The mayor gets a bigger office spread, and drivers get more Bush. Here's our recap of what happened on the civic front in the city of Dallas this week:
Rawlings committee mayhem
With the new city council now elected, Mayor Mike Rawlings pulled some chess moves in his committee appointments by demoting a council member who has been critical, and by stacking another committee full of toll road proponents.
Rawlings removed Philip Kingston from his position as chair of the Arts, Culture and Libraries Committee and replaced him with Monica Alonzo. Kingston's role as chair of that committee made sense, because his district includes the Dallas Arts District.
A key part of Kingston's approach to office has been transparency; that has included critiques of sacred cows, some of those being Rawlings' actions. Fortunately for Dallas, we have Facebook.
Meanwhile, Rawlings filled the Transportation Committee with a majority of toll road supporters, including new chair Lee Kleinman, Erik Wilson, Casey Thomas and Monica Alonzo. The two other members on the committee are Sandy Greyson and Adam Medrano.
Bigger mayor digs
Mayor Rawlings will get a grander office complex to the tune of $180,000. According to an explanation from city manager A.C. Gonzalez, the offices of the mayor pro tem and deputy mayor pro tem will move to another section of City Hall, "so that they also can have a window view."
The topic came up in a special city council meeting on June 22, when the new council chose where they would sit during meetings. When quizzed by Scott Griggs about the new office setup, Rawlings and Gonzalez answered only after repeated questioning.
Rawlings tried to answer off-microphone, which would have kept his response unrecorded; Griggs persisted, and Rawlings was forced to turn on his microphone. Rawlings said his office is the same size, but the area around him will grow, even as the degree of access shrinks.
Still more Bush
A section of US 75, aka Central Expressway, will now also be aka George W. Bush Expressway, because we can't name enough of our freeways in Texas after the Bush family.
Despite protests, not to mention the confusing matter that there is a Bush Turnpike right up the road, this was pushed through in 2013, to matchy-match the strip of 75 that runs long the George W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum, by also naming it after Bush.
It is only supposed to pertain to the section between Knox-Henderson and Northwest Highway, but TxDOT put the signs up at Walnut Hill Lane and right outside downtown, claiming that placing signage where it is supposed to be would interfere with other signs.
Oak Cliff route
The route through downtown Dallas to Bishop Arts just changed. Since March 2013, the Houston Street Viaduct has been closed, and the Jefferson Street Viaduct — the one that runs along the Omni Dallas Hotel — became two way.
Houston is now open, and Jefferson is no longer two-way. For the next two weeks, DART has it partially blocked off, to discourage drivers from thinking they can take Jefferson to get to Oak Cliff. They can't.