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Thread: Your Opinion of a Strong Mayor

  1. #251
    Mile-High Skyscraper Member rantanamo's Avatar
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    I think many just want to keep their little power as powerful as possible.

  2. #252
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    Quote Originally Posted by hamiltonpl
    I don't see it either, 2112. You have every right to give an opinion. (Especially when you are right. )

    A Dallas white person sneezes and some council members consider it biological warfare on minorities.

    My Quaker ancestors were the "underground railroad" during the civil war. Today, I stand up against oppression as a lawyer. I'd raise hell about this if it was intended to disinfranchise members of racial or ethnic groups.

    Changing the form of city government in the city is not racist. Continuing to cry "racist" when there is no racist is like crying wolf. When meritorious discrimination claims come to the courthouse or brought to the attention of an employer, people believe its just another kid crying wolf.
    Right. If there truly are issues with inequities, then it is the elected counsil memebers that should be held accountable. They are the one that are suppose to look out for thier constituents. A strong-mayor would have nothing to do with that.

  3. #253
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    Quote Originally Posted by rantanamo
    I think many just want to keep their little power as powerful as possible.
    Agree with you there. I just hope we do get a strong mayor form of govt. It works wonders in Chicago, San Francisco, NYC and other cities. They are able to move along so quickly with development. What we have now is a govt with very little leadership, because everyone is trying to be a leader, and allow each other to push each others buttons so quickly. The council members work more against each other then with each other. Then unrightfully the mayor gets the blame from the public when things fall apart.

    I will say that after watching how much campaigning Laura Miller has done for promoting this city across the US, I have seen how much her hands have been tied to getting things done. This being solely on some council members thinking we still live in the 1960's, other council members selling out to coporations too quickly, and others not having enough courage to vote on their own with out other council members telling them how to vote.
    Last edited by slfunk; 08 December 2004 at 10:21 AM.

  4. #254
    Feisty Ol' Coot hamiltonpl's Avatar
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    Comments on this board are usually reasonable and well thought out. Why can't the city council members who represent us be the same way?
    DAGNABBIT!

  5. #255
    Mile-High Skyscraper Member rantanamo's Avatar
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    ^conflict of interest. Each is too busy trying to stay in office to look at the big picture.

  6. #256
    Administrator tamtagon's Avatar
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    ^keepin it real

  7. #257
    Administrator gc's Avatar
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    from the frontburner....


    STRONG MAYOR
    A law-studying, city-watching FrontBurnervian wants us to get with it:

    I hope you will in the near future run an issue on the Strong Mayor Campaign currently underway. This is a very important initiative and I know that some at D Magazine support it. Part of the change called for would give the mayor the power to create new city departments. The HNTB Team who is advising the city on the Trinity River Project has called for the establishment of a Redevelopment Authority (Dallas is the largest city in the country without one). As Dallas moves forward there is going to be a need for a strong mayor to be able to lead just as most mayors do in the largest cities in the United States.
    Amen. Read my comments on the subject in today's front-page News story here.

    Wick Allison · 09:24 AM
    “We shape our Cities, thereafter they shape us.”

  8. #258
    Administrator tamtagon's Avatar
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    Well, when your engine races but the car doesnt move, it's sometimes better to get a new car, sometimes it's better to get a new transmission. I'm not sure it's a decision the voters of Dallas are adequately informed to make.

    [I like this bumper sticker I saw the other day: 'Racecar spelled backwards is Racecar']

  9. #259
    The smartest gal in town! trolleygirl's Avatar
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    I think my city council representative hit the nail squarely on the head:

    "What would happen is that civic engagement would be muted," "She should be a uniter, not a divider," Mr. Chaney said. "She needs to stop pointing fingers. She thinks she can't get anything done. But that has to do with people skills."

    Obviously the council agrees on something. They don't like the proposal. So, what's uniting them on that front? Shouldn't the Mayor be listening to them? Shouldn't the Mayor be negotiating with them?

    I don't believe in bottom-lines. Some people do. But people with bottom-lines cannot be negotiated with. I don't see the council members as having a bottom-line since they've said that they are willing to take the time to look at some form of proposal. But this stupid Beth Ann person and whoever is behind her is really bad tming and shows that she knows nothing about city government. I can't believe she's actually running for council.

    It's eally sad that it's come to this. I think the Mayor is taking poor political advice. She needs to work to defeat the ballot measure- that way she will show the council that she believes in doing it the right way and she can negitiate later. It will garner trust and support. (people skills). Instead, she shows her bottom-line with this: "But why would I, knowing this current system doesn't work, go out and oppose the proposal?" Because you need the confidence and support of your council colleagues more than you need to shove this agenda up their noses. She still has to work with these people- and at least three new ones- for another two and a half years. If she thinks its tough now, it's only going to get tougher and unless whoever is advising her is planning on rustling up some dead voters somewhere, I don't see it passing at the ballot.

  10. #260
    Mile-High Skyscraper Member rantanamo's Avatar
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    Reminds me of Star Wars just before the Clone Wars.

  11. #261
    The Urban Pragmatist Mballar's Avatar
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    ^I think this also shows how unfit for leadership Miller is. People talked about John Kerry being a flip flopper, right? Well how is this for flip flopping:

    In a matter of 6 months (or less) Miller has gone from supporting a Strong Mayor system to withdrawing support for a strong mayor system and back to support for a strong mayor system again. She has also changed her position on a number of other issues affecting the city (some very important). She admits this fact. I'm sorry, that's not leadership. Even Laura Miller supporters don't know which way the wind blows on this one with Miller. Leaders lead, take a position and then stick to it (like President Bush). Leaders don't act the way Laura Miller has. I've said it before, and I'll say it again "we can't afford any more of Laura Miller's on-the-job-training"
    A wise man speaks because he has something to say; a fool because he has to say something. - Plato

  12. #262
    Administrator gc's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by trolleygirl
    I think my city council representative hit the nail squarely on the head:

    "What would happen is that civic engagement would be muted," "She should be a uniter, not a divider," Mr. Chaney said. "She needs to stop pointing fingers. She thinks she can't get anything done. But that has to do with people skills."
    Yes, without a doubt she should be a uniter, but look who's doing most of the barking here...Chaney and MTR. No surprise there.

    Quote Originally Posted by trolleygirl
    Obviously the council agrees on something. They don't like the proposal. So, what's uniting them on that front? Shouldn't the Mayor be listening to them? Shouldn't the Mayor be negotiating with them?
    Of course they agree on this issue. Why would they want change? They love their current jobs...little work, no accountability, no responsibility, decent pay, unethical practices, etc, etc...all the while telling your constituents that "I am working as hard as I can, but Miller really is such a divider!"

