City News Roundup

Spring break doesn't stop Dallas politicians and more city news

Spring break doesn't stop Dallas politicians and more city news

Dallas City Council
Dallas City Council members in D.C. with Rep. Collin Allred (center, with purple tie), working during spring break. Courtesy photo

It was spring break in Dallas, but local lawmakers kept this round of city news afloat. The Dallas City Council went to Capitol Hill to rub elbows with Congress. Another city council candidate leaves the race — and a mayoral candidate is redeemed.

Here's what happened in Dallas news this week:

Candidate drops out
A second candidate has dropped out of the District 9 race for Dallas City Council, leaving four candidates in the running.

Jacinto Valdespino, a teacher at Hector Garcia Middle School and a former U.S. Marine, announced on Facebook he was suspending his campaign just three weeks after the campaign began. He later deleted his announcement post but intends to stay involved.

"I suspended my campaign, I didn't disappear," he said. "Hell, I'll still be on the ballot so I'll continue dropping my ideas."

In February, Paul Sims, former Park Board member, dropped from the District 9 race.

This leaves Sarah Lamb, Erin Moore, Paula Blackmon, and Tamara Brown. All candidates will appear on the ballot.

Incumbent Mark Clayton is not seeking reelection.

Council goes to Washington
The Dallas City Council went to Washington D.C. this week to speak with legislators and advance the newly adopted legislative lobbying agenda.

Priorities for Dallas City Council for the 116th Legislature include infrastructure investment, telecommunications right of way, criminal justice, housing, economic development, and more.

Local leaders are advocating for everything from investment in DART’s core capacity and inter-city connectivity to prisoner re-entry, and from affordable housing and homelessness to the Trinity River Corridor.

Council members Casey Thomas, Phillip Kingston, Adam Medrano, Omar Narvaez, Adam McGough, Jennifer Staubach Gates, Sandy Greyson, and Ricky Callahan were among the contingent at Capital Hill to meet with elected officials, including Rep. Collin Allred.

Griggs vindicated
City Council member and mayoral candidate Scott Griggs was vindicated following a mucky editorial from the Dallas Morning News that dredged up a 2015 incident at City Hall.

The incident involved an attempt by the City Secretary's office to post an agenda item for the Trinity Toll Road after a deadline. Griggs insisted the item not be posted. Then-City Attorney Warren Ernst led a campaign against Griggs, alleging that he threatened then-assistant city secretary Billierae Johnson. However, a grand jury refused to indict Griggs.

The Dallas Observer dropped a bombshell on the newspaper's editorial with the release of recordings between Johnson, Ernst, City Secretary Rosa Rios, and officers from the Dallas Police Department which clearly indicate that Griggs did not threaten Johnson in the way that Ernst alleged.

In the recordings, Johnson tells police there was "absolutely no incident" and Scott Griggs had not threatened her. Many witnesses told police the same thing.

3G update
The city is doing its part to move forward the reconstruction of the 3G intersection in east Dallas.

At the next city council meeting on March 27, the council will vote to acquire right-of-way and relocate utilities around the Gaston-Garland-Grand intersection.

The city will use $106,000 of 2017 bond funds to get the ball rolling as the Texas Department of Transportation begins reconstruction of the intersection, which includes State Highway 78 along Grand Avenue and Garland Roads.

3G, as it is commonly called, has been the source of opposing opinions through nearby neighborhoods, during public hearings. The project proceeds, despite the efforts of some late-to-the-table community organizers.