single member district structure. The strong mayor ballot referendum does not touch the 14-1 system.
    I think you should be held "accountable" for what you state from now on. So, in the interest of making sure we all understand what you mean by that general statement, please tell us what are the specific amendments in the Blackwood proposal that demonstrate that the 14-1 system will not be "touched?"
    A wise man speaks because he has something to say; a fool because he has to say something. - Plato

  17. #717
    High-Rise Member columbiasooner's Avatar
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    Read it for yourself..I'm not your legal clerk

    http://www.citizensforastrongmayor.c...20complete.pdf

    Chapter III Sec. 1
    The City Council shall be composed of the Mayor and 14 other members, nominated and elected in the manner hereinafter provided unless otherwise provided by law. Except for the Mayor, all City Council members shall be elected by the qualified voters residing in a particular district, such districts being Places 1 through 14. The Mayor shall be elected at large by the qualified voters of the entire city. Members of the council, Places 1 through 14, shall each be elected for a term of two years. The Mayor shall be elected for a term of four years. The Mayor and other City Council members shall take office on the first Monday following the 30th calendar day after the general election, and they shall serve until their respective successors have been elected and qualified.

  18. #718
    Smile... :) mikedsjr's Avatar
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    I feel like I'm watching a bunch of 3 years olds fighting over toys.


    I just can't wait till this is over so I can hear anti-"strong mayor" whining. The reality is not whether it will pass or not, but what is going to happen. Dallas isn't Chicago or NYC or Boston where they rule the state. Dallas is a solid top 10 city where in-fighting will never die, even after the count is done.

    Now. I think their should be a new law put into place that reads the Mayor should be placed in a clown outfit and council member must place dunce hats on while council is in session.
    Listen to the Dividing Line, Pirate Christian Radio, CARM, White Horse Inn and RTS University the most nowadays.....

  19. #719
    Supertall Skyscraper Member TexasStar's Avatar
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    I just don't understand what everybody is scared of?


  20. #720
    High-Rise Member columbiasooner's Avatar
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    For only 18 months...

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    ^She is a lovely person.

  22. #722
    The Urban Pragmatist Mballar's Avatar
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    Did you all actually think that I had not already read this thing several times over? I just wanted someone to post the link to the site for the benefit of others. Now, hopefully individuals will actually read the proposed amendments (ask questions if necessary) and THEN make up their minds, rather than base their opinion on someon else's "spoon-fed" analysis of what the proposed language says. Thanks for posting the link.
    A wise man speaks because he has something to say; a fool because he has to say something. - Plato

  23. #723
    High-Rise Member columbiasooner's Avatar
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    I definitely think it's worth while checking out both sides and make up their own minds.

    2 websites up so far:

    For: Citizens For A Strong Mayor

    Against: Strong Arm Mayor

    Competing Editiorials:

    For: Beth Ann Blackwood

    Against: Angela Hunt
    Last edited by columbiasooner; 28 January 2005 at 02:51 PM.

  24. #724
    Administrator gc's Avatar
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    Strong-mayor bid is full of surprises
    Some businesses fight measure, while some minorities embrace it
    07:18 AM CST on Friday, January 28, 2005
    By EMILY RAMSHAW / The Dallas Morning News
    http://www.dallasnews.com/sharedcont...ate.7e943.html


    Forecasters of Dallas' strong-mayor campaign predicted a city divided by race and by geography. But four months from the May election, the lines are hardly that clear. Many North Dallas leaders and much of the city's business community – two constituencies that opponents feared would jump at the chance to strengthen mayoral power – have come out against the May ballot measure. And while the city's minority groups have not offered support for the proposal, some prominent black and Hispanic leaders have broken with their communities and joined the effort to change Dallas' form of government. "On this particular issue, I really think that people who are frustrated with City Hall are going to come out and vote yes, regardless of race, income or neighborhood," Dallas Mayor Laura Miller said.

