Mayor Laura Miller and I sat down yesterday for what became a quite rancorous hour-and-45 minute interview in the mayor's conference room at City Hall. I'd describe a lot of it as the mayor saying, "Jim, you're dishonest," and me saying, "No, you're dishonest," and the mayor saying, "No, you're dishonest," and me saying, "No, you're dishonest."
We did come to figurative blows, however, when I brought up the matter of the big city bond election next Tuesday. The mayor had been insisting it doesn't really matter how much of the Trinity River Project is unfunded at this point, because she and the city manager and future mayors will find ways to get the money.
I said that's what I am afraid of. Then I asked her if her plan was to keep sneaking Trinity River appropriations into bond programs, like the one on the ballot Tuesday, without telling voters about it.
Things were already heading sort of downhill by then. But from that point on, as you will hear on several clips from a recording made during our interview, things went swiftly, well, downhiller. You can hear our argument, which is the best word for it, after the jump.
Present for the first ten rounds was City Manager Mary Suhm. Present for the entire meeting were Assistant City Manager Jill Jordan and Trinity River Project Director Rebecca Dugger.
On this first clip, you will hear me finally get Rebecca Dugger to tell me how much new money for the Trinity River Project is in the bond program we are supposed to vote on next Tuesday. Dugger uses a "but-for" rule to distinguish that money. But for the project, she tells me, $72 million in bond items would not have been on the ballot next Tuesday.
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Here I ask the mayor if she shouldn't have told the voters they were being asked to approve $72 million in additional money for the Trinity Project. She and the staff immediately begin crab-walking away from the but-for rule.
Here's where I tell the mayor I think she has been glib about the money for the project, and I ask her again why she wouldn't want to inform voters that they're being asked to vote on new money next Tuesday.
This is where I ask the mayor if she even knew there was $72 million for the project in the bond program. She says no. I then turn to Jill Jordan and Rebecca Dugger and ask them why they didn't tell her. They just shrug and stare at me -- no answer — while Miller defends them.
And this is where Miller tries to back away from the but-for rule again and say the bond money next Tuesday is needed for other things. I tell her she's being dishonest. I ask Jill Jordan why she didn't put the Trinity River items together in one bond proposal--aggregate them, in bond talk--and she shrugs and asks me why she should. --Jim Schutze