Cronies on the Bench

Vonciel Hill and our feckless mayor combine to let two ousted judges stay on the payroll.

Hunt keeps coming back right on it. "We are talking about, out of the blue, hiring two full-time judges," she says, "not based on data, not based on metrics, not based on anything tangible that we can understand about efficiencies. It is not data-driven. It is politically driven."

So far, I would say this is all the obvious part. Hill wants those jobs for her buddies, and she's going to say whatever comes into her head to get them. She didn't go to any of the meetings. She doesn't give a rat's ass about the process. She just wants her friends back in their six-figure city jobs.

Now you need to factor in the other thing I told you: Hill has lined this whole thing up on straight racial/ethnic lines. If you're black or brown, you better be for her. The whites who are against her are all going to be slimed as racists.

By now the whites on the council are OK with being slimed as racists for half an hour. Been there, done that. If you're white and you want to serve on the Dallas City Council, you need to be OK with getting called a racist every once in a while. It's like hiccups. Just hold your breath. By the next agenda item it will go away.

So how does this all shake out? The minorities are in the minority. There are 15 people on the council counting the mayor. Only seven are minority. Of the whites who have spoken, all have defended Hunt. That means Hunt wins and Hill is toast, right?

OK, right here is that little two-step I told you about. The fact is that Hill wins. The council votes eight to seven in a straw vote to endorse her position, which means the Hill proposal will be the recommended position when the full budget comes up for a vote later this fall.

How does she win? Who comes over from the white side and votes for her? One person. Mayor Mike Rawlings.

You're thinking, "You're kidding me!" The mayor? The big corporate chief executive all the white people in North Dallas voted for because he was going to run the city like a business?

And this is the reason I wanted to make a window-peeper of you. Forget the stuff between Hunt and Hill. Forget the cronyism. You know that stuff goes on all the time. You weren't born yesterday.

The mayoral two-step is what's important. It's what really makes City Hall tick, the little picture at the heart of the big picture, the miniature in the mural.

Just as he is about to vote, after having said nothing while everyone else spoke, Rawlings mumbles: "It always seems to be about politics. It is. This is a political body. And that's what we do. I have taken ownership of that."

This doesn't sound like a good thing coming, does it? That's what I thought, too, at the time.

Rawlings tries half-heartedly for a higher note: "I am a big believer that we in America are too polarized," he says, "and we must find common ground as best we can. So I don't think compromise is a bad word here."

And then he votes for the crony deal. Hill wins. Hunt loses.

How can that be? I will tell you how. It can, because that is how it always ends here in the back corridors — a tradition that goes back way before Rawlings.

The minority council members always go small-bore. They want crumbs, not cake. They fight for jobs for their buddies, not for jobs. It's a cheap tab. The Citizens Council mayor always reaches across the table and picks it up.

Rawlings is adamant he made the best decision for the city. He says he's passionate about fixing the courts and believes the courts are much better off than they were.

Rawlings says his vote accomplished a compromise between two halves of the council on a divisive political issue. "People are looking to me to pull the council together," he told me.

Fine. But the other reality is that those seven minority votes went straight into Rawlings' hip pocket. The next time some kind of North Dallas/East Dallas, civic-minded, middle-class, neighborhood-based, goody two-shoes, Girl Scout coalition rears its ugly head and gets in the way of a Citizens Council deal — anything from the Trinity toll road to gas drilling — the Citizens Council mayor will pull those votes out of his pocket and use them to shoot the two-shoes down.

And the mayor is right. Why be polarized? There is no reason the two sides can't overcome their differences, as long as one doesn't have any vision and the other has no scruples.

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7 comments
2texans
2texans

I would suggest that we might be seeing more performances of Mikes Minstrel Show but that would be inappropriate.

johnwishboun
johnwishboun

One reason Gonzalez and Williams were bounced is that someone isn't satisfied that the two were sufficiently aligned with city "guidelines" to shake down every person in court for for every available nickel and dime.  Whose "fault" is it that average collections in Dallas courts are less than other large cities?  Maybe its because the people who show up in court in Dallas usually have less money for the ticket "shakedown" than other cities- that means they are poor.  Attorney Hunt probably wasnt used to representing those kinds of ppl at her "litigation" law firm.  Hunt, and anyone else who thinks the justice system serves as the city cash cow needs to go back to good-government class. 

WatchingSouthDetroit
WatchingSouthDetroit

By the way, Rawlings is showing that he is just as corrupt as the rest of them.  Leadership is to do the right thing.  Cronyism is NOT the right thing.  Or did John Wiley Price call and order him to vote the way he did? 

WatchingSouthDetroit
WatchingSouthDetroit

This is yet another example of why Dallas, specifically south Dallas, is so screwed up and why things do NOT ever improve.  These south Dallas politicos are concerned more with taking care of their buddies and cronies instead of doing what is best for the city and citizens as a whole.  Vonciel Hill never shows up to the committee meetings then cries racism later.

 

Since the people of south Dalas keep re-electing such low quality "leaders" such as these.  They deserve what they get in return - pretty much nothing but corruption and self interested city coucil members.

JM64
JM64

You're a trifle behind in this drama, Jim. Yesterday (19th), the Mayor switched his vote, withdrawing his 'support' for the fired 'Honorables'. I don't know why he changed his mind, but at least he is closer to doing the right thing.

 

I don't understand the logic of having a committee to determine a course of action if the recommendations are totally disregarded when they aren't what the powers-that-be want to have happen. If one desires a particular outcome, then 'stuff' the committee with your yes-men or don't bother with the committee.

JBone
JBone

Why would it be any surprise that Rawlings sold out to the Black Council members???

 

He bought his mayorship from the Southern Folks!!! Pay-backs are hell, Angela, no matter your good intentions! You know what they say about "good intentions", Mayor has some favors to pay!!!!!! 

 
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