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Thread: Your Opinion of a Strong Mayor

  1. #501
    High-Rise Member columbiasooner's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jsantiago
    A change is needed I will have to agree. But changing the system will not help any. It is up to the people.

    Software and Computers for example can do many great things but it is up the user the people to get it done and use it as a tool. We need to change the people in office and you can do that by voting.
    Yeah but if I tie your arms behind your back how well can you type things for the computer to do?

    My point exactly about voters. Voter accountability is the key.

    If we give more power to the mayor we will probably get better candidates for mayor.

    Look I'm not a big Laura Miller guy. I am trying to see the city 20 years from now.

  2. #502
    Oak Cliff Resident
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    How will the strong mayor help the city in 20 years?

    Voter accountability? explaint that one

  3. #503
    All Purpose Moderator warlock55's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by columbiasooner
    The strong mayor proposition is not "my way or the highway".

    Majority of City Council would still set policy, approve appointments, etc.
    I'm saying that a skillful politician would be able to handle any form of government they were elected to.

    And your second sentence gets back to my point that if this passes the council members are going to be even more likely to sabotage what they mayor wants to do because they're going to be angry because they feel this is a "my way or the highway" type power grab.

  4. #504
    Supertall Skyscraper Member texman's Avatar
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    The Roman Empire, during crisis, they would put a 6 month dictator in control to handle the issues. Maybe Dallas should just give Laura that and let her do what she wants. Both sides win.
    "And we will probably be judged not by the monuments we build but by those we have destroyed."-"Farewell to Penn Station," New York Times Editorial, October 30, 1963

  5. #505
    All Purpose Moderator warlock55's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by columbiasooner
    If we give more power to the mayor we will probably get better candidates for mayor.
    Giving the council the most power doesn't seem to have helped improve their quality any...

    Power doesn't automatically equal better leaders. Power doesn't automatically equal anything.

  6. #506
    Oak Cliff Resident
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    I am going to go out on a limb here...

    It is not really the city's government fault at all. If we had a more diverse city or neighborhoods there would not be a problem. If you had city council member that where not only representing the black community or the white community we would not have a problem. I am going to blame it on white flight, and segregation so fix that.

  7. #507
    High-Rise Member columbiasooner's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jsantiago
    How will the strong mayor help the city in 20 years?

    Voter accountability? explaint that one
    Nothing specific but I believe that we will be in a lot better shape than the alternative.

    The City Manager is not an elected official yet he runs the city. There is no accountability in that system.

  8. #508
    The smartest gal in town! trolleygirl's Avatar
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    As it is, right now, for me, as a home-owning taxpayer in charge of a large neighborhood association, when I want something, I call my council rep. I need some trash cans for a block of streets. I dodn't call the Mayor and ask her to be accountable to my stolen trash cans. In fact, I called my council rep to ask for a number to the guy who coiuld get me my trash cans. He forwarded my note and I got phone call today. My council rep - and the staff- as far as I can tell are doing a fine job of being "accountable" to me.

    And vice versa. I had lunch with Gary Griffith today because he wants to do a planning summit for Vickery Meadow, and area he (partly) represents. He called me because he needed my input. One of the things we discussed was the Park Lane Place. Right now, our Mayor (and other council rep) is agianst funding a new TIF district for the Park Lane Place that would extend into Vickery Meadow. We need it- alot. Harvest Partners has spent the last three weeks lobbying council members support- like any good developer- so they can present it council in a couple of weeks. Staff wants it and is recommending it All but two council members say they will back it (the caviet is that it will- it must- include Vickery Meadow). Our Mayor is against it. If she had two months ago what Beth Ann wants give her in May, then she could have single-handedly killed a big economic development deal- one that is desperately needed in this city.

    I wonder how many developers (we should ask the Real Estate Council) are for or against the strong-mayor proposal?

  9. #509
    Administrator gc's Avatar
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    ^ The strong-mayor form of government is modeled after the Federal government (You know, the President and stuff). I do not hear everyone complaining about how our President it too powerful. Now I will not argue that the Federal government is perfect, but can you imagine if it were run similar to Dallas's current government?
    “We shape our Cities, thereafter they shape us.”

  10. #510
    All Purpose Moderator warlock55's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by columbiasooner
    Nothing specific but I believe that we will be in a lot better shape than the alternative.

    The City Manager is not an elected official yet he runs the city. There is no accountability in that system.
    How many city employees do you want to elect before you'd be happy? The line has to be drawn somewhere, and why not with an objective, professional administrator who is acountable to the majority of the city through the council.

  11. #511
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    Quote Originally Posted by gc
    ^ The strong-mayor form of government is modeled after the Federal government (You know, the President and stuff). I do not hear everyone complaining about how our President it too powerful. Now I will not argue that the Federal government is perfect, but can you imagine if it were run similar to Dallas's current government?
    I think we need a system that give equal power to three things
    Mayor
    City Manager
    City Council

    2 out of 3 is better than 14-1

  12. #512
    High-Rise Member columbiasooner's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by warlock55
    How many city employees do you want to elect before you'd be happy? The line has to be drawn somewhere, and why not with an objective, professional administrator who is acountable to the majority of the city through the council.
    The problem lies in that the City Manager is hired and fired by a super majority of Council. That means that he/she only has to be accountable to 5 to keep the job. That is not accountabilty.

    I want the ability to vote in a change of leadership every 4 years. Let the citywide elected official hire and fire the "professional administrator". If they make a bad choice, it's the mayor's head that's gonna roll come election time. Right now the city manager makes a bad decision (Chief Bolton), and everybody just starts pointing fingers.

    Let's put some accountability in the 1 of the 14-1 system.

    HAVE A GOOD WEEKEND....

  13. #513
    Administrator gc's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by trolleygirl
    As it is, right now, for me, as a home-owning taxpayer in charge of a large neighborhood association, when I want something, I call my council rep. I need some trash cans for a block of streets. I dodn't call the Mayor and ask her to be accountable to my stolen trash cans. In fact, I called my council rep to ask for a number to the guy who coiuld get me my trash cans. He forwarded my note and I got phone call today. My council rep - and the staff- as far as I can tell are doing a fine job of being "accountable" to me.