    Dallas lawyer Beth Ann Blackwood, who turned in 30,000 signatures in November to put the strong-mayor issue on the ballot, said she has struggled to find black allies. Her phone calls to community leaders in southern Dallas have not been returned, she said. "I have found, generally, that the Latino community will return my calls and talk to me," Ms. Blackwood said. "It's a little more of a laborious process in talking to the African-American leadership in general." Ms. Miller, who endorsed Ms. Blackwood's plan after City Council members rebuffed her own strong-mayor proposal, has had better luck recruiting black support. Bill Blair, publisher of the Elite News newspaper, and Betty Culbreath, former director of the Dallas County Department of Health and Human Services, have agreed to join Ms. Miller's Stronger Mayor, Stronger Dallas committee. Ms. Miller said she's still discussing the merits of the measure – which would eliminate the city manager position and vest more power in the mayor – with other minority leaders. "I know that when I go to a homeowners meeting in the southern part of the city or the far northern part of the city, they're all saying the same thing," she said. "They're all frustrated equally about the same issues, no matter what their income level or ethnicity."

    But some opponents of the strong-mayor push say Ms. Miller's minority supporters aren't the kind of people who can get out the vote. And Mr. Blair said the strong-mayor issue's association with Ms. Miller, who is a figure of suspicion to many blacks, could make it even more difficult to attract black voters.

    "There will be some who vote for [a stronger mayor], but it won't be a landslide," Mr. Blair said.

    Hispanic stance

    Dallas' Hispanic community has not decided where it stands on the strong-mayor debate, said Jesse Diaz, president of the League of United Latin American Citizens' Dallas chapter. Mr. Diaz, who has spoken with Ms. Blackwood and Ms. Miller about a stronger mayor and is leaning toward supporting the measure, said he expects the Latino vote to be divided, as it was during the presidential election. "As a Hispanic, I don't see where we're going to take a step back if there's a strong mayor," he said. "The more I talk to people, it doesn't sound like a bad deal. Houston, New York, Chicago – it's working for them." But Ricardo Medrano, a member of the opposition Coalition for Open Government who serves on the Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport Board, said he thinks Hispanic voters will overwhelmingly reject increasing mayoral power. "All the Hispanics I know – from the million-dollar businessman to the average Joe – are opposing this," Mr. Medrano said. "In all walks of life, those that are aware of it don't support it."

    'The big picture'

    What minority groups need to understand, Mr. Blair said, is that Ms. Miller won't be the mayor forever. "Her term is up in 2007," he said. "We could have another black mayor here." Laura Estrada, a Dallas civic leader who serves on the mayor's committee, said the challenge is similar for Latinos. "We need to look at the big picture," Ms. Estrada said. Minorities "are the majority. I could see the mayor being Hispanic." But Marvin Crenshaw, a long-time civil-rights activist, said he believes black voters would oppose such a governance switch even if former Mayor Ron Kirk were leading the charge. And while everyone speaks of a city divided, he said, the strong-mayor campaign has forced southern Dallas to get organized, and to communicate with opponents of the measure across the city. "The southern sector will be well-represented," Mr. Crenshaw said. "No matter what type of differences we have, our common bond that glues us together is to defeat the strong-mayor proposal." North of Interstate 30, support for the strong-mayor proposal does not appear widespread. The heavy-hitting Coalition for Open Government, the leading opposition group, was born in North Dallas' District 13, home to Ms. Miller and many of her early supporters.

    Business groups

    Several business groups, most recently the North Dallas Chamber of Commerce, have announced that they will work to defeat the measure. None of this should come as a surprise, said Darrell Jordan, a founding member of the Coalition for Open Government. "Increasingly large numbers of North Dallas and East Dallas residents – and residents from all over the city – are understanding that the Blackwood proposal goes way too far, and is not in the best interest of the city," he said. But the mayor said she has been perplexed by the business community's response thus far. "One of the themes I've seen is the business community being very frustrated that City Hall doesn't work more efficiently," she said. For many business people, this debate is less about strong mayor and more about the specifics of Ms. Blackwood's proposal, said Ben Biller, chairman of the North Dallas Chamber of Commerce. "We're not saying there aren't some changes that could be made, under the right review process," he said. "But businesses that work with the city don't want to have to depend on being in favor with any one person. That's a huge risk."

    E-mail eramshaw@dallasnews.com
    “We shape our Cities, thereafter they shape us.”

