City Hall

Why Wait for Mike Rawlings' Trinity Toll Road Speech When We Know What He'll Say?

Yesterday Joe told you that Mike Rawlings, our mayor, is having a press conference today to announce how he feels about the Trinity River Toll Road.

So guess who's got to go to the damn thing at 12:30? OK, OK, I'm doin' it. Wow, everybody doesn't just need to get in a big huge wad about it. I'll go.

But if you read Joe's item and clicked through the links, the whole story is already there. I could report this thing without ever getting out of bed. But I have already gotten out of bed, OK? It's a figure of speech. Wow. Am I not trusted? I'm just suggesting that we do some simple Kremlinology here first. Who's going to be standing to the right of Kruschev on the review stand for this particular May Day Parade?

Attending with Mayor Rawlings will be Lee Jackson, chancellor of UNT, a non-academic who ascended to his comfortable and lucrative post after mongering for the toll road project as Dallas County Judge for years; Donna Halstead, a paid career henchperson for the toll-road-loving Dallas Citizens Council; John Scovell, a political fixer for oilman Ray ("Old Man River") Hunt; and former Dallas city council member and toll road cheerleader Dave Neumann, whom everybody had assumed before today to be either dead or in the wiggy ward.

So what's gonna happen? OK, just for grins, let's pretend I didn't get out of bed. Which I did, Joe. Hours ago. But what if I stayed in bed and reported this press conference now, the way it's obviously going to roll out? Could I do that and get it right? I'll give it a whirl, and then we shall compare my imaginary version with actual event later when the event actually happens.

Today's mayoral Trinity River Toll Road press conference -- a predictive report:

Mayor Mike Rawlings talked about the future. He said Dallas must dream big. He said the sky is huge. He talked about what a difficult decision this has been for him, because of all the wonderful smart committed citizens on all sides of it. He mentioned Angela Hunt favorably. He regretted all the division and rancor that have marred this important civic process.

The mayor listed all of the things that have been done already - the bird-watching and the manmade mud-holes - oops, I mean "wetlands." He may even have said something about how "the land is wet, and wet is good." Maybe not. That may be a little too granular for my crystal ball.

But then he grew more serious and somber. The city has been divided racially, he said. He quoted Ron Kirk as saying the thing that would cure racism in Dallas would be a toll road. Obviously. He also said that the city is being crushed, gored, poisoned and slapped silly by gridlock.

What is gridlock? He didn't say. He didn't have to, did he? We all know something called gridlock has to be just bad. The mayor said that he had talked to a lot of traffic engineers and gridlock experts, and they had all told him that the solution to having too many cars in the center of the city is to build a big highway so you can bring more cars into the center of the city. On this part he talked real fast, so I couldn't really understand him, even in my dreams.

Then he talked about Laura Miller and her "Balanced Vision Plan" and how that had fixed all the problems with the road and the park and so on. He started to talk about how much he liked Laura Miller and what a great mayor she was, but John Scovell started poking him in the back, and then Donna Halstead started making the cut-cut motion on her neck, and then Lee Jackson started giggling uncontrollably, and then Dave Neumann got excited and bounded right out of the room like a kangaroo.

So he said, "OK, forget Laura Miller."

That's a direct quote.

For his kicker, he said the voters had spoken. Twice, he said, the people of Dallas have voted explicitly to build a big huge honking highway right down the banks of the river, ruining any chance of ever having a real park in the green space out there. Scovell and Haltstead and Jackson all nodded yes, and Neumann bounded back into the room and shouted, "Pickles and applesauce!"

The mayor said not to worry about the missing billion-plus dollars needed for building the road. He explained that there are "large pots of not-real money" that can be used for this sort of thing. Scovell nodded wisely and interjected, "It grows on trees."

They had exciting visuals.

I think I'm done here. I'll get back to you later if I made any mistakes.

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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