Unethics Reform: Would the Author Please Stand Up? (We'll Bring the Tomatoes.)

Oh, now the city council has decided it needs to revisit its vote weakening the ethics rules on donations to city council members.

Maybe they've decided to have themselves re-virginized.

We pointed out here a thing that seems to have slipped past most media eyes: The council voted two weeks ago to greatly expand the ability of lobbyists and developers to give them campaign contributions.

Since then, mayoral candidate Mike Rawlings has used the council's unethics vote to bludgeon sitting council member Ron Natinsky, also a candidate for mayor, calling him unethical because he voted for it. Doesn't seem like too wild a leap.

The Dallas Morning News, which obviously is going to endorse Rawlings, has become his co-bludgeoner. They published a strong editorial yesterday taking the council to task for the vote on unethics.

Yesterday at the end of the city council meeting, Mayor Dwaine Caraway announced that the council will hold a hearing on unethics next week, but he didn't say specifically which aspect of unethics they want to hear about.

Hey. I know what I want to hear. Just tell me one thing.

Who's the daddy? Or the mommy?

This thing was slipped through on the consent agenda, buried under 10 feet of legislative concrete. The consent agenda normally is a list of stuff that's supposed to be so small-time and non-controversial that it can all just be voted for in a bundle without any need to talk about it. That would not include unethics. In other words, somebody slipped it through.


Some council member or the mayor had to ask City Attorney Tom Perkins to write this sucker up and put it on the agenda. So far nobody will say who did it. (Trust me, we've been asking.) Just tell me that, and they can all be deemed virgins again as far as I'm concerned. What's it gonna last anyway, 20 minutes? If they do turn back into virgins, they better get a picture quick.

Somebody did this. Who? That's the whole story.

Guess who hated the unethics vote. The lobbyists. They saw this for exactly what it was: the damned city council coming at them banging their soup spoons on their Salvation Army buckets. This is nothing but a straight-up heist for them. The more people who can legally give money to the council members, the more people the council members will hit up.

The worst defense of this is from Natinsky, who keeps saying they actually strengthened the ethics rules, because they added candidates -- people running for office who aren't in office yet -- to the list of people who can't accept certain donations.

Yeah, while they at it they should have added Martians. They're about as likely as non-incumbent candidates to get money from developers and contractors. You give money to people who can vote.

Just tell me who proposed this. Then let that person stand up and defend it. Who's the daddy? That's all we need to know.

Once they do that, I think we should be waiting in the wings with little white gowns for them to put on in honor of their re-virginification. Anybody know where we can get some made out of paper?

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Jim Schutze has been the city columnist for the Dallas Observer since 1998. He has been a recipient of the Association of Alternative Newsweeklies’ national award for best commentary and Lincoln University’s national Unity Award for writing on civil rights and racial issues. In 2011 he was admitted to the Texas Institute of Letters.
Contact: Jim Schutze