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Dallas Mayor, City Manager agree on path forward, together

Mayor Eric Johnson and City Manager T.C. Broadnax on Tuesday announced that they have reached an agreement for moving forward together.

“A little over a week ago, I said that it was time for a change at the top of our city government,” Mayor Johnson said. “I still believe we need change. But after some serious and frank discussions with our city manager, I believe he is ready to make the necessary changes to address issues that are critically important to our residents.

“The time for rhetoric is over. It is now time for a reset. It is now time to heal. And it is now time for real results and accountability.”

Broadnax said he recognizes that he hasn’t handled some issues in a way that is “up to my own standards.”

“I know my team and I can be better. I understand that I am fully accountable to my 15 bosses. So today, I want to say to the mayor, to the members of the City Council, and to all the residents of this dynamic city: I accept the challenge,” Broadnax said. “I take full responsibility for addressing the issues that are critical to the long-term success of the City. I recognize that our problems are not just about what the media reports, but how we perform. I own that.”

He continued, “But today isn’t about looking back. It’s the beginning of a new era — one that I’m very excited about,” he said. “I’ve committed to the mayor that we will reset moving forward and that we will take a fresh approach to the challenges that we still need to address together. And he has committed to me that he will be a collaborative partner in these efforts.” 

Major areas of agreement between the mayor and the city manager:

  • Permitting: The city manager will develop a clear action plan for fixing the city’s development services backlogs and delays on an expedited timeline. The plan will incorporate feedback from builders and developers and focus on improving the customer experience. It will also focus on both short-term triage and systemic change that will ensure smoother operations in the future.
  • Public safety: The city manager and the mayor are committing to working together to make Dallas the safest major city in the United States. The city manager is committing to active and timely meet-and-confer negotiations with police and firefighters. The mayor and the city manager will also collaborate on improving community-based public safety initiatives such as violence interruption services, blight remediation, and lighting improvements in high-crime areas.
  • 911 call center: The city manager will continue to make improvements to the 911 call center to ensure reliable, efficient, and high-quality service and public safety for residents.
  • Focus on high-priority issues: The city manager and mayor will work collaboratively to address top citywide issues, such as enhancing the city’s international stature, continuing to develop an Economic Development Corporation that puts the City of Dallas’ economic interests first, and passing and implementing the mayor’s policy priorities for City Council’s committees.
  • Communication: The city manager will enhance communication about progress on top priority issues. The city manager will also develop a protocol for surfacing problems for City Council discussions. The mayor and city manager will begin meeting on a biweekly basis to discuss major issues, priorities, and progress. The city manager is also committing to promoting citywide initiatives such as the mayor’s “Summer of Safety” campaign.

In addition, the mayor and city manager have discussed the need to address other crucial issues, such as the city’s technological infrastructure, the concerns of Dallas firefighters, and the city government’s need to attract and retain top talent.

To provide greater detail and accountability on those efforts and other issues, Broadnax is developing what he is calling his R.E.A.L. Impact Plan. R.E.A.L. is an acronym for Responsible, Equitable, Accountable, and Legitimate.

With the mayor now in isolation due to COVID-19, he plans to cancel Thursday’s special-called meeting for a performance review of the city manager and city auditor. Instead, the City Council can conduct performance reviews of all four of their direct reports in August following the July recess.

The city manager hopes to discuss his plan, as well as additional concerns and issues with City Councilmembers in the days ahead.

Dallas mayor eric johnson for election
FULL STATEMENT FROM MAYOR ERIC JOHNSON

As the mayor of Dallas, my job, as defined by our City Charter, is to serve as the chairman of our city government’s board of directors, which is the Dallas City Council. Together, we hire a city manager, who acts as the CEO for the city government and serves at the direction and at the pleasure of the City Council.

My job is unique in that I am the only person in this city who is elected to represent the interests of all 1.4 million residents of Dallas. That means I am accountable to every one of them. I take that job very seriously. I was born and raised in Dallas, and I have called this city home for my entire life. My wife and I are raising three children here. And I feel forever indebted to the communities who raised me.

