The local news satire site Dallas Brisket described the situation best: “City Decides Polluting River Preferable to Minorities Playing Soccer.” A Dallas employee who works for the Park Department was shown destroying a youth soccer league's goal post at Lake Highlands Park, in a video that aired last week on CBS-11. Rosa Elizondo, the manager of the soccer league, said six goal posts had been destroyed. The worker, his face blurred, tells Elizondo in her own video footage that he was just doing what he was told. "This is where he threw the goal post," Elizondo tells the CBS anchor in a follow-up report, pointing to the nearby creek that feeds into White Rock Lake. Sure enough, the goal posts were still there, floating in the creek.
The goal-destruction occurred on August 10, says District 9 Councilman Mark Clayton, whose district includes the park. But it didn't come to his attention until CBS aired its report. Soon afterward, he asked the the department to investigate. "We are in the customer service business and this is an affront to common sense," he posted on Facebook. On Friday, Clayton met with the park staff and afterward expressed optimism that the city would take responsibility for what happened, the specifics of which are still under investigation. "I thought they did a really good job. They acknowledged fault. They're going to reimburse them [the league] for the goals ... and then they're basically giving them free rent until the end of the season," Clayton says.
The Dallas Park Board, the committee of 15 City Council appointees who oversee everything park-related, has been silent about the alleged goal-destroyer. Asked about the worker destroying and tossing the goals, "It hasn't come to my attention that he did that," says District 9 board member Gerald Worrall. He says the board is awaiting responses from staff to find out what exactly happened. "My guess is like every situation in our parks, there's probably a variety of aspects to it."
Both he and Park Board President Max Wells said they hadn't watched the news video depicting the worker doing something that sure looks like destroying soccer goal posts."No, I have not looked at any reports," says Wells. He said he could not comment on personnel issues. If the city worker ends up getting fired, that decision is up to staff, though the worker would be able to appeal the decision to the Park Board, Wells says.
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One Park Board member, Yolanda Williams, took to Facebook to defend the worker. She suggested that the soccer goals were "unauthorized" and caused safety issues, making it sort-of OK to destroy them. "Unfortunately, the unathorized [sic] soccer goals was an agreement made by a former staff worker," she wrote in a comment on Clayton's page. "It's in our policy at no time can we allow outside football or soccer fields to remain on park property. For safety reasons and they must meet the standards. Staff is working to assure future reservations understand our policy.
"In all fairness, I can't attest to the worker placing the goals in the creek because, we didn't witness that. Nor was it evidence to support that." No evidence to support that, of course, other than the goal posts visibly floating in the creek afterward.
In a message, Williams tells the Observer, "I don't have any information pertaining to pending investigation ... My comment was based solely on Councilman Clayton comments, regarding customer services. I assured him we strive for excellent customer services. "