| Schutze |

Eddie Bernice Johnson's in the "Vote No!" Choir. Now, She Just Has to Learn the Words to the Song.

Eddie Bernice Johnson has joined the "Vote No!" faction. Or perhaps she's a saboteur?
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The "Vote No! Save the Trinity" coalition of the shilling had another git-together this a.m., this time at the Belmont Hotel in Oak Cliff, where Mayor Tom, ex-Mayor Ron and the rest of the Unholy Trinity trotted out Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson. You may recall a few months ago that, when asked about Angela Hunt's TrinityVote petition drive, Johnson said, "I'm never anti- people doing a vote."

Well, now she feels a wee bit different. In her prepared remarks this morning, she called the November 6 referendum "a waste of time and money."

In response to a question from Dave Levinthal of The Dallas Morning News, however, she said she still supports the people's right to vote -- but she still thinks "it's a waste of time and money." Does. Not. Compute.

Then it got weird.

I pointed out that the mayor has repeatedly said in public speeches that voting against the toll road will threaten federal funding for the rest of the Trinity Project.

I said to Johnson, who's the head of the House Subcommittee on Water Resources and Environment, "You're about to get $298 million for the project in the WRDA [Water Resources Development Act] bill. You got it through the House with 91 percent of the vote, it passed the Senate with 90 percent, it passed the conference committee with 80 percent." I asked her if she was afraid Congress was now going to change its mind.

She said, emphatically, No.

She pointed out there is no connection between the toll road and funding for the rest of the project. We then had a bidding war of reporters re-asking the same question. WFAA-Channel 8's Brad Watson asked her if the rest of the funding is "sacrosanct." She said, "Yes."

Then she dropped a little bomb by saying that Dallas is in danger of Katrina-like flooding, and that's precisely why the federal money won't disappear if the toll road does -- because most of that government dough is for flood control, and she'll be damned if she's going to let history repeat itself in her home district.

So I guess that means they got her to join the choir, but she's still singing off-key, at least to Leppert's ears, because she's still honest. --Jim Schutze

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