You, Snooze. We Lose.

So this morning with trembling hands I pluck my daily Dallas Morning News up off the dewy lawn, slip it from the bag and -- at the risk of showing myself to my neighbors in my Tartan plaid bathrobe and bedhead hair -- ask myself the question: “Can they possibly, conceivably, in any plausible fashion ignore this story?”

YES! YES! I stab my fist in the air.

The Dallas Morning News is still intent on destroying the last ragged shred of its credibility on important local political stories. God is in his heaven, and all is right with the world. This means that The News is electing not to cover -- not to even mention -- a huge story on the Trinity River project that directly contradicts what the newspaper has been telling its readers for months.

Yesterday Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson, the single most important purse string on federal funds for the project, told KERA-FM's audience that a referendum on the toll road portion of the project will have no effect at all on federal money.

Less than a week ago The News told readers the opposite in an editorial:
Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison and Reps. Eddie Bernice Johnson and Pete Sessions have been effective advocates for the Trinity plan. But their work could be for naught if Congress senses dissension about the project. Suddenly, Dallas could see its money go to Des Moines, Fresno or any other city proposing a less controversial project.
Yesterday Congresswomen Johnson told Catherine Cuellar of KERA:
“I'm never anti- people doing a vote. It hasn't been voted on before. So I guess that's the right of people if that's what they want to do. There really is no impact, because what we're doing through water resources is different than what is being discussed about the tollways.”
The importance of the Johnson quote was noticed immediately by Sharon Grisgby of The News' editorial staff. She wrote on the Dallas Morning Views editorial board blog:

For all that I want to stay on board with those (including us) who say that reopening deliberations on where to put the road would not only be unfeasible but also a deal-killer for much of the money ... I continue to hear a lot of seemingly well-founded information to the contrary.

Just this morning, Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson was asked on KERA if this issue would slow the federal money faucet she's working to open and she said something along the lines of "Absolutely not. If the people want to vote, I always think it's a good idea to let them."

This story is one of two that directly contradict the official party line on the Trinity. The first is that the current design, which puts a high-speed highway through the new park we’re trying to create along the river downtown, is the official blessed and sanctioned work of the great Alex Krieger of Harvard and therefore must not be de-sanctified by any alteration. That story blew up when Dallas city council member Angela Hunt came up with e-mails from Krieger and another consultant telling Mayor Laura Miller that Dallas had broken its word on the design by putting a highway where they had drawn a park road.

The News ignored that one for a week and finally dished it in halfway down a boring blah-blah catch-up story about Trinity doins’ -- their typical “No Need to Read” treatment for news they don’t like.

The Eddie Bernice story goes straight at the other plank in their platform -- the idea that a referendum on the toll road will endanger federal funding for the rest of the project. Johnson says it won’t. She oughta know. But not a whisper from The Snooze. Not yet.

In the next few days, we will see a column by Steve Blow saying, “Them old congress wimmins up there got no bid'ness tellin' us our federal money ain’t endangered when we done tole 'em plain as day it is! ‘member the Alamo? Uh, bye now.”

A week from now The News will publish a story saying, “Certain congresspersons have made certain remarks about certain projects, but local authorities warn Dallas citizens not to pay attention.”

I love it. Thus does the Dallas Observer inherit the Earth. --Jim Schutze

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Robert Wilonsky
Contact: Robert Wilonsky

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