Let Me Sum Up
What does Mary Suhm have to do to get criticized in this town? Plus: Fork LeslieBrenner!
I’ve got a few questions this morning. I’ve got questions about audits, about smart people, about arrogance, and about whom we hold accountable and whom we don’t.
Let’s start with a completed audit. This one comes from the Dallas city auditor himself, Mr. Craig Kinton. His report says that Dallas has not put in place nearly 70 percent of the changes his office has recommended the past two years. These changes were suggested for seven departments, covering everything from “controls over computer systems to the handling of cash.”
Mary Suhm is in charge of the city. She is its city manager, which means she gets to operate behind the scenes but is far and away the most powerful person in Dallas, the mayor included. She is ultimately responsible for making sure these changes are implemented.
I’m sure she humbly expressed regret that these changes were not made. I’m sure she said she would make certain they would be implemented quickly from here out. Let’s go to the story and see exactly how she phrased that:
Oh. Okay. Soooo I guess we’ll just take her word for it?
Of course we will. That’s what we in the media do in Dallas. Mary Suhm says it, we say, “Hey, she’s a smart lady. She’s not a politician. She’s gotta be right.”
That’s the way it’s been for seven years here. I’m not saying she’s done a bad job. How would I know? She gets a free pass on everything she says, from every media outlet in town (except Jim Schutze, but hey, he’s just an old crank, right?).
Quick example: Look at the coverage of the lawsuit brought by a former city employee against Dallas for wrongful termination. In this story and the previous ones (linked to in the post itself), you could all but hear the reporter snickering at the former employee and high-fiving Suhm for her arrogance. What happened? Oh, yeah, the former employee won and was awarded $200,000.
Don’t look for the editorial saying Suhm screwed up or was arrogant, or the one suggesting this misstep says something larger about the way she runs the city. You won’t find it.
What you will find is this hagiography saying how Suhm is driven by her love of Dallas. Within that, you’ll see that she detests being in the spotlight, because she feels she’s not a politician (even though she’s constantly power-brokering with power brokers) and simply a city servant. Don’t look for the editorial suggesting she wants the power that goes with her job but none of the public scrutiny — won’t find it.
(One minor exception: this light scolding about the city’s garbage plan.)
Again, I’m not saying Suhm does a bad job. I’m saying we don’t hold her accountable like we do others who control far less of our public money. Like Mike Miles. The DISD Superintendent also will be dealing soon with an internal audit, a draft of which was reported on yesterday.
In said draft, it looks like internal rules were broken in the hiring of Miles’ new team. The intimation from the story — one with which I agree — is that Miles’ and his team’s arrogance led them to ignore procedure to hire and reward his cronies. It doesn’t look good, and, if true, he should be blasted for it.
I’m sure he will be. I’ll read those columns and editorials right after I finish the ones saying the same thing about Mary Suhm’s arrogant dismissal of her own auditor’s findings. Won’t I?
I missed “Fork You, Leslie Brenner Day” at Lockhart. I do like that the DMN food critic has a sense of humor about it.
Talk about burying the lede. This American Airlines story discusses the company’s restructuring, bankruptcy and potential merger but notes far down that AA is about to unveil a new branding campaign, complete with new “paint schemes.” I may write six straight columns about it once I get a peek at these.
The Star-Telegramreports the T is seeking $100 million for new rail line cars that would run from Fort Worth to DFW Airport.
Speaking of Schutze, really good column yesterday on Ted Cruz (still bananas) in which he notes that former mayor Laura Miller endorsed Kay Bailey Hutchison for “Texan of the Year.” I didn’t know that acting like the U.S. Senate was a part-time job for the past decade qualified you for an award like that, but, sure, whatever.
This story is incredibly sad, and it keeps getting sadder.
According to Brent's lawyer, the Cowboys are already financially involved. They fronted the money for Brent's bond. cbsnews.com/8301-201_162-5…— Gordon Keith (@gordonkeith) December 11, 2012
Of course they do.
#Hostess wants to hire, borrow $30 million from Hilco bizjournals.com/dallas/blog/mo… via @dallasbiznews— Dallas Biz Journal (@DallasBizNews) December 11, 2012