| Schutze |

Thanks to DART's Deal of the Century, Dallas is Screwed

DART President and Executive Director Gary Thomas
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Yesterday Dallas Area Rapid Transit CEO Gary Thomas informed his staff of the deal that's essentially allowing him to keep his job after his billion-dollar budget bobble. Let’s see if Unfair Park can help expose some meaning or significance for you in the typically (deliberately?) uninformative account of all this presented in today’s Dallas Morning Pravda.

What’s up? Uh, the City if Dallas is totally screwed. That’s what’s up. The suburbs have cut a deal to allow Thomas to keep his job in spite of his having concealed from his board of directors, for a year, a disastrous budget shortfall. Thomas stays. The suburbs get first call on the money DART already has in the bank for two new routes to nowhere that DART has promised to build for them.

Why does that screw Dallas? Follow along.

Oh, maybe because Dallas is also owed two new lines, one of which is a second alignment through downtown without which downtown traffic is going to be impossible and downtown re-development is going to be severely hampered. DART’s got half the money it needs to build all four lines -- two in the city and two for the boonies. If the boonies can get theirs under contract first, the money is all dibbsied. Dallas will have to go fish for money for its stuff. Lots of luck. The Dallas stuff will get delayed or won’t be built.

And all of that fails even to take into account that Dallas has a contract with DART requiring it to start building the second downtown line now. North Dallas council members such as Linda Koop and Ron Natinsky are doing nothing to enforce the contract, because they really sorta sympathize and empathize with the ‘burbs more than with their own city. And Southern Dallas representatives either aren’t up to speed or care only about who gets MWBE contracts.

Meanwhile the ‘burbs have forced Thomas to hire an ex-suburban city official who will serve as their internal spy inside DART to make sure DART won’t Welsh on the deal. Pretty slick, eh? If only the city could be half as slick.

The guy taking the fall for Thomas’s billion-dollar boo-boo is planning director Doug Allen, who left the agency yesterday with a very unceremonious push from Thomas. Hard to see how that computes. Allen told Thomas a year ago they were short by a big B. Thomas is the one who decided to hide the B from the board. And Thomas is the Boss. Capital B.

The bottom-line here is that the ‘burbs have backed off demands for an outside audit and have agree to shelter Thomas, in exchange for a deal to get what they want first and shaft the city. The kind of leadership we have at City Hall, very much including our mayor, either isn’t up to speed or doesn’t give a rat’s ass.

Dan Blizzard, the Belo guy who’s chairman of DowntownDallas, is spending his time on the “Where’s Your D Spot” promotions, possibly the most embarrassing ad campaign in the history of Western Civilization, while the boonie bubbas make off with the city’s pants.

That’s what you did not read in the Belo newspaper this morning. --Jim Schutze

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