Dallas Commissioners Get Raises While All Other Services Get Cuts
Michael S. Rawlings, testified at the end of last year to a State oversight board that his city appeared to be “walking into the fan blades” of municipal bankruptcy. He stated that the city’s pension fund for its police officers and firefighters is near collapse and seeking an immense bailout. The Dallas Police and Fire Pension System asked the city for a one-time infusion of $1.1 billion, an amount roughly equal to Dallas’s entire general fund budget but not even close to what the pension fund needs to be fully funded. Nothing would be left for fighting endemic poverty south of the Trinity River, for public libraries, or for giving current police officers and firefighters a raise. “The City of Dallas has no way to pay this,” said Lee Kleinman, a City Council member who served as a pension trustee from 2013 until 2016. “If the city had to pay the whole thing, we would declare bankruptcy.”
But despite the dire straits of the Dallas budget shortfall, The Dallas Morning News reports that, at a time when Dallas County government is forcing budget cuts to juvenile detention centers and to the jail, commissioners voted on Tuesday to raise their own pay to $158,820. That’s right, they are increasing their pay at a time when they are making cuts to all other needs. The commissioners passed a 3 percent pay raise for all elected officials, including the county judge and the sheriff, who will now make $192,708 and $175,488, respectively. The county clerk, district clerk, county treasurer and tax assessor will now make $153,696. The pay raises don’t apply to judges or the district attorney. In addition to their annual salaries, each elected county official — besides justices of the peace — are paid car allowances of $7,500 to $9,280 per year. County Judge Clay Jenkins and Commissioner Elba Garcia voted against the raises; Commissioners John Wiley Price, Mike Cantrell and Theresa Daniel voted in favor of them.
In addition to this madness, they are voting on using taxpayers money to fund the removal of any and all Confederate monuments, street names, park names, school names etc. In the middle of the night, under the cover of darkness like common thieves, the flagship of the University of Texas System removed from the heart of campus the statues of four people (Robert E. Lee, Albert Sidney Johnston, John H. Reagan and former Gov. James Stephen Hogg) with Confederate ties. The university had previously taken down its statues of Jefferson Davis and former U.S. President Woodrow Wilson.
The Dallas City Council, which supports the removal of monuments around the city, is trying to figure out how to go about removing them. Mayor Mike Rawlings has called the statues “dangerous totems” that symbolize injustice and has appointed a task force to make recommendations about how to pay for the removal by Oct. 23, and the council will host a meeting to gauge public input a couple days later. Council member Philip Kingston wants to vote Sept. 27 on a resolution condemning the display of the monuments and “the naming of public places for prominent Confederates.” Dallas’ four black City Council members naturally state that the Confederate statues ‘must and will be removed’. “Taxpayer dollars should not support vestiges of racism and white supremacy,” said newcomer Felder, whose district includes Fair Park and South Dallas. He has no problem using them to remove said vestiges, which will cost millions more than the simple lawn care budget currently allocates for weed trimming around the statues and planting seasonal flowers.
They have no trouble whatsoever spending millions of dollars of the taxpayers money on raises for themselves and on removing any vestiges of times gone by that somehow exercise power over their existence, but they are unable to pay pensions to the firefighters and police of yesterday. They are unable to properly fund schools. They are unable to subsidize hospitals. But giving themselves raises and removing Confederate landmarks, that they can afford. At a time when they are practically bankrupt, we see clearly what their priorities truly are. And it isn’t the residents of the city or the county of Dallas.