"For the Kids!" by Jim Schutze, May 8
Do the Math
It would be totally irresponsible to provide additional money for DISD when they can't provide an adequate reporting of their current financial status.
With the school board members having their business mixed in with the district's business, I have a difficult time with the "trust me" theory of "pay now and we'll account for the other billion or so later."
This mysterious $100 million piggy bank account, exactly what bank is it in? I always think it odd that accountants can say there's an even amount of cash rather than an "estimated" amount. Doesn't DISD have an audit director and a new position that is assigned the task of attempting to locate fraud? Together, they should be attempting to provide internal controls, prevent fraud and provide some assurance to the administration and the taxpayers that DISD is being run with stewardship and professional management.
School districts and public institutions must be held to reasonable standards of accountability and assurance to the public with transparency and integrity. As citizens of a city with great potential and low expectations, we must voice our outrage with our votes until [DISD] can provide the necessary prerequisite accounting documentation.
Brent, via dallasobserver.com
Gigantic amorphous blob! That's a great description. As someone who worked for DISD for 12 years, I can tell you that nearly every school and department I came in contact with was a financial wreck. Money was spent simply to get the same amount of funds for the following year. Oversight was extremely shoddy, and many high-level managers had no idea of the bottom line. It was purchase orders piled on top of one another until someone way down the line said, "out of money, please stop ordering." I've seen warehouses stacked with books and programs paid for by previous bonds that never went out to schools. I am so happy that my kids go to Richardson ISD and that I work for another district as well. There are some good principals and teachers and students at DISD, but the leadership is an awful collection of thieves and liars.
Darryl, via dallasobserver.com
"Train Wreck," by Jim Schutze, April 24
Jim, I find myself sharing your viewpoints quite often, so this is a rare miss. I do agree with the second half of the article. Dallas is too often a pushover in the region, seeming as if it is afraid to hurt the feelings of the suburbs.
That said, the doomsday scenario you painted about a solid wall of trains blocking north and south downtown is just pure hogwash. Part of the reason is based on the presumption that trains every 2.5 minutes is the tipping point between traffic congestion and free-sailing roads.
Here is some math for you. With light rail transit (LRT), trains run every 10 minutes during rush hour. Currently, with two lines, that means a train will run every 5 minutes in one direction. With the introduction of the Green Line, that will mean trains every 3.3 minutes, and it will be reduced to 2.5 with the Orange Line.
Now, compare that to a standard traffic light. I'll use the one adjacent to my home, the intersection of Saint Paul and Elm streets. It takes 1 minute, 20 seconds for the light to cycle through. Elm, the major street, goes from green to red in only 32 seconds. So Elm, with its major traffic, sits at a red light for close to a minute.
Now compare that to a train intersection. It takes a train between 15-30 seconds to clear an intersection. So, if every intersection was timed to allow a train to pass, then be clear for auto traffic, the street would be clear for 2 to 2.25 minutes. Now add both directions and assume one enters the intersection just as the other is about to leave: The intersection is occupied for one minute and unoccupied for a minute and a half. In other words, auto traffic is more free-flowing at this type of train intersection than it is on Elm Street at the St. Paul intersection.
Branden Helms, via dallasobserver.com