A couple of speakers showed up at the 1500 Marilla this morning to ask that the City Council to hold off on a fast-moving proposal to rename the Dallas Convention Center after recently retired U.S. Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison. Former councilwoman Sandra Crenshaw called for a public hearing before any action is taken, and council candidate Kermit Mitchell worried that attaching the name of a Republican might scare off some convention traffic. Another speaker cited a bill pending in the Texas legislature that would keep cities and the state from naming things for living politicians.
Council members themselves harbored no such reservations. They voted unanimously (four members were absent) to make the change, but not before heaping massive amounts of praise -- and a couple of bizarre extended metaphors -- on the former Senator.
Mayor Mike Rawlings kicked things off by lauding Hutchison's two decades in Washington, which he said "will positively affect our economy and quality of life in Dallas for many, many, many years.
"Let me be the first to say that much of Dallas' success ... is due in no small part to Senator Hutchison's leadership," he said.
Councilwoman Linda Koop reeled off the transportation projects Hutchison has helped guide and secure funding for, including DART, Amtrak's Texas Eagle Service and the repeal of the Wright Amendment.
Then, the floor was yielded to Councilwoman Vonciel Jones Hill, who inexplicably began to wax poetic about Joe Louis, aka the Brown Bomber, the World War II-era boxing champion.
"I suspect from his ringside seat in heaven, he was looking down on you in the United State Senate as the Texas Titan ... For 20 years the Texas Titan stepped into the ring for Dallas and the state of Texas ... and succeeded in knockout bouts of beneficial legislation," Hill said.
She went on to declare Hutchison as the heavyweight champion of Texas and said she is "pleased to hand you yet another championship belt in the naming of our convention center."
Dwaine Caraway was no less effusive. A group of students from Townview's law magnet were walking in as he began speaking, and he turned to address them. "You are here on a very historic day," he said, calling the renaming of the Dallas Convention Center "one of the greatest moves in history that you can write down in your legacy that you have been a part of."
The flood of praised continued. "I just want you to know that we love ya' and this is gonna be a great day for you," said Sheffie Kadane. Ann Margolin, Pauline Medrano, Delia Jasso, Jerry Allen all spoke at length. Mayor Pro Tem Tennell Atkins was absent, but Hill said he called her from South Africa and whole-heartedly endorsed her Joe Louis metaphor.
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Hutchison watched all this from the audience, politely smiling through it all. "Thank each of you for the very personal and individualized things that you said," Hutchison said once the vote took place. "I have to say, being described as a heavyweight champion wasn't really what I expected today."
Then, Rawlings called her down to pose for a picture with the entire City Council.