Better Now Than Never, the City Council's Gonna Get a Civics Lesson Tomorrow

Here we are, one full decade -- 10 years, count 'em, one-10th of a century -- into the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and City Of Dallas's Trinity River Corridor Project, and tomorrow the city council's Trinity River Corridor Project Committee has a briefing scheduled that I would summarize as, "The Corps of Engineers: Just What in the Hell Is That Thing, Anyway?"

Ah, well. Better late than never.

The briefing, scheduled for 11 a.m. in Room 6ES of City Hall, is actually titled "Overview of United States Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) Roles and Responsibilities for the Trinity River Corridor Project."

And the PowerPoint presentation, as you can see above, includes those vaguely retro-cartoonish graphics you may remember from middle school civics class -- you know, "How a bill gets through Congress," that sort of thing.

So, what in the hell is this all about?

It's about the fact that Dallas has devoted has devoted a decade, untold millions of dollars and huge political capital to a project that is never, ever going to happen because the Corps of Engineers, which is responsible for protecting the city from flood devastation, ain't gonna let it happen.

The city council -- which, with the exception of Angela Hunt, has never understood anything about any of this -- is just now getting the picture that the project is bogged down, probably fatally, in the Corps of Engineers review process, because it's crazy and totally unsafe. So the council now is sitting around scratching its head and asking over and over again, "The Corps of Engineers? What in the hell is that, anyway?" Tomorrow they find out.

Next week's briefing? I think they should do "The Bicameral Legislative Process," with a big cartoon of a two-humped camel. I still remember that one. Later, "Checks and Balances," with a balance scale that has little people on both sides. Way down in the corner I would draw tiny little Oliphant characters called "Dallas City Council" staring up at the scale and saying to themselves, "How come we're not on it?"