There were a few empty seats at City Hall on Monday, but not many…
That’s why he is pushing this plan so hard, even if it costs taxpayers $7 to $9 million a year. Even if it doesn’t include a park. Even if it is just a camo jobs program that will be shifted to a private foundation where more shenanigans with taxpayer money can be hidden.
Even if it might be illegal.
I learned a lot by sitting through Monday’s four hour briefing. Which by the way, should have been held at a taxpayer-convenient time: evening or weekend.
One, I wondered why the mayor was so eager to get this thing done. Why did he say, at the end, “if we don’t pass this it doesn’t happen in the next twenty years. This is a democracy. Let’s talk, let’s get it done.”
A democracy all right: that’s why, after four really great hours of debate, five and a half council members ripping the plan apart, the Mayor hands it off to three of his buddies: Tiffany Young, Adam McGough and Monica Alonzo. He refused to include Adam Medrano — Fair Park is mostly in his district — because Adam said he was against it.
“It is near impossible to negotiate a deal with 30 people,” Rawlings said.
But isn’t that what a democracy does, what government does? Even McGough, his former chief of staff, who had posed some of the tougher questions, wanted to go on record as saying he was not ready to vote for the plan — and that was OK with Mr. Mayor, right?
The best recap of the afternoon can be found here, at Watchdog.org.
It’s clear now that Mayor Mike Rawlings doesn’t have the votes to ram through a version of the plan that would commit the city of Dallas to $600 million-plus in repairs, salaries, and fees, while leaving the actual park contingent on the success of some future fundraising drive. The issue is likely to come down to the votes of three African-American council members: Casey Thomas, II, Carolyn King Arnold and Erik Wilson.
I counted Jennifer Gates as a “half”, because she did ask some good questions, including the one I starred in my notes: why are they offering jobs to all the current employees without performance reviews?
“Park and Recreation to evaluate performance,” was the response.
It’s stuff like that that has many people angry. Same old same old. Maybe its the last vestiges of Dallas holding onto its old small town ways. Still, I bet Jennifer and Lee Kleinman, my fiscal watchdog who was very reserved yesterday, vote with the mayor.
It’s not that we don’t want to implement a plan to revitalize Fair Park, restore and preserve the historical buildings properly, and finally give them the love they deserve. (more…)