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08/19/04  The Workers' Reply to the Mayor?s State of the City Address

We, as members of one of the City of Dallas? Employees Associations, see quite an opposite reality than the one viewed by Mayor Laura Miller in her ?state of the City? address.  Yes, there is turmoil and conflict in the world, but we also observe a measure of turmoil and conflict in the City of Dallas, as well.

What about the turmoil caused by the lack of timely police response-say about 45 minutes on average-as reported by many of our resident employees? What about the inner turmoil and conflict caused by the lack of opportunity and decent housing in the southern sector of the City?

What about the turmoil and conflict caused by the drugs sold every day just two blocks north of Vilbig and Singleton, as observed by City employees?

What about the disproportionate opportunities offered to mega-millionaires such as Tom Hicks, Ross Perot, Jr, the downtown business district moguls, or the Trinity River development moguls compared to the hopelessness and lack of opportunity that exists in many areas West Dallas, South Dallas, Fair Park, Jaffee and other such areas south of the Trinity River?

We see a city, which the mayor has deemed as the greatest city in the United States, but certain groups in the nation rank Dallas as the second lowest in the nation for Cities of one million or more for ?livability? and is below average for the rate of pay offered to city employees in the metroplex.  Well, now we can rest on our laurels, ?cause it doesn?t get any better than this!

In a recent article in the Dallas Morning News, J
oyce Kennedy reports most Fortune 500 companies plan to increase employees benefits for employees this year, but the City of Dallas is on an opposite inhumane path.

Madam Mayor, you are choking the life out of City Employees by refusing raises for four years, increasing pension deductions and boosting  employees? cost of health insurance, all while failing to adequately contribute to the pension fund in such as manner as to cause a shortfall, which prompted State of Texas action.  Further, you had agreed in a Council resolution to contribute two dollars for every one dollar by the employee to the pension fund, but now you have added ?administrative costs? to those numbers, which equals a 50/50% split, instead of 67/33% split as per the resolution.

Madam Mayor, you failed to allow equitable (as we call it), or merit (as you call it) raises for City employees, but have re-instituted the old system of raises by ?cronyism? in which the manager?s favorites  (who are usually not the productive employees) get raises that they don?t deserve.  This fact was brought up by one of the council members who reported that Mary Suhm had expressed the ?merit? system was broken for the same reasons cited above. But, you did not listen.

Madam Mayor, when truth is spoken in the Council chambers, you become mysteriously quiet and unconcerned.  You have established uniformed employees as a  ?First class ? group (or ?A? team) and non-uniformed employees as a ?Second class? group (or ?B? team) as evidenced by giving raises to the ?A? team every year and short-changing the ?B? team? every year with lay-offs and refusing to allow across-the-board raises to reward their good-faith efforts.

That?s right, what?s wrong with me?  Government leaders are not required to adhere to the same give a ?good faith? efforts that the law of the land requires all the rest of us regular schmucks to do.

?Divide and conquer?.  It?s not a bad scheme when you at first conceive to deceive.

Non-uniformed City employees haven?t had a raise in four years, but you don?t care.  Oh, yes, you?ve made a few accomplishments, but only at the cost of tremendous sacrifices by City employees.  Attila the Hun had more regard for his comrades than you.

You?ve made progress by terrorizing the City staff with layoffs, providing raises for incompetent managers of the Hitler-youth caliber and by crushing the hopes and dreams of the families of good City employees under your feet.  All the while, you're singing the budget blues (we call that term ?poor-mouthing? in the south).  Poor-mouthing means you are crying that you have no money, when you actually have sufficient money, but you don?t want others to know.

How about NOT giving developers all the excess City funds that you have? The way you give away money to developers, the City will soon be bankrupt.  

