By Ashley Stanley
Dallas City Council members engaged in a lengthy discussion on Wednesday about the so-called “Kingston ethical lapse.” The body was charged with voting on a recommendation from the Ethics Advisory Commission to reprimand Dallas City Council member Philip Kingston for using his city office to film a campaign video — a clear violation of the ethics code recently approved by Kingston and his colleagues.
I was there hoping to come away with a story about economic development and performing arts because I attended a presentation at The Kimbell Art Museum in Fort Worth the day before. I wanted to see how this meeting would go and what outrage might ensue, especially with the bond program vote concluded, which included funding to repair several cultural and arts facilities such as the Wyly Theater. I missed the arts item, but I did hear enough to appreciate Dallas Observer columnist Jim Schutze’s bathroom-wall article posed early (4 a.m.!) this morning.
Schutze referred to his weekly paper as the dish. If that is true, then I write for the dirt! Councilmember Lee Kleinman called Kingston’s lapse “going too far” and said it was “just wrong,” according to a story in The Dallas Morning News by Tristan Hallman. I missed that part of the conversation, but I sat down in time to hear Councilman Adam Medrano (a personal friend of Kingston’s) say, “Philip made a dumb mistake.” Or did he? Who knows? Who cares? This meeting was all about Dallas City Council member Dwaine Caraway, and I heard every word from that dude. Council meetings with that guy in office are free, front-row tickets to the funny show.
Caraway got “carried away,” and Mayor Mike Rawlings told him his volume level was getting a bit too loud. “Mayor, don’t stop me today! If it was one of us, we’d receive a hanging or the gas chamber,” Caraway responded. “I want you to UNDERSTAND THAT FACT! He is thumbing his nose up at us. He cut our budget by $250,000, and this is political. HE KNOWS IT IS HIS OFFICE! PLAY THE VIDEO!”
Mayor Rawlings ended the discussion by saying, “I don’t like doing this, but we need zero tolerance on ethics violations in this city. This has gone way beyond a slippery slope and let’s get rid of this, come together today and move on down the road, unified. If he truly did not knowingly violate the rules, he needs training. Now let’s hear the Dallas Street Choir.”
Oh, by the way, the city secretary position is open, and there will be a search and hiring process. I hope it goes as well as the city manager decision. We landed a real winner there. Can’t imagine how we could be so lucky twice in one year.
One last thing about Kleinman. I didn’t understand when Caraway extended what appeared to be grace and asked Kleinman if he would consider a substitute motion, Caraway said, “Would you accept a stronger reprimand rather than censure?” Councilmember Adam McGough seconded the motion and Councilmember Omar Narvaez said he was in full support of Caraway’s suggestion.
Kleinman, on the other hand, said something along the lines of maintaining anonymity? I spent the better part of my lunch break in the city secretary’s office trying to understand the meaning behind that decision and still walked away a bit confused. I was just admitted to Pepperdine Law, so I don’t fancy myself as an easily confusable gal, but hey, hopefully our new city secretary can do a better job of keeping those things straight. Yay, Dallas.
Ashley Stanley is a downtown Dallas resident and entrepreneur. She’s a law student, real estate mediator, licensed Realtor, and the owner of AshleysApartments.com. Her opinions are her own.