Excitement peaked early this week with a resolution on the budget for the city of Dallas. No more budget stories? How will we survive? With DART Rail, Love Field, historical buildings, and the district attorney.
Here are the biggest stories in Dallas this week:
At an extra-early meeting on September 22, the Dallas City Council approved the 2015-16 budget. The fiscal year begins October 1. Top priorities include streets, code compliance, animal services, multifamily inspections, and library services.
Council member Philip Kingston, who voted against the budget, had pored through it and found $8 million that could be trimmed, but his amendments were voted down. "We might have saved ourselves quite a bit of brain damage just adopting the thing in June," he said.
DART cast its vote on the second rail line being plotted for downtown with an approval of the "Jackson" or "Modified B4" route. This is the route that begins on Young Street, then shifts over to Jackson Street. This vote follows the choice of the Dallas City Council, who recommended the same route.
The modified route accommodates the First Presbyterian Church and the new townhomes near the Farmers Market; not so much the Statler hotel or the Continental apartment building. Although the DART vote was unanimous, the door remains open to explore other routes.
Love Field battle
The battle for gates at Love Field goes on: Dallas, Southwest Airlines, and Delta Airlines have a hearing on September 28, when a federal judge will rule on whether Delta can, for now, remain at Love Field. Delta currently has five daily flights to Atlanta, which it flies out of two gates.
Delta claims that forcing it out of Love Field gives Southwest a monopoly. If Southwest gets the two gates, it'll have 18 out 20; the other two gates are operated by Virgin America.
Dallas has hired a "chief resiliency director," former assistant manager Theresa O'Donnell. The position, which pays $232,000 a year, came up for debate during the city council's recent budget workshop, because it's being funded for only two years. Will the city be required to fund it thereafter? According to Fox, the city does not know what it will do with the newly created position once the grant ends but will worry about that when the time comes.
The grant is part of the Rockefeller Foundation's "100 Resilient Cities" project, a mucky-muck nonprofit whose goal is to "help cities become more resilient to the physical, social, and economic challenges that are a growing part of the 21st century."
Although there was discussion during the city council meeting about who would get the job, O'Donnell would seem to have had a lock, because she was appointed chief resiliency officer in December 2014. She nets a $40,000 salary increase.
Score one for Preservation Dallas, as the city council passed a delay on the demolition of historic buildings in and around downtown, to include the Oak Cliff Gateway. It will prevent surprise demolitions on buildings at least 50 years old within the overlay that meet one of the following criteria:
- Located in a National Register District or individually listed
- Recorded Texas Historic Landmark
- State Antiquities Landmark
- National Historic Landmark
- Listed as significant in the 2003 Downtown Dallas Historic/Architectural Significant Properties survey
- Listed as contributing in the 1994 Hardy-Heck-Moore survey
A Dallas County grand jury decided not to move forward on the case against city council member Scott Griggs, who was alleged to have threatened a city worker. A statement from the Dallas Police Department claimed that Griggs tried to coerce assistant city secretary Bilirae Johnson. Supposedly he yelled, "You better not push those briefing materials out or I will break your f---ing fingers!"
The Dallas Observer theorizes that this would have happened more quickly were it not for the upheaval in the district attorney's office, where DA Susan Hawk is still not in the office.