The attempt to fast-track the performance review of City Manager TC Broadnax has turned into a messy, confusing pile of allegations and behind-the-scenes chatter chaired by a mayor who has made clear his preference for the chief executive of Dallas be removed from office.

After Mayor Eric Johnson went public with his support for Broadnax’s firing – first in a statement calling for ‘a change in city management’, then in an email newsletter with the subject line ‘I spent l ‘appeal’ – some of his colleagues have withdrawn their support. .

And this is where things get complicated. Let’s start at the top.

Last Wednesday, five board members signed what is called a five-signature memorandum. It is a mechanism for a block of representatives to ask the mayor to put an item on the agenda of a city council committee and during a regular briefing so that the whole body can To hear. It basically speeds up a priority problem. The council has used it in the past to motivate staff to develop a housing policy and reconsider ball diamond plans at Reverchon Park.

Council members Chad West, Cara Mendelsohn, Paula Blackmon, Jesse Moreno and Adam Bazaldua signed such a memo, and it was filed with the City Clerk’s office on the morning of Thursday, June 8. city ​​manager and related action. »

It included a brief background overview: “While performance reviews are tentatively scheduled for the end of the month, we believe that for the good of the City of Dallas, we must act quickly. We hereby request that the City Manager’s performance review and any related official action supported by a majority of the Dallas City Council be scheduled for Wednesday, June 15, 2022.”

Under the terms of its contract, the Board only needs eight votes to discipline or remove Broadnax.

On Thursday, West and fellow Gay Donnell Willis and Tennell Atkins — two board members who, at that time, had not signed any official documents — met with Broadnax privately. In a text message he sent me, Willis later explained that the city manager had “offered the courtesy of submitting a letter of resignation.” Several sources claim that he received a deadline of Friday at noon to communicate his intention to resign. That didn’t happen, even after another encounter with Willis and Blackmon. Then the mayor made his gesture.

Two other memos were filed. The mayor filed one calling for an executive session to “discuss and evaluate the performance and employment of City Manager TC Broadnax”. Shortly thereafter, Willis, Mendelsohn and Blackmon filed a memo requesting a special meeting before the full body to “consider taking appropriate action related to the City Manager’s performance, including discipline or removal.”

The performance review would take place behind closed doors; the special meeting would just be an action point, where the body would vote on what was discussed privately. If the body voted to fire Broadnax, the city charter requires that an item be placed on the agenda before discussion. This special meeting was scheduled just in case.

Dallas TC Broadnax City Manager

Yesterday everything exploded. The mayor announced there would be no executive session and Willis, Blackmon and Mendelsohn canceled the special meeting. The city manager has a standard performance review tentatively scheduled for June 23, an annual discussion led by a consultant. These three council members issued a joint statement:

“After listening to our colleagues, we have asked the City Clerk to cancel the special meeting called for Wednesday. We believe it is important that all colleagues feel this process is fair and transparent and we look forward to a frank discussion on performance appraisal. »

And then the backtracking and dithering began. Councilman Bazaldua, one of the members who signed the original five-signature memo, wrote on Facebook: “Mayor’s staff fabricated this memo and submitted it to [sic] themselves.” He alleged that “my digital signature was used for this memo, without my consent.”

In a phone call this morning, Bazaldua said he “never gave permission to use ‘his signature’ on a five-signature memo and that I was never going to be part of a official note”. He added: ‘What I was originally asked was if I would participate in an internal document, a letter to TC, asking them to discuss personnel matters further with the agency.’

He says Tristan Hallman, the mayor’s head of policy and communications, “explicitly” told him “that it won’t see the light of day. This is not official documentation. It will not be stamped by the municipal clerk. An email obtained by Magazine D shows one of Bazaldua’s aides sending the councilman’s digital signature to Hallman on Wednesday morning. (The subject line was “CM Bazaldua Signature”.)

The purpose of what he put his name to, Bazaldua told me, was to let “TC see that there was enough support for us to sit down and have a more serious conversation about performance. “.

Hallman denies the memory of Bazaldua. “I never said we wouldn’t stamp it,” he said. “I said the mayor would put the item on the agenda as his own item, if necessary.”

The idea appears to be a way to show Broadnax there was broad support to formally discuss its future with the city, an assessment that could end in public punishment or dismissal. Maybe the city manager sees this, counts to eight, and quits to keep the matter from becoming public. (West says Broadnax didn’t get the memo when they met.)

West, Blackmon and Mendelsohn, three of the other signatories, all said they knew they were signing a five-signature memo. (Moreno did not return calls and texts for comment.)

But West said he was assured the note would not be filed “without the consent of all five people, myself included. I never consented” to his filing. West, Bazaldua and Moreno have all requested that their names be removed.

It may sound like we’re hacking into the weeds, but it shows the process of a failed coup. If Broadnax had submitted its resignation on Friday, we would probably never have heard of this five-signature memo. The names of West, Bazaldua and Moreno would not appear on anything that officially calls for a process that could end in the removal of the city’s chief executive, whether or not his removal is their intention. But they signed a memo, and it’s within the mayor’s office to file it. Don’t want your name on anything? Don’t sign it.

Their intention is now public, spreading through social media, newspapers and television. (And Atkins, who was at the meeting where the city manager was offered the opportunity to resign, didn’t sign his name to anything. “I’m not getting myself in trouble,” he said. he told the WFAA. Indeed.)

Rather than resign, Broadnax patiently waited for the coup to collapse. Johnson has never made a secret of his displeasure with the city manager, even going back to working out responsibilities during the pandemic. He asked the Texas attorney general for an opinion detailing his powers while the city was operating under a disaster declaration. The pair nearly fought in a meeting while discussing the police response to the George Floyd protests. “I am the city manager. I run this town,” Broadnax told the mayor.

In the days following news of the possibility of Broadnax being fired, the Dallas Builders Association and the firefighters union both issued lengthy statements calling for the city manager’s removal. Even MP Eddie Bernice Johnson weighed in, tell the Dallas Morning News that she is “well aware of the discontent of business owners in the Fair Park and South Dallas communities who feel the city is not hearing their voices”. It was probably the kind of public rallying some board members hoped to avoid by receiving a letter of resignation.

Broadnax has stumbled in recent months, particularly with a years-long failure to fix the city’s permitting process. It still takes months to issue commercial and residential permits that other cities process in days or weeks. Yet he downplayed the issue, saying the brouhaha was a creation of the media.

Perhaps a skilled politician could have used the city manager’s recent defeats to unseat him. But that’s not what happened, and now the whole game plan is out, much to the chagrin of some who were involved.

Their strategy failed. And now that it does, it will be worth seeing how these folks will put their personal animosity behind them and take care of running the town. At least, until the next Broadnax performance review.

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Matt Bonman

Matt Bonman

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Matt Goodman is the Online Editorial Director of Magazine D. He wrote about a surgeon who killed, a man who…