City Sues Texas Attorney General to Keep From Releasing Trinity Project Docs We Requested

solarpoweredwatertaxis.jpg
All your solar-powered water taxis are belong to us, says Dallas City Hall.
OK, now we're really curious. We're talking to you, Dallas City Hall, about those Trinity River project emails and memos you're fighting to keep us from seeing. What, has someone been unduly candid in his or her assessment of the city's plans to put a toll road between the levees?

No? Fine, City Hall, then just go ahead with that lawsuit you filed in Austin last week, the one seeking to overturn a Texas Attorney General's opinion that the Observer is entitled to see at least some city officials' communications regarding the project. We can wait a bit.

It was way back in February when reporter Sam Merten, who has since left the paper, filed a public information request seeking copies of every paid invoice related to bonds sold for the Trinity corridor project. Our curiosity was piqued by the fact that while City Hall has spent $250 million of the $420 million in bonds approved for the project, we've yet to see a lake or sailboat on the river near downtown. It sounds crazy, but we distinctly remember being promised sailboats and lakes when the project was pitched to voters.

We also want to see all communications during December and January between the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' Kevin Craig, City Manager Mary Suhm, Assistant City Manager Jill Jordan, former Mayor Tom Leppert and just-ousted council member Dave Neumann, chair of the council's Trinity River Corridor Project Committee.

The city claimed that some messages from the Corps are safe from our grip because the U.S. Freedom of Information Act exempts them. The attorney general's office agreed, but said communications solely among city officials must be released, since federal law doesn't apply to them.

The city is trying to get that decision overturned, and we're wetting ourselves anticipating what might be coming our way. We don't usually get excited about public records request, as we've found that most public officials don't put signed confessions, compromising videos or receipts for kickbacks in public records. Unless they're exceptionally dumb, that is, so in this case we're actually hopeful our fishing will reel in something tasty.

In the meantime, since the city's fighting so hard to keep its secrets, everyone should feel free to speculate wildly about what the secret messages might contain. We'll start: "Man, I can't believe voters bought the whole bridge and sailboat con. What a dumb bunch of motherREDACTED."

Did Leppert send that message? Could be. You may never know

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38 comments
Ruth Ann Cook
Ruth Ann Cook

You would think people in govt would know from the outset that they had to account for expenditures and would have the docs ready! Why do we not demand this?

Politico
Politico

City Hall has a lot to cover up coming down the pike, but its time for the entire landscape to change, and its going to - take it to the bank!!!!!!!!! 

Branden Helms
Branden Helms

Williams says"In the meantime, since the city's fighting so hard to keep its secrets, everyone should feel free to speculate wildly about what the secret messages might contain. We'll start: 'Man, I can't believe voters bought the whole bridge and sailboat con. What a dumb bunch of motherREDACTED.'" 

Alright, I'll play.

Tom Leppert to Undisclosed donor: "I managed to keep your project on track, can I please have my testicles back."

Thelisma Partridge
Thelisma Partridge

C'mon, Dave Neumann, chair of the council's Trinity River Corridor Project Committee, couldn't be bothered to notice the million or so embezzeled from his (ex-wife's) business, nor could he be bothered about over-running his personal city councilman budget.  You really expect he even attempted to keep track of the $240 million spent under his "watch" ???  

Good riddance, Neumann.

StopDISD.org
StopDISD.org

Looks like The City of Big D and DISD will do anything to keep their plans behind closed doors. It's been over a year now and The Jubilee Park community still can't obtain the plans for the new O.M. Roberts Elementary and Jubilee Park community.  DISD refuses to show the plans.   After an open records request was submitted to DISD.  DISD responded informing that  approximately over 100 thousand documents were available but, an $11K payment might be due in order to view the records.  Then DISD sent a request to the Attorney General to keep the plans behind DISD's doors of corruption.  Request was granted. So, the community still sits in the dark not knowing the future of their school or community

Read about the ongoing battle against DISD here: http://blogs.dallasobserver.co... target= Click on the link below to view Satire Video on DISD's Land Grab http://www.youtube.com/watch?v...  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v... 

Juan Valdez
Juan Valdez

Explanations are in order.  Mood: Anxiously waiting for a follow up story. 

