I’ll be providing my usual blow-by-blow of today’s City Council session later this week. But I have something that needs to be said now.
This afternoon, the Dallas City Council was asked to choose between two public servants to serve as vice chair of the city’s Park Board. Chief among the board’s duties is to oversee Fair Park, a keynote piece of Dallas that serves as the venue for the State Fair of Texas. As such, the Park Board is responsible for ensuring that those who run the State Fair are doing so in a way that accords with the best interests of the taxpayers as well as their legal obligations. For several years, the more astute portion of the regional press has documented a variety of indefensible practices, including contractual violations and abuse of trust, by those very people that the board is supposed to be overseeing.
Both of the candidates have been on the board, which happened to meet not long ago. At that meeting, one of the candidates for the current position sought to make available to the taxpayers information about how their money is being used. The other candidate shouted him down. His exact words, which he repeated several times, were “Know your role!”
This other candidate also happens to work for the son of the State Fair board chairman, the man who runs the organization that has been misusing taxpayer funds.
Today, the Dallas City Council voted 8-7 to make this other candidate the vice chair of the parks board. Among those votes was one cast by the mayor.
Here’s what Councilman Philip Kingston had to tell me today about the vote: “This is what Rawlings does to people who oppose his deals with Walt Humann. He does petty political payback.” He also said a great deal more.
As it happens, I feel very strongly about government transparency. And I feel even more strongly about those individuals who seek to intimidate others who are seeking transparency. And so on Friday we’ll take a closer look at why it is that our City Council voted against the public’s right to know what’s being done with the public’s money by those who have already been shown to have misused it. We’ll also see which of our council members will be able to explain why they voted the way that they did, as I’ll be calling each one of them tomorrow.