Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings posed a key question to city and business leaders at his last State of the City Address, Tuesday, Dec. 4 at the Hyatt Regency in Downtown Dallas: “The question is whether you want this curve (of growth) to continue over the next 20 years, or do you want it to flatten?”
It was one of many thoughts and questions Rawlings expressed in his question-and-answer discussion with Rudy Bush, Deputy Editor of Editorials for The Dallas Morning News.
“That’s a big question this city’s going to have to wrestle with in the coming years,” Rawlings said. “I believe that, as (author and Gallup CEO) James Clifton calls it, there’s a jobs war out there. Where a city’s… got to keep moving forward, or it’s going to die.”
The discussion between Bush and Rawlings spanned the highlights and most-challenging moments of Rawlings’ tenure – from fatal police shootings that shocked the city to the 50-percent growth in Dallas’ property tax base. More than 800 business leaders attended the event, which was was organized by the Dallas Regional Chamber.
Rawlings, former Pizza Hut CEO and the 61st mayor of Dallas, will end his tenure as mayor on June 17, 2019; the city’s charter limits city council and mayoral officeholders to two, four-year terms.
At the Dec. 4 event, Rawlings recalled that when he took office in 2011, Dallas was still emerging from a recession that was still ravaging the nation. He said that when he took the helm as mayor, he didn’t know exactly what to expect, but that his practice as an executive is to examine an organization’s DNA, and to establish a narrative and a vision that compliments that organization’s strengths.
To Rawlings, Dallas was “Big D.”
“We were the home of Jean and (Texas Instruments founder) Norm McDermott,” Rawlings said. “And the great Erik Jonsson, who said, ‘Dream no small dreams.’ We had Ross Perot, who created EDS. We had Herb Kelleher who was, with a glass of whiskey, drawing lines on napkins to develop Southwest Airlines. Stanley Marcus took on Paris. We have Jerry Jones and Mark Cuban. And this swagger that was out there.”
At the same time, Rawlings said, it appeared that Dallas had lost some of its swagger.
“I said… people come from all over the country to be a part of this. And we’ve got to make sure that we continue to spread that belief.”
Rawlings said he set his second primary objective as boosting development in Southern Dallas.
“Nobody had really dealt with Southern Dallas — (it’s the) largest part of our landmass. And a great opportunity. And so I said, ‘Aha. If we leverage Southern Dallas, and bring back that swagger, maybe that’s the formula for success.’”
He added that boosting Southern Dallas would help end the wealth disparity between the northern Dallas and southern Dallas.
“The Southern Dallas thing was not just a geographic issue, it’s a bit of a metaphor for including everybody in this growth,” Rawlings said. “Because Dallas had been historically a tale of two cities. We’ve got to make sure that the growth that we want to have includes everybody.”
The Dallas Regional Chamber has been working with Rawlings as part of its mission to create better career options for students and to establish a highly trained workforce for the Dallas Region’s growing economy. The DRC has also assisted Rawlings in promoting his GrowSouth initiative, which aims to improve the quality of life and to deliver jobs to Southern Dallas.
The DRC State of the City event was presented by Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Texas; gold sponsors were American Airlines; Littler Mendelson, P.C.; and Oncor; silver sponsors included Austin College; Axxess; DFW International Airpor; Imaginuity Interactive; The Men and Women of Hunt Consolidated, Inc.; and West Monroe Partners LLC.
by Dave Moore, Staff Writer
A crowd of more than 200 business and community leaders gathered to hear North Texas U.S. representatives Pete Sessions and Marc Veasey address the issues of free trade, public aid and a new citizenship-related question proposed for the 2020 U.S. Census.
The event, which was held by the Dallas Regional Chamber, occurred at the Fairmont in downtown Dallas on Oct. 19.
While both Congressmen agreed that renegotiated trade deals with Canada and Mexico would pass, they had different takes on how the White House approached the task.
