By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
Toll-you-so. Sometimes The Dallas Morning News does things so right, Buzz worries they might actually restore their credibility. Then what would Buzz do?
But never fear! Just when skies are darkest, the Trinity River toll road story breaks through like a radiant beam.
In last Sunday's Page 1 story by transportation reporter Michael A. Lindenberger, the News was forced to reveal that every single thing Dallas City Council member Angela Hunt ever said about the toll road has turned out to be true, while Dallas Mayor Tom Leppert has engaged in marvelous and stunning untruths about the project.
But did Lindenberger call Hunt for the "told-you-so" quote? Of course not!
In the 2007 referendum on plans to build a new super-highway through downtown, Hunt made two main arguments: The design of the road—between the levees in the river's floodway—is unsafe and unsound. And in part because of this massive design flaw, the road will be far too expensive to build.
Lindenberger's story concedes that plans for the toll road went awry "after planners decided it should be built between the levees." The story makes it clear that funding for the project is at least a billion dollars short of the cost.
So doesn't that make Hunt 100 percent right and Leppert 110 percent wrong?
Lindenberger knows that the news about the missing billion dollars in funding is not news. In his campaign to defeat the referendum and keep the road between the levees, Leppert vowed on multiple occasions in 2007 that the NTTA had committed to covering any costs the city could not afford.
But weeks before the vote, NTTA chairman Paul N. Wageman told Lindenberger that wasn't true. Lindenberger and the Morning News sat on that story until the day after the votes were counted.
In Sunday's story, Lindenberger attributes the billion-dollar shortfall to things that have happened since 2007. He allows Leppert to get away with saying, "The transportation picture is a difficult one statewide." He quotes Leppert as explaining that, "all of the projects have gotten cloudy."
So right now, all over Dallas, people are asking, WWBD? (What would Buzz do?) Buzz would have said to the mayor, "Are you concerned that people now, whenever they see you on TV, are going to have that childish rhyme running through their heads about 'pants on fire'? Are you worried that 'Pants-afire' could even become one of those stubborn political monikers that you can never outlive, like Governor Moonbeam?"
Oh, Buzz would know what to do. You can count on Buzz.