The Inland Port Can Still Win the Race for Jobs If We Don't Let Fixers Screw Us

Last week in a Dallas City Council session someone suggested that maybe Dallas has fallen a bit behind in the race to become a primary continental shipping hub.

Yeah. You could say. Race started. Other guy took off. Crowd roaring. We're still stuck in the gate, and our jockey's drunk. I'd say we're behind. I'd say we're not in the race.

"We're probably maybe two years behind schedule," said council member Tennell Atkins, speaking of efforts to develop a major North American shipping hub in southern Dallas.

Jared Boggess


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No, not two years. Five years. And the race doesn't go forever. There's a finish line coming up soon.

This is not pinochle. Ultimately it's not about shipping. This is urban life and death.

The worst thing? We're not behind by accident. This isn't a thing that just happened. It was done. The city's only daily newspaper joined hands with a so-called regional planning agency, a former mayor, a former City Council member and a current county commissioner under investigation by the FBI to do this to us.

The shipping thing is the technical inside story. Let me point you to the big story. This is about the city itself, the economy and future of Dallas.

In the last five years since we started losing this race, an enormous tide of wealth has poured into the region around the development that has been winning. Southern Dallas meanwhile remains bitterly impoverished, and the city has been fenced out of the explosive growth of the region.

This thing is a marker for everything that can and cannot happen in Dallas in the next 50 years. If we let ourselves lose this horse race, it means we can't win a horse race.

But to win it now? We'd have to put dynamite under our saddle and light it. So let's put dynamite under saddle and light it.

This may hurt.

In 2005 when southern Dallas entered this race, it came into it with huge advantages. The stakes were and are monumental. In 2014, a newly widened and deepened Panama Canal will begin delivering a whole new volume of Pacific Rim trade to the Caribbean Sea.

Some portion of that trade will come up from Houston by rail, looking for a warehousing and distribution hub. In 2005, the two best candidates for that hub were southern Dallas and the Alliance Airport/Logistics development east of Fort Worth. Of the two, southern Dallas had the edge.

Even without the new Panama trade, southern Dallas already is a hub or crossing point for rail lines and highways coming north from Mexican deep-water ports and east from Los Angeles/Long Beach, then going east to Atlanta, north to Chicago and northeast to the main crossing point for freight into Canada at Detroit.

Why? It goes way back to a history Dallas has forgotten. We were a principle "logistics hub," although they didn't call it that, in the 19th century, a shipping point for goods flowing south and west and for commodities moving north and east. The roads and the railroads aren't here by accident. We just forgot why they're here.

The developers of the southern Dallas Inland Port project remembered. They also saw that the competing Alliance Logistics center developed by the Perot family interests north of Fort Worth lacked these advantages. Alliance was already under way and had a good head start on Dallas, but it was in the wrong place, cut off from the roads and rail lines that crisscross southern Dallas.

Ross Perot Jr. saw it. In October 2006, in a speech at the Fort Worth Chamber of Commerce, Perot, chief executive officer of the company that controls Alliance, described the Dallas Inland Port as "a direct threat" to his own holdings.

In June the following year, Tom Leppert celebrated his mayoral victory at a closed party in Perot's downtown Dallas penthouse suite, after winning the election with black votes brought to him by County Commissioner John Wiley Price. Soon afterward, Leppert and The Dallas Morning News began campaigning for an entire new planning process for the Inland Port, which effectively brought development to a halt. They were joined in this effort by the North Central Texas Council of Governments, but their most effective ally in bringing the Inland Port to its knees was Price.

As we now know based on FBI court files, a Price political operative with a history of close association with the Perot interests was cashing checks from Perot's company in close proximity to the times Price was introducing measures designed to cripple the Inland Port — in one instance the very same day.

The so-called "planning process" had the effect of telling potential clients that everything about the Inland Port was still up in the air and that investing in it would be a big gamble until the process ended.

Guess what. The stupid process hasn't ended yet. They're still planning five years later. And this is in spite of the fact that the main developer had completed five years of planning before this idea for more planning ever came up.

This isn't planning. It's a monkey wrench. And it's still going on. This "planning" championed by the News, Leppert, Price, former council member Ron Natinsky and the NCTCOG brought land sales and leases in the Inland Port to a halt in the year before the national economy went into severe recession. The main developer of the Inland Port was forced into a bankruptcy, from which that company has now emerged.

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MisterMean 1 Like

"The worst thing? We're not behind by accident. This isn't a thing that just happened. It was done. The city's only daily newspaper joined hands with a so-called regional planning agency, a former mayor, a former City Council member and a current county commissioner under investigation by the FBI to do this to us."  


I pray every day that the above mentioned get thier rewards by spending a considerable amount of time in prison.   They are/were not leaders-they were/are out to benifit themselves at the tax payers expense.   CRIMINALS!

fwdave 2 Like

Dallas power-brokers are worried about two things - how much tax money will I put in my pocket, and how much credit will I get from the DMN and my fellow North Dallas/Park Cities residents? Keep building silly bridges, parks over highways (to help sell uptown condos), and parks in river bottoms with tollways. In Ft. Worth, we will support power-brokers who take chances on downtown developments that actually work - and in case you haven't noticed, these improvements have been swiftly moving south through some historically impoverished areas.

Dallas has two opposing groups - the "haves" that act to protect their grandaddy's money, and the "have-nots" who cry, scream, and protest about being left out. When will Dallasites figure out that both groups are just fighting over tax receipts?

One day, maybe Mr. Allen will tell what he knows happened at the Inland Port. He foolishly thought he was dealing with politicians who were looking out for constituents. Some of the people you mention in the article were playing both sides on the Inland Port - hands out on one side, and working to sabotage development on the other.

ChrisYu 3 Like

when you first started writing about this I didn't want to believe the coalition i'd been voting with would sabotage the Inland Port. now, Leppert's not around to finish his deals and JWP's indictments pretty much support your claims. even a simpleton such as myself can see Perot Jr's deals don't have Dallas best interest at heart.

Inland Port should not be described as a deal great for South Dallas, it's important for all of Dallas and bigger than any deal going on with the Trinity, any new bridge or any new stadium......bigger than all that stuff combined. I'm with Schutze on this one, let's light some dynamite.

Jovina 3 Like

One of the best articles I have ever read. Who do you think we could entice to step up to the plate and take the challenge. We certainly need a champion to save Dallas from itself.

WatchingSouthDetroit 5 Like

Hopefully Perot and Leppert will be drawn into the FBI investigation.


The Observer should print a full front page challenging the Dallas Morning News on its role in this.  It would be interesting to see if the DMN would respond and if they did, how they would (deny, coverup, pretend that it never happened, etc.).



ozonelarryb 4 Like

Just another example of insiders padding each other's pockets.  Too bad Perot Jr. isn't black - he'da been roped in.


Mr Allen needs to get an apology from Leppert,  Moroney, Kirk, Perot.....

elenagreenmom 4 Like

Thanks Jim!  As a Dallas native, and resident of the southern half for most of my life, I have seen the effects of 'the rich gettin' richer".  I teach LOTS of bright-eyed young people here in the OC, and they would love to have a good job close to home...and so would their hard-working parents!