  25. #725
    Administrator gc's Avatar
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    Strong-mayor foes see numbers grow
    Coalition draws a crowd after Miller throws down gauntlet
    07:19 AM CST on Friday, January 28, 2005
    By EMILY RAMSHAW / The Dallas Morning News
    http://www.dallasnews.com/sharedcont...ion.6857e.html

    Leaders of the Coalition for Open Government, the citywide group organizing to defeat Dallas' strong-mayor campaign, say their ranks are expanding. After Mayor Laura Miller announced her Stronger Mayor, Stronger Dallas committee last week – which will campaign separately from Dallas lawyer Beth Ann Blackwood's Citizens for a Strong Mayor – opposition leaders saw a greater turnout at their second meeting. Joining the opposition are Max Wells, former mayor pro tem; Brenda Reyes, former president of the Greater Dallas Hispanic Chamber of Commerce; David Neumann, president of the Stemmons Corridor Business Association; and Don Herring Jr., an Oak Cliff auto dealer and community advocate.

    I think that Laura and [consulting firm Allyn & Co.] are a tough team to beat," said Pat Cotton, one of the coalition's founders. "They've made it that much more difficult. But we're not going to attack her. We're going to attack" the strong-mayor proposal. Ms. Blackwood, whose organization turned in 30,000 signatures in November to put the strong-mayor proposal on the May ballot, said Stronger Mayor, Stronger Dallas will complement her efforts. It will allow her to continue scheduling educational sessions across the city (she said she already has 30 planned) while Ms. Miller's group forges ahead with fund raising and media appearances. "I'm marching along on my 'go out and educate people,' my neighborhood effort," Ms. Blackwood said. "Whatever they do, I'm letting them do it."

    Stronger Mayor, Stronger Dallas has also helped provide name recognition to the debate, Ms. Blackwood said. Ms. Miller's allies include rock musician Don Henley and former Dallas Mayor Steve Bartlett. "It puts more people out there saying, 'I am for this,' " Ms. Blackwood said. "That gives everybody a little peace of mind." Ms. Miller and Ms. Blackwood have said they don't expect to coordinate campaign activities. And while Stronger Mayor, Stronger Dallas will take a lot of pressure off Ms. Blackwood's campaign, Dallas political consultant Lorlee Bartos said, it would be surprising if the two efforts partnered at all over the next few months. "The mayor has said all along that this isn't the best deal, but it's the only one on the ballot," Ms. Bartos said. "And people see Beth Ann as the lady who's got Park Cities supporters trying to take over poor little Dallas. I think they'll set up a little distance."

    The mayor said it could be confusing if both organizations print signs and fliers with the strong-mayor message emblazoned in different styles. But even if Stronger Mayor, Stronger Dallas and Citizens for a Strong Mayor have different slogans and bumper stickers, Ms. Bartos said, the same message will reach the public. "Most people, after they hear the first sentence, they'll either say, 'Strong mayor sounds fine,' or, 'Oops, it doesn't,' " Ms. Bartos said. "I don't think there's enough time, enough money or enough depth for them to get much beyond that."

    E-mail eramshaw@dallasnews.com
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    I guess the question I have for the opposition is: "HOW DO WE FIX DALLAS?"

    That's what I would like to hear--I know they oppose a strong mayor but what do they suggest for a solution. And, I do not want to hear -- it's working or it took uptown 20 years or it's like this in every city... blah bah blah

  27. #727
    The smartest gal in town! trolleygirl's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by St-T
    I guess the question I have for the opposition is: "HOW DO WE FIX DALLAS?"

    That's what I would like to hear--I know they oppose a strong mayor but what do they suggest for a solution. And, I do not want to hear -- it's working or it took uptown 20 years or it's like this in every city... blah bah blah
    Then why don't you go to one of the meetings and find out. Blackwood said she's got 30 meetings set up across town. Or go to the opposition group's meeting- they've had two already.

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    Will do, TG. I'm trying to make an effort.

    Then I can inform my friends--one of them just told me that they didn't even know something was going on with the mayor. Great.....

  29. #729
    Lakewooder Lakewooder's Avatar
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    If Sharon Boyd's against it then I must be for it...

