Schutze

It's Her Nature, Stupid!

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There's a lot of this that I don't like. Weiser's solution, for example, is to support Tom Dunning for mayor. Dunning, a successful insurance man, is an old-line moderate Democrat--one of the few in Dallas who never turned Republican. He's a bright man and very personable. But Dunning, in spite of being a Democrat, comes straight out of the huff 'n' puff club.

What good does it do, I wonder, to support Dunning in order to keep Poss from running the show, since both of them will dance to exactly the same tune anyway? So why not vote for Miller and at least get some fun out of the deal?

I can also see how some people may hope that Miller will be able to govern after all. If she wins, she will have a mandate from the voters of Dallas. Other people on the council can't just snub their noses at that. Even though it's a weak mayor system, the mayor is less weak now than before: She would have power over committee appointments and other perks that might bring some of her fellow members around. And Miller is not without her own charms and powers of persuasion.

When I talk like this, the political pros tell me I am naïve, naïve, naïve. One of them with whom I speak often, who talks to me on a not-for-attribution basis because he doesn't want his friends to know we chat, said he thinks she can win. "She can galvanize the anti's," he said. "She has three arrows in her sling--the arena, the river and the Olympics. She was right on all three."

But he insists she can't rule. "Laura can't go to the business establishment. There's no future in Laura. She brings nothing to the table. Getting on her team makes you a friend of [Web-page gadfly] Sharon Boyd, and I don't know anyone who aspires to that. That's why she's so isolated. If I'm on the council, I get nothing from being on her side."

I'm not totally sold on that argument. What about the reward of being on the side of someone who is actually trying to do what the people of the city want done--like fix some curbs--as opposed to trying to have the 2005 International Hang-Gliding Championship take place on top of City Hall?

But that issue--doing what the people want done--brings us back to the question of Miller's personality and whether she is personally capable of even getting the curbs fixed. Her impatience and deep personal disdain for people who disagree with her may lock her into the role of gadfly. A former council member and longtime observer of the scene calls her "a better-looking Max Goldblatt" (a reference to another gadfly who served on the council in the 1980s and is now deceased).

What's also troubling about Miller is the thing my confidant touched on peripherally in his snotty aside about Sharon Boyd. I like Boyd. But she is very narrowly identified with an all-white ultra-conservative element of professional a'ginners--the people who were against mass transit and who are always trying to gut the county hospital, who always manage to come up with some gripe against every single person of color who has ever held office in the entire history of the world. It seems to be the fact that, in her pursuit of a contrarian base, Miller has wed herself to this bunch without bringing along a shred of support from the black or Latino communities.

I called Miller many times over a three-week period asking for a conversation about some of these issues. But Miller is not speaking to the Dallas Observer because of two stories we have published: The first was an investigative piece that was embarrassing to her husband's law firm, and the more recent was a story detailing her cruel treatment of a woman whose husband had just committed suicide in the throes of a code enforcement battle with Miller.

As you might imagine, people get mad at the Observer all the time. But most people in politics get over it. (We always get over it.)

What's interesting about Miller is that she used to work here. She did my job: She wrote this column before she went on the council. Now she's on the other end of the stick, and she's so thin-skinned you would think she had never been out of the country club.

But there you have it. Miller is my way or the highway. She looks in the mirror for consensus. And especially because she can't bring the clout and money of the business establishment to the table, that arrogance may be fatal.

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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