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07/05/04  After a month of rain, it's Suddenly Summer.

This is the time of year when the real people of Dallas own this city.  When it gets July hot, Our Downtown Betters (the ODB) and their rich friends head to cooler parts of the country where they can socialize with their equals without having to pretend they like mixing with the rabble in Dallas.

Of course, the ODB, et al will return to deal with our little mundane world way too soon for them and the rest of us.  When they do get back to Summer in Dallas, our nasty old budget process will be on the front burner.

There's already an $8 million shortfall -- and that is with a property tax increase.

Remember how Our Stepford Mayor reacted when told it would cost over $100 million to bury those unsightly utility lines in the Trinity Corridor, so future condo owners would not have their view obscured?

Council's $100 million dream: providing electricity without view
May 26, 2004 by EMILY RAMSHAW / The Dallas Morning News
   When Dallas Mayor Laura Miller envisions the future Trinity River project, she sees scenic parks, busy sidewalk cafes and sold-out luxury condos.
   Hundred-foot-high, tapered steel power poles don't fit into this rosy picture. But the city's utility company says they might have to, if Dallas wants to keep up with growing demand.
... the mayor said she would do what it takes to remove existing electric eyesores in coming years ? even if it means the city paying millions of dollars to bury the lines.
   The City Council's dream plan would cost the city nearly $100 million over the next six years.
   City staffers ... recommended earmarking funds from Oncor's franchise fees or adding a surcharge to Dallas ratepayers' electric bills ? at least for a portion.
   "If you have a luxury condominium, you can't have windows looking out at big towers and wires across their path," Ms. Miller said. "We can't have economic development like this. At the end of the day, we're going to have to take existing lines and put them underground."
...  Mr. Gill said transmission lines are typically buried only if there is no space for overhead lines.
... At first, the city entertained thoughts of putting the entire line underground ? at a cost of $72 million.
... In the next three years, council members hope to free up the Trinity River by consolidating existing lines from the East Levee onto Irving Boulevard and converting aerial lines near the future Woodall Rodgers Signature Bridge to underground lines. These projects would cost a combined $24.6 million.
   And by 2010, the mayor said, she hopes to bury the power lines along both levees ? at an estimated additional cost of $60 million.
... "Why would you build the [Woodall Rodgers Signature] bridge and have it obscured?" Ms. Miller said. "If we have to pay to put them underground, that's what we're going to do."

Our Stepford Mayor says she "would do what it takes to remove existing eyesores".  

Our Stepford Mayor will push to get the PUC approval to allow TXU to raise our utility rates to fund her $100 million cost to bury utility lines in the Trinity River corridor, but

Our Stepford Mayor doesn't think we can afford to hire 400 new police officers.
 

What did Councilwoman Miller say should be done if she turned out like other politicians who changed from  "
passionate populists on the campaign trail to indistinguishable pulp in office"? 

Look at Our Stepford Mayor's reaction to what experts are saying about what we need to reduce our crime rate.

Experts: Cutting crime will take more than new DPD initiatives
Sunday, July 4, 2004 By MICHAEL GRABELL / The Dallas Morning News
   Dallas has launched a flurry of anti-crime initiatives over the past year, hoping to break a six-year streak as the city with the highest crime rate among the nation's largest cities.
   But according to experts, while Dallas has the tools, it may be missing the blueprint to put it all together.
... The Dallas Morning News presented 16 criminologists, policing consultants and former police chiefs with a list of various anti-crime initiatives as well as media accounts of the crime problem and the state of the Police Department.
...  The experts say Dallas has assembled a promising cache of anti-crime initiatives but should establish a strategic plan, boost police morale and increase resources if it wants to see a sharp decline in crime.
...  Dallas officers have said that the ICP program has strayed from its original philosophy to imbue all officers with the community-policing ideal. Instead, "budget cuts, power plays [and] political correctness" have divided the department into officers who work in community relations and those who primarily answer calls for service, one lieutenant said.
... He added that the community tends to rely heavily on its ICP officers while despising the other officers.
...  The City Council is awaiting the findings of a Police Department efficiency study before deciding if it needs to hire more officers but has proposed hiring 129.
   "You're talking about doing everything from prostitution and adult entertainment to reducing robberies and Project Safe Neighborhoods," said Robert Taylor, chair of the University of North Texas criminal justice department. "It's always going to boil down to the resources."
...
 Ms. Miller said the city is committed to giving police the needed resources but must do so within limited funds.
   "If the efficiency study says 129 is not the right number and says we need 400, I think that that could be a problem," she said. ...

Pretty strange priorities for a populist, but more evidence we have a Stepford Mayor, not Candidate Laura Miller who defeated Tom Dunning.  The switch must have occurred right after election night because just a few weeks later Our Stepford Mayor announced she was betraying her biggest group of campaign workers -- DPD cops and DFD firefighters. 

Candidate Miller signed the police/firefighter petition for a referendum to get them a 17% raise, which would have only put them in the top 1/3rd of police pay of Dallas County municipalities -- not the top.  Dallas Police officers are  BELOW GRAND PRAIRIE! 

Mayor Miller not only did not support their referendum as all Candidate Miller's campaign literature indicated she would, but she led the campaign to oppose their raise with the unenforceable promise that they would get 3 annual 5% raises (15% over 3 years vs. 17% in 1 year) if the voters would reject their referendum.  Each year since the referendum failed, the council has saved money by delaying that raise.  Worse, all city employees have seen their health insurance premiums skyrocket. 

