Mayor Rawlings not shy in setting forth Goals for Dallas

Neighborsgo by Dallas Morning News

Scott Goldstine, February 7 2014

In commemorating the 50th anniversary of former Dallas Mayor J. Erik Jonsson’s famous Goals for Dallas program, the current mayor on Thursday laid out some lofty goals of his own.

Mike Rawlings told a luncheon crowd at Southern Methodist University that he would "be bold enough to suggest four goals for us."

They are:

• Build a tax base in southern Dallas that’s greater than that in the city’s northern region.

• Become the business "epicenter" of the Western Hemisphere.

• Be a destination for the world’s greatest artists.

• Establish the best public education system among the 10 biggest U.S. cities.

"You’re probably saying, ‘What are you talking about? A greater tax base and tax revenue in southern Dallas than we have in northern Dallas?’" the mayor said.

He added that the southern reaches of the city are beautiful, more expansive, more affordable and full of opportunities.

A top priority, he said, is to turn the Trinity River into an asset that pulls the city together, rather than a barrier that divides it. He noted the progress that will be made this year on the Trinity River Corridor Project.

"We’re going to have bike trails down there for the first time," he said. "We’re going to finish two bridges, we’re going to have, finally, the flood issues resolved with pump stations that we’ve been building."

He also touted the exclusive Trinity Forest Golf Course, a championship course being built on an old landfill near Loop 12 and Interstate 45.

Rawlings spoke at a luncheon at SMU’s Cary M. Maguire Center for Ethics and Public Responsibility. The event celebrated the legacy of Jonsson’s Goals for Dallas.

Jonsson, one of the founders of Texas Instruments, was sworn in as Dallas mayor 50 years ago this week — just three months after the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. The idea of Goals for Dallas was to involve residents in developing long-term objectives for the city. It was also Jonsson’s way of getting Dallas to look forward again, instead of dwelling on the tragedy of Nov. 22, 1963.

Among major public works projects that bore Jonsson’s imprimatur were Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport, the current Dallas City Hall, the downtown convention center, the Martin Luther King Jr. Community Center, numerous library branches and key portions of the area’s freeway system, including Woodall Rodgers Freeway and parts of LBJ Freeway.

Rawlings said there’s never been a better time than the present to be living in Dallas.

But he added that it’s important to ask whether this is the best the city has to offer.

"Are these going to be the glory days when we look back 50 years from now?" he asked.

On his goal of becoming a business epicenter, he reiterated his belief that the Dallas-Fort Worth region should be sold internationally as a single package.

"I think we live in a city called D-FW," he said.

Noting the growing list of international flights into and out of D/FW Airport, he urged the audience to "think international."

But, as he often says, education is the key to all. Rawlings is a vocal supporter of Mike Mikes, the Dallas schools superintendent, who was in attendance.

The mayor called for excellence in public education from "cradle to career," saying, "Pre-K is critical."
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