By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
Wusses: We suppose we should be grateful. Since Mayor Tom Leppert and the new host of city council members came on board last summer, things have been so civil at City Hall. No weekly blow-ups at the council chambers. No Mayor Laura Miller vs. everyone else. With one notable exception—how you doin', Angela Hunt?—the tenor has been so calm, so adult, so...boring.
Of course, there is such a thing as being too nice. Say, for example, DART comes up 900 million bucks or so short in construction money, raising doubts about whether it can complete promised rail lines to the suburbs and downtown, but forgets to mention that fact to anyone at City Hall for several months. You'd think someone on the council might get a little chapped about that. If Miller were still around, you could imagine her getting someone at DART in a headlock and throwing a few punches to the kisser.
It's not that some council members aren't trying. At a recent meeting of the council's transportation and environment committee, members Hunt, Elba Garcia and Vonciel Jones Hill clearly demanded an outside audit of DART, just in case, you know, someone somehow left the $900 million lying around in a desk drawer.
"I think that public confidence is very much down, if not nonexistent," Hill said. "I do not know if there are...are other issues affecting not only the finances but the operations, so I want to issue a very strong call for an outside audit."
Get it? ZERO confidence demands an OUTSIDE audit, not one by the same people who forgot to mention the $900 million.
"Why in the world would I believe that the same entity that created this problem will tell me how to solve the problem with an internal audit?" Hill asked.
Get 'em, Vonciel. After tough talk like that, wouldn't you just love to see the scathing letter Leppert and transportation and environment committee chair Linda Koop fired off to DART?
Well, no, you wouldn't.
"As mentioned earlier, we also believe it may be necessary to retain an external consultant or auditor to assess DART's financial forecasting and internal management resources," the letter reads in its sternest part.
Whoa. Calm down there.
The letter lists several questions that it politely asks DART management to answer—with an outside consultant, if it's not too much bother. Sadly none of those questions is "Are you effing nuts? Nine hundred big ones short, and you neglect to tell anyone?"
Sigh. Seriously, Laura Miller, haven't you baked enough cookies for the kids yet?