City Hall

Help Settle a Bet: Which Recent Dallas City Hall Screw Up Was Worse?

Editor's note: Recently, our Eric Nicholson reported on the goat skulls and carcasses that await visitors of the new Texas Horse Park, one of Dallas City Hall's bizarre attempts to develop southern Dallas. Together with Eric's previous scoop about the park being entrusted to an accused horse abuser, the story had some in the newsroom talking as if this horse-park fiasco was the city's worst screw up in recent years.

That didn't sit well with Chief Screw-Up Correspondent Jim Schutze, and he told Eric so. We've obtained a copy of that exchange.

Jim's original motion to compel Eric to admit Jim rakes more muck: Eric, it's hats off to you, absolutely, for your fine work on the Horse Park story as an example of egregious moronic mismanagement at City Hall, but I feel compelled to say that I don't really think it even comes close to the White Water Kayak Park story. I'm sure all of your scattered goat skulls and bad-smelling voodoo sacrifice pits -- very colorful, I admit -- are off-putting, especially for the handicapped children who will be brought to the area. But my White Water feature has the very newsworthy capacity for potentially drowning entire families, not that we want that to happen. As City Hall stories go, just measuring stupid for stupid, my White Water beats your Horse Park any day.   

Eric's response brief: You're right: the kayak park is astoundingly dumb, and it does indeed have the potential to kill entire families. But WHERE ARE THE BODIES, JIM? Your whitewater feature might kill at any moment. But at the horse park, you are already surrounded by death. Do you think all those goats enjoyed being bled and butchered? Do you think those Native Americans who drank from that ancient spring at the bottom of the hill enjoyed being run off their land by white folks? I'm not making any predictions here, but throw in those handicapped kids and it sounds like you've got a script for Pet Semetary III.

Jim to Eric: Eric, the last thing I wanted was for this to turn into some kind of competition between the two of us, and I think some of your tone here is most unfortunate in that regard. First off, I wasn't talking about goat feelings. I was talking strictly about the value of these stories as illustrations of City Hall's staggering dumbitude. In your case, City Hall said they were going to do a horse park, and now it's a horse park. Sure, it's a horrible scary horse park, and maybe people need a clothespin on their noses, but they can go down there and ride around on their horsies, right? In my story, they were supposed to recreate a beautiful Rocky Mountain white water stream and instead they created a thing that's a cross between a shredder and a giant toilet. It's so dangerous that it has killed the entire pass-time of canoeing in that whole part of the river. For that reason, I think my White Water feature story is a much more powerful illustration of how dumb City Hall is than your pathetic little horse park story. 

Eric to Jim: My apologies, Jim. I was under the impression that we were measuring idiocy in terms of potential death toll. Since we're not, let's do dollars instead. City Hall's paying like, $15 million for the horse park, i.e. four times the cost of the kayak death trap. The bill would have been higher but Dallas rich people wouldn't chip in for the $100 million version, and you of all people should know how astronomically dumb a project has to be for Dallas rich people to not fund it. So, lots of money, and do you know who the city's giving a bunch of it to? A guy accused of starving horses! That'd be like hiring the Deliverance hillbillies to do city-sponsored canoe trips. Finally, your giant toilet retains some value as the most fitting metaphor possible for the Trinity River. A multimillion dollar equestrian center in Pleasant Grove? Why? Just why?