Why Should You Pay for Park Cities Dowagers' Trinity Baubles?

Categories: Get Off My Lawn

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Check me on this. In an atmosphere of federal, state, county and city funding crises, where we may even see the defunding of federal health care reform, the gutting of the Environmental Protection Agency, an absolute decimation of support for public schools and impoverished children, drastic cuts in Medicaid and resulting mass closings of nursing homes, do you see anything wrong with the following quote?

Dallas City Manager Mary Suhm showed up yesterday on The Dallas Morning News City Hall blog explaining why she's glad the Dallas congressional caucus has weaseled more then 90 million bucks out of the federal government in earmarks to pay for extra decoration of a Dallas freeway bridge.

"Now you can say," Suhm said, "'Well, I would rather my federal dollars not be spent on a fancy bridge either,' but our delegation has gotten us money to spend on this bridge, and if that money were not in the city of Dallas ... it would go to some other city."

Yeah. It might go to some other city. Or it might possibly go to restore $92 million in cuts to clean air enforcement or $92 million in cuts to Medicaid support for severely disabled children. You never know: It might put wheelchairs under a hell of lot of diabetes amputees, especially if we just bought them the roll-your-own kind.

Her point was that the $92 million -- the amount extra it will cost to build a decorated bridge instead of a plain one -- is federal earmark money, not local tax money, so we should look it at basically as a windfall.

You know, I bet we don't hear one damn word about this from all our fine conservative commenters who are hell on earmarks when they think the money is being wasted on keeping poor people alive. But when you want to waste $92 million converting a plain vanilla freeway bridge into a faux suspension bridge, then it's a hell of a good deal.

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Driving this whole "signature bridge" deal -- the building of fake suspension bridges over the Trinity River ditch in Dallas -- are half a dozen or so Park Cities dowagers. They think it's a terrific idea to bring in Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava and have him decorate the bridges over the Trinity River -- designs that will solve no engineering or transportation problem and that offer no structural improvement whatsoever.

It's just silly rich people high jinks, but $92 million of it comes out of the hides of the taxpayers. If you put the same dowagers in a plane and showed them the Canadian wilderness, they'd be all a-bubble about bringing in an interior designer from Dallas to improve it and then sending the bill to Washington.

I can hear them bubbling now: "Maybe we can get rid of that dreadful green color everywhere."

At this time and under these circumstances, spending $92 million in public treasure to decorate a freeway bridge in Dallas is an unspeakable obscenity. If they succeed in doing it, we should go out there a couple years from now and decorate it some more with all the abandoned crutches of the old people who got cut off from Medicaid and died.


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45 comments
Brandon
Brandon

This editorial is sexist.

fred
fred

We could make a deal with the Park Cities - you integrate your schools and we will build your bridges.

AnythingButRoads.Please.
AnythingButRoads.Please.

What if we strap those park cities dowagers to the bridges. I'm sure there's enough plastic surgery and diamonds on them to make great baubles on the bridges.

md
md

I haven't noticed too many old people on crutches in my lifetime.

Ben
Ben

T-Bone Walker wrote a song in 1929 about the Trinity called Trinity River Blues.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v...

The opening line is "That Dirty Trinity River Sure Done Me Wrong"

Lately every time I think of the hijinx and wool getting pulled over folks eyes regarding the Trinity River Project/tollroad, I think of that song. Flooding, muddy water, getting washed away, levees being built.

T-Bone was Blind Lemon Jefferson's seeing eye kid(unrelated). Like a seeing eye dog, but with two legs. He picked up alot of his blues sound from Blind Lemon Jefferson, you can hear it in his music.

I did not even know about T-Bone until I spoke with a couple of Joppa residents, a father in his 90s and his son in his late 70s. The father knew T-Bone, Lead Belly Ledbetter and Blind Lemon Jefferson. The pair sip on beer from their truck under the Union Pacific bridge most weekend afternoons. The older of the two was mad that Ledbetter had been changed to Great Trinity Forest Blvd. He said that the "damn fools" at the city did not know who Lead Belly was. Turns out that Ledbetter was named for someone else in city government. Regardless, that old man can rattle off Black Snake Moan like no one else.

