It's been a long time since I've blogged about Dallas, the armpit of the South. Come March 12, the filing deadline for mayoral candidates in Dallas, we'll either have a bevy of would-be exercisors in futility, or just a few annointed business-class mouthpieces. Just a few weeks ago, 21 local nutjobs announced that they had campaign treasurers, a precursor to announcing candidacy. Most, if not all (I'm not going to bother with the specifics) have now announced. Most of these half-wits have not qualified for the ballot, which requires about 475 signatures (reasonable, if you ask me) from registered voters.
So, since so many people tossed their hat into the ring initially, why all the foot-dragging to make it official? Heck, why even bother with running for mayor? I mean, the position has almost no power, we're a weak-mayor/city manager city with 14 districts/wards that hardly see eye to eye. Dallas has no single person that can make the executive decisions that Dallas needs, no one to be ultimately accountible, no one to open doors and close windows, no one to make sure that what's in Dallas' best interest is held higher than what is in one council members' interest. Dallas has no Rudy Giuliani, no person to clean up the streets because we need it. In fact, if someone even aspired to do this, a councilmember would be threatened with that kind of power and sabotage the only way to turn this dying city around.
About a month ago, two of the annointed candidates were discovered to be members of the racially exclusive Dallas Country Club. In fact, one of them left the Anglo upper-crust because a black man was recently refused membership (something to do with his previous affilitations with progressive black and racially oriented action groups). The other annointee? Still a member, but mostly because he doesn't sit on the board that choses those who gain membership to the club. The other annointee, did.
In other mayorally pertinent developments, Don Hill, current southern sector City Council member who will be ousted due to term limits, is running for mayor. Good for him, except for the fact that he is currently under investigation by the FBI for possibly being on an unscrupulous developer's take. Not only that, but it wasn't too long ago that Don Hill was driving a BMW that he had "earned the right" to drive. How does an elected municipal officer "earn" the right to drive a BMW that doesn't belong to him? Was it provided by a campaign contributor? If so, that's a big electoral no-no. Actually, the owner of the BMW, Sheila Farrington, was a business associate of the unscrupulous developer, and Mr. Hill's girlfriend, for whom he would later divorce his wife and then turn around and marry once the ink dried.
That's a great example of what Dallas is up against when it comes to politics. Who's to blame? Where, or to whom do we look to find and solve the problems that plague our city politics, and in turn plague our city?
The problem is not a who or where, it's the way our city is organized; it's our single-member districts that have created sectors and viceroys with no inherent leader to unite them. Yeah, there's a mayor, but what's a mayor's purpose if they are equal to the council? They are employees with executive titles. It's the office that so many people are willing to run for on platforms of change and equality yet they should know after two strong mayor referendums that it just ain't gonna happen. Dallas doesn't get a strong mayor, a system that actually has a chance of working because the other 14 council members don't want to relinquish any power, even for the greater good. This results in an absolute lack of accountability; there is no final word, only a recumbent blame game, where fingers are pointed and accusations are thrown like proverbial bombs among the racially and socially segregated wards, the fifedoms of Dallas.
Once when I first moved here and knew little about the history of Dallas, I thought how cool it would be to start a unity campaign, how neat it would be to actually have ALL of Dallas come together and try to get things done. I was riddled with idealism, I thought that it was possible, but now I know better. You see, southern sector city council members will continue to chase the illusion that if they have control over their districts, then everything will be okay. Well, everything is definately not okay. It's not okay in Oak Cliff, it's not okay in Southern Dallas, it's not okay anywhere south of the Trinity. People are still moving out in droves, crime, murder, burglary, gangs and poverty still choke Dallas in areas that are historically neglected or newly inundated with the poor. Fair Park is a detritus strewn shadow of its former greatness. Pleasant Grove is anything but. What will it take for Dallas to leave ward politics to the past?
Why the hell would you want to run for mayor in Dallas knowing all this?