You are SO eager to give business whatever it wants, you forget your TOP PRIORITY should be to protect the interests of the citizens ABOVE ALL OTHER INTERESTS.  

hat about your ?Renaissance? of Dallas?  Is it the Housing Department?s  plan to replace about forty-five rotting hulks a year in the NIP areas? That?s not much of a dent in the approximately 45,000 homes that need extensive repair or rebuilding.

The road ahead-an ?Emerald City? ?  Seattle has been nicknamed the ?Emerald City?, but Seattle has also been voted one of America?s most ?livable cities? of cities with a population of over one million citizens in the past several years.  Seattle has more social programs, environmental protection, rainfall and more governmental protection of citizens over the interests of private enterprise.

Madam Mayor, just where are those ?psychedelic glasses? you wore years ago when you first viewed the City of Dallas?

Madam Mayor, you do have council camaraderie and some of your comrades evolved from the same self-serving political ocean that you spawned in and whose every move is orchestrated by the ?big business? interests of

Now, you embark on a search for a new City Manager, who will be cloned in the same image as you. This will most certainly strike fear in the hearts of the few City staffers who are not distraught or suffering from an advanced case of low morale.

et?s get the Dallas business sector to come up with a new City manager. They are the same folks who brought us layoffs, ensured that good jobs were sent overseas, created the 60-hour workweek, reduced benefits, promoted diminished respect for the working class and elevation of the status of human beings from noble hard-working creatures of God to mindless robots made of meat.

Madam Mayor: Let?s examine your top (5) Priorities and assess your progress so far:

Economic Development:

Not many problems, if you are talking about the area north of the Trinity River.  

South of the Trinity River?  Partly run-down neighborhoods, old factories, several junk yards, lots of high weeds and grass, boarded-up houses in most neighborhoods and the sewer treatment plant just west of I-45.  The smell of urban progress early in the morning wafting up from the west of I-45 is such a delight to the senses!

(2)              Staff Accountability:

Rank-and-file employees KNOW we are accountable, but that privileged group of employees called management, are for the most part, incompetent and always have had the knack for concocting some excuse for their poor performance and for applying their Gestapo terror tactics.  

An example of this scenario would be the recent Code Enforcement fiasco. Most inspectors were given impossible production quotas.  When you give people an impossible task, they?ll find some way to get it done (or make it appear to be done).  Once again, the benign intelligence of management insures that egg production will be increased by strangling the chickens.

(3)              Neighborhood Quality of Life:

In Oak Cliff west if I-35, if you walk some of the same areas as Mary Suhm did without an armed escort and walk them after dark, you?ld quickly and savagely find out just how good the ?neighborhood quality? is.  We can picture an un-escorted and confident Mary Suhm waiting for a bus at the intersection of Malcolm X and Martin Luther King at 1:00 am on Sunday morning.

(4)              Public Safety: Ditto #1 and #3.

(5)              The Trinity River Project:

An improved smelly river park with civilized amenities in which muggers can have a nicer place to mug citizens.  The muggers will appreciate that. No one will notice the signatures (graffiti) on the new bridges as they speed past at 70 miles per hour.  In a few years, grime and trash will cover the glitter of these white elephants.  Remind you of Reunion arena?

Bringing more people downtown will be nice. We?re sure the wide array of supermarkets, drugstores, theatres, shopping malls and ample parking and numerous nearby gas stations will surely reel ?em in.

The downtown cultural facilities certainly do rate some merit.  But, like the visitors who travel to the convention center, who wants to barge past the homeless who still constantly pester pedestrians for money and still camp out under nearby bridges?  Have you noticed all of the trash and tent cities under the nearby downtown I-45, I-30 and I-75 bridges and just east of Dolphin Road next to White Rock Creek?

Creation of jobs?  Lots of low-paying service jobs were created at American Airlines CenterA husband and wife, working at minimum wage, still can?t afford to buy one of the so-called ?affordable? $80,000 homes which the developers are building south of the Trinity. This does not bode well for the hard-working Hispanic population.

