I have been asked by virtually everyone I know to "just pick a side" in the latest strong(er) mayor scheme (Proposition 1 -- coming soon to a polling place near you). So I am.
I'm voting for it. Now I owe an explanation.
Just to set the stage, we need to revisit a piece of recent (ugly) history formerly referred to as "Blackwood." To summarize (and cut to the chase), Blackwood was a Highland Park born-and-bred attempt to rewrite the Dallas City Charter to the benefit of Highland Park. It was the product of 5 people who worked largely in secret, employing a hired public relations firm to put it on our ballot for us.
"Initiative and referendum at it's finest," to quote a local Highland Park'ish media mogul.
It went down in flames 60/40--placing it squarely in the realm of "embarrassing defeat" and demonstrating that when it really counts, we can all join ranks and do the right thing.
Today's Proposition 1 was also part of the "joining ranks" equation; thanks, in no small part, to the efforts of Ed Oakley and unparalleled cooperation in the rank-and-file of our City Council.
So the City Council was unanimous in it's opposition to Blackwood, and everybody pitched in to help draft the "alternative plan" (the one before us).
Is it perfect?
I mean, is Proposition 1 the end of Dallas' problems as we know them today?
Of course not.
So why am I voting for it?
First, because it proves that we can all work together when the chips are down. Whether your representative was from the richest enclaves or the poorest of the poor, we proved we could do it.
Second, it's relatively safe. It's a watered-down, "kinda-sorta" stronger'ish mayor with plenty of council oversight unlike the virtual (and legally questionable) dictatorship that would have been created under Blackwood.
Third, it sets a tone. It gives us something to watch. If we see this is working, and moving Dallas in the right direction, we can all decide what (if anything) should be done next. If not, it should be fairly easy to reverse the parts we don't like.
Last, it shows us that we can change things. We need not live under the rules put down by others before us. We (without the help of the Park Cities) can change Dallas and make it a better place for all of us.
So I invite you to join me in picking the "for" box.
If it works, all of us did it. If not, we can all work to change it.
To Ed Oakley: please change your mind and vote for this. You lead the effort to do it in the first place. If your constituents have concerns, bring them to the table and address the specifics to their benefit. I know you care about them. So do this the right way.