    And vice versa. I had lunch with Gary Griffith today because he wants to do a planning summit for Vickery Meadow, and area he (partly) represents. He called me because he needed my input. One of the things we discussed was the Park Lane Place. Right now, our Mayor (and other council rep) is agianst funding a new TIF district for the Park Lane Place that would extend into Vickery Meadow. We need it- alot. Harvest Partners has spent the last three weeks lobbying council members support- like any good developer- so they can present it council in a couple of weeks. Staff wants it and is recommending it All but two council members say they will back it (the caviet is that it will- it must- include Vickery Meadow). Our Mayor is against it. If she had two months ago what Beth Ann wants give her in May, then she could have single-handedly killed a big economic development deal- one that is desperately needed in this city.

    I wonder how many developers (we should ask the Real Estate Council) are for or against the strong-mayor proposal?
    That is awesome TG, really it is. Those things will not and should not change with a Strong Mayor System(SMS). Council reps are responsible for smaller districts and neighborhood stuff, but what about the city as a whole? Who makes sure the entire city's interests are served? Sure as heck not Ted Benavides...or rasansky...or veletta...or MTR! How many times have we seen south Dallas council members complain about something going north and vice versa or something not "benefitting their district enough"? What happens...projects get stalled, delayed, die, or a company (bringing jobs) decides to play ball in Arlington, Plano, Frisco, or Chicago.

    Example One:
    Who has been in charge of Economic Development in Dallas for the past 6-7 years? Ted Benavides, our "professional" city manager. What has happened in Dallas for the past 6-7 years? Dallas has lost jobs to the it's burbs or other big cities because we had no game plan. Who gets the blame for this?

    Example Two:
    Who was responsible for setting Dallas's goals? What about measuring progress against those goals? Or measuring Dallas's goals against other cities? Ted Benavides. Where is that stuff? Who is held accountable for Dallas being in the DARK so often?
    “We shape our Cities, thereafter they shape us.”

  14. #514
    dallacentric drumguy8800's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jsantiago
    I am going to blame it on white flight, and segregation so fix that.
    Well, this is a little bit two sided. First, I'm going to assume that by white flight, you mean just that. white flight. This is a fair-enough assumption, considering that Frisco is 84.10% white, Plano is 72.8% White, etc. Anyway, white flight is a major player in bringing in poorer immigrants, generally Mexican immigrants, as we live in a Mexican-border state. (Note that I did not say hispanic, I'm not trying to be racist, I'm talking nationalities.) If housing is readily available to someone with little money, they'll take up on the offer - and fill the homes the middle-class left. So, if the middle-class that left isn't being replaced by a middle-class or upper-class, then it's more of a problem for immigrants to come into a city than an established middle class to leave. I agree that white flight is disgusting and is a hush-hush form of racial and social prejudice, but a middle-class leaving doesn't necessarily mean that the next group is going to be poorer. Take Dallas around Mockingbird Lane - The middle class may be leaving, but they are being replaced with a wealthy class, and thusly benefitting the area. The same thing should be happening in Oak Cliff, as it's a beautiful place to live, and it's near the center-city. Unfortunately, it's not happening, and Oak Cliff has seen a tidal wave of immigrants. Thusly, the true problem is not white flight, but one possible result of white flight - poor immigrants replacing a middle-class, and thusly, depreciating an area.

  15. #515
    The Urban Pragmatist Mballar's Avatar
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    How about this?

    Since everyone considers the city manager position to be an important one here. And since columbiasooner (and I'm sure many others) sees a problem with accountability of whomever is in that position (i.e how we hire and fire the city manager). Why not change how the council hires and fires the city manager to something like:

    - required two-thirds vote from council to hire the city manager with the Mayor having veto power.
    - If the mayor vetos the council's original two-thirds vote then the council can override the mayor's veto by a unanimous vote.

    And

    - The mayor can fire the city manager "for just cause" if he/she gets fed up with the city manager's performance-\
    -but the council can override the mayor's "just cause" firing by a two-thirds vote

    What do you think?
    A wise man speaks because he has something to say; a fool because he has to say something. - Plato

  16. #516
    The smartest gal in town! trolleygirl's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by gc
    That is awesome TG, really it is. Those things will not and should not change with a Strong Mayor System(SMS). Council reps are responsible for smaller districts and neighborhood stuff, but what about the city as a whole? Who makes sure the entire city's interests are served? Sure as heck not Ted Benavides...or rasansky...or veletta...or MTR! How many times have we seen south Dallas council members complain about something going north and vice versa or something not "benefitting their district enough"? What happens...projects get stalled, delayed, die, or a company (bringing jobs) decides to play ball in Arlington, Plano, Frisco, or Chicago.

    Example One:
    Who has been in charge of Economic Development in Dallas for the past 6-7 years? Ted Benavides, our "professional" city manager. What has happened in Dallas for the past 6-7 years? Dallas has lost jobs to the it's burbs or other big cities because we had no game plan. Who gets the blame for this?

    Example Two:
    Who was responsible for setting Dallas's goals? What about measuring progress against those goals? Or measuring Dallas's goals against other cities? Ted Benavides. Where is that stuff? Who is held accountable for Dallas being in the DARK so often?
    GC, ACM Ryan Evans has been in charge of economic development and two years ago, J. Hammond Perot, Director of Economic Development was forced to cut his staff. He got his staff back this last summer. They have both been handicapped by budget contraints.

    One of the best and smartest (and most controversial) thing that TB did in the last 18 months was to reconfigure the economic development department and make it a two-pronged approach which includes long-range planning. It's called the Department of Development Services and economic development now falls under that department. Then he hired a director, Theresa O'Donnel to run it. She had a difficult time getting adjusted, but she's got brass balls if I've ever seen them! She waltzes into town and says, "Before I was in Houston, I headed up the department in Vegas. I'm not intimidated by litlle neighborhodd groups. I know how to deal with the mafia types"-- or something along those lines. (I spoke against her at a council meeting sometime in 2003 and, as I spoke, she just stared, stone-faced, at me. It was soooo hard to do.)

