Pretty good fireworks this morning at the city council meeting over a last-minute decision by the mayor to delay consideration of appointments to the Dallas Area Rapid Transit board. Several members clearly thought the mayor and his partner, Mayor Pro Tem Dwaine Caraway, were pulling a fast one. Personally, I think the Leppert-Caraway duo is turning out to be the not-so-fast team, but there you go.
The council was supposed to vote on whether to send former DART board member Joyce Foreman back to the board of DART, our regional mass-transit agency, or give the post to Dr. Beverly Mitchell-Brooks, CEO of the Greater Dallas Urban League.
But everybody I has been talking to all week was sort of bumfuzzled about what was going on anyway. The city attorney had never said or done anything about a whole list of conflict-of-interest issues that came up when Brooks was interviewed for the DART post a week ago.
City lawyer Tom Perkins was supposed to go down the list and then come back and tell the council whether the conflicts were enough to keep Brooks off the DART board. But for a week after the interview, it was radio silence from Perkins.
So this morning, when they’re supposed to vote on it, the mayor says Perkins all of a sudden has issues and they have to put it off for a month.
Council member Carolyn Davis went ballistic and demanded a closed executive session to hear what the issues were. But Leppert succeeded in getting a majority of the council to vote against going into executive session, presumably on the grounds that they didn’t want to know.
I happen to know Caraway met for hours with Brooks yesterday. Caraway has told me in the past that Brooks could clear herself of conflicts by persuading the Urban League to forsake its contracts with the city.
Of course, then, there is the question: Why should the Urban League, a struggling non-profit, cut itself from the City Hall tit just so Brooks can go to be an unpaid member of the DART board?
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Perkins told the council he just found out today that there was some kind of issue. Gosh, he needs to get out more. Somebody should have told him about that city council committee hearing a week ago where they presented a laundry list of issues.
One suspects that today’s action had less to do with anything Perkins found out about, anyway, and more to do with Brooks and the Urban League not buying Leppert’s bullshit. They’re probably telling Leppert to go find another sacrificial lamb.
The overwhelming impression of last week’s interviews was that Foreman was the most impressive candidate. But Leppert has been telling people behind the scenes that he can’t support Foreman unless Caraway allows it, and Caraway, who has an ancient blood grudge against her, won’t budge.
I have a column in the paper today saying that the suburbs are running all over Dallas in the funding and planning of future regional rail lines -- kicking our asses -- precisely because Dallas can’t get its own head out of its own ass. I couldn’t ask for better confirmation than today’s council action. --Jim Schutze