UPDATE: Rawlings re-elected Dallas mayor but runoffs will decide some council races

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UPDATE:

In District 4, Carolyn King Arnold won 51 percent of the vote and avoids a runoff.

In District 7, Kevin Felder will face Tiffinni Young in a runoff.

In District 8, Dianne Gibson and Erik Wilson made the runoff.

Three DISD races were decided. Edwin Flores will represent District 1. Dan Micciche won District 3. Bernadette Nutall was reelected in District 9.

ORIGINAL POST:

The election of Dallas’ mayor and city council today (Saturday, May 9) is overshadowed by the charges leveled against District 1 Councilman Scott Griggs, who ran unopposed for a third term. Griggs has been a steadfast ally of the LGBT community.

Mayor Mike Rawlings easily defeated challenger Marcos Ronquillo, who was endorsed by both Dallas Gay and Lesbian Alliance and Stonewall Democrats.

Council members Adam Medrano, Lee Kleinman, Sandy Greyson, Jennifer Gates and Philip Kingston also ran unopposed and were re-elected. All had DGLA’s backing.

Monica Alonza ran with token opposition and in early voting had more than 80 percent of the vote.

First term District 5 Councilman Rick Callahan was seen as vulnerable and drew two opponents. Earlier this year he voted against equalizing pension benefits for gay and lesbian city retirees. Sherry Cordova received DGLA’s and Stonewall’s endorsements. In early voting, Callahan had more than 70 percent of the vote.

Districts 3, 4, 7, 8 and 9 each had between five and eight candidates running and will be decided in runoffs between the top two candidates in each race. The runoff will be held on June 13.

Vying to replace the council’s voice of intolerance toward the LGBT community, Vonceil Jones Hill, will probably be  Stonewall’s pick Joe Tave and Casey Thomas II.

In early voting, Carol King Arnold had more than 48 percent of the vote in District 4 among eight candidates. If her lead increases, she’ll avoid a runoff. Arnold was endorsed by DGLA.

In District 7, Tiffinni Young received about 45 percent of the early vote. She was DGLA’s choice. She’ll be in a runoff but the other seven candidates received 14 percent of the early vote or less. Hasani Burton was Stonewall’s preference and he had about 10 percent of the early vote.

In District 8, it’s too early to tell which of the six candidates will be in a runoff but the leading three are Dianne Gibson, Erik Wilson and DGLA’s pick Gail Terrell.

Five candidates were vying for District 9. Mark Clayton has about 60 percent of the vote. Both Stonewall and DGLA endorsed him.

Paul Reyes and Adam McGough appear headed for a runoff in District 10. McGough was endorsed by DGLA. Stonewall endorsed James White, who’s in third.

Election turnout was estimated to be extremely low. Possibly half the usual number of voters that turn out for a city election voted.

—  David Taffet

The earthquake report: We’ve been having them

Earthquake epicenters determined by USGS - NEIC, April 17, 2014 through January 23, 2015.

Earthquake epicenters determined by USGS — NEIC, April 17, 2014 through January 23, 2015.

I have yet to feel any of the earthquakes that have been rattling DFW — or at least, parts of DFW — lately. But I have seen a lot of my friends talking about them on Facebook. From what they have said, the tremors and aftershocks have been pretty frequent in recent weeks, and some of them have been at least a little scary.

And then today, I got an email from the office of Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings letting me know that city officials from Dallas and Irving have reviewed the findings of a preliminary study on the quakes by Southern Methodist University. .

And here are the preliminary study’s big findings:

• The epicenters are confined to an area extending from Texas 114 to Walnut Hill Road, along the Trinity River (near the site of the old Texas Stadium in Irving, indicating a fault extending from Irving into West Dallas). The new earthquake locations extend the source area through parts of Irving and west Dallas.

• Most of the earthquakes appear to be under the Fort Worth Basin; however SMU says the location may be off by about half a mile and seismologists stress the need for additional research.

•  These earthquakes are shallow in nature, and seismologists could not conclude whether the quakes were natural or related to gas well drilling.

Don’t you feel much safer now? I know I do. But to be serious (and fair), they are really just getting started, and the possibility of a severe earthquake here in our area is a very serious — and frightening — thought.

Anyway, Mayor Rawlings said, “We value the time and resources the SMU team has invested in helping us understand the recent earthquakes. The working group will discuss these findings and let us know what the next steps should be.”

The press release noted that SMU has been working with the U.S. Geological Survey to pinpoint more accurate locations for the recent earthquake swarm.

