Brace yourself, Buzz is feeling a bit George Will-ish this week, so we're gonna do some literary quotin' here. Our victim is George Orwell and his political fable Animal Farm, about animals that stage a revolution and take over a farm. (Hence the name. Der.) It ends with poor, hungry livestock peering through a window at the pigs who assumed power, as they share drinks with neighboring humans: "The creatures outside looked from pig to man, and from man to pig, and from pig to man again; but already it was impossible to say which was which."
We're referring to Mayor Laura Miller, and to be honest we've had this bit stored away since she first announced she was running for city council in 1997. In fact, Buzz had to search our archives just to make sure we hadn't used it yet.
So why now? Because we just got off the phone with political gadfly and Web publisher Sharon Boyd, after we spent the morning looking through her Web site www.dallasarena.com, the unofficial voice of conservative North Dallas. Boyd, it seems, has joined the list of former Miller supporters who have become disenchanted with the mayor.
"I'm convinced that aliens got her," says Boyd, who was an early and ardent grassroots volunteer for Miller's mayoral campaign. "That's just the only explanation, because she doesn't act like the Laura Miller I knew."
Boyd and other contributors to her Web site are particularly puzzled by Miller's push to complete the Trinity River project and its ornate suspension bridges--the "string thing" bridges, Boyd calls them. They are angered at the mayor's comments concerning disability pay for injured police and firefighters. They're annoyed at the possibility the city may construct a homeless centeron Harry Hines Boulevard in Northwest Dallas. They're suspicious of her attitude toward public financing for a new Cowboys stadium. Where's the old Miller who would have rained vituperation down on the head of Jerry Jones?
Well, you know, where you stand, etc. etc...
Boyd, whose Web site is known for attaching derisive nicknames to pols she dislikes, even has one for Miller now. "Our Mayor," she calls her; it's meant to be ironic, but it seems like a pretty tepid moniker for the site that routinely called former Mayor Ron Kirk "Con Jerk." Yet even when prodded, Boyd expresses little rage and deeper disappointment and puzzlement about Miller, whom she has not spoken with in ages. "I've really been terribly disappointed she's gotten so far off the basics," Boyd says. The "silly string" bridges push has been particularly upsetting, since Boyd fears the money poured into the Trinity project will bleed funding from rapid transit and other, more vital road improvements.
"This whole Trinity project is really what's broken my heart," Boyd says.
But was she really surprised? We asked her if she thought any local politician anywhere could ever forego putting his or her name on a brass plaque on some big, honkin' shiny doodad for posterity. Forgetting that Boyd is conservative, we pointed out that even former San Antonio Mayor Henry Cisneros, a good mayor and Democrat, had his Alamodome. (Long story short: Many thought San Antonio needed a domed stadium the way Dallas needs a suspension bridge.)
"Henry Cisneros has always been an arrogant self-promoter, but that's not who Laura was," Boyd shot back.
We didn't argue with her for the same reason we don't go duck hunting in barrels.