Dallas, to me, is a beacon of hope and opportunity — a place that gives people a chance to improve their own lives and the lives of their families. And I have been entrusted with the awesome responsibility of making sure our city government does everything it can to keep it that way.

But lately, on too many issues that affect our residents’ lives, I believe we have needed to see a real sense of urgency and measurable progress. That is why, a little over a week ago, I said that it was time for a change at the top of our city government.

Today, I want to say that I have not really changed my mind about that. We do need change. 

But after some serious and frank discussions with our city manager, T.C. Broadnax, I believe he is ready to make the necessary changes to address issues that are critically important to our residents. I am confident now that he fully grasps the gravity of the challenges we face and that he understands the importance of our shared priorities. And I am ready to work closely with him in these efforts.

In other words, the city manager and I have agreed on a clear path forward. The time for rhetoric is over. It is now time for a reset. It is now time to heal. And it is now time for real results and accountability.

But as we get beyond all the noise around us, I believe it is important for me to acknowledge a few things. First, I understand that the city manager has an incredibly difficult job. Overseeing the work of 13,000 employees is not easy. People are going to make mistakes, and while that is not the CEO’s fault, it is ultimately his responsibility to manage through it and to hold people accountable. That is a tough spot for anyone to be in.

And there is no doubt that doing a job like that for five-and-a-half years can take a tremendous toll on any person, especially amid all the unprecedented challenges that have come our way.

But the stakes are high, and we cannot afford to make excuses. Dallas residents deserve the very best. There can be no participation trophies in this competitive environment. We must demand excellence at Dallas City Hall from ourselves and from each other. And ultimately, we cannot accept or be satisfied with anything less than success.

That means that we must break through the inertia of city government. We must be relentless about building a better future. We must be willing to adapt to changing circumstances, shift strategies when necessary, and seek and welcome help. And when problems arise, we must act quickly.

I believe T.C. is smart enough, savvy enough, and experienced enough to get the job done. That was never in doubt for me.

I also know that he is capable of getting things done. For example, I have appreciated the way that he has embraced our kitchen-sink approach to public safety and hired an experienced and thoughtful police chief who leads those efforts.

And as someone who grew up in West Dallas and Oak Cliff, I also appreciate the way he has dedicated himself to addressing long-standing inequities in our city’s overlooked and underserved communities.

We have certainly disagreed about some issues. I also realize that conflict is not pretty. But it comes with the territory in jobs like these. Being a mayor or a city manager is not for the faint of heart. And, frankly, sometimes you need conflict out in the open to reach new levels of understanding. That is what has happened here.

I believe the city manager understands — more clearly than ever before — that I am never going to stop fighting for my city and its people. And he knows that I am willing to pull every lever I have available to me as mayor to advocate for what I believe is right for Dallas.

In turn, I recognize that he is a fighter, too. I know he believes strongly that he is the right person for this job, and I believe he is willing to prove it by finding new solutions and approaches to get real results for our residents. I respect that.

We are going to need that tenacity and a real commitment to excellence to finally fix our permitting issues; to meet our goal of making Dallas the safest major city in the United States; to develop a fiscally responsible budget that invests in people, neighborhoods, and infrastructure; to continue to address homelessness; to improve our city’s technology; to make our vital city services more customer-focused; to grow our city’s economy and remain the engine that drives the fastest-growing region in the United States; to increase accountability and transparency; and to attract and retain the best people in our police department, our fire department, and in other critical city departments who we appreciate so greatly.

That is what it will take to move our city forward. But I want there to be no doubt in our city now: your chairman and your CEO are on the same side and on the same page.

Of course, we still have more work to do, and more conversations need to occur. But what I can say for certain is that if we all move forward with a zeal for accountability and problem-solving, a commitment to excellence, and a communicative spirit, then there is nothing that we cannot accomplish together on behalf of our city and its amazing people.

FULL STATEMENT FROM CITY MANAGER T.C. BROADNAX

I have dedicated my life to serving the needs of others and to making life better for the communities I serve. It is my passion. It’s what gets me out of bed in the morning. And it’s what motivates me to weather any storm. 