Homelessness?  It?s true that the street people need help, but can?t a facility be built in the far south area of the City with full service facilities? Downtown tourism and business will never be good, until aggressive panhandling and squatting on public land downtown is eliminated.

Accountability?  We don?t know of any areas of private industry without some ?deadbeat? employees.  Most city employees have spouses or relatives working in the private sector.  We know what is going on out there.  

Madam Mayor,
lowering the boom on a group of employees (such as Code Enforcement, Animal Control and Housing), you have ?thrown out the baby with the bath water?.  Such ?blind sweeps? of employees is reminiscent of the old movie ?The Grapes of Wrath?.

Madam Mayor, you have been heavy-handed, callous and reprehensible for ejecting the good employees with the bad ones.

Now, you say you want to reward employees.  Such diametrically opposite approaches to personnel management smacks of a Jekyll and Hyde.  Your merit increase only rewards those who are popular with the management, but will not reward the most productive employees.

Which sort of employee aligns himself/herself with (mostly incompetent) management? The hard-working ones?  Hardly.  Management?s judgment in most of these cases will be subjective.  Employees who ?kiss-up?, play politics will be the winners, not the employees who get the job done.

You have filled some potholes, but the same ones open back up, due to improper repair technique.  Have you noticed that when a utility contractor tears up the street, the demolished area is NEVER repaired as well as the surrounding street?  This is a major source of new potholes. Per city regulations, utility company street repairs are to be as good as the surrounding street, but the city requirement is not enforced.

Housing has made some strides, but many of the houses that were repaired should have been replaced.  Take TV cameras to a bunch of those Basic Services Repair Houses, and you?ll see many of the same houses still in poor condition on the inside.

Public Safety:

Trouble on Greenville Avenue for months and homeowners still grumble about the noise.

?                    The ?sheetrock? caper.

?                    Arrests of police who beat up their wives, crooked cops, cops with criminal records, etc.

?                    We still see lots of aggressive panhandling downtown and at intersections, but none of us who drive around the City have ever seen an arrest for this violation. We also still see  shopping carts being pushed by homeless people within sight of the Canton Police station.

?                    Now, let?s install signs at apartments to tell the folks to hide their belongings, after all, no police will be watching your car to ensure security.

?                    Crime may be slightly down from last year in a few categories, but you?ll never make an impact in the crime rate until there are police assigned to ?walk the beat? in high-crime areas.

?                    CNG police cars won?t catch ?the fast and the furious?, but they?ll pollute less while losing the chase. Did you ever drive a GNG vehicle? No power and you can?t pass a gas station, ?cause you?re out of fuel! They?ll only go sixty to one-hundred miles without re-fueling (down to I-20 and back two times).

Why have a signature bridge?  


Is prestige important enough to shell out that much money, or do we smell the scent of big bucks flapping in the back pockets of greedy developers?

While we have our near-empty City wallet out, why not shuck out a couple of hundred million dollars for the Cowboys? Stadium? 

Jerry is certainly hard-pressed for the money. We?re sure that he?ll give us the same good deal that we got at the hands of the good folks at the American Airlines Center.

Since Reunion
is in ruins, why not pave it over?

One last thing:  Thanks to McKenzie and company for their tireless work. Aren?t they the same ones who brought us a privatized Minor Home Repair program ? We have heard that this efficient creation has not spent over 25% of its allotted funds, due to ?heel-dragging? by the company which now administers the program. It is now unlikely that thirty to thirty-five percent of the funds will be spent before the end of the current fiscal year. Ten months into the fiscal year and only 25% of the work is done! Even a group of the mythical so-called ?lazy City Employees? can do better that that!

Madam Mayor, you?ve certainly earned the trust of the citizens, but we are not so easily swayed by your well-crafted speech.

By the way, maybe we should ALL quit the City for more lucrative careers as lobbyists, developers, consultants or contractors, who can then work for the City for more money than average folks can make in the private sector!






  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