What I’ve learned working with the City of Dallas

My mind works in threes. So, to start off this blog thing, I’ll have a series of three blogs based on triplets. The first will be about how the City of Dallas works, then what makes a place, and finally my philosophy on how to solve problems.

In my four years of working with the City to make events happen, I’ve come to learn that the checks and balances of our local government should work in a municipal trinity: city staff, city council, and citizens. City staff is the bureaucracy that you need to run a city this big. City council are the representatives that direct the bureaucratic machine. And citizens choose the councilpersons and tell them what needs to get done.

The problem is that this system has broken down. How can you have an informed and empowered city council when only 7.5% of the voting population participates in deciding the direction of their city? Without the pressure of over 1 million voters in the county, city staff can do whatever it wants with impunity. They can make fracking deals that lead to the City getting sued. They can put a Sam’s Club in Central Dallas and probably get the City sued. If people aren’t informed and aren’t making a fuss, the only thing we can do is join the fight when it’s already been lost.

The 2012 national elections drew 60% of the voting population in Dallas County. People in Dallas will vote, but how do you get them to participate in elections that directly affect the leadership of their local community?


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