Mayor Johnson: Building — and rebuilding — a better future for Dallas
This city continues to withstand challenges, such as flooding, as we make exciting progress on major issues together.
The following was adapted from my email newsletter. To subscribe, visit mayorofdallas.org.
First, thank you to everyone who came out to the Summer of Safety Celebration last weekend at the beautiful University of North Texas at Dallas campus. The festivities honored the work of the Dallas Police Department, other city departments, and this city’s communities to reduce violent crime while young people were out of school. (In case you missed it, violent crime actually dropped in Dallas this summer — something that rarely happens in major cities).
And congratulations again to Skyline High School, which won the top prize in the Battle of the Dallas ISD Drumlines. It was an amazing show, and all four competing schools walked away with some prize money for participating.
Overall, the celebration was a big success. Hundreds of residents came out and took advantage of the free food, live music, informational booths, games, and giveaways — including laptops and school supplies for kids.
This was an important event for Dallas. Public safety remains the top priority. And the Summer of Safety Celebration served as a reminder that it will require everyone working together to help Dallas achieve its goal of becoming the safest major city in the United States.
Hopefully, this celebration becomes an annual event to cap off a great summer of youth programming. Next year, it should be even bigger and better. So, make a tentative plan to be there and stay tuned for updates when the time comes!
Now, as promised, here are some other important updates on city issues.
Dallas was tested again last week. The historic storm was the latest in a series of disasters and extreme weather events that have struck this city over the past few years.
But, as always, Dallas withstood the test. This city and its people again proved to be strong, resilient, and generous.
For most people, the flooding is rapidly becoming nothing more than a wet, dreary memory. But for others — the folks with damaged cars, homes, or businesses — the effects will linger for some time.
Texas Governor Greg Abbott came to Dallas and joined me for a press conference at City Hall, where he announced that he was officially declaring a disaster for the region. I also toured flood damage at the Dallas Museum of Art along with Dallas City Councilmember Paul Ridley and Agustín Arteaga, the museum’s director. Thankfully, the art collection should be fine, and the museum remains open. But portions of the building will have to remain closed for now. Take a look:
The city is beginning the rebuilding process. You might be as well. Here’s what you need to know in the aftermath of the flooding:
Report your damage: Did your car, home, or other personal property suffer damage during the flooding? Make sure to put in a claim with your insurance company, and then report your damage to the state of Texas by clicking here. Any uninsured or underinsured damage could be counted in the state’s application for a federal disaster declaration. The region will need to meet certain cost thresholds to receive federal aid, so it’s important to report whatever losses you suffered to ensure that everyone gets the assistance that they need.
Turn around, don’t drown: It had been a while since Dallas experienced a major rain storm. And even after this “once-in-a-thousand-years” weather event, the city remains in a drought. But it’s important to keep safety in mind whenever the rain starts falling fast. This is serious stuff — when you see street flooding and high water, don’t take chances. Each time you take a gamble, you could put yourself and this city’s first responders in harm’s way. The City of Dallas was fortunate to not suffer any casualties from the flooding this time. (Mesquite, tragically, did experience a death). In this city, Dallas Fire-Rescue and the Dallas Police Department responded to more than 200 high-water incidents, including dozens of rescue situations. Police officers and firefighters deserve your gratitude — and your caution.
More infrastructure is coming: There isn’t really any infrastructure that can handle 15 inches of rain in five hours. But these events give your policymakers an opportunity to assess infrastructure needs. Now is the right time to have that conversation because the Dallas City Council just began to discuss a potential 2024 bond package. Thankfully, a major flood protection project — the Mill Creek/Peaks Branch/State-Thomas Drainage Relief Tunnel — is already in the works. The tunnel will provide 100-year flood protection for nearly 2,200 commercial and residential properties in the Uptown, East Dallas, Fair Park, and Baylor University Medical Center areas. Currently, those areas flood every few years. Construction began a few years ago, and the tunnel is scheduled to be completed in 2025. Here is a map of the project so you have an idea about the scope:
City staff will analyze what happened: The Dallas City Council will be briefed in September on an after-action analysis of the flood incident and the response. Assessments are still ongoing, but it’s always important to look at areas for improvement so everyone can be even more prepared the next time something like this happens. A relentless pursuit of perfection in city government must always be the goal.
Economic development wins
Finally, there were two major economic steps forward last week.
On Wednesday, the Dallas City Council unanimously approved the inaugural Economic Development Corporation (EDC) Board of Directors. I was part of the committee that nominated the new board members, who come from diverse backgrounds and experiences.
Here is the new EDC board:
- Alan Dorantes, Senior Corporate Counsel, T-Mobile USA Inc.
- Ardo Fuentes, Senior Vice President, Investments, Stifel
- Chris Bradshaw, Business Services Support Director, Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses
- Cynthia Figueroa, Managing Attorney, The Figueroa Law Group, PLLC
- Dania Duncan Moreno, Partner, Bell Nunnally & Martin LLP
- Debra Hunter Johnson, Founder, President, and Principal Consultant, Reciprocity Consulting Group, LLC
- Gilbert Gerst, Senior Vice President & Corporate Manager of Community Development Banking, BOK Financial Corporation
- Holly Reed, Current Principal & Advocacy Practice Leader, Ryan, LLC
- Jimmy Tran, Owner & Area Developer, Code Ninjas
- John Stephens, General Partner, MJ Lupton Partners LP
- Johnnie King, President, KG Concessions DFW, LP
- Kim Noltemy, President & CEO, Dallas Symphony Association
- Linda McMahon, President & CEO, The Real Estate Council
- Michon Fulgham, CRA Director, Community Development Lending Principal Advisor and CRA Community Development Director
- Walter “Alan” Walne, Chairman and CEO of Bottom Line Consultants, Inc.
Creating and implementing the EDC has been a top priority of this administration. Dallas is already racking up some major economic wins, but the EDC will help this city — the economic engine of the fourth-largest and fastest-growing metropolitan area in the nation — assert itself more aggressively regionally, nationally, and internationally. Other cities have had EDCs for years. It’s time for Dallas to step up its game and compete at a higher level.
Second, on Thursday, I announced a new initiative aimed at helping businesses and entrepreneurs successfully enter the franchise space — particularly in southern Dallas.
Carlos White, one of the city’s top lawyers, will oversee the initiative. The goal is to make Dallas a global hub for franchising by forming partnerships that can help teach this city’s residents how to create, systematize, and scale successful businesses.
Read more about this exciting new initiative by clicking here.
Together, Dallas will continue to build — and rebuild when necessary — for a brighter, more vibrant future.
That’s all the updates for now. Hope you finish the week strong and an awesome Labor Day weekend. Thanks for reading. Thanks again to those of you who came to the budget town halls and the Summer of Safety Celebration. And thank you to all of you who quietly work to make Dallas a little bit better every single day.