“Increasingly, we have products and services back home that we want to protect,” said Sessions, whose 32nd Congressional district includes northern Dallas, Richardson and Garland. Sessions said the updated trade agreements – in particular, as they pertain to preserving energy property rights in Mexico, and improving intellectual property protections – were sorely needed.
Veasey, meanwhile, said while he supported updating the treaties, President Donald Trump overstated how bad the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) was.
“While campaigning, the president said that NAFTA was … the worst deal ever,” said Veasey, whose 33rd Congressional District spans from portions of Fort Worth to Arlington to Irving to portions of Dallas. “Of course, the people in the business community in this state and in this city would disagree with that. They would say that NAFTA was actually good for the local and state economy. Nevertheless, people just wanted to change the name of it.”
Veasey said he took issue with how President Trump went about changing the agreements.
“As you know, Canada and Mexico are two of our largest trading partners,” he said. “Canada is one of our strongest allies. The way he wanted to put them under certain classifications, that would make them a threat to U.S. security, was completely unnecessary.”
Sessions said that the Trump administration accomplished what the Obama administration couldn’t.
“The previous administration was incapable of organizing itself around any trade deal, or trade practice,” Sessions said. “It’s one thing to argue, ‘I don’t like that, I don’t like that.’ I want someone to do something about it. I think we did something about it.”
Public Assistance Policies
In light of a new proposed rule by the Administration that would penalize the use of public assistance programs by legal immigrants, the representatives launched into a divided discussion on entitlement programs as a whole.
Veasey said it was once a bipartisan notion that it should be relatively easy for children to get educations, and that low-income individuals should receive SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program – formerly known as food stamp) benefits. Improper nutrition can lead to health problems, costing more in the long run, he said.
Sessions said Republicans are advocating for a 20-hour-per-week work or volunteer requirement for those who receive public assistance. He added public assistance isn’t supposed to be a permanent fix for able-bodied people. People are abusing the current system, and that it’s costing taxpayers hundreds of billions, he said.
“There is a federal law that allows every single able-bodied male between the ages of 19 and 50 to receive food stamps,” he said. “I don’t think they should be on food stamps.”
“These are the kinds of battles that take place (between Republicans and Democrats),” he said. “It’s not about children or women. It’s about people who should not be there, crowding in and out from people who actually need it: Disabled people, children (and) women.” he said.
Veasey said Republicans have long tried to demonize and stereotype individuals who draw public aid.
“Back in the ‘80s, there was the fictitious welfare queen,” Veasey said. “I don’t know how many of you have toured a public housing project, but they’re not palaces. Why they decided to make this person a ‘welfare queen,’ I have no idea.”
“Most of these people who use these benefits, are working,” Veasey said, adding that transportation issues and mental illness often hamper people from improving their situations. “The stereotype that these people are sitting on their can, watching TV all day, is just not true.”
Proposed citizenship status question on the 2020 Census
“Counting people is hard,” Sessions said. “Getting people to answer the door is hard. They ask a bunch of questions, including how many toilets you have in your house. They ask about what language is spoken. I think it would be important for us to know demographically … I would say, it’s fair to ask the question, ‘Are you here as a United States citizen?’ If they asked the question, ‘Are you here illegally?’ I probably would not be for that.”
Veasey said that the insertion of that question into the biennial Census is an attempt to undercount residents, to effectively disenfranchising voters.
“If you read our Constitution, it says everyone should be counted,” Veasey said. “There are a lot of benefits that would go to the Republican Party if certain people were not counted. Including how we do our reapportionment” of Congressional seats every 10 years. Veasey said that when minorities or undocumented people don’t complete their Census forms, they aren’t included in demographic data used to determine congressional representation.
Sessions said the proposed question has nothing to do with disenfranchising voters.
“People who are here legally can go and register to vote, they can make those decisions,” Sessions said. “This is (about) counting people.”
