Support grows for Dallas city manager as city council fire threat looms

Black and Hispanic business leaders in Dallas say the city should stay with TC Broadnax as the top administrative official to promote stability.

The Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of Greater Dallas and the Black Chamber of Commerce of Dallas threw their support behind the city manager on Wednesday, a day after Mayor Eric Johnson announced he was postponing an executive session on Wednesday and a special meeting where the council municipal could have chosen to dismiss Broadnax.

Broadnax will now receive its usual annual appraisal on June 23, when the board was originally scheduled to review its job performance with other senior board-appointed officials.

The latest backing for Broadnax comes as his job security with the city remains in the air. On Wednesday, it was still unclear whether the majority of council wanted to retain Broadnax as city manager.

Support for considering firing him this week dwindled after news emerged that the mayor and some council members were pressuring him to resign or be kicked out. This led to lobbying for and against the city manager, including by Dallas political figures such as retired Congressman Eddie Bernice Johnson and Dallas County Commissioner John Wiley Price.

In council, the fallout from the postponed jobs review has led to accusations of deception between the mayor’s office and some council members who withdrew initial support to push for a resolution this week.

Johnson led the charge to fire Broadnax, city manager since 2017, as soon as possible.

The city council held its regular briefing on Wednesday, where Broadnax and Johnson sat in their assigned seats – next to each other on the dais in the council chambers.

In a statement, Harrison Blair, president and CEO of the Black Chamber of Commerce, said leadership accountability was important, but noted the city needed a familiar hand at the wheel as it navigated into the next budget cycle, the recent resignation of Chief Financial Officer Elizabeth Reich and the ongoing economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We wholeheartedly understand the current state of the city with respect to delays in our permit department, increasing violent crime statistics and the need for property tax relief; and how these issues affect our members and the black business community as a whole,” the statement read. “However, we encourage the Mayor and City Council to continue to work with our City Manager and his staff to bring about a resolution to these important issues rather than making a drastic change.”

Both chamber groups say they are ready to work more closely with Broadnax to address the challenges facing Dallas communities.

Johnson and some council members cited ongoing delays in the city’s building permit process, as well as issues with the information technology office and 911 call center and delays in collecting data. garbage and recycling among the reasons the city should consider laying off Broadnax.

Other council members highlighted Broadnax’s focus on trying to address systemic disparities in the city through the creation of city-wide plans to address housing, resident mobility and the economic development, navigating the city through the COVID-19 pandemic, and continued progress in trying to remedy long-standing issues like building permits as part of why he should stay.

Broadnax supporters and critics have become increasingly vocal since Friday after Johnson issued a memo requesting a closed executive session for the board to discuss the city manager’s work performance and a separate memo was released by council members Paula Blackmon, Cara Mendelsohn and Gay Donnell Willis calling for a specially called meeting on Wednesday to allow the 15-member city council to vote publicly on whether to keep or fire Broadnax.

Broadnax declined an ultimatum to resign at a meeting two days earlier with board members Donnell Willis, Chad West and Tennell Atkins. The trio referenced a third memo bearing the signatures of West, Blackmon and Mendelsohn as well as board members Jesse Moreno and Adam Bazaldua asking Johnson to put an executive session meeting on Broadnax on the agenda for the advice.

A majority of council – eight of 15 members – is needed to remove Broadnax as city manager.

But West, Moreno and Bazaldua on Monday called for their signatures to be removed from the memo, prompting Johnson to postpone the performance review until next week.

West and Bazaldua said The Dallas Morning News Tuesday that they requested that their names and signatures be removed because they said they did not believe the third memo would be used as the basis for firing the city manager.

Moreno did not respond to requests for comment.

Dallas City Manager TC Broadnax listens to public comment as Pro Tem Mayor Chad West walks past during a Dallas City Council meeting Wednesday, June 15, 2022 in Dallas.(Smiley N. Pool / Staff Photographer)

West said the memo was for use in ongoing discussions with Broadnax and was not meant to be a binding agreement filed with the city clerk’s office.

