It's Been Truly Inspiring to Watch D Apologize for Rah-Rah'ing Trinity Toll Road. Oh, Wait.

Categories: Get Off My Lawn
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I'm sure at some moment in history, all of the people who had insisted the earth was flat went very quiet. After some centuries of debate, burnings at the stake and loud dinner-table arguments, the jury was in.

Everybody knew it was round. The exponents of flat were suddenly extremely reticent on the subject and probably quite grouchy. Before dinner parties at their homes, some family member had to warn new guests, "Please don't bring up the flat you-know-what thing."

We're almost there with the 13-year-old very bad idea of building a superhighway in the flood zone between the Trinity River levees. On June 8 The Dallas Morning News, long the plan's most fanatical proponent, published an editorial admitting that maybe the glug-glug-glug design for the new highway hadn't been such a great idea after all.

They said it wasn't their fault they had spent 14 years espousing the plan to readers and ridiculing critics. They said they "took leaders at their word when they proclaimed that the highway could be built in the floodway."

I'm sure at my theoretical flat-earth moment, a lot of people said the same. "Hey, the church said it was round. What do you want from me? Blood?"

Of course, my answer would have been: Yes. Maybe that's why my radar is so closely tuned these days to the silence emanating from D.

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At which point Wick told Jim to get a tie and move to the Park Cities like a civilized person. To which Jim responded, "You are all white, go to hell."
I'm not thinking about all the nasty personal things D editor Tim Rogers has written about me over the years concerning the Trinity. I have written nasty personal things about him too. I'm sure Tim believes in the same rule I do: Live by the wedgie, die by the wedgie.

No, I'm thinking specifically about the unabashed cheerleading that our city magazine has done over the years for the insanely dumb idea of building a highway inside the flood control system where it floods instead of outside the flood control system where it doesn't flood.

Now that the idea is finally collapsing, newcomers to the city probably have trouble comprehending how there could ever have been a debate, sort of like, "Which is the better means of self-defense: shoot your victim or shoot yourself?"

But D did debate it and did espouse the shoot-yourself side. In the August 2009 edition, publisher Wick Allison urged readers to ignore growing concerns of government engineers that the inside-the-levees route might be hugely expensive and also dangerous because of its effect on flood safety.

Allison told readers how to overcome their doubts: "Don't believe a word the engineers tell you. Don't accept any of their assumptions."

That's one way.

But in arguing that people should plug their ears against the engineers, Allison was only keeping faith with a long tradition at D of urging people to distance themselves from reality. Two years earlier on October 18, 2007, Rogers wrote: "If you refuse to be scared, if you think about it clearly, the entire project makes sense.

"To my mind," Rogers said, "an enormous urban park -- already crisscrossed with bridges, set on the edge of a bustling downtown business district -- won't be ruined by a toll road. It's a mammoth undertaking. I expect its cost will grow. But to steal a reference from a recent Chicago transplant who compared this project to Millennium Park, the great architect Daniel Burnham said: 'Make no little plans. They have no magic to stir men's blood and probably themselves will not be realized.'"

A stirring sentiment, perhaps, even if it begged the question a bit. What if we had asked Mr. Burnham to address specifically the idea of building a superhighway inside a flood zone? I think we all know now what he might have said.

"What, are you stupid?"

See, that's the problem, because the answer to that question is yes. The fatal flaw of the inside-the-levees route idea has always been that it's a fundamentally stupid idea. And that's a really hard thing for people to admit.

Mistaken? Sure. Misguided? Mm, O.K. Stupid? Hey, screw you.

But what if stupid is the only correct answer?

The News hasn't admitted it fully, but they have a little bit, even if they tried to blame "leaders" for leading them astray. D, meanwhile, hasn't peeped a peep.

So back to my thing about the flat earth society, I'm sure I'm expecting too much. About the best I should look for will be the inevitable day when the little ones are brought to the nursing wing of the old folks home to bid adieu to Grandpa Tim, and there will be a magic marker sign on the door: "PLEASE do NOT use word 'Trinity' with Mr. Rogers."