The working group is comprised of the cities of Irving, Dallas, SMU, USGS and the Texas Railroad Commission. The group is scheduled to discuss the recent report on Friday, Feb. 13.

To read SMU’s preliminary earthquake report for yourself, go here. Read it and you will find some information such as the USGS began reporting noticeable earthquakes in this area in 2008, even though there no earthquake activity here at least as far back as 1970. The current string of quakes began last April, and the largest one to date has been magnitude 3.6. There have been 5 earthquakes over magnitude 3. o since last April, and 46 quakes reported.

And if you feel the earth start to move, as my wife says when she takes a corner too fast in the car, “Hold on to your girdle, Myrtle.”

—  Tammye Nash

Dallas Ebola patient has died

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Thomas Eric Duncan

Dallas Ebola patient Thomas Eric Duncan died at 7:51 a.m. Wednesday, Oct. 8, according to a statement by Texas Health Resources’ Public Relations Director Wendell Watson.

“Mr. Duncan succumbed to an insidious disease, Ebola,” Watson said in the statement posted on the THR website. “He fought courageously in this battle. Our professionals, the doctors and nurses in the unit, as well as the entire Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas community, are also grieving his passing. We have offered the family our support and condolences at this difficult time.”

Both Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins and Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings issued statements regarding Duncan’s death.

Jenkins said his thoughts are with Duncan’s family, praising the hospital staff that treated and cared for Duncan, and offering “prayers of comfort and peace to everyone impacted by his passing.”

Rawlins offered “deepest sympathies” to Duncan’s family and friends but also reiterated his pledge to avoid more cases of the deadly virus in Dallas: “We will stop the Ebola virus in its tracks from spreading into our community.”

—  Tammye Nash

A ‘landmark day for the city of Dallas’

Council passes comprehensive resolution, ending more than a year’s work and beginning the process for full city equality

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HAPPY ENDING | Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings and Resource Center CEO Cece Cox chat after the equality resolution passed Wednesday with a vote of 13-2. Allies and LGBT community members filled the room during the discussion and vote. (Photos by Steve Ramos/Dallas Voice)

 

ANNA WAUGH  |  News Editor

With Wednesday’s passage of a comprehensive equality resolution, 13 councilmembers assured the local LGBT community they support equality in city employment, living and tourism.

The resolution is a “comprehensive statement of support” that directs the city manager and staff to identify inequities in those areas and work to resolve them administratively and also through council approval.

Changes that require council approval will be brought to the Finance, Budget and Audit Committee first. Councilman Jerry Allen, committee chair, had openly gay city employees Theresa O’Donnell and John Rogers make three presentations on LGBT issues before the committee passed the resolution in February.

The measure easily passed the council 13-2 with Sheffie Kadane and anti-gay Councilwoman Vonciel Jones Hill voting against it.

Mayor Mike Rawlings came out in favor of the resolution Tuesday. His support was questioned after he delayed the vote a week by requiring the measure be discussed in executive session for legal concerns last week.

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ACTIVISTS | Nell Gaither, left, Cd Kirven and David Mack Henderson chat after the city council vote.

“I am proud to have voted in favor of this,” Rawlings said after the resolution passed. “It’s very humbling to be mayor of this city. We have so many great communities. …There’s not a better community in the city of Dallas than the LGBT community.”

Rawlings angered the LGBT community in June after he blocked the previous resolution that addressed marriage equality and workplace protections from being added to the agenda. He had the city attorney declare him present so former Mayor Pro Tem Pauline Medrano couldn’t place the item back on the agenda as acting mayor after former Councilwoman Delia Jasso pulled her support from a memo requiring the item to be voted on.  While he told supporters and Dallas Voice he supported those issues personally, he called the resolution a “misuse” of the council’s time.

He said this week he’s completely behind the current resolution and analyzing what the city leadership can fix moving forward. He even wore a red and blue striped tie Wednesday, which he said doubled as his support for Southern Methodist University and the LGBT community.

“I believe in the resolution, and I think it’s a good structure to come back to so we are prepared to make those decisions,” Rawlings told Dallas Voice. “We’ve done a lot of the hard work now. God’s in the details on this stuff. We need to look at each one of them, examine them and have those discussions, but I’m enthusiastic about it.”

As for the tension with the community after last year’s resolution failed, Rawlings said he’s ready to look past it.

“I never had an issue with the LGBT community,” he said. “I’m very proud of them. I love them. Now they may not like me, but I’m always a believer in turn the other cheek and be positive, love people and the rest will take care of itself.”

