Key Opponent to Tearing Down I-345 Likes to Keep the Race Card Up His Sleeve

Categories: Schutze

Michael Morris at Council.jpg
Michael Morris
This morning, Eric posted an item here with a particular quote that I just could not let pass. Eric saw through the quoted statements immediately, so I guess I'm just piling on. His story was about remarks made recently to The Dallas Morning News by a powerful regional transportation planner who not very subtly accused opponents on a road issue of elitism and racism. I need to remind us all of the last time this same guy did this same thing.

See also: Transportation Planners Hesitant to Tear Down I-345, Because Poor People

Michael Morris, the head highway person for the regional agency that divvies up state and federal transportation money in this part of Texas, characterized people he saw at a meeting recently who were advocating the demolition of a downtown Dallas elevated freeway: "They were all white," Morris told the News, "they were very wealthy, and I don't think any of them live in the neighborhood."

This is about tearing down an elevated portion of something called I-345, which I think of as the lower end of Central Expressway where it crosses the eastern end of downtown near Baylor and then hooks up with Interstate 30. The elevated roadway there creates one of those deep-shadowed, trash-blown no-man's lands, the curse wrought by elevated freeways everywhere, because that kind of dead zone acts as an absolute barrier to walkable development. Urban advocate Patrick Kennedy and Morning News architecture critic Mark Lamster both have made eloquent persuasive arguments for tearing down that portion of freeway. They say it would open the way for a multi-billion dollar reinvestment and development surge linking Deep Ellum with downtown Dallas.

Kennedy and Lamster bring an important perspective to the local discourse, but I can't help pointing out that what they are saying is not exactly a groundbreaking concept. In fact serious research shows that tearing down elevated freeways generally has had strong positive effects on development without any notably bad effect on transportation.

Morris is the transportation director for the North Central Texas Council of Governments (don't feel bad, nobody else has ever heard of them, either). He is an old-fashioned road guy -- a big proponent of building an elevated freeway on top of the Trinity River, for example -- and, really, that's OK. Somebody's gotta be the road guy. To an old-fashioned road advocate, tearing down a perfectly good freeway is anathema. We can all get that. It's kind of like being against concussions in professional football. For die-hard fans, professional football without life-threatening injuries is like O'Doul's, all of the bloating and none of the fun. Same thing with elevated freeways -- the higher, the better.

Being in favor of elevated freeways and against tearing them down is Morris' business, literally. I'm not talking about that. This is about a particular reflex Morris has shown in the past and is showing again now in a search for political traction -- playing the race card. Morris' clear suggestion to the News was that a bunch of rich white people want to tear down I-345 for their own amusement, callous to the hardship they would wreak on the black neighborhoods at the other end of that road.

The last time Morris weighed in on the race issue was five years ago, after the powerful Perot family declared that an immense proposed rail, trucking and warehousing center in southern Dallas County called "The Inland Port" or "Dallas Logistics Hub," if realized, would comprise a direct competitive threat to the Perot-controlled Alliance Airport and logistics center in Fort Worth. A newcomer to Dallas might have assumed that Dallas officials, the local daily newspaper and especially leadership in southern Dallas would have stood up and cheered for that, since the only threat ever mentioned in connection with southern Dallas since Reconstruction had been the threat of unemployment and bitter poverty.

John Ellis Price, vice chancellor of the University of North Texas-Dallas, described the projected impact of the project in a speech to local leaders back then: "The 6,000-acre master plan with 60 million square feet of distribution, manufacturing, office and retail development is slated to become one of the biggest economic engines for northern Texas," he said.

"The Dallas Logistics Hub is projected to create 31,000 new direct jobs, plus 32,000 new indirect jobs," Price told them. "The hub also expects to increase the tax base for the municipalities of Dallas, Lancaster, Wilmer and Hutchins by $2.4 billion. The economic impact of the facility, construction and employment for operations within the hub from 2006 to 2035 is projected to be $68.85 billion dollars."

But instead of cheering the launch, local leaders went to work drilling holes in the hull. In fact what the saga of the Inland Port revealed was that North Texas is ruled by powerful families much more than by communities or even formal institutions of government. The competing Perot logistics development may be in Fort Worth, but Perot influence and power are keenly felt in Dallas where they live. Instead of cheering the project, key local Dallas officials joined the editorial board and reporting staff of The Dallas Morning News in attacking and sabotaging the Dallas project. All of that is now the focus of a multi-year FBI investigation.

Michael Morris joined the fray back then with gusto, telling the Morning News he was very disappointed with the racial attitudes of Richard Allen, a California developer and industrialist who was the driving force behind the Dallas development. Morris said he had lectured Allen and his people about race but to no avail: "I said, 'Be sensitive to minority contracting.' They seemed very naïve about it, to my surprise. I think they had no sensitivity to this subject. I don't think to this day he [Allen] understands why minority firms should be used."

