CITYSCOPE

A couple of months back rumor spread that Dallas City Manager Charles Anderson was considering resigning at the end of the current fiscal year. Anderson flatly denied the rumor during an open council briefing, and that appeared to be the end of the matter. The behind-the-scenes story is somewhat different, however. It’s true, according to a prominent business leader, that Anderson was not considering resigning-he was facing a serious move ment by some business leaders to get him fired.

“He let the city staff get out of control on a variety of important subjects,” says one source in the business community who was involved in a series of “counseling sessions” with Anderson. Like what, for instance? “The Planning Poli-cies Issue Paper, the church zoning ordinance-those are prime examples of controversies that could have been averted with a little direction from the top. Love Field is another; the only thing the business community wanted to hear from him was that he was not going to allow anything to take place that would result in the airport being closed, but we never heard him say it.” So what’s the situation now? Well, Anderson has said publicly that the staff did indeed get out of control on both the Planning Policies Issue Paper (which is an effort to rewrite the city’s zoning ordinance and rid it of some aspects that are abhorrent to neighborhood groups) and the church ordinance (which would have severely restricted where new churches could locate), and some heads have rolled as a result in the planning department. As for Love Field, he’s renewed his efforts to reassure the business community that he opposes anything like mandatory noise controls at the facility, because of the potential negative impact on the local economy. Anderson says he believes his relations with the business community were never that bad in the first place, but just in case, he’s made an extra effort this summer to keep the leadership of both the Dallas Citizens Council and the Dallas Chamber of Commerce abreast of developments at city hall. Of course, it takes a two-thirds majority vote in the city council to dislodge the city manager, and realistically, it doesn’t look like the votes are there now to threaten Anderson. What the Dallas business leadership was saying to Anderson, however, is that the situation could change….

Perhaps the hottest topic of conversation among local political players this summer has been whether a 1986 version of the Citizens Charter Association is about to be revived. Well, the answer is yes… and no. The Dallas business establishment is indeed gearing up to formally support- with money, and lots of it-a slate of candidates next April in both the city council and school board elections. The organization won’t be called the CCA, though, for reasons of image more than anything else. The CCA, the political arm of the Dallas Citizens Council, ran the show at city hall for almost forty years until the early Seventies, when single-member districts and changing attitudes helped put an end to the CCA’s reign. But earlier this year, the DCC’s leadership revealed some of the highlights of a year-long internal analysis of its organization and goals, one of which was to get actively involved again in electoral politics. Actually, organizational planning has been taking place since last year; Alex Bickley, the former executive director of the Dallas Citizens Council, says he was involved for a while, until he decided that his participation was probably not a good idea because of his well-known ties to the business establishment. One insider says the still-unnamed group could go public as early as this fall, in plenty of time for next spring’s elections. Already targeted for challenges are councilmembers Diane Ragsdale and Craig Hol-comb-’We know how to beat them,” says the source-and maybe Lori Palmer, who’s seen as a tougher proposition. More important, though, is the school board election, which saw a minority faction gain strength earlier this year. “The establishment wouldn’t get be-hind [then-incumbent] Don Hicks because they didn’t see him being seriously challenged,” says the insider. “When the got beat, that provided the swing vote for the new faction to take control. Some of us see serious trouble ahead for the Dallas Independent School District if a more reasonable majority doesn’t gain control.” If it had to be a choice between supporting candidates in the two elections, in fact, the DISD election would take precedence for the business-backed organization, because of what it sees as the crucial importance of a quality school system to the economic health of the city.. ..



Speaking of united fronts, some city council members were still talking as late as mid-July about putting together a slate of candidates when it comes time to appoint the Dallas delegation to the Dallas Area Rapid Transit board. In the past, a councilmember has nominated the person of his or her choice, and the other council members have almost always respected the nomination by voting to appoint. According to the scheme under discussion, though, the DART appointments would be made as a group by a handful of coun-cilmembers who are dissatisfied with the DART board. “The DART board serves at the pleasure of the council, but some of the current board members act like they don’t owe this body anything,” says one council-member. “Some of them also seem to believe that reappoint-ment is merely a matter of being nominated again. Well, it takes six votes to get appointed, and some people might find it hard to come up with six.” With executive director Ted Tedesco on the way out (he resigned in August but offered to stay up to six months while the board searches for his replacement), there may be no appointments more important than the ones the council makes to the DART board. Taylor says he’s been exploring the idea of having all of the DART appointments made on an at-large basis-which is essentially the same as running a slate of candidates. According to the city attorney’s office, that’s already permissible….

Newsletter

Keep me up to date on the latest happenings and all that D Magazine has to offer.

Comments