Yesterday on Unfair Park Patrick Williams posted an item reporting that the city of Dallas is going to court to sue rather than follow the instructions of the Texas Attorney General to release basic information to the Dallas Observer about the money the city has spent so far on the Trinity River Project.
Greg Abbott's office said it's public. The city said tough.
I just want to make sure we know what kind of information is at stake in all this. The city admits to already having spent over half of the full budget for the Trinity River Project -- $250 million of $420 million in bond debt we authorized in 1998.
If you were around for the '98 debt election, you saw the pictures. For that $420 million we were supposed to have lakes by now, sailboats, amphitheaters, a sculpted and landscaped urban park bigger than Central Park in Manhattan.
You see what we've got. Jack. No lakes. No park. Squat. More than half the money gone. The Calatrava bridge that's going up now wasn't supposed to be part of the bond program or come out of that money. And the city is going to pay lawyers to sue rather than tell the taxpayers where that money went.
Where could it have gone? Lots of places. The whole Calatrava fiasco is one very good candidate. The standard line from the Park Cities socialites pushing the bridge thing is that they paid for it -- the rich families for whom the bridges are being named.
No way. They bought naming rights for a few mil. But the additional cost of turning seven ordinary freeway bridges into fake suspension bridges was huge -- way more than even the socialites could afford. We knew when the bridges were first proposed 12 years ago that the full cost of the Calatrava program was going to be between $130 million and half a billion dollars -- not to build the bridges, just to pay Calatrava to turn them into fake suspension bridges!
So the question -- unanswered by the city -- is how much of that money we have already paid him, even though we now know that only one of the originally planned seven bridges will ever be built. The great Spanish architect doesn't draw stuff for free, even on a napkin.
I have also provided another example of where the money has gone -- the ridiculous fake whitewater kayak thing they built in the river, originally priced at $445,000, on which we have now spent $4 million, and it's so screwed up it has to be rebuilt. For more money.
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But that's only a small-change example. And the other thing is this: after first denying it, the city manager admitted years ago that tens of millions of dollars -- $73 million at one whack -- has been sluiced into the Trinity River project from subsequent bond programs, even though the voters were never told they were voting for more money for the Trinity project.
So it's not $250 million spent so far. We know of $323 million. And who knows how much more a tight accounting would divulge?
Just look out there. See what you see. Nothing! Nothing! Think about $323 million in your money that's gone already. And then tell me why you think City Hall doesn't want to talk about it.
Hey, somebody ask those mayoral candidates about this damn lawsuit to keep from leveling with the taxpayers. Sounds like a fair issue to me.