For Now, At Least, Mayor Leppert Won't Try to Sink the Inland Port

It's over.

Dallas Mayor Tom Leppert just cried "Uncle!" in the battle over the Southern Dallas "inland port," an expandable map of which is available at right. Chris Heinbaugh, the mayor's spokesman, confirmed for me by e-mail mere minutes ago reports I heard yesterday afternoon that Leppert was pulling his support from a so-called "master plan" for the Southern Dallas inland port.

This is a very big deal.

Leppert had been hand in glove with Dallas County Commissioner John Wiley Price in pushing for an 18-month study and possible new regulatory structure for the 6,000-acre rail, truck and warehousing complex being developed in Southern Dallas and Dallas County by The Allen Group of San Diego.

Leppert and Price had enlisted the North Central Texas Council of Government to force an unwanted study on the inland port just as five years of development were being completed and the developers were ready to take the project to market. The Allen Group complained that it had already done millions of dollars in planning and received approvals from local governments and that the new effort would stall sales by causing uncertainty.

Stalling sales in the inland port, as we have pointed out, would deliver a significant competitive advantage to a competing freight operation near Fort Worth owned by the well-connected Perot family.

Many sources have been telling me all week about dozens of calls being made to Leppert warning him that his support of Price against the Allen Group was causing a foul odor.

Heinbaugh just told me by e-mail, "The economy has clearly softened so the Mayor feels there is no need to address those issues at this time. The infrastructure issues have not gone away, and we'll probably do it at a later point. But at this time, there is no need to go forward."

Right. And putting this issue to bed will also allow the mayor to spend more time with his family.

I will be revisiting this issue in a column in the paper version of Unfair Park next week. But before leaving it now, I can't help recalling that the editorial page of The Dallas Morning News did deal with it, even if the paper's reporters have not. On October 24 the editorialisti described Richard Allen as seeing "enemies behind every tree." The editorial page believed strongly that Allen should just go along with what the mayor and Price wanted to do to him.

I would say, no, he did not see enemies behind every tree. He saw a hostile, borderline corrupt anti-business climate threatening to drive a paradigm-shifting opportunity out of the city. I would ask myself how on earth the editorial page could have missed that. But I know how they miss things.

Very carefully. --Jim Schutze