Tollway authority adds LGBT protections

North Texas Tollway Authority board members Jane Willard and David Denison listen as a Resource Center Dallas board member asks the NTTA board to approve an amendment that adds sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression to the EEO policy April 18. Denison, who opposed sending the amendment to the board at an April 5 committee meeting, abstained from the vote. (Anna Waugh/Dallas Voice)

The North Texas Tollway Authority Board of Directors approved an amendment Wednesday morning to add sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression to the company’s Equal Employment Opportunity policy.

One of the nine board members was absent, but the amendment was approved with seven members in favor and one abstention.

The administration committee approved sending the amendment to the full board with a 2-1 vote April 5. While two committee members were absent for the briefing and vote, committee member George “Tex” Quesada strongly supported the amendment and recommended the Board of Directors vote in favor of it. Committee Chairwoman Jane Willard also voted yes. Committee member David Denison called the amendment “ridiculous” before voting no. He abstained from the vote Wednesday after Willard and Quesada moved to adopt the amendment without further comments from board members.

Before the vote, Maeve O’Connor, a Resource Center Dallas board member, spoke about her experience a “woman born with a transsexual medical condition.” She encouraged the board to add the protections and explained the difference of sexual orientation and gender rolls, calling gender expression the “in between space of gender identity and gender role.”

“From personal experience, I can tell you that my path of transition has not always been an easy one,” she said. “A person must be able to express their gender identity in order to fit the ascribed gender role … and it makes it difficult for an employee that’s working in your workforce to move onto that next step and realize the identity that they’ve always know of themselves.”

O’Connor concluded by encouraging the NTTA to consider working with RCD to help employees understand gender identity and expression.

Rafael McDonnell, RCD’s communications and advocacy manager, said he was surprised but “exceptionally pleased” that seven of the board members voted in favor of the amendment. He said he was counting on five votes for approval with the two members from Dallas and Tarrant counties and support from Willard, a member from Collin County. NTTA’s board consists of nine members, two from Dallas, Tarrant, Collin and Denton counties, as well as one member appointed by the governor.

After RCD and Fairness Fort Worth approached NTTA in December, McDonnell said he was impressed with the board’s proactive approach to quickly adopting LGBT protections without an incident of discrimination to spark the additions later. He said he would follow up with NTTA in the next few weeks to offer additional support and help in possible diversity training.

“We’ll be glad to work with them in any way,” he said.

NTTA is now the sixth agency in Dallas County to add or expand LGBT protections in recent years. The other agencies that have updated their policies are Dallas County, Dallas Independent School District, Dallas County Community College District, DFW International Airport and Dallas Area Rapid Transit.

Tarrant County College District, Fort Worth Independent School District and the city of Fort Worth have also added protections.

NTTA spokesman Michael Rey said the authority has 690 employees. While the LGBT protections will take effect immediately, he said the EEO policy and employee handbook would be officially changed in the upcoming weeks to reflect the changes.

—  Anna Waugh

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