Budget cuts: Winners and losers

The outcry over the budget seems reduced to mostly cranks like me. The council and Mayor Park Cities are thrilled with it – or, as the mayor noted over the weekend, “It is very consistent with the direction the council has given the staff.”

Silly me. Who’d have thought wanting the police to solve more 50 percent of the murders committed in the city would put me out of the mainstream? Note to council and mayor: I sincerely hope you don’t have to counsel a grieving family who wants to know why there is only a 50-50 chance of catching the person who killed their mother or father or brother or sister.

The biggest winner in this mess is the City Manager, who again showed why she is the smartest kid in the class. She did a Friday the 13th on the budget and got accolades from the council. I wouldn’t be surprised if they put her likeness on a medal.

The biggest loser (besides those of us who pay taxes)? Oak Cliff, as usual, and the Dallas arts community, which saw its budget cut and its city department vanish. Makes me wonder what they did to deserve such treatment. Ordinarily, only the library gets treated that badly.

More thoughts after the jump:

The business about the new Oak Cliff cultural center opening without a budget is pitiful, and I don’t know that there is anything the neighborhood can do about it. And we know how the roads are here. Yes, Oak Cliff and its council members have supported the mayor, but they don’t vote. Ron Natinsky in Far North Dallas got 5,000 votes running unopposed in May; only 2,700 people voted in a six-way contest to fill an Oak Cliff council seat. So much for the mayor’s coalition building south of the Trinity River.

The arts cuts were so drastic and so surprising that I suspect – and this is only speculation on my part – that the mayor is working some game. Did he go to the arts community and tell them to come up with a Dallas zoo-style proposal, in which a private group would announce it was going to take over a major part of the arts funding? And when the arts community couldn’t find anyone, their money disappeared?

What makes this doubly confusing is that the arts community has been one of the mayor’s biggest supporters, providing crucial backing during the Trinity and the convention center hotel votes. I took a lot of abuse from a variety of arts supporters on the blog during the Trinity campaign, and then Leppert went and stabbed them in the back. Hard to believe, isn’t it?

Another winner? The voters of Far North Dallas, who were rewarded for providing the margin of victory in the Trinity and hotel votes. The cuts, as painful as they are everywhere, are the least painful there. Their streets need less paving; the violent crime rate is lower (and the budget for burglary investigations wasn’t much cut, oddly enough); and code enforcement was left untouched. If you live in Far North Dallas and don’t use the library or rec center, will you even notice the cuts?

 


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