I was half of a debate on the Trinity River project last night. It was between me and Craig Holcomb, executive director of Trinity Commons Foundation, the pro-toll road political lobbying group. We rassled in front of a group called the “Dallas 40” -- one of those leadership-type outfits. Right before we lit into each other, the maitre d’ of the event announced that, “Everything is off the record, as always at our events.”
I gotta admit, I stood there for a while with my hoof in my mouth. I was thinking, “Off the record? Off the record?” I would have felt better if she had said, “As at all of our events, everyone must be naked.” You know, telling a newspaper person that the proceedings are off the record is sort of like saying, “You shoulda stayed in bed.”
Normally, nothing is off the record. When we have serious emotional family meetings at my house, my son and wife and even my 97-year-old mother-in-law stop every once in a while and point and stare at me and say, “Now, this is off the record, O.K.?” If I just nod or weasel around about it, they say, “We’d like to hear you express agreement that this conversation is off the record.”
So, I guess because I didn’t object, I can’t tell you anything about what happened in the debate. I believe, however, that the rules of off the record should allow me to tell you about things that did not happen.
Mr. Holcomb did not win. I can’t say who did. I’m sorry. That’s off the record. But I can say who didn’t. Him.
Mr. Holcomb did not resort to physical violence, obscenity or threat-making, nor did he invite Hector Garcia to sing. And I’m not lumping those things together. Can’t explain what I mean by all that. Off the record.
We Believe Local Journalism is Critical to the Life of a City
Engaging with our readers is essential to the Observer's mission. Make a financial contribution or sign up for a newsletter, and help us keep telling Dallas's stories with no paywalls.
Support Our Journalism
I think I can tell you some things that happened as long as I don’t say exactly what they were. The questions from this audience were very, very good. I can’t say what they asked. But I can tell you that the questioners, both those who were sort of tilted toward me and the ones who tilted toward Holcomb, showed a lot more sophistication about the whole Trinity River project than I would ever have heard from an audience like this a year ago. I really do have the impression that people who are politically involved are sinking their claws into this issue pretty intensely, although I cannot tell you if I am referring to the group last night.
Another thing that did not happen. When my resume was read to the crowd, people did not applaud warmly to show their appreciation for my service to the city. I was not the one that happened to. Of course I can’t tell you which one it was.
But I can tell you this. I don’t do what I do out of service to the city. I do it so I won’t get fired. And for that, I give myself applause. So far.
So there, Mr. Public Service. You know who you are. --Jim Schutze