  30. #730
    The smartest gal in town! trolleygirl's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lakewooder
    If Sharon Boyd's against it then I must be for it...
    Ya well, Ron Kirk's against it too...............

  31. #731
    Administrator gc's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by trolleygirl
    Ya well, Ron Kirk's against it too...............
    Not entirely TG. From what I understand, he agrees that the current system is broken and needs to change drastically. However, he does not support this particular petition.
    “We shape our Cities, thereafter they shape us.”

  32. #732
    Administrator tamtagon's Avatar
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    ^probably the best advice on tweeking Dallas' system of government would come from previous mayors and council members. It would give them a chance to satisfy the civic improvement emotions assumed to have lead them to public office while making points to further political careers and/or social standing. Hind sight.

  33. #733
    The smartest gal in town! trolleygirl's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by gc
    Not entirely TG. From what I understand, he agrees that the current system is broken and needs to change drastically. However, he does not support this particular petition.
    The only thing on the ballot in May is exactly what Blackwood has proposed, nothing less and nothing more. Ron Kirk is against Blackwood's proposal.

    Again, most of the council agrees that we need a diologue on how things should change for the better and maybe some sort of stronger powers for the Mayor should be considered, but NOT what Blackwood has proposed and NOT in the form of a ballot initiative such as this one.

  34. #734
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    I am scared if we vote this down everything will go back to status-quo because the 'people have spoken.' I want to believe that this is not our only choice at change...but, I have doubts.

  35. #735
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    Hello,

    I am new to the group and should first state that I am a downtown resident. While the strong mayor vote obviously affects the entire city, much of the discussion has been linked with improving downtown development. While I am biased towards improving my quality of living I do like to think that I can put that aside if it means an action I take will seriously harm others long term.

    So I am still undecided on the strong mayor vote, and I must say reading weekly independent editorials in the DMN is not helping me make up my mind.

    Does anyone know if there will be a live debate on the issue ? When ?

    I've noticed the opposition makes claims that the mayor will basically be able to fire any/all city employees. Mrs. Blackwood replies that her proposal is not a stand alone document and other documents already in place would restrict personel decisions. I don't have the time/education to sift through piles of legal documents and their relationships to sort these types of issues out. But I bet a live debate could set a lot of things straight.

    I haven't heard many people on the opposition really stand up for the current system. In fact many state that they favor change, just not the proposal on the table.

    Here's a hint: One tactic that could sway me to vote no this time would be for the opposition to show some initiative on creating another option. While I realize that the time has passed to get another option on this ballot, the promise of a future better thought out plan with a wider city involvement could tempt me to hold out.

    By the way I stumbled on to the forum a couple weeks ago and I find myself reading it every day. Thanks to all for the mounds of info and opinions across many topics.

    --RWF

  36. #736
    Mile-High Skyscraper Member rantanamo's Avatar
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    welcome welcome. Any other lurking forumers feel free to post too. The more input and opinion, the better.

  37. #737
    The smartest gal in town! trolleygirl's Avatar
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    City employees take the civil service exam. It is very difficult to fire at-will any civil employees. While technically the Mayor would "have power" to fire city employees, since they are civil workers they can't simply be fired at-will like you or me or any other at-will emplyee can be fired. And there are some restrictions that civil employees cannot engage in and if they break the rules then they can be fired.

  38. #738
    High-Rise Member columbiasooner's Avatar
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    It's time to see the light

    Dallas' strong-mayor proposal not as radical as critics pretend


    08:22 PM CST on Tuesday, February 1, 2005



    How "radical" is the strong-mayor system proposed for Dallas?



    DAVID WOO/DMN
    If Dallas passes the proposal, it will join the ranks of seven of the 10 largest U.S. cities. And there's not a power proposed for the Dallas mayor that isn't already held by one of those seven mayors. About as radical as the U.S. government, the Texas government, or the municipal governments of seven of the nation's 10 largest cities: New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Philadelphia, Houston, San Diego and Detroit.

    In all those cases, voters select both the members of the legislative branch (Congress, the state legislatures, the city councils) and the chief executive (the president, the governor, the mayor). Under Dallas' current council-manager system, the person with executive authority is the city manager, who is not elected. The mayor is a figurehead.