Rectifying the U.S.-China Trade Relationship
“There are people on [the President’s] economic team, who have told him these tariffs are very bad,” said Veasey, citing roughly $13 billion in bailouts U.S. farmers have received as a result. “We impose these tariffs, and they retaliate, and suddenly, we have no markets for these (agricultural) products.”
Sessions said, “The presumption is that we have a fair trade deal with China. It presumes things are going well. The Chinese are brutal with the United States, in the way it does business. They steal. They thieve. They manipulate and they deceive. In the Dallas market, we’re familiar with a number of famous cases where a Chinese partner came in, took all the intellectual property, and fled. And sold their share to the government of China, which then claimed sovereign immunity.”
Intellectual property theft is rife in Shanghai, Sessions said.
“When Donald Trump became president … it changed the landscape. We played hardball with the Chinese. You just can’t allow somebody to steal and thieve … you were taking advantage of us, and expecting us to turn our head. We’ve been putting up our white flag at the Chinese for too darn long.”
Veasey agreed that some Chinese companies are bad actors, and that the U.S. needs to protect its intellectual property. At the same time, President Trump needs to tone down his rhetoric and tariffs, or he risks permanently losing markets for U.S. farmers.
Gold-level sponsors for the event include Advocare; Lockheed Martin; and Texas Central; silver-level sponsors include Boeing and Texas Instruments Incorporated.
Dear DRC Members,
This Saturday, June 16, Dallas County voters will elect the Dallas Independent School District trustee for District 9 in a run-off election.
Voting in local elections has an outsized impact. Past Dallas ISD trustee elections have been decided by as few as 400 votes, so every vote counts. Last May, only 7.8% of registered voters in Dallas turned out to the polls, selecting the leaders who make decisions on behalf of the 2.55 million residents in Dallas County.
Dallas ISD has made tremendous progress over the last several years with innovative programs, from the opening of 23 early college academies (where students can graduate high school with a two-year associate’s degree), to the launch of full-day pre-school for 4-year-olds and half-day for 3-year-olds, to the improvement in the quality of education for all students, including turning around virtually all 43 “Improvement Required” schools in Dallas ISD in the past four years.
Continuing this momentum is paramount if we want to have the community and workforce necessary to continue to grow Dallas’ economic success.
Please remember to vote this Saturday, June 16, and encourage your colleagues, friends, and family members to do so as well.
All best wishes,
President and CEO
Dallas Regional Chamber
by Dave Moore, Staff Writer
Texas senior Sen. John Cornyn told a crowd of more than 200 attendees that he will continue to work with President Donald Trump and his peers in Congress to preserve trade agreements, to avoid a trade war and to resolve conflicts over immigration.
Cornyn spoke Friday, May 4, at the Dallas Regional Chamber’s Legislative Speaker Series at the Hyatt Regency Dallas. Former U.S. Ambassador and current Hunt Consolidated executive Jeanne Phillips hosted the conversation with him, leading with a question over the Trump administration’s trade policies.
“It’s hard, in the Trump administration, to know what is theater and what’s reality, and that’s just sort of the way the administration operates,” Cornyn said. “And they negotiate in ways that are not what I would call orthodox when it comes to politics or international relationships.”
Cornyn said Trump’s instincts on the economy, taxes and regulations are very solid. Trade is another question, he said.
“The trade part confuses me because I think the president, his rhetoric — which is, I think, more populist than policy-oriented — I think he blames trade for a lot of things that are not necessarily directly trade related.”
Trump is gaining an appreciation for the potential retaliation that can occur with heavy tariffs, Cornyn said.
“So, I think what we’ve tried to do on NAFTA (the North American Free Trade Agreement) and on the tariffs, and on China, is to try to work with the president, encouraging him in ways that would first do no harm,” he said. “NAFTA, is, I think, very important to Texas. Five million American jobs… depend on that binational relation with Mexico. Eight million with Canada. This is really important.”
