The Dallas Citizens Council is a group of the most powerful business leaders in town that in many ways shaped the modern city. It also became a lightning rod of criticism for people who felt powerless – for decades, this was an all-white, all-male club that epitomized the establishment.
Alice Murray is the president now, and she explains why the council is being more vocal about its positions these days.
Interview highlights: Alice Murray...
... on why the Council believes Texas should expand Medicaid: "It was decided that this is really the only economic position that a group of well-meaning businessmen could take. We have over a million Texans who are uninsured through no fault of their own. Our hospitals underwrite billions of dollars of uninsured Texans in our hospitals. Parkland alone had 762 million dollars in uninsured care in 2013. That's 200 million dollars more than the entire county of Dallas' budget."
... on how a park could thrive next to the Trinity Toll Road: "It's not right beside it - this is a very wide valley ... there will be opportunities to pull off this road, and ride your bicycle. Otherwise nobody knows [the park] is there, so the road really provides the eyes on that park."
... on the Dallas Citizens Council's reputation for harboring what some people viewed as right-wing zealotry: "I don't want an easy job. Anybody can do an easy job. Their reputation, depending on how you want to tell the story, was about getting things done. That's the only reason they formed the Citizens Council in the '30s. They wanted the top CEOs that had the power of the pocketbook to write checks, and that was not a diverse group of people, in Dallas or in the South. So we've become more diverse and especially at the board level, we insist on that diversity."