Before last week’s pro-hotel shindig in the Flag Room at City Hall, I decided to attend Wednesday’s council meeting. No particular reason, although the Fairfield zoning case was on the afternoon agenda. Ironically, I ran into Kat Truitt on my way down the elevator after the Build the Hotel press conference. I assured her that Fairfield would be approved, and it was.
I was listening to the morning open-microphone session on the radio while driving and heard Alberto Ruiz and Rusty Tomlinson of the Cesar Chavez Task Force, along with Adelfa Callejo, talk about renaming Industrial Boulevard for Cesar Chavez to honor the results of the survey, claiming it was about respect. Brenda Reyes, one of Mayor Leppert’s political consultants, was also there supporting the effort.
Knowing the issue wasn’t on the agenda, I was happy to think that by the time I walked in, the Chavez talk would be exhausted, because like Angela Hunt, I’m tired of all this and believe the city has better things to do. But as I walked in, State Rep. Roberto Alonzo was talking about Chavez too, which was a ploy to test the waters on where the council stood on the issue. The council could let Ruiz, Callejo and Tomlinson speak without a discussion, but they had to talk about it now that Alonzo showed up.
Predictably, Mayor Pro Tem Dr. Elba Garcia and council member Steve Salazar supported the name change, but I didn’t perk up out of my seat until Deputy Mayor Pro Tem Dwaine Caraway started speaking. He talked about not supporting the survey because he didn’t consider it commissioned by the city -- which was shocking, since he was the one who made the motion to involve the public during the May 6 meeting of the Trinity River Corridor Project Committee.
So before throwing Caraway under the bus, I wanted to listen to the audio from the city’s Web site just to be sure I heard everything correctly.
(And, by the way, I dare you to listen to the noises at 36:07 and 36:19 and not laugh your ass off. UPDATE: The Unfair Park A/V club cut this one down for easy listening: Sounds like the word "celebrate" is some kind of Pavlovian trigger. Brings to mind last week's John Clayton brouhaha on SportsCenter.)
Turns out, it was worse than I remembered. After supporting naming a “major” street after Chavez “beyond a shadow of a doubt,” he talked about the survey.
“Yes, there was a survey. And this is me speaking, myself. It was a survey that really I was not a part of,” Caraway said. “It was not the survey -- I want this to be clear -- yes, there was a survey, but the survey -- and I want the people to really understand this -- it was not a survey that this council commissioned. It was not a survey that this Dallas City Council commissioned.”
Lemme get this straight. Caraway makes a motion in a Dallas City Council committee meeting to forward six names for public consideration, and then a survey is posted on the city’s Web site and somehow he wasn’t a part of it and the survey wasn’t commissioned by the city?
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Then he mentioned “taking the politics out of it” and said the council needs to go through the proper process.
“I’m not with that survey, but I heard it,” Caraway said. “But I’m not with it, because it was not, in my opinion, officially commissioned by this council as the media has portrayed it to be.”
Caraway added that a street would be named for Chavez “without controversy,” which may have been the funniest thing he said until he ended with this: “It should be the biggest celebration this city has ever had when we unveil the name.”
Like I said before, the city has much better things to do than debate the Chavez issue, but I can’t help but be continually amazed by the twists, turns and hypocrisy. And all for the name of a street. --Sam Merten