But LGBT activists and advocates have struggled to support Rawlings since his time in office began in 2011 when he failed to sign a pledge for Mayors for the Freedom to Marry. Followed by the resolution’s failure, advocates wondered if he would back any equality measures. GetEQUAL TX activist Cd Kirven said his support and his words about the LGBT community this week show a shift in his attitude towards the community.

“I’ve very proud of the mayor for getting behind this and championing our community,” Kirven said. “I’m just very proud of the progress he’s made.”

The resolution is the council’s most significant show of support for the LGBT community in a decade after the council approved domestic partner benefits in 2004. Two years before, the council passed a nondiscrimination ordinance in 2002, barring discrimination in employment, housing and public accommodations. Before that, the council approved a nondiscrimination policy for city employees to cover sexual orientation in 1994, which was later amended to include gender identity.

Councilman Scott Griggs, the author of the previous resolution, thanked the LGBT community for coming together and working with city staff, councilmembers and the city’s LGBT Task Force to bring the new measure forward.

“I can’t speak enough about your patience and your perseverance,” Griggs told the audience Wednesday. “It’s a real testament to the whole community. This is a wonderful landmark day for the city of Dallas.”

City Manager A.C. Gonzalez said he’s already begun discussions with city staff about employee pensions and other items.

However, he said anything with a financial impact would be brought to committee. He expected a report to be presented next quarter with a list of items and a timetable for implementation.

“That process has already begun, but I can’t give you an answer as to which one will be first,” Gonzalez said.

Cece Cox, CEO of Resource Center, said she glad to hear the city manager’s office has already begun discussing possible changes, and she’s already spoken with Gonzalez. Cox said the center’s staff would prioritize changes into what can be done quickly and what can be done ,that has the most impact.

“I think it’s a start,” she said. “The resolution sets forth a whole lot of things that now need to be done.”

Some items the city’s LGBT Task Force plan to resolve fairly quickly are adding comprehensive transgender healthcare for city employees, making the pension plans equal for same-sex spouses and updating policies to improve the city’s score on the Hunan Rights Campaign’s Municipal Equality Index.

Cox was among the more than 30 LGBT advocates wearing red in the audience Wednesday and clapped when the resolution passed. She said the work and input from many LGBT organizations to help the resolution succeed shows how significant its passage means.

“A lot of work went into this, so what was accomplished today was very significant,” Cox said.. “It makes me proud looking over 20-plus years of ordinances and resolutions and discussions. It’s significant.”

Click here to read the resolution and here for more photos.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition March 7, 2014.

—  Dallasvoice

Mayor Rawlings backs equality resolution before Wednesday vote

Mayor Mike Rawlings speaks during an LGBT Pride Month Reception at City Hall in June 2011.

Mayor Mike Rawlings speaks during an LGBT Pride Month Reception at City Hall in June 2011.

Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings plans to support the LGBT equality resolution when it goes before the full council during a briefing Wednesday.

“Mayor Rawlings supports the resolution in its current form,” Rawlings spokesman Sam Merten emailed to Dallas Voice.

Councilmembers will debate the resolution Wednesday and can make changes to the measure.

After fighting the marriage equality resolution last year, calling it a “misuse” of council time and blocking it from the agenda, Rawlings placed the current resolution on the agenda for this week. But he delayed the vote a week so the council could ask legal questions in executive session last week.

LGBT advocates showed up in red to urge the council to support the resolution, which is expected to pass with 13 votes now that Rawlings is in favor. Councilmembers Vonciel Jones Hill and Sheffie Kadane, who’ve both spoken out against the LGBT community based on religious views, are sure to vote against the measure. Kadane voted against the resolution in committee.

Supporters are encouraged to pack the 9 a.m. meeting again Wednesday dressed in red.

The resolution is a comprehensive statement of support that instructs city staff to fix inequities that exist for LGBT employees. Staff will report to the Finance, Budget and Audit Committee quarterly and changes requiring a vote will have to be approved by the council.

The “resolution supporting equal rights for the employees of the City of Dallas, citizens within the City of Dallas, and visitors to the City of Dallas to address disparate treatment, if any, of  lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) persons,” the agenda states about the item.

The resolution, below, has a few minor revisions explaining the process of the city manager and city staff to implement changes. Staff is encouraged to make administrative changes and bring others before committee and then the council for final approval.

“The resolution itself does not change any existing City procedure or ordinance, nor does the resolution itself authorize any actions or expenditures,” the agenda item reads.  ”Rather, the resolution directs the City Manager and the City Council’s appointees to the pension boards to explore actions to further the goals of the resolution and initiate any necessary processes through the appropriate channels to amend City policies, procedures, or ordinances. The City Manager or his designee is directed to report quarterly to the Budget, Finance and Audit Committee to keep City Council informed of progress toward implementing this resolution and any proposed actions. Any changes to existing City ordinances or expenditures of funds will require further City Council action.”