Guest
Guest

When are you uppity citizens going to realize that the way your betters spend your money is none of your business?

Dbaete
Dbaete

We voted against trinity river project ( American Airlines Center) . We knew money would be spent on Perot's AA center and the rest to all the other contractors that line the pockets of now serving and past City council and Mayors . I guess its common practice to screw citizens in the city that doesn't work. Instead of that mindless Trinity project why not divert money( if there is any ) to fixing our streets. 

Mister_Mean
Mister_Mean

Hold their (city) feet to the fire.   I bet that what will be uncovered (like cockroaches when you turn on the lights and they scurry away) is a gross mismanagement and squandering.   After all it is only tax payer dollars and there is certainly more where that came from. 

Watching South Detroit
Watching South Detroit

Since Lepperts is now running for US Senate - ask him in public about this lawsuit and about the money that has already been wasted ... I mean spent. See if he answers, denies, or evades.

3rd Wheel Marketing
3rd Wheel Marketing

Personally I think we will find out about Al Lipscomb's water taxi kickback scheme.

Chris Danger
Chris Danger

 First d-wayne wanted to hide the truth about Arthur and Archie, now the city is trying to make a beeline from showing us, the citizens,  how our money is being spent. Heres hoping our next mayor will actually begin the process of cleaning up city hall, not to mention undo the stupidity of Mayor Tom..

JimS
JimS

Wonder why the city might be touchy? Take just one example, a minor element in the overall plan, the so-called whitewater feature on the Trinity. Look at the original proposal here:http://www.trinityrivercorrido...You will see graphics showing a beautiful natural-looking rapids, and if you scan deeper into the Power Point, you will see an original cost estimate of $445,000 for the "in-channel standing wave feature."If you can get behind the News pay-wall, click through the G.J. MccCarthy's photos accompanying Randy Lee Loftis's excellent story published May 12 about a canoe trip Loftis took down the Trinity. Get an eyefull of the very ugly rip-rap piece of crap we wound  with. Guess how much that cost?$4 million.Supposed to be $445 grand. Instead it's $4 million. And guess what else? The city admits they built it wrong. Canoe outfitter Charles Allen says it's so bad it will kill people. So they have to rebuild it. That means they have to at least partially dam the river again, which means lots more money.Now, ask yourself again: why is the City of Dallas so determined not to let the taxpayers see any detail on where that $250 million has gone?

cynical old bastard
cynical old bastard

Patrick, if possible, when this all plays out, let us know how much the city is spending in legal fees trying to prevent the documents from being released. 

Wylie H.
Wylie H.

I have a feeling this could prove very interesting; what's the best accounting presently available as to where the $250 million went?

BellToll
BellToll

Could it be that money was spent on the toll road to nowhere? Hmmmmmmm? 

Heywood U Buzzoff
Heywood U Buzzoff

Are you trying to tell me there WON'T be solar powered water taxis!?!?!??!??! Noooooooo!

Downtown Resident
Downtown Resident

 Where'd Sam go (I don't know if you linked to the correct post I didn't see any mention in there)?

Downtown_worker
Downtown_worker

Who would've thought that $420M would go up in smoke? Did the polls close at 4:20 as well when voters approved this?

Jane Smith
Jane Smith

What's $250 Million among friends. We'll just sell some more bonds to get more money.......... no problema.

Montemalone
Montemalone

Count de Money: "Your highness, the people are revolting."

King Louis XVI: "You're right. They stink like shit. PULL!"

Wylie H.
Wylie H.

The Trinity River project serves as a better vehicle for diverting public money.  People don't really understand what's going on, how much things should cost, etc.  If Mary Suhm said she had spent $250 million repaving Lemon Ave. from Central to Northwest Highway, she'd likely be the subject of a criminal investigation-- because everyone intuitively would know that made absolutely no sense.

In contrast, the Trinity River Project is this kind of abstract thing.... she can feel free to baffle the City Council with B.S.--- indeed, she does that on a regular basis, with her illustration-heavy, fact-light presentations.  When people like Angela Hunt attempt to call her out, actually ask her for data... she runs and hides, forcing people to seek assistance from the State of Texas to force the City of Dallas (under Suhm's reign) to actually tell its citizens what it is doing.  Even then, however... how many people know what it costs to do all this stuff associated with the river.... the project could potentially serve as a great vehicle for diverting public funds to all sorts of unworthy recipients without much public criticism.

