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Hey, Mike Rawlings, Pick Up a Damn Paper, Will You?

Aw, nuts: Exactly what information is mayoral candidate Mike Rawlings waiting to hear before he passes judgment on whether Dallas should continue its futile effort to build a toll road between the Trinity River levees near downtown?

Give us a hint, Mike, about what it's gonna take, 'cause between this paper, The Dallas Morning News and local television stations, reporters have produced approximately 19 kabillion words on the road, including a doozy of an article in Sunday's Morning News that delivered another slice in the project's death by a thousand cuts.

After the paper's two-year battle with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to gain access to public records, reporter Michael A. Lindenberger wrote that toll road supporters, chief among them then-Mayor Tom Leppert, withheld vital information from voters before the second referendum on the project in 2007. Leppert and others routinely claimed the Corps and the North Texas Tollway Authority said the project was good to go, ready to fly. They neglected to mention the Corps was far less than certain that putting the road between the levees, out where it floods, was feasible.

Supporters "told only part of the story," the News' headline said. Sure. Look at it this way: You rob a bank. The cops catch you and ask, "Did you rob the bank?" You reply, "No, I entered the bank and made a transaction," neglecting to mention your sawed-off shotgun and the pantyhose on your head. In News speak, this is telling "only part of the story." Others might conclude that Leppert LIED, LIED, LIED. But that's just several thousand people's opinion.

The deception wasn't the really newsy part of Lindenberger's story, because we all know that road supporters have fudged the truth since the first time Dallasites voted on the project in 1998. To live here for more than 10 minutes and not know that, you'd have to be either woefully ignorant or a candidate for mayor. No, the best part of Lindenberger's story was the quote from a U.S. Department of Transportation official in Washington, D.C., who described the tollway as "a squirrelly project."

Right. After 13 years—nearly twice as long as it took to build the Transcontinental Railroad—we're a billion dollars short and not one minute closer to building a road that no one can honestly demonstrate we need. It's "squirrelly," like something out of a Tex Avery cartoon. Maybe some rascally critter should bonk Rawlings atop the head with a big cartoon hammer labeled "the facts."


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