On the other hand, all of this stuff--strong mayor, the LGC, the whole package--is a sharp stick in the eye to those political leaders, both white and minority, who see it as an assault on one-man-one-vote, on 1965 voting rights act guarantees and on the federal court settlement that produced in 1991 the 14-1 single-member district council system.
African-American council member James Fantroy has told me he will put the city in court if either the LGC or the strong mayor thing passes. Mike Daniel, one of the lawyers whose work created the current system, told me he thinks there's a good lawsuit there. David Biegler, who has been leading the effort to get the LGC created, confirmed to me that Fantroy has threatened a lawsuit. Biegler said he is actively engaged in trying to work all of that out.
None of which I'll try to predict. My crystal ball gets kind of cloudy when I ask it about those things. But on the topic of McKinsey & Company and its report, my crystal ball is a high-, high-, high-definition TV set.
The ball tells me McKinsey & Company--a Harvard and Stanford, Rhodes scholar, ultra-brainiac think tank--is going to come up with something less than totally objective, scientific or strictly by-the-numbers next week when it tells the city council how to get smarter. Let me hazard a guess:
Do you think it's possible McKinsey & Company, conjugally committed as it is to Belo, may suggest in some roundabout and very erudite way that maybe it would be a good idea for Dallas to turn downtown over to the Penguin?
Let me pose it another way, from the opposite direction. What chance do you think there is that McKinsey & Company will say, "Nope, we looked at it, and this Robert Decherd guy's a meatball. His idea for downtown is lame. Forget Decherd. He's into some bad Kool-Aid."
Please. McKinsey & Company is the Kool-Aid.
From what I hear, they may not even present this thing themselves, in order to avoid having to answer questions in public about their involvement. Council member Don Hill may serve as their stand-in pitch man.
Hill, like Belo, never returns my calls, but I feel less slighted by Hill, because as far as I can tell he never returns anybody's calls. Fantroy told me Hill has been anointed as the token African-American to front this whole thing.
Be that as it may, here finally is my full prediction:
First, McKinsey will fat up its report to the council with a bunch of irrelevant feel-good nonsense borrowed from Belo's "Family First" series ("Talk to your children, walk your dog, no hitting in the face during meals").
They'll present a series of charts designed to zombify the council: "Average Height of Buildings Downtown," "Average Age of Buildings Downtown," "Average Weight of Buildings Downtown." It's an old trick: You bore the council until their eyelids are at half-mast, and then you make them bark like dogs.
Just before the council starts to snore, McKinsey will cut to the chase. They probably won't mention the LGC by name. They will have invented some kind of Harvardy euphemism for it. Maybe they'll call it the Riparian Ortho-rhombic Brahman Epitastic Reich Trust (ROBERT). You get my drift.
McKinsey will offer a couple of really bad alternatives we could adopt for downtown instead of going with ROBERT. We could turn City Hall over to an ad hoc committee of the needy and allow them to use it for mixers. We could flood downtown for the amusement of sport fishermen.
But eventually the McKinsey report will get around to saying: TURN DOWNTOWN OVER TO THE PENGUIN RIGHT THIS INSTANT, YOU SILLY HEATHENS. AND DO WHATEVER THE PENGUIN TELLS YOU TO DO.
In fairness, I do need to acknowledge the possibility I will be proved wrong when the McKinsey report finally sees the light of day. Let me just say that it's tough establishing a fair-spirited dialogue with a very political player like this when they have a policy against speaking. At my house, if you don't want to talk, you need to stay out of the kitchen. But maybe I will have to eat my words. I am willing to take that chance.
I predict instead that this report will be a fancy high-dollar shell game with Robert Decherd and the LGC hiding under the pea. It will prove one thing: If you bring in a top consultant with a whole staff of bright men and women who have brilliant degrees from the world's best universities, they will do an eloquent job of telling you what you wanted to hear in the first place. Like going to the symphony.