There was an I Like Mike sign in front of a KFC-Long John Silver’s fast food restaurant this morning, and that pretty much sums up what happened in the mayoral election. Dallas’ business community got the man they wanted — Mike Rawlings, who used to run Pizza Hut (and whose corporate parent owns KFC and Long John Silver’s, which explains the sign).
The irony, of course, is that David Kunkel, the man Rawlings beat, would not have been any less friendly to business. Or that Dallas has ever been anything less than incredibly friendly to business. Or, in what may be the biggest irony, that it won’t make any difference how business friendly the city is these days. The elite downtown and the business community, who paid for Rawlings’ election, are assuming that it’s 2005, and the next big deal is just around the corner.
Unfortunately for them, and for us, it’s not 2005. It’s 2011, and the U.S. economy, the Texas economy, and Dallas’ economy are not going to incubate any big deals any time soon. The city can barely balance the budget, we’re closing rec centers, and we’re not replacing cops — and that’s not going to change for several years. Even Dallas’ Only Daily Newspaper, which speaks for the business community and the downtown elite, hinted at this in Sunday’s paper (behind the pay wall, of course).
So, if those two groups thought getting Rawlings elected meant that they could push through vest pocket deals like the convention center hotel, or use tax dollars to finance their profits in redeveloping Industrial Boulevard, they’re going to be disappointed. The economy is going to stymie them, just like it has the rest of us. They’re not going to be happy to hear that, are they?