I find it super cool that a man in his 90s can off the top of his head pull out an old memory, whip out some lyrics to the song and do a better job than wikipedia in giving biographical info on someone who died over 35 years ago. You know a good conversation is coming when the words "Ya know someone wrote a song about it". Boy was I right.

Harvey
Harvey

I figure in twenty years, Large Marge will become a rusting hulk with an occasional paint job for the most-recent Jerry Fest in Arlington. If the city doesn't like taking care of levees, I'm sure they're just going to enjoy keeping that bridge white in this polluted air. Meanwhile, Little Marge will stand with a 30 foot tall white McDonalds arch standing between the lanes - the product of a 92 million dollar design. The city crumbles. International city indeed.

TimCov
TimCov

Jim, I'm a true fiscal conservative (it means we balance the budget through cuts and increased taxes not one or the other). I really hate it when we spend money on stupid things (like suspension bridges over the Trinity). But, I also hate it when we back out of commitments we have made. Texas promised to make up losses in property tax revenue. Making these cuts in school funding need to be made up by allowing school districts to raise taxes. (The list goes on.)

Please do not paint all conservatives with the same paintbrush. It makes you sound like a liberal version of Glenn Beck or Rush Limbaugh.

busterkeaton
busterkeaton

As long as I get me solar powered water taxi...I don't care what in the heck they build! HooYa!

fanofdumbesttownintexas
fanofdumbesttownintexas

Look, we have to have this bridge in tip-top shape ... the trolls of Dallas need the work.

RandyE
RandyE

"Driving this whole "signature bridge" deal -- the building of fake suspension bridges over the Trinity River ditch in Dallas -- are half a dozen or so Park Cities dowagers."

Cite?

I get you didn't have or want to spend a bunch on your mother in law, but you really think, " if we didn't spend all that going to the moon, we'd be all driving pink unicorns by now?"

Park Cities dowagers be starving kids. Oh MY.

blue pencil
blue pencil

Lordy, Lordy, whenever it comes to anything remotely artistic or any kind of cultural improvement, Jim, you shift into the worst sort of penny-pinching puritanism, pandering to grimly vengeful and utilitarian attitudes about guvmint and beauty as nothing but useless, fancy-pants add-ons: Don't spend a dime to keep this public structure from being an absolute eyesore. Ugly is cheap and that's the way we like 'em. It's the only virtue that matters.

I dunno, to me, spending the public's money to make something the public might not wince at, something that might make the "Trinity River ditch' marginally more graceful and attractive -- a river, I note, that you've defended and extolled at length before this as a natural feature Dallas has neglected and abused -- that seems to be, well, a somewhat defensible use of tax dollars. More defensible than quite a few others we could argue about.

And sorry, but you can't use the deficit argument or the earmark argument: The fact that you simply want the money shifted into social programs of which you approve shows that you're really no different from the current Republican onslaught that, until today's plan from Paul Ryan, didn't get even close to serious budget-cutting because they'd never address defense, healthcare costs or other entitlements. Why, we could lose the whole shebang on those issues! Better just pose and demagogue and gut everything we would have eagerly gutted when we had all the money in the world and we didn't control the House. I always hated my third-grade science teacher -- now I've got a convincing excuse to de-fund her life and look good for the creationists.

Here, I suspect the same could be said for you. So -- if we had the money, would you spend a penny more for anything other than a grey-steel, bare-bones, industrial-girder span that keeps traffic from falling in the river?

JimS
JimS

John McKee: I dunno. What if the mass transit in question has to be done by a totally non-responsive regional entity run by a bunch of back-scratching money-sucks on the tab to contractors, they come in and run off all the small established merchants with construction and taxes? What's to love?

JimS
JimS

J. Erik: I'm worried about Ray's. I'm afraid the Calatrava ladies are going to start having parties and art exhibits there. Pretty soon we'll have Ray serving baked brie in a beret and leotards and letting the gun business slide.

