Cabs, Keys and Taking a Bite Out of Dog Parks: Highlights From Council's Morning Session

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Council's already in recess -- till 1:30, said the mayor, citing a brief afternoon agenda. But the morning began with a bit of a bite -- bark too.

First up, a man repping the striking cabbies said the strike's over, for now. There's a demand on the table, of course, for the city to drop the ordinance allowing taxis powered by compressed natural gas front-of-the-line privileges at Love Field. If the city does that, said the rep (whose name I didn't catch), the cabbies will go out and get "EPA-certified" taxis -- "hybrid, electric, hydrogen," whatever it takes to get back in pole position.

After that, Richard Hunter stepped up to demand Mayor Tom Leppert rescind Dwaine Caraway's title of mayor pro tem, following his decision to give Michael Vick one of the lesser keys to the city. He also wants the key returned. The mayor said, look, it wasn't a real key to the city -- it only gets you into Arthur and Archie's house -- and then thanked Hunter for being a good daddy to his puppy Mel, formerly one of Vick''s "bait" dogs.

But most interesting was council member Ann Margolin's announcement that she can't support the NorthBark dog park on Gramecy Oaks Drive near the Dallas North Tollway and the Bush. Said Margolin, the cost of constructing the new park -- $1,574,019, paid out of Collin County grant funds ($98,000) and 2006 city of Dallas bond funds ($1,476,019) -- isn't the issue. Rather, she said, the park itself underscores a "serious issue with the budget process" -- as in, she said, city staff has informed her it will cost $80,000 annually. And that, she said, is money the city does not have -- and probably won't for several years to come.

Margolin said: How can the city justify spending that much on a single dog park when it can't operate the Esplanade fountain in Fair Park? To which Dave Neumann responded, shortly afterward, that dog parks are keys to building good neighborhoods -- and, matter of fact, expect one in Kiest Park sooner than later. So there.

Margolin asked Paul Dyer, head of Parks and Rec, how many parks the city has added in recent years. He mentioned a few, including Main Street Garden downtown, which, he explained, was funded for two years by Downtown Dallas, Inc. But that money will run out in November, at which point the city will have to begin paying for Main Street Garden all by its lonesome. At which point Margolin voted against NorthBark. She was the only council member to do so. 

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