City News Roundup

Christopher Columbus and police scuffles crown this round of Dallas news

Christopher Columbus and police scuffle deck this round of Dallas news

Dallas City Hall
Dallas City Hall. Courtesy photo

This week's Dallas news roundup covers two city meetings that went off the rails. One result: Dallas will no longer celebrate Columbus Day. The other meeting involved a scuffle with the Dallas Police Department.

Here's what happened in Dallas this week:

Goodbye Columbus
At its meeting on October 8, the Dallas City Council voted to recognize the second Monday in October as Indigenous Peoples Day. This replaces Columbus Day.

The resolution was presented by Council member Omar Narvaez. Dallas joins 130 city governments in making the switch including Austin, Denver, and six states including South Dakota and New Mexico.

The idea of replacing Columbus Day with Indigenous Peoples Day began in 1977 at the United Nation's International Conference on Discrimination Against Indigenous Populations in the Americas in Switzerland. Berkley, California, was the first city government to adopt the name change in 1992.

The Council spent an inordinate amount of time debating an amendment presented by Council member David Blewett that eliminated any negative mention of Christopher Columbus, despite his reputation as a scoundrel. Columbus, that is.

Police meeting
The October 8 meeting of a new police oversight board briefly shut down when police officers scuffled with members of the public. There were no arrests and the meeting resumed, but video that surfaced on Twitter did not paint a good picture.

The meeting was the first of the newly established Community Police Oversight Board, which replaces the prior Citizen Police Review Board and is designed to help residents report inappropriate police behavior.

The meeting was supposed to be an organizing session, and the agenda did not include an option for public comment. But members of the public expected to be given a chance to speak, and became agitated when the meeting ended.

Police chief Renee Hall, who apologized later for "her temper," called in her "extraction team" to clear the room, putting police officers in the position of physically pushing attendees to the back of the hall. The scuffle is what surfaced on Twitter; it does not appear in the recording of the meeting on the city's website.

The disruption eventually got settled, and members of the public got to speak. Nearly all expressed the same sentiment: Dismay over three appointees on the board — Janice Coffee, Jim Birdsong, and Tami Brown Rodriguez — who had all previously come out publicly against the very idea of a police oversight board.

One speaker said he found it "appalling" to have those three members on the board, and asked that their corresponding council members — Chad West, Jamie Resendez, and Paula Blackmon — replace them with people who believed in the mission of the board.

Other speakers were disappointed that the majority of the board was Caucasian.

The next meeting is November 12.

Richardson shuttle
DART has approved a three-year agreement with the city of Richardson for a Galatyn Park Station shuttle.The shuttle will operate from the Galatyn Park Station to the Crescent Palisades Employment District, and will run Monday-Friday, 6:30 am-6:30 pm. It was originally created by a private business, but was taken over by the city; DART has been a funding partner with Richardson since 2008. A DART release says that the service currently supports 118 weekday riders, but the area is seeing accelerated development.

City Council committees
To get things done, the Dallas City Council has committees that help set policy and go over issues before they're sent to the full city council for a vote. The committees are formulated by the mayor who also appoints members.

Mayor Eric Johnson has not yet made his appointments, but has finalized a list of committees covering areas such as Economic Development and Housing.

His list includes three new ones: Environment and Sustainability; Workforce, Education, and Equity; and Housing and Homelessness Solutions. A committee on Human and Social Needs has been scrapped.