    Quote Originally Posted by trolleygirl
    I don't see the council members as having a bottom-line since they've said that they are willing to take the time to look at some form of proposal. But this stupid Beth Ann person and whoever is behind her is really bad tming and shows that she knows nothing about city government. I can't believe she's actually running for council.
    Hearing the council say they'll look at some form of proposal is translated into, "Sure, we'll waste the taxpayers time and money to review a proposal that we sure as hell aren't going to vote for no matter what". IMO, none of our current elected leaders know anything about city government.

    Quote Originally Posted by trolleygirl
    It's really sad that it's come to this. I think the Mayor is taking poor political advice. She needs to work to defeat the ballot measure- that way she will show the council that she believes in doing it the right way and she can negitiate later. It will garner trust and support. (people skills). Instead, she shows her bottom-line with this: "But why would I, knowing this current system doesn't work, go out and oppose the proposal?" Because you need the confidence and support of your council colleagues more than you need to shove this agenda up their noses. She still has to work with these people- and at least three new ones- for another two and a half years. If she thinks its tough now, it's only going to get tougher and unless whoever is advising her is planning on rustling up some dead voters somewhere, I don't see it passing at the ballot.
    Why should the mayor work on trying to defeat a ballot measure that the CITIZENS want? What the heck kind of government is that? Why are the people at city hall ignoring their citizens desires? Why can't anyone get that through their head? OUR current system is not working...period! Our city has been ignoring it's citizens for too long.
    “We shape our Cities, thereafter they shape us.”

  13. #263
    Mile-High Skyscraper Member rantanamo's Avatar
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    Star Wars!

  14. #264
    The smartest gal in town! trolleygirl's Avatar
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    Beth Ann Blackwood has no base, does nos not represent anyone or any group and is hardly what I would consider a "citizens revolt". Her campaign is hardly what I would call something that the citizens want. The "citizens" who go around doing petitions to get support for change usually fall short. When citizens groups get together, you're talking about passionate people volunteering their atime away from family, after work, and on theweekends to get out a ballot measure. It's hard for citizens to go out and get 20,000 signatures for anything. Beth Ann Blackwood hired people to go out and tell lies to citizens (the city manager was indicted??) to get signatures for a petition while they were sipping lattes at Starbuck's. Hardly an idicator of what the citizens really want. Beth Ann won't even tell us the names of the "citizens" behind this so -called grassroots effort.

    It really gets me- and others- because I have spent a lot of time and effort in real citizens grassroots efforts. This is not one.

  15. #265
    The Urban Pragmatist Mballar's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by trolleygirl
    Beth Ann won't even tell us the names of the "citizens" behind this so -called grassroots effort.

    It really gets me- and others- because I have spent a lot of time and effort in real citizens grassroots efforts. This is not one.
    Sounds like what someone stated recently in the Wright Amendment thread (I think RobertB). . .this is not grass roots. . . it's astroturf!
    A wise man speaks because he has something to say; a fool because he has to say something. - Plato

  16. #266
    Mile-High Skyscraper Member rantanamo's Avatar
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    When you're talking about real city government at the top, there is no sizeable "grassroots". To me, its besides the point as to what is right or wrong. LM needs to pull a Jerry if she really wants this. Lay back in the cut.

  17. #267
    The Urban Pragmatist Mballar's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by rantanamo
    When you're talking about real city government at the top, there is no sizeable "grassroots". To me, its besides the point as to what is right or wrong. LM needs to pull a Jerry if she really wants this. Lay back in the cut.
    Laying back in the cut does seem like the most sensible approach here doesn't it? Which is why I've started to wonder about the origins of this petition drive. At the risk of sounding like a conspiracy theorist, I would like for everyone to consider the following facts:

    - Laura Miller wants a strong mayor system really bad, and has wanted one for a long time.
    - She backed off recently when it appeared that her proposal for a strong mayor system was going to fail.
    - All of a sudden, this Beth Ann person comes along with a petition for a much more radical version of a strong mayor system. However she refuses to disclose who is behind her efforts.
    -After it becomes apparent that the more radical version will make the ballot, Miller comes out in support of strong mayor again, and subsequently pushes for her own, less radical (more palatable), option.

    Add all of those things up, and it leaves the door open for someone to form the impression that Miller is behind this Beth Ann person, and they are working together in playing "good cop - bad cop" (for lack of a better term) in an effort to get Miller's original plan passed by the voters. While I don't consider Laura Miller to be the leader that Dallas needs right now (or possiblt ever), she has demonstrated that she can play the game of politics quite well, and I wouldn't put it past her.
    A wise man speaks because he has something to say; a fool because he has to say something. - Plato

  18. #268
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    For anyone who didn't catch Fox4 News yesterday- it was made known that Vance Miller is partially behind the strong-mayor efforts... There are some very deep pockets behind this push- and I think you'll see an overwhelming support of the strong mayor effort by the business community. Things need to change!!! I am all for a strong mayor- and I'd love nothing more than for Laura Miller (who I don't always agree with) to shove this right up the backside of the city council... She is left with no option! I think Laura Miller is a uniter- but it's tough to unite when people like Leo and Maxine do nothing but divide!!!!

  19. #269
    All Purpose Moderator warlock55's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by gc
    IMO, none of our current elected leaders know anything about city government.
    I think I'd have to agree there. So why is the solution to give even more power to one of them?

  20. #270
    All Purpose Moderator warlock55's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by slfunk
    Agree with you there. I just hope we do get a strong mayor form of govt. It works wonders in Chicago, San Francisco, NYC and other cities. They are able to move along so quickly with development. What we have now is a govt with very little leadership, because everyone is trying to be a leader, and allow each other to push each others buttons so quickly. The council members work more against each other then with each other. Then unrightfully the mayor gets the blame from the public when things fall apart.

    I will say that after watching how much campaigning Laura Miller has done for promoting this city across the US, I have seen how much her hands have been tied to getting things done. This being solely on some council members thinking we still live in the 1960's, other council members selling out to coporations too quickly, and others not having enough courage to vote on their own with out other council members telling them how to vote.
    I just don't understand how having a strong mayor automatically helps development. I mean, sure you could say some old cities have had strong development under mayors, but if you look at the current fastest growing cities in the U.S. the majority have a council-manager form of government. And what about old cities with strong mayors like Detroit? There are way too many factors involved in economic development to make blanket statements about one form or another being more effective.

