City Hall

Mike Rawlings' B.S. Pro-Toll-Road Data Won't Be Enough to Get it Built

Fine. So the Toll Road Creature Who Comes in the Night paid a visit to Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings bedroom recently, and now he's a "Toll Road Guy."

Yesterday the Toll Road Guy handed out an utterly specious document -- a near laughable and transparent fabric of lies and hoodoo -- and said it proved we need to build a big new highway along the river "in haste."

It's ... not ... gonna ... happen. It doesn't matter what this toll road guy or any other toll road guy says. That road is never going to get built.

Oh, I know, I know. For more than 15 years the Toll Road Creature Who Comes in the Night has been able to overcome every obstacle. But the Toll Road Creature will not get around the John Wiley Price trial or the march of history.

The mayor's statement yesterday and the bullshit document he offered in his own defense prove one thing: no help, no honesty, no integrity of any kind will ever come from the feckless army of engineers, architects, lawyers, real estate salesmen, janitorial service sellers and other shifty suitors and hangers-on who depend on The Creature for their business and their jobs.

I don't want to go back through that whole thing today. We did it here yesterday. City council person Angela Hunt has the real numbers up on her blog. Among other problems, the numbers are based on the assumption that we build both roads, when an either-or scenario -- the only scenario worth looking at -- makes the Pegasus Project cheaper and more effective. (Bonus: It's not in the damn river.)

The document the mayor presented yesterday supposedly came from the Texas Department of Transportation, but it had all the smeary lipstick marks and santorum stains of something from the North Central Texas Council of Governments, a so-called planning agency that actually serves as the private government of the Big Money Balls. The document is ludicrous. It doesn't even try very hard to fool us. Clearly whoever put it together holds us all in contempt. And why shouldn't they? We've never made a decisive difference before.

Pause. Let me offer an observation. Of the three council persons who rebutted the document -- pulled it apart like day-old bread -- the most interesting is Sandy Greyson, who represents District 12 at the very northern tip-top of the city, an area I used to call nose-bleed Dallas because I thought I was funny until Greyson wised me up that I wasn't.

The other two, Angela Hunt of East Dallas and Scott Griggs of North Oak Cliff, both represent parts of town we all think of already as dissident, on a scale somewhere between hipster and cosmo-family. But Greyson comes from the solid, semi-Collin County, middle-upper, suburban-style, church-country-and-Rotary-Club North Dallas. She fought hard and visibly against the toll road in a bitter 2007 referendum. Her constituents put her back in office after a hiatus anyway.

The fact is that the Creature Who Comes in the Night would have starved to death long ago if it had been living on votes from Greyson's North Dallas. The pragmatic, civic-minded, League of Women Voters theme in that North Dallas culture has never believed in or supported this or other Big Balls boondoggles.

So how has the creature survived? Well, when the rubber has met the road on this issue and others (think American Airlines Center, think strong mayor) the Creature has always fed itself with Southern Dallas African-American votes. And that's where everybody gets confused and fogged by war.

Southern Dallas, by which I mean poor black Dallas, is a client state. It has never embraced integration and assimilation synchronously with the national black movement. In the inevitable Price trial, we will see that even the elected black leader who posed as his constituents' fiercest advocate was really doing back-door deals with The Balls. We see it every day on the city council. The black council members always bend to The Money in the end. Judge Vonciel Hill, a bright woman, has nevertheless become a kind of mini-me to the mayor.

That deal will not last. It's too weird. Extreme political weirdness is a house of sand eventually. A big clock is ticking.

The deal between The Money Balls and the Black People only works in the political vacuum left by the abdication of the middle class. That abdication is about to be over. A fascinating story by Eric this morning tells us that the tide has now officially turned: cities in America -- well, cities other than Dallas -- are now gaining population faster than the suburbs.

In the meantime, we are blessed and protected by a Heaven-sent absence of funding for the toll road and other boondoggles of The Balls. No money. Zip. Nada. Nothing can happen any time soon.

So, yes, the highway officials and the architects and other political hair-dressers who work for the Money Balls will continue to churn out laughable tissues of toadyism like the document presented by the mayor yesterday. And the Money Balls will continue, of course, to carry grocery baskets and other inducements south to get the votes they need.

But the Greyson constituents already see through it. The Hunt and Griggs voters do, of course. And soon all of these good people will be joined by a flood of middle-class folk of all ethnicities who will return to the city with their own supplies of common sense and independence.

The Price trial will lay it all out. Everyone will see the political architecture, see how it works. That lesson alone will change the city forever. For a long time everybody, white and black, thought John Wiley Price was Nat Turner. We're going to find out he's been Vidkun Quisling all this time.

That will be the end for the Old Plantation, and The Toll Road Creature Who Comes in the Night only dies when the Old Plantation dies. That day is coming faster than the money for the toll road.

Don't fret. If they do somehow borrow the money and throw the thing up willy-nilly before we have enough smart people to stop them, we'll just have to deal with it. At that point it's all a question of dynamite and dump trucks. Only the river is permanent.

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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