Read the resolution below.

—  Dallasvoice

LGBT advocates plan to red out Dallas City Council meeting tomorrow

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Click image to enlarge

Wednesday’s Dallas City Council may be déjà vu for some LGBT advocates and allies when the gallery is full of red like it was in June for an LGBT equality resolution.

But this time LGBT advocates hope to encourage councilmembers to support a resolution and pass it, instead of express anger for the resolution that failed to go before the council last year.

The “Comprehensive Statement of Support” resolution passed committee last week and was slated to go before the full council for a vote Wednesday, but Mayor Mike Rawlings delayed the council vote  because he wants to discuss legal implications in executive session before the full council votes on it.

The new measure directs the city manager and city staff to resolve the inequities in city employment for its LGBT employees, as well as help the city be an advocate for state and federal LGBT equality.

In response to the delay by Rawlings, advocates plan to show up in mass at City Hall Wednesday wearing red to address the council and show support in the audience for the resolution.

Advocates have launched a Facebook page called “Dallas LGBT Equality Resolution” to gain support for the measure. It has received 626 likes so far.

LGBT people and allies planning on attending the meeting are encouraged to show up to meet with Councilmen Adam Medrano and Philip Kingston at 8 a.m. on the fifth floor before the 9 a.m. council meeting on the sixth floor. If people cannot attend the meeting, advocates urge supports to contact their councilmember.

Meanwhile, GetEQUAL TX issued travel advisory Tuesday for LGBT people coming to Dallas. The statewide activist organization issued a similar warning in San Antonio during the summer when the discussion around a nondiscrimination ordinance divided the city.

“This alert has been issued based on the fact that Dallas — the 9th largest city in the country — has refused multiple efforts by the community to pass resolutions backing marriage equality, employment nondiscrimination, and most recently a comprehensive statement of support for the LGBT community,” GetEQUAL TX says in a press release.

Read the full travel advisory below.

—  Dallasvoice

Mayor Rawlings blocks LGBT resolution from going to full council — again

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Mayor Mike Rawlings meets with LGBT activists last year during his visit to Lakewood Country Club. Activists were protesting him during his visit for his lack of support of the previous LBGT resolution.

Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings has again interfered to prevent a full City Council vote on a pro-LGBT resolution.

The resolution, passsed Tuesday by the Finance, Budget and Audit Committee, directs the city to examine ways to fix the inequalities in city employment and services. It was slated to go before the full council on Feb. 26, but it’s not listed on the agenda published late Friday.

In a statement released by Rawlings’ spokesman Sam Merten, the mayor, City Manager A.C. Gonzalez and Committee Chair Jerry Allen have agreed to allow the council to discuss legal questions related to the resolution during executive session on Feb. 26. The statement also says that Rawlings has instructed the city manager’s office to place an action item on the Mar. 5 briefing agenda.

“I am enthusiastic about supporting equal rights for our LGBT community,” Rawlings said in the statement. “The resolution approved by the Finance, Budget & Audit Committee has raised legal questions that must be addressed by the City Attorney’s Office. “I am deeply committed to ensuring that a resolution passes to address this important issue, but I want to make sure all legal questions are answered before the City Council proceeds with a vote.”

This isn’t the first time Rawlings has prevented an LGBT resolution from making the agenda. A resolution in support of marriage equality and workplace protections was scheduled to go before the council in June. When former Councilwoman Delia Jasso pulled her signature from a memo, the resolution was pulled from the agenda. Former Mayor Pro Tem Pauline Medrano then tried to add it back to the agenda, but Rawlings had the city attorney declare him present despite him being out of the country on business. Therefore, Medrano wasn’t able to put it on the agenda.

—  Dallasvoice

Dallas Councilmen Adam Medrano, Philip Kingston to take NOH8 photos

photoTwo LGBT allies on the Dallas City Council will be among the hundreds of people to participate in the NOH8 Campaign’s Dallas photo shoot this evening.

Adam Medrano, chair for the city’s LGBT Task Force, and Philip Kingston, who both represent parts of Oak Lawn in two of Dallas’ most heavily LGBT districts, will pose in white shirts and duct tape.

Medrano’s spokeswoman Monica Huerta said he decided to take one of the iconic photos “because discrimination in any form is still inequality. Mr. Medrano agrees with the ideals of the N0H8 campaign and proudly supports the LGBT Dallas Community.”

