This morning, while the Dallas city council’s Trinity River Corridor Project Committee leafs through the glossy 61-page report showing what the new river park will look like, I can guarantee you they will not ask the one question I’ve been asking City Hall for 10 years:
Sure, but with whose money?
The city is $50 million short on the budget for park roads alone. Yeah. You heard me right. To build the roads they show in the brochure, they need $50 million they do not have. Guess who they think has it?
I’m lookin’ atcha.
City Hall is $19 million short on the budget for trails. All those nifty wetlands they show in the brochure? The city’s short $5 million on the budget for wetlands. The list goes on. $4.8 million for a second lake.
How could the city council not be concerned about these costs, you ask? Why would they push a glossy brochure at the public depicting all this stuff for which there is no money?
Oh, there will be money. That’s how this works. They show us the stuff. They figure we’ll want it. And then they’ll get the money. From us.
In 2007, during a very long meeting I had with City Manager Mary Suhm and several of her top staff, Suhm conceded that the 2007 city bond package contained $73 million in money for the Trinity River project. Problem was, none of it had been identified as Trinity River project money in the bond proposal submitted to voters.
We were promised, in fact, in 1998 by then-Mayor Ron Kirk that the $246 million in bond money we voted for that year was every penny we would ever be called upon to put into the project.
That promise was, simply and plainly, a lie. Since then city staff, with full support of everybody on the council except Angela Hunt, has been cadging more money for this project from the voters without letting the voters know what’s up.
It’s so simple. Show us the eye candy. While we drool, get a finger on our wallets. Even Mitch Rasansky, our faux-fiscal conservative, does it. They all do, except Hunt.
Where’d the money go? First off, it was never there. When they promised us a huge park and lakes downtown, they had no idea what that would cost. Then they took the money they did have in hand and shifted the funding priorities to the toll road, which was what this project was always about anyway.
Listen today. Listen to hear which one of them asks the question: How much money do we have in hand for the solar-powered water taxi in the picture-book?
Better question: How much money do we have in hand for putting water in the lake? Oh, I’d love to hear that answer.
You know what it is? We can afford water. But it won’t be water that you can actually touch. It’ll be doo-doo water. But, hey. It’s water.
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What will this stuff cost? Will Dallas taxpayers have to pay any of that? The council will not ask.
Maybe Hunt will ask. But what does she get for asking? The rest of them ridicule her for being a goody-two-shoes.
They do the two-step. Eye candy. Wallet.
Uh, last thing: How’re those streets lookin’ in your neck of the woods? Hell of a deal. Hell of a deal. --Jim Schutze