By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
Straw dogs: If you see a roomful of opposing politicians pointing fingers at one another and shouting "liar" and "disingenuous" and "snake-oil salesman," rest assured you're witnessing one of those rare instances when they're all telling the truth. So it was at Monday's Dallas City Council meeting, when the council narrowly voted to increase property taxes, in a manner of speaking. (A final vote comes later.)
Mayor Tom Leppert did all he could to stem the tide as the council split mostly along racial lines in favor of increasing the tax rate by 4.91 cents.
"Let's be real clear about this: Every business that's come up here has said this is wrong," said Leppert, who was joined in presenting a fat-and-muscle-trimming budget proposal by Ann Margolin, Ron Natinsky, Jerry Allen, Linda Koop and Sheffie Kadane. Addressing Leppert and his cohort, a number of pro-increase citizen speakers—many of them southern Dallas residents from low-income neighborhoods that actually use things like public parks and libraries—had mostly this to say: "Cry me a freaking river."
Whose side is Buzz on? The pro-tax side, of course, though our readers might disagree. Usually, whenever Buzz expresses our pinkish tendencies, they riposte with carefully crafted, complexly reasoned arguments that include words like "fucking" and "retard" and "Why don't you move to France, asshole?"
In this case, however, some of the arguments made for the tax hike seemed a tad disingenuous, even to us. For instance, council member Angela Hunt suggests that increasing the property tax rate isn't really a tax increase since the city will still collect less revenue next year, because property values have fallen. So...umm...our house is worth much less, and the city wants to extract a bigger percentage of its value from our wallets. Dunno. That sort of feels increase-ish to our mortgage-burdened mind. Not that there's anything wrong with that, 'cept maybe the bullshit.
We weren't persuaded by Mayor Pro Tem Dwaine Caraway, either. He narrated a video of boarded-up houses, pothole-ridden streets and neglected parks in southern Dallas. "Let this be Inwood. Picture this being Preston," he said, as if potholes, not the lack of jobs and job skills, cause poverty.
Meanwhile, Allen accused Caraway and friends of being "snake-oil salesmen," conveniently ignoring his own flask of Mayor Tom's Patented Elixir. (Guaranteed to slash spending without affecting quality of life!)
Sigh. It was the usual name-calling, race- and class-baiting festival. Throw in some raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens, and it would have been perfect.