The Dallas City Council's Bridge Builders: Not Exactly the Best and Brightest

Forgive me, or just slap me, if this is way too tea-leaves for you, but I can't help trying to read the dregs, you know, trying to see what's behind the burqa, since this city is such a Talibaptist mystery some of the time. And lately I think I definitely see signs that somebody at The Dallas Morning News finally has figured out what I've been hearing for the last year.

This is the dumbest Dallas City Council in the history of ever.

Last Thursday Michael Lindenberger, the paper's transportation writer, did an analysis piece pointing out how stupidly irresponsible it was (my words) for the council to have voted up an authorization for the second so-called signature bridge over the Trinity River -- apparently now it's going to be a separate faux suspension bicycle bridge at a cost of more than $100 million -- without even listening to objections raised by the sole dissenter, District 14 representative Angela Hunt.

In particular, Lindenberger blew up the argument offered by City Manager Mary Suhm that $92 million in federal funding would go away if Dallas doesn't use it for a bike bridge. Utter bullshit (my words).

Today's paper includes a Metro Page column by Jacquielynn Floyd that actually quotes Hunt -- wonder of wonders -- on the fantastic transparent totally un-self-aware deep-seated insecurity (my words) that would make a city want to spend $100 million on a bicycle bridge in order to get attention from other cities -- a mode of behavior high school counselors might call "acting out."

Today's paper also offers an official editorial urging the council to get a nap, crank up the old IQ a little and actually pay attention tomorrow (whose words do you think?) when the council conducts a hearing on "fracking" -- the hydraulic fracturing gas-drilling method in which drillers use high-pressure fluids to release gas deposits trapped in rock formations.

My interpretation of the fracking editorial? What The News is really saying is something like: "Look, we know the frack boys have been in to see all of you, and the campaign donations are either already flowing or will be, and Dallas Dem Boss John Wiley Perot has already given you your marching orders, but ... really! Really! Don't do another slap-down like you did with Hunt on the bicycle bridge. This is serious. Try to think about what you're doing for a change."

As a journalist, it's interesting to me. I always wonder what it must have been like for thoughtful people who worked as reporters and editors for Pravda in the old Soviet Union. Hard, I guess.

But here's the bigger bottom line. The Leppert/Citizens Council/Mega-Preacher Alliance has given us the dumbest city governance that anybody can remember, and everybody who is really watching knows it.

First you have the public works construction big ticket lobby as represented by the Citizens Council. Then you have the southern Dallas robber baron preachers. You have Dallas County Commissioner John Wiley Perot putting it all together for the man. You have the mayor that Tom Leppert left behind -- the inimitable Dwaine ("Aprons") Caraway.

You got you a heap of bad medicine is what you got. And even at the damn News they know it.

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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