Bazaldua said he planned to skip any proposed vote on Broadnax’s employment status at Wednesday’s now-canceled special meeting. Bazaldua said he has been vacationing in Israel since Sunday and is expected to return to Dallas on Monday.

On Wednesday morning, Bazaldua took comments from a Facebook post from a Broadnax news article to say that “the mayor’s staff fabricated this memo and submitted it to themselves.”

When a commenter asked him to clarify how his signature ended up on the document, Bazaldua replied, “I say my digital signature was used for this memo, without my consent,” he wrote. “I don’t know how much clearer I can be.”

Tristan Hallman, Johnson’s acting chief of staff, said Tuesday that the mayor’s office had filed the memo with the city clerk’s office so that the authenticity of the record could not be questioned and that members of the board have called on Johnson to publicly take the lead on the issue.

On Wednesday, Hallman said Bazaldua’s claim that the memo was fabricated was “false.” Period.”

Hallman said he read Bazaldua what was on the memo, Bazaldua agreed to have his signature on the document and asked one of his board staffers to send a copy of his signature last Wednesday morning to be affixed thereto.

“He was fully aware of what was going on,” Hallman said of Bazaldua. “They asked Monday to be removed only after the media released the memorandum.”

In response, Bazaldua said on Wednesday The news“It’s bull—-.”

Late Wednesday, West, Moreno and Bazaldua sent a memo to Broadnax asking it to investigate the circumstances surrounding the filing of the memo and said Hallman had gone against their wishes in doing so.

“We have serious concerns about the ethics associated with staff members using board member signatures for official documents without the express permission of board members and urge you to investigate the appropriateness and ethics associated with the filing,” the document reads. It ends with the signings of West, Moreno and Bazaldua.

In response to the inquiry request, Johnson said in a statement, “Enough. These are public elected officials who agreed to sign a memo. They need to stop trying to spin this and just own it.

Councilman Jesse Moreno listens to comments from the public during a Dallas City Council meeting...
Councilman Jesse Moreno listens to comments from the public during a Dallas City Council meeting Wednesday, June 15, 2022 in Dallas.(Smiley N. Pool / Staff Photographer)

Beatrice Martinez, chair of the board of directors of the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of Greater Dallas, said the public divide over Broadnax is about the local business community and could have ripple effects that will impact future city ​​activities.

Broadnax’s apparent dysfunction and public layoff declarations don’t make Dallas an attractive destination for businesses, events or people looking to relocate to the city, she said.

“So you fire the city manager after dragging him to the media, so what? What’s the plan after that? said Martinez, a real estate broker. “Who would want to come to Dallas after seeing how it went. And no one will be able to wave a wand and fix everything.

Martinez said the chamber supports the Dallas council manager’s form of government, and that Broadnax or any city manager whose record has been publicly questioned should be given a fair opportunity to defend themselves.

Also on Wednesday, the Dallas Black Firefighters Association and the Dallas Branch of the NAACP sent letters to board members supporting Broadnax.

The city’s largest firefighters association, the Dallas Firefighters Association, previously sent a letter on Sunday calling for Broadnax to be fired.

That group cited issues with firefighter pay and poor conditions at fire stations, with fire trucks and other equipment as reasons for “seeking a change of direction at the helm of the city of Dallas.”

The city’s Black Firefighters Association highlighted Broadnax’s work in overseeing wage increases, improving mental health support for firefighters and allowing the purchase of new equipment among the reasons he should stay.

“Mr. Broadnax is direct in communication, but always open in his thoughts, suggestions and concerns,” association president Gregory Evans wrote. “The BFFA stands behind Mr. Broadnax for what he has done for firefighters regarding (Dallas Fire-Rescue).”

The Dallas NAACP in a letter to Mayor Johnson mentions the development of the new convention center and the hiring of the city’s first Hispanic police chief in Eddie García and the first African-American woman to lead the department in U Reneé Hall among the Broadnax. achievements.

“Mr. Broadnax during his tenure exemplified the strengths and courage of professional management during some of the city’s most difficult times,” the letter reads. “Under his leadership, he demonstrated his knowledge and ability to guiding the city with regards to finance, housing, safety, minority business development with improving diversity inclusion, to name a few.”