  21. #271
    All Purpose Moderator warlock55's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kelley USA
    For anyone who didn't catch Fox4 News yesterday- it was made known that Vance Miller is partially behind the strong-mayor efforts... There are some very deep pockets behind this push- and I think you'll see an overwhelming support of the strong mayor effort by the business community. Things need to change!!! I am all for a strong mayor- and I'd love nothing more than for Laura Miller (who I don't always agree with) to shove this right up the backside of the city council... She is left with no option! I think Laura Miller is a uniter- but it's tough to unite when people like Leo and Maxine do nothing but divide!!!!
    And how is this is going to make the council more inclined to vote for and approve policies and administrative programs submitted by a strong mayor? What incentive will they have to do anything a strong mayor wants when their constituents already vote for them when they defy the mayor? The gridlock would just get worse. It's not like the strong mayor system eliminates the council members, which seems to be what people here actually want.

  22. #272
    Administrator gc's Avatar
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    City accepts consultant's ideas
    Committee created to help implement consultant's ideas
    10:13 PM CST on Wednesday, December 8, 2004
    By DAVE LEVINTHAL / The Dallas Morning News
    http://www.dallasnews.com/sharedcont...sey.511ea.html

    It was hardly unanimous, but the Dallas City Council on Wednesday formally accepted the findings of a free, five-month-long government efficiency study released last month by consultant McKinsey and Co. The 11-3 vote also created a committee designated to help implement into Dallas' law and policy the dozens of economic development and code enforcement suggestions McKinsey made in its report. The full council retains final approval of any recommendations by the committee, which consists of McKinsey representatives along with Mayor Pro Tem John Loza, Deputy Mayor Pro Tem Don Hill and council member Gary Griffith.

    "No implementation happens unless we walk the thing through the council process," Mr. Hill said, noting that his committee will make recommendations to the council early next year. "It's very much a council-driven, council-controlled situation," Mayor Laura Miller said. Their assurances, however, didn't convince South Dallas council members Leo Chaney, James Fantroy and Maxine Thornton-Reese, each of whom voted against accepting the report. Although none of the report's findings are binding, the opposing council members expressed concern that the report emphasizes downtown Dallas redevelopment at the expense of South Dallas redevelopment.

    "I'm concerned that South Dallas is going to get lost in what we're doing today," Mr. Chaney said. The McKinsey report offers pages of suggestions and observations about both South Dallas' and downtown Dallas' economic health. While it presents several options for bolstering growth in both sectors, including the creation of a semiprivate local government corporation to control downtown growth, it suggests none. Mr. Fantroy said he would hold Mr. Hill personally accountable for ensuring South Dallas economic development interests are the city's top priority. "That's very fair, Mr. Fantroy," Mr. Hill responded. "Allow us, at this point in our city's history, to focus on the things we've got together."

    Council member Mitchell Rasansky was absent for the vote.

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

  23. #273
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    At least if this measure were to pass it would come as a result of the people voting for it, instead of the current (14-1) system which was imposed on Dallas outside of the democratic process by an all-powerful unelected federal judge. Now if we could just get some general at-large seats, or an overlapping quadrant system we may start to see more professionalism out of the council. Purely single member districts don't work as well because it becomes a zero sum game, services provided in one district are services not provided to another, there isn't as much looking out for the greater good of the city as an integrated whole as there should be.

  24. #274
    Supertall Skyscraper Member TexasStar's Avatar
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    The simple fact that most of the council is against the idea is the best argument for it. If this passes it will be a clear indication Dallas' citizens are a good deal smarter than people give them credit for.

    And if it fails, well ...

  25. #275
    The smartest gal in town! trolleygirl's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by warlock55
    I just don't understand how having a strong mayor automatically helps development. I mean, sure you could say some old cities have had strong development under mayors, but if you look at the current fastest growing cities in the U.S. the majority have a council-manager form of government. And what about old cities with strong mayors like Detroit? There are way too many factors involved in economic development to make blanket statements about one form or another being more effective.
    Is anyone listening to you? You are on-point here! But it seems that nobody factors in these considerations. Including the mayor and other council members.

  26. #276
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    Warlock,

    Please give me a few examples on how the current system has been successful here in Dallas? How has the 14-1 system helped the city? I'm just asking- you might have more insight than me... All I know is that I see all the bickering at City Hall- I see people like Vance Miller who strongly support the strong mayor effort- and I can't help but think it would be good for Dallas! It's time for a change!!!

  27. #277
    the-young-and-the-bright RobertB's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Quiz03
    At least if this measure were to pass it would come as a result of the people voting for it, instead of the current (14-1) system which was imposed on Dallas outside of the democratic process by an all-powerful unelected federal judge. Now if we could just get some general at-large seats, or an overlapping quadrant system we may start to see more professionalism out of the council. Purely single member districts don't work as well because it becomes a zero sum game, services provided in one district are services not provided to another, there isn't as much looking out for the greater good of the city as an integrated whole as there should be.
    I get so frustrated when people whine about "unelected judges", as though they were the harbingers of the coming Apocalypse. They're just one branch of government, part of our system of Checks and Balances. The power swings one way and another, with each branch's desire for power (an innate human trait) helping curb the other branches' desires. The judiciary is not "outside of the democratic process" -- it's an integral part of it. You should have been listening more to your Civics teacher, and less to Rush Limbaugh.

    I was pretty new to Dallas when 14-1 was established, but as I recall, it finally brought healing to some long-festering wounds. History doesn't just go away, and the city's history of minority relations had left a lot of bitterness. 14-1 gave more folks representation at the table, which was a symbolic turnaround from the past. It was an essential step in the city's progress from Jim Crow to the new millenium.

    Perhaps the time has come to revisit 14-1 as part of the strong-mayor upheaval. But don't be so quick to dismiss the positive impact the plan has had on the Dallas community... regardless of how we ended up with it.
    As for our common defense, we reject as false the choice between our safety and our ideals... Those ideals still light the world, and we will not give them up for expedience's sake. - B. Obama 1/20/09

  28. #278
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    So now we've created a climate where every citizen feels they have an equal voice at city hall... While the healing has been going on- not much else has been accomplished. The City of Dallas had a shortfall on the last budget- thus city workers were laid off, police and firefighters did not receive the raises they were promised, big corporations moved to the burbs, convention business has been lagging, hotel occupancy is way down and it goes on and on...

    If Ron Kirk was still mayor- would we see the same reaction?

  29. #279
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    Quote Originally Posted by warlock55
    I just don't understand how having a strong mayor automatically helps development. I mean, sure you could say some old cities have had strong development under mayors, but if you look at the current fastest growing cities in the U.S. the majority have a council-manager form of government. And what about old cities with strong mayors like Detroit? There are way too many factors involved in economic development to make blanket statements about one form or another being more effective.

