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Monty Bennett Speaks on Plight of Dallas

City

Dallas Skyline | Image by Shutterstock

Local philanthropist and hospitality real estate industry leader Monty Bennett spoke to the Metroplex Business & Civic Association Monday about the City’s and citizens’ responsibility to address crime, homelessness, vagrancy, education, and other issues affecting Dallas.

Bennett reminded the audience of Dallas’ history and expressed his love for the city.

“We were a post-World War II city, a boom city, and the boom and optimism … left a cultural imprint. The country knew about Dallas, and they knew of our success,” he said.

However, the businessman suggested, “I hear from many that the sense of optimism … has left our downtown … The city of Dallas is not what it once was.”

In proof of this, Bennett pointed to statistics showing that while the surrounding areas have grown in population, nearly 15,000 Dallas residents fled the city in the last measured year. Additionally, while many major businesses have relocated to the DFW metroplex, very few of those companies have chosen Dallas.

“What we have is a rotting core,” Bennett told the audience, “a dilapidated downtown.”

He emphasized that although some politicians have claimed that certain types of crime are down, data shows us that many categories have skyrocketed. The streets of Dallas, Bennett suggests, are not safe.

“Some of you may know the story of when my wife was harassed and threatened twice by vagrants within the span of a single hour,” he said, an incident that was reported in The Dallas Express. “I bet many of you have similar stories.”

On the issue of homelessness, vagrancy, and panhandling, Bennett expressed frustration with Dallas’ approach, pointing instead to a successful model in San Antonio called Haven for Hope which provides an all-in-one place for people to get the necessary help.

“Of the people on the streets asking for money, about 75% of them are just panhandlers and are not homeless,” he suggested, pointing to recent data. “I’ve offered many of them many jobs over the years. Everyone has turned me down. Everyone. Why should they take work when there are people that will hand them money for doing nothing?”.

Looking at the state of education in Dallas, he pointed to Texas Education Administration data showing “Nearly 20% of high school students in DISD’s class of 2022 failed to graduate on time, and only around 40% of all students scored at grade level.”

“Why do we accept this?” he continued. “Why do we accept poor black and Latino children being trapped in underperforming schools? “I see a school system flush with cash, with trustees and political leaders who prioritize their careers over the needs of the students.”

“What the system needs,” Bennett suggested, “is to introduce alternatives. Give lower-income families a chance now. Not later, not after decades of reform — now.”

Being a businessman himself, Bennett explained that “businesses vote with their feet. In the face of these challenges, there’s only so much they can endure. Business owners and restaurant managers tell the same story: folks don’t want to come downtown much anymore. Neither do their employees.”

“These businesses are faced with a regulatory environment that punishes innovation and slows growth. You want a permit to build something? It’s not a certainty. It’s guesswork,” he continued, referring to the extended time it takes to acquire a permit to build in Dallas.

“What we have seen is death by a thousand cuts … I’ve talked to developers around the area who tell me of projects that could have been,” Bennett expressed, noting that these proposed businesses eventually end up building in places such as Plano, Denton, and Fort Worth.

Proposed solutions included not only “to cut regulation, but … to improve the civic health of our city.”

Specifically, he told the audience of business leaders to encourage their employees to vote in municipal elections and volunteer at local nonprofits that strive to help others help themselves. These simple actions were described as a choice “to be accountable to this great American city.”

“We can change the state of the city from one that is unsettled and unsure of itself to a Dallas that rightfully reclaims its status as a place that draws people towards it, not drives them away,” Bennett added.

“We can do better for Dallas.”

Disclosure: Monty Bennett is the publisher of The Dallas Express, which he founded to provide an independent, non-partisan, non-profit news source for the people of Dallas.

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Bill Fox
Bill Fox
1 month ago

I guess we also need to add “people that take part in riots at Capitol buildings because they are big crybabies when their candidates don’t win” to the definition of philanthropist. I’m sure he gives solid advice though. Hahahaha

Ranger71
Ranger71
Reply to  Bill Fox
1 month ago

It’s clear that you’re not an admirer of Monty Bennett. So rather than attacking him on an unrelated issue, perhaps you could offer some alternate constructive ideas on how to actually fix the problems he is addressing.

Bill Fox
Bill Fox
Reply to  Ranger71
1 month ago

Why would I take advice on civic matters from a guy that was part of an attempted insurrection? That’s like asking a child molester for child care tips.

micah
micah
Reply to  Bill Fox
1 month ago

I understand that it troubles you that he and others were *present* at J6, but not everyone in attendance there actually broke the law and participated in the rioting and sedition. Thats not how it works. If that were true thousands upon thousands more people would be behind bars.

Bill Fox
Bill Fox
Reply to  micah
1 month ago

There are pictures of him on the steps as people were smashing in windows. He was part of it. I guess I’ll just stand and stare the next time I see a pedestrian hit by a car. I mean. I didn’t run over the person, so I guess it’s okay.

Monte Mcdearmon
Monte Mcdearmon
Reply to  Bill Fox
1 month ago

Mr. Fox i wonder if someone set your house on fire would you invite that someone over to your house the next weekend for a barbeque? We have saying here in Texas, MR. Bennett! HIT THE NAIL ON THE HEAD,

Bill Fox
Bill Fox
Reply to  Monte Mcdearmon
1 month ago

English. Learn it and retype that nonsense.

