Posted on May 9, 2005

Dallas Voters Reject Mayor Bill

Hugh Aynesworth, Washington Times, May 9, 2005

Voters Saturday overwhelmingly turned down a referendum that would have done away with the city manager’s position in Dallas and given much more power to the mayor.

Voters rejected the measure 62 percent to 38 percent. With all 14 city council members lobbying against the measure, the defeat of the “strong mayor” concept of city government seemed as much of a referendum on Mayor Laura Miller as on how the city should handle its business.

Voting was much heavier than usual in southern Dallas, which is heavily black, and in predominantly Hispanic neighborhoods.

Before entering politics, Mrs. Miller, 47, was an investigative reporter who often wrote about corruption and power-brokering in city politics. The objects of her journalistic scorn often were minority operatives, including former city council member Al Lipscomb, who was convicted in 2002 on federal charges for taking bribes from the city’s largest taxicab company.

In two terms on the council, Mrs. Miller often clashed with the city’s first black mayor, Ron Kirk — whom she later replaced in a special election after Mr. Kirk quit in 2002 to run unsuccessfully for the U.S. Senate.

When the city’s first Hispanic city manager, Ted Benavides, named the city’s first black police chief, Terrell Bolton, a few years ago, Mrs. Miller said Mr. Benavides should have interviewed other candidates.

In 2003, after serious scandals within the police department, Mr. Benavides fired Chief Bolton. Despite Mr. Benavides’ statement that Mrs. Miller had nothing to do with the Bolton firing, the black community blamed the mayor.

Twice since she won the mayoral position in 2002, black leaders tried unsuccessfully to get enough signatures for a recall against Mrs. Miller and recently have begun a third such effort.