July 5 Will Mark City Secretary Deborah Watkins's Independence Day From City Hall

Say this for Deborah Watkins: The city secretary always hops on the phone whenever we have a question. And I've gotten to see her in action quite a bit in recent months -- including on the witness stand, when the attorneys trying to re-dry Dallas got her to testify about how and when she signed off on those petitions that led to last November's beer-n-wine referendum. That trial, incidentally, is still on the to-do list for later this year.

But Dallas County District Attorney Craig Watkins's aunt is outta there, some five years after taking over the position from Shirley Acy, who'd had the gig since 1998. She's off to get her doctorate in education at Texas A&M Commerce. Watkins -- whose son Kurt is a political consultant doing some work for Mike Rawlings's campaign -- was first hired by the city in May 1974 "as a Steno Secretary 5 in the Health Department," per Mayor-For-Now Dwaine Caraway's missive to council forwarded by Chris Heinbaugh this afternoon. Here's what else Caraway has to say:

I'm sure all of you share my mixed emotions at the departure of Ms. Watkins. Her professionalism, grace under fire, her humor and wit will all be deeply missed, but we certainly can appreciate that after 37 years of working for the City, she is ready to write a new chapter in her life which will include her passion for creating quality education.

To begin the steps to determine Ms. Watkins' successor, I have asked Councilmembers Tennell Atkins, Delia Jasso and Ann Margolin to meet and discuss the options for finding a new City Secretary and at the June 15th Council meeting, bring recommendations to the Council on how to proceed.

Pay's currently around $130,000. Just give it to Nolan Estes.

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