Kingston Opposes Trinity Road, Which DMN Favors, So Paper Endorses Him. Go Figure.

Categories: Schutze

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If you were a Martian visiting Dallas for the first time, you might have trouble even believing how obscure the issues are in City Council elections here, as if we were always voting between one guy who ties his shoes left to right and another one who goes the other way. And I do admit, sometimes you need mining tools.

A candidate endorsement editorial in The Dallas Morning News this morning cites as one of its reasons the consistent refusal by the opposing candidate to take a position on a major urban highway that has already been approved by the voters twice and the City Council many times, that will probably never come back up for a vote and, oh, by the way, also will never be built because of astronomical costs. Let's see, what are we forgetting? Oh, yeah, if they did go ahead with it the road would be underwater twice a year, and the people in their cars would go glug-glug-glug.

So the guy won't take a position on a road that won't be built because people would go glug-glug-glug. And we care, because ...?

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Abtahi
Because the News, in a bizarrely anomalous display of good thinking, is right this time. The refusal of District 14 candidate Bobby Abtahi to take a position on the Trinity River toll road is the one truly salient issue that shows what he's really all about, which is trying to cover up what he's really all about. The News says this morning, "Abtahi has continued to refuse to take a stand on the Trinity toll road ..." Then they endorse his opponent, Philip Kingston.

By the way, just to make everything even more Alice-in-Wonderlandy, Kingston, whom the News also endorsed in the May general election, takes a clear position on the toll road that is the opposite of everything the News' editorial page has fought for over the last 15 years. He's foursquare against the road. The newspaper is four-hundred-square for it. But they endorsed him anyway because at least he had the guts to say what he believes.

Abtahi won't do it. He will not say where he stands on the toll road. And, again, if the toll road is such a stupid non-issue anyway, why do we care what he refuses to say about it? Ah, well, time to don your mining helmet, Mr. Martian. There's real truth and significance buried in here somewhere, but we'll need picks and shovels.

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Kingston
District 14 used to be the old hippie gentrification re-do part of town, now heavily McMansioned and more sedate with every passing fiscal quarter. Property values have soared in recent years much to the amazement of the city's old moneybags elite, who always considered it a slum full of nutballs. As such, District 14 has seen many bitter political battles, sparked mostly by explosive friction between the district's cultural values and the worldview of City Hall. District 14 is diverse and wants to be walkable. City Hall, still dominated by the elite, still sees paradise as a George W cul-de-sac with a guard shack out front.

So the single most important issue in a District 14 council runoff election like the one we're going to have June 15 is worldview. Do you have a truly District 14 worldview? Or are you going to sneak into office and work for the cul-de-sac-ers?

So, OK, I know we're still excavating here, but aren't we getting a little closer to actual meaning? All right, now let me dig out two more shovelfuls here. District 14 hates the toll road. I could explain, but it would take too long.

Second shovelful: If you're working for the old elite, you cannot under any circumstances ever say you are against the toll road. Ever. And I pause now for a question.

Mr. Martian, you ask me: "If you've got a sub rosa agenda anyway, like sneaking into office as a kind of secret agent for the elite, why wouldn't you just lie and say you're against the toll road? It's not coming up for another vote anyway. It's glug-glug-glug. So just cross your fingers and do a little fibski."

I've got a surprise for you there, Marty, but I'm going to leave it to the end, or otherwise we'll never get to the end. The point now is that if you are secretly the handmaiden of the old elite, you cannot even fib and say you're against the toll road, because, even though that might be a rationally strategic move, this is not a strategic or rational issue. It's a religious issue. What religion? The Religion of Totally Crazy.

Yes. Crazy. Totally. The fanatical devotion of the old elite to the dream of an underwater toll road through downtown surpasseth all understanding and will guard their hearts and minds forever in glug-glug-glug.

A candidate who submitted to the interview process at the Dallas Citizens Council, the weird, private, quasi-fraternal organization with a scary name that is the high monastery of old elite belief, told me not for attribution that one of his/her interviewers described opposition to the toll road as "evil."

It's a highway. Or not. How do you get to the belief that opposition to a highway is "evil"? By being totally insane.

So here's the deal. We can find out easily if Abtahi is truly an agent for the old elite but doesn't want to say so for obvious reasons by asking him where he stands on the Trinity River toll road.

One more shovelful: It's not about the toll road. It's about whether the old elite has implanted a chip in his head.

So I met with Abtahi for a second time recently -- I write about this in my upcoming column in the paper this week -- and I asked him for a second time face-to-face where he stands on the toll road. Keep in mind, he already knows I think his refusal to answer the question directly is the single most important issue in the upcoming runoff election.

