| Schutze |

Selling You Down the River

In the real world, more people want the Trinity toll road referendum than they want Ron Natinsky on the city council. Check your numbers, holmes.

The Dallas Morning News today offers one of its typical Trinity River toll road stories in which the paper reports one side of the issue as gospel and makes no attempt whatsoever to consult the other side. They report on a pro-toll road propaganda session at the Regional Transportation Council, during which a well-rehearsed Greek chorus of officials said a yes vote on the Trinity toll road referendum would kill a much-needed traffic “reliever route” -- the toll road between the flood control levees along the river downtown.

One phone call to the other side by not-very-good reporter Michael A. Lindenberger would have revealed that a yes vote does not kill the reliever route. It merely obligates the city to find a better place to put it.

The story quotes city council member Ron Natinsky as saying: “This is not a city of Dallas initiative. If the city of Dallas had had its way, believe me, this would not be on the ballot.”

Ron, let’s do the math on that.

More than 91,000 people signed the petitions calling this referendum. In your most recent landslide, you were elected by 4,452 voters. So your total vote amounts to somewhat less than 5 percent of the people who said they wanted this referendum.

But let’s say you don’t trust all those signatures. We’ll just go with the ones that were checked out and fully certified by the city secretary. Now your personal mandate is nipping up toward less than nine percent of the certified signatures. But you think you personally are the “City of Dallas initiative here” and the petition signers are not? Not quite sure we get your math.

The not-very-good News reporter might also have mentioned that the group issuing this great Doomsday forecast for the referendum, the Regional Transportation Council, happens to be a body with great investment and agenda here. The proposed reliever route is a regional road, not a city road. The RTC is the regional group that wants to put this regional road through downtown instead of out in the region where it belongs.

It’s a shame and always a puzzle to me that people like Natinsky and council member Linda Koop are so quick to want to sell the city down the river to their suburban colleagues on this particular panel. I think maybe they don’t even get what they’re doing.

I’m sure they think they’re being very regional, which they think means they are being very far-sighted. I just wonder why urban council members want to screw the center city and promote sprawl.

None of these issues ever finds its way into a Dallas Morning News story, of course. That would be telling the readers more than we want them to know. --Jim Schutze

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