News came today that the city of Dallas has hired a search firm to find its next city manager, the person with the most power to affect change at one of the most crucial points in our city’s history. Forget the $400,000 salary and the oversight of a $1.2 billion city budget. Think about what’s at stake. The next city manager will hire a police chief and largely say who gets hired as city attorney. The next city manager will play a huge role in deciding whether DART’s second line through downtown kills growth (built at street level) or continues to foster downtown’s renaissance (subway). To understate the matter, we’ve got A LOT GOING ON.
So what does the city do? It signs a contract with a search firm for a measly $30,000. The number falls beneath the $50,000 threshold that would have required approval from the City Council. It’s less than a fifth of what a normal company would pay to hire a search firm for an executive at that level.
Line up the dots: the current city manager, A.C. Gonzalez, steps down in January. The city waits till September to hire a search firm for his replacement. Four months and the office is vacant. The city signs a deal with a firm that is so low that it doesn’t need Council approval. Mayor Mike Rawlings says that the firm’s CEO is “confident he can bring us a strong slate of candidates, especially because we’ve shown recently that we are not afraid to bring in quality outsiders,” which is a joke.
The fix is in. The fix has always been in. We’re not getting an outsider. We’re probably getting Assistant City Manager Mark McDaniel, another insider who will do whatever it takes to protect everyone’s pension down at City Hall. No change. No progress. Status quo.
This is the opposite of world class. This is small town, all the way.
Note: this item was corrected to reflect the fact that the next Dallas city manager doesn’t directly hire the city attorney.