I don’t think there’s anything wrong with expecting citizens to exercise our brains on issues of municipal importance. And there’s nothing wrong with presenting voters clear options and letting us make a choice.

But there’s something wrong when some of the people who literally beg us to elect them as “leaders” every two years seem more interested in covering their political kiesters than protecting ours.

Normally, I don’t like to write about politics because political columns – like columns about abortion and the NRA – rarely change anyone’s mind. But I’m making an exception this month, because the debate about the upcoming city bond election really annoys me.

Some council members believe Dallas needs and can afford a $555 million bond package, while others say the most we can afford is $371 million or so. Fair enough.

But during the bond package debate, quite a few of our elected representatives danced around and around the real issues until they came up with a “compromise” that isn’t best for all of Dallas; it’s just best for their political careers.

A Morning News editorial heralded some of these councilmen as “courageous” for breaking the bond vote into 17 separate packages (money for the libraries, police and fire stations, a 24-hour homeless intake center, arts funding, parks, and on and on); to me, their inability to agree on what our city needs and then sell it to us smacks of political cowardice.

If giving us 17 options is courageous, why not go for immortality by creating a ballot lineup of the 20,000 or 30,000 actual expenditure options and letting us vote on each one of them? (Come to think of it, if we told the city manager to adopt this procedure every November for the following year’s city budget, we wouldn’t even need a council anymore; we could annually vote on all of the city’s priorities ourselves!)

In a perfect world, each of us would sit down prior to the election with all of the facts and figures; we might even attend a few of the town hall meetings. Then, fully informed, we would go to the polls and do the right thing.

But this isn’t a perfect world. That’s why we elect council members to sort through the issues and tell us what to do.

Being a council member or mayor isn’t supposed to be a semi-permanent, resume-padding job; it’s supposed to be a job that involves making tough decisions in determining what’s best for the city as a whole and then putting a little skin on the line to get it done.

If we disagree, we vote them out; if we agree, we re-elect them. Isn’t that the way it’s supposed to work?

Let’s think about all of this during the upcoming council and mayoral campaigns. And let’s vote for people who will stand up and be counted rather than those who will leave the dirty work to us.


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