Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Why every Dallas City Council person (with the possible exception of Tennell Atkins) should be removed from office

Last weekend I wrote that the city's tax rate would increase because we as citizens authorized and instructed the Dallas City Council to increase the tax rate back in 2006 when we voted in favor of the largest bond program in the city's history. Boy, was I wrong! I was acting under the foolish assumption that our vote meant something and that the city council would act as we voted.

But the council didn't. Why? Because they are a bunch of weaselly cowards and their total lack of courage is why, beginning Oct. 1, recreation center hours will be reduced, library hours will be reduced, funds for cultural affairs will be all but eliminated. The primary reason why these and more cutbacks are necessary is because the people we elected to represent us are not representing us.

And it's only going to get worse.

For those of you who voted for the bond program, you might recall the city very carefully and explicitly explained what effects voting for the the package would have on our tax rate. But we said "We want to buy all those things and that seems like a fair price to pay for it all." And the bonds were sold, and now we have to repay that money with interest. But that's OK, because we authorized the city council to pay for it.

Only the city council never did it. It never activated the mechanism to pay for those bonds. But this is borrowed money that has to be repaid and so now, in order to find the money to repay it, the city manager has been forced to recommend a budget that raises fees and drastically cuts back on city services.

That's why this entire City Council needs to be removed from office. It has refused to do what we voters instructed it to do and now we are paying the price.

But wait! It gets worse! These bonds will continue to be sold. So, at best, as the city begins Fiscal Year 2009-2010, it will already be facing a $100 million deficit for the following fiscal year. And, if the current recession doesn't lift before then, expect the final deficit to dwarf the $190 million one the city was wrestling with this time around.

Now, in my headline, I suggest an exemption for District 8 council member Tennell Atkins. I have spoken, quite animatedly at times, with Mr. Atkins about this over the course of the last two evenings. He agrees with me on this. He wholeheartedly agrees on this. And I'm willing to bet he'll lay himself out on the line when the council begins debating the currently proposed budget in earnest and might even go so far as arguing that the rest of the council should do what the voters instructed them to do three years ago. And, if he does, I'm betting the vote against him will be 14-1. That's why I can't exempt newly elected council members Ann Margolin and Delia Jasso because, even though they were not part of the original conspiracy to thwart the will of the electorate, I'm convinced they will display the same lack of courage as their colleagues come budget decision time.

The theory behind a democratic government is that our duly elected officials are supposed to represent us. Of course, that's just theory. There's no law, I guess, that says the members of the city council must follow the instructions we gave them at the ballot box.

Now why has the council continuously voted against the will of its constituency? Here's my guess. I'm figuring most, if not all, of them live in much nicer, more valuable houses that most of the rest of us do. So they would have to pay more in property taxes. It's all about saving themselves and screwing the rest of us. And that's why they should be removed from office, the sooner the better.

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