Dallas already has single member districts. How's that working out? After the jump, Jim Schutze, in Unfair Park, gives us a look. The issue is flood control in East Dallas.
According to a story by Schutze, Dallas's City Manager says that Dallas needs to dig a $300 million tunnel, "an underground river, in effect -- to carry rain water from big storms out of an old part of the city in East Dallas, Uptown and near downtown." If it doesn't, Dallas will have to "abandon it as an unsafe slum."
How did the Dallas City Council react? Did they consider Dallas as a unified community, where the health of the whole depends on the survival of each of its neighborhoods? That is, did the Dallas council members look at flood control in old East Dallas like a "bypass operation for an aging heart," as Schutze put it? Or did the council divide along district lines, each member sticking up for his or her own district? Schutze reads the body language:
Notice that the presumed assessment of the benefits of this project are not based on what's best for the city as a whole, but what's in it for my district in North Dallas. Schutze has no more confidence in the council members from Oak Cliff or southern Dallas acting in the best interest of the city as a whole.At the briefing where the idea was unveiled, North Dallas council member Ann Margolin seemed a little antsy about it. I watched. She wasn't out-and-out negative, but I think you could see the wheels turning:
No photo op. Nothing for North Dallas. All this money for a sewer for the old part of town. Hmm.Source: Unfair Park.
The political challenges in Richardson pale in comparison to those of Dallas. Dallas has single member districts exactly because its racial and ethnic divisions along geographic lines made it difficult to elect a council that could be representative of the city as a whole. Richardson doesn't have those divisions. We shouldn't artificially inject such divisions into Richardson by switching to a system of single member districts.