    This is a good point. I guess Detroit is so fundamentally in trouble, that it doesnt matter whether a strong mayor is at the helm or not. Its the basic economy driving its future. Even with a strong mayor, if he or she is lazy and has no guts to execute any vision, than it doesnt really matter, does it.

    Wow. Hows THAT for an optimistic view!! HAHAHAHAH

  30. #280
    All Purpose Moderator warlock55's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kelley USA
    Warlock,

    Please give me a few examples on how the current system has been successful here in Dallas? How has the 14-1 system helped the city? I'm just asking- you might have more insight than me... All I know is that I see all the bickering at City Hall- I see people like Vance Miller who strongly support the strong mayor effort- and I can't help but think it would be good for Dallas! It's time for a change!!!
    I can't pretend to be an expert on Dallas' history. There are a lot of people here more qualified than I am to talk about that, although I do seem to remember that there was a period during the 80s, fondly remembered here, when skyscrapers were going up all over the place downtown and the system of government was the same as today. Assuming that's the kind of "success" you're talking about. Of course I'd include other things such as turning away from a white, rich businessman dominated city to a more egalitarian (and as a result more conflicted) one, a success.

    What I can say though is that I don't believe that Dallas is being run very effectively at the moment (with the acknowledgement that I don't live within the city myself). I don't believe the problem is one that the system itself caused though. Instead I'd say that it's caused by the actors within the system, including the mayor, council, and last city manager, not understanding and fulfilling their roles in it. The manager got too political, the council meddles in administration, and the mayor is unable to lead the council. These people are basically breaking the system, and because these people aren't going away with a switch to a strong mayor form of government, that's why I have no faith that it will be any kind of improvement. In fact, because even more responsibility will rest with them, I think the city will actually be WORSE off with a change. What the city really needs is political depolarization, and like I mentioned in a previous post, the best way to accomplish that is through an effective, objective city manager and objective standards for administrative decision-making. That's one of the roles that the council-manager form was designed to play from its beginning.

  31. #281
    All Purpose Moderator warlock55's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by 2112
    This is a good point. I guess Detroit is so fundamentally in trouble, that it doesnt matter whether a strong mayor is at the helm or not. Its the basic economy driving its future. Even with a strong mayor, if he or she is lazy and has no guts to execute any vision, than it doesnt really matter, does it.

    Wow. Hows THAT for an optimistic view!! HAHAHAHAH
    *L*

    It's true though! Any system needs good people in it.

  32. #282
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    Quote Originally Posted by RobertB
    I get so frustrated when people whine about "unelected judges", as though they were the harbingers of the coming Apocalypse. They're just one branch of government, part of our system of Checks and Balances. The power swings one way and another, with each branch's desire for power (an innate human trait) helping curb the other branches' desires. The judiciary is not "outside of the democratic process" -- it's an integral part of it. You should have been listening more to your Civics teacher, and less to Rush Limbaugh.

    I was pretty new to Dallas when 14-1 was established, but as I recall, it finally brought healing to some long-festering wounds. History doesn't just go away, and the city's history of minority relations had left a lot of bitterness. 14-1 gave more folks representation at the table, which was a symbolic turnaround from the past. It was an essential step in the city's progress from Jim Crow to the new millenium.

    Perhaps the time has come to revisit 14-1 as part of the strong-mayor upheaval. But don't be so quick to dismiss the positive impact the plan has had on the Dallas community... regardless of how we ended up with it.
    Symbolism doesn't run a city.

    When the citizens of a city aren't allowed to craft theiir own solution to a problem and instead have it force fed to them by the "wise" federal judges I call that outside of the democratic process. That's not democracy that's a bully, and an end run around the will of the people. Your 4th grade checks and balances nostalgia isn't what exists now.

  33. #283
    the-young-and-the-bright RobertB's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Quiz03
    Symbolism doesn't run a city.

    When the citizens of a city aren't allowed to craft theiir own solution to a problem and instead have it force fed to them by the "wise" federal judges I call that outside of the democratic process. That's not democracy that's a bully, and an end run around the will of the people. Your 4th grade checks and balances nostalgia isn't what exists now.
    You're right, of course. Symbolism doesn't run a city... but it can *prevent* it from being run.

    My apologies if you were around then -- any long-time Dallasite will know the situation better than myself -- but at the time, there *was* no solution that could be crafted. The mistrust on all sides precluded reasonable discourse. It wasn't a matter of a bully pushing people around... it was more like the teacher breaking up a playground fight and sending the kids to the principal's office.

    I think (I hope!) the city's leaders have "grown up", and now is the time to rationally discuss moving beyond 14-1. Strong opinions will be expressed, and not everyone will be happy, but I don't think we're in the situation that existed in the late '80s and early '90s. As long as everyone behaves like grownups, there will be no need for the city to go back to the principal's office.
    As for our common defense, we reject as false the choice between our safety and our ideals... Those ideals still light the world, and we will not give them up for expedience's sake. - B. Obama 1/20/09

  34. #284
    Administrator gc's Avatar
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    Is stronger Dallas mayor inevitable?
    Some black leaders vow to fight if council-manager form changed
    10:42 PM CST on Saturday, December 11, 2004
    By EMILY RAMSHAW / The Dallas Morning News
    http://www.dallasnews.com/sharedcont...ayor.4cc5.html


    For more than two decades, ideas to bolster mayoral strength in Dallas have circulated – among business and City Council leaders, on editorial pages and even at the statehouse. But longtime observers of the debate say a lawyer's campaign to bring a strong-mayor form of government before voters is the closest the city has ever come to such a change in city management. "This council is going to have to wake up and realize that the public believes the system is broken, and there's going to have to be a change," former Mayor Ron Kirk said. "If this gets to the voters, it has a strong chance of passing."

    Council candidate Beth Ann Blackwood turned in 30,000 signatures last month to put the measure – which would increase the mayor's power by eliminating the city manager position – on the May ballot. The signatures should be verified by January. Mayor Laura Miller, who probably will support the measure, has championed a stronger mayor as a way to expedite decision-making under the single-member district system. While the 14-1 system increased diversity and made the council more accountable to the public, she said, elected officials often don't have the authority to meet their constituents' needs. "Everyone in this city should be able to get lights fixed on their streets, and they shouldn't have potholes on their roads," Ms. Miller said. "We have outgrown the effectiveness of the council-manager system."

    But black civil rights leaders who waged legal battles to change Dallas' at-large representation to single-member districts believe strengthening mayoral power would silence the city's minority voice. Bringing the strong-mayor option before voters will again divide Dallas down racial lines, they say, and they are threatening legal action to prevent it. "We are ready to rise to the challenge at every level – in court, or with civil disobedience if necessary," said Roy Williams, whose lawsuit resulted in single-member districts. "This is a defeatist push to bring back the days of past. This is the biggest threat yet" to 14-1.

