EarBurner In the Time of COVID-19. This was the scene outside the Lakewood Growler on Friday afternoon.

Podcasts

New EarBurner: Councilwoman Paula Blackmon, Co-Chair of COVID-19 Task Force

We met in a parking lot and practiced appropriate social distancing to bring you this interview with an elected official.

Councilwoman Paula Blackmon represents the White Rock Lake area of East Dallas. And she’s the co-chair of the city’s COVID-19 task force. In full city parlance, that’s the Ad Hoc Committee on COVID-19 Human and Social Recovery and Assistance. Tim had the idea of recording an EarBurner in the parking lot of the Lakewood Growler. Blackmon agreed. We came really close to the 10-person gathering threshold because Tim invited his friends. (We maintained appropriate social distancing.)

But anyway. Interesting things are discussed. The ad hoc committee met last night for the first time. They tried to parse the language of the county’s shelter-in-place order, which County Judge Clay Jenkins announced about an hour before. I say that because the podcast was recorded prior to the order and prior to that initial meeting.

Blackmon spoke with us most about the economic recovery that will be so critical to so many Dallasites. Local officials will need to ask the state government for relief on things like the small business tax, sales tax, and property taxes. Could we suspend the sales tax? Can we freeze property taxes? That’s what Councilman Lee Kleinman will be charged with finding out. Councilman Adam Bazaldua will be working with hotels and restaurants and bars to figure out the relief that works for them and their people. Also on the committee? North Oak Cliff’s Chad West, who’s working with the chambers of commerce; southern Dallas’ Tennell Atkins, who’s also the chair of the economic development committee.

The task force is chaired by Councilman Casey Thomas, of southern Dallas. Blackmon is anticipating unemployment to shoot up to around 20 percent, which is in line with federal estimates. This thing came on fast at City Hall. She said March 1 was the date on which it was “in everyone’s mind, then it got real fast and we were thinking about the parades.” Those got shut down, of course.

But that was the easy part. Now comes something much more difficult. How are you going to provide a safety net for Dallasites who are sheltering in place to protect one another? And figure that out while managing a regular Council agenda: the scooter pilot is expiring, for instance. The Council will need to address that. And what does Blackmon think about neighboring counties not following the same rules that Dallas is? (Looking at you, Tarrant. And you, city of Frisco.)

“Our region has to work together on this,” she said, diplomatically.

Sound interesting? It is! Listen below.

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