I now take you back inside the strange world of Dallas city councilwoman Vonciel Hill, who spoke yesterday on one of the most important tenets of her belief system -- that public information should never be shared with the public. Explaining why she did not want -- repeat, did NOT want -- the city ... More >>
At the beginning of every Dallas City Council meeting, long before most spectators (and many council members) are fully awake, a religious leader of some stripe stands at the podium and offers a brief prayer. A few months ago, we wondered whether the U.S. Supreme Court might declare such displays un ... More >>
The Observer hasn't written about Dave Neumann since he lost his Oak Cliff City Council seat to Scott Griggs. That was three years ago. Since then, Neumann has kept a low profile, running a consulting firm (somehow, it manages to have virtually zero online presence outside his own LinkedIn account) ... More >>
Monday I said Mike Rawlings was about to announce a pause -- a tapping of the brakes -- in his public school takeover campaign. I was a little off. Instead it turns out he has been meeting with three really old guys. I guess that could have the same effect. What? That's not a slur. I've got nothing ... More >>
The other night after talking all day to people about the no-sewer zone around the new University of North Texas at Dallas campus in Southern Dallas, I got to wondering. If the rest of us in other parts of the city had to give up a single part of the normal public infrastructure that keeps us all go ... More >>
In further proof that Mike Rawlings' tendency to craft major policy initiatives in secret is ruffling feathers at City Hall, some (or at least one) City Council member is pushing back against the mayor's newly hatched plan to curb Dallas' meat consumption. The blowback comes on the heels of Rawling ... More >>
There's something rotten in Duncanville city government. Twenty-four of the past 30 months spent without a permanent city manager, a City Council bitterly divided, and now this: The city of Duncanville is suing Mayor Deborah Hodge. Yes, that is a thing that can happen. The lawsuit was filed on Wedn ... More >>
Yes, I, too, love the Shakespeare T-shirt about first kill all the lawyers, and I bet I've got five good lawyer jokes to your one, but then again, I do dearly love it when good lawyers get elected to the City Council. In Dallas, as a result of having had a city manager system for the better part o ... More >>
Mike Howard is not a fan of Irving Mayor Beth Van Duyne. A quick glance at the one-time Irving City Councilman's blog (written under the nom de plum Mark Holbrook) is proof of that. But it's one thing to lob critiques of local government from the safe confines of the Internet. It's something else e ... More >>
Before the ink on A.C. Gonzalez' $400,000 contract was even dry, some were suggesting that the $95,000 gap between his salary and predecessor Mary Suhm's might have something to do with their different gender. Here's former City Councilwoman Veletta Lill commenting to KERA that "it looks like they ... More >>
There are good reasons to check up on the police and fire fund. The Nasher isn't one of them.
Got a story in the newspaper newspaper this week I'd like you to see if you have a minute. It's about the Nasher Sculpture Center and Museum Tower, the condo building accused by the Nasher of reflecting too much light on it. I spoke with officers of the city's police and fire associations (unions) l ... More >>
The Dallas City Council sealed the deal today with newly minted City Manager A.C. Gonzalez, approving his employment contract. The main thing you need to know about the deal is that it's a big one: $400,000 per year in base salary, plus benefits not enumerated in City Attorney Warren Ernst's brief ... More >>
New city manager promises transparency. Here's where he can start.
Picking the insider guarantees us more of the same.