    Under a traditional strong-mayor system, the mayor is the chief executive – the individual who crafts the budget, hires and fires department heads and puts policy in motion. All city employees are accountable to the mayor and are at risk of losing their jobs if they don't perform. The council-manager system is designed to make City Hall a well-oiled machine, devoid of corruption and excessive political bickering. The city manager is responsible for day-to-day activities and is a buffer between elected officials and professional supervisors. Dallas, Phoenix and San Antonio are the only three cities with more than 1 million people that use the council-manager form of government.

    Pros and cons

    Advocates for the strong-mayor system say it allows elected officials to fulfill their campaign promises. But opponents say it makes council members mere pawns in the city structure, back-scratching to stay in the mayor's favor. And they argue a seasoned executive should guide a city with a $2 billion budget – not a campaigning politician. Ms. Blackwood's strong-mayor push has found few fans at City Hall. The mayor is leaning toward supporting it, and only Mayor Pro Tem John Loza and council member Mitchell Rasansky are considering supporting it.

    "We are being forced again to debate the form of governance in our city," council member Veletta Forsythe Lill said, "not through a discussion and dialogue in our neighborhoods and businesses, but by a small elitist group." Ms. Miller gives full credit to Ms. Blackwood for getting the ball rolling. And while the next six months probably will be filled with debate, the mayor said she's prepared. "It's not going to be easy. There's a lot of emotion, a lot of uncertainty," she said. "This is a democracy, and it's an important issue."

    While the city's renowned black leaders – men such as Mr. Williams, Marvin Crenshaw and former City Council member Al Lipscomb – are vocally opposed to a stronger mayor, some say they aren't representative of younger minority voters. In a 2002 Dallas Morning News poll, residents believed by a 2-1 ratio that an elected mayor – not a hired city manager – was best suited to implement city policy. This view spanned race, age, education and income. "It crosses all lines," said Vance Miller, a real estate executive who said he donated about $2,000 to aid Ms. Blackwood's efforts. "This is something that all citizens want – their issues to be addressed, their potholes to be fixed."

    'Major step backward'

    But Reginald Gates, president of the Dallas Black Chamber of Commerce, said it's not just the old guard who is opposed to strengthening the mayor's power. He said most black voters would fight against such a change. "Accountability exists now, more so because we have folks we can directly contact," Mr. Gates said. "We view the strong-mayor form of government as a major step backward." Ms. Blackwood said she understands why a stronger mayor would have been a threat to minorities decades ago. But today, she said, their voting clout is sufficient to elect a minority mayor.

    Every Dallas mayor since J. Erik Jonsson, whose term ended in 1971, has desired some degree of greater authority, said David Laney, former chairman of the city's Charter Review Commission. When Mr. Kirk was mayor, he tried unsuccessfully to implement what he calls a "strong mayor-strong manager" form of government. Mr. Kirk said he still thinks it's the answer for Dallas. Ms. Blackwood's proposal makes the mayor too responsible for mundane, day-to-day tasks and would give the city's departments a less professional feel, Mr. Kirk said. But now that it's headed toward the ballot, he said, the City Council has lost its chance to negotiate.

    "If it passes, it will throw the city into absolute chaos," he said. "I think we're going to have a horrible next few months." And changing Dallas' system of governance doesn't guarantee an end to the city's woes, said Dr. Ruth Morgan, professor emeritus at Southern Methodist University and a longtime observer of Dallas politics. "It all comes back to people skills," she said. "After all, even a strong mayor has to have the votes of the council."

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

  35. #285
    Supertall Skyscraper Member psukhu's Avatar
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    What are the largest cities in the US without a strong mayor system?

  36. #286
    LH Copycat Columbus Civil's Avatar
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    http://www.dallasvoice.com/articles/...rticle_ID=5440

    Gay leaders: strong-mayor plan a threat


    Anti-gay mayor could wreak havoc with GLBT interests, they say; plan’s sponsor disputes the notion







