Liveblogging Today's Council Meeting During Which It'll Vote on FY2010-11 Budget
Hey y'all. I rode the elevator up to City Council Chambers this morning with Carolyn Davis, who is doing this whole Jackie O thing in a fun-collared white blouse. But then they tried to take my coffee away from me at the security checkpoint -- oh, but it is important to maintain the pristine beauty of the chamber's green carpet--and I was like, haha guys, that is a hilarious joke , maybe the most hilarious joke I have ever heard. Coffee, and a serious supply of it, will be in order: Today's gonna be a long one, what with the official budget vote coming up later on, after which we will presumably be taking a break so that Tom Leppert can stomp his feet and pout because his last-ditch effort of e-mails and "But! But! But!" polls meant to stifle the tax increase didn't work.
Things kicked off with the prayin' and the pledgin', as they do, after which came the public comment portion of the morning. First up was a representative from the Local 100 sanitation workers' union, who begged them to authorize a living wage for workers who do a pretty gross job in all kinds of weather: "I feel that the service that these guys are doing behind that truck is very, very valuable." Current pay is $8.88, which he noted is well below a living wage for a family of four.
But most people here to speak are coming out in favor of the tax increase -- Dallas Area Interfaith representatives are very visible, as well as two homeowners who said that despite their own economic hardships ('twas a widow and a woman working two part-time jobs), they're prepared to pay higher taxes to keep libraries and other public services open. The arts community is here with a strong showing, as usual, to support the tax increase, making up most of the chamber's left side. One rep: "Our local artists are starving artists, and they're dedicated to the city."
The director of a Latino theater company asked for funding from the tax increase for small arts groups, as well as large ones. With the projected skyrocketing of the Hispanic population in Dallas, he said the city would need more than just one Latino theater company -- in fact, we'll need several. But groups like his need help from the city to stay alive.
And then came the white property- and business-owner to the microphone, and Mayor Leppert looked dreamily at his ally, and you could see the warm fuzzies welling up inside him and you just knew in his heart he was all, "I know! I am saying!" But there was just one lone clap echoing out from the back of the room after he spoke, because this tax increase is happening, y'all, sweet goodness just give it up.
Oh, but it wouldn't be given up -- there may be more anti-tax folks here than it seems. Two women spoke to complain about government waste and keeping taxes low, with one particularly concerned about wasteful money going to fund programs like The Bridge, which she felt gave out unnecessary medications to its residents.
But the pro-tax group rallied back with a loud and long-running speech from an older gentleman in an extremely fun fedora, who shouted over the red blinking light signaling his time was up: "You don't have to back down! You don't have to back down!" he said, addressing, the eight council members voting to raise taxes.
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