For the 4th time in 2 months, a pedestrian was struck last week on the Cedar Springs strip

A 72-year-old pedestrian was struck in the crosswalk on Cedar Springs Road at Knight Street at about 6:30 p.m. on Dec. 22. He was taken to Parkland Hospital and released on Christmas Day.

Lyle Bainbridge said he was crossing the street in the crosswalk and vehicles had stopped in both directions, when a motorist sped around the stopped vehicles and hit him.

He said he was thrown and his head landed in the gutter just inches from the car that hit him.

The driver of that vehicle stopped and told Bainbridge that he was delivering pizzas and was on his cell phone talking to the owner of his store. Bainbridge said the man was apologetic and in tears when he got out of his car.

Bainbridge has a broken collar bone. Doctors detected heart defibrillation problems that may have been a result of the accident. He said he had not been diagnosed previously with heart problems.

Bainbridge, who is from California, is in Dallas for the holidays house-sitting for a friend.

This is the fourth time a pedestrian has been hit on Cedar Springs Road in two months and the third time near this same location.

On Nov. 25, Edward Lee King, 61, was struck by a driver and killed crossing Cedar Springs Knight Street. Wayne Priest, 55, was killed by a hit-and-run driver near Cedar Springs and Reagan Street on Nov. 3.

A 10-year-old girl was hit on Dec. 10 near Knight Street. Her injuries were not life-threatening.

After the earlier accidents, Councilwoman Angela Hunt asked city staff to looks at ways to make the area safer for pedestrians.

Bainbridge said he wanted to call awareness to his accident to push the city to take action. He said that there should be stop signs at the intersection if not traffic lights.

“It takes something drastic happening before they’ll do something,” he said.

When he learned about the previous accidents at the intersection, he said he wondered how many more people will be hit before the city makes safety in this area a priority.

It was unclear whether the driver who hit Bainbridge received a citation. Sr. Cpl. Melinda Gutierrez, a spokeswoman for the Dallas Police Department, said an accident report was not yet available.

—  David Taffet

Redistricting plan could hurt LGBT voters

Map approved by Dallas council would cost community an ally, put heavily gay neighborhood in homophobic councilwoman’s district

DRAWN OUT | Raymond Crawford, president of the Kiestwood Historical Homeowners Association, refers to the area southwest of Kiest Boulevard and Hampton Road as a “gayborhood.” Under the redistricting plan, Kiestwood would be placed in the district represented by anti-gay Councilwoman Vonciel Jones Hill. (John Wright/Dallas Voice)

JOHN WRIGHT | Senior Political Writer
wright@dallasvoice.com

Much has been made of the fact that a redistricting plan approved by the Dallas City Council last week could disenfranchise Hispanic voters.

But the redistricting plan, should it be signed off on by the U.S. Department of Justice, could also hurt the LGBT community.

Newly elected District 3 Councilman Scott Griggs said the map approved by the council would effectively cost the LGBT community an ally at the horseshoe because he’s been drawn into District 1, currently represented by Delia Jasso.

Meanwhile, under the plan, heavily LGBT areas of Oak Cliff currently represented by Griggs and Jasso have been drawn into districts that are home to Dwaine Caraway and Vonciel Hill.

“Delia and I have been pretty involved and very supportive of the GLBT community over the years,” said Griggs, who hasn’t indicated whether he’d run against Jasso in 2013 if the plan holds up. “You have two other council members who haven’t shown as much support.

“You are losing an ally,” Griggs added. “Is Dwaine [Caraway] or her [Hill] going to be as open or responsive as Delia and I have been?”

Jasso, who formed a citizens LGBT task force after taking office in 2009, couldn’t be reached for comment this week. But Jasso reportedly supports other Hispanic leaders who plan a lawsuit against the city if the redistricting plan is approved by the justice department.

Led by attorney Domingo Garcia, they allege the plan violates the Voting Rights Act. The plan guarantees that only two to four of the council’s 14 districts would be represented by Hispanics, who account for 42 percent of the city’s population.