J. Erik Jonsson
J. Erik Jonsson

JS, no argument from this conservative about the utility of throwing tax dollars in the ditch, but the system is more broken than the people in it. For about a decade, we sent Bruce Alger to Congress. You want our delegation to adopt his strategy of voting against all expenditures even if it meant not bringing anything back to Dallas? The way things are set up now, you want to care for widows and orphans, you're going to wind up with a few bridges to nowhere. At least it'll be easier to get to Ray's.

Buckeye
Buckeye

What the hell are you talkin' about, Jim? I'm a conservative commenter and I think think the whole Trinity River project is a colosal waste of money. I also think a $20 million DART Police Station is ridiculous and the $100 million deck park is just plain stupid. I'd be in favor of pulling the plug on DART altogether. Just think how much could be done with all that money. But Dallas has insisted on spending money on huge projects that will benefit only a few for decades. I get so tired of reading how conservatives are set on inflicting pain on the poor. That's crap.

Opka
Opka

instead we should fund a city-owned hotel that will make us all RICH with its 99% occupancy rates at $550 per night! And Kayaking! That's it, I am running for Mayor. Sincerely, Opka.

Downtown_worker
Downtown_worker

It's a respectable argument, but that's not how government works. Do you think all those governors who turned down High Speed Rail funds are saving anyone's life? We save lives by keeping our government from lying to us or taking us to war under false pretenses.

yeahIsaidthat
yeahIsaidthat

Typical of the Queen and Prince Neumann to continue the 'spin' on this fine example of a myopic view of what is important to us little people. As you point out, why not throw that fed money to something important like air monitors for the gas drillers, or to programs that will help kids, seniors, or somehow work to repair some of our streets. Trust me, Dave and Mary can manipulate anything to come out looking legitimate and they could do all of the above. As the Observer pointed out yesterday, Dave was jumping around with a boner talking about the river project's new progress.

Funny how, no one seemed to notice how he moved $20 million from the Hensley Field re development money into the city's general fund without fanfare. You gotta wonder if he was just 'setting the table' for the gas drillers out there at Hensley. Now it's a toxic dump on a toxic lake waiting to be drilled for gas so it can spew toxins into the air. Now money to redevelop it now.

So all in all, we will have pretty bridges, empty houses in the city, toxic land, toxic lake, and toxic air. And Rawlings thinks he can bring 'bidness' to this area? Fat chance.

Tom L (No, Not That L)
Tom L (No, Not That L)

Jim, when you respond to Suhm's comment you say where that the money might go, I think you're a bit off in your conjectures.

It seems to me that if our congressional delegation hadn't wasted so much time finagling $92 million for this useless boondoggle it seems more likely that they would have gotten the money anyway -- after all, that's what back room deals are all about. But maybe if they hadn't blown their wad on this fancy bridge perhaps they might have gotten money to go towards, say, fixing streets or keeping a few extra police and firefighters around or funding mass transit.

JimS
JimS

I like this. Very Robespierresque.

Tom L (No, Not That L)
Tom L (No, Not That L)

I am all for building something beautiful and spectacular for the City of Dallas. But there are two problems here. First, with the economy in the dumps now ain't the time. If I've decided to, say, give my kitchen a custom makeover but then lose my job, that kitchen job is gonna have to wait until I've got the money. Second, as Bob and others have stated, this is not a smart feature. This is a stupid feature. From the Brooklyn Bridge to the Akashi Kaikyō Bridge the world's greatest bridges have been out of necessity, not because someone thought it would be a great idea to spend a billion dollars or so on something pretty!

Bob
Bob

Wanna tip, Blue Pencil? All of us in the know, uh, know, that the Trinity River Plan was built first to sell construction projects and second to better the city. The Toll Road was not simply a feature. It was (is?) the centerpiece. We were hoodwinked by the original bond package.

We became more outrage when the 4th Estate's publishers from a certain daily paper and certain city magazine told us that the whole Trinity Plan was dependent on the Toll Bridge when, in fact, it was not. It's critical for relieving traffic, they said. Project Pegasus? Crickets, baby, crickets.

