Dallas Dirt: Redistricting, evolution, Parkland, Plano, trash and cash

Welcome to my newest regular weekly post. Every Sunday night, probably in a caffeine induced haze, I’ll be bringing you a roundup of the week’s Dallas politics and suggestions for what to watch out for during the coming week(s). I will certainly miss something, so continue the conversation in comments and on my polls (a new Dallas-based poll will go up on Sunday nights and run until Wednesday).

Let’s get started!


Dallas City Council. LaKeisha James/SMU.

The Dallas City Council is well on its way to deciding on a final redistricting map after a four-hour meeting held Saturday. Over 200 citizens showed up to speak, and after confusion as to whether or not you had to sign up to be allowed to voice your concerns, only about 75 were allowed to the podium. Of greatest concern was the fact that the redistricting committee’s recommended map reduces the number of majority black districts from four to three. Largely in response to this criticism, Mayor Mike Rawlings brought forth a new map designed by a citizen that has the strongest minority numbers in each district. The designer of the map submitted by Rawlings, Bill Betzen, said it is the most likely to last beyond the next census with minimal changes.

Dallas ISD is currently investigating who made a PowerPoint available on the districts Curriculum Central website that promoted intelligent design by saying, “Cells, in my opinion, are one of the strongest cases for intelligent design by our creator God!” – exclamation point included. The PowerPoint was sent by a DISD parent to Robert Wilonsky at the Dallas Observer, who contacted DISD spokesperson Jon Dahlander. Dahlander is looking into who made the slides available and sent this message out to teachers regarding the post: “Curriculum directors have been reminded to review their quality control system, as well as to review all links on the Curriculum Central. We were very disappointed to see it there, and it was removed immediately.”

Parkland Hospital’s hits just keep coming. Earlier this year the federal government threatened to pull Medicare and Medicaid from the hospital after it failed patient safety and emergency care inspections, and now the Dallas County Commissioners Court has ruled that the hospital will not be giving out any incentive bonuses or pay raises to top executives. Last year, the hospital paid out $3.8 million in these bonuses/pay raises to 160 top employees. This year, Commissioner Elba Garcia gave a clear message to Parkland, saying any bonuses or raises were “totally unacceptable.”

Plano’s Florence Shapiro, a state senator and longtime head of the Senate Education Committee, has decided to call it quits and take a job with an education company in lieu of running for another term. According to the Dallas Morning News, she has not yet decided which company she will work for. This, in addition to the departure of Collin County’s Brian McCall who is now the chancellor of Texas State University, will leave Collin County without strong leadership in the Texas Legislature.

Dallas has ranked No. 2 in the United States for having the most number of people on the Forbes 400 list with 17 billionaires. We come in a distant second from New York, which boasts 53. North Texas as a whole has 25 billionaires says the Dallas Business Journal, which compiled a list of them. Notable billionaires include Harold Simmons, a business big dog worth $9.3 billion; Ray Lee Hunt who inherited Hunt Oil Co. from his father, worth $4.3 billion; and Mark Cuban, owner of the Mavs (and other things), worth $2.3 billion.

The battle over where to dump commercial waste continued this week as protesters marched at City Hall. A group of 50 Paul Quinn students and a splattering of residents from the Highland Hills neighborhood gathered to voice their anger at a city plan that will require all commercial waste to be dumped at the city-owned McCommas Bluff landfill. Anger also came from private dumping companies who stand to lose big money if the city goes through with the plan, which will raise buckets of dough from tipping fees for the city.

What to watch for next week and beyond:

  • The Dallas City Council’s transportation committee will meet tomorrow to decide which streets to complete in their “Complete Streets Initiative,” which strives to make streets better for all kinds of travelers – not just cars.
  • A final redistricting map for Dallas will be picked Oct. 15. Look for squabbling in and out of City Hall meetings for weeks to come over long term map validity and minority representation (and vote in my new poll about this very issue).
  • Dallas will be updating their final operating budget next week to include more money for things like community pools and senior services.
Posted by on September 25, 2011. Filed under Uncategorized. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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