Political And Other Miscellany From A Stout Democrat In Dallas Texas.
"Politics is the only game for adults." --from Robert A. Heinlein's Double Star

Wednesday, September 29, 2004


Long-time local Democratic activist Tom Blackwell emailed me this copy of an endorsement of a local Democratic candidate, Diana Lackey, against a Republican incumbent. This is utterly astounding, because it comes from the only major daily "newspaper" we have, which Jean refers to as the "Dallas Morning Nothing". Usually, to preserve their fatuous claim of being an independent voice, they endorse one or two Democrats each year, almost invariably incumbents who have absolutely no chance of losing. That way they get to call them up and say their endorsement helped. This endorsement means that the incumbent Tax Assessor must be really, really bad -- unless he just personally irked some member of the Belo family which owns that rag.

Only the passage of federal civil rights laws which are actually enforced (sometimes) has made that paper change from its long history of supporting segregation and racism (feel free to look it up in the old copies at the library). They still remain a willfully reactionary shill for the local wealthy establishment, unrelenting in their distaste in practice for personal freedom, civil liberties, social progress, separation of church and state, political dissent against Republican Presidents, and peaceful resolution of any conflicts. The few good reporters who have worked there hardly make even a scratch on the stone wall of their editorial troglodytes.

I refuse to register with such a scummy company even to read their editorials on line, so I'm taking Tom's word for this. Here's the copy he sent me. [And you know the usual routine: "This contains copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available in our efforts to advance understanding of environmental, political, human rights, economic, democracy, scientific, and social justice issues, etc. We believe this constitutes a 'fair use' of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law."]
Dallas Morning News Editorial - September 29, 2004
Tax Assessor-Collector:
Lackey can give office boost it needs

In Texas, county tax assessors perform many functions, including collecting fees from vending machine operators, issuing auto license tags and registering cars and boats. But the heart of the job is collecting taxes owed by property owners to the county and to other local jurisdictions that contract with the county to collect their taxes.

In the last year for which statistics are available, the Dallas County tax office, headed by 15-year GOP incumbent David Childs, collected 95.8 percent of the taxes owed the county. That sounds good, but it puts Dallas County fourth among Texas' five major urban counties. (Only Harris County was less effective.)

One year might be a fluke, but for the past 10 years Dallas County's collection rate has consistently lagged those of Tarrant, Travis and Bexar counties. If Mr. Childs' office had been as effective as the other three, averaged, Dallas County's coffers would have been fatter by $43 million over that period.

When we asked Mr. Childs about the other counties' superior performance, he said he was unaware of it. Democrat Diana Lackey indicated on her online questionnaire that she understands the usefulness of such comparisons. That's one reason we recommend her for tax assessor-collector.

The 51-year-old challenger, who has a bachelor's of science in accounting from San Diego State University, comes with an impressive resume and glowing recommendations from her former employers in California's Santa Clara and San Diego counties. Between them, she worked in those counties' tax offices for 24 years, working her way up from a trainee in San Diego to the No. 2 person in the Santa Clara office. (Santa Clara, site of San Jose, is California's fourth-most-populous county.) During her six-year tenure there, the county's collection rate jumped substantially over previous years'.

Mr. Childs, who is 50, taught high school history and worked in the Dallas County clerk's office before winning the assessor's post. He subsequently earned a doctorate in administration from the University of Texas at Arlington. He also holds a bachelor's degree in education from Louisiana State University and a master's in history from the University of New Orleans.

It may be time for a change in Dallas County. This sentiment was affirmed when we discovered that Mr. Childs has not filed a statement of his personal financial holdings with the county clerk's office as required by law. He left the multipage form blank, saying in a cover memo that anyone wanting information about his holdings could make inquiries of his bank and his accountant. He told us he intends to file the document with the county clerk but, because of short staffing in his office and his busy schedule, did not do so by the deadline as required by law.

That's not good enough.

Fortunately, voters have an excellent alternative. We feel confident that Ms. Lackey can take the tax office to the next level. The presidential election may get most of the attention, but Americans will have a full ballot on Nov. 2.

Early voting begins on Oct. 18 and ends on Oct. 29.


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