Is It Finally Curtains for the Trinity River Project?

Man behind the curtain: So, Mayor Tom Leppert complained in last week's "state of the city" address that unnamed "federal partners" aren't being very nice to him. Who, we wondered, was he talking about? Hanging around City Hall, Buzz chatted up a couple of people who are keeping close tabs on the issue of the Trinity River levee repairs that Dallas is going to have to carry out in order to keep the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers off its back.

Uh, folks. That's the one Leppert meant.

The feds are mummed up, and the people who spoke to us spoke off the record, but they're in a good place to know what's what along the river. Based upon their talks with city officials, they believe the corps will demand a pricey concrete curtain wall pretty much the length of the levees. Our sources aren't hopeful about convincing the corps to go another direction. To carry out that massive a project, the city will need years and all the borrowing capacity it has left.

The people Buzz spoke to are dismayed about what will happen to their flood insurance and to the value of their land along the river when all of that land gets put into high-risk flood categories by the Federal Emergency Management Agency because the levees are no good. They want FEMA to give Dallas a grace period until the levee-rebuild gets done.

But the flood insurance requirements are based on real flood risk. FEMA can't rule by fiat that there isn't a flood risk if there is a flood risk. And right now, thanks to the inattention of Leppert and crowd, the levees have been deemed worthless.

Clarification: Writing about U.S. Representative Eddie Bernice Johnson two weeks ago, Buzz reported that sending your grandmother a thank-you note is good manners whenever Grannie "loots" a scholarship fund for you. Wanda Sykes-Moore, owner of Royal Court School of Etiquette, asked us to make clear that "loots" was Buzz's word, not hers.

Clarification too: Last week, another Buzz writer suggested that Dallas City Council is contemplating a tax increase. Although the editor of Buzz would pay an additional $88 in property taxes this year under the council's proposal, Jim Schutze assures us in this week's issue (see page 7) that we are not facing a tax increase. We stand chastened. If you, too, have any misapprehensions regarding this non-increase increase, please send a bill for any additional city property you appear to be paying to Jim Schutze, care of this newspaper.

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Jim Schutze has been the city columnist for the Dallas Observer since 1998. He has been a recipient of the Association of Alternative Newsweeklies’ national award for best commentary and Lincoln University’s national Unity Award for writing on civil rights and racial issues. In 2011 he was admitted to the Texas Institute of Letters.
Contact: Jim Schutze