As for Wick? Oh, he'll just be in there cackling.
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Jack E. Jett
Jack E. Jett

The Fraiser and Niles of local media.  Fun & funny. 

Sleepy Head
Sleepy Head

My memory is too foggy to jump into the tit-for-tat fray.

As long as you are talking toll road, you missed the point. The voters voted for a PARK, pure and simple. The developers at City Hall saw dollar signs and went for the toll road. The dispute went to the Texas Supreme Court which, in their infinite wisdom, ruled that bond elections were only guidelines. The court decided real estate developers couldn't possibly be expected to be restricted by mere voter referendums and bond covenants.If the toll road was really the issue, the pro-tollies could put it on a referendum.We could get the NTTA in here and do the job in short order. They could even roll in the tab for fixing the levees. The real issue is about long-term financing for some big shots' tabs at Baby Dolls. And 6-figure jobs for their son-in-laws.Did I miss anything?

Newb
Newb

This is exactly right.  I'm always surprised people forgot about the litigation.  The city specifically argued that they were not bound by the fancy brochures and promises but only by the actual words on the ballot.  In short, they admitted their plan was a ruse from the beginning.  You would have to be stupid not to understand that after the litigation.  

If memory serves this case was decided at the appeals court level and not the Supreme Court, but I could be wrong about that.  Either way the city won and were formally relieved of any requirement to follow their very specific promises and the fancy brochures they used to con the public, winning the election by a razor thin 2,000 votes.  

That was the moment I realized you could not believe a single word coming out of the mouth of anyone in Dallas, at City Hall, guys like Wick, but especially that self-interested lobbyist Ron Kirk.  I know I've been hard on Ron, I guess he's just human like the rest of us and I can forgive that; but I've never personally seen anyone so devoted to getting ahead financially by using public office and business connections. 

On the other hand we know there are plenty of people like him in politics and business, so he's not exactly the Anti-Christ, more like Judas.  I wanted to believe the best about Kirk; but I was fooled and voted for him twice. The truth was far worse than anyone ever could have imagined in terms of conflicts of interest and outright lies in many of the most significant positions he took as Mayor.  He is now Trade Representative based on a lobbyist loophole.  He was a lobbyist in Austin when nominated, just not a lobbyist in Washington.  This was a clear violation of the spirit of Obama's promise and foreshadowed more of the same.     

Syd_Nancy
Syd_Nancy

Instead of apologizing for, or explaining his greedy support of a tollroad we do not need, the real D(W)ick goes after Jim the messenger in his own blog, he's too much a pussy to debate it here.

In the know
In the know

The word at D Magazine is that Wick is door-slamming angry about Jim's column and he's writing a non-apology for the August issue. In the meantime, he's attacking JimS personally in his blog instead of answering questions about why he sold us on the Trinity River Toll Road.

northdallascounty
northdallascounty

Jim you are the idiot!  I hope not everyone who reads your crap believes it is the gospel truth.  Either that or you need to do a better job of QA/QCing what you write.  For instance, your statement "insanely dumb idea of building a highway inside the flood control system where it floods instead of outside the flood control system where it doesn't flood."  So it doesn't flood outside a flood control system?  Wow!  That is news to me.  Maybe you should do some more investigating reporting before you write a statement like that.  I'm sure there are thousands of examples around the US where it has flooded outside a flood control structure. 

JimS
JimS

Good point. People can get burned by cinders even after they run out of a burning house. So I guess you would advise them to  go back in.

Rt76209
Rt76209

Forgive me for being cynical, but I happen to think that this road project was never about the road at all.  Instead, it was always all about who stood to gain from the frontage property and the tolls for the NTTA.  Once again, Dallas as milk cow for a few developers and their lackeys. 

DISD Teacher
DISD Teacher

Just like the DISD is no longer about educating kids.

At least with DISD, we can see that's it's our own school board members selling us out.

Ed D.
Ed D.

Road? Property?  Why bother when you can just make most of the $420 million disappear without any bothersome construction or real estate deals? Much cleaner.

