Regarding Those Levees, Let Me Break Out My Tin-Foil Hat And My Crystal Ball

In the weeks ahead I'm going to be tied up with some stories that will demand a lot of my time, so, I'm sorry, I'm just not going to have time to do my regularly predictable clockwork swat-down reaction pieces to Dallas Morning News stories on the Trinity River project. I wondered if it would be OK, under the circumstances, for me to do the next one in advance. Here's what I mean:

In today's News there is a very balanced and thorough piece by City Hall reporters Rudy Bush and Steve Thompson on the Metro front, "Levees receive more time," about the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers giving Dallas an additional year to repair the levees that protect downtown from Trinity River flooding. (The letter from the Corps, sent by City Hall yesterday, follows in its entirety.)

The story is accurate, as far as I can tell, in describing the relationship between levee repair and the looming necessity in many parts of the city for buying flood control insurance since the levees don't work any more. It sort of leaves out the fact that the big issue ultimately is not insurance but floods, since insurance can't kill you but floods can. But, for The News, it's a pretty good job at telling most of the truth.

Therefore, the story exposes a bit of truth that runs counter to the official line at The News: that voters shouldn't think about serious things like floods, because such thoughts may cause wrinkle lines to appear on their faces. Instead, voters should think about the pretty European bridges and sailboat lakes they have been promised if they will just go along with allowing a super-highway to be built out between the levees where it will contribute to, yes, a certain amount of flooding, but so what?

This means that soon -- at least by Sunday -- we will see either a Steve Blow or James Ragland column, an op-ed piece by Colleen McCain Nelson or an unsigned editorial saying, "Flood control levees not that important." Or, "Forget levees." Or, "Levees none of your business." Or, "Please, Sweetie, just think about your new lake."

In advance, then, I would like to offer my predictable clockwork swat-down saying that The Dallas Morning News is a Soviet-style organ of propaganda, the real issue is flooding, the floods are coming, and I urge you to build a boat 300 cubits long and 50 cubits broad.

So, just do it. Build the big boat.

Remember, you heard it here first, in fact even before they said it over there. Hope this covers things. I can't imagine there will be a departure from the normal pattern.USACE Approval Letter PL 84-99

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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