IRVING (CBSDFW.COM) – While people all over North Texas were cleaning up after Tuesday’s storms, CBS 11 found an unusual situation at the home of one local government employee’s house.
As a chorus of chainsaws sang out in Irving, uniformed employees of the Dallas County Utility and Reclamation District (DCURD) —a tax-funded special law district—were busy clearing debris from the private home of a supervisor.
“I hadn’t been to bed all night long,” explained Dallas Burke, who says nearly dozen of his workers volunteered their lunch hour to work on his home after working overnight to keep Irving waterways from flooding; but they also used government equipment and government trucks to get there. “And they said, ‘Hey, Dallas, it’s lunch time, can we go clear some trees for you?’ And just spur of the moment—I was just tired—I said, ‘Great!’ and I wasn’t even thinking.” Still, work came to a halt when our camera showed up.
“They were on a misguided effort to help Mr. Burke,” said DCURD’s general manager, Jackey Knox, who insists this kind of cleanup is not allowed. “Mr. Burke will be addressed and he will pay for whatever time and equipment was utilized in accomplishing that,” said Knox.
The bill will be roughly $320 for labor, equipment, and truck mileage. DCURD handles storm drainage and flood control infrastructure for the picturesque lakes and canals of Las Colinas and Valley Ranch. The bulk of DCURD taxpayers are office buildings, almost no private residences.
Still, Knox says the action taken Wednesday morning sends the wrong message to people like Jeff Spears, who bought his own chain saw today for his cleanup. “Me, personally, I would get my own equipment or hire my own people,” says Spears, who adds, “I wouldn’t expect anyone to do it for free—unless they were volunteering.”
“A bad decision on my part and I guess most likely it’ll cost me my job,” Burke concluded. Burke’s boss, though, won’t speculate on his future, other than to say the actions will likely be reviewed by DCURD’s board of directors.