Mayoral candidate Tom Leppert is about to talk his way into a truth-telling issue on the Trinity River project. He keeps insisting in speeches and appearances that a referendum on the toll road will jinx everything. Meanwhile, it’s more and more obvious he’s wrong.
Leppert insists letting people vote on putting a toll road through the proposed river park will undermine federal funding for the whole multibillion-dollar project. He alludes to having a lot of experience in a Washington (he was a White House intern as a young man) and says we’ll blow the whole deal if we show any kind of indecision.
Weeks ago Dallas city council member Angela Hunt got the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to confirm that their plans and money for the overall project are not tied to the toll road in any way. Leppert ignored her and kept saying we can’t afford to vote on the road.
But, today, the hammer came down.
The hammer on the federal funding for this project is Dallas Democratic Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson. She is Dr. Pursestrings for the whole deal and has been from the beginning. This morning KERA broadcast a story by Catherine Cuellar in which Johnson basically endorsed the referendum and said a vote will not have any effect at all on federal funding for the rest of the project.
“I'm never anti- people doing a vote,” Johnson said. “It hasn't been voted on before. So I guess that's the right of people if that's what they want to do. There really is no impact, because what we're doing through water resources is different than what is being discussed about the tollways.”
Up until now, maybe you could argue Leppert didn’t believe Angela Hunt or hadn’t gotten the word somehow. But Eddie Bernice is the word. And the word is: Vote.
From here on out, Leppert and his opponent Ed Oakley run the risk of looking like liars if they keep telling people that the toll road is the key to funding for the rest of the project.
We’ve seen them both toe-dance. Now let’s see if either one of them knows how to turn. --Jim Schutze