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Making Dallas Even Better

Is the City Council Confused About What City They Govern?

We know that Mike Rawlings is confused about what city he is mayoring. Don’t blame the City Council if it is confused, too. At last week’s Wednesday retreat, Council members were given a presentation by a Dr. Neil Kleiman, professor of policy development at NYU’s Wagner School of Public Service, on how Dallas stacks up against other cities. Impressive as his resume is, Dr. Kleiman doesn’t seem to know where Dallas is.

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Mike Rawlings Makes His Pitch

Jason already remarked on the interview given by Mike Rawlings to the DMN editorial board, as reported by Tod Robberson. The mayor seemed to be testing out his talking points in front of an editorial audience. I don’t think his handlers would have recommended the daily newspaper as the best audience to practice on, but one of the refreshing things about Mayor Mike is that he seems to pay little attention to his handlers.

He says he has spent months trying to understand the issues, and I believe him. He is a conscientious man. Moreover, it is quite clear that he has studied others’ opinions on the subject in order to understand them. (“I love contrarian points of view,” he says.) His stronger statements come across poorly in print, but in the recording of the interview the mayor’s tone is reasonable and respectful.

I have always considered it part of my job to straighten the ties and brush off the lint for mayors before they wander out in public, so in that spirit I will unpack a few of the mayor’s assertions to see how well they will fare in the upcoming public debate.

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How Badly Does TxDOT Want the North Texas Vote?

The controversy over I-345 — and how TxDOT and its local partner, Michael Morris have handled it — could not come at a worse time for the highway agency. On the ballot in November is a constitutional amendment to increase the agency’s funding by $1.25 billion a year by drawing down on the state’s Rainy Day Fund.

The Legislature only granted this small amount after considerable wrangling. The agency by its own account needs an additional $4.5 billion a year just to keep up with the state’s population growth. But legislators are just as wary of the agency’s obfuscations, wild estimates, changing stories, alarmist traffic simulations, and bungling public relations as Dallas leaders in the last two months have learned to be.

Yet those same Dallas leaders say the agency needs every dollar it can get. Texas is exploding in population, roads are already inadequate, and cutbacks to maintenance could have severe economic consequences. So why is TxDOT — like a lumbering elephant — walking all over Dallas right when it needs our votes?

Now might be a good time for the Texas Transportation Commission, whose five members are probably more politically astute than highway engineers, to get that elephant under control. TxDOT seems to have a talent for alienating legislators. If it alienates North Texas, it could lose its only chance for new funding. That would be tragedy not just for the agency but for Texas.

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A Lament for John Carona

In 2010 I wrote a cover story on John Carona entitled “The Last Republican.” Why that title? Because John represented the last and the best of the old GOP.

He believed in a state government that was fiscally responsible, paying its bills, keeping debt down, and planning for the future. The new Republicans seem to believe in only one thing: no new taxes. If that means we have tollroads instead of state roads at four times the cost to the taxpayer (because the private owners have to recoup their investment), that’s fine with them, because it means no new taxes. If it means state government borrows to keep up with population growth, that’s fine with them, because it means no new taxes (and it also means that one state agency, TXDOT, is $30 billion in debt with service on that debt taking up one-half its budget). In this new regime, short-sightedness is a virtue. It drove John Carona crazy.

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Roll Call: Sessions Runs a Good Rules Committee

We’re so accustomed to Dallas Congressman Pete Sessions’ mishaps, corruption foibles, and non-sequiturs that a favorable story comes as a pleasant surprise — no, make that a complete shock. Nevertheless, here it is. Matt Fuller and Emma Dumain of the Capitol Hill weekly Roll Call canvassed Republicans and Democrats on the Rules Committee to discover that Sessions […]

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Did Pete Sessions Insult the President to His Face?

There’s a little Washington kerfuffle going on right now over whether Dallas’ Pete Sessions, in a meeting of congressional Republicans with the president in October, said to him, “I can’t even stand to look at you.” Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said it happened, and it was Sessions who said it. A Sessions spokeswoman denies […]

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DFW Airport Should Just Open the Damn Gates

Or when frustrated drivers start busting right through them, the airport may find itself without any gates left. From a FrontBurnervian: Tried to exit DFW about 7:30 last night. System was down — at least intermittently — and wouldn’t read my tolltag.  Not just me.  In the lane to my right, there was nearly a riot and someone just […]

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Prediction: With New Military Vehicle, Disaster Coming Soon to Dallas County Sheriff’s Dept

The U.S. military has spent wasted billions on equipment it has never used and does not need. For example, this prime $600,000 MRAPS (Mine Resistant Ambush Protected) vehicle, which the Dallas County Sheriff’s Department — with permission from the Commissioners Court — took possession of last week. The department says it will be helpful in serving warrants. […]

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