This is the Trinity River with lakes, sailboats, boardwalks and other fantasies. By the way, this ain't paid for. None of it. So there.

Wherein Jim Schutze Tells D to Stick It. Nicely, Though.

Wick Allison makes a good point on FrontBurner today when he points out that none of the changes in the Trinity River project has been carried out in secret, and that if I have given that impression, I have been wrong to do so. By the way, I would like you to notice how measured and reasonable my tone is here. I am trying out this new measured and reasonable tone--just for grins, really--and I would appreciate any comments.

Mr. Allison and his worthy acolyte, Tim Rogers, are excited because tomorrow the city council will be asked to vote on an appropriation of some $9.6 million to begin the design of the lake or lakes we are supposed to get as part of this project--something we voted for eight years ago. I too am gratified that the city has leapt ahead to begin designing this project that we authorized eight years ago. I am somewhat concerned that the amount to be awarded for design is fully one-third the total amount available in the project budget for the chain of lakes--supposed to cost $31 million at completion. So I guess it's roughly $10 million for design and $20 million for construction. Sounds like how we re-did our house.

In my reasonable and balanced concern over this matter, I am also troubled that we do not know and are never told how much of the lake construction is going to wind up being paid for out of the 1998 bond money. The closest I have been able to find to an answer in city documents is the phrase "part of."

Part of?

The problem is, when we passed the 1998 bond issue, we thought we were paying for all of the Trinity River Program. All of. Now they're telling us that huge parts of the project are in "Phase Two" and "Ultimate Phase," which we haven't paid for yet.

This is sort of like going back to pick up your new car at the dealership after signing on the dotted line and being told, "Well now, sir, you should have understood that the wheels were part of Phase Two."

So, no, none of it happened in secret. It was all right out there in the fine print. And that's why I'm sure the overwhelming majority of the public knows that we won't be getting a lake with sailboats on it, but we will be getting a toll road. Now, if you will excuse me, I need to go to the conference room, close the doors and scream obscenities and pound my head on the wall for a while. It's my way of achieving "balance." --Jim Schutze

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