Cornyn, who was elected to the U.S. Senate in 2002, mentioned that preserving the agreement is especially important to some of those in attendance, including Toyota Motor North America.
“There is a point at which we can kill the goose that laid the golden egg, and I think that would be a terrible, terrible mistake,” he said.
Cornyn said while he agrees that President Trump’s approach has been correct in addressing China over its aggressive behavior in the South China Sea and to defend American intellectual property, Trump sometimes ties U.S. trade policies to such behaviors.
“We hear a lot from her ranchers and farmers who are particularly beleaguered, and, in the end, nobody really wants a trade war,” he said.
When asked about the conflict over the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, Cornyn said opponents to Trump’s solution chose to make it a campaign issue, rather than resolving it when they had the chance. President Donald Trump proposed a path for citizenship for roughly 1.8 million DACA-eligible young adults, and a border wall with Mexico.
“There is a saying in Washington, D.C., that some people want a solution, while others want an issue they can use for the next election,” Cornyn said “I’m afraid… we’ve become captive of people wanting to preserve the issue for the election, rather than solve the problem, and that’s a real shame.”
Cornyn said, “In America, we don’t hold children responsible for the mistakes their parents made… We had to demonstrate, ‘Yes we want border security, yes, we want the rule of law, but there is a role for compassion and pragmatism, when it comes to DACA, and the president’s proposal to generate a pathway to citizenship for 1.8 million DACA-eligible young adults was extraordinarily generous,” he said. “It came with a price. The president said he wanted money for border security and here again some of the rhetoric on border security like, ‘The wall tends to be divisive,’ and people sort of ridicule that, from the standpoint of, ‘Well, that’s not a real solution. You need more than just physical infrastructure,’ and that’s true… but that’s a critical piece of the puzzle.”
In January, Democrats and Republicans presented a compromise agreement involving DACA; that deal was rejected by President Trump.
The DRC supports the continuation of DACA and has been actively engaged in the dialogue by sending multiple letters to elected officials and signing on to a national coalition letter with other chambers and the New American Economy. The DRC will continue to emphasize DACA’s importance to our skilled workforce and regional economy.
Cornyn said that resolving the immigration issue is key in meeting industry demands for qualified workers.
Phillips also asked Cornyn about whether the tax reform faces any revisions.
“We all know how complex and how self-defeating our tax code had become particularly when it comes to our top business rate, which was the highest in the world, at 35 percent,” he said. “Getting it down to 21 percent – which we did – which is the average of the industrialized countries in the world, I think is going to have a lot of benefits.”
Cornyn said he’s starting to seeing major businesses including AT&T, Southwest Airlines and others give bonuses and make commitments to infrastructure investment.
“You’re gonna see a lot of money coming back, that’s parked overseas, because people didn’t want to pay taxes twice on it, coming back to the United States, being invested in businesses and jobs here,” he said. “So, I think we’re going to see a huge benefit… Now, we could screw it up, and if we don’t get the trade thing right, [we] could well do that. But it is it is really encouraging.”
The Men and Women of Hunt Consolidated, Inc. was the gold sponsor of the event; Texas Central Partners was a silver sponsor.
Dear DRC Members,
On Saturday, May 5th, Dallas County voters will elect the Dallas Independent School District trustee for District 9 and the Dallas County Community College District (DCCCD) trustee for District 7. Voters outside of Dallas County will be electing mayors, city councilmembers, and deciding bond elections across the region.
Voting in local elections has an outsized impact. Past Dallas ISD trustee elections have been decided by as few as 400 votes. Last May, only 7.8% of registered voters in Dallas turned out to the polls, selecting the leaders who make decisions on behalf of the 2.55 million residents in Dallas County.
Please remember to vote on Election Day on Saturday, May 5, and encourage your colleagues, friends, and family members to do so as well.
All best wishes,
President and CEO
Dallas Regional Chamber
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