City Council's Municipal Court "Reform" Smells a Lot Like Bad Patronage
Pretty good time this morning on Get Off My Lawn on KNON Radio (7a.m. every Monday), where I talked about a bunch of stuff but especially this morning's upcoming Dallas City Council budget briefing where a council member will be introducing the proposed new Cheryl, Tim and Ruth Law.
The Cheryl, Tim and Ruth law -- for sake of brevity, I am going to refer to it hereafter as "CheTimRu" -- may or may not be approved by the council. It is legislation aimed at the problem of providing handsomely compensated city employment for persons named Cheryl, Tim and Ruth.
Any one of these people would fit right in at Dallas' municipal courts.
Ah, ah, sorry, hold your horses all you Cheryls, Tims and Ruths out there. Don't start hauling out your resumes just yet. You need to read the fine print. CheTimRu actually has some other job requirements. The proposed law includes last names, as well.
As written by council member Vonciel Jones Hill, CheTimRu creates two new municipal judgeships at about a hundred grand salary each and one part-time judge job. But CheTimRu also states specifically that, "...persons assigned to those positions shall be Cheryl Williams (full‐time), Tim Gonzalez (full‐time) and Ruth Logan (associate)."
Aaaah, now you get it! CheTimRu is not a law providing handsomely compensated city employment for just any old Cheryl, Tim or Ruth. Council member Hill, herself a former municipal judge and, we must assume, personal friend and lunch buddy to many occupants of the municipal bench, has three special persons in mind for whom she wants the council to create special jobs by special legislative fiat.
This is all part of the ongoing ugly business about municipal court reform. Council member Hill was a member of the council's ad hoc committee on municipal reform, where she distinguished herself by being the only member to attend exactly zero of its meetings. Zip. Not one..
The reform effort was an attempt to clean up the city court system, which for years has been sort of like Price is Right meets The Amazing Race. The Ad hoc committee reviewed a matrix of criteria designed to balance and defeat attempts by interested outside parties to rig the process, either because somebody wants judges to rule one way or the other or because somebody wants the judges' jobs for themselves. The end product was a set of recommendations that exactly preserved the ethnic/racial balance on the courts, even though it singled out white judges for a heavier hit than any other group in terms of which ones the committee said should be non-renewed.
Nevertheless, three weeks ago when the reforms went before the Dallas City Council, Hill led the charge to accuse the co-chairs of the committee, Angela Hunt and Delia Jasso, of racism. Jasso reacted by completely folding, turning against her own recommendation and siding with the other six minority council members, basically leaving Hunt, the white lady, holding the bag.
Hunt stuck her position. Ten of the 11 recommendations passed. On the 11th one they compromised, agreeing that Victor Lander, the presiding judge, was no good at his job and should be removed. In the name of being nice, however, they gave Lander a regular judge's job as a consolation prize instead of doing like you do with most people who get fired and, you know, showing them the door. So Lander emerged as a fired judge who still works there.
And now Hill has introduced this budget proposal which would create new full-time judge jobs for Cheryl Williams and Tim Gonzalez (whom, I will describe hereafter, for brevity, as CheTim).
By the way CheTim were ... was ... yeah, I think I'll go with the singular noun ... CheTim was among the former judges who got non-renewed. CheTim is currently suing the city over it.
So imagine, if you will, what it will be like down there if CheTimRu gets passed and CheTim gets its jobs back. Then the courts will be sort of like Price is Right meets Amazing Race meets Revenge of the Nerds.
Nobody better try to get CheTim to do any damn late nights duty on the magistrates bench at the jailhouse. I would think CheTim would have its own flag and anthem by then to go along with its own private law guaranteeing them ... it? ... their jobs. The sign over its courtrooms should say, "WE ARE CHETIM. WE RULE."
And while the council's at it this morning, they should paint a sign for the whole joint: "DALLAS CITY HALL: BADDER THAN REALLY BAD CABLE."
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