Here is his answer: "A lot of this, and I will admit, there are these feuds and these battles that have happened I guess over the last even maybe 30 years or 20 years that I wasn't a part of, and I'm not privy to. I see that as maybe the greatest thing that's holding our city back, that we have this, I don't know whether it's just, so-and-so doesn't like so-and-so because something happened 20 years ago. I see myself as kind of the next generation of leadership that is looking forward to things that matter and not re-hashing old wounds."

Stop. Thirty. That's it. That's his answer.

Now for my last shovelful, the surprise: I think he's opposed to the toll road. I can't tell you why, because it's based on information I received in off-the-record conversations with people who would know. But I'm pretty sure I'm right.

But that's not what's important here, Mr. Martian. The toll road question is not about the toll road question. It's about his inability to answer the toll road question and what that tells us about who's his daddy.

Let me toss out one last handful of iron ore here. In my second meeting with Abtahi, I realized that I really do like the guy. He's bright, personable, and I hope he has a future in city politics.

But he sold his ass this time. They own him. And even though they should be able to see what they're doing to him by refusing to let him answer this question, they will not let him wriggle off the hook. Why? Because they're totally crazy.

So now, what to do? Should we feel sorry for Abtahi and vote for him out of pity? Well, you've got to really weigh what you think you can count on over the next two years from a guy who during the election couldn't even say out loud what he really believed, even though he knew not saying it was killing him.

Finally, very weirdly and shockingly, even The Dallas Morning News is right, even seeing that the toll road question is not about the toll road question. I happen to think that's intriguing. And so you see, Mr. Martian ...

Hey, where'd he go? I see an odd vapor trail in the sky above me. Oh, look, he left a note.
"Sorry, looking for planet with better politics."

Oh, sure. Martian son of a bitch. He's in favor of the toll road, isn't he? I told you this was crazy crazy stuff.

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43 comments
daviddennard
daviddennard

This is so obscure and irrelevant to my life, and to most people's, that I wonder why you wasted the pixels/ink on it. I usually find value in your columns...and i agree with you most of the time. What is this...stuff?

BHO13
BHO13

I actually did vote for the war before I voted against it.

holmantx
holmantx topcommenter

You must understand the DMN Ed Board Group-Think psyche.

Stand squarely at the women’s tee, strike the ball at half-strength and keep it in the center of the fairway.  Avoid all hazards.

And when you come to a fork in the cart lane, take it.

casiepierce
casiepierce

And you don't think Kingston will go balls up for the tollroad once he gets on council? Why is this even a qualifier anymore?

bealotcoolerifyoudid
bealotcoolerifyoudid

Weren't you supposed to write something about the DCC making Abtahi bath in chicken blood? 

RTGolden1
RTGolden1 topcommenter

I cannot believe you managed to write an article that long that tackles nothing important, sheds no new light on any subject, presents anything of substance or is even remotely readable.

Good Job!

stopthemadness
stopthemadness

You obviously favor Abtahi or you would not be devoting so much time to him and his campaign managers and micro campaign managers Veletta Lil and Craig Holcomb. Both Craig and Veletta are into the developers, no matter what. Who do you think they worked for when they were on the City Council. One only has to look at the history of redevelopment under their "rule" to see who rules. Hunt did the same thing and was against the Hotel, for the trinity toll road, during the last campaign to vote and railroaded the deck park for the developers. For whatever, reason, she saw the light and had a come to Jesus over the toll road. We need leadership that can navigate the neighborhoods desires, not blind followship. Abtahi doesn't have enough confidence to stand on his own and that is not what we need right now.

Chuck_Schick
Chuck_Schick

I thought the part about Abtahi making it look like the paper endorsed him had more to do with it. Those anonymous editorial writers never forget.

Mo.Roney
Mo.Roney

Man, you can turn a phrase. I wish I lived in the district so I could start a civic pride campaign: Not A Slum Full of Nutballs Anymore.

Montemalone
Montemalone topcommenter

When will we get a candidate in favor of building and repairing sidewalks in the city?

When will we get a candidate in favor of banning power blowers that pollute the air with dust and noise and blow trash all over the place, including into the storm drains that clog and cause streets to flood when it rains?

When will we get a candidate that advocates completion of the Knox/Henderson subway stop?

When will we get a candidate that actually cares about improving the quality of life for the people in the district, and the city?

I'm sure I'll meet an actual Martian before I get any answers.

JimSX
JimSX topcommenter

Sorry if I wore out your finger.

