City News Roundup
Confederate statue finds a rich buyer and more Dallas city news
The red light cameras are dead, and the Confederate statue imbroglio finally came to an end.
But the most important news this week is that there's a run-off election on June 8, to determine who will be the next mayor of Dallas.
Here's what happened in Dallas this week:
The Dallas City Council will likely soon be resolving the costly Exxxotica lawsuit. At its June 12 meeting, the council will consider settling the lawsuit for $650,000.
Three Expo Events, LLC sued the city in 2016 after the Dallas City Council banned the company’s sex expo, Exxxotica, from another year at the Kay Bailey Hutchisun Convention Center. The lawsuit, which contends the city violated rights protected under the First Amendment, Equal Protection Clause, and the Bill of Attainder Clause of the U.S. Constitution, has worked its way through various appeals and is currently in limbo.
Leading up to the settlement discussion, the council discussed options during executive sessions on March 20 and May 15, where they concluded that it's in their "best interest" to get out of the fight.
Innovating City Hall
Chief Innovation Officer Laila Alequresh presented strategies for priority projects to the City Council’s Government Performance and Finance Committee. Her priorities are increasing access to healthy foods, solving transit gaps, and balancing needs for long-term needs with sustainable development. She is also working to increase a STEAM-based pipeline of talent in DFW.
She briefed the committee on two new programs rolling out at City Hall. A Data Academy for employees begins soon, and city departments are now crowdsourcing ideas and feedback across City Hall for what is being called Open Innovation.
Red light cameras
Governor Gregg Abbott signed House Bill 1631 into legislation prohibiting the use of red-light cameras in Texas, effective June 1. In response, the city of Dallas is no longer operating the red-light camera program.
The law also eliminates enforcement mechanisms, meaning that the Department of Motor Vehicles and county tax assessors cannot refuse to issue driver's licenses or title transfers because of unpaid tickets issued through the red light camera system.
Eric Johnson absent
According to the Dallas Morning News, mayoral candidate Eric Johnson, who represents Dallas in the Texas House of Representatives, was absent from his job more than 62 percent of the time.
The story was a report of all the legislative action taken by local lawmakers, which include Johnson and nine Senators.
It found that Johnson was marked "excused" for 1,640 votes, or more than 62 percent, of votes on the House floor.
All of the nine Senators had "nearly perfect attendance records," the newspaper said.
Dallas City Council member Scott Griggs is also running for mayor of Dallas.
Other key races to be decided on the June 8 election include:
- District 14, Philip Kington vs David Blewett
- District 9, Erin Moore vs Paula Blackmon
- District 7, Adam Bazaldua vs Tiffinni Young
Dallas has sold the Robert E. Lee statue for $1.4 million. The 1935 bronze sculpture, which was taken down by the city was sold in an online auction that saw the most interesting action in the final hours of the sale June 6.
For days, the high bid hovered around $550,000 until the last half hour, when aliases MustangJerry and LawDude competed until LawDude won for $1,435,000.
The sculpture is valued at $950,000. The City Council wanted at least $450,000 to cover the cost of removal.