Sunday, June 12, 2011

Dallas County Commissioners are at it again

You DO get the government you deserve. After Dallas voters effectively put John Wiley Price and several of his good friends (including former neighbor Elba Garcia) in charge of Dallas County, decorum and transparency have gone out the window. The latest shenanigan involves Commissioner Price submitting a plan for new district boundaries for their positions. That would be fine, had anyone actually known this was going to happen. Instead, Price submitted the plan and it was voted in by the Democratic majority in a matter of minutes. No one got to see the plan beforehand or comment on it.

The action would have hardly made news had not Commissioner Maurine Dickey pitched a fit about it. The new plan changes the boundaries of her district enough to include Democratic neighborhoods, which would likely give Democrats an additional seat during the next election. Commissioner Mike Cantrell, a Republican who has sided with Price on many occasions, saw few changes to his district, leaving him safe for re-election.

When the Dallas Morning News reported on the issue, they seemed more concerned about Dickey's outburst (she claimed she would gladly go to jail just to have her objections heard), than by Price's backroom maneuvers. Of course, they missed the point: Dickey is not running for re-election, so she has no personal stake in changes to her district boundaries. Why, then, would she protest so much? Perhaps it is because Dickey is arguing about something much greater than personal political survival. She is holding her fellow commissioners to account. She wants their motives to see the light of day, and she wants us to take notice.

Price's changes, had he submitted them to the public and media in advance, would almost certainly have passed anyway. So why didn't he do that? Why not be more forthcoming? The answer is simple: Price is trying to avoid the citizen uprising that occurred when he railroaded Bruce Sherbet out as head of the elections department. He knows with his short temper, he is likely to have another "white people can go to hell" moment. Why stir up all that trouble when your fellow commissioners will help sneak changes in?

Commissioner Elba Garcia promised transparency at the Commissioner's Court when she took office. Now, the only things transparent are their lies: we all see through them.   

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