Leaders must show up and listen even when they disagree

The Fort Worth City Council meeting, August 1, 2017.
The Fort Worth City Council meeting, August 1, 2017. pmoseley@star-telegram.com

When Fort Worth City Councilwoman Ann Zadeh, District 9, proposed that the city lower the tax rate 2 cents instead of 3, and — for the first time with the Fort Worth Transportation Authority — divert some of its property tax revenue towards expanding the local bus service, we were intrigued.

City leaders often talk a big game about expanding regional transit, but finding the financial and political support to make it happen is another story entirely.

What Zadeh had proposed would generate about $5.7 from tax revenues for the T in 2018.

Zadeh’s proposal came late in the city budget process and it meant the city would need to hold additional hearings on the proposed tax rate, on a tight schedule, too. So we didn’t know if the plan would work but we wanted more details and an opportunity to hear from residents.

A majority of city council members agreed to consider setting the proposed property tax rate for 2018 to 81.5 cents per $100 assessed valuation instead of 80.5 cents, so we assumed they wanted to hear more, too.

Apparently not.

The council had scheduled a special session for a public hearing to change the property tax rate last Friday.

But that meeting never happened after a quorum of council members failed to show up, effectively killing the measure.

According to the Star-Telegram’s Sandra Baker, three members had schedule conflicts that were known to the council. That should have made hearing attendance all the more critical for the two members — Cary Moon of District 4 and Jungus Jordan of District 6 — who absence was unexplained.

It didn’t seem to.

Particularly maddening is that Moon was conducting interviews outside of city hall only steps away from the hearing.

If there was something — other than his opposition to the proposal — that prevented him from entering the building to join his colleagues and fellow Fort Worthians for the meeting, we’d sure like to know.

Zadeh’s transit proposal may have failed on its merits. Perhaps it should have. Instead, it failed because two of our city leaders refused to show up and listen.

That should never happen.