    (Actually, San Diego's residents just voted to adopt a strong-mayor system; it will take effect in January 2006. Other cities that have switched to strong-mayor systems in recent years include Oakland, Calif., Cincinnati and Richmond, Va.)

    Also Online

    Complete city charter, with proposed revisions
    No two governments are exactly alike, and the proposal that will be on the ballot here May 7 is not a carbon copy of any other city. It most closely mirrors the form of governance that has been in force in Houston since 1947.

    Few opponents of the change are foolish enough to argue that everything is hunky-dory at City Hall – reality does have a nasty habit of intruding. Instead, they're saying that this particular fix is too extreme, that voters should reject it and wait for a more moderate proposal to come along.

    Here's the key, though: There's not a single power that would be granted to the Dallas mayor under this initiative that isn't held by various mayors in the seven cities I listed – as well as, in most instances, the president and the governor.

    Take, for example, an issue that's kicked up a lot of dust among opponents of the proposal: the mayor's authority to appoint the heads of city departments and the members of the city's citizen advisory boards. The president, the governor and all seven mayors control such appointments. It goes along with the responsibility for running the government.

    In some instances, the executive's appointments must be approved by legislators. But, with rare exceptions, the picks are up to the executive rather than the legislature to make. Under the Dallas proposal, appointments to advisory boards would need council approval, but department heads would not. The City Council would continue to appoint members of the Plan Commission, the board that, because it decides zoning matters, wields the most power among the boards and commissions.

    Then there's the matter of the veto – a power that the president, the governor and six of the seven mayors enjoy. Other than Houston's mayor, Dallas' mayor would be the only one in the bunch to lack that authority. Of all the powers the proposal's authors might have included, the veto would give the mayor the biggest club to hold over the council's head. Yet they withheld that power – how radical is that?

    Another feature that distinguishes the Dallas proposal from most of the other systems is that the mayor would continue to be a member of the City Council and to preside at council meetings. Only Chicago and Houston have similar setups. However, it's arguable that rather than enhancing the office, the time lost to meetings is a drain on the executive's time and energy.

    In four of the seven cities, the charter makes provisions for a top administrative officer, chosen by the mayor, to oversee day-to-day operations. In two cities, Philadelphia and Chicago, the council gets to approve that appointment – although the mayor can fire the administrator at will. Under the Dallas proposal, the revised charter would not establish such a post, although the mayor could create it.

    Mayor Laura Miller says that's what she wanted all along: a top administrator directly answerable to the mayor. It's not what we're voting on because the council rejected her ideas, and a group of citizens took the matter into their own hands by circulating petitions to put the current proposal on the ballot.

    It's not perfect, but neither is it radical. And as for the promise that if we reject it, the opponents will bring us a better deal ... well, personally, I'd just as soon trust the fox to get into the egg delivery business.

  39. #739
    Administrator tamtagon's Avatar
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    I wonder how long we have to wait until everyone publically picks a side and/or develops an alternative plan?

    http://frontburner.dmagazine.com/

    STRONG MAYOR AND THE CITIZENS COUNCIL
    In today's DMN, Gromer Jeffers Jr. writes that the Dallas Citizens Council has been "noticeably silent" about the Blackwood amendment.

    Two weeks ago I raised the issue with Michael Boone, a former chairman of the DCC, but he would only say that the group had contacted some political consultants and was exploring its options. That's the gist of Jeffers' piece.

    But other sources have confirmed that the DCC unanimously voted to oppose the Blackwood amendment in December. Then a number of business leaders called to urge the group to reconsider, and that's where we stand now. Now the word on the street is that the DCC will unveil its own strong-mayor plan that isn't as sweeping as Blackwood's and work to defeat her amendment on the May 7 ballot. That opens the door for a "compromise plan."

    That may attract powerful opponents of Blackwood's like Darrell Jordan, who believes that Dallas should have a more inclusive process (something along the lines of a Constitutional Convention) to review the council-manager form of government.


    Brian D. Sweany · 01:54 PM

  40. #740
    The smartest gal in town! trolleygirl's Avatar
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    Hey Guess what? I'm taking a break from this thread. No more posts from me until the election!!!

