City News Roundup
Dallas City Council holds action-packed night meeting and more city news
It was a busy week for the Dallas City Council, which held its first off-site meeting on February 13 at Park in the Woods Recreation Center, to increase accessibility.
A solid crowd turned out for the meeting which covered the Confederate statue and juvenile curfew controversies. Meanwhile, one council member is under investigation for possible involvement in a hit-and-run scooter accident.
This is what happened in Dallas this week:
Since 1978, Dallas City Council meetings have aired live every other Wednesday on 101.1 WRR-FM, the city-owned classical music station.
But ratings show that listenership drops during that time by 80 percent, with a resulting loss in advertising revenues of about $80,000 per year.
Scott Griggs proposed moving council meetings to a new HD channel that would allow most residents to listen in while giving while allowing WRR to maximize its revenue. Mark Clayton suggested ponying up and paying the $80,000 for the airtime it uses.
But council members representing the Southern sector insisted on the continued broadcasts because Internet and cell service is unreliable and not available for some residents to listen or watch meetings online.
"As we talk about 5G or 1G or whatever, some of us in the Southern sector are what we call OG," Carolyn King Arnold said of sketchy cell service.
The council ultimately took no action, and meetings will continue to be broadcasted on WRR.
Confederate monument update
The Dallas City Council voted to begin the process of taking down five statues of Confederate generals and soldiers. The Confederate Monument has stood in Pioneer Cemetery since 1961, when it was relocated from Old City Park. In 2002, city council made Pioneer Cemetery a historic district, which restricts any changes to the area.
Last week, city staff presented three options for the future of the monument, including re-envisioning the monument and letting it stand.
The matter is now with the Landmark Commission, which approves any changes in historic districts or designated city landmarks. The commission is expected to meet in March but could delay while the council is in recess.
Teenagers won a temporary victory as the Dallas City Council delayed discussion and reinstating of the juvenile curfew, which expired on January 15.
Public comments poured in from the people most affected by the curfew, with teen after teen stepping to the microphone during a public hearing on the issue at the February 13 council meeting.
An impassioned Omar Narvaez grilled Dallas Police Chief U. Renee Hall before moving to delay all discussions on the curfew for 30 days, which passed 8-7.
"Our chief is telling us we don't have all the answers," Narvaez said. "We don't have it worked out. We are rushing for the sake of rushing."
Hall and City Manager T.C. Broadnax are working on a curfew proposal to bring back to the council.
Dallas City Council member Kevin Felder is being investigated for crashing into a man driving a scooter and fleeing the scene on his way to the city council meeting on February 13.
The accident took place in Felder's district in the 2500 block of Malcolm X Blvd. According to witnesses, he was seen exchanging words with the young man before driving away.
Police investigators towed his vehicle away from its first-row spot at the Park in the Woods Recreation Center during the city council meeting.
Damage could be seen on the front bumper and headlights. His city and personal cell phones were also confiscated by police.
During the meeting, Felder was seen stepping several times talking to City Manager T.C. Broadnax. He has not commented publicly on the incident.
Methodist fitness center
Methodist Dallas Hospital came before the Dallas City Council seeking approval to construct a two-story Folsom Fitness Center on the northern edge its Oak Cliff campus on Greenbriar Lane.
Nearby Kessler Park residents all spoke against the proposal to build the fitness center across the street from their homes, noting that it was going into what had been a buffer zone between the hospital and the neighborhood, and requesting that the center be built on the opposite side of the hospital where property is already zoned to allow new building.
But a former City Plan Commission member threw a wrench into the works by disputing a notarized statement his wife signed opposing the fitness center. He stated that her status as "a native of Mainland China" led to her misunderstanding of what she signed.
The council debated for more than an hour over whether they should bend the rules and accept his dispute, even going into private session to consider the legal ramifications.
Scott Griggs, in whose district the center would be built, filed a motion to reject the hospital's proposal, but it lost by 10-5. Methodist can now proceed with construction of the Folsom Fitness Center.