Enter the 'Katrina' Corps of Engineers
Oct 15, 2007
The Dallas Observer
When will it end? Yesterday The Dallas Morning News belched out two more platefuls of tripe in its endless buffet of Trinity River toll road propaganda.
The first was a story about ownership of the land along the Trinity, the headline of which should have been “Not Us.” You had to read way down in the story to figure out what it was even about: They wanted us to know that the owners of The News and their relatives own very little land along the Trinity.
Problem is, the owners the newspaper did list were outfits with names like Kessler Peak Ltd Ps, Aslan Lavalencia Ltd, Dallas Twin Towers Llc, Cowperwood Dallas Lp, Elman Stemmons Assoc. Lp, Westvan Properties Ltd and One Turtle Creek Ltd.
Oh, sure. Those guys.
Hey, about this, Beloans? If you want us to believe none of you has a dog in this hunt, why don’t you give us a statement to the effect that nobody related to Robert Decherd in any way is a player in any of those entities. That would really help. Honest.
Then we get to the editorial, which took a very haughty tone in discussing Trinity toll road critics who have dared criticize the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
Criticize the Corps? One dasn’t! One dasn’t!
“The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers isn't permitted to choose sides in the Nov. 6 referendum,” the lead editorial pointed out stupidly. “And frankly, Corps officials aren't that interested in the campaign slogans or the sniping.”
Do these people not know that when Mayor Tom Leppert has taken this same tack in debates, suggesting that surely the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers knows what it’s doing, audiences have laughed out loud at him?
“Theirs is a singular focus,” The News goes on in its best World War II newsreel voice. “Ensure that the project provides sufficient flood protection. That, the engineers say, is non-negotiable. So, it's surprising and disappointing that opponents of the planned highway would suggest that the Corps is some sort of political pawn, kowtowing to pressure from the other side.”
I checked last night. On 365 occasions, newspapers all over this land have written about, quoted, focused on and explained the work of Robert G. Bea, a professor at the University of California at Berkeley who headed up an independent investigation of the Katrina disaster for the National Science Foundation. I found not one mention of Professor Bea in The Dallas Morning News. Ever.
Bea has had the following things to say about the Corps of Engineers and the Gulf Coast Disaster:
"The documented background for development of this flood protection system during a period of more than 40 years indicates many instances of both negligence and malfeasance.
These examples are clearly indicative of a 'non-learning organization.' The ILIT study indicates that there are many reasons for this non-learning characteristic that includes loss of core competencies in the Corps of Engineers (‘we have taken engineering out of the Corps of Engineers’). Bureaucratic engineering produced a defective and deficient New Orleans Flood Defense System.
In many cases, we found evidence of 'lethal arrogance'; information that provided potential early warnings was rejected because ‘the Corps knows everything.'”
This is information that has been provided to newspaper readers all over this country. But if your sole source of print news is The Dallas Morning News, you never heard a word about it.
After taking this absurd line -- that it’s somehow naughty or unpatriotic to question the Corps -- the same Dallas Morning News editorial goes on to play some very tricky tricks with terminology on a key question:
TrinityVote leader Angela Hunt has scored solid points with audiences in the debates by pointing to a key admission by the Corps: In response to dogged questioning, the Corps conceded to Hunt that no one has ever built a highway inside a flood way before anywhere in the country.
If built inside the flood way the Trinity toll road will be the national experiment for this highly improbable concept.
The crucial term here is “flood way.” The flood way is the channel between the levees where the water is supposed to be contained during a flood.
Now, outside the flood way, you have the flood plain: That’s all of the land, for miles and miles away, that would flood if there were no levees.
Flood way: small channel, just between the levees. Flood plain: the big area all around the river.
The News editorial says: “Ms. Hunt's side has said that building a road within a flood way is unheard of. Apparently, sending a man to Mars via slingshot would be more feasible.
“But Corps officials tell a much different story. Building within a flood plain is not unusual, they told .”
You get it? Hunt says no one has ever built a highway inside the levees, inside the flood way. Then The News quotes the Corps saying there can be building inside a flood plain.
Yup. True. A lot of building. It’s called DOWNTOWN, most of which is in the flood plain.
Was this a simple error? An oversight? A problem of semantics?
Have you seen anything in The News in the last six months that would encourage you to give them the benefit of the doubt?
It’s appalling. The whole thing. Someone is throwing that entire newspaper into the ditch over this thing.
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