Philip Kingston says that despite what you may have heard, he really does care about his fellow city employees. So much so, in fact, that he's been crowd-sourcing — with the help of a white board put up at City Hall — a list of things city of Dallas workers want from the city. Wednesday he gave the list to Dallas City Manager AC Gonzalez.
For the most part Dallas' employees are concerned with the same things many of us are at our workplaces. They want better transportation options — Zipcars in the city's parking garage would be nice for those who took DART to work and need to run an errand using one of the rent-by-the-hour cars, for instance. They want cheaper health insurance, more pay, better food and clearer performance evaluation processes, just like the rest of us.
A couple of things on the list do stick out, however. The city doesn't have parental leave. Employees wishing to take time off to have kids are forced to use accumulated comp time or take unpaid time off under the federal Family and Medical Leave Act.
"Right now, [city employees] get a certain number of days that can count as sick days, vacation days or maternity leave and they accrue over years of service. The problem is there's a pinch point. Women who get pregnant in like their third or fourth year of employment, if they have even just a minimal use of sick days during their first few years of work, they're going to have very inadequate comp time," Kingston says.
The other thing that's especially interesting, specifically as it pertains to the city's cops, is city employees' request for a tax break for actually living in the city of Dallas.
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According to data collected by FiveThirtyEight, 19 percent of Dallas' cops live in the city. Ron Pinkston, the president of the Dallas Police Association, has blamed that low number on Dallas' comparative cost of living.
"If I [could] afford to live in some of the better parts of the city, I would," Pinkston said last October. "I can't afford it. For the quality of home I can get in the suburbs, I can't get that in Dallas. And then most Dallas officers wouldn't send their kids to DISD schools."
Kingston says it's important that Dallas resident see city staff as being invested in the city.
"What people want out of city staff is that they treat the entire city as their own house, that we're all in this together, that a cop that drives by a yard with high weeds calls code compliance, that everyone's treating it like they have an ownership," Kingston says.