Wednesday, February 27, 2013

The winner and loser in today’s city council gas leases debate

Clear winner: City Manager Mary Suhm, who received the approval and support of 12 of the 15 council members for her actions.

Clear loser: District 14 council member Angela Hunt who, in calling for an independent investigation of Suhm’s actions regarding leasing city-owned land for gas drilling, called the city manager "a liar" and "dishonest," and then had the audacity, after 12 of her colleagues backed Suhm, to declare "no one has the right to attack my character." Thus, she goes on record as being the world’s thinnest skinned pit bull.

City Manager Mary Suhm
the winner and still champion
This whole debate has been much ado about nothing. It has to do with the difference between "city parks" and "city parklands." City parks are those places set aside by the city for some type of recreational purpose, whether it’s playing on swings, swimming, hiking, engaging in activities at a recreational center, cavorting at a splashground or just a marvelous semi-wilderness area like Moss Park where I can let my dog run wild and free without bothering another human soul. City parklands includes all these areas plus any other land owned by the Parks Department. It turns out some of this land is isolated swampland in the far corners of the city where no human being would venture unless they wanted to dump a body in place where they could be assured no one would find it.

When the city council said they didn’t want drilling on parklands it was obvious members were referring to city parks and not to Dallas’ answer to the swamps of the Meadowlands or Pelham Bay.

As a strict environmentalist, I do not support the concept of gas drilling within the city limits of Dallas. But an overwhelming majority of the city council disagrees with me on this issue and I would not argue with anyone who contends that a majority of the residents of this city supports drilling. Plus, when this matter first came up for debate almost six years ago, the city was going through such severe financial straits the council was forced to raise property tax rates just to continue to provide most basic services. At that time they instructed the city manager to "be creative" and (one of my least favorite expressions) "think outside the box" in finding new ways to increase revenues.

Now it seems a small handful of demagogues on the council want to chastise and punish her for doing exactly what they told her to do.

I worked alongside Mary Suhm for a few years when she was first assistant city manager. She has her faults. She tends to overreact in many situations. She can make decisions before all the facts are in. And, occasionally, she puts her faith and trust in individuals who do not deserve that faith and trust.

But I’ll tell you three things about Mary Suhm you can take to the bank. One: She is truthful. Two: She is honest. Three: She always — always — acts in a way she is convinced is in the best interest of the city and the citizens of Dallas.

Hopefully, when she does decide to step down, her replacement will have half of her integrity.

No comments: