Is It Civil Disobedience Not to Fill Out the Dallas Citizens Council Questionnaire?

Learned an interesting thing the other day. Apparently this City Council election just behind us, on May 9, was the first occasion in anybody’s memory when several candidates did not bother to fill out or return the candidate questionnaire from the Dallas Citizens Council.
Don’t know what the Dallas Citizens Council is? OK. Founded in 1937, the Citizens Council is a private leadership group made up of business leaders. Because of careless mistakes and unwarranted assumptions I have made in the past, about which I have deep regrets, I want to state clearly here that the Citizens Council is in no way connected to or descended from the Ku Klux Klan. It’s just a bunch of men and women with a bunch of checkbooks who have always had an inordinate influence on local elections.

And you’re supposed to send back their questionnaires.

I asked Mark Clayton, who won the District 9 race without a runoff, why he failed to send back the Citizens Council questionnaire. He told me he didn't intend any big sign of disrespect or diss or anything.

“I wasn’t going to waste their time or mine to fill that out just to go through the exercise, because if you’re not pro-tollway, they’re not going to endorse you, so why waste your time?” he said.

Don’t know what pro-tollway is? OK. The tollway is a proposed multi-lane expressway through downtown along the river that the Citizens Council has been fighting to get built for more than 20 years. Telling the Citizens Council you are against the tollway is probably about like telling them you have heard some ugly rumors about their moms.

I really respect Clayton’s position. I don’t think people should have to get on their knees and grovel if they know in advance the response will be a bucket of dirty dishwater. It asks too much.

But in the process of calling around about this, I did happen to score a copy of the Citizens Council questionnaire (not, I can say honestly, from Clayton). I am providing you with a Scrib’d copy below. And I thought it might be helpful here for other candidates in the future who may be a little less brave than Clayton if I were to tell them what the right answers are.

At the top of the questionnaire are a bunch of blah-blah-blah questions that mean nothing. You can write whatever you want. Those answers will not even be read by anyone.

The meat and potatoes questions — the ones that decide if you get the money — are at the end. I have taken their real questions (check me in the Scrib’d document) and provided what I think are the right answers. Only if you want the money. 
Question: How would you propose spurring economic development in Dallas? 

Right Answer: Whatever you say. Just tell me. I’ll support it. I am especially in favor of big ticket items like anything prestigious that would be near your buildings. Example: Klyde Warren Park. I promise to oppose, scuttle and deep-six anything that would drain away funds from big ticket items near your buildings, like fixing the streets or putting in new storm sewers or anything that would not be really big and really shiny. Really near your buildings.

Question: Do you support the redevelopment of Fair Park? Please explain.

Right Answer: Generally speaking, I support the redevelopment of everything, if it is done by the right redevelopers. Because I am new to this, I may not be sure just which ones those are, so I am hoping after I get elected I can come see you and you will give me a list. I am a little worried about this question, because I know there are at least two completing plans for redeveloping Fair Park, and I don’t know for sure which one is yours. Please just tell me. Please.

Question: Do you support the expansion of the Kay Bay Hutchison Convention Center? Please explain.

Right Answer: Yes, I fully support the expansion of the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center for three reasons: 1) It is big. 2) It is shiny. 3) It is near your buildings, especially the buildings owned by The Dallas Morning News and by Ray Hunt, the oilman, at the southwest corner of downtown. I am not at all worried about the huge amounts of money the city loses every year on the convention center or by the fact that the global convention business is dying even faster than the daily newspaper business. Pumping more taxpayer money into the convention center would be a good way to help Mr. Hunt and Mr. Morningnews sell their land someday, and that is my dream, my calling.

Question: Do you support the development of a Major League Baseball stadium in Downtown Dallas?

Possible answer: Really? No fair playing jokes on me, OK? A major league baseball stadium downtown? What do you know that nobody else knows? What about that one out in Arlington? Oh, wait a minute. I get it. The only place downtown where there’s that much land would be that southwest corner again, owned by Mr. Hunt and Mr. Morningnews. So … puff up the convention center some more at a huge loss to taxpayers. Cut some weird deal to move the Rangers to the southwest corner of downtown or start a new team. What? This is like an I.Q. test, right? I’m starting to feel really weird. Who would pay for it? Not you, right?

Question:  Do you support a high-speed rail line connecting Dallas to major regional cities? Please explain.

Right answer: Sure. Fine by me. This is supposed to go straight into that southwest corner of downtown, too, isn’t it? I read where the bullet train people only have enough money to bring the train to South Dallas. So somebody else would have to pay to bring it into the southwest corner of downtown. Your corner. Let me guess. Not you, right? The taxpayers, right? You guys are really something, you know it? Taxpayers pay for more convention center, pay for a baseball stadium, pay for a bullet train — all these shiny big things near your buildings. You’re not shy about asking, are you?

Question: How would you support continued growth of the Arts in Dallas?

Potential Answer: I’m afraid to ask. A giant waterslide from the Park Cities to the Arts District? The National Museum of Rich People? Hey, just kidding. Pay no attention. No, I love the Arts, and by that I mean I love YOUR arts. Whatever arts you want, that’s what I want, you crazy Citizens Council guys. I think all the traffic signs in the city should be Cubist. Whatever.

Question: in your view, what is needed to help Dallas realize its vision of becoming an international city?

Totally Right Answer: Oh, I am so glad you asked this, because finally I know the answer. My campaign consultant told me. The only way for Dallas to become an International city is for us to get the Olympics. That way, the international people will be forced to come here, and that would make us international on the spot. Like the Jamaican bobsled team. They would have no choice. Otherwise, no Olympics for them. We have been dissed for too long by these international sons of bitches. I say get the Olympics here, no matter what it takes, even if we have to choke somebody, even if we have to kill somebody. We could put it at SMU. Thank you again for asking me this very important question and for allowing me to offer myself up for your approval. Please send Benjamins.
your approval and some Benjamins. Love ya.

DCC Candidate Questionnaire_May 2015 Elections by Schutze

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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