Duncanville has a new interim city manager, and barely into her new job, Lynda Humble is already trying to shake up the way City Council formats its meeting agenda packet, a proposal that has proved to be surprisingly controversial. "A new agenda format has been created to establish a more forma ... More >>
Other cities sitting on the Barnett Shale are popular among the natural gas industry for quickly handing over their land to be fracked. But Dallas has turned out to be a surprisingly tough conquest. On Wednesday afternoon, the Dallas City Council finally passed its long-awaited fracking ordinance, a ... More >>
A Duncanville City Councilman was arrested by the city's police department after his wife accused him of stealing her cell phone and assaulting her, court records show. Mark Cooks was elected to the Duncanville City Council in 2012. More recently, in June, the Duncanville City Council in June selec ... More >>
In its own peculiar way, yesterday's editorial in the city's only daily newspaper was the perfect expression of the dilemma Dallas faces in choosing a new bureaucrat to run the city: Most of the people who even talk out loud about the topic are afraid to say out loud what the topic is about. It's ... More >>
At the outset of the most recent meeting of the Dallas City Council, Councilman Sheffie Kadane stepped to the dais and delivered the following prayer: Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for the gorgeous day You've given us today. Guide us year-round to serve the Lord, let us glorify You in all that we ... More >>
The highly anticipated investigation commissioned by Mayor Mike Rawlings has dropped. And, as expected, it boils down to this: Move along, folks. Nothing to see here. Most significantly, the report reveals that the charges against Uber drivers snared in undercover ops by Dallas vice officers have be ... More >>
Everything looks different if you're John Barr. The mayor has released his investigation of city officials who worked to help Yellow Cab of Dallas combat an incursion into the Dallas marketplace of Uber, an app-based car-ride system that operates outside taxicab laws. Brantley has reported all of t ... More >>
Mayor Mike Rawlings and the new city attorney Warren Ernst want to hold a secret closed-door City Council session tomorrow on a question that has everything to do with the public interest. Watch closely to see how your council member votes. It's a big window. Yesterday we talked about some of the s ... More >>
The acting city manager who would be king, A.C. Gonzalez, has always been the inside favorite. And if there is an issue in his way, it's that. Just ahead for City Hall is a decision to make somebody the permanent city manager. But just behind it is a series of scandals that should make anybody won ... More >>
City Hall does the taxi industry's dirty work to kill competition.
Frisco residents worried about a power company's plan to install high-voltage power lines above ground next to their homes have been frustrated by the company's handling of their complaints in recent weeks, but this morning they can celebrate a momentary victory: Their city council last night passed ... More >>
Fat Texas residents are slowly realizing that they should bike more, according to a Texas Tribune article co-published in The New York Times this weekend. Sourcing mostly "city officials," the report comes to the conclusion that fat Texans are biking more thanks to the efforts of -- you guessed it - ... More >>
As the city manager rides off into the sunset, let's get a strong mayor in the saddle.
This week in godlessness brings us to Rowlett, where Mayor Todd Gottel is feeling pretty good. He'll be running unopposed soon for his second term as mayor and third term on the City Council. The rest of the time, he owns a "sales and marketing" company, per the city of Rowlett's website, is a preci ... More >>
In the very wee hours as my eye first opened to the light of this day, I thought I heard a rushing of wings aloft. I caught my breath. Was this ...? And then distinctly as if from the next room, I heard the oinking of pigs. Only later with coffee in hand and the daily newspaper on my knees did I co ... More >>
Kari Gates grows seasonal fruits and vegetables over several acres of land at Spring Creek Organic Farms in West Plano. She drives her produce to several markets around the region, including Greenling. But, more recently she's exploring her options closer to home, particularly Fairview Farms near U. ... More >>
Oh, wouldn't you know it? Leave it to me to get all gooh-gooh-eyed and sweety-feets about things. Then cruel reality comes crashing in. It's because I'm just too innocent of heart. Just yesterday, I had my zither out singing softly to you about how the mayor had done the right thing in the municipa ... More >>
Maybe it is like watching them make sausage, but at least you have to give them a tip of the hat when they get the sausage right. The mayor and the Dallas City Council put themselves through a bruising debate yesterday on municipal court reform and in the end came up with the right answer, mostly. ... More >>
The 911 problem itself is bad enough, but the mayor and the police chief are about to drive me crazy. At our house we record the news and watch it right before going to bed. It's worse than chips and spicy salsa. Night after night we are subjected to these horror stories on TV about people perishin ... More >>
A friend of Unfair Park passed along an interesting email exchange between some members of the Gas Drillng Task Force in advance of tomorrow's throwdown public hearing. Seems that some are none too happy that Councliman Scott Griggs chose task force member Terry Welch to speak in favor of tighter dr ... More >>
It was Dallas city council member Tennell Atkins who, during yesterday's discussion of the city's still-far-off gas-drilling regulations, posed the million-dollar question. "Do you think that it's safe to drill in the city of Dallas?" he asked task force chair Lois Finkelman. Finkelman was noncommi ... More >>
With Mayor Mike Rawlings' support, only deep pockets can thwart the $2 billion river-ride.