JimS
JimS

Wick: As another chippy scholarship boy once said, "Terror is only justice: prompt, severe and inflexible; it is then an emanation of virtue; it is less a distinct principle than a natural consequence of the general principle of democracy, applied to the most pressing wants of the country. "

The Derelict
The Derelict

tim rogers is a sorry excuse for a notre dame grad. 

Phelps
Phelps

Man, all this unresolved sexual tension between Jim and Tim is making the Dallas blogosphere really tense.  You guys need some way to resolve this in a non-sodomizey way

(And for the record, I'm with Jim on this, but purely as an a'giner.)

Wick
Wick

Jim,

I have to ask you -  do you never tire of being a naysayer ?       You have made a living being Chicken Little proclaiming the sky is falling.    Yes, putting roadbed inside a levy is going to be tricky,   but how can it be any worse than the other roads around the area   ?     Let those among us who have not hit a pothole on LBJ, Stemmons, Central, or 30 be the first to condemn this future path.

Yes, the DO uses the positive spin mode, while you screech like a broken record.    -  How’s that working for you  Jim?     You were once among the mighty,  now you are down to 5 little Indians.   ( Feather not Dot type)     

I also take exception to your criticism of the DO.    We have provided you many paragraphs to intelligently debate the issue.   But you simply used it to rabble rouse your unwashed followers.    A drive through high water would do them good.   “ There is nothing wrong with them that a shower and a shave would not fix” ( George Wallace 1968)    

You have squawked like an old hen to the point of killing the future.  

-W

Bob
Bob

I missed you, Fake Wick. Please come back more often.

Wick
Wick

Mr. Schutze has a well-documented history of seeing roadblocks where the rest of us – we would be the ones, as your own clever caption writer has it, wearing neckties – see a marvelous itinerary, a roadmap for a future marked by generations of prosperity.  As the well-traveled among us know all too well, no itinerary concocted by the hands of men can be followed to the letter, despite our most strenuous efforts to ensure that it transpires so. Rather, it is in difficulties unheralded that we find adventure, and wild successes previously unimagined!  In ingenuity and perseverance, not in reckless naysaying,  the human spirit rises to its rightful nobility.I think it is disingenuous for Mr. Schutze to imply that D Magazine owes an apology to its readers, let alone to the electorate ad proctum neblis.  To that suggestion I say: but Jim, it is your court in which the ball lies! Enlighten us, should you deign to reveal – and admittedly it would be a first – the proper course of action that you recommend. Note that I said action, not inaction. You may discover that offering authentic opinion is more taxing than offering blanket criticism; never mind this, it will pass; I know you’re capable of it, man! Surely there is at least one gesture of civic magnanimity that earns your approval. Should we simply drop trou and squat, as you have done, upon the arch of our future, expelling with pinched grimace our contempt for all things public-minded? Of all the ways to become a legend, Jim, I should have expected you to aim rather higher. There is no Pulitzer for public defecation, nay, no dignity in such an enterprise.To drop a deuce as Mr. Schutze has done shows more than poor grooming and an appalling lack of sanitary impulses; indeed, it reveals a man whose race has been run, who has been driven to seek foul  catharsis at the expense of – dare I say it? – his readers.--W

scottindallas
scottindallas

The public defecation is in the vague and lofty words you use to cloud your sophistic wordplay.  There is sound and prudent public policy and there is the boon doggles the incestuous elites feed themselves.  It was eager beaver, Laura Miller's shopping the bond out to a Houston firm that so offended the PTB here in Dallas.  That Bond cut was Ray's and everybody knew it, but Laura thought she'd check to see if the terms were competitive.  The resentment the business community, the Citizen's council assured the County commisioners would poo poo the deal.