  41. #741
    Administrator tamtagon's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by trolleygirl
    Hey Guess what? I'm taking a break from this thread. No more posts from me until the election!!!
    Yeah, right. I bet at some point, Politiciangirl will not be able to resist the urge to state an opinion or balance a point of view (like RobertB and his map making). Personally, it takes about a week before exposure to the subject makes me kinda sick, about a week to recover, and then it starts all over.

    Have a nice break!

  42. #742
    All Purpose Moderator warlock55's Avatar
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    Well I'm back from my sickness-imposed break so I can tag-team with TG.

  43. #743
    High-Rise Member columbiasooner's Avatar
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    Forward I just received....

    Hello fellow neighbors,

    Just wanted to encourage everyone to come to this important neighborhood meeting, Thursday, Feb. 10th at 7pm. (I apologize if this email is a duplicate for any of you—we have several email lists floating around). You have probably heard some rumblings about the Strong Mayor referendum that will be on the ballot this coming May. Here is your chance to learn the pros & cons of this referendum, straight from the horse’s mouth! See this month’s newsletter—due out this weekend or go to www.vpna.org and read it on-line. To find out what is actually in the referendum, I’m sure you can “Google” it on-line and get lots of info beforehand—have your questions ready!

    When: Thursday, Feb. 10th
    Time: 7 pm
    Where: Belmont Towers (Greenville & Belmont) enter off of Belmont—walk past the pool to the lobby/office area—meeting in the dining hall



    VPNA PRESENTS STRONG MAYOR FORUM FEB. 10

    You’ve heard the heated rhetoric, the charges and counter charges, and the ad hominem attacks. Now come decide for yourself as representatives of the major groups supporting and opposing the Strong Mayor proposal square off in a debate at our February 10 general meeting.

    Whether you are for or against the proposal, or somewhere in between, it is undeniable that the Strong Mayor referendum represents one of the most exciting exercises in direct democracy that Dallas had seen in many years. The referendum has the potential for creating profound change in the way the City is run by abolishing the City Manager and vesting all executive power in the hands of the mayor. Whether such a change would be for good or for ill is the subject of passionate views on both sides. And their representatives are anxious to make their case to residents of Vickery Place.

    Beth Ann Blackwood, credited with initiating the referendum, has tentatively agreed to appear on behalf of Citizens for a Strong Mayor, the political action committee formed to spearhead support for the measure. In November Ms. Blackwood turned in 30,000 signatures to the City Secretary to put her Strong Mayor plan on the May 7 ballot.

    The political action committee formed in opposition, Coalition for Open Government, also has agreed to participate. The Coalition for Open Government was formed at the instance of several City Council members who oppose the Blackwood proposal. At press time, the opposition group had yet to propose its representative. VPNA vice president Bruce Thomas will moderate the debate.

    In addition to the two groups presently invited, it is possible that other groups, pro or con, may emerge and also will be invited to participate in the VPNA Strong Mayor Forum. But to be sure, YOU are invited. So come armed with your questions and demand straight talk on the Strong Mayor. It promises to be an exciting and informative evening.

    Since this publication, I have received another email from the moderator:

    Here's what we have set up. Beth Ann Blackwood, representing Citizens for a Strong Mayor, has agreed to be the Pro speaker, and Michael Jung, an appellate attorney at the Strasburger firm, will speak on the Con side representing the Coalition for Open Government.

    This is the format I've discussed with the speakers. Two parts. First, a candidate-type debate of the type we saw so much of last fall. Audience members will write questions on cards and pass them to me as the
    moderator. I will then use those as the basis for asking questions to Michael and Beth Ann, perhaps combining some on the same topic and re-phrasing others to make them more articulate if necessary. I'll give each side 2 to 3 minutes to respond to the question, although I'll use some judgment in that, and may have follow ups. This is, after all, a neighborhood meeting, not a presidential debate.

