Dallas City Attorney Larry Casto briefed the Dallas City Council on the Dallas police back pay and pension crises in December 2016, two months after taking the job.
Dallas City Attorney Larry Casto briefed the Dallas City Council on the Dallas police back pay and pension crises in December 2016, two months after taking the job.
City of Dallas

Larry Casto Resigns as Dallas City Attorney

Dallas City Attorney Larry Casto is resigning effective Aug. 31.

Casto took over as city attorney from Warren Ernst in October 2016. During his time as Dallas' top lawyer, he helped dig the city out of two legal holes, working with the Texas Legislature on a compromise to keep the Dallas Police and Fire Pension System solvent and securing a settlement with the plaintiffs in Dallas' decades-old police and fire pay lawsuits.

Either of those crises could've bankrupted the city; now they're in Dallas' rear-view mirror.

"I knew [the lawsuits] had been hanging around for a long time. It was affecting the morale of the police and fire departments. It needed to be solved," Casto told the Observer in June. "When you combine that with the pension crisis, I firmly believed that we needed to get back in a place of trust with our first responders."

Outside of steering Dallas away from financial disaster, Casto's biggest call during his time in the city attorney's post was his decision to buck the mayor and issue an opinion that required the city open the future management of Fair Park to bidding, rather than handing it over to Walt Humann and the Fair Park Foundation.

Dallas City Council member Philip Kingston wrote on Facebook on Wednesday night that Casto's pending departure made him feel "physically ill."

"Larry Casto served the city as City Attorney for two years, and in that time he assembled a record of accomplishment and integrity that makes him the best lawyer ever to have held the top spot at City Hall," Kingston said. "That he did it under constant, withering and unwarranted abuse proves the strength of his character."

Kingston's council colleague, Lee Kleinman, said Dallas must maintain continuity in the City Attorney's Office.

"I wish the best to Larry," Kleinman said.

In his resignation letter, Casto — who gave the Observer a polite "no comment" about his plans because he needs to finish out his term —  sounds a lot like a man considering a run for mayor.

"The City's next mayoral election looms around the corner. Already, people are talking about who should be selected to fix all the what's — the affordable housing crisis, the transportation stalemate, homelessness, health care, public education, job creation and poverty," Casto writes. "The public discussion over the next few months must be about more than who can best recite the problems we all know exist. It must be about more than who the next mayor is. It must be about who we are as a community and what we are willing to do to get the Dallas we want." (Emphases Casto's)

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