So Ted Benavides hired a white guy to be chief of police? Wow, we didn't see that coming. Our money was on former San Jose Chief Louis Cobarruviaz; Dallas has had tons of white chiefs and one black chief. The Hispanic population is booming, so picking a Latino seemed to be the logical choice. Wasn't it their turn?
It's a sordid business, this racial and ethnic calculus that overshadows major decisions coming out of City Hall--thanks in part to seedy little newspaper columns that insist on keeping score. Damn them! Could it be that the city manager rose above that? Or did he simply have the freedom that comes with being totally screwed, knowing that no matter what he did, his prospects for future city employment couldn't get much worse? To understand what we mean, check out the May 11 editorial in The Dallas Morning News about the selection of new chief David Kunkle of Arlington. It excoriates Benavides for choosing a local for the job, calling the choice uninspired, poorly handled and "the same old same old." (Ironically, it then wishes Kunkle well. Sorta like saying, "We don't know what sort of idiot hired you, but welcome aboard, bub.")
Or consider the words of city Councilman John Loza, who suggests that nothing in the selection of a new chief could help Benavides' future with the city, only hurt it. "I don't think he's done himself any damage with this pick," Loza told Buzz. "If there is impatience with Ted, it goes far beyond this issue."
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Loza says he's looking for a leader with a strong long-range vision for revamping city government, but he hasn't seen that coming from Benavides, who this fall will be fully vested in his retirement package (see "Get Ted," by Jim Schutze, August 28). With the Morning News editorializing against Benavides, and city council members and the mayor openly speaking of a near-distant future without him, you have to wonder how much longer Benavides can hold on. Our guess: Kunkle probably shouldn't sweat over getting his new boss a Christmas present this year.
No place like home: A "revolution" at the Morning News that got under way last week with sweeping management changes in the newsroom (see "Ch-ch-change," by Eric Celeste, May 6) has stumbled a bit. On May 7, Editor Bob Mong sent a memo to his staff announcing that Marjie Lundstrom, a senior editor for the Sacramento Bee, had taken the job as the News' assistant managing editor for metro news. Her husband, reporter Sam Stanton, was to join the staff as a reporter. Come Monday, however, Mong issued another memo saying the couple had a change of heart.
We figured it was the case of another Californian who can't stand the Texas heat--or just plain Texas--but Lundstrom assures us otherwise. The couple liked the city just fine, she says; the decision was personal. Stanton's father died in April, and when the couple put their house on the market to prepare for the move, it struck Stanton that he wasn't quite ready to leave friends and family behind, Lundstrom says. "It was just too overwhelming for him...You ultimately have to decide what's best for your family," she says. But there were no hard feelings. "Bob Mong was wonderful about it. "