What I would do, if some morons tried to smash in my windows and storm my house, is shoot them and that is what should of happened to people breaking into the Capitol.

Kevin
Kevin
Reply to  Bill Fox
1 month ago

What we need is for someone to pay attention to discriminationatory practices in apartments and places of employment from a specific group of people but nobody is talking about that because it’s not affecting them

David
David
1 month ago

Bravo Monty! Well said. Now if we can rally warriors and leaders to this noble cause, change will begin to happen.

Sam H
Sam H
1 month ago

Totally agree to the commentary of Mr. Bennett. Especially, the comment about school official PRIORITIZING their careers over the success of the students/school system. Have been that way for years and the foul has eventually come home to roost!! City leader should be focusing on how to encourage business growth from the single business owners to large corps and attracting new sustainable business that will generate addition growth throughout the entire city, including the Southern sector. There are thousands of acreage available south of CBD that can be developed. CRIME is a MUST that HAS to be addressed – “fairly” across the city spectrum. If no change, the core of the City of Dallas will be a ghost town. Soon than later.

Bill Fox
Bill Fox
Reply to  Sam H
1 month ago

I’m all for bettering education because that mess you wrote barely makes any sense. You need the help.

S Tortolani
S Tortolani
1 month ago

It’s sad to see this beautiful downtown, which has grown so much in recent decades, not be a mecca for a lively and varied lifestyle, business and otherwise. We have a jewel in our hands and we must be careful in how we cultivate that. Much good has been done. But the city sometimes seems to succeed In spite of itself. In my business I personally see the dysfunction in the permitting arena and sometimes it just makes me want to throw up my hands. It gets WORSE not better. Who is accountable? IS there accountability. As for homelessness I used to be on the board of a local non-profit which catered to these people. We worked with Mayor Rawlins on many programs. But ultimately we couldn’t move the needle. Dallas is not unique in this regard, but it doesn’t mean we can’t try harder, be more innovative

Bill Fox
Bill Fox
Reply to  S Tortolani
1 month ago

You clearly don’t drive through downtown. I lived there 20 years ago and downtown was a ghost town after 5PM. The Statler was in ruins. Seriously, downtown has never had as many luxury high rises as it has now. What you said is just ignorant.

DFW Citizen
DFW Citizen
1 month ago

Hopefully the city of Dallas officials will pay attention to what Mr Bennett said and do something positive

Betsy Whitfill
Betsy Whitfill
1 month ago

Tell it to the Mayor and City Council….and the County Court. They can’t seem to think beyond their small selves. We need bigger leadership and the can do spirit that was our hallmark. Where are these people?? Let them step up and lead.

Anna Williams
Anna Williams
Reply to  Betsy Whitfill
1 month ago

Ms. Whitfill spot on. Mr. Bennett spoke to the businessmen and women but not to the people who live downtown. I worked downtown for thirteen years and enjoyed working there.

Was the superintendent of DISD at your meeting. Did the police chief in attendance, how about the DA, Mayor, City Council and I forgot the school board.

Have you asked retailers to come downtown. Does the city have a PR department, they go to companies who should be bringing in business.

The Mayor spoke badly of Chief Hall but the new Chiefs record is not good. His leadership doesn’t seem to be that great.

So all the citizens need to buy guns and shoot the bad guys? Mr. Bennett I love Dallas Express and thank you for keeping us abreast of what Dallas need. You seem to focus on the North. Why don’t you ask people what their needs are in the southern sector of people living in that part of Dallas.

They don’t have your money but they know what they need in their neighborhood.

Michelle Stallings
Michelle Stallings
1 month ago

Start with the high housing costs. Many of us cannot afford to live – causing homelessness. Why build houses for new comers? Build them affordable for the lower income families.

Bill Fox
Bill Fox
Reply to  Michelle Stallings
1 month ago

High housing costs are the sign of a prosperous city. We can’t have it both ways.

Bret
Bret
1 month ago

The problem is the leadership in Dallas. Nothing will change until the right people are voted in. In homelessness studies show that 70% of them are panhandlers. Make it illegal and prosecute them and they will go away. As for crime, make crime illegal again, prosecute them and they will go away. As for bringing in businesses, get the Dallas government out of the way. Allow people to venture out. The beginning of all this starts when democrats are voted out of office. Bc we are mostly a republican state not really conservative, but haven’t fallen to deep into socialism, the people of Dallas are not hurting enough yet for change, but it’s not too far away.

Monte Mcdearmon
Monte Mcdearmon
1 month ago

M. Bennett sir, WELL SAID

Brandon R.
Brandon R.
1 month ago

Maybe rich-guy Bennett can tell us why the Dallas City Manager makes more money than the POTUS? If the rest of the Dallas City employees make commensurately outsized salaries, I can see how they would get comfortable and not care about how the city deteriorates.

Making that kind of salary would seem to anesthetize a city employee’s concern about the mundane things such as panhandling, homelessness, drug dealing, petty crime (is there really a category that is consider “petty”?), dangerous neighborhoods, etc.

If I were being paid $400,000+ a year, I would be mustering the troops every day at 8:00 am and ask why problems are allowed to continue.