City of Opportunists

The news that the Hunt family donated $12 million to help pay for the proposed Trinity River Bridges, part of the city’s downtown/Oak Cliff revitalization project, made me realize that we are approaching political reform in Dallas the wrong way.

 

Who needs a strong mayor? Why bother with keeping the city manager? In fact, why do we have to worry about taxes and bond issues at all, pesky and inconvenient as they are?

 

          The solution has been staring us in the face for years, and I’m ashamed to admit that I didn’t see it until the Hunts opened my eyes. It’s another of my failings, I admit, as one of those bleeding hearts who believes in voting and democracy and representative government, that I was not able to see how well this solves all of our municipal problems, and does it in such a wonderfully Dallas way.

 

We sell the naming rights to every single thing we can.

 

Want to pave your street? Buy it —

Greenville Avenue

, brought to you by the Greenland Hills Neighborhood Association. Want a better park in your neighborhood? Not a problem. How about the Lakewood Heights Neighborhood Association-Tietze Park ? Worried that the police are having trouble maintaining squad cars? No doubt some community-spirited auto dealer would be happy to provide and service their vehicles; all they would need in return is one of those magnetic door signs on each car with their logo and phone number.

 

Just think of the possibilities:

 

• The city spends about $28 million annually to keep the lights on and the air conditioning running at city buildings. So why not the Mark Cuban Dallas City Hall, complete with one of those massive, cutout-style head shots of the Mavericks’ owner plastered on the side of the building? (And for those of you who think he wouldn’t do it, keep in mind that he paid $14 million this season for a gimpy power forward who can’t play defense.)

 

• There are many well-heeled writers in town, flush with seven-figure book and movie deals, who could pay for the financially ailing library system. After all, why bother to name the downtown branch after a former mayor when someone such as SMU grad Beth Henley (“Crimes of the Heart”) or ex-Cowboy Peter Gent (“North Dallas 40”) is available? Or, if the Bush family really wanted to put their money where their mouth is (literacy, after all, is one of the First Lady’s causes, and they were more or less Dallas residents before going into politics), the president could write us a check. For their efforts, the due date slips you get when you check out a book would say, “Thanks for patronizing the Dallas Public Library, brought to you by George and Laura Bush.”

 

• It costs about $1.9 million to run the city manager’s office. Frankly, wouldn’t it help mend some hurt feelings if the mayor paid the tab? Who knows if she has that kind of money, but her political advisors could no doubt come up with all sorts of fund-raisers, be they garage sales, car washes or selling band chocolate. A fish fry, a good friend tells me, would be a real winner. Dozens of ordinary people could pay $5 each to eat catfish and potato salad with the mayor in her back yard. What a perfect job title — the Laura Miller City Manager.

 

And to show that my heart is in the right place, I’m willing to pony up. There’s a bridge in Ridgewood Park over one of the White Rock Lake creeks that is quite pleasant. There are lots of trees, usually some ducks, and it’s peaceful to stop and look at the water trickle by. I can scrape up $80 or $90, and all I ask in return is a little sign that says, The Jeff Siegel Rexton Lane Bridge.

 

After all, I just want to do my part.

 


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By |2005-04-01T12:01:00-05:00April 1st, 2005|All Feature Articles|0 Comments

About the Author:

Jeff Siegel
JEFF SIEGEL writes a monthly opinion column about neighborhood issues. He also blogs about wine. Email him at jsiegel@advocatemag.com or follow twitter.com/wine_curmudgeon.