City News

City Council replaces mayor pro tem Dwaine Caraway and more Dallas news

City Council replaces mayor pro tem Dwaine and more Dallas news

Casey Thomas
Our new mayor pro tem. Courtesy photo

The marathon is on for Dallas to resolve its annual budget, and the city has a new mayor pro tem.

Here’s what happened in Dallas city news this week:

New Mayor Pro Tem
The City Council held a marathon briefing on the $1.35 billion general budget at its meeting on August 29 that lasted nearly seven hours.

But first they selected a new mayor pro tem to replace Dwaine Caraway, who resigned in disgrace earlier this month.

Tennell Atkins nominated Casey Thomas. Adam Medrano then nominated Atkins.

Philip Kingston nominated Sandy Greyson, saying she was "most above reproach." He withdrew his motion after Greyson suggested the council first vote on Atkins and Thomas.

Jennifer Gates chimed in by reminding the council that, when the city is led by a white mayor, the positions of mayor pro tem and deputy mayor pro tem are traditionally filled by African American and Hispanic council members.

Atkins lost, with 9 opposed and 5 in favor. Casey Thomas won with 9 votes in favor, 4 opposed, and one absent.

The position of mayor pro tem can be changed by a vote of the council at any time, so it's possible Thomas could be replaced after a new representative is elected to replace Caraway in District 4.

Still with the police raises already
Only $500,000 is spent on maintaining and expanding bike lanes in Dallas each year, but even that will likely be slashed from the city’s annual budget, despite City Manager T.C. Broadnax’s proposal to raise it another $500,000 for three years until it reaches a $2 million peak in 2020.

The City Council took a straw vote and struck down Broadnax's recommendation in favor of a plan to redirect the money to public safety funding, including raising starting salaries and implementing a 3 to 5 percent raise across the board for police officers and firefighters.

But Elizabeth Reich, the city's chief financial officer, said that the $500,000 would not "move the needle" in terms of raising salaries.

Council member Scott Griggs tried with a trio of amendments to redirect funds earmarked for economic development. That would have brought starting salaries up to $54,263 and boosted existing salaries. But none of his amendments passed.

Motions aimed at opening more satellite offices for council members and paying overtime to staff needed to support off-site council meetings were also rejected.

Straw votes
Kingston objected to the straw vote procedure, despite the city attorney's assertion that the method was legal under the Texas Open Meeting Act and the city charter.

"In the time between the straw votes and the binding votes, council members are buttonholed in the council office halls to be pressured or horse-traded to change the outcome of the straw vote," Kingston wrote on Facebook. "So even if you accept the City Attorney's opinion, straw votes are inherently antidemocratic."

The council will meet on September 18 to finalize the $1.35 billion general fund budget.

Who put the trash out
The city's Sanitation Department has a shortage of working garbage trucks that is expected to affect trash pickup at least 90 days. The city is replacing and repairing defunct trucks.

Sanitation Services Director Kelly High said, "We've been putting a lot of money toward the replacement of that fleet over the last five years, but it's one of the things where the need has been so great that although we're making strides, there's still some strides that need to take place."

Trash pickup could be delayed by anywhere from a few hours to one full day.