Vonciel Hill: City Council Member, Prophet, Theologian and Sell-Out

This is a little embarrassing. Nobody wants to say it. It's sort of rude, I guess. Uh-oh. Sounds like my job. OK. Here goes.

Dallas City Council member Vonciel Hill is a mean-spirited, spiteful suck-up to the rich who is also increasingly unhinged. Ugly-talking. And way over the top out of bounds vile in her use of religion in council debates.

Yesterday in a Dallas City Council debate over gas drilling on city parkland, Hill compared council member Angela Hunt to Haman, the killer of Jews and symbol of all evil in the Book of Esther.

Not done yet. Next, Hill compared Dallas City Manager Mary Suhm to Jesus Christ. She predicted that Suhm would one day rise from the dead and enjoy her own personal version of Easter.

I could make jokes, I guess. I could wonder if the two Easters might be combined for the sake of efficiency, so that Christians everywhere could celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ and the resurrection of Mary Suhm on the same day. Mmm. Not really in the mood for that today somehow.

Or I could go in the other direction and get into high dudgeon about Hill's obscene and blasphemous misuse of religious characterization in a political debate. But I've just never been big on blasphemy. Might have a bit of a glass-house issue there.

I could put it all off on other people and insist that Jews and Christians everywhere demand an apology from Hill and demand that she desist from molesting their religious beliefs in future gas drilling debates. But I guess Jews and Christians everywhere can take care of themselves.

No, I think Hill's words sort of do the job on their own. The best thing I can do here is put them on the map for you, so that you can read them and form your own appraisal.

Here's the setup. Council member Hunt had questioned City Manager Suhm sharply over a deception Suhm pulled on the council in 2008, promising to fight against gas drilling on parkland, then secretly signing a deal with a gas company saying she would win them permission to drill on parkland, then taking a $19 million check from them, on behalf of the city, in return for the deal that she hid for years from the council and from the public until Hunt and council member Scott Griggs got onto it recently.

I was not present yesterday. I watched it later on the computer. People who were present told me that the executive director of the private Dallas Citizens Council, Donna Halstead, was in the audience looking all eagle-eyed about everything, accompanied by Mary McDermott Cook, the rich lady whose very presence in the building always sends Hill into giggles and shivers, along with former council member (100 years ago) Craig Holcomb, who has emerged over the years as the Citizens Council's chief errand-person on Trinity River Toll Road issues, the only thing they really care about.

The Citizens Council has a vested interest in Suhm, because theirs is the only tune to which she can be counted on to dance. So Hill had a very special little audience to play to yesterday.

Here is a portion of what she said, speaking directly to Suhm:

"Recall in the story of Esther how Haman built the gallows for Mordecai, but it was Haman who hanged on the gallows. Those who affix the gallows for you may themselves hang on those gallows.

"And then reach forward from the Hebrew scriptures to the New Testament scriptures, where those who said of Jesus Christ on Good Friday, 'Well, he's done, he's dead, we've got him now,' wait three days, because Easter will come and there will be the resurrection. And those who pierced him on Good Friday are no longer known, and their names are not around, but two thousand and some years later, the name of the Christ is still ringing forth. "Miss Suhm, this is a Good Friday moment, but I guarantee you from the faith well into which I reach, your Easter is coming, and you will sail forth."

One last thing about this. Since Hill is the one who chose to put the gas drilling debate on these terms, I think it's fair for me to turn it around and ask her a question on the same terms. And this is not a joke.

If Jesus Christ had signed a secret covenant with the Romans agreeing to look the other way while they screwed over the Jews, would we remember his name today? Really? Or wouldn't he have been just one more forgotten cheap politician who took on all sorts of cheap gaudy religious airs in order to pump up his profile? Like you, Ms. Hill. Exactly like you.

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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