Maybe Dallas has a shot at stepping out from under the redneck yoke of Austin after all. In today's news we see that a Dallas judge, Eric Moye, has tossed out a lawsuit by the usury industry in which payday lenders claimed the city had no right to protect its citizens if Austin didn't want them protected.
The Legislature has always refused to give Texans any protection at all from the hyenas in the payday lending business. Austin never wants anybody protected from anything. The Capitol has always been home to a bunch of for-sale-ass gomers willing to give up their own grandmas for free whiskey and a steak. And up until now, the urban areas either could not or would not step in to shield their citizens from the Rick Perry Oopsers in the Lege.
The census estimates the state at 82 percent urban based on the 2000 census. State of Texas numbers estimate the urban percentage at 86 percent in 2005, with trends pointing toward something more like 90 percent at about now. So why do urban Texans have to be ruled by the pitchfork set?
Maybe we don't. A local leader in the fight against the payday eyeball gougers was Gerald Britt of CitySquare, who is a great example of the kind of enlightened big-city leadership we can put forward when we want to, even though I don't always agree with him.
This is not a liberal/conservative thing. Don't take it that way. The author of the city's 2011 ordinance to rein in payday lending was Jerry Allen, a Lake Highlands conservative. It's more like the rule of law. What's conservative about letting the wolves run free through the village?
Austin isn't conservative. It's just pro-wolf. And why would that be? Oh, c'mon. We all know that one. The Legislature bows to the wolves, because the Legislature is corrupt and stupid. In that atmosphere, it's up to the cities to protect themselves and promote their own better future.
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Another example: City Council member Carolyn Davis is putting together a $2.5 million work-training program around a major highway construction project in southern Dallas. That's brilliant. Maybe the single biggest curse on southern Dallas over time has been the number of people deemed by the Bureau of Labor Standards to be "not in the labor force."
It's a complicated picture, and, yes, it involves some criminals and some people on the dole. But it also involves a ton of people who actually work their asses off every day to survive but are shut out of formal jobs by an array of factors. A program that would help bring some of those folks, any of them, back into the labor force can only be an enormous benefit to us all.
So I'm counting on my fingers here today. Judge Moye. The Reverend Britt. Council members Allen and Davis. Hey. I've already got almost a handful of urban leaders fighting for this city's best interests. Who knows? Maybe we really can hold off the pitchforks.
I'm so stirred up here, I'm even thinking of a new urban flag. Graphic design may not be my strong suit, so, you know, it's just a suggestion. But I'm thinking of a banner with a snake all coiled up and scary looking and a little saying at the bottom, "Don't Oops On Me."