    Anyway, after getting this new department organized, she then decided that we needed to do a giant Comprehensive Land Use Study for the entire city. She had a hard time getting it off the ground, not because of council ignorance but again, because if budget. She hired Fregonese and Calthorpe, whcih is surprising because gro what we're paying them, they should have laughed at us. It's the first of its kind that we've ever commissioned. I think she's doing a terrific job. But she hasn't had a chance to get in here and settle in and prove her mettle. We finally have an incredible staff person with good members of the team working on this city's disasterous planning and zoning processes. Why don't we let the staff do their jobs?

    I bet y'all didn't know that TB hired Theresa and redeveloped the departments mentioned above. I bet a lot of the public doesn't really understand exactly how our city works. So it's easy to get mezmerised by this "shiny thing" that's in front of us today.

    The council should be responsible for setting goals for the city, not a commission, not a focus group and not a hired firm- the city council. Just like my bosses, they set the goals for me and I do a job. They don't micro-manage but I communicate with them. Maybe Ted didn't communicate well. In fact, I'm pretty sure that he left them in the dark most of the time. He was a bad executive in that he didn't communicate. So he was micro-managed.

    Oh and for the record- there is no such thing as a "super majority" of the council. It's called a 3/4 majority because 3/4 of the council is 11 members. A simple majority is a 2/3 vote, which is eight members of the council. Five members of the council isn't even a quorum.

  17. #517
    High-Rise Member columbiasooner's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by trolleygirl
    Oh and for the record- there is no such thing as a "super majority" of the council. It's called a 3/4 majority because 3/4 of the council is 11 members. A simple majority is a 2/3 vote, which is eight members of the council. Five members of the council isn't even a quorum.
    What? There are 15 votes on council. A majority vote is 8 which is just over 50%. A super majority of council is 2/3's of the council which is 10 votes.

    "The city manager shall not be appointed for a definite fixed time, but shall be removable at the will and pleasure of the council upon a two-thirds vote of the members of the council..."

    This means that as long as 6 (sorry i said 5 earlier) are happy the city manager keeps his job. I said nothing about a quorum and 15 is not divisible by 4 so there is no such thing as 3/4 of the council.

  18. #518
    dallacentric drumguy8800's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by columbiasooner
    What? There are 15 votes on council. A majority vote is 8 which is just over 50%. A super majority of council is 2/3's of the council which is 10 votes.

    "The city manager shall not be appointed for a definite fixed time, but shall be removable at the will and pleasure of the council upon a two-thirds vote of the members of the council..."

    This means that as long as 6 (sorry i said 5 earlier) are happy the city manager keeps his job. I said nothing about a quorum and 15 is not divisible by 4 so there is no such thing as 3/4 of the council.
    Trolley-girl math!!!!! !! But, 3/4 of 15 is 11.25, so, technically, she's right about that.

    Also, 15 is not divisible by 2, but you seemed to make that work .

  19. #519
    The Urban Pragmatist Mballar's Avatar
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    Strong mayor foes are diverse
    But some fear differing strategies will hurt efforts to retain system

    10:40 PM CST on Saturday, January 8, 2005


    By EMILY RAMSHAW / The Dallas Morning News


    Opponents of a campaign to implement a strong-mayor form of government in Dallas have mobilized into a formidable defense, crossing racial, ethnic and geographic lines with a pledge to defeat the May referendum.

    But their strategies and messages are starkly different – a factor that some advocates fear will hinder their efforts to maintain the city manager-council system.

    Most strong-mayor opponents, who are convinced that the debate has nothing to do with race, want to focus on the logistical and practical problems of strengthening the mayor's power and eliminating the city manager.

    The old guard of Dallas' southern sector – including men such as Al Lipscomb, Roy Williams and Marvin Crenshaw – asserts that the strong-mayor push is an effort to quash Dallas' minority voice.

    City Council members opposing the campaign walk a fine line between these two camps, with most steering away from the race debate and one or two embracing it.

    "What people are saying is a reflection of how they view their government. For minorities, they've been at the table the least amount of time," council member Veletta Forsythe Lill said. "But there are others who would also lose their seat at the table. No matter what part of the city you're from, it translates into a single message: 'No.' "

    In November, council candidate and Dallas lawyer Beth Ann Blackwood turned in 30,000 signatures to put a proposal for a strong-mayor form of government on the May ballot. The signatures were verified Dec. 23.

    Mayor Laura Miller has declared her support and said she may run her own campaign to try to ensure that the measure passes.

    Several high-profile contributors also are backing Ms. Blackwood's campaign, including former Dallas Times Herald managing editor Will Jarrett, real estate executive Vance Miller, Dallas financier Harold Simmons and Ray Wallace, retired chief executive of Trinity Industries Inc.

    The opposition effort kicked off long before the signatures were counted, with an anti-strong-mayor Web site, fund-raising pledges by council members and the announcement that some of Dallas' most prominent political consultants would be joining the fray.

    Council member James Fantroy said he plans to purchase 100 billboard ads and set up phone banks to try to thwart the strong-mayor effort. Stephen Taylor, president of the North Dallas Chamber of Commerce, said his organization will probably help with monetary donations, a speakers' bureau and "yard signs and bumper stickers, if it gets to that."

    And the International City/County Management Association has said it will provide any assistance it can to defeat the strong-mayor proposition.
    Dallas is one of three cities in the country with more than 1 million people that still uses a council-manager form of government. The other two are San Antonio and Phoenix.

    "We think there are huge advantages to the [council-manager] system, and many of the real successes in Dallas are partially attributed to that form of government," said Bob O'Neill, executive director of the association. "Dallas is a very visible community."


    Loosely knit group
    Pat Cotton, a former ally of Ms. Miller, is teaming up with Dallas lawyer and former mayoral candidate Darrell Jordan to try to defeat the referendum. And Carol Reed, who headed the mayoral campaign of Ron Kirk and the Trinity River referendum, is considering managing the opposition effort.

    "We're putting together a loosely knit group, a very disparate group of people," said Ms. Cotton, who is starting her campaign in North Dallas' District 13. "We're encouraging everybody to work in their district, their neighborhood. We've got a big educational effort ahead of us."

    Ms. Cotton said the early game plan is to have all the council districts operate their own opposition campaigns, seeking out local volunteers and raising their own funds. While the strong-mayor effort has already cost its supporters $180,000, Ms. Cotton said, defeating the referendum won't cost anywhere near that amount.