Jasso believes she might have difficulty retaining her seat, because the new District 1 would include heavily Anglo areas with high voter turnout, including Kessler Park, Stevens Park and Winnetka Heights.

Openly gay former Councilman John Loza, who’s Hispanic and served on the city’s redistricting commission, agreed.

“I think that map is horrendous, and I’m really hoping that a lawsuit is brought forward based on that map, and I’d be happy to testify against it if and when it happens,” Loza said.

Loza lamented that the redistricting commission spent 95 hours working on the map it submitted to the council. But the council redrew the commission’s map based on what Loza called “a backroom deal,” and the panel’s work went “down the toilet.”

Loza said although his primary concern is Hispanic representation, he’s also bothered by the fact that two of the LGBT community’s strongest allies were placed in the same district.

“I don’t think it’s as unfortunate to the LGBT community as it is to the Latino community, but I think it does both communities a disservice,” he said.

Under the plan, Oak Cliff south of Illinois Avenue is split along Hampton Avenue, with the east side being placed in what would be Caraway’s district and the west side in Hill’s.

Hill is the lone current council member who’s refused to appear at gay Pride or sign a letter congratulating organizers of the event.

Asked in 2009 why she won’t ride in the parade, Hill voiced religious objections to homosexuality, saying she believes that “there are acts God does not bless.”

Raymond Crawford, who is gay and serves as president of the Kiestwood Historical Homeowners Association, refers to the area southwest of Hampton Road and Kiest Boulevard as a “gayborhood.” Crawford counts 15 gay households on his street — Southwood Drive — alone.

Under the redistricting plan, the 400-plus-home Kiestwood neighborhood, currently represented by Griggs, would be placed in Hill’s district.

“The day she [Hill] comes to call to do some door-knocking or to get some votes, whether I’m the president or not, it’s going to be an interesting conversation with Councilmember Hill,” Crawford said this week. “She’ll be in trouble in 2013 based on her previous statements.”

Hill didn’t respond to a phone call seeking comment.

VIEW A MAP OF THE REDISTRICTING PLAN: CLICK HERE

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition October 14, 2011.

—  Michael Stephens

Council incumbents discuss election issues

Angela Hunt, from left, Delia Jasso and Pauline Medrano

Medrano, Hunt face challengers; Jasso unopposed but still plans ‘get out the vote’ effort in April

DAVID TAFFET  |  Staff Writer
taffet@dallasvoice.com

Three incumbents — Pauline Medrano, Angela Hunt and Delia Jasso — running for re-election have forged close ties with the LGBT community. All are running for reelection, they said, because they love their jobs and each highlighted particular community issues and economic development in their districts.

The one thing all three mentioned was making Dallas more bike-friendly. Two of them — Jasso and Medrano — returned from an urban biking conference in Seville, Spain last week with ideas on how to accomplish their goal.

 

Pauline Medrano

“Crime reduction, economic development and quality of life issues” are what Medrano said she has been focused on for the past six years on the council.

Running for her fourth term as District 2 councilwoman, she said, “I take my job very seriously. I put in an eight-hour day, and I love it.”

Although she said that people in her district know her well, she is taking nothing for granted as she faces an opponent in her bid for re-election. She said she talks to people around the district daily about what she’s done and what she still plans to do.

Neighborhood watch groups have been a key to crime reduction in the district, Medrano said. She touts the 10-70-20 plans that the police department helps implement — 10 percent of a neighborhood are non-tolerant and actively report crimes, 70 percent are tolerant and uninvolved, while 20 percent make up the criminal element.

By involving more of that 70 percent, Medrano said, one neighborhood reduced crime by more than 30 percent.

Medrano said she always has her eye on the neighborhood. She said she’s out five nights a week and constantly reports street lights that are out.

“If I’m in someone else’s district, I pass on the information,” she said.

Medrano is excited about development coming to her area, including two new Krogers — one at the current Elliot’s Hardware site and another at the former Loew’s Theater site. Both neighborhoods lack convenient grocery shopping and residents asked for her help in bringing the stores to the area.

Medrano noted that Elliot’s is staying in the area and is relocating to a space across from Inwood Station that was formerly a Carnival supermarket.

