Wednesday, March 19, 2014

"A Whole Bunch of Cranes"

Put it all together and you have a system easily dominated by insiders that is sometimes run for the benefit of the few, sometimes for no discernible benefit to anyone, but then there is this: Back away from it, fuzz your eyes a little, rake the skyline with your gaze, and what do you see? I see a whole bunch of cranes. I see stuff happening, some of it stupid but much of it pretty great. As long as the arrangement keeps clogging along and doesn't step too hard on the wrong toes, I don't think the vast majority of people will want to take on the sheer bother of changing it.
Source: Jim Schutze.
Writing in the Dallas Observer's blog Unfair Park, Jim Schutze is talking about the city council system in Dallas and how the city's single member districts influence how power is wielded in that city. Richardson has council members elected at large, but the general observation still holds: as long as "stuff" is happening, voters are unlikely to push too strongly for changing the system.

That set me to thinking (I know, always a dangerous practice). After the jump, unfinished business in Richardson.

What about that promise of a city charter review that was dangled before the voters of Richardson, not once but twice? In the 2011 city council election campaign, every single candidate said he or she was open to the idea of a charter review. Then, once the victors were securely sworn into office, the council voted 5-2 against having a charter review.

That didn't sit well with many of Richardson's voters. A sufficient number signed a petition to get a charter change (for direct election of the mayor) on the November, 2012, ballot where it easily passed.

But that wasn't the end of talk about a full charter review. In the 2013 city council election, only one office was contested, the office of mayor. During the campaign, Laura Maczka promised to support a full city charter review. She identified it as one of the top three issues for the next council to address. Then she was elected mayor. Since then, crickets.

Richardson's charter says that changes can't be made more often than once every two years. That time is up this November. Has anyone seen any sign of the council laying the groundwork for a charter review before May, 2015, when this council's term expires?

The same dynamics that apply in Dallas apply everywhere. "Stuff" is happening here in Richardson, too. It looks like the mayor and city council chose to bury the subject of a charter review pretty deeply under the flying dirt at the base of all those cranes.

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