    By David Webb
    Staff Writer


    Supporters apparently have gathered enough signatures to place on the May 2005 municipal ballot a plan to strengthen the powers of Dallas’ mayor while weakening the influence of other council members — a proposal that some political leaders say could threaten the GLBT community.
    The current system has allowed Dallas’ GLBT community to prosper because it provides for fair and equal treatment, said Jeff Strater, co-chair of the political action committee of the Dallas Gay and Lesbian Alliance.
    “My concern is that if we had a mayor who is bad on our issues, many bad things could happen,” Strater said. “There are a couple of members on the council now that have no interest in our issues. Could you imagine if one of them became mayor?”
    Strater said his committee plans to sponsor a public forum about the proposal before the spring election.
    The city’s secretary’s office is verifying 30,000 signatures recently collected on a petition to put the measure on the ballot. Only 20,000 signatures are needed.
    Called the “strong-mayor” plan, it would amend the city charter to give the mayor authority to hire and fire department heads, establish and eliminate departments and appoint all members of city boards and commissions. The plan would eliminate the city manager’s office, which is now responsible for the appointment of department heads and the day-to-day administration of the city.
    Dallas lawyer Beth Ann Blackwood, a city council candidate, launched the petition drive. She has not disclosed who funded her efforts, which employed representatives who were paid $1 for each signature they obtained.
    Gay council member Ed Oakley said he shares Strater’s concerns.
    “This could have a very far-reaching effect on our community,” Oakley said. “It could set us back a long way — not by this mayor, but the next mayor.
    Many members of the gay and lesbian community now sit on boards and commissions, Oakley said, and most department heads are gay-friendly.
    The police chief, city manager and fire-rescue chief rode in the Alan Ross Texas Freedom Parade in September.
    Oakley said he plans to work strenuously to defeat the proposal.
    “We have to defeat it,” he said.
    Oakley said he has discussed the matter with about half of Dallas’ council members, and most of them oppose the plan. Some representatives of African-American and Latino communities have also expressed concerns, he said.
    Mayor Laura Miller said she has not made up her mind about the proposal, although she would prefer fewer changes to the City Charter. The mayor said she initially opposed the measure because she disagrees with eliminating the city manger’s position. But her preference for a stronger mayor has caused her to take a second look at it, she said.
    Miller previously proposed a plan for a stronger mayor system that she said was less complex. But other council members “in a very hostile manner” refused to discuss it.
    If voters approve the proposal, Miller said, she would maintain the city manager’s post and take advantage of the new powers only to the extent that she considered necessary.
    “I could implement my ideas within the structure of the Blackwood petition,” Miller said. “That’s where I’m headed.”
    Miller said for now she will continue researching the matter and seeking input from voters.
    Mayor Pro Tem John Loza, who is gay, said he is not opposed to giving the mayor more power, but he believes the Blackwood proposal goes “way too far.”
    “It diminshes the role of the council until it’s almost irrelevant,” Loza said. “You’re taking an awful big chance the mayor is going to be gay-friendly, which may or not be the case.”
    Strides the GLBT community achieved, with advances such as domestic partner benefits for city employees and a nondiscrimination ordinance protecting gays and transgenders in employment, housing and access to public facilities, could easily be subverted by a future mayor with an anti-gay agenda, Loza said.
    Oakley said the council needs to discuss the city charter and determine if any changes need to be made to it. The council member said less radical changes than those contained in the Blackwood proposal might help the city function better.
    Council member Veletta Forsythe Lill said she opposes the plan’s concentration of power in one individual. She also objects to the anonymity of its financial backers. Their identity and motives may be cause for concern, she said.
    “I see it as a hijacking of democracy,” Lill said. “Democracy needs to be transparent.”
    Lill said the stronger mayor would also have the sole authority to condemn buildings.
    “The possibilities for abuse are endless,” Lill said.
    But the proposal’s author dismissed concerns.
    “If the person who was elected by the community at large wasn’t gay friendly, that mayor would have no ability to enact ordinances and set policies that would not be friendly to the gay community,” Blackwood said. “I don’t think that should be a concern to the gay community at all.”
    The city manager now has the power to hire and fire department heads.
    “But the city manager is not accountable to voters,” Blackwood said. Voters can pass judgment on the mayor every four years during elections, she added.
    “The idea behind it is putting someone in charge at City Hall who can go out and do the things that the community would like to see done — like reducing crime, fixing streets and enforcing code ordinances,” Blackwood said. “Right now, we really don’t have someone who is in charge of that, and who we can actually fire if we don’t think they are doing a good job.”
    Blackwood said that she was asked by financial supporters to withhold their names initially. But required financial disclosure forms identifying them will be filed at the appropriate time.
    “We will be disclosing all of the people who have put up any money for this, and we’ll do it in an orderly, organized way,” Blackwood said. “People will be able to look at it and see if it makes a difference to them or not.”
    If certified to appear on the ballot, the proposal will probably pass, political consultant Pat Cotton said, because many residents are dissatisfied with city government.
    “They’re really not thinking beyond the fact that Dallas is dysfunctional,” Cotton said “Everybody is aware of that, and this will look like a magic bullet. But it isn’t.”
    The city’s problems are a result of the council hiring a succession of city managers who performed poorly, and an entrenched municipal work force that is lackadaisical, at best, Cotton said. The employees are secure in their jobs “no matter what they do” because there is a culture at City Hall that protects them, she said.
    “You’ve got to be able to get rid of people who are not effective,” Cotton said. “We don’t have that right now.
    Instead of improving matters, a stronger mayor could make the situation worse, she said.
    E-mail webb@dallasvoice.com
    Dallas uber alles

  37. #287
    Mile-High Skyscraper Member rantanamo's Avatar
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    I can relate to the level of mistrust that minority groups are having. The current system is seen by many as a check and balance system. The problem is, obvious and critical measures are going through bottlenecks and that is doing none of us any better. There has to be some form of accountability that doesn't involve being the least progressive city in the United States. OK, exaggeration.

  38. #288
    Skyscraper Member LakeHighlands's Avatar
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    Unfortunately, it looks like this is going to turn into a big mess. I think the most vocal people against the strong mayor effort are only hurting themselves. Al Lipscomb just to name one of many is not helping the opposition to a strong mayor system. He was under house arrest and was involved in some major corruption. Hello!!!

    Having certain people or groups publicly opposed the strong mayor system is only giving some people who might have not voted for a strong mayor system, a reason to vote for a strong mayor system.

    I really do not want to say this but….. The majority votes come from District 12, 11, 13, 10, 9. These are mostly conservative districts. So when people like Al get all up in arms about this topic, he is only going to end up hurting the position he supports. I have talked to many folks and people are tired of the way City Hall function or doesn't and if the following districts support the strong mayor system, it will pass.
    "One of Dallas' strongest communities, Lake Highlands boasts a true sense of neighborhood spirit. Local stores reflect passionate support for Lake Highlands schools with school posters and signs. True to its name, the area features handsome traditional homes up and down rolling hills and charming, winding roads." --Lake Highlands People

  39. #289
    Skyscraper Member noelamador's Avatar
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    from Dallas Biz Journal

    Mayor deserves more power

    With debate raging over Dallas' system of government, residents may get the opportunity to vote for changes to the city charter that would give the mayor far more power.

    We favor such a change.

    Right now, the mayor serves as the only at-large council member and therefore has the critical distinction of being the only person who represents all the people. But the role has no more true power than that of any other council seat.

    Mayor Laura Miller, and future mayors, would have the chance to be far more effective if the charter could be altered. Indeed, increased effectiveness and visionary leadership would be demanded.

    Some oppose giving the mayor more clout, fearing that the city would face more corruption and cronyism. That risk is real, we suppose, but the balkanized council government we have now is getting the city nowhere and itself is hardly immune to corruption.

    The mayor deserves more power for one reason: She represents all citizens of Dallas. The other council members don't.

    The alternative would be to go the same route as our nation's founding fathers: Create two arms of city legislators -- let the current council members continue to represent their districts, but elect a like number of additional at-large members to boost big-picture decision making.

    Of course, that means more politicians, more city expenditures. Giving the mayor more power may be cheaper way to achieve the same important end.

  40. #290
    Mile-High Skyscraper Member rantanamo's Avatar
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    maybe shorter mayor term with 3 term limit? maybe that would ease some accountability fears?

  41. #291
    Skyscraper Member noelamador's Avatar
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    Miller's real legacy

    In her Nov. 26-Dec. 2 Notebook column, "Laura Miller's legacy," Kerry Curry suggests that Laura Miller's legacy has been diminished because she "failed to bring the Cowboys back to town." Come on.

    While I wasn't alive at the time, I haven't once heard negative commentary on the Dallas political leadership in the late-1960s which allowed the Dallas Cowboys to "slip" to Irving. Perhaps this is because, over time, the move has proven to be an economic nonevent.

    I drive past Texas Stadium every day, and all I see is a tired building surrounded by vast parking lots and a couple of industrial buildings. In Arlington, the Ameriquest Field hasn't fared much better -- one new Siemens building appears to be the only building of consequence constructed since the ballpark opened under billing as a surefire economic engine.