NOH8 Campaign raises money for marriage equality and other LGBT issues like nondiscrimination.

After inquiring if Mayor Mike Rawlings plans to take a NOH8 photo, spokesman Samuel Merten said Rawlings is “out of town on personal business, so he is unable to participate.”

When asked if Rawlings would participate another time if he could, Merten said “I don’t know if he has ever thought about participating.”

Rawlings famously refused to sign a pledge for “Mayors for the Freedom to Marry” in 2012 and even interfered in preventing a marriage equality resolution from going before the council because he disagreed with the city discussing the issue. But he has said he personally supports marriage equality.

Dallas City Council is still considering a marriage equality resolution, which is expected to come before the council in coming months, as well as a broader statement of the council’s support for LGBT issues.

The event is 5:30-8:30 p.m. tonight at the Episcopal Church of the Transfiguration, located at 14115 Hillcrest Road.

—  Dallasvoice

Mayor Rawlings to miss Dallas Pride parade for 1st time in 3 years

Mike Rawlings breaks me off some beads during last year's gay Pride parade.

Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings throws beads from atop the Dallas Tavern Guild’s float during the Alan Ross Texas Freedom Parade in 2011. (John Wright/Dallas Voice)

Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings will miss the gay Pride parade this year for the first time since he took office.

Adam McGough, a spokesman for the mayor, said Rawlings will be in New York City this weekend at a conference of the Center for Exhibition Industry Research. Rawlings will also be visiting West Point, N.Y., as part of an initiative to bring a football game to Dallas.

McGough said Rawlings’ absence has nothing to do with the controversy involving a marriage equality resolution at City Council in June — which led some in the LGBT community to call for the mayor and certain other council members to be uninvited from the Pride parade.

“He is disappointed to miss it,” McGough said. “This has nothing to do with the controversy. This is just scheduling.”

Rawlings is only the third Dallas mayor to appear in the gay Pride parade, after Laura Miller and Tom Leppert.

Michael Doughman, executive director of the Dallas Tavern Guild, said this week that only eight of 15 city council members had RSVP’d to ride on the Tavern Guild’s float in this year’s parade — which marks the 30th anniversary of the event.

That number is lower than in recent years, but Patti Fink, president of the Dallas Gay and Lesbian Alliance, said she isn’t alarmed.

Fink noted that several council members were newly  elected in June, and the community hasn’t had a chance to build relationships with them. She also said she doesn’t put a lot of stock in RSVPs.

“We have to wait until Pride to see who’s on the float, because that’s really going to be where the proof is,” she said.

Doughman said council members who’ve RSVP’d are Scott Griggs, Adam Medrano, Rick Callahan, Monica Alonzo, Carolyn Davis, Tennell Atkins, Sheffie Kadane and Philip Kingston.

Only one sitting council member, Vonciel Hill, has publicly refused to appear in the parade because she is anti-LGBT.

—  John Wright

LGBT advocates clash with City Council members over equality resolution

LGBT activists turn their backs and walk out a Dallas City Council meeting Wednesday during remarks from Councilman Dwaine caraway about the equality resolution. (Anna Waugh/Dallas Voice)

LGBT activists turn their backs and walk out of a Dallas City Council meeting Wednesday during remarks from Councilman Dwaine Caraway about the equality resolution. (Anna Waugh/Dallas Voice)

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Activist Cd Kirven yells at Councilman Dwaine Caraway before leaving the meeting. (Patrick Hoffman/Dallas Voice)

LGBT advocates expressed their frustration over the lack of support for an equality resolution Wednesday morning at a Dallas City Council meeting.

Mayor Mike Rawlings was absent during the meeting, though he was not considered absent while in South America last week, preventing Mayor Pro Tem Pauline Medrano from using her power as acting mayor to place the equality resolution on the agenda.

The resolution supporting marriage equality and statewide LGBT-inclusive workplace protections, authored by Councilman Scott Griggs, was slated to be voted on Wednesday but never made the agenda after Councilmember Delia Jasso surprisingly withdrew her signature from a memo last month to require a vote. Jasso remained silent during the meeting. During the accusations from council members that the method of bringing the measure forward was misguided, Griggs also remained silent.

Tensions ran high after speakers addressed the council, resulting in several audience members walking out, turning their backs on Councilman Dwaine Caraway and even shouting at council members during the meeting.

Lesbian activist Cd Kirven said she expected more from council members and that they should support civil rights.

“You, as a municipal representative, should always represent those ideals and are a critical part of freedom’s foundation,” Kirven told council members. “Again the LGBT community is disappointed by officials who claim to be allies.”

—  Dallasvoice