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City Manager T.C. Broadnax gets fond farewell — from Dallas leaders who once wanted him fired

Mayor Eric L. Johnson at city council meeting Wednesday, Nov. 1, 2023, at Dallas City Hall.
Yfat Yossifor
Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson said during Wednesday's meeting that any tension with outgoing City Manager T.C. Broadnax was "overblown" by the media. In 2022, Johnson and three council members wanted Broadnax fired.

Just weeks after some council members reportedly suggested he resign due to his relationship with Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson in late February, outgoing City Manager T.C. Broadnax was praised for his contributions over his five years at city hall. That includes Johnson and council members who suggested Broadnax leave.

Council members took turns during Wednesday’s meeting recalling memories of Broadnax, talking about policy implemented while he was the city manager — and wishing him well in his new job.

Broadnax will become Austin’s city manager in just a few weeks.

“T.C. I just want to say thank you for how you’ve served,” District 3 Council Member Zarin Gracey said during the meeting. “How you’ve represented the Black community and you’ve represented those students in public service of how you’ve led.”

District 1 Council Member Chad West said during Broadnax’s time as city manager, Dallas has had to face a lot of unexpected issues. He cited the COVID-19 pandemic and the protests after the murder of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police officers.

“We have had a lot of things happen to this city that were not caused by us, but we’ve had to deal with it as a community and as a council,” West said. “You led the charge in a very calm, professional way with these unexpected things in addition to just doing city business.”

Gracey and West were among the council members who met with Broadnax in late February to suggest that he resign, according to a memo Broadnax sent to the city attorney.

Broadnax has also been at the helm during the roll out of major policies like the city’s environmental plan, historic preservation and the community led bond taskforce.

“I think the city of Dallas is better off for our partnership and I want to say thank you, T.C.,” Johnson said during the meeting. “I just want to tell you I appreciate you.”

But the fond farewells come after Broadnax’s turned in his resignation in late February — when a different narrative emerged.

“After careful consideration, it has become apparent that the relationship between the mayor and the city manager has not been conducive to effective governance and the advancement of Dallas’ interests,” a February 21 news release from some council members said.

“The dynamic between these key citywide figures has unfortunately hindered the realization of our city's full potential, and it is imperative that we address this issue head-on in order to move forward.”

Broadnax said in an email to staffers at the time that he hoped his departure “provides the City Council an opportunity to reset, refocus, and transition to a new City Manager that continues to move the City forward.”

During Wednesday’s council meeting Johnson said his seemingly turbulent relationship with Broadnax was “overblown” by the media.

“This man and I have not always agreed, that’s not a secret” Johnson said about Broadnax. “In a town this big…the media is going to feast on those times when we’ve not agreed.”

Johnson said he believed 90 percent of the time, he and Broadnax did see eye to eye on policy issues.

“But I am going to acknowledge that there have been times that we haven’t, that ten percent is real,” Johnson said. “I believe that the times we’ve disagreed have been very much overblown and very much exaggerated and played up for various reasons.”

Johnson said he would put the policies that have come out of Dallas city hall over the last five years up against any other city in the country. That includes areas like parks, public safety, environmental issues and economic development.

Johnson said there aren’t many news stories that highlight what he considers to be the positive aspects of municipal government.

“I get what people have to write to get people to click on stories in a dying industry…you got to write what you got to write to try and keep food on your family’s table,” Johnson said. “But I deal in the reality of public policy making. I’ve been doing it for 14 straight years.”

In 2022, Johnson called for the firing of Broadnax. He said then he believed it was “time for a change in city management.” Three council members also signed a memo endorsing the action.

The complaints at the time centered around the city’s then broken building permitting system and the response to a deletion of police files during a data transfer.

More recently, Johnson also claimed that Broadnax disregarded the recommendations of the council appointed Community Bond Task Force and tried to "move forward instead with city staff's recommendation as a starting point" for the upcoming bond allocations.

"As a reminder, this is absolutely not the decision of the city manager or city staff. While we always appreciate staff input, this is a policy decision that belongs first to the Dallas City Council and then ultimately to the people of Dallas," Johnson wrote in a memo late last year.

Johnson was absent at the meeting he alleges Broadnax's subversion of the bond task force.

And after more details of the circumstances around the resignation surfaced — and the realization that Broadnax will also be poised to receive over $400,000 in severance — Johnson voiced his concerns in an email newsletter.

He also speculated that Broadnax orchestrated the entire thing — citing an "anonymously sourced story that no one has actually denied” from WFAA.

“Why? Because this would trigger a severance clause in his contract. This clause calls for paying out a year of his salary,” Johnson said in his newsletter.

Johnson says in the newsletter that “contrary to the false narrative pushed by some” he and Broadnax are getting along just fine.

“None of that makes this situation any easier to swallow as a taxpayer. This is still about your money — and it’s not a pittance,” the newsletter continued. “A half million dollars is more than twice a typical person’s 401k at retirement age.”

The newsletter suggested that no one should have the opportunity “to engage in this backroom maneuvering in the first place.”

An early April memo revealed that over the course of six days, most of the city council suggested that Broadnax leave his position. It also said Broadnax’s resignation would be moved up. The new effective date is May 2.

Council members went into executive session on Wednesday to discuss moving incoming Interim City Manager Kimberly Tolbert’s start date up as well. That's while a search firm finds a permanent candidate.

Broadnax thanked his current colleagues and the former council members who originally brought him to Dallas five years ago. He ended with one request for those around the horseshoe.

"I would just say this to the council and so that my team can hear it," Broadnax said during the meeting. "Just continue to support the staff here, believe in them, they believe in you. Criticize behind the scenes and praise in public."

Got a tip? Email Nathan Collins at You can follow Nathan on Twitter @nathannotforyou.

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Nathan Collins is the Dallas Accountability Reporter for KERA. Collins joined the station after receiving his master’s degree in Investigative Journalism from Arizona State University. Prior to becoming a journalist, he was a professional musician.