    Keep in mind, Texas Stadium's surrounding land endured several economic cycles with no meaningful development. Neighboring ballpark land sat virtually idle throughout the 1990s during the greatest demand-driven real estate boom the Metroplex has ever seen. With these two case studies, who in their right mind believes that publicly funded and luxury-box-laden sports facilities drive ancillary development?

    In the end, Miller has protected her legacy by standing strong on the stadium and, more importantly, by focusing on the Trinity River project and on bringing needed accountability to City Hall. I appreciate her thoughtful efforts and look forward to her continued success.

  42. #292
    Mile-High Skyscraper Member rantanamo's Avatar
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    unfortunately, the general public just says, Cowboys = good thing, and don't look at the facts. I will maintain though, that in the right conditions, these things do work. See Victory. or Oriole Park in Baltimore, or Ford Field and Comerica in Detroit. But when you're talking a Texas Stadium location, or Ballpark location you'll never get the development you want. The thing probably would have worked in the two final Dallas locales, but not $425 million worth of working.

  43. #293
    All Purpose Moderator warlock55's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by gc
    And changing Dallas' system of governance doesn't guarantee an end to the city's woes, said Dr. Ruth Morgan, professor emeritus at Southern Methodist University and a longtime observer of Dallas politics. "It all comes back to people skills," she said. "After all, even a strong mayor has to have the votes of the council."
    True

  44. #294
    The Urban Pragmatist Mballar's Avatar
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    I'd like to know, from those people in favor of a strong-mayor form of government, how do you think Laura Miller's tenure as Mayor, thus far, would have been different had she been working as a strong mayor?
    A wise man speaks because he has something to say; a fool because he has to say something. - Plato

  45. #295
    the-young-and-the-bright RobertB's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by R. Mbala
    I'd like to know, from those people in favor of a strong-mayor form of government, how do you think Laura Miller's tenure as Mayor, thus far, would have been different had she been working as a strong mayor?
    One question is whether she would have been elected if the strong-mayor concept had been in place. She was elected as someone who would see the issues clearly, express her views honestly, and find ways to get the fractous council to get together behind her proposals -- because it takes the whole bunch to get anything done. If the mayor had CEO-like powers, I suspect the tools needed for success would be different, and a more CEO-like opponent may have won in her place. However, I doubt such a mayor would be as open about contentious issues, preferring the backroom to the public forum. That movement of power from the front of the house to the back is one of the arguments against a strong mayor, of course.

    Disclaimer: I don't live in Dallas, I just drive from the SE corner to the NW corner and back to get to and from work. I don't get a vote. (or should that be ?)
    As for our common defense, we reject as false the choice between our safety and our ideals... Those ideals still light the world, and we will not give them up for expedience's sake. - B. Obama 1/20/09

  46. #296
    The smartest gal in town! trolleygirl's Avatar
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    I told my council rep that I would support him and any organized effort to fight the strong mayor thing. I wonder what would happen if there was a petition drive to keep the council manager and if it could make it to the ballot too?

  47. #297
    Mile-High Skyscraper Member rantanamo's Avatar
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    Re: R. Mbala
    Didn't and wouldn't have voted for her because she was far too myopic to be a good strong mayor candidate. The streets would be spiffy though.

  48. #298
    the-young-and-the-bright RobertB's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by trolleygirl
    I told my council rep that I would support him and any organized effort to fight the strong mayor thing. I wonder what would happen if there was a petition drive to keep the council manager and if it could make it to the ballot too?
    But what about the lack of accountability in the current system, where all the City Manager has to do to keep his job is make sure the city council stays fragmented enough that they can't get around to firing him/her? I'm concerned about putting so much power in the mayor's office, but you could make the point that if the mayor screws up, we can vote him/her out -- whereas the City Manager can be incompetent for years and nobody can (directly) do anything about it.

    I heard the KERA story on the issue last week, and I liked Mayor Miller's logic better when she was opposed to the plan. IIRC, she noted her concern over so much power in one place. I'd like to know more about her decision to change her mind -- did the plan change, or did the current system just become too insupportable?
    As for our common defense, we reject as false the choice between our safety and our ideals... Those ideals still light the world, and we will not give them up for expedience's sake. - B. Obama 1/20/09

  49. #299
    Skyscraper Member noelamador's Avatar
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    The Hulk Oh, no, this isn't just about a strong mayor BY JIM SCHUTZE

    There are two scary things about the "strong mayor" proposal probably slated for a referendum in Dallas next May: It seems to have roots in affluent venues in the Park Cities and North Dallas. And it would absolutely gut the Dallas City Council.

    But does being scary make it bad?

    I have a little fess-up to get out of the way. A couple of fess-ups. One, I didn't read the thick document attached to the petitions...wait, three fess-ups. I didn't read the thick document attached to the petitions calling for a vote next May to abandon the city manager form of government in Dallas. Two...ouch, this is really embarrassing...I signed the petition.

    Three, for some weeks now I have had a general knowledge of who was behind it, and in particular I knew one of the organizers was Dallas businessman Vance Miller. In fact, Miller and I have discussed the proposal in some detail.

    I have reported that the group backing the strong mayor movement was "secret" only because most of them still are, and the person out front on the deal, city council candidate Beth Ann Blackwood, won't name them. I suspect her problem is that almost all of them are from the Park Cities and the riches of North Dallas, and she's hoping to dilute that with some more plebeian support by the time she has to file a campaign finance report for the petition drive. Dallas elections director Brooks Love tells me that date is January 18, when all campaigns and candidates must file semiannual reports.

    My discussions with Vance Miller about the petition drive were on background. But he outed himself as an organizer last week on WFAA-Channel 8, so I can talk about him now.

    So let's see. I signed the thing without reading it. I said the group was secret, even though I knew who some of them were. Now I've read it, and my jaw is on the ground over how radical it is. If I could do this all over again, I would never have signed the petition. But now that I have read it, and given the circumstances, I think I may vote for it.

    Maybe I need a nap.

    I had been told the charter amendments amounted merely to crossing out all references to "city manager" and replacing them with "mayor"--a simple "search and replace."

    More like "search and destroy."

    Let me share. First the legalese. And this is only an example. The existing charter talks about how " all ordinances and resolutions of the city council...shall be final on the passage or adoption by the required majority of the city council."

    If we vote yes on this thing next May, that language will say: "All ordinances and resolutions of the city council AND ORDERS OF THE MAYOR shall be final on the passage or adoption by EITHER THE MAYOR or the required majority of the city council."

    Yeah, take a deep breath. That's what I did. Right now, the council votes on ordinances--local laws. But under the new version, the mayor could also pass laws, called "orders."

    By fiat.

    Are you mentally searching for a parallel in your experience as an American that might help you comprehend that? How about "martial law"?

    And I still think I may be OK with it.