Our Stepford Mayor has tried to do away with "step" (tenure) raises that encourage experienced employees to continue working for the city.  She doesn't understand how it is to the city's benefit to pay employees for not missing work and taking their sick leave.  Being from the privileged ranks, it is difficult for Our Stepford Mayor to empathize with working people.

For cops and firefighters, their 5% raise barely keeps them even with their 2001 take home pay since their insurance premiums increased almost that much, if not more.  Civilian employees actually have less take home in 2004 than in 2001 because they have had no raise.

When the city cannot pay its employees a competitive salary, the council should not allow $5 million to be spent on a water park near Dead Bird Airport.  Can you imagine how much fun Journalist Laura Miller would have had covering that misapplication of tax dollars? 

Yes, it is the Park Department and they don't have to answer to the City Manager or the Council, but the Park Department is also responsible for the Dallas Zoo.  The Park Board should not spend $5 million on a water park near Dead Bird Airport when our zoo could lose its accreditation.  Councilwoman Laura Miller represented North Oak Cliff, and surely the Wading Pool Queen would have put our zoo before a water park. 

Deterioration persists at Dallas Zoo
Campaign tries to shift funding to county
Sunday, June 20, 2004
By DAVID FLICK / The Dallas Morning News
... Zoo officials are preparing a campaign to persuade voters to convert the zoo from a city to a county institution, from one dependent on the city parks budget to one supported by county taxpayers.
   Moreover, the incident buttressed a public perception that the Dallas Zoo is crumbling and outdated, three years after the zoo's accreditation was held up until officials could make $1.6 million in emergency repairs.
...  the accreditation report by the American Zoo and Aquarium Association praised some aspects of the facility in Oak Cliff.
   The accreditation team singled out problems with infrastructure and maintenance, including deteriorating exhibits for the elephants, giraffes and hornbills.
   The report expressed concern about slow staffing replacement and uneasiness about the depth of community support. ...
... The Dallas Zoo never generated the support of the city's wealthiest families the way the Morton H. Meyerson Symphony Center or the Dallas Arboretum did, said Ron Kirk, who was chairman of the zoological society in the early 1990s.
... Location was a factor, too. Oak Cliff is home to many of the city's Hispanic and African-American residents.
   "It's just part of the old Oak Cliff bias," Mr. Kirk said. "People in North Dallas thought of it as over there." ...

It's not just that we are spending $5 million on a water park instead of our zoo, but the management company gets all profits from the water park the first year, the city gets 3% of the profits the second and third year, and 6% of the profits in the fourth year.  Of course, that means the water park will never be profitable.  We are more likely to spend hundreds of thousands above the $5 million, rather than seeing any money from the park operations.

Basically, we are facing an $8 million shortfall in what we have or likely to have in tax revenue and what we need to meet our 2004-2005 budget. 
Ms. Miller said the city is committed to giving police the needed resources but must do so within limited funds.    "If the efficiency study says 129 is not the right number and says we need 400, I think that that could be a problem," she said.  

Our crime rate gives us the dubious distinction of being the Nation's #1 Crime Capital, which might be a serious deterrent to economic development.

If you actually consider buying a condo next to a sewer trough, your judgment might be a little faulty.  Given that consideration, even someone severely "tetched" might find the city's crime rate more of a negative than unsightly utility lines. 

Of course, being a little person and not in Our Stepford Mayor's inner circle, I might be more "sympathetic" if I had "seen what she has":

Body-Snatched? : Did somebody steal Laura Miller?
06:47 PM CDT on Tuesday, June 29, 2004

By HENRY TATUM / The Dallas Morning News
    Her one-time political ally, Sharon Boyd, now refers to her as a "Stepford wife."
    Her former Dallas Observer colleagues accuse her of forgetting her roots as a firebrand City Council member who regularly criticized then-Mayor Ron Kirk for pushing big and costly projects.
   Did someone clone Laura Miller and reprogram the new version to be in love with the Trinity River improvements plan, downtown revitalization and a new stadium for the Dallas Cowboys at Fair Park?
   The Dallas mayor, once referred to as the "pothole princess" because of her fixation with street repairs, is thinking big these days to the consternation of some of her longtime supporters.
... So was Laura Miller transformed by a mad scientist hidden away in a lab at City Hall? No. A dose of reality did the trick.
... The mayor could have continued down the path of saying it's "the little things that make a big difference." But for Dallas, that is no longer the case. This city could use something big right now.
...
The mayor is sorry that some of her supporters are unhappy with her new thinking about selling Dallas. But she is convinced they would be more sympathetic if they had seen what she has.
... Ted Benavides and numerous municipal department heads, who say she still has her fingers in plenty of the "little things" at City Hall. ...

I don't know what Our Stepford Mayor has seen that would make me more sympathetic to hiding utility lines and building a String Thing Bridge in the Trinity Corridor. 

I don't know why we should put a water park near Dead Bird Airport before our zoo. 

I don't know why one penny should be spent on a String Thing Bridge or millions should be spent to hide utility lines in the Trinity Corridor when we can't afford to hire enough police officers to keep us safe.


I don't know why Our Stepford Mayor and the rest of the ODB feel they must flee Dallas in the summer, but it's better for us when they are gone. 

I'm a native, and Dallas summers are all I know. 

sb

                                        

    





                            

 

  Ward politics is the Devil's key to the soul of the city council.  It is how some council members got themselves in trouble in the past.  It is the bait that will get others in trouble in the future. 4/6/8