I’m trying to give the new City Council the benefit of the doubt. I’m trying not to be cynical, hard-boiled and overly pessimistic (which regular readers of this space know I’m good at) about its performance after four months.
I realize Dallas has a lot of problems, and it may not be fair to judge the new Council so quickly.
Yet in these first four months, the new Council is doing exactly what the old Council was lined up against the wall for doing.
The old Council had its passel of indefensible lawsuits; the new Council is developing its own portfolio, including the gay-police dispute. The old Council spent its time arguing endlessly; the new Council is taking this art form to similar heights every time Love Field is on the agenda.
The old Council distinguished itself by ignoring the City’s problems – crime, the homeless and the like – to concentrate on issues (such as building the Meyerson Center) that benefited few; the new Council’s fascination with soccer promises to be equally out of touch with those of us in the neighborhoods.
• Lawsuits: Really savvy people who got tired of watching the City spend millions of dollars defending lawsuits that were sure losers figured new Mayor Steve Bartlett wouldn’t let the Council get away with the same sort of foolishness. Bartlett, after all, is always described as a hard-headed businessman. Yet Bartlett was part of the majority voting to appeal a court ruling overturning the police department’s no-gays hiring policy.
The City is broke and can no longer afford to defend a principle – especially one for which there is no defense. When some crack-head is breaking into my house, I’m not going to stop and ask the arresting officer what his or her sexual preference is.
• Squabbles: When Diane Ragsdale didn’t win re-election, and the two plaintiffs in the 14-1 lawsuit didn’t win Council seats, establishment Dallas breathed a sigh of relief. Now there would be no more Council name-calling. Right – and I’m going to buy a house in Plano.
There is always going to be disagreement on the Council. Disagreement is healthy. It’s one of the differences between democracy and what we used to have in Dallas. What isn’t healthy is rehashing disputes everyone thought were settled.
That’s what makes the fighting about Love Field so much more aggravating. First, it makes little difference what the Council decides, because only the federal government can change the rules governing Love Field. Second, the Council already has decided – several times – to support the Wright Amendment. Third, can anyone on the Council think it’s best for Dallas to alienate not only Fort Worth, but American Airlines boss Bob Crandall?
• The World Cup: This will be a boondoggle of such epic proportions it will make DART and the Meyerson look like Tinker Toys. Try calling a cop during the two weeks when we are putting up with several hundred thousand drunken soccer fans, and you’ll see what I mean.
The cops will be in the West End and in Fair Park, trying to prevent the soccer fans from maiming each other.
You don’t have to be an ex-sportswriter (which I am) to know that Mobil will not make its decision about staying Downtown because Dallas has the World Cup. If I had a buck for every time someone in the establishment claimed something added to the City’s international prestige, I could personally pay to fix every pothole in East Dallas.
This is how silly the World Cup is: The Council has put me in the most reactionary loony-tunes in town, who wouldn’t vote for a tax increase if they had cancer and the increase was the cure.
Here’s a promise: I’ll move to Plano before I’ll vote for bonds to renovate the Cotton Bowl so Dallas can have the “honor” of hosting a soccer game.
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