The Continuing Leppertness of Mayor Mike Rawlings

Even his opponents say Rawlings is a good guy. Why is that exactly?

For the last couple weeks I have been getting beaten about the ears by people working at City Hall with our new mayor, Mike Rawlings, who are mad at me over a couple columns I wrote saying the new mayor seems just like the old one, Tom Leppert.

They say they're not the same. They say I am unfair. Hasty. Judgmental. Same stuff I hear at home. They say Rawlings is a much better guy and a more interesting mayor than I give him credit for, and these are people whose opinions I respect.

One thing bothers me. They all want to talk to me about it off the record. I guess I get that. These are people who have to work with each other in a ticklish situation.

Chris Gash

I can tell you that I am not talking about usual suspects — people you would think of immediately as Mayor Rawlings' obvious allies. We're more over on the other side of the aisle with this — people you might think of as his opponents on issues, which some of them have been.

What do they have to say that's worth repeating? I can break it down for you pretty quickly. The previous mayor, Leppert, they say, was secretive, not known for honesty, well known for vindictiveness. Rawlings, they tell me, is none of those.

He's a straightforward guy, they say. If he's going to vote against you, he tells you he's going to vote against you. He tells you why, and everybody can still be friends at a personal level.

The message I get from some at City Hall is this: They may be on the other side and lose some votes to Rawlings, but they still consider him to be a well-intentioned man who has personal integrity. He's politically naive, they say, which has caused him to get his saddle twisted a few times right out of the chute, but he offers a shot at meaningful coalitions and getting things done, so they want to wait and give him leeway before pouncing.

I still don't buy it. Rawlings does a college football hero thing on people — the big guy who's clever and makes sure he gets his own way, then comes up to you afterward at a party. All of a sudden now he's a big goofy kid: "Hey, I dunno, do I owe you an apology? Or what? 'Cause I dunno."

He knows.

Some of the people who have chatted with me about Rawlings pointed back to the so-called "flow-control" issue, a controversy over sending vast new volumes of commercial trash to the city landfill in far southeastern Dallas. Even the people who were on the other side of this from Rawlings — the ones who didn't want the trash to go there but who lost to Rawlings on the issue — give him credit for being honest about the real deal.

One who was willing to talk about that particular chapter on the record was Michael Sorrell, president of Paul Quinn College, who supported his students in a protest at City Hall and who will lead an upcoming protest march demanding the city council rescind its decision to send more trash to the landfill, which is near the college.

"I give the mayor credit," Sorrell told me. "He had the integrity to be honest about the real issue."

The real issue is dump-truck fees. The city wants more of them. By passing a law ordering all commercial trash-haulers to take their trash to the city landfill instead of to commercial landfills in the suburbs, the city expects to harvest many more millions of dollars in new fees.

The city manager had tried to market the whole thing with a typically Orwellian public relations campaign about recycling — turning "trash into treasure" or some crap nobody believed. You know: "Garbage! You're gonna love it!" If it had gone on longer, they would have had TV ads with a bunch of guys in coveralls and hardhats out in the middle of the dump grinning maniacally and doing the monster mash.

But when it came to a vote, Rawlings said exactly what it was all about. It was, he said, "a business revenue issue." I was there. They just wanted the money. Screw the rest of it. I admit I was grateful not to have to hear the garbage-is-fun spiel again.

So how much credit does he get for being a good guy about a bad deal? Here is where the line must be drawn. Present at that September 28 city council meeting was a contingent of students from Paul Quinn, accompanied by Sorrell, who only asked that the council delay long enough to carry out a study. Sorrell and his students weren't saying don't do the deal. They were saying don't do something that will have a major and lasting effect on our part of the city until we know that you know what you're doing.

Rawlings cut off all of that. He said there would be no preliminary study. In fact, in his very candid fashion, he let it be known that he had a campaign promise to keep to a certain black pastor: Up to a million bucks a year from the new dump fees would go into an "economic stimulus" fund that Rawlings indicated would be connected somehow to that pastor's church.

