We won’t have Angela Hunt to talk about any more. And the city will be the poorer for it.
Hunt, the M Streets councilwoman, isn’t running for re-election next month; she has served as many terms as the city charter allows. During her eight years on the council — at a time during which we’ve been lied to by city officials, during which city services have become a shadow of what they once were, and during which most of the rest of the council acted as if nothing was wrong — Hunt said “no.” And said it again. And said it one more time.
This public service will no doubt be lost in a discussion of her record, which the bosses downtown have always viewed with suspicion and distaste. They have always asked: How can someone who purports to be for Dallas always seem to be one of the aginners — saying “no” to every wonderful and marvelous idea they come up with to waste our tax dollars? In this, they always overlook the other stuff, no doubt because it embarrasses them. Hunt was the sanest voice during the Love Field minority contractor debate. She, more than anyone on the council, helped pave the way for Trader Joe’s and the revitalization of lower Greenville, something that always eluded all of the so-called pro-business members of the council.
Besides, there’s nothing wrong with being an aginner and saying “no.” The council has had a long tradition, perhaps its only one worth preserving, of the one member who insists that the emperor has no clothes, regardless of the political consequences. Annette Strauss did it. So did Larry Duncan and Mitch Rasansky. When it was Hunt’s turn, she did it admirably.
It’s not so much that she questioned the accepted wisdom, or even that she fought the foolishness that is the Trinity River boondoggle. It’s that she did it with such grace and intelligence and good will. In a day and age when politicians are best known for not doing anything with grace, intelligence, or good will, Hunt was the consummate professional.
Consider Mayor Park Cities’ very public and very deliberate snub when he didn’t appoint Hunt to any committee chairs during the Trinity River vote — his way of punishing her for saying “no” and daring to stand up to one of her betters. Forget that his action hurt the city by sacrificing Hunt’s knowledge and experience to further his personal political agenda, something that had nothing to do with making this a better place to live. What was most impressive was that Hunt never complained, never whined, never leaked anything to the media to show up Leppert. She just went about her business. Which, unlike most of the rest of the council’s, was trying to save us from ourselves.
That’s because most of us don’t care what the mayor council does, as those lofty 15 and 20 percent voter turnout rates demonstrate. And those that do care, for whatever reason, don’t seem to be bothered that the council often acts, as the Observer columnist Jim Schutze has written, like “plywood ducks.” As I’ve noted before, the parts of Dallas that do vote in council elections and determine who wins wouldn’t tolerate this sort of behavior on the state and federal level. But, somehow, they’re happy to turn a blind eye to the shenanigans at City Hall.
Fortunately, Hunt never turned a blind eye. Whenever something foolish happened, which was way too often, she usually said “no.” The fact that it didn’t stop the council from doing whatever foolish thing it was doing wasn’t her fault. It was ours, because not enough of us listened. And, sadly, now we won’t have Hunt to say “no” for us. Which means the foolishness is just going to get more foolish.
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