Today, while watching the City Council approve Nov. 6 as the date for the Trinity toll road referendum, it became sadly clear why all but one member of the Council, as well as most of the city establishment, opposes the referendum. They really, truly don’t believe that TrinityVote gathered 91,000 signatures and that 48,000 of them were valid. It was one of the biggest cases of mass denial I have ever seen. In fact, I’m willing to bet that more than a couple of them expected some last-minute miracle — Woodall Rogers appearing in the council chamber and smoting Angela Hunt with a lightning bolt? — to save them from having to schedule the vote.
How deluded is the council? The meeting was scheduled for the council’s briefing room, which is about one-third the size of the council chambers. Only 15 minutes before the meeting started, when it was standing room only in the briefing room, was the decision made to move to the council chambers. Using the briefing room only makes sense if you assume no one will show up because no one really supports the referendum.
That they are in denial became obvious during the meeting. Mayor Park Cities hinted that the only way the referendum drive succeeded was because of fraud. Several other speakers said that petition signers had been duped by TrinityVote. My favorite was a businessman (whom I don’t want to name because I don’t want to embarrass him any more than this) who said that the city’s brain trust had decided that the toll road was good, and who are we to doubt the brain trust? Seriously. He said brain trust.
In addition, a couple of other people whom I know and respect spoke against the referendum. That’s their privilege, certainly. But this is a bad cause they’re tied up with, and it’s only going to hurt them in the long run.
For what it’s worth, I’ll offer the anti-referendum side some advice. We exist. We’re not a figment of Hunt’s imagination. You can disagree with us, belittle us, and discount us, but that’s not going to change the facts of the matter. That you can’t see this as a battle between equals is the main reason why you’re in this mess.
How little does the mayor and council respect the pro-referendum side? There wasn’t any debate on the agenda item that allowed the council to adopt the referendum as an ordinance. This was shameful. Leppert, using a little parliamentary maneuvering and with connivance of the council, had the ordinance item voted down before anyone in the audience knew what had happened. It’s always nice to see that sort of openness from our elected officials. The ordinance item certainly wouldn’t have passed, but it would have been nice to hear a debate, this being a democracy and all.
Dallas’ Only Daily Newspaper took such a pounding this morning that it almost made me feel sorry for it. Many speakers (who, it must be said, were wearing TrinityVote t-shirts) used words like media misinformation and deception, and one even said The News assumes that "we’re all a bunch of idiots."
Finally, one of the key issues in the upcoming campaign, from what I heard this morning, will be the city against the suburbs. There seems to be a genuine feeling that Dallas taxpayers are being asked to foot the bill so that suburbanites will have an easier commute to work. I’m not sure where this came from, though I have a feeling it’s part of the resentment that the pro-referendum side feels every time The News writes that congestion in the mixmaster inconveniences its suburban readers.