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| Schutze |

Well, Wouldya Lookit Who Wants a Vote on the Trinity River Toll Road

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Of all the campaign literature piling up on our mail table at home, the most surprising piece came in a couple days ago from TrinityVote, the folks who want a referendum next fall to take the proposed toll road out of the river park downtown. It wasn’t the top but the bottom that got me.

By now, I’m pretty familiar with the arguments, so I’m reading this thing with eyes half-open: Toll road $600 million over budget -- yeah, yeah. Road holding up park project -- bzzz, bzzz. Please help with petitions -- yup, yup. Then I get to the bottom and look at the signatures:

Former state representative and school board member Harryette Ehrhardt. She’s my neighbor over on Swiss Avenue. We love her. She’s your classic Democrat do-gooder Lady Bountiful. Mary Vogelson. Hmmm. She’s kind of the brainiac behind the scene in the progressive civic-minded League of Women Voters universe. Tad unusual to see her out front on a political campaign. And former city council member Donna Blumer! Donna Blumer? Donna Blumer is about as conservative as it gets, and I’m talking Eagle Forum conservative here.

Donna Blumer and Harryette Erhardt on the same letter? With Mary Vogelson in between? That’s sort of like Donald Rumsfeld and Hillary Clinton sailing the same boat with Ralph Nader at the tiller. Amaaaazing.

I called Blumer, and we traded messages. She left one saying she didn’t see why I should be surprised. “It’s a good cause,” she said.

Yeah, I do see that. On the council, Blumer upheld a tradition I always associated with former city council member and state senator John Leedom: It’s an approach that says, on a day-to-day basis: Yeah, sure, yaddayadda, but do not lie about the money. Just do not lie about the money. We’ll be O.K. We’ll have a good philosophical debate; we will all live to respect each other tomorrow, but do not lie about the money.

The toll road thing is not liberal vs. conservative. It’s really an older and more fundamental debate in Dallas: Big Ticket vs. Civic-Mindedness. Who knows better, the suits or the citizens?

So I can see how the referendum drive could attract a broad spectrum of support. But Blumer, Ehrhardt and Vogelson on the same bill! That’s one to remember. I will put this one in the other file, the one that is not round. --Jim Schutze

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