| Schutze |

Catfight! Or At Least, That's How Jim Imagines the Battle Over the Trinity Toll Road

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I just got back from the big annual luncheon put on by Trinity Commons Foundation, the private lobby group pushing for the toll road along the river, where the featured speaker was our mayor, Laura Miller. And...wow! She's upset. Miller devoted her whole speech to a finger-wagging attack on city council member Angela Hunt, who is leading an effort to get a Trinity River referendum on the ballot next November.

This was an extremely sleek and hungry crowd: The whole front row of tables was taken up by people from Hunt Oil and Crow Holdings and Carter-Burgess and Halff Engineering and the Dallas Citizens Council -- all the big dogs who stand to profit from plans to slam a big fat toll road right down where we thought our lakes and parks were going to go.

And let me tell you, if these be the local aristocracy, then Laura Miller be's their queen. They just love her, eat her up, adore her now in her pearls and designer suits. They used to hate her, but now, of course, she puts out for them.

Hunt, on the other hand, is the council member who has said we ought to give the people of Dallas a chance to vote on this thing for a change, before the big dogs push ahead with their plan to turn the park into an expressway. Miller never mentioned Hunt by name in her speech, but the wole thing was about how irresponsible and show-offy and anti-social it is of certain people to try to mess up plans that better smarter people have spent along time putting into place.

Hunt was sitting out there in the audience the whole time. I wonder how she felt, having Laura Miller accuse her of acting like Laura Miller?

Here's a little behind the scenes snippet, though: Apparently, Miller and Hunt rode down on the City Hall elevator together to go to the event. And as you know, with Miller, you're always playing a little bit of multiple personality disorder roulette.

But on the elevator today apparrently Miller wasn't being The Princess and the Pea, Shirley Temple or Kay Bailey Hutchison: It was strictly nails-on-a-chalkboard pissed-off Laura -- the one people around the Observer offices remember so well. She basically accused Hunt of orchestrating a major political movement in the city without informing Laura first.

Yeah? Like, does she really not get that was ... the whole point?

Anyway, more on this in next week's column.

I had to pay $150 to get in to this clambake today. They wouldn't let me in the door otherwise. I worry it may be sort of a conflict, you know, like donating money to one side in an election. Tell you what, just to balance things out: Let me urge you to go to the other side's Web page, TrinityVote.com, look around at their stuff and think about kicking in some moolah for this election, because all the other money in town is stacked up against it. --Jim Schutze

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