    After about a half hour of written questions and debate-style responses, we'll open the floor for ~2 minute comments (which could include questions), alternating pro and con, and allowing Beth Ann and Michael to respond briefly if they wish. My thinking here is that after everyone has been educated a little on the issues, we should here what our neighbors have to say. Additionally, not everyone will just want to ask a question. Some people will want to make points that the main speakers have not, or voice opinions on the proposal that we may all benefit from hearing, including the main speakers. My goal is to wrap the whole thing up in about an hour, although if we're still going strong after an hour, I'd be willing to keep going as long as it appears productive.

    While the general public is invited, I do want to make it clear to the audience that I'll give preference to VPNA residents who have questions and comments, if we can't get to everyone.

  44. #744
    High-Rise Member columbiasooner's Avatar
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    From the DMN blog:

    We Need a Bigger Grandstand
    Don't look now, but there's a hijacking in progress at Dallas City Hall. Ostensibly, City Council members are discussing the language that will be on the May ballot describing the proposed strong-mayor plan. In reality, they're bombarding the poor city attorney's staff with accusatory questions that are nothing more than ill-disguised broadsides against the plan itself.

    Sample question: "Now, Ms. Johnson, wouldn't you say that, if this passes, ONE PERSON will hire and fire all 13,000 city employees, and the council will have no power over them?"

    Unsaid, of course, is that under the current council-manager system, ONE PERSON (the city manager) hires and fires all 13,000 city employees, and that ONE PERSON is not directly answerable to the voters, as the mayor is.

    Also unsaid is that under the current charter, City Council members have no authority over the hiring, firing or daily activities of the 13,000 city employees. In fact, the charter expressly forbids council members to meddle in those areas.

    Not only are council members using public time and public facilities for what is, in essesnce, a campaign event, that event will be broadcast at public expense on DCTV. If you want to view the spectacle firsthand, consult the city's website for dates and times.

    posted by Victoria Loe Hicks @ Feb 2, 2:43 PM

  45. #745
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    ^Very interesting....

  46. #746
    The Urban Pragmatist Mballar's Avatar
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    Voter drive targets renters
    Tenant advocates call City Hall unresponsive; mayor disagrees

    10:15 PM CST on Monday, February 7, 2005


    By EMILY RAMSHAW / The Dallas Morning News


    Dallas landlords and tenants gathered with the Apartment Association of Greater Dallas on Monday to kick off a voter registration drive targeting residents in more than 100,000 of the city's apartment units.

    While apartment dwellers make up 60 percent of Dallas residents, tenant advocates say they have a disproportionately small voice at City Hall. With higher voter turnout and better education on candidates for municipal office, they hope, apartment renters will sway future elections.

    "Apartment development and a strong resident base have driven much of the redevelopment in Dallas, from Uptown to downtown to north Oak Cliff," said Gerry Henigsman, executive vice president of the Apartment Association. "The city says, 'We want your involvement; we want your residents.' But we get very little response when it comes to issues that impact residents."

    While registering more voters is always positive for the city, Mayor Laura Miller said Monday she and her colleagues on the City Council do hear the voices of Dallas' tenants.

    "When we make changes to ordinances that affect them, we have lots of conversations with them," Ms. Miller said. "I think they're very well represented at City Hall. They're just opposed to what we're doing."

    Crime is the top concern for most landlords and apartment dwellers. Apartment renters say elected officials blame safety problems in multifamily complexes on the style of housing and the individuals who live there instead of putting more police officers on patrol.

    "We have been used as a scapegoat for all the crime in the city," said Kathy Carlton, director of government affairs for the Apartment Association. "We are more victims of crimes than perpetrators, and we're trying to get the same kind of police enforcement" as other residential neighborhoods.


    Renter ordinances
    Industry leaders also say the city has passed ordinances that negatively affect apartment dwellers and their landlords without giving them any advance notice.

    The fire department recently banned the storage of grills within 10 feet of an apartment – an inconvenience to renters who need someplace to stow their outdoor grills. And the city is demanding that apartment management companies tow cars with expired inspection stickers, association members say, even when landlords know the car is in use and hasn't been abandoned.

    "These are simple things, not the most earth-shattering things," Mr. Henigsman said. "But residents will find that not a very good experience."


    Tenant safety cited
    All the ordinances the council has passed regarding apartment complexes are intended to protect tenants, Ms. Miller said.

