At the end of last week Wilonsky posted a City Hall memo announcing that "the general public will no longer be allowed to park in the City Hall garage." I thought about it a lot over the weekend. It's just so incredibly and infuriatingly typical.
The justification for barring the "general public," whom I always think of as the general taxpayers, from their own City Hall garage is that keeping us out will be a "security enhancement." We're just too damned dangerous, the lot of us.
The joke there is that City Hall stopped carrying out any meaningful security precautions in its basement parking garage about two years after 9/11.
Immediately after September 11, 2001, they went crazy. A City Hall security officer stopped me at the gate when she saw that my press card was expired.
"This is out-of-date," she said.
"Well, it's not really out-of-date," I said. "It's fake."
"Yeah, there's really no such thing as an official press card in Dallas,so we just make them up. If you can let me run inside and use a copying machine, I can whip up one that's current."
Then I did a terrible thing. I'm still shamed of myself. But I was going to miss a very important press conference. She ducked back inside her booth to make a Mayday call, so I just took off ahead into the garage.
Some other guards came looking for me. In fact they walked right by me. I could tell they were looking me over. But they didn't know what to ask. Like, "Excuse me sir, but are you a bad man?"
I would have said no. I don't consider myself a bad man. Just sort of an asshole.
Anyway, they forgot all that stuff pretty quickly. Now you go in there, and they don't even want you to slow down when you pass the booth. What I mean is, they do not have any kind of real trained or effective security, no matter who they say can enter the garage or not.
They could try some real security first, before leaping to the Draconian option of barring the public from parking in the city's most public place.
As it is now, anybody could get in. If I were a bad man who wanted to sneak in there, I would just tell the guy in the booth, "My good man, I am the mayor's brother-in-law, and he will hear of this outrage."
I'd get in. Believe me.
Anyway, that's not why they're barring the public. I thought about it all weekend.
What is the one thing that can ruin their day over there? The public. What is the one thing the council does not want to see when it's ready to vote up a nice little deal for a developer who has agreed to hire certain people as subcontractors. The public!
Nothing stops them in their tracks like a major show-up of the public at a city council meeting or meeting of the plan commission or any other body. Fill that damn chamber with pissed-off voters, and the people behind that dais get the sweat-shakes.
And nothing else can do it to them. They don't answer their phones. They don't read their e-mails. You'd get more action sending letters to Santy Claus.
But people in the pews? Oh, do they ever hate that!
And people know it. That's why, whenever a neighborhood is about to get majorly screwed, the word goes out: Get downtown! Fill that room!
People know. City Hall knows they know it. And that is why they are about to make it a hell of a lot harder to do.
It's already hard enough. How many people can take off work? You notice they never meet in the evening when working people could attend. And now on top of that they're going to make it so you have to go out and deal with the pain-in-the-ass parking situation they have created all around City Hall.
I hope people will keep showing up and demanding to park in the garage anyway.
Tell the guard, "Oh, no, my good man. I am not a member of the general public. No, sir, I am a member of the Select Frequent Taxpayer Public. I'm surprised you didn't recognize me."
In the meantime, I'm going to do an experiment. I have a furry Ted Kazinski cap with giant rabbit-fur ear-flaps. I'll wear that. I'm going to drive in there with a big black bowling ball in my lap with a gigantic fuse coming out of it, smoking.
But I am going to present them with my new OFFICIAL DALLAS PRESS PASS, totally up to date, with red lettering at the bottom that says, "DO NOT FRISK."
I'll get in.