The CityPlace development will also include new housing units and an LA Fitness.

Medrano called the Green Line expansion that cuts through her district the best economic engine in the area.

She said that with construction of the new Parkland Hospital, the challenge has been to keep traffic in the area moving, but once the rail line is complete, employees can walk over to the new Kroger, shop and then hop on the Green Line to get home.

Medrano said she would like to integrate an idea she got in Spain to her district’s new DART service. She called them docking stations: Run a card through the docking station to get a bicycle. Ride to DART and return it to the docking station there before boarding a train. Take the train to another station and pick up another bike.

Medrano said she talked to someone who runs the bike share program in Seville who told her it was a way of life there.

Medrano called her job a seven-day-a-week job and her work on the council a privilege and an honor.

Angela Hunt

The incumbent that attracted the most opponents in her race for re-election is Hunt, with five. One of them, Chad Lassiter, will appear on the ballot but has dropped his campaign.

Hunt’s delay in deciding whether to run for mayor or for re-election to her current seat may have been a factor in attracting those opponents. In her last two races, she was unopposed.
Hunt said she was surprised she hasn’t had opponents in the past and thought every race should have a choice of candidates, saying a choice of candidates is healthy.

Hunt said she decided to run for the council rather than mayor because, “I don’t think this council can best be run by someone from the council.”

Hunt has her eye on citywide issues like the 2012 bond package, the budget and redistricting. But she has spent a lot of her time on neighborhood issues.

“We need to be focused on more bike-friendly streets and make neighborhoods more walkable,” she said. She wants to add streetcars to downtown. She said the Katy Trail, which runs through her district, has become more than a linear park and is now used as a transportation device. She said she’d like to see the 2011 bike plan fulfilled.

On one issue, Hunt remains a holdout against the rest of the council:

“I’m still against pouring millions of tons of concrete into our floodway,” she said, adding that she wants to see “the parks the voters were promised,” which she said would be an economic generator.

Hunt called improvements to the Trinity River levee system a public safety issue.

Hunt said she has been working with police, business owners and neighborhood groups to solve problems on Lower Greenville Avenue. She said that the city would invest in streetscape improvements this summer, including planting trees and making the strip more walkable.

New zoning will require businesses to obtain city permits to remain open after midnight to lower the concentration of bars.

Hunt said she worked with neighborhood groups and the landlord to change zoning for a property on Oak Lawn Avenue. Neighborhood groups didn’t want another convenience store or liquor store on the street, and the landlord needed additional options for the space. Rezoning will allow the owner to lease the storefront as an office, a restaurant or a variety of other new possibilities.

On the other side of her district, Hunt said that while the city is investing a half-billion dollars to modernize Love Field, she’s working to address noise issues with neighborhood groups when the Wright Amendment goes away in three years.

Delia Jasso

After 20 years of trying, Oak Cliff’s Bishop Arts neighborhood finally has taken off during the two years Jasso has been in office.

“I’ve liked being able to affect Bishop Arts,” Jasso said.

And, she said, she hopes to bring that success to other parts of her North Oak Cliff district.

Jasso said she is working with the city to come up with solutions to improve tricky intersections on Westmoreland Avenue and hopes to bring some of the sparkle back to Jefferson Boulevard.

But while Jasso wants to spread some of the Bishop Arts success, she is keeping a close eye on the successful area.

“I don’t want Bishop Arts to go the way of the West End,” she said.

One difference, Jasso said, is that West End developers worked hard to keep out LGBT-owned businesses while those businesses are an important ingredient in the Oak Cliff success.

Jasso said that during her first term she learned a lot and spent quite a bit of time helping small businesses navigate the city’s complicated permit and inspection process.

“Lucia is a perfect example,” she said.

Without her intervention, that new restaurant, which has already received a five-star rating, would have had a more difficult time opening.

Jasso said she would like to see some of that process streamlined.

Also recently back from the bike conference in Seville, Jasso said, “It’s amazing how easy it is to put in bike lanes. We make it hard on ourselves.”

She said studies show that women are less likely to ride bikes as transportation without buffer zones protecting them from vehicular traffic.

