So Long, Suhm

As the city manager rides off into the sunset, let's get a strong mayor in the saddle.

Of course I asked what she'll do. She said she has no specific plans but will find something to do because she can't be idle. "I can't retire. I'll go do something else. I don't know what it is. You can't look for a job when you're in this job. I can't go fishing or something. No."

Suhm did not bristle, exactly, when I asked if the new makeup of the incoming council was a factor, but she sort of dismissed the idea. She said she has always been able to figure out new councils in the past. Yeah. Exactly. That's why I want to sell.

In 2005 we had two chances to vote out the city manager system and replace it with what's called a "strong mayor" system. Sadly, both of those elections wound up turning on what I would call the "Strong Laura" issue. Laura Miller, a maverick, was mayor, and so the Citizens Council was able to shape the whole question as one of whether we should make Miller even stronger than God did, which, I had to admit, was a daunting prospect, kind of like scary late-night lightning storm experiments up at Castle Frankenstein.

Sam Merten

So it failed. We kept the city manager system, which the Citizens Council loves because they have always been able to work it like a gumball machine. What's changed now? Look at it. It's not working like a gumball machine any longer.

Part of the deal was always that the city manager could only really carry water for the Citizens Council if the Citizens Council got the right people elected to the City Council. And for a long time, they did. In a less mature city with far fewer organized mobilized constituencies, the Citizens Council was the sole source of campaign financing and never had any trouble loading up the City Council with its own Manchurian candidates.

Most issues at the council rim were of no importance to the Citizens Council types. City Council members could argue all they wanted and go any direction they pleased on non-discrimination resolutions or pothole repair. But when the rubber met the road and there was an important issue, Citizens Council President Donna Halstead showed up in the City Council chamber, held up the ace of spades, and the entire City Council went into deep zombie mode and voted the way she had instructed them. It was so eerie, sometimes I was just glad she didn't signal them to bite me.

That's over. Just now. Concomitantly with Suhm's departure. Think about it. First, there was only Angela Hunt from East Dallas to be the grown-up at the table, the non-zombie. Then she was joined by Scott Griggs of North Oak Cliff and Sandy Greyson of North Dallas. The difference in going from one to three was enormous. One close observer, who spoke anonymously because he must continue to deal with the council, called the change from one maverick to three "non-linear."

"Before they could always act like Angela was crazy," he said. "Now they see Philip [Kingston] is leading [in a runoff in District 14]. He's the frontrunner. Scott Griggs is coming back. Sandy [Greyson] is there. Adam [Medrano] is coming in."

With one more ally, the independents will be able to muster a bloc big enough to put things on the council agenda against the wishes of the manager and mayor.

"Think of the quantum leap that happened when one independent went to three on the council," he said. "Can you imagine what it would have been like for Mary if three got to five? It's an exponential grief curve."

Those changes have taken place, he said, because the Citizens Council is failing at its half of the bargain. "They're supposed to get the right people elected to office, and they're not doing it."

When Suhm leaves, I'm sure the Citizens Council will push hard for her to be replaced by an ace of spades zombie they can control. It takes a two-thirds vote of the City Council to fire a city manager but a simple majority to hire, according to the charter. That's eight votes to not hire: Eight votes can block any hire, in other words. Eight is only five plus three.

We'll probably go that route for a while — a donnybrook over hiring the replacement. Then I assume Halstead will show up in the audience with her ace, the serious zombies on the council will go heavy-lidded on us and vote to appoint some stiff the rest of us will find far more unappetizing than Suhm ever was.

And there is the moment. Time to pack the little bugger off to college. We need to start talking about that one-bedroom apartment again.

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primi_timpano topcommenter

I think Angela Lansbury used a queen of hearts.


Yep, someone is clearing the decks at City Hall. It must be a huge issue. I wonder which city council members will be implicated?


Something just doesn't add up here:

If Mary Suhm is just deciding on her own to retire, then why was that decision made just days ago, then, its effective July 1st, with AC Golzales serving as interim City Manager starting July 1st? 

What was the urgency? Why didn't she serve as CM until the end of the year when a replacement was selected? This seems highly unusual? Seems more like she was ousted for some reason and given only 40 days or so, to give up her title. It appears like urgency and immediacy to me, which doesn't comport with all the BS reasoning by all the journalist. 


What's gonna happen now??  We can only asSuhm.


@JimSX @barronstalls

And just a few days prior to Suhm's urgent/immediate resignation, Jerry Killingsworth, Director of the Housing Department, appeared to have a similar urgent/immediate resignation announcement.

What gives??? Even Rudy Bush (who works for the Mary Suhm Morning News) stated he "blocked affordable housing projects." Sounds illegal to me! 

The "spin" just isn't adding up!



Thats the problem, when your "steering" all the affordable housing in one area, you have to "block" the ones that are proposed in the other areas! 

JimSX topcommenter

@barronstalls @JimSX 

But they didn't block them. They just steered them out of downtown to South Dallas where City Hall thinks they belong.