The biggest problem with that characterization was that it was untrue. On major projects already underway in Dallas, Allen's minority participation rate was 55 percent. A major locally owned firm also participating on some of those same projects, never once singled out by Morris for criticism, was running a minority participation rate of 4.9 percent. Morris' own employer, the North Texas Council of Whatever, had a stated goal of 13 percent for minority participation on its own projects, so Allen was beating Morris at his own game by more than four times.

What is more, the minute the topic of minority participation was broached to Allen, he provided Dallas officials with names and phone numbers of mayors, city council persons, members of Congress and other minority leaders all over the United States with whom he had done business. He promised not to call them himself ahead of time and asked officials here to contact them and inquire about his record on racial matters. As far as Allen could tell, not a single name on that list was ever contacted.

If you don't recall Morris and the North Central Council of Whatever as major players in civil rights matters or huge champions of minority rights, I urge you to trust your lack of memory. Morris does weigh in on those issues once every five years or so, probably when he thinks most people have forgotten the last time, but only as an exercise in crass manipulation and cynicism. It tends to work for him.


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87 comments
Voot
Voot

You know, I just made a snarky comment below, but now I'm rethinking this idea to roll that section of Dallas back to a pre-automobile, steampunk era.


One word: zeppelins

rocks123
rocks123

if you want everything to be like uptown and mckinney and you want to push the poorer folks elsewhere then tear this sumbitch down..if you value diversity and subcultures then keep this sumbitch up..simple as that

holmantx
holmantx topcommenter

There are over 200,000 commuters and commerce traversing RL Thornton (I-30) at 2nd Avenue each day.

How do you propose they get to Mockingbird and Central if you tear down the right turn?

Go up Munger/Greenville Ave?  Can't get past Trader Joe's as it is.

dallas_dude
dallas_dude

You do realize there is an even happening all weekend about 15 miles outside of dallas that is drawing over 100k people and it's impossible to take ANY FOR OF MASS TRANSPORTATION TO THE EVENT?


How's about the fact that there is no east-west dart line?


How's about the fact that I live 4 miles from my job and according to dart trip planner it would take me 59 min to get to work at PEAK operating times?  (And I'd have to walk half a mile to boot.)


THIS IS THE DUMBEST FABRICATED ISSUE IN THE HISTORY OF DALLAS.

dallas_dude
dallas_dude

Can we get a simple poll asking North Texans whether they think tearing down I-345 is a good idea or the dumbest hipster lead effort since ever?  How about we turn this over to the people.

dallas_dude
dallas_dude

 It's kind of like being against concussions in professional football. 

Who the F**** is in support of concussions?!?!?!  No on is in "support" of concussions.  However, there are people (like me) who think the concussion has been taken to a ridiculous extreme.  People like you have made it seem that we should take caution before laying our head down on a pillow as the impact could lead to sever brain injury. 

holmantx
holmantx topcommenter

Most of us negotiate a particular stretch of the expressway system somewhere in the Metroplex on a regular, if not daily basis.

The next time you are on it, think what you would do if it were no longer there.

Better yet, just exit 10 miles before your destination.

benwellsstreet
benwellsstreet

The only thing stopping "walkable development" is the fact that the area under the frees is currently reserved for homeless tent camps. Turn the whole stretch into something along the lines of the park between canton/main and it'll definitely be walkable. It's ignorant to act like that area is undevelopable.

The people in city hall just don't want the people who own the property around there getting a bone. If this were a freeway crossing north Dallas, things would be entirely different.

TheRuddSki
TheRuddSki topcommenter

Anyone who keeps the race card up his or her sleeve is simply following the tactic required to advance an agenda, it's as necessary to the process as bold and repeated lying.

Your headline seems to suggest the term as pejorative.

dfw_maverick
dfw_maverick

Schutze"s column says that tearing the freeway down won't have any noticeable effect on traffic.  What becomes of the tens of thousands of cars currently using the elevated freeway?  Seems to me tearing it down would have a major effect on travel time.


From the column:


In fact serious research shows that tearing down elevated freeways generally has had strong positive effects on development without any notably bad effect on transportation.

holmantx
holmantx topcommenter

1st Steve Blow, now the Fat Man.  

Man you gotta have a talk with your publicist.  I realize there cannot be Light without Heat however, both these guys are using your stuff and imitation, in this instance, is not the the greatest form of flattery.  

The pedestrians are diluting your ink.


BushwoodSmithie
BushwoodSmithie

"The elevated roadway there creates one of those deep-shadowed, trash-blown no-man's lands, the curse wrought by elevated freeways everywhere, because that kind of dead zone acts as an absolute barrier to walkable development."