Jasso has become a biking enthusiast herself. She’ll be leading Bike Friendly Oak Cliff on a ride to City Hall on May 22 in honor of International Bike Day, and said she would ride in this year’s Lone Star Ride in September. Among the Lone Star Ride beneficiaries is AIDS Services of Dallas, which is in her district.

In her first two years, Jasso spearheaded an anti-graffiti campaign funded by a $100,000 donation from Mark Cuban. She initiated the GLBT Task Force to update policies and procedures and begin diversity training for Dallas Fire and Rescue. Working with a wide cross-section of animal advocate groups, Jasso also started Dallas Loves Animals.

“We need pet adoptions and [to be taught] how to treat our pets,” she said.

Although she wasn’t on the council when ExxonMobil paid the city $30 million for drilling rights inside the city limits, Jasso said she’s very concerned about the process of  frakking and what goes into the air and water.

Although she faces no opposition in the May election, Jasso said she’s running a “get out the vote campaign” in April to keep people used to voting for city council members every two years.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition April 1, 2011.

—  John Wright

MacLeod says past mistakes make him a better candidate

Candidate is challenging incumbent Pauline Medrano in Dallas’ District 2

DAVID TAFFET  |  Staff Writer
taffet@dallasvoice.com

Bill MacLeod has run for a seat on the Dallas City Council before. In the last election, he pulled in about 23 percent of the vote against incumbent Councilwoman Pauline Medrano. MacLeod said that wasn’t bad for a candidate that had every one of his signs stolen.

And that was a big jump up from his first race. In 2003, he ran against John Loza and got just 4 percent of the vote.

MacLeod.Billy-use-this-one
Billy MacLeod

This time, MacLeod said, he’s learned enough about running a council race that he thinks he can win.

“I have a team together and a strategy,” he said.

“Pauline is adored by the community,” he said, referring to Medrano who represents part of Oak Lawn. “But where is her voice on issues that matter?”

MacLeod cited the recent Dallas Voice article that noted that of the more than 50 discrimination complaints the city received since the LGBT non-discrimination ordinance passed, none has been prosecuted.

Medrano, along with District 14 incumbent Angela Hunt, said they were looking into the matter.

MacLeod called that “reactive at best.”

Among the candidate’s top concerns is last summer’s tax increase.

“She [Medrano] was the swing vote on taxes,” he said, a charge opponents throw at Hunt as well.

He said his solution is to increase revenue to the city, not raise taxes. And he has several ideas that he said haven’t been looked at.

MacLeod mentioned the North Texas Tollway Authority, the deal AT&T got to locate in downtown Dallas and the low rate at which the city sold land to the Perots to build the arena as bad deals and possible revenue sources.

While some of this examples are done deals, MacLeod said new deals are always being made behind closed doors, and he wants to make sure those previous mistakes aren’t repeated.

MacLeod said that this election would be different: “This time we have people listening.”

In the last election, MacLeod accused Medrano’s people of targeting anyone who had one of his signs in their yard. He said her
campaign called 311 to complain about legally placed signs and had the city pick them up.

MacLeod said that changing demographics in the district should work in his favor. New apartments in the Design District and renovated and new housing in The Cedars south of downtown have added 2,500 new voters to the district, he said.

MacLeod believes this is the election to win. It would be Medrano’s fourth and final term if she wins.

“If we don’t replace the incumbent, they’re going to hand this over to one of their own,” he said.

MacLeod grew up in New York but graduated from W.T. White High School in Dallas and attended college in Texas.

He was a student at Stephen F. Austin University in Nacogdoches when, he said, he and his mother simply ran out of money. So he joined the Navy and served for four years. Upon discharge he returned to Texas and finished his degree.

Today, MacLeod is a consultant helping companies manage call centers.

He said his background wasn’t perfect.

“Bad behavior plagued me,” he said, acknowledging that he had a DWI and misdemeanor arrests and making no excuses for that.

“I’m not running despite my behavior,” he said. “I’m running because of it.”

MacLeod said that after his DWI, he worked with Mothers Against Drunk Driving. His other arrests led him to work with the homeless and with Dallas shelters.

