Broadnax’s Permit Department Under Fire After Office Blunder

Dallas City Hall
Dallas City Hall | Image by ssucsy/Getty Images

Rules for thee but not for me may have been the mindset over at the City’s permitting department when it broke protocol to relocate staff to 7800 N Stemmons Fwy earlier this month.

Council Member Cara Mendelsohn (District 12) wants answers as to why the Development Services Department (DSD) was allowed to move staff into its new building without the proper permits or final approval from the Dallas Fire Marshal.

Mendelsohn called for a special meeting of the Ad Hoc Committee on General Investigating and Ethics to investigate the blunder. The meeting is currently scheduled for 3 p.m. on April 25.

Over the years, DSD has earned a reputation under City Manager T.C. Broadnax for periodic permit delays, long review times, and poor communication with stakeholders. While the department has made some improvements over the last year or so, the decision to relocate staff to the new northwest district permit office without the requisite approval only to shuffle employees back to the Oak Cliff Municipal Center (OCMC) ultimately undermined confidence in the department’s management, at least in the eyes of some Dallas City Council members.

“The frustrating part is, one, we’ve spent a lot of money, and we’re shuffling staff back and forth between buildings, which isn’t a good work environment. And, [two], if the city can’t obtain its own [certificate of occupancy], I can feel how frustrated our general public is when they try to do business in our city,” Council Member Jesse Moreno (District 2) recently told The Dallas Morning News.

As previously covered by DX, the 7800 N Stemmons Fwy building had approximately 140 code violations on April 1, which prompted the Dallas Fire Marshal to close it until further notice.

According to Assistant City Manager Majed Al-Ghafry, the remaining improvements that need to be made to the building involve a fire suppression system, IT equipment and connectivity, elevator work, and other key tenant enhancements.

“Employees will remain in OCMC until all improvements to 7800 Stemmons are complete. There will be no partial move back. For the short term, we will continue to collaborate with IT, Building Services, the Bond Office, and Development Services to conduct a comprehensive assessment of required facility updates along with available and potential funding gaps for immediate needs,” said Al-Ghafry in a memo to the Dallas City Council, per CandysDirt.com.

“We will continue to communicate this important information to all our internal and external stakeholders in a timely manner. Our goal is to finish the work expeditiously and to move staff back once the building is complete,” he added.

Even DMN’s editorial board was shocked by the ineptitude of City management in allowing such an error to occur.

“It is impossible to call this mess anything other than an inexcusable management failure that is all too common at City Hall. … The council must hold city management responsible at high levels for this failure,” the editorial board wrote.

Oversight of DSD ultimately falls to Broadnax, who announced in February that he planned on resigning from his position after a majority of Dallas City Council members asked for him to step down. The embattled city manager originally said he would be leaving in June, but the City of Austin hired him to lead its operations, moving Broadnax’s resignation up to May 6.

Once Broadnax leaves for Austin, Deputy City Manager Kim Tolbert will take over as interim city manager and serve until the Dallas City Council hires a permanent replacement.

As previously reported, a recent investigative series into Tolbert’s left-wing social media activity by DX seemingly prompted her to block the news outlet on X, the social media platform formerly known as Twitter.

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