    In the last week I have been reading political science journals (I deserve hazardous mental duty pay) dealing with forms of local government. The bottom line is that types of city government occupy a spectrum. Right now we are way over at one end--weak mayor, weak council, weak city manager. The weak, weak, weak system.

    The proposal put forward by the petitions would slam us all the way over to the other extreme: no city manager or other statutory chief administrative officer at all, a crippled city council that reporters won't even bother to cover, and "The Hulk" for mayor.

    This mayor would run every department of the city and have hire-and-fire authority over all non-civil service city employees and appointees. She would appoint the civil service commission. As a matter of fact, she would appoint all members of all city boards and commissions.

    The mayor would hire and fire the city council's personal staff and decide what to pay them. You know those city council secretaries who campaigned against Mayor Laura Miller and then brought an ethics complaint against her? They would need to dump their stuff in boxes and run.

    The mayor would hire and fire the chief of police, the city attorney, all municipal judges and court clerks. The mayor could create or kill entire city departments--any city department. The mayor would be able to create special police and detectives apart from the police department.

    My own personal favorite new power of the mayor: The mayor would be able to blow up buildings. Seriously. I'm not making that up.

    The thing about blowing up buildings has to do with emergency situations in which structures are already on fire and threatening other buildings. But, you know, they could always reinterpret "emergency." I imagine the mayor sitting around with Crayton Webb, her chief of staff: "Gee, Crayton, Schutze's column is so bad. I mean, it's almost like an emergency how bad it is. Wouldn't you say?"

    Kaboom!

    A week ago I got into sort of a snip-snap with Blackwood and her husband over something I had written about her campaign finance report in her run for the District 14 (Veletta Lill) council seat. It was a one-day story on a bookkeeping error.

    The real bottom line on her and her husband, Park Cities lawyer Tom Thomas, both brand-new to city politics, is that they're smart. They have stepped right around the mayor and city council on the entire issue of charter reform.

    Thomas was the lawyer on the Park Cities suit against state aid for poor school districts, and a little more than 10 years ago he filed a "civil rights" suit against Kaufman County for daring to arrest 100 or so Park Cities brats at an out-of-control Park Cities adolescent booze fest.

    So he's a successful, respected lawyer from deep in the Bubble, and he and his wife have invaded Dallas to impose regime change. They probably found the weapons of mass destruction their first day. But what is the bottom line on their idea, charter reform?

    There is a general perception in the city--a kind of reluctant recognition--that Dallas City Hall is like a human heart in fibrillation. It shakes. It jiggles. It tries so hard. But it just can't pump blood.

    People have been jumping on Mayor Miller for being all over the place on this--against the Blackwood petitions, now apparently for them. But Miller is consistent on one point: She keeps telling the cameras that what we have now does not work.

    She's right. So how could we possibly justify keeping it?

    I hate parts of this proposal. When I spoke with Vance Miller some weeks ago, I asked him about my favorite concept--strong mayor, strong council, strong manager. Make the mayor the boss. But give the council a better salary and the ability to hire its own staff. Create an independent analytical agency equivalent to the state legislative council in Austin. Keep the manager but have him or her report to the mayor, so that the manager doesn't have to hunt for the likely eight-vote majority on any given issue in order to know which way to jump.

    Vance Miller thought I was talking trash. He clearly sees the council as the problem. I think his opinion is widely shared among the city's economic elites: The trouble started when all those little neighborhoods--"wards," he calls them--got too big for their britches.

    When people talk about the "good old days" in Dallas, they don't mean the days before blacks and browns came to the table. They mean the days before there was a table.

    So how could I vote for this? Not happily. I sure wish we had another choice. But this summer is when the voting public will get a chance to vote for change. The only way to put this off is by campaigning against change in May. I believe that would be the worse poison.

    Do the Park Cities bubblati and their North Dallas cohort think they'll be able to capture the mayor's seat after the charter has been changed? Of course they do. There's talk now among the business moguls of being tired of Laura Miller, thinking she's a photo-op former journalist who can't run a company.

    But the people I talk to who see the polls regularly tell me Laura Miller is still extremely hot with the heavy-voting middle-class base. I think the next mayor under the new system will be Laura Miller.

    Then we'll see. Boy will we see.

    I said to a friend recently: "People have a sense that the ship is drifting in circles. Above all else, the city has a right and a duty to survive. I think people want to elect a captain and tell the captain to set a course--almost any course, but a course with a tight rudder and wind in the sails."

    He listened. Was silent for a moment. Then said: "I don't disagree with any of that, Jim. I just want to point out that these are the sentiments that brought Hitler to the Reichstag in 1933."

    Hmm. That's not good. Phew. I think I feel an attack of intellectual fibrillation coming on.

  50. #300
    Skyscraper Member noelamador's Avatar
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    Walk the Talk Offering the mayor a sorta kinda brilliant idea BY PATRICK WILLIAMS

    Buzz could use some extra holiday cash, so we thought we'd try our hand at a little political consulting and share this brilliant idea we had for Mayor Laura Miller. (She pays a political consultant for his help. We figure she could slip a few bucks, a fruitcake or something to Buzz.)

    Miller says she wants voters to approve a charter amendment, likely to be on the ballot in May, that would vastly expand the mayor's powers and eliminate the city manager's position (see Jim Schutze's column in this issue). It's a more sweeping change than Miller wanted, but, she says, it's better than no change at all. Her own proposal for strengthening the mayor's role, which she wanted to take effect after she leaves office, was shot down by the city council.

    OK then, Mrs. Mayor, let's show them council wusses you mean business. At this week's council meeting, and at every future debate you have on the charter change, you should stand up, raise your right hand and say this: "I, Laura Miller, do solemnly swear that if voters approve the strong-mayor proposal in May, I will resign the day afterward." She could then run in the special election to fill the vacancy her resignation would create.

    So maybe that's not brilliant. But it would give all those people who dislike Miller reason to vote for the charter change; it would remove suspicions that the strong-mayor proposal is a power grab by Miller; and it would allow voters to consider the change solely on its merits. Plus--and this is the best part--it would be an absolute hoot . Imagine the confused looks and furrowed brows on the faces of Miller's council opponents if they were given the chance of bagging her in trade for the charter change.

    There's only one hitch, though. Miller won't go for it.

    "Isn't five elections in five years enough?" she cheerfully asked Buzz when we floated the idea past her.

    Miller points out that she would have only two years left on her term after May--time enough to try to implement the change and allow voters to decide whether city government was functioning any better with her in the driver's seat. "But it's really clever," she says of our suggestion.

    Well, thanks. If you're going to be all grown-up about it, Mayor, then fine. Just fine. Sniff.

    We don't even like fruitcake.

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