    "They have to spend a great deal because they don't have the grass-roots effort," she said.


    Supporters' campaign
    Ms. Blackwood said her opponents are up against much more than a few wealthy advocates. She estimates her proposal has at least 20,000 strong supporters – including an army of frequent voters who want radical change at City Hall.

    Over the next few months, Ms. Blackwood said, her strong-mayor campaign will include educational panels across the city, mailers and phone calls. She said there's a lot of misinformation swirling around. Once she has a chance to clear it up, her ranks will swell, she said.
    "There's nothing extreme about accountability," she said. "Most of what I hear from the opposition is really incorrect."

    For the opposition effort to be a success, Mr. Jordan said, it needs to be "very broad-based and inclusive."

    But some strong-mayor opponents say bridging the gap is hard to do when there are such distinct differences in opinion.

    On Wednesday, Mr. Lipscomb went before the council and compared the strong-mayor push to Nazi power grabs and the Jewish Holocaust. While most council members were quick to decry Mr. Lipscomb's statement, some said that the strong-mayor initiative strikes a nerve for minority groups opposing the effort.

    "People of color want to sit around the table with power – not just to sit here and say we are just sitting here," Mr. Fantroy said. "We want to have a say-so in our government, a say-so in how our community is run."

    But outbursts like the one at Wednesday's council meeting actually harm the opposition effort, advocates say.

    "We need to make it clear that racial issues and ethnic issues are not what this is about," Mr. Jordan said. "It's about governance and what's best for the city and for all of us."


    Council's challenge
    Strong-mayor opponents say they're counting on council members to take the lead in raising necessary funds and educating their constituents.

    And elected officials say they're ready to rise to the challenge. Don Hill said he expects a "broad cross-section and a unified effort" from his colleagues and constituents. Leo Chaney echoed Mr. Hill, calling for everyone – regardless of color – to join forces to try to defeat the referendum.

    "This is not a black-white issue," he said.

    Council members probably will send mailers to their constituents and attend neighborhood meetings to voice opposition, Ms. Lill said. But she says most of the effort will have to come from outside of City Hall.

    "The unfortunate piece of this is, no matter what the outcome, the debate will set back the city," she said. "What we're seeing right now is harmful to us in every way."

    E-mail eramshaw@dallasnews.com
    A wise man speaks because he has something to say; a fool because he has to say something. - Plato

  20. #520
    High-Rise Member columbiasooner's Avatar
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    1 in 5 seats vacant on Dallas citizen boards
    Some say shortage of appointees leaves areas of city unrepresented
    09:01 PM CST on Sunday, January 9, 2005
    By DAVE LEVINTHAL / The Dallas Morning News

    Citizen boards and commissions are supposed to be Dallas' link between the City Council and the community at large, advising elected officials on matters as varied as parks, pets and police. But a study of council members' individual appointments indicates that nearly one in five board and commission slots sits vacant, leaving entire council districts without representation on the bodies that help shape city policies and laws. The effect, several board and commission leaders say, is a City Council that relies on incomplete information to make its decisions. Without a diversity of opinion and input, representing the needs and desires of all Dallas communities, boards and commissions can't fully prosecute their duties, members say.

    "If council members don't appoint people, it reflects the council's attitude toward our work," said Andrea Allen, chairwoman of the Animal Shelter Commission. An appointee of council member Leo Chaney, she has experienced up to five vacancies on her 15-position commission within the last two years. "The council will also take a piece of our advice more seriously when you have a full complement of commissioners from every district." Said Community Development Commission Chairman Ambrosio Villarreal, an appointee of council member Ed Oakley, "What's sad is that entire districts don't have a member, a representative, looking out for them." Council member Steve Salazar, who represents swaths of west and northwest Dallas, has filled nine of a possible 21 positions, according to city records. Eight slots for which he is responsible remain vacant, and four of his appointees remain in limbo, awaiting council approval, city records indicate.

    Boards and commissions to which Mr. Salazar has not appointed members include the Dallas Commission on Productivity, Landmark Commission, Municipal Library Board, Southern Dallas Development Corp. and South Dallas/Fair Park Trust Fund Board. He also has two vacancies on the Urban Rehabilitation Standards Board. Mr. Salazar did not return messages left at his office. Mayor Laura Miller and Mayor Pro Tem John Loza have seven vacancies each. Three of Mr. Loza's commissioners or board members remain in "holdover status," meaning that their two-year terms have expired but that they continue to serve without formal council approval. "Everyone should try to fill their vacancies," said Ms. Miller, who has not appointed residents to the Board of Adjustment, Community Development Commission, Dallas Commission on Productivity, Civil Service Board alternate member slate, Municipal Library Board, South Dallas/Fair Park Trust Fund Board or Urban Rehabilitation Standards Board.

    "But it's not as simple as just putting people in positions. It takes time," she said. Because the mayor's appointees represent the city at large, Ms. Miller said she wants to ensure they are racially, ethnically and experientially diverse. Finding qualified people – and with certain boards or commissions, people with specific expertise – also makes filling empty slots a challenge. "And sometimes, you want to nominate someone, and they think about it, think about it, and then they turn it down," Ms. Miller said. Other council members, including Mr. Loza, said there's no point in appointing someone to a board or commission only to find that they never attend meetings. "Sometimes I have to wait for the right person," said Deputy Mayor Pro Tem Don Hill, who has three vacancies and five commissioners or board members in holdover status.

    Or, Mr. Hill added, he'll have a specific goal on a certain board and need time to find the right person. Council member Lois Finkelman, whose 20 allotted appointments are filled except for one nominee awaiting council approval, said leaving numerous slots open isn't wise. "The advantage of having your positions filled is that you have a representative in each one of those subject areas, all representing your district's interest," said Ms. Finkelman, who represents sections of North Dallas. "If my colleagues cannot find an appropriate representative from their district, they should look at qualified, willing volunteers from other parts of the city."

