Kunkle did the right thing. Now it's time to fix Lower Greenville

Dallas Police Department Chief David Kunkle announced Friday afternoon he had terminated DPD Central Division Sgt. Ramon Gonzalez for sending obscene email to me (using a City of Dallas computer) just 37 minutes after I was issued a now-dismissed citation for abusing the 911 system (DMN story - Chief's message: No bad cops - registration required).

Chief Kunkle has the final authority and responsibility for deciding on the appropriate punishment for this act. I support him as he went through what is obviously a difficult process.

As a city employee, Sgt Gonzalez has an opportunity to do something very few private sector employees are allowed – he can (and probably will) appeal his firing (with the support of his union) through a civil process that will take him before the Assistant City Manager over DPD (click here to see an explanation of the appeals process -DMN registration required). If the officer is not satisfied with the City's final decision, he has one year to file an appeal in the state court system.

I have absolutely no personal feelings – positive or negative – towards Sgt. Gonzalez. To the best of my knowledge, I have never even met him. It was his decision to write an obscene email to me and hit the SEND key on the keyboard. And now he must suffer the consequences of that action.

Sgt. Gonzalez' termination is not the end of the problem. Two emails were sent from the DPD Central Division on the Friday before his email was sent – and to date, no one has identified the person(s) who wrote them.

Access to the DPD computer system must be revised and upgraded to prevent this kind of abuse and harassment against a citizen from ever happening again.

Even though the 911 abuse ticket was dismissed in less than 48 hours, the public relations nightmare it created for the department will take years to undo.

These events are not isolated issues. They are the direct result of poor leadership and morale within the DPD Central Division – and these problems must be fixed immediately.

They are just another symptom of the problems on Lower Greenville that I have been writing about for nearly eight years.

The City of Dallas has neglected this area for so long – ignoring major code and zoning issues, for example – that we are now beginning to experience what Deep Ellum has already gone through.

The recent shooting on Middle Greenville and the slashings on Lower Greenville are just the beginning of a long downward spiral that must be stopped before a neighborhood resident is caught in the crossfire or run over by a drunk bar patron.

Verbal and physical assaults taking place on poorly lit neighborhood streets, unfettered parking by bar patrons in residential areas, and the impact of noise and traffic on the quality of life in the area – all this adds up to a disaster in the making.

Many things can – and should – be done now if we are to prevent another neighborhood disaster.

Click here to see comments on Lower Greenville from Dallas City Council Member Angela Hunt (District 14, which represents the east side of Lower Greenville and both sides north of Belmont). To date, we have not heard one word from Pauline Medrano, who represents the west side of Lower Greenville south of Belmont

Examples -

Is it a bar or a restaurant?

There are more than 30 TABC Mixed Beverage permits in force between Belmont and Ross Avenues. Most of these businesses are operating in areas zoned for Community Retail businesses, and claim to be (on their Certificates of Occupancy), “restaurants without drive-in service.”

Yet most of them do not serve food, let alone even have food prep facilities. They are bars, and they are not supposed to be operating on Lower Greenville.

It’s time for the City to revoke their Certificates of Occupancy. It’s time for the City to audit these business under existing code. It’s time for the City Staff to get off its collective butt and do their job.

Illegal dance halls

There is only one legally approved Dance Hall permit on Lower Greenville. Yet nearly every large bar and restaurant on Lower Greenville has a disc jockey playing music for large crowds. Do you really think he is spinning the Top 40 tunes??? It’s time for DPD Vice to sweep Lower Greenville’s bars again and again until these businesses go away.

Show me the parking

The bars use – and depend on – our neighborhood streets to provide free parking for their patrons, the ones who cannot afford valet parking services. Resident Only Parking allows us to take back our streets, but at a steep price (nearly $400 per street after paying for the survey and signs). The ROP law must be changed by reducing the charges.

I call on the business community – the ones who are legally operating anywhere on Lower Greenville - to contribute to the expense required for ROP. But no free rides - residents should pay the petition fee and for one sign (about $100 divided among all the residents).

The streets do in fact belong to the residents. If the bars do not have enough free parking, then they need to be closed down until they do.

Rooftop patios built without any parking requirements cannot be closed down – but we need changes made now in City Code to require parking for all future patios.

Prosecute, prosecute, prosecute

The City Attorney has a policy of dismissing tickets issued for dance hall and noise violations.

How? By not notifying name witnesses (the residents who called the police) about the trial date. I am a name witness on dozens of tickets, yet I have never been called to attend a single hearing.

The City Attorney must get the message from our City Council that quality of life issues must be prosecuted to the full extent of the law. No exceptions, no slacking.

911

The Dallas Police Department must work to undo the damage caused by Officer Mike Welch when he wrote me the ticket. A decade of good public relations went out the window that evening. I call on local media and advertising agencies to join with the department to create a new public relations campaign to re-educate the public – in multiple languages – about the 911 system.

Neighborhood associations around Dallas, especially those close to so-called “entertainment districts,” must call emergency meetings and invite their members to hear the truth about calling 911. We plan on inviting Chief Kunkle to meet with the Belmont NA in a few weeks.

I look forward to joining together with other neighborhood leaders and business leaders, as well our elected officials and Dallas Police Department, to make these changes happen.

On behalf of my family, I thank everyone for their support and kind words through what has been a very exhausting experience.

By Avi S. Adelman under Neighborhoods , Safe streets