By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
All wet: Well, at least we know now who to blame. When the Trinity River finally tops its weakened levees and inundates large swaths of the city, all you drowning folk should raise your fists to the sky and loose an imprecation at the person who sealed your fate. "Curse you, city council member Angela Hunt!" you should shout. "Curse you and your referend...glub, glub, glub!"
Who knew that Hunt, an outspoken advocate for more flood protection, played a part in delaying vital repairs to the city's levee system? Well, no one did, until The Dallas Morning News published its Sunday centerpiece story that attempted to answer the question of why it's taken decades to repair the levees despite ample warning they needed fixing.
Turns out the plan to put parks and a toll road between the levees has made the Trinity project much more complex than, say, just fixing the damn levees. Whose fault is that? Why it's yours, Mr. and Ms. Voter.
You wanted all those amenities along the river—the parks, the trails, the toll road. Especially the toll road, apparently. A bond issue for a plain vanilla, fix-the-levees project would never have passed muster with you. You voters are like parakeets. You need bright and shiny things to distract you.
Then there's Hunt, who tells Buzz she was surprised to learn that the 2007 anti-toll road referendum she led delayed critical work on the levees for one minute.
"I had no idea I was so powerful," especially since city staff insisted that work on the Trinity project was not delayed by the referendum at all, Hunt tells Buzz.
In a blog posting, the analysis' author, reporter Michael A. Lindenberger, stood behind the assertion that the vote was one of the reasons the project has been so slow moving, a fact that, not surprisingly, annoys Hunt.
"I find it very troubling that a journalist would make an assumption that's totally false," Hunt says, and then fail to back up the assertion when called on it.
Uh, yeah. For the record, we did tell her she was talking to Buzz.
Lindenberger's analysis is correct in one major respect, Hunt says. The various parts of the Trinity project, as it's conceived, are so intertwined that delays on one part inevitably delay other parts—and the toll road gets top priority from city staff. The thing is, the flood control part of the plan doesn't have to be intertwined with the road, unless city leaders demand that things work that way.
Which is the unspoken message of the News' analysis: Why is fixing the levees taking so long? Because someone has got their priorities way out of whack.