    Council members are free to nominate residents from outside their districts to represent them on boards and commissions. Last month, the City Auditor's Office criticized managers of the South Dallas/Fair Park Trust Fund for sloppy accounting practices and poor oversight of money designed to help area businesses and charities flourish. Members of the South Dallas/Fair Park Trust Fund Board, charged with oversight of the fund, say that's not entirely their fault. Of the board's 15 openings, only 11 are filled, city records indicate. The board also operates without a permanent chairperson, requiring members to pick a temporary leader during each monthly meeting. "I don't know what the problem is. We've run into the issue of just getting a quorum to have a meeting," said board member Cranston Alkebulan, Mr. Hill's appointee to the board. "If you can't meet a quorum, you have trouble doing business. Everyone's time gets wasted."

    E-mail dlevinthal@dallasnews.com


    COUNCIL APPOINTMENTS
    District Council members No. of potential appointees Appointed Pending council
    approval
    Holdovers Vacancies
    1 Elba Garcia 21 16 0 2 3
    2 John Loza 21 11 0 3 7
    3 Ed Oakley 21 19 0 0 2
    4 M. Thornton-Reese 21 15 1 2 3
    5 Don Hill 21 13 0 5 3
    6 Steve Salazar 21 9 4 0 8
    7 Leo Chaney 21 17 1 1 2
    8 James Fantroy 21 13 0 4 4
    9 Gary Griffith 20 16 0 0 4
    10 Bill Blaydes 19 14 1 0 4
    11 Lois Finkelman 20 19 1 0 0
    12 Sandy Greyson 20 17 0 1 2
    13 Mitchell Rasansky 20 17 1 0 2
    14 Veletta Forsythe Lill 20 17 0 0 3
    Mayor Laura Miller 19 12 0 0 7
    SOURCE: Dallas City Secretary's Office

  21. #521
    Administrator tamtagon's Avatar
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    ^^ And the city doesnt have a Manager! It's like these guys dont want to be productive.

  22. #522
    Administrator gc's Avatar
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    ^ Perfect timing by the DMN.
    “We shape our Cities, thereafter they shape us.”

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    The smartest gal in town! trolleygirl's Avatar
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    So, 15 people can't even fill commssion slots........how can we realistically expect one Mayor to fill all of them?

  24. #524
    Administrator gc's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by trolleygirl
    So, 15 people can't even fill commssion slots........how can we realistically expect one Mayor to fill all of them?
    Is it that they cannot fill the spots or they are lazy?
    “We shape our Cities, thereafter they shape us.”

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    Supertall Skyscraper Member aceplace's Avatar
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    Just out of curiosity, why does the operation of the municipal government depend on citizens serving on committees? Decisions made by a committee usually have a reputation if beng ineffectual, as "A camel is a horse designed by a committee".

    If the idea is to involve citizens in their government, perhaps the underlying message is that citizens don't want to be involved in a municipal government... they expect it to function efficiently ans autonomously. And if it fails to do so, they abandon it for a better one.

    The fact that committees are are understaffed may mean that their real value is marginal, or that the people think it is.

  26. #526
    The smartest gal in town! trolleygirl's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by gc
    Is it that they cannot fill the spots or they are lazy?
    Maybe they don't know enough people. Or they don't know how to ask people. Or they don't trust people. Who knows? Maybe they want to appoint people who are active in local politics and there isn't enough of them. I can'y impagine that it would be too difficult, all you have to do is look at a list of your donors, pick up the phone and start calling. Lois managed to appoint all her people. What's she doing differently?

  27. #527
    The smartest gal in town! trolleygirl's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by aceplace
    Just out of curiosity, why does the operation of the municipal government depend on citizens serving on committees? Decisions made by a committee usually have a reputation if beng ineffectual, as "A camel is a horse designed by a committee".

    If the idea is to involve citizens in their government, perhaps the underlying message is that citizens don't want to be involved in a municipal government... they expect it to function efficiently ans autonomously. And if it fails to do so, they abandon it for a better one.

    The fact that committees are are understaffed may mean that their real value is marginal, or that the people think it is.
    Well, some people don't simply and willingly trust that their government is as smart as they are.......so they stick thier noses in places where others might accue them of being trouble-makers, when all they're trying to do is make a difference.

    I think if you see some frustration expressed by the folks who come down to city hall every week to complain about something, that energy should be tapped to serve a more useful purpose. Get those citizens to put action where their mouths are- and if they don't want to serve on a commission, then you'll know that they are full of it. Otherwise, they might actually become productive members of our city government. But I'm not convinced that a lot of citizen activists have ever been asked to serve.

  28. #528
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    Frontburner is having a discussion on the strong mayor issue.
    They have a link to an article in the Houston Chronicle.

    http://frontburner2.dmagazine.com

    http://frontburner2.dmagazine.com/archives/007480.html

    http://www.chron.com/cs/CDA/ssistory...olitan/2984985

  29. #529
    The smartest gal in town! trolleygirl's Avatar
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    That is a very interesting article in th Houston Chronicle.

  30. #530
    High-Rise Member columbiasooner's Avatar
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    Time to focus on the strong-mayor campaign
    11:44 AM CST on Monday, January 10, 2005
    By JOHN McCAA / WFAA-TV
    http://www.wfaa.com/sharedcontent/dw....96e12b7b.html

    Politics in Dallas doesn't get the same media attention it used to get. That's unfortunate – especially when you consider the major election toward which we are heading this coming May. Dallas voters will hold a referendum on changing the current city manager form of government to a strong-mayor government. The change would give Dallas a mayor with substantial executive power and would do away with the city manager. Supporters of the idea say the city just isn't working under the current system. Now, they say, when potholes don't get filled or dilapidated properties aren't inspected and condemned, there is no one in City Hall held accountable.

    A strong mayor would give the city an elected executive with some clout to get things done and a person who would have to face voters. Mayor Laura Miller has been pushing for some kind of strong mayor government (not this one) for quite some time. She only recently threw her support behind this plan, telling Dave Levinthal of The Dallas Morning News, "I think the issue is that people are hungry for change. People are ready for a strong-mayor form of government. And how much worse could it be? We don't even deliver effective city services." She told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram the current system is leading to "total dysfunction."