MacLeod said he is passionate about helping the less fortunate.

“If I didn’t go through that myself, I wouldn’t have been able to help hundreds of kids that I got into treatment programs, kids that I got back with their families, kids that I introduced to Phoenix House,” he said. “I would never have been able to go under the bridges and talk to the homeless guys. Stay with them. Do street solutions. Put some of these guys to work. I would never have been able to reach out to the addicted population.”

In working on other campaigns, MacLeod said he hired homeless people to distribute fliers and put out yard signs.

MacLeod asked the LGBT community to take a good look at both candidates.

“Who is out there fighting for the Resource Center?” he said. “Who is out there fighting for Cathedral of Hope? Who is out there fighting for the LGBT community?”

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition March 11, 2011.

—  Kevin Thomas

Franko running in District 14

4 candidates have started campaigns in Oak Lawn district; still no definite word from Hunt on mayoral candidacy

TAMMYE NASH  |  Senior Editor
nash@dallasvoice.com

Vernon C. Franko is one of four candidates who have already appointed campaign treasurers to run this year for the District 14 seat on the Dallas City Council, according to information posted online by the Dallas city secretary.

And that doesn’t count incumbent Councilwoman Angela Hunt, who may — or may not — choose to run for mayor instead of for re-election to the Council.

Franko said in a recent interview that he has been planning to run for the council for about two years because “I just didn’t think we were getting the representation we deserve in this district.”

Franko said that he is “upset that property taxes didn’t go back down after the adjustments for the [housing bubble]. We have seen some decrease, but not enough.

“I think we need to bring back integrity and fairness to the Council,” Franko continued. “There have been some closed-door meetings held that I really didn’t like. Everything should be out in the open. We just aren’t getting the kind of representation we had in this district back in the 1980s and ’90s.”

Franko also said that he is unhappy with the way “education issues” are being handled in Dallas, and that public school teachers have been “underpaid for way too long” and property taxes levied by the school districts are too high.

Although the City Council has no authority over public schools in the city, Franko said he believes the council “should be working with the school districts around here to make these issues better known. The council is prominent enough to help bring attention to these issues in a way that the school board can’t.”

And, he said, the council should also work with other entities that assess property taxes in Dallas, like the hospital districts.

“Homeowners are being discouraged from buying and maintaining homes because the way the tax situation is handled just isn’t equitable,” Franko said. “Property owners — and even renters who have to pay higher rents so that property owners can pay taxes — they are all carrying a disproportionate share of the tax burden.”

Franko, who lives on Cedar Springs Road, said he has been an insurance agent and small business for 15 years. Although he did not say if he is gay, he did describe himself as “a part of the Oak Lawn community,” and pledged to treat all his constituents fairly and equally if he is elected.

“I think the LGBT people should be represented just as fairly and equally as any other community,” Franko said. “I believe in fairness in representation for all groups, whether it’s about race or gender or orientation or what have you.

“I am a part of the Oak Lawn community, but I wouldn’t want to give Oak Lawn residents better treatment than someone from another community. All community’s deserve equal treatment,” he said.

Council election overview

Dallas City Council and mayoral elections will be held May 14.

Although candidates have already started filing paperwork designating campaign treasurers, the candidates cannot actually file to run for the council until Monday, Feb. 14. The deadline to file is March 14. The drawing for placement on the ballot will be March 18, and March 21 is the last day that candidates can withdraw from the races.
April 1 is the deadline to register to vote in the May elections. Early voting runs from May 2-10.

Four candidates for District 14 — considered the district with the largest LGBT population — have registered information on their campaign treasurers with the city secretary’s office so far: James Nowlin, Jim Rogers, Erin C. Lasseter and Franko.

District 14 incumbent Angela Hunt has said publicly she is considering a run for mayor to replace first-term incumbent Mayor Tom Leppert, who has said he will not run for re-election. However Hunt has not yet registered a campaign treasurer with the city secretary’s office for either a District 14 re-election bid — incumbents running for re-election are not required to file a new campaign treasurer form — or as a mayoral candidate.

