City Hall

"A Moment of Truth for the City": Mayor Demands Council OK Flow Control. It Did.

Brantley's been at Dallas City Hall for this morning's flow control vote, which began with that promised pre-game protest by the students of Paul Quinn College, who stood throughout the entire discussion that ran close to two hours. (Save for one protester, who fainted during the discussion, prompting a five-minute recess.) Later today, he'll be up with his recap of a riveting day's worth of speechifying, proselytizing and protesting.

But first, a spoiler alert: What a mess.

Tennell Atkins, a born-again supporter of directing all solid waste to the McCommas Bluff Landfill, gave a rambling "tale of two cities" speech in which he mentioned the convention center hotel and how sometimes the city needs to do what private business won't in order to "grow the tax base." Carolyn Davis tried to take the council into executive session, which the council voted not to do. (To much applause.)

Sheffie Kadane made a motion to delay the vote to form a task force consisting of "community leaders, industry experts, elected officials and city staff" that would take a look at the proposal, which Scott Griggs (and Ann Margolin, who had her own task force proposal) seconded and Delia Jasso supported. Monica Alonzo also wanted a task force, with the caveat it comes back with its recommendations in 90 days.

She could find no takers, at least until Vonciel Jones Hill asked: "Would you be satisfied with an interim report in 90 days?" You bet. So: Seconded! Hill then offered an eloquent objection to the proposed ordinance, which she called "an environmental injustice" (to much applause) that "does not promote economic development" (applause).

Later, Mayor Mike Rawlings tried to make it real easy for everyone.

He acknowledged: This is one "confusing" issue that "has been obfuscated so much" that he needs to clear the air. So he did:

"Let me simply it: There are 700,000 to 900,000 tons of commercial waste leaving the city of Dallas, and people are making money off of that. Corporations outside of Dallas are making money off of that. That could mean $15 to $18 million in revenue for the city coffers."

He said put aside all that trash-to-treasure talk.

"This is a business revenue issue," he acknowledged. "Who deserves that revenue? Should it be the owners of the landfills outside the city of Dallas or the taxpayers? That's the fundamental issue. I am going to vote for the taxpayers. I believe everyone, if you live in Dallas or have a business in Dallas, deserves that money and not a private enterprise, and I hope we're aligned on that."

He began raising his voice; it sounded like a campaign speech. He said he would approve a task force, sure, but only after the council OK'd the flow control ordinance and the stimulus fund for southwest Oak Cliff, which promises about $1 million a year but no more.

"I am not going to support a mañana approach to it," he said. "Mount Tabor Church and those citizens have waited long enough for us to get them money. We've got real money here -- $1 million! We could clean up that land and have a grocery store quickly, and for me, as a mayor, to say we need to study something longer, I'm telling ya, I just don't buy it. I've searched my heart. It's a moment of truth of the city of Dallas ... time to put up or shut up."

The vote on the amendment for the task force failed, by an 8-7 vote.

Flow control then passed with Angela Hunt, Carolyn Davis, Dwaine Caraway, Linda Koop, Monica Alonzo, Pauline Medrano, Tennell Atkins and Jerry Allen voting in favor of both ordinances.

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Robert Wilonsky
Contact: Robert Wilonsky