Lemmings and Toll Roads| An Acquired Taste

Lemmings and Toll Roads

Don't need no stinking road: I agree wholeheartedly with Jim Schutze ("Steve Blows," March 29) when it comes to the back-door politics behind the Trinity River project. The Dallas Morning News editorial staff has made council member Angela Hunt out to be a person who single-handedly wants to stop "their" Trinity project. Have you forgotten about the voters and taxpayers? Has anyone in power ever stopped to think that we "little people" in the metroplex do not want every new and old road to be a stinking toll road? We don't want to drive around with a camera pointed at our butts and then receive 10 bills from 10 different toll companies with 10 different charges/fees. Private toll roads are just an excuse for TxDOT and other entities to accept upfront corporate money to spend on other projects. It's not even about relieving congestion. Then the taxpaying public gets saddled with excessive tolls and hidden fees for the duration of the 50-year contract.

I attended the March 1 Senate hearing on transportation and toll roads. Yes, I was part of what The Dallas Morning News called the "howling mob." Guess why the Texas public is howling? We are sick and tired of being taxed, tolled and gouged to death from our state agencies, the private sector, public utilities and insurance/drug companies. We have no control over who gets to seize our land using eminent domain for these economic development projects disguised as "flood control" and "blight control."

Mr. Schutze talks about the big money behind the Dallas project. Hearing the names Perot and Trammell Crow and Rob Allyn makes people realize how hard it is to fight people who can throw millions of dollars at our local and state leaders. An example from Arlington: Jerry Jones set aside $10 million to advertise using Rob Allyn's firm to promise that if Arlington voters would vote "yes" for the new Cowboys stadium, that it would lower crime, create 2,000 jobs, save our schools and just about darn near bring world peace! All that we nice Christian folks in Arlington ended up doing is using eminent domain to take homes and businesses from our fellow citizens and agreeing to fork over millions in taxes that could have been used for other city services.

Notice in Schutze's article that Allyn's firm will have an advertising blitz to promote the Dallas Trinity project—stand back and watch the promises, smokescreens, bells and whistles. It will become an emotional issue and people will lose all sight of common sense, like with toll roads. People have become lemmings and don't bother to really think about what they're being told and who will be the beneficiary of these projects. Ms. Hunt deserves accolades for questioning the costs and time frame of the project, the confusion over having a road crammed through the supposedly "serene" park and the fact that somehow someone has snuck a toll road into the process. How arrogant are Dallas business leaders, The Dallas Morning News and the normally compassionate Steve Blow to want her to "run along" and "go with the program" without question or review?

Linda Lancaster


Scary Blow: Jim Schutze thinks Steve Blow is a "mild-mannered columnist" who "writes about nice people being nice to nice people?" Wake up, Jim. Blow wields tremendous influence over low-intellect readers of his column. These easily led folks become like Blow's army to further his agendas. When Blow came out with his negative columns against several animal rescue groups, we all felt the resulting wrath of his minions in hate calls and threats to those of us who only endeavor to help the helpless. The resulting loss of donations led one rescue group to sue him and his very powerful employer. Blow is not some innocuous writer of a little column—he is one scary guy.

Beverly Fyfe


An Acquired Taste

Law students for Widespread: After Darryl's article last week ("Widespread Yawning," by Darryl Smyers, March 22) and now Jonanna's ("Panic Attack," by Jonanna Widner, March 29), I feel I need to respond. Jonanna's article now is simply an attempt, I guess, to fuel the fire and get more nasty e-mails. (Now you can respond in another article that "Widespread fans can't take an April fool's joke.") I for one am proud of how Widespread Panic fans have assaulted the Observer with comments. Although you choose to pull out the nasty comments as representative of the whole, as any "good" journalist would do to defend their position, I think you still do not understand why this is occurring. For me, it wasn't that you wrote an article before seeing the band with a slanted agenda to mock them and their music. I can handle that and can take criticism about Widespread Panic. I find it to be an acquired taste, and people can like it or not. What I did take offense to is the attack on the community as a whole and all listeners of so-called "jam band" music. You painted us as zoned-out hippie stoners from a bygone era. You generalized an entire fan base of multiple bands as worthless, drugged-out people. That is what I take offense to. I'm a law student at a top university and will be graduating shortly to work at a prestigious law firm. I love Widespread, Phish and the Dead. Darryl, I can make thoughtful and reasoned opinions. I am the antithesis of every stereotype you used in that article, and I am a Widespread Panic fan. This is the Widespread community: intelligent working professionals and college students who enjoy a community built on their love of improvisational music. You accomplished the shock value but really failed to make any reasoned objective review of the band and its fans. It's a shame you are such a poor journalist.

Nathan Mihalik

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

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