Tuesday, July 17, 2012

The 2012 Top Ten Most Powerful People in Dallas

Note: This column was originally published on Yahoo News.

In 2011, our ranking of the 10 most powerful people in Dallas stirred much debate. It seems everyone who read the list disagreed over who was on it and how they ranked. Of course, that makes doing another a no-brainer.

For 2012, changes were made in the criteria that determined who made the list. Last year, individuals were ranked on their ability to influence the daily lives of Dallas citizens. While this is still a major criteria, one's influence on the national and international perception of Dallas is also included. That means several new additions to the list.
First, we must note those who fell out of the top 10 from last year. That includes last year's No. 2, Dallas County Commissioner John Wiley Price. Just days after making the list, his home and office were raided by the FBI as part of a corruption investigation. It severely limited his influence, as his supporters ran for political cover.
Former Dallas Observer writer Robert Wilonsky also drops off the list. He is now the editor of DallasNews.com and not as vocal and controversial. Dallas County Republican Party chairman Wade Emmert also drops off, after a subdued year locally for the GOP.
Here is the list:

10. Brett Shipp, WFAA Reporter
(Last year's rank: 9)
Shipp deserves this spot because he breaks the big stories. He also had a highly publicized shoving match with John Wiley Price last August. Advantage: Shipp.
9. Josh Hamilton, Dirk Nowitzki, and Tony Romo, Professional Athletes
(Last year's rank: Not ranked)
A few years ago, this would have been Tony Romo's spot alone. However, some mediocre seasons by the Cowboys, an NBA title, and two World Series appearances have put Hamilton and Nowitzki on the national map. Even if you don't follow sports, Dallas is often defined by our athletes.
8. Larry Hagman, Actor / J.R. Ewing, Fictional TV Oilman
(Last year's rank: Not ranked)
It's no joke: Larry Hagman's iconic villain put Dallas on the cultural map in the 1980s. "Dallas" still plays continuously worldwide, and the TNT reboot has reignited tourism and interest in the city. We'll tip our 10-gallon hat to that.
7. George W. Bush, Former President
(Last year's ranking: 7)
President Bush's efforts to establish health services in Africa have gained wide acclaim, and the Bush Center at SMU is spotlighting issues like education and women's rights worldwide. W belongs on the list.
6. David Brown, Dallas Police Chief
(Last year's rank: 6)
Chief Brown has made significant progress, including changing the atmosphere at headquarters and firing bad apples. He's also ready to defend his officers to the media, which we like.
(Last year's rank: 5)
These state congressmen have earned positions of authority in Austin and deserve to be recognized. Not including Anchia last year was an oversight.
4. Tom Horton, American Airlines CEO
(Last year's rank: Not ranked)
As one of the area's largest employers, American Airlines is a big part of the local and national economy. Though technically based in Fort Worth, Horton has influence throughout DFW and beyond.
3. Mike Rawlings, Dallas Mayor
(Last year's rank: 3)
The mayor has little executive power to affect change, but he is quietly making progress. We want him to use the mayor's office more as a "bully pulpit" to address local issues, but this is a good start.
2. Mike Miles, DISD Superintendent
(Last year's rank: 4)
Miles earns his No. 2 ranking, and the reason is simple: He isn't afraid to ruffle feathers and make changes. The high salaries he is giving some staffers is a concern, but if schools improve, we approve.
1. Mary Suhm, Dallas City Manager
(Last year's rank: 1)
Suhm has taken her fair share of criticism, but she has done a commendable job in a thankless position. One city council member told me off the record that they make no recommendations on the city budget; they take Suhm's recommendations alone. Good or bad, that's a lot of responsibility.

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