Buzz

Why Can't Tom Leppert Count to Eight?

Zoning Out: Wait a minute. Buzz thought Laura Miller was the mayor who couldn't count to eight. Now it's Tom Leppert—the new guy.

Twice recently he has had his hat handed to him on key issues because he didn't have the votes.

How hard is it? The mayor plus the rest of the city council make 15 votes total. A majority is eight. They talk in the back room first. If you don't have eight, don't go.

In the Dwaine Caraway story on the cover of the March 27 Dallas Observer, we reported that Leppert suffered a defeat on a key vote at a briefing session March 5. But last week he did even worse.

He tried to roll over District 14 city council member Angela Hunt on a zoning issue. Buzz could explain the whole zoning thing to you, but, you know, you could also go get a root canal. Take it from Buzz: There was this issue.

For the last 17 years, the Dallas City Council has honored an informal system—treated as near-sacred by council members—in which zoning questions are decided by the council member in whose district the issue arises.

Buzz could explain why it's that way. Or you could have that surgery on your gums. Take it from Buzz: That's how they do it.

Leppert and District 12 council member Ron Natinsky tried to get the council to break the rule in order to vote against Hunt on a zoning issue in her district. Leppert didn't just lose that one on a 10-5 vote, which would have been ignominious enough. He received multiple tongue-lashings.

District 5 member Vonciel Jones Hill told Leppert and Natinsky, "I find it presumptuous of any other council person here to tell Miss Hunt how District 14 should be handled."

District 9 member Sheffie Kadane and District 13 member Mitchell Rasansky also spoke in strong support of Hunt.

It's easy to figure. If they gore Hunt's ox on a question in her district, then their own ox might get gored when the next zoning issue is in their own district. That's why they have a rule against the goring of oxen.

But the bigger question is this: Why can't Leppert count to eight? Is it the job? If Einstein was alive, and we elected him mayor of Dallas, after 10 months would he think three plus two equals eight?

Frightening.

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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

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