Last month, you'll no doubt recall, City Manager Mary Suhm told the city council that 2012 bond program, which we'll vote on in the fall, will be a fraction of a shadow of a hint of its mammoth '06 predecessor, which appears to be the gift that keeps on giving. 'Round $450 to $550 million, she sa ... More >>
Mayor Mike Rawlings has a closed-door, no-press-allowed meeting this morning with 25 LGBT community leaders to discuss something that's become, say, a small issue for him in the last week: his refusal to sign the "Mayors For Freedom To Marry" Pledge. Earlier this week Rawlings also elected to back ... More >>
In one of America's wealthiest suburbs, an unlikely band of drilling opponents helped drive away the world's biggest energy companies. Did they save the town or ruin it?
Last night, Mayor Mike Rawlings hosted a community forum at Cedar Crest Golf Course, billed in the invitation as an "update on the City of Dallas." Backed by council members Dwaine Caraway and Tennell Atkins and a large supporting cast of other city officials, he tried to reassure the crowd: City Ha ... More >>
Photo by Chris HowellAt the end of business yesterday City Hall sent that memo from City Manager Mary Suhm and that letter from First Assistant City Attorney Chris Bowers. Both said more or less the same thing: Occupy Dallas has till 5 p.m. Saturday to clean up its mess behind Dallas City Hall, o ... More >>
In my column in this week's paper, I talk about that "flow control" deal, which has to do with how much trash gets trucked into southern Dallas. As usual, some of the responses I'm getting are from people mad about the way it came out who think the answer is to fire City Manager Mary Suhm. E ... More >>
Photos by Anna MerlanIt would appear the council got a standing o for appearing, briefly, at a lecture about ethics.Ethics reforms, or at least the earnest discussion thereof, are in the air over at City Hall lately. Mayor Rawlings won his seat, after all, at least partially based on a "pro-e ... More >>
Photos by Anna MerlanFrank Lutz addressing the council yesterdayThe Degolyer Estate at the Dallas Arboretum is a beautiful spot, a big house set back from a broad lawn, edged this time of the year with pumpkins and purple flowers. In the library, retreating Dallas City Council members and various ... More >>
Photo by Anna MerlanDomingo Garcia and, sitting to his right, Scott Griggs at last night's meeting over the map in Oak CliffLast week we sat through a very long, very ugly city council meeting, which ended with the members narrowly adopting a new redistricting plan. At that time, council member D ... More >>
Yesterday afternoon, around 5:30, as a tiny audience sat in the city council chambers, former Mayor Dwaine Caraway came by and declared to Unfair Park, "I think we got something." That's right. A final redistricting map. Finally.Caraway spoke about three hours too soon, though. Last night at 8:30 ... More >>
Forget what I just wrote below about council members turning in their redistricting amendments by 5 p.m. today. I just got a call from someone at City Hall informing me that, no, that deadline was just changed -- at the request of the mayor's office. The Redistricting Commission office confirms: ... More >>
Photo by Mark GrahamMayor Mike Rawlings's office confirms: From 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. on August 2 he's throwing a dinner for the city council -- a sort-of get-to-know-me BBQ-flavored wingding in advance of the council getting back to work. Problem is, that conflicts with one of only two public hearin ... More >>