Friday, September 28, 2007

Pro toll-road mailer

I got my first piece of propaganda from the pro-toll road campaign in the mail yesterday. It is a lovely glossy fold out thing that describes all the awful things that will happen if the referendum is passed in November. On the front cover is their biggest claim (and shot at their nemesis Angela Hunt): "Don't let Angela Hunt send more than $1 billion down the river..."

Not sure why this makes me mad. We've been expecting this. But misinformation chaps my hide. The state and federal dollars for this road will not be relinquished if this road is moved outside of the levees. It will have to be redesigned and some things will have to change, but none other than "Vote No" Honorary Co-Chair U.S. Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson has clarified for us that the money for the levees and flood control is not in jeopardy should the location of this road change. The money for the park and lakes was secured in the 1998 bond election.

The flier implies (without explicitly saying so) that the entire project: the flood control, the lakes, the park, the hike and bike trails, the nature preserve, etc. is all at risk if this referendum passes. This is not true. The bonds have been approved and the work continues on all those other things if the toll road is removed.

Among the other claims in the flier:
  • Claim: This vote was forced by a "small but vocal" group. In a city of over 1 million people, 50,000-80,000 (the number of certified signatures and the total number of signatures on the petition) may seem small, but it is more than the number of people who voted for our fearless mayor who wants to shove the road down our throats as Bill DeOre so vividly illustrated. If all of those folks come to the polls in November, Mayor Tom's vision of a paved river bottom will remain a fantasy.
  • Claim: Voting Yes means new taxes. This is the big bogeyman. The claim states: "More than 90% of the cost of the Trinity Parkway is being paid through state funding. If we lose this funding then Dallas taxpayers may be left to pay for Angela Hunt's new road design." First of all, it is not Angela Hunt's responsibility to design or align this tollway. Hunt is trying to protect the park that was voted for back in 1998. Apparently several people thought that was a vote for a roads project. So we have a disagreement. Secondly, notice the use of the words "if" and "may." This is not a very strong statement. It is a scare tactic reinforcing the claim on the front that we could lose $1 billion in funding. If the state wants a road, the state's going to help pay for a road.
  • Claim: Voting Yes means delayed flood protection because of a delay in the "project" if the road must be redesigned. Let's all recall that a road in the flood plain displaces water and makes flooding worse. I don't think these folks are too concerned about flood protection. The Corps of Engineers has said that they will have the right to remove portions of this road in the future if necessary to perform levee repair. This claim is part of the argument that all the pieces of this project are so intertwined and inextricably linked that to remove the road threatens the entire project. Again, the funding for flood control is secure. Let's build the best flood control we can and not seek waivers from the Corps of Engineers to use pre-Katrina standards just so we can have a highway in our flood plain.
  • Claim: Voting Yes means more traffic. I suspect that there will be more traffic regardless of where this road is located or if it is built at all. More roads encourage more people to drive. This "reliever route" further encourages people to live in the 'burbs and drive their SUVs from Southlake to their office downtown. What if we used our scarce resources to speed up the DART light rail build out? That would be forward thinking.
There is another picture included of the lovely four-lane road (it will actually be six lanes) with about 6 cars on it with pretty vegetation surrounding it (weakening the levees) meandering next to our park next door. Gee, what could that park look like without that road there?

I ordered a yard sign from TrinityVote yesterday. I will probably make a donation today to help them combat the misinformation in this flier. I'm excited about the potential for the grass roots of this city to deal a David vs. Goliath blow to all the politicians and the big money interests who want to pave our park. I really think it could happen. That's right, Molly Ivins, Dallas might be ready to start rooting for David!

Making a donation to TrinityVote is very easy - they have a PayPal account linked from their website. I had a more difficult time getting their "Volunteer" form to work, which is where you request a yard sign.

Also, good balanced reporting from the Advocate neighborhood magazine today. Check it out.

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