    Mounting problems and a lack of accountability ... on the surface, it seems pretty clear that change is necessary. But like everything else in politics, this involves a lot more twists and turns. Some of the mayor's old supporters don't like it. Take conservative North Dallas activist Pat Cotton. She's expressed her displeasure with city government in Dallas for years, but she's got problems with the plan. In North Dallas, where Mayor Miller has had her strongest support, every council member opposes the plan. You'd be hard pressed to find anyone black or Latino in a position of political leadership who supports the plan. The way they see it, passage of the plan would destroy decades of work to gain political strength in a city in which they now constitute the majority.

    One African-American council member, James Fantroy, has pledged a fight. "Don't take this to mean it's something personal against the mayor," he told the Star-Telegram last month. "I think she's a good person, but I disagree with her politics. She's not working with the community I represent. And those people are telling me to fight this tooth and nail." Of course, Fantroy, to hear some tell it, is a "has been" in Dallas politics. Writing on the Frontburner weblog of D Magazine, Reid Slaughter, executive editor of D Magazine, commented that it is "sad that James Fantroy and John Wiley Price – both of whom could (and should) be great leaders for their community – have lost all credibility."

    He went on to identify the "new black leadership for Dallas" as having "shifted from the offices at City Hall to the pulpits of South Dallas." And who are these members of the "new black leadership for Dallas?" Slaughter identified two: Pastor Dr. Tony Evans of Oak Cliff Bible Fellowship and Bishop T.D. Jakes of Potter's House. They were following, he said, the grand tradition of The Rev. Zan Holmes, once pastor of St. Luke Community United Methodist Church. The Rev. Holmes is now retired, but he did serve in the Texas House of Representatives in the late '60s as a Democrat. He was consistently either involved in on consulted about politics in the city of Dallas by prominent people in and out of city government.

    To the best of my knowledge, Dr. Evans and Bishop Jakes have never contemplated involving themselves in the political process. The only two things they have in common with The Rev. Holmes are being men, pastors of very large churches on the southern side of town – and being black. I suspect if you asked either man if he aspired to a position of political leadership in the city, he would say no. So the real question is: Does James Fantroy speak only for himself? A peek at the black press may provide an answer.

    Longtime columnist (and longtime critic of the mayor) Rufus Shaw has come out foursquare against the strong-mayor plan, writing in the Elite News, "The petition, if passed, will dramatically reduce African-American power and influence at City Hall and dramatically increase the power of Mayor Laura Miller who has proven to be an enemy of the Black community. Even though all 14 city council members' power will be dramatically impacted, the success or failure of the strong-mayor referendum will be decided by the number of anti-petition Black voters who go to the polls ...."

    You can't get much clearer than that.

    In the Dallas Weekly, Vincent Hall took the mayor and supporters of the strong mayor plan to task, warning of protests. "In fact, a lot of us would rather fight than eat. So if protestors, bullhorns, blocked streets and barricades are her wish, Santa can't help but help can be found." Many Latinos have also expressed concern about the proposed plan. Dr. Elba Garcia of the council told the Houston Chronicle, "Just about everyone on the council is against this. It isn't a racial issue. It's a neighborhoods issue."

    And press reports indicate concerns about it in the business community. So what is propelling the strong-mayor plan? The author of the ballot proposal is lawyer and council candidate Beth Ann Blackwood. The financiers of it (or at least the petition) are five businessmen, including Vance Miller of the Park Cities. Opponents wonder aloud about the mayor's ties to Blackwood, the financiers and their plan. Regardless of their feelings about the mayor, a sizeable portion of the thousands who signed the petition to get the strong-mayor plan on the ballot have to be people upset with city government – the very people at the core of the mayor's campaign successes.

    I've said it before: The skill every politician needs to learn better than any other is how to count.

    Half plus one equals a victory.

    Both sides in this dispute are now jockeying to reach that magic number.

    As we move closer to election day, the sheer heat from the debate will compel reporters to cover it more often, and hopefully in-depth.

    Get ready.

  31. #531
    Supertall Skyscraper Member aceplace's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by trolleygirl
    But I'm not convinced that a lot of citizen activists have ever been asked to serve.
    If we are to have commissions, how about just letting people join first-come-first-served. The first 15 people to show up become the commissioners of the dog-poop commission, or whatever.

    If the object is to encourage people to become active in their municipal government, I would think that that would work fairly well.

  32. #532
    The smartest gal in town! trolleygirl's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by aceplace
    If we are to have commissions, how about just letting people join first-come-first-served. The first 15 people to show up become the commissioners of the dog-poop commission, or whatever.

    If the object is to encourage people to become active in their municipal government, I would think that that would work fairly well.
    That's quite possible. In a district with over 80,000 residents, I'm sure that we could find at least 20 people who fit the criteria or have the needed expertise for some of these commissions. Sometimes, you just have to ask people.

  33. #533
    The smartest gal in town! trolleygirl's Avatar
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    Another good question will be this one: how many people who signed the petition will actually go out to the polls and vote? My impression is that it's much easier to sign something while you're out shopping for Christmas gifts, than it is to actually make an effort to go out and vote for it. I wonder is there's a way for Dallas County elections to track that sort of thing?

    With all the mounting opposition organizing to oppose the initiative, I wonder how impassioned those 30,000 petition signers will be to rise against the opposition and campaign for it?

  34. #534
    Administrator gc's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by trolleygirl
    Another good question will be this one: how many people who signed the petition will actually go out to the polls and vote? My impression is that it's much easier to sign something while you're out shopping for Christmas gifts, than it is to actually make an effort to go out and vote for it. I wonder is there's a way for Dallas County elections to track that sort of thing?

    With all the mounting opposition organizing to oppose the initiative, I wonder how impassioned those 30,000 petition signers will be to rise against the opposition and campaign for it?
    Good point TG. I guess the same can be said for either side of the fence.
    “We shape our Cities, thereafter they shape us.”

  35. #535
    High-Rise Member columbiasooner's Avatar
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    Considering less than 5% of the registered voters vote in municipal elections, voter turnout is very important.

    www.990texastalkradio.com Laura Miller is on.

  36. #536
    Supertall Skyscraper Member aceplace's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by columbiasooner
    Considering less than 5% of the registered voters vote in municipal elections, voter turnout is very important.

    www.990texastalkradio.com Laura Miller is on.
    Or... 95% of the registered voters think that turnout is not important.


    That is one reason for my opinion... that an elective government is the wrong model for a municipality. The people have rejected such a model.

