| Schutze |

Tom Leppert Keeps Delivering One Shocker After Another

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Please, Mommy, when I grow up, don’t let me turn into Bruce Tomaso.

Wow. In today’s Dallas Morning News, Tomaso offers us yet another chapter in his serialized book about the Trinity River toll road referendum: Big Fat Lies I Would Like Very Much for You to Accept as Total Truth If You Don’t Mind, by Bruce Tomaso. Each new installment gets more outrageous.

In this piece of propagandistic crap, Tomaso tries to suggest that there is some kind of real-life threat out there: If we vote against the toll road, the Public Utilities Commission will back out of its deal to bury the high-voltage power lines along the Trinity River bottoms. He bases this bit of nonsense on the fact that Mayor Tom Leppert got some putz on the PUC to send him a weasle-worded e-mail saying “stuff could happen” if the November 6 referendum passes.

The guy who sent the e-mail refused to discuss it with Tomaso. Tomaso apparently never asked the mayor, “Hey, did you put this putz up to this?” Tomaso never explains that the deal to bury the power lines was all about the park and had nothing to do with the toll road. He never explains how the PUC works. He never asks the question, “Is there really anything in your agreement with the city that would serve as a legal pretext for breaching the deal? How would that work?”

On this flimsiest of pretexts, Tomaso and Leppert gin up yet another goon-style threat against the voters. This whole thing begins to smack more and more of New Jersey-style construction industry thuggishness. Threat after threat. It’s incredible that Leppert would mess around with this incredibly hard-fought victory on burying the power lines, all for the toll road. What exactly won’t they threaten in order to get this thing done?

The proof that you don’t have to be Tomaso is Dave Levinthal. Today, for the second time, Levinthal has done an “ad-watch” story in which he points out that the "Vote No! Pave the Trinity" folks, led by Leppert, are lying through their teeth when they threaten taxpayers with a tax-hike if we vote against his toll road.

Also be sure to read former city council member Donna Blumer’s essay on the same theme on the Op-Ed page.

The threat of higher taxes is just one big fat lie. It’s transparent, and it’s thuggish.

Let’s review Leppert so far. First thing he does as mayor is raise taxes. Then he threatens us with raising taxes. Then he’s going to be the big peacemaker on the council, and yesterday his city council goes into total meltdown, and he has to call a recess and whistle for the gendarmes, all because of the muscle he’s putting on people over this toll road.

Levinthal also has a good story on Page One of The News about how the Pave the Tribnity campaign is failing to catch fire in southern Dallas.

Uh, guess why. In southern Dallas, the Trinity project is one big Laura Miller deal. I was on KHVN-AM \recently with Dwaine Caraway, and I tried, whenever possible, to describe Pave the Trinity as the Laura Miller Laura Miller Laura Miller team. Laura. Miller. Couldn’t resist. It’s just so funny and so weird that they’ve got Miller locked up in the attic of her North Dallas castle like Rochester’s first wife in Jane Eyre. They’re terrified that if black people remember it’s her deal, they’ll turn out in droves to vote against it.

That’s what that whole explosion at the city council was about. The subtext beneath Roy Williams’ diatribe against Caraway was: “Dwaine and Laura, sittin’ in a tree…”

I confess that I love that.

The other day Patrick Williams and I had an office chat about one of Leppert’s other threats: that if people vote against the toll road, the state and federal highway departments will refuse to fix the Mixmaster. The reality would be the contrary: If the toll road really does have any reliever effect on downtown traffic, which I doubt, then a vote against it might create more pressure on the existing downtown freeways. So, you see, Mr. Mayor, that means our elected representatives will be even more eager to get those things fixed for us, so that we will be eager to vote for them again.

That’s actually how it works in a democracy. They work for us. They could conceivably refuse to build roads for us and expose our children to high voltage lines and triple-tax us as punishment for not voting for their toll road, but in order for that to happen, this would have to be Russia in 1955.

I can’t get over the vengeance theme in the threats these people make. “Youse better vote like we tells ya, or youse could have some bad t’ings happen ta ya, like stuff gets broke ya know?”

My mentor and hero, Robert Wilonsky (I feel kinda like he’s my dad), said this morning that the endless barrage of threats makes him wish he could not only vote against the toll road but “vote hard.” Yeah!

Here’s my question: You can work for The News and be Dave Levinthal. Why would anybody want to work there and be Bruce Tomaso? --Jim Schutze

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