Jim, have you ever actually taken a stroll down here? 


Underneath or next to that bridge are amenities like artwork, a dog park and a community garden. During the summer that "deep-shadow" is a pleasant respite on the walk between downtown and Deep Ellum. I guarantee you that summer evenings on the patio at Cane Rosso would be a lot less enjoyable (or crowded) without the shade from that bridge.


If it's such a "dead zone", where did the apartments between it and the Farmers Market come from? Why are the townhomes along Canton so successful? Why are developers building City Lights literally within a stone's throw?


How about paying our neighborhood a visit and compare the reality to your preconceived stereotype?

Anon
Anon

There are indeed 200,000 VEHICLES per day on that stretch of roadway. Only about 190,000 are passenger vehicles. About 10,000 are commercial trucks. One commercial truck does about as much damage to a roadway as nearly 10,000 cars. It is amazing our highways last as long as they do!

Guest
Guest

@holmantx  Cesar Chavez. The other end of the Mixmaster. 635. Northwest Highway. Going through the downtown grid...

WylieH
WylieH

@dallas_dude  Isn't the idea supported by a wide cross-section of the Country's leading experts in urban transportation planning as well as the Real Estate Council?

JohnSmallBerries
JohnSmallBerries

@dallas_dude  Dude.... Can I call you dude? Dude, asking the widespread public's general opinion about urban planning and especially transportation planning (in a direct democracy sense) would be a disaster. Why should some guy from N. Dallas or Desoto who may rarely use that stretch, if at all, count for anything? 

The hipster thing is just a red herring and an ad hominem. This isn't "hipster led" and so what if it was? As people don't seem to notice or they ignore, this kind of effort has almost led to universally better conditions where it has been performed throughout not just the United States but the world. The same kind of moaning and hand wringing about "where will the cars go" was also repeated but doom, gloom, and tornadoes never struck.

JimSX
JimSX topcommenter

Click on linked term, "serious research. "

kduble
kduble

@BushwoodSmithie I've been down there. It stinks of urine and Old 97. While I commend the artists for their efforts, it's like putting lipstick on a pig. The overpasses block the rain and the sun. Nothing grows down there. It's a wasteland. Ask the artists, many support tearing it down.

holmantx
holmantx topcommenter

@BushwoodSmithie  

I live 400 yards from that overpass and I ride through there every day on a mountain bike.  I live and work in Deep Ellum.  I hang at the Free Man and Canne Rosso is a tenant of mine.  In fact that entire strip just outside the shadow is jumpin'.  It was the first part of the Big Deep to make a resurgence.

To make that kind of statement puts Mr. Schutze in Plano, with all the stereotypes "those people" bring to the table.

RTGolden1
RTGolden1 topcommenter

@Anon BS.  1 truck as much damage as 10,000 cars? You forgot an added qualifier to any report or study that uses that figure: 1 "overweight" truck does as much damage as 10,000 cars.  Trucks within the weight limits set forth by DOT meet the design criteria of roads and bridges of 20,000# per loaded axle.

Our highways last as long as they do because there is 50 years of science, research and engineering behind the stress loads, weight limits and distribution behind them.  Facts aren't amazing, except to those who don't bother to seek them out.

holmantx
holmantx topcommenter

@Anon  The cost of the highway is in that truck.

In essence, the highway, and the reason for it, is in that truck.

ScottsMerkin
ScottsMerkin topcommenter

@Guest @holmantx  right lets dump the 200,000 some  odd cars down onto the surface streets he wants to make more pedestrian friendly.  

Voot
Voot

@bvckvs @holmantxThe fact that FrontBurner is all over this like it was a new Best Of category pretty much makes this a slam dunk conclusion.

Sail away,

Sail away,

You will cross our mighty city on a S-Works + McLaren Venge one day.

RTGolden1
RTGolden1 topcommenter

@bvckvs @holmantxAs often as I disagree with you, you probably nailed this one on the head.  The people who really want this torn down want to be able to walk from DE to CBD.  Which they can do now.  But they want to be able to walk from A to B without having any of the people who belong in C crossing their paths.

TheRuddSki
TheRuddSki topcommenter

@bvckvs

That would negatively affect the bars and boutiques on McKinney, wouldn't it?

RTGolden1
RTGolden1 topcommenter

@WylieH @dallas_dudeTo be fair, urban transportation planners kind of have to support the idea of tearing out urban core freeways:  There is no more room in urban cores to build any more new highways.  It was either start tearing them out or consider it a done deal.  If it is a done deal, you have no more need for urban transportation planners.

Along the same lines, Real Estate professionals are behind anything that increases the value of real estate.  tearing out the freeways opens up land for development and increases property values.  Now you have to ask yourself: is the Real Estate Council in favor of those developments including low-income housing, section 8 housing?  I would think not, since those developments tend to decrease the value of surrounding real estate.

