City News Roundup
Trinity toll road action dominated news in Dallas this week, from the city council member who got bounced from a meeting of mucky-mucks to a second report from the toll road's Dirty Dozen.
Crashing the Breakfast Club
Dallas City Council member Philip Kingston continued his plucky unmasking of Dallas politics when he was videotaped (via "hatcam") being asked to leave a meeting of the Dallas Breakfast Club. The club, an influential business group, was convening to hear a presentation on the Trinity toll road by Mayor Mike Rawlings and assistant city manager Jill Jordan.
Kingston was initially invited, but he and city council member Scott Griggs wanted to be able to debate the topic; that request was denied. Kingston showed up anyway and was told to leave by, of all people, Harriet Miers, who worked in the White House under President George W. Bush.
Working for Bush is, obviously, not a resume builder, but "bouncer" still seems like a pretty big career step down. Can we look forward to seeing Harriet working the door at Trees?
Meanwhile, floating down the River Denial, the Trinity Commons Foundation released an update from the Dream Team, and it will definitely not be something they want on their resumes. It's a buoyant document, flimsy as corn silk, which first affirms that a "parkway carrying 100,000 vehicles per day could be built." [Emphasis theirs.]
It says that the toll road is necessary to the park's success because the 100,000-plus people driving on it will "see the park and want to come back and enjoy it." Also need road because the park is so big, it would "overwhelm" visitors. Need road so people can see park and get lay of the land. Really, if that's the case, wouldn't helicopter rides be more helpful?
To create the proper park vibe, the road must "meander." Straight road: nothing like a park. Meandering road: breathtaking park. The update ends on the mind-bending claim that the toll road "can attract birds and monarch butterflies as they migrate." That's in quotes because otherwise you might not believe they really said that.
The report comes with not-one-but-two confirmations from Michael Morris, the transportation director for the North Texas Council of Governments, and the voucher of one Mark Simmons of the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.
Dream Team = Dirty Dozen.
Connect Dallas Now, the website promoting the toll road, created a Facebook page. Up for only a couple of weeks, it has broken the rookie internet rule which is to delete comments it does not like. The contrast between the chipper tone of the page vs. the dissatisfaction expressed in the comments is pretty entertaining.
Architect thumbs down
A study of the toll road has been released by a committee of 10 former presidents of the Dallas chapter of the American Institute of Architects. For the toll road, the news is not good. The study compares the current road NTTA Alternative 3C to the Balanced Vision Plan (the road that Dallas voted on in 2007). They are not the same.
"There are numerous details of Alternative 3C that vary from the Balanced Vision Plan. While some are small, they add up and have critical implications," the report says.
The North Texas Tollway Authority took a small but meaningful step this week. Observing that the toll road has become a hot topic, the board discussed its contract with Dallas. Chair Kenneth Barr said they still plan to help get federal approval and evaluate the financing. But he also said that, if Dallas decides against building it, the NTTA wouldn't fight it.
Newly elected Dallas County district attorney Susan Hawk held a Q&A-style town hall meeting at the Concord Baptist Church in southern Dallas on February 16. She intends to continue doing them every other month as part of her efforts at community outreach.