Dallas City Hall Fights to Keep its Trinity Secrets

What's in the emails we can't see? Lots of bad stuff, no doubt.

Fishin' in the Trinity: OK, now we're really curious. We're talking to you, Dallas City Hall, about those Trinity River project emails and memos you're fighting to keep us from seeing. What, has someone been unduly candid in his or her assessment of the city's plans to put a toll road between the levees? Oh, come on. You can tell the ol' Buzzer. It'll be just between us.

No? Fine, City Hall, then just go ahead with that lawsuit you filed in Austin last week, the one seeking to overturn a Texas Attorney General's opinion that the Observer is entitled to see at least some city officials' communications regarding the project. We can wait a bit.

It was way back in February when reporter Sam Merten, who has since left the paper, filed a public information request seeking copies of every paid invoice related to bonds sold for the Trinity corridor project. Our curiosity was piqued by the fact that while City Hall has spent $250 million of the $420 million in bonds approved for the project, we've yet to see a lake or sailboat on the river near downtown. It sounds crazy, but we distinctly remember being promised sailboats and lakes when the project was pitched to voters. We also want to see all communications during December and January between the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' Kevin Craig, City Manager Mary Suhm, Assistant City Manager Jill Jordan, former Mayor Tom Leppert and council member Dave Neumann.

The city claimed that some messages from the Corps are safe from our grip because the U.S. Freedom of Information Act exempts them. The attorney general's office agreed, but said communications solely among city officials must be released, since federal law doesn't apply to them.

The city is trying to get that decision overturned, and we're wetting ourselves anticipating what might be coming our way. We don't usually get excited about public records requests, as we've found that most public officials don't put signed confessions, compromising videos or receipts for kickbacks in public records. Unless they're exceptionally dumb, that is, so in this case we're actually hopeful our fishing will reel in something tasty.

In the meantime, since the city's fighting so hard to keep its secrets, everyone should feel free to speculate wildly about what the secret messages might contain. We'll start: "Man, I can't believe voters bought the whole bridge and sailboat con. What a dumb bunch of motherREDACTED."

Did Leppert send that message? Could be. You may never know.

 
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9 comments
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Raking26
Raking26

I am not trying to take up for Leppert as much as set the record straight: He would have never made that comment.

Bevolaw
Bevolaw

Its time for all the chickens to come home to roost!!!!!

Richard
Richard

How did we get stuck with this bull? Anybody that is from Dallas knows that the river has a very bad smell at times.And you want to make it a park? Next to down town? It will make down town smell. Things went bad for the city when thay found out thay could not put a road on the banks because thay needed to be fixed. That will cost alot more than the park. This whole thing smells like graft to me

Anon
Anon

What a shame! Imagine all of that money being spent on a miss-in-a-blink-of-an-eye-PVC-pipe-and-white-cabled bridge AND empty promises. Hey, City of Dallas, get your priorities fixed!!!

Wind
Wind

All that money spent and they still don't have enough to fix the damn streets...some world class city

Jackjackson3097
Jackjackson3097

Unwilling to show 250 million $ receipt for all the bottled water to fill it up with, After planning comm, left the cork out of the construction ,. The old horse an cart theory..

john62
john62

Kudos to the Observer for demanding to see these documents. More people should be upset about this. Keep up the good work Patrick! There are still some enlightened Dallas citizens who care and who got your back.

Yaryar033
Yaryar033

Maybe I might just break into their offices and steal their computers and then sell if off for millions.

Mister_Mean
Mister_Mean

As my grand mother use to say “If you can’t say something nice about someone---come sit by me.” I tend to read a lot of murder mysteries (and other such trash) and find that, because of them, I tend to think the worst. So I am tending to bet that the information that will be, hopefully forthcoming, will paint a lot of fear and loathing in the classic sense of Dallas.

 
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