Sunday, May 22, 2022 May 22, 2022
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DART executive director Charles Anderson would like to calm the transit system’s critics by commencing construction of the first rail line early next summer. “It would get us rolling, and it would give the public some clear sense of what we’re building,” he says. At this point he’s thinking of only a three-mile stretch, from Oak Cliff to downtown. “We’d build the line and then buy three or four cars and begin operations. Not only would it give the public something to see, it would give us an opportunity to test our technology and plans on a small scale.” he says. A more immediate problem, of course, is what happens in Garland, where voters will go to the polls in April to decide whether they want to remain part of DART. It’s not clear what the effect on DART would be if Garland-the sec-ond-largest city in the system-pulls out, but Anderson says one suggested scenario will not come to pass: DART will not give Garland or any other non-member a financial break if they connect later with the DART | system. “There’s talk that they’ll create their own transit system and then link up with ours, at considerable savings. I would oppose any effort to permit that,” says Anderson. It’s crucial that the issue be resolved, he adds, because uncertainties in the suburbs further delay the startup of construction of the rail system. “We need to get in the market now, while the real estate market is depressed. We’ve got momentum now and we can’t afford to lose it.” If Garland decides to stay with DART, look for Anderson to start pushing the startup on the Oak Cliff-to-downtown line immediately.

The Dallas City Council got what it wanted when it hired Richard Knight Jr. as city manager in December, but the decision touched off some bitter feelings that may come back to haunt the city. Feathers were ruffled because Knight, who served as acting city manager while the search was under way, was not a formal candidate for the job; he took himself out of consideration early on, when he announced that he was following former city manager Charles Anderson over to DART. When Knight accepted the council’s offer, it angered the six finalists “who had played by the rules, and it caught the attention of | professional managers around the country,” says a prominent member of the International City Managers Association (ICMA). “It’s a black eye for the council,” says the ICMA source, “because it confirmed some widespread suspicion that an outsider wasn’t going to get a fair shake in terms of competing for the job. Some of the top people in the profession weren’t interested in applying for the job in the first place, because they assumed that [deputy city manager] Camille Barnett was the logical successor.” The council could have avoided some of the fallout by announcing that none of the six finalists was acceptable and then resuming the search-and at least one council member considered making such a proposal. But the council was anxious to name a city manager before the start of the year, and besides, Knight was the one several council members wanted all along. Once he expressed his willingness to consider staying, the search was effectively over. “The net effect of the episode is that when it comes time to hire a replacement for Knight, some of the top professionals are not going to be interested, because of the way this search ended,” says the ICMA source. “One of the six finalists was seriously considering filing a protest with the ICMA, just so his displeasure with the process would be on file. He decided against it, though, after concluding that no one in the profession is likely to forget what happened.”