    Last year, the council approved code amendments requiring property managers to post building-code inspection scores on site and to register their complexes with the city annually, at a cost of $2 per unit. The Apartment Association and many Dallas landlords were none too pleased by the decision.

    "Those tenants should be thrilled there are more safeguards in place," Ms. Miller said. "It's unfortunate that they feel the way they do. I hope they get lots of people to register to vote."

    The mobilization drive will include a newsletter and coffee meetings with City Council candidates. New renters will be encouraged to register to vote when they sign their leases. And the Apartment Association has held training sessions for more than 90 on-site registration representatives, who will be going door-to-door and meeting with tenants to get out the vote. The coalition will also provide some residents with transportation during early voting and on Election Day.

    The association has commitments from the property management firms of nearly 50 percent of the city's apartment units, Ms. Carlton said. And while industry leaders don't have a great sense of how many apartment dwellers regularly turn out for municipal elections, she said, every vote counts in a council race.

    "We're going to get voter registration materials in their hands," she said. "Municipal elections are historically decided by very small numbers."

    E-mail eramshaw@dallasnews.com .

    _______________________________
    ^ I'm sure Lakehighlands has some interesting comments regarding the apartment dwellers concerns.
    A wise man speaks because he has something to say; a fool because he has to say something. - Plato

  47. #747
    The Urban Pragmatist Mballar's Avatar
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    Strong-mayor advocate leaves race
    11:19 AM CST on Tuesday, February 8, 2005


    By EMILY RAMSHAW / The Dallas Morning News



    The Dallas attorney who crafted the city’s petition to strengthen mayoral power has dropped out of the District 14 city council race, citing the pressures of running two campaigns simultaneously.

    Beth Ann Blackwood, who turned in 30,000 signatures in November to put a strong mayor government on the May ballot, said Monday she would devote her full energy to ensuring voters approve the measure.

    “Unfortunately, I do not believe I can dedicate the time needed for both the Strong Mayor efforts and the efforts the citizens in District 14 deserve in the upcoming council campaign,” she said.

    Ms. Blackwood, who never officially filed as a candidate, is bowing out of the city’s most competitive council race to date. At least four candidates, including Angela Hunt, Kathy Ingle, Candy Marcum and P.D. Sterling, have announced plans to run for District 14, a V-shaped area that includes uptown Dallas and sections of Old East Dallas and downtown.

    Veletta Forsythe Lill, who currently holds the District 14 seat, is term limited and may not run again.
    A wise man speaks because he has something to say; a fool because he has to say something. - Plato

  48. #748
    Administrator gc's Avatar
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    ^ Very interesting news here. Surely there is more to the story than that.
    “We shape our Cities, thereafter they shape us.”

  49. #749
    High-Rise Member columbiasooner's Avatar
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    PRESS STATEMENT OF
    BETH ANN BLACKWOOD COMMITTEE
    Beth Ann Blackwood Decides
    to Devote Full Time to Strong Mayor Campaign

    Date: February 8, 2005

    Nearly two years ago, I decided to get involved in the future of our city. Since then, I have become deeply involved as the spokesperson for the Citizens for a Strong Mayor campaign to improve and revitalize our city government through adoption of the Blackwood Amendment to the city charter.

    It has become apparent to me that I can no longer adequately devote my time, energy and resources to both the Strong Mayor campaign and a campaign for City Council. From the future of the Wright Amendment to crime prevention, downtown revitalization and the need for better code enforcement, the residents of Council District 14 deserve a full and active debate on these pressing issues in the coming months. Unfortunately, I do not believe I can dedicate the time needed for both the Strong Mayor efforts and the efforts the citizens in District 14 deserve in the upcoming council campaign. Therefore, I will not file as a city council candidate in District 14.

    I commit my focus to being a strong advocate for increased accountability at City Hall. I look forward to remaining active in the future of our city, our region and our state. Even in times of disagreement, I remain enormously respectful of those who give generously of their time in elected office. Elected office is a powerful calling and a selfless act for all who wish to improve their community

  50. #750
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    750 posts into this thread and I'm not sure if I know where everyone stands on the issue?

    Celebrating the urban greatness of Texas: Houston, San Antonio, Dallas, Austin, El Paso and Fort Worth.

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