That's why JimS and many, many others are pissed and skeptical about the plan and these stupid "features" like the bridges.

Mister_Mean
Mister_Mean

A friend of mine from Seatle (who use to live here) when she heard about the suspensiion bridge burst out laughing-- "Where is the water" she asked? It only has water when it floods and THAT makes it ideal for a troll road. I mean it is only tax dollars (federal at that). Thanks to our Republican squanderers.

JimS
JimS

By the way, blue pencil, are you going to return my call?

JimS
JimS

But this isn't beautiful. It's a folly. C'mon. A suspension bridge over the Trinity? Why not the London Bridge? Calatrava is a hack and a decorator. Ten years from now, Dallas will get smart. Thirty years from now, Dallas will be really smart. Fifty years from now Dallas will tear these things down.

Sharon Boyd
Sharon Boyd

More likely, Angela Hunt will try to zone Ray's out of business because it doesn't fit with the "In Crowd's" current/future vision for Ray's business neighborhood.

Spoetzl
Spoetzl

It is interesting to me that Not Mayor Tom has wholeheartedly embraced Alger's old strategy. "...every time I consider a new idea or a new piece of legislation: does this reduce the influence of Washington on our families and businesses? If the answer is yes, I'll consider it; if it's not, I won't". Not that I buy it for a minute, because I've seen all of his actions and votes go 180 degrees opposite, but it is interesting...

elbueno
elbueno

Pulling the plug on DART would be the single most idiotic thing ever done in a major city.

Also, its not run by the morons at City Hall. Its run by another group of morons. DART is not the problem...the morons are.

JimS
JimS

Well, I owe you an apology. I do. I'm having a little problem with apology-flow right now, so I can't apologize this minute, but I agree you've got it coming, and I swear I'm good for it. I've just several big apologies on the books right now, but as soon they're out of the way I'll get to you.

Jay
Jay

Come on Buckeye....Jim's straw man argument doesn't work if you refute the premise.

I always thought earmarks were just sanitized bribes individual politicians doled out to their contributors and family.

Anonymous
Anonymous

Mass transit, possibly. But it would not go to something like streets, police, fire fighters, etc. Unfortunately, outside the Observer readership, I'm not sure I'm convinced that many people in Dallas would rather that the money go somewhere else, even if it is a better use. I think the feeling in almost every part of the country is "better spent here on something useless than spent somewhere else on something useful". Just ask the people in Alaska, who would rather be subsidized to live in a state that they choose to live in rather than send some of that money back to the lower 48 where it is needed.

Wylie H.
Wylie H.

I agree. The tragedy of Suhm and (previously) Leppert is that they devoted their significant energies into all this superficial crap while neglecting the basic stuff that makes a city work for its residents, becoming a more desirable place in the process.

It's not just the money in the City's budget that Suhm and Leppert need to be called to task for, it's all the ADDITIONAL money over which they exert significant influence. As it stands, over the last several years, the City's administration has directed close roughly a billion dollars into Trinity Tollroad "research & development," a fortress-like convention hotel, fancy bridges, a high-rise ultra-luxury condominium complex, etc.-- and to what end?

Ben
Ben

I had seen those two gentlemen off and on along the river the last several years. I never paid much attention to them, I just figured them for bank fishermen that pepper the tree lines on weekends. No. They never drown worms at the end of a line. They go down to the river, to be at the river. When it's hot they might nudge their truck into some shade somewhere, lining it up just right so the wind passes through the open doors. In the winter they sit out in the open, just quietly staring.

The younger one sits on the tailgate sometimes, the older rarely moves more than 3 feet from the passenger door. There is an aluminum walker with tennis ball skids on the feet sitting in the bed of the truck. They sit. They sip beer. They watch. They listen. They watch the grass grow. I know for them it's a zen like state they are looking for somewhere between the bottom of the first can of Steel Reserve and the first sip of the second.