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13 comments
Its So Sad
Its So Sad

WTF!!?

THE MAYOR OPENLY DESCRIBES THE MONEY DEAL WITH THE BLACK PASTORS? THIS IS OUTRAGEOUS! THESE DEALS ARE SUPPOSED TO BE SECRET SO THE STUPID IDIOT BLACK SHEEP CAN PRETEND THAT THEIR PASTOR IS ON THEIR SIDE AGAINST WHITEY.

What is this world coming to? I expect John Wiley to get a pat on the back from the FBI any day now.

We're ALL going to hell!!!!!!!!!!!

jfpo
jfpo

Rest of nation, please take note and keep former pizza chain CEOs out public leadership positions.

primi_timpano
primi_timpano

I hope Paul Quinn and N Oak Cliff get together and show the council the kind of voter registration and voting campaign banshees can put together. A little shoe leather and some decent candidates might be able to roll over the S Dallas voting machine despite the gerrymandering.

mynameisURL
mynameisURL

Mayor Mike is nice!

I've always liked a fella' that can tell you to "go piss up a rope" with a smile on his face.

I'll bet the idea of "Mayor Kunkle" scared the sheeeeit out of a lot of the money-folk in Dallas...

Sittin_here
Sittin_here

I want to know what is a surprise. Dallas has been ran the same way since the beginning

Mister_Mean
Mister_Mean

The city refers to those in North Oak Cliff who are active in city affairs as “banshees”. Wow! Some how this does not surprise me as I have gathered from past experience the last thing any city council member wants is to hear from those who elected them and who they should be accountable to. And just remember the city wants more of your tax dollars in the form a NEW 2012 bond proposal (and the higher taxes that go with that (that they will not tell you about up front)) so they can fund their un accountable spending.

Perry More
Perry More

I've never actually been invited into the kitchen, but I hear that if we complain, the mayor spits in our food.

yeahIsaidthat
yeahIsaidthat

The mayor and the council learned yesterday at SMU that all bullshit starts at the top and then runs down hill. Gee, I could have told them that for free. But, we move on, and we gather to march on Saturday.

Titus Groan
Titus Groan

It's the unbearable Leppert-ness of being Dallas mayor.

Sunset71
Sunset71

Well, a march from North Oak Cliff protesting Rawlings' redistricting plan makes perfect sense.In fact, it's an inspired idea.

Jim Schutze
Jim Schutze

I have a given a wrong impression here about the goals of Saturday's march. I wrote: "The marchers will ask that both backroom deals be undone, the garbage thing and redistricting." Actually the march does not have as a specific goal the unwinding of the redistricting matter. President Sorrell tells me the goal of the march is more broadly to bring the city's business out of the back room and also to encourage the mayor and council to approach issues in all parts of the city with the same standards for desirable outcomes. I don't know what my excuse is for conflating the redistricting thing with the march. I am working on one, and I will keep you advised of my progress. Meanwhile, I was just wrong.

Politico
Politico

What is being differentiated between Rawlings and Leppert is simple. A different way (processes) of getting to the same ACTIONS. Actions speak louder than words!!! So guess what, Leppert and Rawlings ARE THE SAME. Rawlings needs to learn one philosophy to guide his Mayoral tenure, "ACTIONS SPEAK LOUDER THAN WORDS." He needs to get that philosophy put on the wall overlooking the horseshoe and his office. If he follows that philosophy, he will be able to look back at his actions and quickly determine if he was a complete failure or a success as Mayor. Please stop all the Bullshit Talk Mayor!!!

RTR
RTR

Yeah, I could really give a fuck if Mayor Mike is really "Nice" about committing his unethical deeds. Actually, I would prefer a "vindictive" Leppert, because I would know what I was dealing with, and plan accordingly.

 
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