Nowlin, who is openly gay and was the first to register a campaign treasurer, said he has been discussing the possibility of running for the District 14 seat with Hunt for more than a year, and he is confident she will run for mayor.

Rogers, however, said that if Hunt decides instead to run for re-election to the council, he would drop out of the race.

Two other incumbents in districts with significant LGBT populations — Delia Jasso in District 1 and Pauline Medrano in District 2 — so far face no declared opposition in their re-election bids.

But in District 3, neighborhood activist Scott Griggs has appointed a treasurer and is running to replace incumbent Dave Neumann. The District 3 seat was long held by Ed Oakley, the openly gay man who made national headlines with his 2007 campaign for Dallas mayor against Leppert, a race Leppert won in runoff balloting.

Other candidates who have registered campaign treasurers with the city secretary are Monica R. Alonzo and John M. Lozano, running for the District 6 seat held by incumbent Steve Salazar; Edward D. Turner, running for the District 7 seat held by incumbent Carolyn R. Davis, and Richard P. Sheriden, running for the District 13 seat held by incumbent Ann Margolin.

Other council incumbents facing no declared opposition yet are Dwaine R. Caraway in District 4, Vonciel Jones Hill in District 5, Tennell Atkins in District 8, Sheffie Kadane in District 9, Jerry R. Allen in District 10 and Linda Koop in District 11.

District 12 incumbent Ron Natinsky is a declared candidate for mayor.

Mayoral election overview

Natinsky is one of three candidates who have registered campaign treasurers with the city secretary, and is considered — at least so far — the frontrunner for the seat. Oakley, who lost the mayor’s race in Leppert four years ago, has already endorsed Natinsky’s mayoral bid, as have several other well-known leaders in the LGBT community.

Jim Moore, an attorney with offices in Oak Lawn, was the first mayoral candidate to register a campaign treasurer. He recently joined Stonewall Democrats of Dallas and he, too, said he counts LGBT leaders as friends and supporters.

The third declared candidate to replace Leppert is former Dallas Police Chief David Kunkle who, during his years leading the Dallas Police Department, earned a reputation for treating the LGBT community fairly, and who was the first Dallas Police chief to participate each year in the Alan Ross Texas Freedom Parade.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition Feb. 4, 2011.

—  John Wright

Nowlin would be Dallas’ 1st gay council member since Oakley stepped down in 2007

In Friday’s Voice we reported that gay business owner and attorney James Nowlin is planning to run for the District 14 seat on the Dallas City Council, assuming that incumbent Angela Hunt steps down to run for mayor.

If he wins the seat, Nowlin would become the city’s first openly gay council member since Ed Oakley, who vacated his District 3 seat in 2007 to run for mayor – a race he lost to Tom Leppert in a runoff.

Oakley’s departure meant that for the first time since 1993, the council didn’t have an openly gay member. But thanks to some strong allies on the council, as well as Leppert’s openly gay chief of staff, the sky hasn’t fallen.

Still, with 14 representatives plus the mayor on the council in the nation’s ninth-largest city, it makes sense for Dallas to have at least one openly gay councilperson. And Nowlin certainly seems like a qualified and viable candidate.

Among other things, we’re impressed with Nowlin’s candidness about his sexual orientation. He hasn’t at all shied away from interviews with the Voice, and he states plainly on his campaign website that, “James and his partner, John, live in Lakewood Heights and attend Cathedral of Hope as well as Unity Church of Christianity.”

Anyhow, following our story, Nowlin sent out an e-mail on Saturday formally announcing his candidacy and requesting donations. We’ve posted the full text of the e-mail after the jump.

—  John Wright

The Nooner: Leppert unlikely to run; 1st gay museum opens; R.I. marriage fight heats up

Mayor Tom Leppert appears in the Alan Ross Texas Freedom Parade in 2007.

Your lunchtime quickie from Instant Tea:

• It’s “all but certain” that Dallas Mayor Tom Leppert won’t seek re-election, according to The Dallas Morning News, and Councilwoman Angela Hunt says she’s considering a run.