I'm disgusted to hear the GOP talk of free markets, what do you know of them?  You've heard rumors?  Trust me, the profit margins and the work load could kill your fat, bloated asses.  You don't know anything of the free market, you make your money by whoring and selling out your ethics and morals.  Journalism has certain requirements that aren't demanded of the free market.  But, you're fucking with people with callouses on their hands.  The life you give felons is something you've so debased they might be far too willing to throw it away, striking back at you and your crowd.  Who play only inside baseball and want to lecture the rest of us on the merits of meritocracy.  You're about to kill the goose that lays your golden eggs. 

Gov't is serious business.  It should be prudent, efficient, eloquent and equitable.  But, you don't foster that, you betray the only thing you have, "journalism" but, it's journalism for sale.  Your pages are examples of the services offered in the backpages.  Only those girls earn their money, they aren't fucking anybody like you do.

I know this might well be the fake Wick, but I figured I'd go at it.  The "Wick" is indeed greatness, asshole

JimS
JimS

You're all white. Got to hell.

Dallas Diner
Dallas Diner

Jeez, he even writes like he has a stick up his ass.

plfarmer
plfarmer

Mr. Schutze does not need me to defind him, but this is how  would respond to your reply, which seemed to me was, " did not."The tollroad is like a HP boob job; unnatural, expensive,and grotesque if taken to extreme.

Bye the bye, Jim probable saved a lot of lives.

Dallas Stench
Dallas Stench

What a pompous ass you are Wick. You need to drop your drawers too Mr. Allison.

Robert Wilonsky
Robert Wilonsky

 That is the glorious Fake Wick, not the real thing.

Dallas Diner
Dallas Diner

He still writes like he has a stick up his ass.

Robert Wilonsky
Robert Wilonsky

That is the infamous "Fake Wick," who's better than the real thing.

Mister_Mean
Mister_Mean

I think that those who have been blindly supporting this bad idea OWE the tax payers the money that was wasted on this.   If this means that the Dallas Morning News and D Magazine  (and their editor’s assets) are liquidated and the proceeds are put against this debt that was incurred for your purposeful dilutions then so be it.   They should go after the politicians too as they have been elected by the people to work for the good of those who elected them not to profit by endless studies that benefit their cronies.

Raoul
Raoul

FINALLY, someone speaks up about Wick's silence. His complicity in this Park and Toll Road scam is a disgrace.

Lolotehe
Lolotehe

I have to thank Jim for knowing what "beg the question" actually means. Minor pet peeve of mine. 

JimS
JimS

Yeah, isn't that a pain? And I guess they'll just change the meaning to "raises the question" the same year they decide that proper usage is, "It was important to he and I," now standard in all movies and TV productions not made in England.

cp
cp

How about: "He and myself thought is was important."

cp
cp

That's the one our politicians like to use... 

Clancey
Clancey

It never ends.  I was moving to Dallas the fine day in '73 when voters were asked to spend billions to straighten out the Trinity,  so it could haul freight all the way to the Gulf of Mexico.  (forgot about that one,  huh?)  One even better,  not entirely a Dallas project,  build a canal from the Mississippi River across Louisiana to irrigate the Panhandle.  (I am not making either of those up,  by the way.)

As long as pols have pals who think up mega billion dollar projects,  then study it,  then defend it in Court,  hey,  it's an incredible bidness.  Doesn't matter that one of it gets built,  the fees are earned.

Anybody hazard a guess what the costs have been on the Trinity project?  Tens of millions at a minimum,  closer to one hundred million. 

We need the road 'cause baby needs new shoes.  Getting on the public tit is a gold mine for a couple years.

cp
cp

I think that's why City Hall has been fighting the Dallas Observer about that information request to find out exactly how much we have spent. 

Sammy
Sammy

I was sorta thinking Tim Rogers was kinda hip all these years then he says people in East Dallas desparately want to move to the Park Cities. No, they don't. That is the point of living in East Dallas. It is the apotheosis of the antithesis.

Sam
Sam

*desperately - or maybe I was thinking 'disparate' !

Mike
Mike

Jim, I don't always agree with you, but that Tim Rogers is a piece of shit.

Syd_Nancy
Syd_Nancy

Agreed, and D, as in D Rag-azine, stands for Dick, Wicks nick name.

