City Hall

Judge Halts Dallas' Flow Control Plan, Basically Calls City Hall a Bunch of Liars

A federal judge has ruled that the City of Dallas pretty much lied about every single aspect of its so-called "flow-control" trash program.

Judge Reed O'Connor granted a permanent injunction against a new city ordinance that would have forced commercial haulers to take their trash to the city-owned dump instead of farming it out to cheaper suburban commercial dumps.

This is all about a civil suit that the trash haulers brought against the city, but if you close one eye when you read it, Judge O'Connor's order reads like a criminal indictment of City Hall and everybody in it.

First he goes off on former Sanitation Department Director Mary Nix, who was demoted recently after a city audit found uncounted sums of cash mysteriously and disturbing missing from the city dump's coffers. O'Connor finds basically that every single thing Nix told the city council and the public -- that flow control was all about high tech green technology and cleaning up the city -- was a big fat lie.

"First, Sanitation Director Nix made a series of admissions that shows the purported justifications were not the true motivation," O'Connor writes in his order. "She admitted that the Flow Control Ordinance was not necessary to address illegal dumping issues; that the Flow Control Ordinance, while valuable, was not necessary to increase the recycling rate in Dallas; that no landfills were currently operating in the City without a permit; that solid waste within the City limits was currently being handled in an environmentally sound and cost-efficient manner; and that she could not identify any portion of the Flow Control Ordinance that would help generate data about commercial waste."

O'Connor found also that flow control was not implemented "to improve air quality, implement 'green' technologies, and provide new jobs."

You know what? To be a little nicer about it and maybe soften the blow, O'Connor could have tossed in a little line like, "Her name, however, does appear to be Mary Nix."

So what was Flow Control really all about? Well, for that answer the judge quotes our apparently very honest mayor, Mike Rawlings, who told the council the day they voted for it that it was "a business revenue issue," all about grabbing money from the trash haulers.

So what's wrong with that? Oh, I don't know. There's some technicality in federal law apparently that says if you breach a contract in order to take money out of another guy's pocket it's a problem. It's in the constitution or something. I think it's in the same part of the constitution that says, "No knocking over liquor stores," not in so many words. Let's hope our city attorneys are taking notes.

But the best part of O'Connor's order? The eagle eye of the good judge fell upon the so-called "South Oak Cliff Investment Fund," a million-dollar gift package that the council voted to award to the Rev. Stephen C. Nash, a Southern Dallas cleric, moments after Nash rose in council chambers to oppose his own neighborhood and speak in favor of Flow Control.

Here Judge O'Connor makes his point by quoting our mayor at some length, when Rawlings urged the council to vote both for the Flow Control Program and its sister initiative, the Special Memorial Rev. Nash Pocket Fattening Program.

"I'm not going to support . . . a manana approach to this thing," Rawlings is quoted as saying in the order. "I'm just not going to do it. I'll tell you why. Because . . . those citizens have waited long enough in this city for us to get them money. We've got real money here. A million dollars."

Yeah, that struck me to at the time, too, because the "real money" the mayor was talking about was money the mayor intended to pluck out of the pockets of the commercial trash haulers. Real money, indeed: just not HIS money. My money, your money: always a key distinction.

Like I say, this thing reads like a criminal indictment. Maybe Rawlings deserves credit for speaking honestly enough to give the whole thing away. But it's starting to get really hard to comprehend how the city manager and her top staff can survive this stuff.

Let me tell you just how bad this is. The judge in this thing sounds like me. You know that's got to be The End Times knocking.