I'm already getting calls from my Republican friends (I have some! Swear!) who have seen the Todd Gillman story that just went up on The Dallas Morning News's site. In it, former Dallas Mayor Ron Kirk tells Gillman he's really pissed that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is bringing up all this dumb levee safety stuff. He's especially upset that dumb old flood safety considerations might slow down work on the first Santiago Calatrava suspension bridge on the Trinity River:
"I just find it remarkable," Kirk tells Gillman, "that you would wait until you've gotten that far along with bridge construction and now raise a concern about the integrity of the levees."
Yeah. I think I get that.
It is sort of remarkable that the bridge got half-built before anybody realized the soil out there wouldn't support it without threatening the levees. Amazing.
But, Mr. Kirk: What about the levees? We do remember Katrina, right, Mr. Kirk? Corpses floating in the streets, people running out of the Ninth Ward with babies over their heads? Is it worth all that to have a fake suspension bridge? Kirk tells Gillman: "It ain't undone yet."
So what are the Republicans saying?
This: Hey, this promises to be a very interesting test of the Obama Administration, of which Kirk is a minor part.
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A top city official told me two days ago the city is counting on a nationwide uprising of local officials angry with the Corps for raising its levee safety standards. This strategy is based on the hope that the nation will rally behind unsafe levees and against the Corps of Engineers. Huge mobs chanting, "UNSAFE LEVEES NOW!"
Personally, I don't see it.
But Ron Kirk is a very effective lobbyist. He could be just the guy to lead such an effort. All that financial stuff is pretty hard for us common folk to follow. But if Obama folds on levee safety, I think we'll get that. That will compute for us.
Tell me that ain't about to happen.