• Westboro Baptist Church says it has decided not to picket 9-year-old Tucson shooting victim’s funeral after all, but it will picket that of federal judge killed in attack.

• First LGBT history museum opens in San Francisco.

• Marriage fight heats up in Rhode Island.

• Jewish groups condemn Sarah Palin‘s use of “blood libel.”

—  John Wright

WATCH LIVE: Fort Worth City Council meeting

We’re not sure if or when someone plans to air their disapproval of Councilman Joel Burns “It Gets Better” speech during tonight’s Fort Worth City Council meeting. “Citizen presentations” are near the end of the council’s agenda. You can watch the meeting live by going here, but it sounds like there’s not much point in heading down to City Hall if you’re not there already. Councilwoman Kathleen Hicks reports on Twitter that the meeting is packed and that the fire marshal isn’t letting anyone else in. We’re sure many are there for other reasons, but it’s also possible that some didn’t heed the advice of Fairness Fort Worth, which earlier today encouraged people NOT to attend the meeting. Stay tuned.

UPDATE: It would appear that most of the folks in the audience are there to talk about an ordinance that would limit rooster ownership.

—  John Wright

Leppert to miss gay Pride parade

Mayor Tom Leppert appears in the Alan Ross Texas Freedom Parade in 2007.

For the second time in four years, Dallas Mayor Tom Leppert will miss Dallas’ gay Pride parade. Chris Heinbaugh, Leppert’s openly gay chief of staff, told Instant Tea that Leppert has a “longstanding personal commitment” on the day of the parade, Sept. 19.

Leppert, a political conservative, surprised some when he appeared in the parade his first year in office. He became only the second Dallas mayor ever to appear at gay Pride, after Laura Miller. Leppert missed the parade in 2008 due to a family matter, but attended the parade again last year.

Heinbaugh declined to elaborate on Leppert’s “personal commitment” this year. Heinbaugh said he believes all 14 of the other council members, with the exception of Vonciel Jones Hill, have said they plan to appear in the parade this year.

Last year, all but two council members, Hill and Carolyn Davis, were at Pride.

—  John Wright

South Bend, Ind. council puts off gay-rights ordinance

SOUTH BEND, Ind. — A divided South Bend City Council has put off a vote on a proposed ordinance extending employment discrimination protection to gays and lesbians.

About 200 people packed the meeting room Monday night, July 26 as council members heard two hours of public debate about the proposal.

Councilman Oliver Davis, one of the measure’s three sponsors, sought the continuance when it became clear he lacked the five votes needed for a majority on the nine-member council.

Opponents of the measure wore red stickers declaring, “Special Status (equals) Special Rights,” while supporters wore white buttons that read, “30-10 Yes!” in reference to the ordinance’s number.

Patrick Mangan, executive director of Citizens for Community Values, a conservative group opposing the measure, argued the proposal would undermine the rights of employers and that there was no evidence of current unfair treatment of homosexuals.

“They have not been treated intolerantly,” Mangan said. “In fact, they have been treated tolerantly, even when a majority of society disagrees with their lifestyle.”

Supporters urged the council to adopt the ordinance, which also would make discrimination against bisexual and transgendered people illegal.

“South Bend describes itself as a 21st century city and a part of being a 21st century city is recognizing the growing diversity of the community,” supporter Abby Smith said.

Former Gov. Joe Kernan, a former mayor of South Bend, told council members failure to adopt a gay rights ordinance would hurt the city’s image.

“The failure to pass 30-10 sends the message that we as a community are intolerant and we are better than that,” Kernan said.

The South Bend Tribune reported that councilwoman Karen White is the swing vote among the nine-member council. She said the proposal’s language was too vague and that she wanted more time for city attorneys to work on it before she decided how she would vote.

Concerns were raised about how religious organizations would be covered by the proposed ordinance, which the council voted 5-4 to table indefinitely.

“I don’t mind taking the time to review the religious exemptions,” said Davis, the ordinance sponsor. “I wanted us to be clear that for 34 years the Human Rights Coalition has understood what the religious language was when it came to other discriminations, but if that means we need to take some more time to see how that applies, I’m OK with that.”

—  John Wright