By Dallas Morning News Editorial
After a few years of battering one another’s egos, Mayor Eric Johnson and City Manager T.C. Broadnax have at last decided it’s time to work together for the betterment of the city.
This comes after a dramatic couple of weeks that saw Johnson unsuccessfully maneuver to have the City Council fire Broadnax, something Broadnax deftly deflected to put Johnson on the defensive with a City Council he had been patching things up with.
Now all’s well or at least it’s going to be, or so we are told.
That’s fine as far as it goes, assuming it goes very far, but it isn’t really what the city needs now or what it has needed these past few years.
To recap: After the failed attempt to oust Broadnax, he and Johnson “announced that they have reached an agreement for moving forward together,” according to a joint press release that read something like an essay the principal ordered up after a schoolyard tussle.
Johnson softened, but didn’t retract, his sense that Broadnax isn’t getting the big things right in managing the city and he still wants change, although maybe now, he just wants Broadnax to change.
Broadnax, meanwhile, had to eat a smidgen of crow by saying everything he’s done isn’t up to his own standards. But he’s proud of what he’s done. But he can do better.
Johnson, in turn, acknowledged that being city manager is really, really hard. And on and on it went for six pages.
There was scant substance, mainly around agreements, in principle, to make important improvements in important areas like fixing the broken permitting system and making Dallas safer. These were vague and general.
Broadnax offered the most quantifiable assurance when he pledged to commit to greater accountability by releasing details of a 100-day plan to “tackle many of the high-priority focus areas of the City Council.”
We look forward to seeing that and to seeing measurable goals attached to it.
But all of this obscures something important. What we really need as a city is a serious, sober review of the city manager’s performance and a decision from the council whether he was getting the job done and what to do if he wasn’t.
Had such a review happened as scheduled at the end of the month, it would have exposed major deficiencies in how our city operates. The council could have acted like the board of directors that it essentially is under our charter and either decided to remove the manager or set forth clear, measurable standards for him to meet in a specified period of time.
The fact that it’s hard to imagine something like that happening suggests that we don’t just have a management problem, we have a political problem.
The question is how that gets addressed.