Downtown Resident
Downtown Resident

Careful Jimbo, Tim Rogers only recently stopped prefacing "Dallas Observer" with "Phoenix based" in his Frontburner blog posts but antagonizing him like this is liable to cause him to unsheathe his rhetorical butter knife and have your motley crew once more.

Crazy Larry
Crazy Larry

Nobody is worried about California-born Tim Rogers. Nobody is worried about Highland Park resident Wick Allison. Oh, wait. Or does he live in his Dallas condo not that he is separated?

Guest
Guest

Yes, there came a point when all of the people who had insisted the earth was flat did go very quiet. As is the nature of scientific revolutions, that point came not when the light bulb clicked on for them, but when the people believing the old paradigm died. The round Earth paradigm took over when the kids who learned it that way in school grew up and took over city hall. Expect something similar with the Trinity toll road inside the levees.

scottindallas
scottindallas

Jim, your choice of the Flat Earth proposition is an apt one.  Much like the wisdom of building a tollroad in a floodplain, no one ever thought the Earth was flat, except the Catholic Church.  The Ancient Egyptians and Greeks knew the Earth was round.  The Romans, Byzantines and Arabs knew, the Asians knew it.  The idea that the Earth was flat had become some kinda bizarre dogma of the the Church.  One mustn't ever challenge the notion, though sailors and traders knew, mathematicians knew, those who watched the heavens, plotted the lunar cycles, the chariot that carried the sun around the Earth...

No, we've become good Germans all.  Never is the bubble pierced with the prickly reality of facts and details.  Until it is.

Mike
Mike

Check the Wikipedia article on myth of the flat earth.  No one that studied at a university in the Middle Ages thought the earth was flat.  Since the Church ran all the universities, I'd assume it also agreed.  The church did fight the idea of a heliocentric solar system, but everyone knew the orbs in the system were spherical.

Edgar
Edgar

Okay, I'm as against the 'tween-the-levees road as the next guy, but isn't this taking matters a little out of context, Jim?  The gist of the August 2009 editorial - specifically the "Don't listen to engineers" part - was anti-tollroad.  The point was that engineers want to conquer nature, and sometimes we shouldn't listen to them because common sense tells us conquering nature can be stupid, especially if it involves building a tollroad between the levees.  So, didn't D reverse course in 2009?  He said exactly what you're saying now, even if he changed tunes and you always had it right.  So, that begs the question: Are you taking the editorial out of context because you haven't had a pissing match in awhile?

Jim Schutze
Jim Schutze

Wait, wait, wait. In a late-night on-line duel with Angela Hunt, Wick finally admitted she had been right and he wrong about the linking of the toll road to money for the park. He finally conceded that the toll road didn't have any bearing on funding for the rest of the project,after originally insisting it did ( the basic lie of the pro-inside-the-levees crowd in their ad campaign for the referendum, "Don't let Angela Hunt send a billion dollars down the river.)  But are you telling me you think Wick at some point came out against the inside-the-levees idea? Please, show me the money.

WalkableDFW
WalkableDFW

I, of course, have been against the highway all along, but should we really always castigate people for changing their mind and admitting to being wrong?  Doesn't that perpetuate the broader problem within political discourse of a general unwillingness to admit mistakes?  Shouldn't we actually congratulate people for seeing the light?  

Edgar
Edgar

I'm dead serious.  That was my read of the editorial.  I thought it was a bit beguiling to distance himself from his previous endorsements of the project by blaming those damn engineers, but I thought he was nonetheless coming 'round to the conclusion that it was a doomed proposition.

Texaspainter
Texaspainter

Tim and Wick: you don't even want to get into a discussion of comparing Chicago to anything that Dallas does. You will lose that one. Dallas: home of the $30,000 millionaires.

mightcan
mightcan

Tim thinks it's because you want to live in the Park Cities and they won't have it, or sell to you, or you don't make enough money; it all depends on the day I think. I never really get an answer from D beyond the veneer. Or the visceral. take your pick.

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