Last time I watched Mayor Laura Miller in action was at a recent briefing on the bond issue (topic of my column in the current Dallas Observer). She and City Manager Mary Suhm had agreed that council members should no longer get a $5 million slush fund apiece out of the bond program to do with as they wish.
That ticked off the council, so Ed Oakley went around and got them all to help him prepare a list of $70 million worth of urgent special projects (ahhh, um, let's see...well, lookee here, why, that's $5 million apiece), which they have now tacked onto the bond issue. So, in other words, they were defying the mayor and the city manager. And because Dallas voters in their wisdom have voted down the strong mayor reforms, she's just one vote on the council, and there's nothing she can do about it.
I watched this briefing, and I swear it was like a huge family where Child Protective Services has told the kids they don't have to do what their mother says anymore. Every time Mom looks like she might raise her voice, the kids get out their cell phones to call in another report on her. During that briefing, the council members were thumbing their noses at the mayor--some openly, some sneakily.
I remember thinking to myself, "Why does she want this job? Why would any intelligent person want this job?"
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There's one way to be happy and effective as mayor of Dallas: Be a doormat. Be a doormat to the council or a doormat to Ray Hunt and his boys. Or both. And be happy. Or be gone. I know what I'd choose. --Jim Schutze