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The Dallas City Council Will Consider Firing City Manager T.C. Broadnax

The City Council will hold an executive session to discuss Broadnax’s performance. Should the body come to a decision, the full Council will decide in public whether to discipline or remove him.
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The Dallas City Council will hold an executive session next week to evaluate the performance of City Manager T.C. Broadnax, which could result in his removal from office.

Mayor Eric Johnson requested the executive session in a memo sent Friday. Council members Paula Blackmon, Gay Donnell Willis, and Cara Mendelsohn sent a separate memo calling for a special meeting after that session in which the full Council will “consider taking appropriate action related to the performance of the City Manager including discipline or removal.”

Council needs eight votes to remove Broadnax from office. Mendelsohn said today she was confident there are enough votes to do so but added that “things could change.” She said she had not confirmed directly with her colleagues but believed there are enough votes to remove the city manager.

“The citizens of Dallas deserve to have a well-managed city and we have eight votes,” Mendelsohn said.

She cited “significant performance deficiencies” but did not mention specific issues. “It’s a very long list,” she said.

Mayor Pro Tem Chad West, the councilman who represents North Oak Cliff, said he met with Broadnax alongside Willis and southern Dallas Councilman Tennell Atkins earlier this week. Willis said Broadnax “was offered the courtesy of submitting a letter of resignation.”

“We thought that was the best course of action,” she said, and “would have avoided the drama we are in now.”

West said the three “had some discussions about the future” and set a meeting for 3 p.m. on Monday. In an initial conversation with D, West said the city manager was not asked to resign during that meeting. In a subsequent conversation, West said, “we talked about his future with the city and stated that everything else needs to be discussed in executive session.”

Atkins’ phone went straight to voicemail. In a statement, the mayor said, “I believe it is time for a change in city management.”

“Several of my duly elected colleagues on the Dallas City Council have made it clear in recent days that they also believe it is time for a change. We are ready to move forward and discuss how best to build for the future of our great city and its amazing people, and that is why I have placed the item on the City Council’s agenda for next week,” Johnson wrote.

Broadnax issued a statement Friday afternoon:

Periodic performance review is critical to me and all City employees to demonstrate progress and ensure transparency for our residents, taxpayers, and stakeholders. I am proud of the hard work which has led to accomplishment of many goals related to the City Council’s eight strategic priorities, and look forward to sharing the R.E.A.L. impact we continue to make to improve the lives of Dallas residents in ways that are responsible, equitable, accountable, and legitimate, together as One Dallas.

In Dallas’ system of governance, Broadnax is effectively the chief executive of the ninth largest city in America. He oversees daily operations of more than 13,000 employees.

Broadnax has come under fire from the mayor and Council related to several major screwups. In March and April of 2021, an IT staffer deleted millions of pieces of police data during a server migration. The City Council didn’t learn of the 20-terabyte loss until August, when the district attorney alerted the media that the data loss could result in missing evidence. An audit blamed the issue on inadequate processes.

It found that Dallas had “no set rules” for how to archive data and that managers had not heeded the “detailed documentation” from its vendor on how to migrate data.

Elsewhere, the city’s permitting process has been broken since March 2020, when a backlog of residential permits ballooned to over 1,000 as staffers were sent home with inadequate technology and processing software that had not been implemented correctly. Developers say it is still taking months to get permits approved while neighboring cities process the same work in days or weeks.

In a meeting last month that was supposed to detail a plan to fix the problem, Broadnax downplayed the matter, arguing that the problem had been exaggerated in the media and development community. That didn’t go over well with his colleagues, including Mayor Johnson, who said the city manager’s statements did not “reflect the reality of what’s going on here.”

Blackmon—who co-chaired the task force responsible for helping fix the permitting issue—pointed to the data breach and the permitting problems as the reason she added her name to the memo.

“These are system issues, and it just appears that we don’t have the leadership in place to fix these systems,” she said. “You can’t fix something unless you admit there is a problem … . Let’s identify what all those threads are and develop a plan to fix it. But don’t gaslight me.”

Broadnax was hired in 2017. His first jobs included hiring a police chief and creating a $1.05 billion bond package, the largest in the city’s history. Chief U. Reneé Hall resigned in 2020, three years after Broadnax hired the city’s first female chief, following reporting in D Magazine and elsewhere that showed her officers had used tear gas against protesters after they were corralled on the Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge in the weeks following the murder of George Floyd. Hall had been adamant that the chemical was not used and had the support of her boss.

Broadnax has aggressively pursued a number of plans that never existed before, including roadmaps aimed at increasing housing stock; curbing emissions; and improving mobility, infrastructure, and pedestrian safety. But audits have found inadequate implementation and council members have already begun reworking the 2018 housing policy. Many of the problems that have surfaced in his tenure existed prior to his arrival in Dallas. But some on Council clearly believe he is not equipped to fix these issues. The question is how many.

The executive session is set for June 15. The full Council will then vote during a public meeting on whether to discipline or remove Broadnax.

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Matt Goodman

Matt Goodman

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Matt Goodman is the online editorial director for D Magazine. He's written about a surgeon who killed, a man who…

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