I had passed them numerous times keeping my distance and one day I stopped to talk. Wish I had done it sooner because despite their rather quiet looking appearance, they had a lot they wanted to tell me about. Once we worked through cold introductions and how nice the weather was, I was treated to a long history lesson on where I was standing.

It was in august on a saturday evening. From where we were situated you could see the long crescent bend of the wetland cells and the Joppa community occupying the high ground. It was like listening to a sermon. Chapter after chapter neatly organized and tied together. He must have talked two hours straight, it was almost past twilight by the time I had to cut loose and leave. Took me a week to look up all the things he discussed. The river, origin of Texas Blues, origin of Rock & Roll, the Klan, lynchings, Joppa, Floral Farms, Freedmen he once knew, loose women, stupid women, loose stupid women. Quite a bit more too it but you get the idea.

I run into alot of things like that down there. Makes me question how much we sell ourselves short keeping distance from others or not trying new things. 2 months prior, Juneteenth, which I believe was also a hot saturday, I came up out of the river bottoms to Joppa looking for a water fountain to refill my water bottles before I made the trip back to the 75225. I ended up being lassoed into a large family reunion/Juneteenth celebration. I was asked if I was hungry, said sure and was "fixed a plate". I was brought literally six pounds of food. Got a history lesson there too.

Interesting how things like that can leave a mark on you. Floorboard of my truck now has a bunch of CDs rattling around featuring old pre-1950s Black Texas Blues songs. How did that happen? Where did my Rage Against the Machine and Soundgarden go?

yeahIsaidthat
yeahIsaidthat

Oh no, you definitely have the wrong person. Dave will gladly do that and then tell everyone it's just good business for the city. He do a little 'slap and tickle', try to make everyone believe it's a good thing, and then have his big 'ol face in the camera cutting the ribbon to an Aldi store with his pockets full of Aldi cash.

Tom
Tom

DART IS the problem. The busses slow down traffic flow. They smell bad. The busses are also used by low lifes to get to the prosperous areas to commit crimes. I agree that Dart should be totally defunded. If people want to ride those stinking busses, they should pay for what it really costs us.

John_McKee
John_McKee

I'm still trying to process that someone would suggest one of the largest US metro areas kill public transportation, it does such a great job at encapsulating how small government "common sense" conservative ideas could be so disastrous to our country when the ones calling for the changes don't give any thought to the repercussions in a short sighted attempt to advance an overly simplistic political ideology.

Alfredo
Alfredo

JimS92 million in cuts by the State of Texas to future medicaid funding and 90 million in earmarks from years past which were requested by Dallas and which were delivered by if I recall correctly Senator Kay and Eddie Bernice hardly have anything in common and are from different budgets and from different years. What they do have in common is you like medicaid and don't like bridges, or at least pretty bridges.

All I can say is what a very active conservative told me years ago, I am against earmarks and wish to see them abolished, but as long as they exist Dallas should try to get its share a/k/a pork.

cynical old bastard
cynical old bastard

Do you listen to Texas Blues Radio on KNON 89.3 FM? Monday through Friday, 6:00 - 8:00 PM. Only place around to hear Oak Cliff T-Bone play Trinity River Blues and other classics.

Bill Holston
Bill Holston

glad I asked for more. Keep it coming. Have you read Central Track, the history of Deep Ellum, fine book.

JimS
JimS

If people had to pay what it costs for them to drive on the roads, nobody wold ever get out of his own driveway. Roads are the most heavily tax-subsidized of all forms of transit.

cynical old bastard
cynical old bastard

You're right. People who want to take trains and buses should pay what it really costs. And while we're at it let's privatize the air traffic control system and FAA. Then let airline passengers pay what it really costs to fly. Why should the government subsidize any transportation system?

Montemalone
Montemalone

To paraphrase another conservative:

let the welfare queens drive cadillacs (who needs a bus?)

Guest
Guest

I am against earmarks and wish to see them abolished, but as long as they exist Dallas should try to get its share

I believe that line of thinking was part of Don Hill's defense strategy.

(Plus, actually being against something means being against it all the time. Otherwise, it's not a principle, it's just pandering).

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