By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
Divided we stand: Short of reading that the United States has invaded Iran (God forbid) or that Tony Romo broke a leg (God, Allah, Buddha and L.Ron Hubbard forfend), Tuesday's Metro headline in The Dallas Morning News is about the grimmest thing you're likely to see in a long, long time. "City Council is back to 'business as usual,'" it read. Sheesh.
What did voters do to deserve that? Oh, yeah, they voted to go ahead with the Trinity toll road, the project endorsed by virtually every elected official in the county except council member Angela Hunt, who led the fight to stop the expressway along the river and instead give us the cool park we were promised a decade or so ago.
Of course, the point of the News' story was that things are looking up. The council members, despite the divisiveness of the campaign, are ready to make nicey-nice and get to work. Hunt got a handshake from Mayor Tom Leppert and a kiss on the cheek from council member Mitchell Rasansky. See, no hard feelings. Lone wolf Hunt is back in the pack.
Believe that? Yeah, Buzz doesn't either, and as nice a smooch from Rasansky is—who hasn't dreamed of getting one of those?—Buzz was hoping for a little more. A sincere acknowledgment that nearly 38,000 voters, or 47 percent of the total in the November 6 election, had serious doubts about the toll road would be a start. Leppert announcing that he will appoint Hunt to the council's Trinity River Corridor Project Committee would be even better.
More likely, we suspect, the winners will behave as if the opposition doesn't even exist. Call it the "in your face, loser" style of politics. That's the Dallas way, Buzz thinks, but we've been known to be a bit negative, so we called former city council member Donna Blumer, a toll road opponent, for a reality check.
"As far as the winners being magnanimous to the losers, I think that what you saw at the council yesterday is about as far as it goes," Blumer said. Offering the losers a real role in decision-making about the Trinity project's future? "I don't think that's even on their radar screen."
Blumer said she had been feeling down since the loss. So down that even Buzz was left trying to point out some silver linings hidden in the results. Here's one: Those 38,000 people are not all going to pack up and move to Plano tomorrow. There will be other elections, and even a blue Blumer acknowledges that the election helped organize a cadre of civic-minded voters—in East Dallas, mostly—who might be ready to step up and make their voices heard in city politics.