City Hall

Pardon, the City Owes the Corps of Engineers $15 Million For Floodway Work?

The new-look Trinity River Corridor Project Committee meets for the first time this afternoon with two items on its to-review list: Dallas Floodway Extension Repayment Agreement Discussion and Trinity River Corridor Project Overview of Flood Control Components. Shortly after they were posted Friday night I sent them to Schutze, who's off Unfair Park till Thursday whilst he finishes a cover story. Perhaps he knew why the city owes the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers $15 million; that, and flood control's kind of his ... thing.

He said he'd review both presentations and send back a few bullet points worth keeping an eye on during the 3:15 meeting. Last night I received the note you see on the other side -- a column's worth of opining. Jump for Jim.

The first briefing is very ...very ... very confusing. If I put my head on my desk and read it with my eyeballs sideways, I think I can figure out that the city owes the Corps $15 million-plus -- the full amount the Corps advanced to the city to pay for some kind of work, and some change, but definitely not bank interest. Also apparently, and very sadly, most of those funds are no longer with us.

My favorite word in this briefing is "opined." Why do we suddenly owe the Corps $15 million? Well, they just called up one day and opined that we did. And, shit, you know: Somebody opines on you, you got to pay.

The closest the briefing comes to an explanation is that the Corps opined that the "cash disbursements represented an inaccurate and inappropriate interpretation" of the agreement by which the feds gave us the funds in the first place. So, yeah. Fifteen million dollars -- I'd say that's inaccurate and inappropriate. Like, "O.K. you punks, we know you're in there. This is the FBI. We got you surrounded. You're inaccurate and inappropriate!"


Do you think our elected representatives on the city council will ask any questions about this of City Manager Mary Suhm? Like, "Mary, when do you bring us the tray with head on it of the person who did this?"

I don't think so. I think they'll say, "Well, gosh, Mary. Well, darn. Well, boy-oh boy-oh. You know, what're you gonna do? Just send the bill to the taxpayers. They're the ones who wanted to be all flood-protected and such."

Then we have the second briefing. My favorite part of this one is the map of the vast area of Dallas that will be destroyed if our levees break, but they didn't have enough paper to show all of the portions of South Dallas that will be wiped out.

Did you notice that? It shows all of the area in northwest Dallas and way out to Walton Walker and downtown and Oak Cliff that will be killed. It provides great detail of the threat to the city's sewage treatment plant. Oh, no! Not the sewage treatment plant! That's our favorite thing!

But then when you get to the lower right-hand corner where the devastation goes into Southern Dallas ... DARN! Ran out of paper! Can't show that!

Interesting, because the way the entire project was marketed in the first place in 1998 in order to win black votes was on the basis of environmental justice. Finally South Dallas would get protected too.

I think it's scary, not even having Southern Dallas on the map any more. It's the kind of thing that used to frighten sailors back before Ferdinand Magellan sailed around the world in 1519-1522. I love South Dallas. I hope those bastards didn't opine it.

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Robert Wilonsky
Contact: Robert Wilonsky