You know what is one of the most common questions I get from people about Dallas Mayor Pro Tem Dwaine Caraway? They always ask, "What the hell is a mayor pro tem?"
Let's talk about that. Pro tem is a shortened version of the Latin phrase pro tempore. According to the Compact Edition of the Oxford English Dictionary, pro tempore means "for the time, temporarily."
The dictionary offers an example from 1748 of an early use of the phrase in the English language: "The Lord Chamberlain is likely to be Lord Steward this parliament, pro tempore."
Hey. Have you got the same light bulb over your head that I do?
The whole city is now walking on eggshells, waiting for the next big Dwaine Alert. What will it be next time? Did he order the cops to deliver fresh poker chips to his dad's favorite gambling house? Did somebody finally find Arthur and Archie, but they were running around wearing thongs and carrying whips? Did his wife chase him out of City Hall with a machete?
And the big one: Is he the mayor of Dallas yet?
According to the city charter, if the mayor leaves office for any reason, the mayor pro tem becomes mayor. Dwaine becomes mayor. Oh my God!
Think about it. Dallas Mayor Tom Leppert is champing at the bit to vacate City Hall and run for U.S. Senate. But if he does, that makes Dwaine the mayor.
The last time the country heard about us on CNN it was the ice falling off Cowboy Stadium. So when Dwaine becomes mayor, what will the next big headline about Dallas be?
DALLAS MAYOR GIVES KEY TO CITY TO BERNIE MADOFF.
FEDS BUST CASINO RUN BY DALLAS MAYOR IN CITY HALL BASEMENT. MAYOR BLAMES ARTHUR AND ARCHIE.
DALLAS MAYOR GIVES POSTHUMOUS KEY TO CITY TO HITLER.
ARTHUR AND ARCHIE NAMED CO-MAYORS PRO TEM-TEM.
Go back to the light bulb.
He is the mayor pro tem temporarily. We didn't make him mayor pro tem. We didn't vote on that. We can thank our brilliant mayor and city council for that one. At the mayor's urging, the rest of the council voted to make Dwaine mayor pro tempore. So why don't they all just vote to dis-tempore him? Take the stupid title away and give it to somebody else.
Some of them are worried about his feelings. I sympathize. I can see that. But there has to be a work-around. Hey! Idea! They could make him mayor non sempere. That's a term I just invented. It means "mayor not forever."
It could be a good face-saving thing. They could put it on a brass nameplate that he could put out in front of his council seat:
DWAINE CARAWAY, CITY OF DALLAS MAYOR NON SEMPERE.
It'll still look good. Nobody knows Latin. And boy. Talk about getting the city out of a ticklish spot. I think this might even be urgent business. You never know when the next Dwaine Alert might come.
AH-OOOH-GAH! AH-OOOH-GAH! ALL PERSONNEL, REPORT IMMEDIATELY TO YOUR DWAINE SHELTERS.
There's gotta be a way out of this situation.
Keep the Dallas Observer Free... Since we started the Dallas Observer, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Dallas, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Dallas with no paywalls.