Good morning, Friends o' The Unfair Park. I'm poised alongside a couple of very handsome Dallas Morning News writers at an inadequately small Ikea work table somewhere high up in the Wyly Theatre in the Arts District -- it's that big building that looks like it's made of bass guitar strings -- ready to liveblog today's city council retreat. We're in a black box theater, and I really can't think of a better place to watch council members bond together than in a space designed for performance.
Mayor Tom Leppert began the retreat with a nice, informal speech about "good progress" made during his administration thus far by him and the council committees. As in: Parks? Good progress. Education? Good progress. Quality of life? Good progress. Good, good progress. Pauline Medrano wandered in somewhere in the middle of all this good progress, rolling in like it ain't no thang. And it wasn't no thang. Leppert closed by acknowledging that there are challenges to come, but that "people feel good about what's happening and want to see the city do well." All those other big cities in the world? "They feel that their best part is behind them," says Leppert. Whereas Dallas, we presume, has its best days to come.
A rather terrifying, diminutive man named Bob, we'll call him Timekeeper Bob until I figure out his real name, stood up briefly to threaten the council with tarring and feathering should they go over their speaking time limits -- after all, we don't want to be here until dark. The council moved on to the Strategic Plan Update, presented by Assistant City Manager Jill Jordan. She praised accomplishments in the areas of overall crime reduction and police response time, though said there were "opportunities" to improve our ranking in terms of violent crime (we're ranked fifth in the country) and, environmentally, to improve the "high weed" situation in the city. I am sure the Friends will be happy to provide suggestions for that in the comments.
Now, they're moving to small groups, bickering happily over trying to get council members to move to three different tables to set goals for next year's strategic plan in the areas of public safety, environment and culture. There are big white notepads, Sharpies and huddling. It's all very youth group retreat, really.
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Join me in the comments to see if I end up swiping a Sharpie out of Neumann's hand and huffing away to dull the pain of progress.