This is a great city. I first began spending time in Dallas when I was earning my Master’s degree from the University of North Texas. I still remember the awe I felt walking into Dallas City Hall for the first time in search of an internship. That day, I saw a potential future in Dallas. And I dreamt that one day I would be the city manager here.

My dream came true more than two decades later. I was thrilled to accept this job and to make a new home for my family in Dallas. We love it here. We’re part of the fabric of this community now. I would not have it any other way.

I have spent the last five and a half years focused on improving services, building relationships, and dismantling the many inequities that have divided this City for many years. I’m incredibly proud of what we’ve accomplished together during that time. 

I’ve hired a new police chief who has implemented a violent crime reduction plan that is making our communities safer. We’ve made improvements to public safety through non-police interventions, many of which came from the Mayor’s Task Force on Safe Communities. 

We’ve resolved the 911 call center challenges through an aggressive staffing plan. We’ve worked with the mayor and the City Council to develop and implement plans to address longstanding systemic inequities and environmental problems. And there is more work planned and needed.

We’re addressing homelessness on an unprecedented scale and pace, with a collaborative model, through our Dallas Real-Time Rapid Rehousing Program.

And I’m proud of all the 13,000 city employees who dedicate themselves to public service every single day.

But just because I’m proud of our work doesn’t mean I’m satisfied. As the mayor has said, we can’t afford to rest on our laurels.

What recent days have shown me is that we have some healing and hard work ahead of us. Some members of the City Council have expressed, publicly and privately, their frustrations with the pace of necessary changes, with the prioritization of issues that are important to their constituents, and with my responsiveness at times.

I admit, I haven’t handled some of these issues up to my own standards. I know my team and I can be better. I understand that I am fully accountable to my 15 bosses.

I want to say to the mayor, to the members of the City Council, and to all the residents of this dynamic city: I accept the challenge.

I take full responsibility for addressing the issues that are critical to the long-term success of the City. I recognize that our problems are not just about what the media reports, but how we perform. I own that. 

But today isn’t about looking back. It’s the beginning of a new era — one that I’m very excited about. I’ve committed to the mayor that we will reset moving forward and that we will take a fresh approach to the challenges that we still need to address together. And he has committed to me that he will be a collaborative partner in these efforts.

One thing that the mayor and I have always been on the same page about is the desire for clear plans and evidence-based strategies to improve our city government.

It’s become clear to me that’s exactly what we need now to be able to move forward as a City.

That is why today, I am announcing that in the days ahead, I will begin releasing details of the R.E.A.L Impact Plan.

Through this plan, we will commit to focusing on greater accountability, partnerships, and transparency. And we will work to provide all city services with increased effectiveness, efficiency, and responsiveness. 

This 100 Day Plan will help us move forward over the summer to tackle many of the high-priority focus areas of the City Council.  

We will raise the bar on efforts to streamline the permitting process, continue efforts to keep our residents safe, reduce homelessness, improve our technology, and increase communications and community engagement.

I look forward to sharing the Plan with the full City Council and receiving their feedback.

Over the next several months, we will make sure that these areas have ongoing attention in the biennial budget that we present to the Dallas City Council in August.

I look forward to sharing the R.E.A.L. Impact we will make to improve the lives of Dallas residents in ways that are responsible, equitable, accountable and legitimate. 

I am looking forward to sitting down with the City Councilmembers in the days ahead. I am hopeful to discuss my performance and work closely with the City Council on a reset. I understand that it is critical for me to demonstrate progress and ensure transparency and accountability for our residents, taxpayers, and stakeholders. I’m confident we can and we will do so.

As I have come to learn, no matter how long you’re in public service, you understand that the work is immense, the expectations are great, surprises are commonplace, and the window to make real change is short.

But I also know that my job isn’t done here. I remain committed to excellence and to working with the mayor and City Council to create “One Dallas.” I will work with Mayor Johnson and the Dallas City Council to make sure that the City’s future is brighter than its past. 

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