Mayorzilla

Inside the monster battle over strong mayor

Do we even ask anymore why people out here in the peanut gallery are pulling out their hair? It almost would have been better if the mayor and the city council had voted that day to burn City Hall to the ground, because at least that would have involved a clear-cut decision. We could have moved on from there. Where does the peanut gallery go from a shmush?

To the polls, let's hope.

And About Those Potholes...

Laura Miller made potholes the symbol of her campaign when she first ran for mayor of Dallas in 2002, promising to wrench City Hall away from its obsession with "big ticket" projects and focus instead on "the little things that make a big difference in people's lives."

Fast-forward to 2005: The mayor now touts artistic Trinity River suspension bridges by Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava as her "No. 1 Priority." So what happened with the potholes?

Not a pretty picture. According to the city's department of Street Services, city of Dallas crews were repairing an average of 19,400 potholes a year in the years immediately prior to Miller's first election as mayor. In the period following her election, that number dipped to 13,200--a decline of almost a third.

One good explanation would be money. The pothole budget was almost halved in Miller's first term, from $459,000 a year to $258,000.

Of the three Calatrava bridges Miller wants, the one over Interstate 30 alone comes in at a cost of $125 million, to replace a bridge state officials admit isn't worn out. According to city figures, the money for that bridge would be enough to repair 6,250,000 potholes, compared with the 13,244 that got fixed in fiscal year 2003-2004.

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