The fact that Mary Suhm and Tom Perkins are trying so hard to keep basic information secret from the residents of Dallas should send up all sorts of red flags. I suspect at the end of the day the only real hope the citizens of Dallas have of regaining control of the City and County is with either state or federal assistance.

Jane Smith
Jane Smith

........monopoly money............ 

US175guy
US175guy

He'll evasively answer by denying.

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

 Too bad Rawlings is going to win the runoff. He's essentially a xerox copy of Leppert.

Leppert's "business cred" brought us a city-owned hotel that's supported by my wallet. I wonder what Rawlings' concrete life preserver is going to be?

Wylie H.
Wylie H.

I look forward to the day that Mary Suhm and Tom Perkins are held personally accountable for the general havoc they've wreaked on the City of Dallas.

Ben
Ben

A woman contacted me last weekend saying that her kayak capsized Friday the 13th in the Dallas Waves while she was attempting to navigate the canoe bypass channel. She said:"Tried to run the trail today. Used kayaks outfitted for whitewater, but were only looking for a nice paddle. At the Wave took the bypass and discovered it is very nasty. Partner made it rhough (with difficulty). Thank goodness he had a full skirt on his boat (not normal when we are just doing a paddling trail, but today we had them). I was not as fortunate. I made it through both drops on the bypass channel in good form, but then I got sideslammed into the dividing wall,(I was ok. blocked the shock with paddle and boat). I pushed clear only to be pulled into a vortex at the tip of the barrier that flipped my boat (Still OK so far, just disgusted). But then I tried to right myself only to discover the vortex and the wave were too strong. Got pulled under several times. finally managed to work free of the vortex and escape with the help of a thrown tow line from my partner. He tried to come in close to help, but the current was too strong and he couldn't get through. I do not want to consider what would have happened with a canoe or a less experienced person. I highly reccomend that anyone using this trail portage the Dallas Waves-even if they have whitewater skill-- until something changes." 

Personally. I have not experienced the vortex she mentions but I could see how someone could easily get slammed into the walls.

Likeicare
Likeicare

especially when Mary Suhm is about to tell the council about an $80 million deficit. 

Robert Wilonsky
Robert Wilonsky

My bad. Fixed the link, but to reiterate: "He can now be found wandering the countryside playing the role of George Armstrong Custer in Civil War re-enactments; he recently wrote from somewhere outside Crow Agency, Montana, insisting he's having the time of his life." Or not.

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

You know, I think you might be onto something here, Wylie. The Trinity River project has hit so many places where you'd think common sense would kill it, yet it keeps going. Perhaps Suhm knows full well that this project is physically impossible to complete, and if there's ever a reckoning she'll only look like an idiot, not a criminal.

Jane Smith
Jane Smith

The list is much, much longer than Suhm and Perkins. If a clean-up occurs, there'll be alot more cleaning to be done than just those two. 

Oak Cliff Townie
Oak Cliff Townie

http://img838.imageshack.us/im...Do people not read ?And credit to you for posting the photo .Sounds like this woman used all the skills she had to stay alive .This whole idea is starting to look like a ski equivalent of a an unavoidable double black diamond run at the end of the Bunny slopes.I think it would still be cool to see large collection real White Water Pros (not saying you aren't ) come and take a run at whats been built.

JimS
JimS

Ben: That is a very bad story. I'm sure the vortex she's talking about comes and goes at different water levels. I just got back from several days on the Buffalo River in the federal wilderness area in Arkansas. It's got its tricks, like Clabber Creek Shoals, but nothing as mean as what she describes. In nature, even if you get in trouble, you usually flush right out of it. Only a manmade trap could work like what she decribes. (anybody else having this damn slow-typing problem on the blog today?) 

Jane Smith
Jane Smith

Wasn't it President Reagan who said, "The fish always rots from the head down"? 

Wylie H.
Wylie H.

I agree, but don't the rest report to Suhm?

ScottsMerkin
ScottsMerkin

yes, the typing gets so slow that it gets 3 or 4 words behind sometimes, been happening the last week or so 

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