It’s Been a Bumper Crop Week for All Things Trinity

Ok.  This is like the fifth time I’ve sat down to write a blog about the Trinity River Project this week.  This is going to be a long one, so bear with me.  Lots of catching up to do.

First, I was going to blog about Michael Lindenberger’s well-written article in last Sunday’s paper, “Trinity toll road’s backers told only part of the story to win 2007 vote,”  contradicting claims made by toll road advocates during the 2007 toll road referendum that the feds had fully approved the road and it was fully funded.

Lindenberger cites documents (just released after his initial request two years ago) that showed the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and other federal officials were much less confident about the road than toll road advocates claimed publicly.

I took a couple of days to mull that over, but then DMN columnist Jackie Floyd weighed in, castigating Leppert for leading voters astray, especially those who might have been on the fence in such a close referendum.  “Voters in 2007 toll road referendum were shortchanged.”

Alright.  As I started to type a blog about these two items, a third item popped up — another article by Lindenberger getting Leppert’s reaction to the revelations that all was not as rosy with the toll road as he had painted it in 2007.  “Tom Leppert says he played fair with Dallas voters in 2007 Trinity toll road referendum.”

Ok, hands on keyboard, here I go….Nope, now The Dallas Morning News posted an editorial criticizing Leppert and others who misled voters in 2007, “Overblown optimism about toll road did voters a disservice“:

No doubt about it, then-Mayor Tom Leppert told folks. The corps says the route between the levees is safe. It can be done.

Well, not exactly.

What the corps said was “plausible,” Leppert and others portrayed as a slam dunk….

But their cocksure conviction did Dallas residents a disservice. Leppert and his allies offered a rose-colored, best-case scenario instead of allowing voters to make a fully informed decision about a significant and expensive project.

This newspaper — and likely plenty of voters — took leaders at their word when they proclaimed that the highway could be built in the floodway. While that may not be false, it wasn’t necessarily true. In the months leading up to the referendum, officials from the corps and other federal agencies wrote early and often that building within the levees would be difficult, that protecting the structural integrity of the levees was paramount, and that this had not been done before.

Proponents of the toll road, it seems, heard what they wanted to hear.

After that, I had to head over to Unfair Park to check out Jim Schutze’s take on all of this.  “Gosh, We’re Just Too Trusting, or: The Dallas Morning News’s Embarrassing Confession.”

The Trinity has been a hot potato this week.  So what’s a girl to do?  Well, I figured I might as well get in on the action, so I wrote my own op-ed.    I’ll include that in another blog, but here’s my take on all of these articles and columns and editorials:

I’m glad the truth has come out.  I wish this had come out in the DMN four years ago, but better late than never.  I’ll also say we’re very, very fortunate to have had guys like Schutze and Merten on the case, who dug into this issue during the referendum, who asked the tough questions (multiple times, if necessary), and who knew that just because the bigwigs were saying it, didn’t make it true.