Last month, I drove up to Denton to watch a documentary about the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ culpability in the Katrina disaster. Few things can entice me to drive that close to the Canadian border, but the trip was well worth it. The movie will be screening tonight at 6pm through March 17 right here in Dallas at the Texas Theater and I strongly urge you to check it out.
About halfway through the film, the focus turns to New Orleans’ disasterous Mississippi River Gulf Outlet project, which was responsible for much of the destruction during Katrina. There are unsettling parallels between the ill-fated “Mr. Go” project and our very own Trinity Toll Road debacle: the primary purpose of the Corps’ Mr. Go project was not flood control and public safety, but transportation/economic development (sound familiar?). Only in their case, instead of a massive toll road, they were creating a massive river channel.
Jim Schutze has two great articles on the documentary and its cautionary tale for Dallas: Documentary About New Orleans’ Killer Floods Draws Uneasy Parallels to Dallas and If There’s One Film About the Corps of Engineers You See All Week …
I got to spend some time talking with the man behind the movie, Harry Shearer (who is not only an amazing comedian/actor, but an astute documentarian). He was incredibly cool, and his passion for New Orleans and its people and history permeates the film. I particularly loved his focus on the courageous whistle-blowers (engineers inside and outside the Corps) who risked their careers to do what was right.
This is a terrific film, and a timely one for our city. Watch it.
St. Patrick’s Day festivities on Greenville Avenue are this Saturday, and I’ve put together a flyer explaining the initiatives the city is taking to limit the impact of the parade and party on our Lower Greenville neighborhoods. (Note that these events are privately sponsored and are not endorsed by the City of Dallas.) Parking is also an issue on St. Patrick’s Day, so here is a map of no-parking areas.
Working together with neighborhood leaders, the Dallas Police Department, and other city departments, we’ve made significant progress over the last five years in lessening the impact of these events, improving public safety, reducing traffic impact and parking problems, and rapidly addressing any problems that arise.
As in years past, I will be available all day and night to help respond to residents’ concerns.
Yesterday, I toured 1600 Pacific with owner Leobardo Trevino (who just purchased the Statler). The building had been vacant and in disrepair, and Leobardo bought it and cleaned it up — inside and out — in preparation of a multi-stage, total renovation. Pictures: http://bit.ly/dEn50r.
If you’ve never been inside one of Downtown’s vacant buildings, I can tell you that the ones I’ve seen are littered with old furniture, junk, and trash, and are generally in disarray. (The City has taken measures to require buildings be cleaned up.) While some property owners leave their property in shambles (trying to avoid the expense of clean-up and hoping that potential tenants can see past the debris and visualize their new space), Leobardo’s philosophy is that those looking for real estate are more inclined to purchase space if the building looks move-in ready. The difference in 1600 Pacific is striking: Looking at the before and after pictures reveals how significant his clean up was. Continue reading