JimSX
JimSX topcommenter

@casiepierce 

Sorry. Having an anatomical reference challenge here. "Balls up" would be what direction?

stupidisasstupiddoes
stupidisasstupiddoes

I always love it that people conveniently forget that Angela Hunt was handpicked by Veletta Lil (and so I assume the Dallas Citizens Council, using your logic) to take her seat and Angela in return bit the hand that fed her.

Say what you want to about Veletta Lil or even Craig Holcomb but they've done a hell of a lot more for this City than Angela did or will ever do.

JimSX
JimSX topcommenter

@Chuck_Schick 

That's a very good point. Abtahi soiled their prose. 

JimSX
JimSX topcommenter

@Mo.Roney 

My bumper sticker would be, "Keep East Dallas a Slum."

Any other suggestions out there?

ScottsMerkin
ScottsMerkin topcommenter

@Myrna.Minkoff-Katz I think we all endorse you heading on back to New York with your tail tucked the way you've been acting today around here

kduble
kduble

@Montemalone Here's the skinny on a subway stop. The Vickery Heights Homeowners Association on the east side of Central Expressway got the idea put on the back burner by coming out in opposition during public hearings in the late 1980s. Yet, we have a totally different crowd there today -- younger, hipper, urban. There are still a few silver hairs that oppose a station, but they're no longer significant, and they're moving to nursing homes rapidly.

The problem today: the idea is essentially an orphan. DART consists of 13 member cities. Like a workable Love Field connection, a Knox-Henderson stop would coast a boatload of money, yet it would benefit nobody but Dallas. The other member cities, most of which are to the north and west, would realize no tangible benefit from an underground stop that would chew up a substantial portion of DART's budget yet benefit a relative few and delay the commute for many.

The best time to do it was while laying the line. But, since the neighborhood opted to look the gift horse in the mouth, the operation of the line itself complicates things. A source within the city said DART would only want to work on the station in early morning hours when the trains aren't running. This would make the cost phenomenal.


It's a pity Congress isn't doing earmarks anymore. This would be a good case for one.


RTGolden1
RTGolden1 topcommenter

@Montemalone I think they were going to build a Subway Stop (a combined Subway and Wing Stop) in the Knox Henderson area but the developer wanted a 40 story parking garage, the neighborhood demanded a six-lane bike thoroughfare in the drive-thru, City staff wanted it to have a Calatrava Arch over it but McDonalds sued for copyright infringement and Jim Schutze wanted to make sure it wouldn't increase the dumpster count rating of flash flooding of surface streets during rainstorms.  Avi Adelman sued and harassed the developer until they scrapped the plans, some reform school dropouts painted hieroglyphics on the streets that confused bikers and drivers alike, causing a traffic snarl on affected streets, McDonalds won and the Army Corps of Engineers told Schutze the shut the hell up and close his bathrobe a little tighter.

casiepierce
casiepierce

@Montemalone Pretty sure City Council candidates are helpless to the Knox Henderson, ehrm, "subway stop" unless they can offer DART a truckload of money.

John1073
John1073

We've had those candidates. The DMN won't endorse them because they are not part of some established club of attorneys, real estate agents, or politician's spouses.

MattL11
MattL11

When you run for city council?

Myrna.Minkoff-Katz
Myrna.Minkoff-Katz topcommenter

@casiepierce Ignorant slob.  I've voted in every election in Dallas since moving here years ago.  That's good citizenship.  When was the last time YOU voted?

bealotcoolerifyoudid
bealotcoolerifyoudid

@RTGolden1 @Montemalone I apologize for not seeing this yesterday.  Because it is clear that you won the internets/

JimSX
JimSX topcommenter

@Chuck_Schick @Montemalone 

Don't give them ideas. They'll change their name to "Up with Dallas!!!" and tell the IRS they're a social welfare organization. Then with that kind of cover they can carry out actual hits.

Montemalone
Montemalone topcommenter

@MattL11 What are the chances a middle aged gay white guy with long hair and a big mouth would get elected?

casiepierce
casiepierce

@MattL11 See, that doesn't work. Michael Davis challeneged me to run two years ago, because of my big ole mouth, and, well, you know it didn't happen. Suffice it to say, it takes a lot of guts, courage, compassion, OR a lot of money. Those negative attack ads don't pay for themselves.

MattL11
MattL11

@Montemalone Hey, I never said anything about getting elected. You just asked when you'd see a candidate like that. It's a low bar to be a candidate. For the record, I'd consider voting for you, so that and some amount of money will get you a cup of coffee. 

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