Liveblogging This Morning's Packed, Star-Studded Budget Workshop at City Hall
Bon matin, Mes Amis de le Parc Qui Est Unfair. Overflow crowd this morning at the City Council Budget Meeting in 6ES, and Tom Leppert, pin-striped as ever, has just told the packed house to sit tight while they figure out what to do with everyone. Atmosphere is stuffy and contentious -- this is the price we pay for public comment, which is the first item on today's agenda. Up for discussion later: budget amendments as proposed by council members, half of whom favor an almost-maximum tax hike and others of whom think we can get by with raising fees cutting expenses in order to keep our libraries, community centers and parks open.
Vonciel Hill opened with the invocation, addressing "the god of our weary years," which I expect is some kind of premonition of the meeting itself, as the council embarked upon spending several minutes deciding whether to move to Council Chamber for public speakers, after which Leppert proposed we move back to the smaller 6ES room. But David Neumann, ever the representative of the people, for the people, by the people, was all, "Why would we move back to this room?" after the speakers, when we can just leave everybody in Council Chamber and they can have access to all the yammering. C'est democracy, y'all.
Angela Hunt doesn't think we should move, but there are 30 people waiting in the lobby. Caraway thinks we should move to the Chamber. Giggity giggity blather blah. Posturing, etc. Everyone grumbles while the decision gets made. Finally, a vote: To the Chamber!
Speakers who signed up ahead of time get two minutes to talk, while seat-of-pants-flying individuals just get one minute.
Dawn Miller was the first speaker, and council was about 10 percent bothered to listen to her, staring at their phones and computers and papers, as they do. Neumann appeared to be planning a child's birthday party in his mind. Miller's in favor of taxes. She lives in South Dallas, and wants street improvements and public services back.
Bob Jackson, 76 years old and on a small pension and social security, didn't want taxes raised. "Please do not raise our taxes. Thank you for listening." Applause followed. Is it an anti-tax crowd, then?
Celebrity guest time! Veletta Lill, former council member, was thanked by Leppert for showing up before saying, "Our community is very concerned about deep cuts to the Office of Cultural Affairs." She touts the entrepreneurial spirit of the OCA and supports a tax increase to keep the office strong. Lill was supported by a woman named Teresa Walsh, who said "The arts have been marginalized for far too long, and we need more support for what we're doing."
Then, a representative from Dallas Area Interfaith, who supported raising taxes and says it's not a matter of raising property taxes -- everything will even out over time.
Next, it was Ed Oakley, another celebrity guest and former city council member. He says "sometimes you have to" raise taxes. "You have to do what you need to do to balance this budget." He says Suhm knows how to squeeze blood out of a turnip, "but at what cost?"
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