Public meetings often take on the tone of the most disgruntled citizen present, and last night was no exception. However, City Manager Mary Suhm tried to pretend she was genuinely interested in hearing from the 25 folks who showed up at Dallas City Hall last night to participate in the city's search for a new police chief. Not that she's going to listen to their suggestions -- hell, she's not even concerned with what the council has to say. As in: "Oh, good God, no." So, again, why is she asking us again?
We went downtown last night to see how seriously people were taking this exercise, which has two sessions left. Short answer: Enh. Attendees were split into two groups and asked to fill out that boring one-page survey to which we directed your attention last week. Afterward, the answers were scribbled on boards in front of the two breakout groups. Both ranked ... wait for it ... public safety as the most important concern.
Suhm approached the first group and observed the discussion from the back row. She saw people voicing concerns and describing characteristics other than those listed on the short survey. She interrupted the discussion to ask the city facilitator at the board to start a new page to add the additional input from this group.
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"I've heard people saying other things that are not captured in this survey," Suhm yelled out over the heads of the gathered few to the city facilitator, Katina Johnson, the south central service area coordinator. "And I want to hear it." Does she?
Despite this effort, people were left unhappy at the end of the meeting, demanding that Suhm stand on the stage and take their questions, which she refused to do. Asked by Unfair Park whether she'd allow people to ask questions at the second public meeting tonight, she appeared open to the idea, but did not commit.
"We'll see how the crowd goes," she said.
Tonight's meeting will begin at 6 p.m. at the Beckley Saner Recreation Center.