It Lives

In one of the greatest movies ever made, Monty Python and the Holy Grail, King Arthur confronts the enchanted Black Knight, an indestructible character who challenges Arthur to a sword fight. Arthur begins lopping off the knight's limbs one at a time, but he refuses to quit. Finally reduced to nothing but a torso and head, the Black Knight sits on his bloody stumps and angrily shouts, "Oh, oh, I see, running away, eh?...You yellow bastards! Come back here and take what's coming to you...I'll bite your legs off!"

Some people just don't know when to draw the veil and call it a life.

This scene was on Buzz's mind this week as bad news for the Trinity River project continued to mount. The latest blow came from U.S. District Judge Terry Means, who, The Dallas Morning News reported, ordered a halt to work on river channels and levees until the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers reviews the work's environmental effects.

The judge joins the White House Office of Management and Budget and state highway planners in recent weeks in raising doubts about whether this complex, ghastly expensive flood control/road project can or should continue. The Morning News--a friend of the project--noted in a subsequent story that "at best" only two of the project's six major components "can proceed free of legal or political entanglements."

Two out of six. We're down to a legless, armless stump. Of course, it's easier to kill a magical knight than a bad idea attached to a ton of public money. What's it going to take to finally drive a stake in this thing's heart? Buzz asked Trinity project opponent Mary Vogelson of the League of Women Voters. First, she said, we're going to have to find its heart--that is, whoever wants this multimillion-dollar boondoggle to keep breathing. (A composite sketch of the suspects would resemble your basic land developer or Corps contractor, most likely.)

Vogelson essentially suggests that the project was jury-rigged from the outset, a plumbing job without a complete blueprint that's being fiddled with on the fly by people who want a piece of the work but have not fully considered how all the pieces relate to one another (or if they have, they're not telling the public). They're moving the pieces around now as each new hurdle appears. Maybe, just maybe, we should have done that before Dallas voters approved a $246 million bond issue for the city's share of the work. Maybe, as even News columnist Steve Blow speculated recently, it's time to call a "do over."

Better still, maybe it's time to issue what the medical profession calls a DNR--a do-not-resuscitate order. One more major setback--at this rate we can expect one sometime in the next 20 minutes--and we let the patient die. Not with dignity; it's too late for that. But maybe the people paying the doctor's bill--that would be you, Mr. and Ms. Dallas Taxpayer--can escape with their wallets intact.


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