D Finally U-Turns on Trinity Road

Comes the dawn: That's it? After a good 14 years of Trinity toll road rah-rahing and questioning the integrity of anyone who suggested that putting a road between the Trinity River levees was a bad idea, D Magazine has apparently (and quietly) changed its mind. "Let's Ditch the Trinity River Toll Road — It's time to get on with a new plan for the park project we were promised," reads the headline on a piece in the mag's August issue. It wasn't written by publisher and head Trinity cheerleader Wick Allison, but by Michael J. Mooney.

Who? That's a pseudonym, right? The name Allison gave to his fly-fishing rod or something?

Nope. He's a North Texas native brought in from Broward New Times in Florida, a weekly owned by Village Voice Media, which also owns the Observer.

It was his first piece as a staffer, walking back more than a decade's worth of non-reporting about the city's most controversial boondoggle. It's a little like starting a new job at Fukushima and being handed a mop on your first day. (What? We said "a little.")

D, remember, mailed out a special section before the first Trinity bond election in 1998, tantalizing readers with pictures of boats sailing on downtown lakes. It started its retreat a month ago, when D Editor Tim Rogers claimed — wrongly — that Allison had withdrawn his support for the toll road in 2009. Just wait until August, Rogers Tweeted on June 17; D would say something big about the Trinity. He just needed to find a writer with hands clean enough for the job, apparently. Mooney started in July.

We'd harbored fantasies of Allison donning a hair shirt. Instead, we get Mooney quoting city council member Angela Hunt, leader of the 2007 Trinity drive against the toll road. Mooney's a talented, award-winning reporter, but Hunt? We quote her so often we sent her a W-9, in case she bills us.

"I don't think I was trying to do a cleanup thing as much as trying to move forward," Mooney tells Buzz. He says never spoke to Allison about the story.

In his story, Mooney also pulls a Dallas Morning News and blames his magazine's stance on the word of "city leaders," who "insisted that [the toll road] was integral to the larger project." The question is, why did D believe them? Mooney wouldn't know, which made him perfect for the assignment.

Not a bad name for a fishing rod, either.

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Patrick Williams is editor-in-chief of the Dallas Observer.
Contact: Patrick Williams