  37. #537
    The smartest gal in town! trolleygirl's Avatar
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    columbiasooner, Aceplace wants to do away with municipal goverments and go to an even bigger regional sort of style, or something like that. He has challenged me in the past to name one thing, specifically, that local governments do that the State or county or another entity can't or doesn't already do.

  38. #538
    Supertall Skyscraper Member aceplace's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by trolleygirl
    columbiasooner, Aceplace wants to do away with municipal goverments and go to an even bigger regional sort of style, or something like that. He has challenged me in the past to name one thing, specifically, that local governments do that the State or county or another entity can't or doesn't already do.
    Thanks, Trolleygirl, for taking the time to listen to my point of view. You may not agree with me, but I appreciate your interest in understanding me...

    I think that a municipal government, as originally created, was intended to cover what we now call an entire metropolitan area... it was supposed to be something useful in organizing an urban island in a rural ocean, if you will. A county was quite good at governing agricultural land, but a city government was specific to the needs of urban life.

    Think about a medieval European town, with tightly packed houses, a wall surrounding them, and farmland outside the wall. Such a town would often receive a charter to have its own government, independent of the local barons and sheriffs... or even the king. The Lord Mayor of London would give the king of england permission to enter...

    What we ended up with... the DFW area fragmented into 100 or so municipal governments. And their boundaries are arbitrary in any social sense, they do not correspond to communities of interest, in the sense that Lake Highlands is a community of interest.

    That is why people don't vote in municipal elections. They agree with my view that municipalities are not natural communities to which they owe any interest or allegiance.

    .........

    To the second point you mentioned... a public service that could only be provided by a democratically elected municipal government occupying a portion of a metro area... it would definitely reinforce your viewpoint.
    Last edited by aceplace; 11 January 2005 at 10:12 PM.

  39. #539
    High-Rise Member Foucault's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by aceplace
    That is why people don't vote in municipal elections. They agree with my view that municipalities are not natural communities to which they owe any interest or allegiance.
    Have you ever considered that maybe they don't vote because they don't care? Lots of Americans didn't vote, not because they hated the federal government (though some, I'm sure, did) but because they didn't care about the outcome.
    Also, how does your view explain the Park Cities? They seem to have a strong municipal identity...
    "There is much to admire, but little to deplore,—many things to enchant, but few to offend,—and for the people, and their institutions, there is a splendid future, behold what you may, see what you can, believe {what you} have a mind to. . .I have given you a very reliable description of the country in which I live and am unwilling to exchange for the frozen North."
    —M. J. Mathis of Dallas County, writing to friends in 1859

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  40. #540
    Supertall Skyscraper Member aceplace's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Foucault
    Have you ever considered that maybe they don't vote because they don't care? Lots of Americans didn't vote, not because they hated the federal government (though some, I'm sure, did) but because they didn't care about the outcome.
    Also, how does your view explain the Park Cities? They seem to have a strong municipal identity...
    Of course they don't care. Why should they?

    The people have no interest in municipal affairs because they have no realistic commitment to a particular muni. Yes, I have a reason to vote in national elections because I have a commitment to living in the USA... there are no other realistic choices.It is, after all, my native country.

    Do I have a similar commitment to living in Plano or Allen? No way. If Plano deteriorates, I'll just move somewhere else... I don't really care where. If Plano sinks into squalor, I honestly don't need to care.

    Most people think that that form of apathy is a realistic view of their self-interest. They don't really NEED to be involved with municipal government. They are the 95% who don't vote. Except with their feet.

    My idea is to disseminate this bit of painful reality... that the many municipalities that have fragmented out of the Metroplex cannot function as elective governments... people are not committed to them... well, maybe 5% are committed, the other 95% are not... and realistically so. And haranguing people to "go out and vote" is utterly futile.

    Bottom line... when people don't vote in a municipal election... that is an expression of common sense.
    Last edited by aceplace; 12 January 2005 at 02:01 AM.

  41. #541
    Administrator tamtagon's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by aceplace
    Of course they don't care. Why should they?

    The people have no interest in municipal affairs because they have no realistic commitment to a particular muni. Yes, I have a reason to vote in national elections because I have a commitment to living in the USA... there are no other realistic choices.It is, after all, my native country.

    Do I have a similar commitment to living in Plano or Allen? No way. If Plano deteriorates, I'll just move somewhere else... I don't really care where. If Plano sinks into squalor, I honestly don't need to care.

    Most people think that that form of apathy is a realistic view of their self-interest. They don't really NEED to be involved with municipal government. They are the 95% who don't vote. Except with their feet.
    What a perversion of reality, too. The outcome of any municipal election directly impacts residents' day to day lives, yet issues in a local election have virtually no influence to motivate substantial voter involvement.

  42. #542
    Supertall Skyscraper Member aceplace's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by tamtagon
    What a perversion of reality, too. The outcome of any municipal election directly impacts residents' day to day lives, yet issues in a local election have virtually no influence to motivate substantial voter involvement.
    Well, I don't think the last municipal election impacted my daily life to any extent that I noticed... it may or may not have impacted the long-range direction of the municipality.

    But it is true... the vast majority of the people do not believe in, and choose not to participate in, electoral government on a municipal level, even though they do participate in national and state elections. We've reached a consensus on the issue... operating a municipality as if it were a government is not the will of the people.

  43. #543
    Administrator gc's Avatar
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    Power games
    Despite council members' complaints, strong-mayor plan leaves their roles intact
    07:05 PM CST on Tuesday, January 11, 2005
    By VICTORIA LOE HICKS / The Dallas Morning News
    http://www.dallasnews.com/sharedcont...cks.97cec.html

    The sky is not falling.

    Your elected representative on the Dallas City Council is not in eminent peril of being emasculated (or its feminine equivalent), amputated at the knees or robbed of his or her ability to fully represent your interests. The May referendum to change the city's form of governance would not usher in a monarchy, a dictatorship or a reign of terror. In fact, it would make your city government more democratic, not less so.

    Clear enough?

