Circling the Dwaine, Countdown to Cara-watch, Day One, So It Begins, And ... Go

Time to start a watch. I hereby declare this the beginning of the "How Totally Useless Are the Dallas City Council and Mayor?" watch.

Day One.

I wrote here yesterday about the huge dilemma City Hall faces with Dwaine Caraway, the council member who is next in line to fill the mayor's shoes should the current mayor take a powder. Do you remember any of this? I pointed out that Caraway is next in the succession to become mayor only because his fellow council members, at the urging of the current mayor, elected him "mayor pro tem," an honorific title.

The current mayor, Tom Leppert, is, in fact, about to take a powder. He wants to run for the United States Senate, and he needs to get running. He hasn't officially done it yet, but, believe me, he will. Soon.

So that will make Dwaine the mayor of Dallas.

What's the problem? Uh...Dwaine. Dwaine is the problem. The councilman from District Four in recent weeks has been experiencing some kind of terrible acceleration in his faux pas rate, speeding up from about one really bad embarrassing faux pas every couple months to about a faux pas every three or four days.

If we project Dwaine's faux pas rate out into the future and draw a line across it for when Leppert leaves, by the time Dwaine is the mayor he'll be doing a really bad faux pas about every hour or so.

I gave them the solution yesterday. They're the council. All they have to do is vote. Make him not the mayor pro tem no more. Give the title to somebody else. Crisis averted.

But, of course, they can't do it. And why not?

Race, of course. There's all kinds of complicated math about which race gets to hold which meaningless honorific office at what time, and there is going to be some especially strong racial math going on if the honorific office-holder gets to be the real mayor for a while.

So they're paralyzed. They all want to strip Caraway of the pro tem title. But they can't agree on who gets to replace him.

If City Hall were the Titanic, this would be a bunch of people out by the rail about 20 seconds before she goes tail up and straight down, arguing about which race gets to jump in the life boat first.

The white ones are just as bad as the minority members, maybe worse, because they're so incredibly chicken. Everybody knows what needs to be done here. Get him the hell away from the wheel house.

And why can't they do it? Because they are USE-less. Totally USE-less.

How totally USE-less? That's what my watch is for. This is Day One. Join me. How totally useless are the Dallas city council and mayor?

Come with me on this journey, and we shall find out.

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Jim Schutze has been the city columnist for the Dallas Observer since 1998. He has been a recipient of the Association of Alternative Newsweeklies’ national award for best commentary and Lincoln University’s national Unity Award for writing on civil rights and racial issues. In 2011 he was admitted to the Texas Institute of Letters.
Contact: Jim Schutze