PlanoDave
PlanoDave

@bvckvs  That is kinda like saying "If you like cotton t-shirts, you are for slavery."

dallas_dude
dallas_dude

@JimSX Why haven't we seen a poll asking people whether or not they want this thing torn down?  I'm thinking 90% think this is a pretty stupid idea.

dfw_maverick
dfw_maverick

@JimSX The "serious research" is not serious research about where the traffic will go in Dallas that would be displaced and inconvenienced by tearing the freeway down. 

holmantx
holmantx topcommenter

@kduble @BushwoodSmithie  

Then move to Plano, where the Stepford wives and the barren wastelands are "smartly" accessorized with a minimal amount of approved trees.

And everyone hauls ass to 60 mph between the stop lights.

mavdog
mavdog topcommenter

@holmantx

"Canne Rosso is a tenant of mine"

You are definitely NOT Susan Reese....who owns the building that Cane Rosso is in.

you are full of bullshit on this one...

concernedcitizen
concernedcitizen

@mavdog everybody clear out, white people need downtown back so they can living sustainably with all their Ikea furniture. They'll bike... on Sundays with spandex on. 


concernedcitizen
concernedcitizen

@mavdogWait... what? That makes no sense. Allow the the Dallas Logistics Hub to be built to so low wage earners don't have travel; they presumably already have housing. There is no way they are going to put affordable housing next to the Crow apartments. I like the idea but they're clearing framing this as some yuppie ideal of "living sustainably" so they can push all the black people out.

mavdog
mavdog topcommenter

@deep-sigh

google "1400 Belleview" developed by Matthews Southwest in Cedars.

deep-sigh
deep-sigh

@mavdog @RTGolden1 @bvckvs @holmantx   i thought that was one of the things Dallas did well....promise affordable housing but then not deliver...isn't there a lawsuit on this? I dunno...by now...if some developer promises affordable housing in multi billion dollar project, I'm just go with..yeah uh huh...right.

mavdog
mavdog topcommenter

@RTGolden1 @bvckvs@holmantx 

in all due respect, you guys are sounding like Morris....

The group behind the proposal to tear down the freeway are not out to stop "those people" from traveling to the area.

In fact, if you read their proposal, they see the redevelopment as an opportunity in providing more affordable housing for the low wage earners who work nearby. The concept is to have more diversity of incomes in the area, not less.

ask yourself: why should the low wage earners be forced to travel so far to access their job, and spend such a high % of their income on transportation? decrease this expense and increase the standard of living they can have.

Kennedy did a great job of putting this forward in his response to Morris. It makes a lot of sense.

TheRuddSki
TheRuddSki topcommenter

@dallas_dude

Maybe you answered your own question.

RTGolden1
RTGolden1 topcommenter

@danwindham13 @holmantx@kduble@BushwoodSmithieRight, because NYC, LA and Chicago have knocked down all their skyscrapers, leveled all their elevated freeways and all their citizens are comfortably housed and walk around farting rose petals in a crime-free, car-free, urine and old-97-free urban utopia.


Oh, wait.

danwindham13
danwindham13

@holmantx @kduble @BushwoodSmithie  but that's not what's being proposed. Plano can have it's surface highway/blvds and accessorized plantings. But there's a HUGE gap between that and urine soaked gravel and brightly colored paintings under a looming highway. Uhh, lets maybe look at modern development in any other city Dallas laughably compares itself to as 'world class'. Smaller streets, large sidewalks, medium sized buildings, walkable blocks. Commerce, economic activity, and real dallas growth.

RTGolden1
RTGolden1 topcommenter

@mavdog @holmantxThe property actually seems to be owned by Deep Ellum Holdings, of which Susan Reese is listed as a managing director.  The only other officer for both companies I can find listed for free is Laurence B. 'Larry' Vineyard (also listed on Madison's website).  But that can't be right, Larry Vineyard was the lawyer who represented Vernon S&L. Last story on him I read had him working as an electrician after serving 10 years over the S&L fiasco. (None of which matches the Vineyard on Madison's website, although the law pedigree does match, SMU Law, years are right)

mavdog
mavdog topcommenter

@holmantx

completely.

why are you making stuff up?

holmantx
holmantx topcommenter

are you sure about that?

mavdog
mavdog topcommenter

@holmantx

you certainly couldn't be Lou Reese, h's been dead for about 5 years.

Susan Reese (Madison Prtnrs) owns the building that Cane Rosso occupies. Cane Rosso is a Tenant of susan Reese.

holmantx
holmantx topcommenter

@mavdog @holmantx  

I am NOT Susan Reese (nor Lou either).

and they are tenants of mine.

Nor am I Schutze or his Hyde.

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