    With their usual faulty instincts, council members are attacking the strong-mayor proposal from the wrong angle. There's a legitimate debate to be had about the wisdom of ditching the city manager's post, but it's about whether elected officials (in this case, the mayor) or bureaucrats (in this case, the city manager) are best suited to manage city government. Those who favor the city manager see government as a business that, for the sake of efficiency, needs a trained administrator at the helm. Those who favor the mayor view government as a political institution in which accountability – making the person in charge directly answerable to the citizens – is the first imperative.

    But instead of debating that question, council members are squealing like stuck pigs, claiming that making the mayor the chief executive would strip them – and thereby the citizens they serve – of their power. So exactly what powers would the council lose under the proposal that will be on the ballot May 7?

    I can identify three substantive losses:

    •The mayor, rather than the council, would create and abolish city departments. Of course, if the mayor created a department the council thought unnecessary, the council could refuse to fund it in subsequent budgets.

    •The mayor, rather than the council, would hire and fire the city secretary and the city attorney.

    •The mayor, rather than council members, would appoint people to the city's advisory boards and commissions. But the appointments wouldn't go into effect unless the council approved them. And the council could reclaim the power to make appointments merely by passing an ordinance reinstating the old process.

    Of course, under the current system the CEO (the city manager) is chosen by the City Council and can be removed by a two-thirds vote of the council. Under the new system the CEO (the mayor) would be chosen directly by the voters and would serve at their pleasure. But get this: Under the new system, council members could remove the mayor by a two-thirds vote, providing that they could show malfeasance or neglect on the mayor's part.

    What wouldn't change:

    •The council would still set the budget. The mayor would propose it, but the council could amend it in any way whatsoever with a simple majority vote, and it wouldn't go into effect until the council passed it.

    •The council would still determine the contents of bond packages. As with the budget, it would now be up to the mayor to propose their outlines, but nothing would happen without the council's approval.

    •The council would approve contracts and establish city policy through ordinances and resolutions.

    •The council would have just as much authority to direct the workings of city staff as it has now – specifically, zero. To affect the implementation of policy, council members would have to deal with the mayor, just as, in theory, they now have to deal with the city manager. I emphasize "in theory" because in recent years council members have thoroughly disregarded this provision of the City Charter, dabbling without legal authority in the operations of various departments.

    Truth be told, I suspect that's why many council members are so spooked by the current proposal. They fear that they won't be able to walk over an executive mayor – with the power of the voters behind him or her – the way they've walked over some city managers.

    Bottom line: If you vote yes on this referendum, someone you elect (your council member) loses a little power. Someone else you elect (the mayor) gains a lot of power – but largely at the expense of the city manager (whom you don't elect), not the council. You can do the math yourself, but by my calculations, strong mayor means you win.

    Victoria Loe Hicks is an editorial writer and occasional columnist for The Dallas Morning News. Her e-mail address is vloe@dallasnews.com.
    “We shape our Cities, thereafter they shape us.”

  44. #544
    High-Rise Member columbiasooner's Avatar
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    GC, sounds like voter accountability to me.

  45. #545
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    Quote Originally Posted by aceplace
    We've reached a consensus on the issue... operating a municipality as if it were a government is not the will of the people.
    Not for me, at all. In fact, I think municipal governments have gradually adopted SOP which resembles that of a poorly managed corporation holding a virtual industry monopoly. Voter faith and trust has been eroded by decades in which locally elected officials use the privledge of public office to deliver financial favoritism to specific individuals and/or groups. The stereotype of a business man "owning" a politician has become such prevasive reality in municipal govts, that the will of the people has collectively given up.

    Municipal govts have been manuevered into a position which openly places the needs and desires of the business community above the needs and desires of individuals. The public has been fed a line of propoganda that business development and recruitment is the only way to improve the standard of living for the "community" for so long that a primary function of a city government is provide the most favorable environment for a business.

    More accurately, voter apathy reflects the reality that municipal governments operate so much like a business in which workers have no control over policy.

  46. #546
    The smartest gal in town! trolleygirl's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by aceplace
    Well, I don't think the last municipal election impacted my daily life to any extent that I noticed... it may or may not have impacted the long-range direction of the municipality.

    But it is true... the vast majority of the people do not believe in, and choose not to participate in, electoral government on a municipal level, even though they do participate in national and state elections. We've reached a consensus on the issue... operating a municipality as if it were a government is not the will of the people.
    I tell you what, though......people sure do like to bitch and moan and raise nine kinds of hell if their trash gets picked up late. It was amazes me- when we had our bulky trash fiasco in the neighborhood in November, I got calls from people who said, "Who's our Councilman? What district are we in? I'm not voting for him next time." Of course, I never pass up the opportunity to ask, "So, did you vote for him last time?" You'd be amazed at how many people were "out of town", had "sick kids", or "sick parents" or "had to work" during the last municipal elections. But, threaten to plunk down a homeless assistance center in the neighborhood? People suddenly care about how their local government works.

    I think people are just flat-out lazy.

  47. #547
    Supertall Skyscraper Member texman's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by trolleygirl
    I tell you what, though......people sure do like to bitch and moan and raise nine kinds of hell if their trash gets picked up late. It was amazes me- when we had our bulky trash fiasco in the neighborhood in November, I got calls from people who said, "Who's our Councilman? What district are we in? I'm not voting for him next time." Of course, I never pass up the opportunity to ask, "So, did you vote for him last time?" You'd be amazed at how many people were "out of town", had "sick kids", or "sick parents" or "had to work" during the last municipal elections. But, threaten to plunk down a homeless assistance center in the neighborhood? People suddenly care about how their local government works.

    I think people are just flat-out lazy.
    Famous line from Hank Hill: "With voter turnout at all time lows, not voting makes me more American"
    "And we will probably be judged not by the monuments we build but by those we have destroyed."-"Farewell to Penn Station," New York Times Editorial, October 30, 1963

  48. #548
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    Heh. True enough.
    Celebrating the urban greatness of Texas: Houston, San Antonio, Dallas, Austin, El Paso and Fort Worth.

  49. #549
    Administrator gc's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by trolleygirl
    I think people are just flat-out lazy.
    You got that right. So is most of the council!
    “We shape our Cities, thereafter they shape us.”

  50. #550
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    Quote Originally Posted by columbiasooner
    GC, sounds like voter accountability to me.
    Why go through all the fuss when you can have the best of both worlds with a professional administrator and accountability through the council.

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