Thank you in advance for allowing me to pick some nits.
As our Matt Goodman has chronicled on FrontBurner, the city manager of Dallas, T.C. Broadnax, is in trouble. Last week, it looked like he was on his way to getting fired, with the mayor shouldering his colleagues out of the way so he could take the first swing of the ax. This week, things look a bit different. Into the fray comes the Dallas Morning News’ editorial board, led by the capable former City Hall reporter Rudy Bush.
What the heck happened here?
First, the two headlines. Online it reads: “Whatever Happens to T.C. Broadnax, Dallas Needs the City Manager to Do Better.” This makes me laugh. Because if Broadnax gets fired and his next job is the city manager of Whynot, North Carolina, (look it up) Dallas doesn’t really need him to do better. If our fortunes are tied to whether Whynot can straighten out its permitting process, we’re in trouble.
The print headline you can see above: “Showdown at City Hall: Whatever Happens With Broadnax, Dallas Needs City Manager to Get Things Done.” He leaves. He stays. Come what may, the Morning News’ editorial board is taking the brave stance, after giving it some thought and talking it over, that the city of Dallas needs a top executive who can do the job.
Editorial stances considered but not taken: “Whatever Happens With Broadnax, Dallas Needs City Manager to Dress With Flair.” “Whatever Happens With Broadnax, Dallas Needs City Manager to Make Peace With Minotaur.”
OK, so beyond the headline, the easy critique here is that the ed board doesn’t take a stand on the matter. The editorial says Broadnax has done some stuff well, but he’s done some other stuff poorly. That’s about it. Is it time for Broadnax to go or isn’t it? Talk to your sources. Lay out your argument one way or the other. Let me hear what you think. I suppose this is Grant Moise’s fault. He’s the publisher of the paper, and the ed board’s job is to express his opinion. Apparently he hasn’t come to one.
But the smarter take on this editorial is one I’ll steal from my colleague Zac Crain. The ed board should have written about Mayor Eric Johnson and how he’s the big loser in this whole deal. Starting Friday and continuing over the weekend, Johnson has been acting like Leon Lett in Super Bowl XXVII. He was tweeting about Broadnax getting fired and emailing about Broadnax getting fired. I haven’t seen Johnson’s TikTok of himself doing the “A Bay Bay” slide in the hallway outside Broadnax’s office at City Hall, but that’s only because I haven’t searched for it yet.
Listen: you don’t celebrate till you’ve crossed the goal line. Then you can dance and pretend to give birth to a football baby or whatever, but first you have to score. You celebrate early, you get made a fool. And that’s what Johnson has done. Technically, according to a clause in Broadnax’s contract, the mayor needs just eight votes to fire the city manager. But eight votes can turn into six real quick. All that takes is two sets of new Pirellis. So you need a dozen votes. And not just a dozen votes but a dozen votes from council members you have deeply embarrassing, potentially marriage-ending photos of. Then you can make the TikTok.
So you ask me (or Zac)? It would have been far more interesting if the DMN ed board had written about how the mayor got too far over his skis and how that will change the balance of power at City Hall—and, by extension, the operation of the city.
Finally, I’ll leave you with this question: what are we going to do about the Minotaur?