Well, thank you, Steve Blow, for clearing up why I shouldn’t sign the petition calling for a vote on what sort of road I want along the Trinity River. It’s because I’m far too dumb to have a say in how the city spends my money on the Trinity project. And it’s not just me. You, Mr. and Mrs. Dallas Voter, are too dumb too.
In case you missed it -- and since Blow writes for The Dallas Morning News, you probably did -- The Man from Sunnyvale has this stark warning against signing the Trinity petition being circulated outside polling places:
Beware. Those pushing the petition will undoubtedly use the wonderfully democratic line: “Why not let voters decide?”
That clever appeal absolves you of actually knowing anything about the issues. After all, you’re just supporting democracy!
Right, because it’s inconceivable that you could both know something about the issue and still be opposed to a high-speed, limited-access toll road running through what we big dummies thought was going to be a park along the river when we dumbly approved the Trinity project in 1998.
The Blowster does have a point: We were stupid enough to buy that pig in a poke foisted on us by our more intelligent betters when we approved $246 million in bonds for the project. What are the odds we’re any smarter now? Show us idiots some drawings of sailboats on a lake, promenades and a tree-lined greenbelt, and we’ll agree to anything. That’s the problem with democracy, isn’t it, Steve? You can’t trust voters to be as smart as the best and brightest in government and the media -- especially when the best and brightest are free to lie through their teeth.
Me? I’m not only dumb, but vain too. I trusted my widdle bwain enough to actually read the petition Blow says I must not sign. OK, granted, I shouldn’t be allowed near a polling place, but the way I read the petition it pretty much says this’ll happen if voters approve the initiative: In the place where we thought we were getting a park, the city can build a road, but any road parallel to the river between the levees can’t have more than four lanes, its speed limit can’t be more than 35 mph, and its purpose will be to give us access to a park along the river. You know, a parkway.
Simply signing a petition to give us a chance to vote on that would be wrong, because we might be uninformed enough to vote yes.
Nothing in the proposed ordinance attached to the petition says anything about any other part of the Trinity project; new levees, fancy schmancy bridges, the Trinity River Audubon Center, amenities in the Trinity forest aren’t on the table. It’s solely about what kind of road we want to allow along the river, between the levees.
Of course, the city’s award-winning “Balanced Vision Plan” already says that we’ll only have a nice parkway between the levees, and a vote could muck up the vision. Mayor Laura Miller insists that everything’s jake, ’cause she’s insisting that we get the cool kind of road we want. The North Texas Tollway Authority, which is actually building the road, and its designers don’t seem to have gotten the word yet, but that’s just a niggling detail that’ll be worked out later. You just gotta have faith in your government...you know, the one that went to court to get a ruling that it wasn’t bound by any of them pretty pictures of the park, lakes and sailboats we were shown by the folks selling us that empty poke sack back in 1997-1998.
In an editorial in the same edition with Blow’s “you're too dumb for democracy” screed, the Morning News argues that we must have a bigger, faster road inside the levees because putting it anywhere else would be too expensive and inconvenient, and we gotta have a road to clear up traffic in the mixmaster. Some, namely our own Jim Schutze, might argue that a high-speed toll road along the river won’t help much with the mixmaster, but what does he know? He’s dumb enough to cite the NTTA’s own engineering studies. Can’t say the same about Blow or the News’ editorial writer.
It’s all very confusing, and the Morning News and Blow are probably right. I shouldn’t demand another vote on the Trinity project. Shoot, I’d just moved here and didn’t vote last time around. As a loyal reader of the Morning News since then, I’ve been informed that letting the people of this city decide its shape can’t be a good idea.
Granted, someone might argue, as old Abe Lincoln said, “Why should there not be a patient confidence in the ultimate justice of the people? Is there any better or equal hope in the world?”
But Lincoln was no Steve Blow. --Patrick Williams
Keep the Dallas Observer Free... Since we started the Dallas Observer, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Dallas, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Dallas with no paywalls.