Correction: Di Mambro Plan Did Not Come From Mayor’s Task Force

Got a really sweet e-mail yesterday from the mayor’s PR chief, Scott Goldstein, that called my attention to a mistake in my September column in D Magazine (not online yet). Helpfully, Goldstein cc’ed the mayor (because, duh, his boss) and Wick (because, duh, actually runs the city). The e-mail:

Good evening, Eric,

Your piece on Fair Park in the September magazine was brought to our attention today. You wrote: “Recently, Mayor Mike Rawlings commissioned a task force that came up with a radical new blueprint to fix the State Fair and reinvigorate Fair Park and its neighborhoods. In short, it would restrict the Fair’s footprint at the park. Unofficially it is called the Di Mambro Plan, named for its lead architect, Antonio Di Mambro….”

This is totally, unequivocally false. The mayor’s task force and the Di Mambro plan are not and never were connected. As The News reported in March, Williams himself even said “there is no connection to the Mayor’s task force.” That remains true today.

If I missed a call, email or text message from you during your fact-checking process, I do apologize. We hope to see a correction online asap, as well as a printed correction in the October issue.

Now, a couple of things:

• Goldstein is right: there’s an error in the column.

• My first draft of the column didn’t contain that error. After a spirited and fun-loving debate, editor Tim Rogers and I have decided editors shouldn’t suck to each take 50 percent of the blame for this.

In the original draft, I was trying to make the point that the folks who commissioned and support the Di Mambro plan did so partly out of frustration with the results of the Mayor’s Task Force. But I wrote this in not the mostest clear way ever:

In case you care, here’s what I wrote:

Witness the plan that was born from the frustration within the mayor’s task force, a more radical blueprint to fix the State Fair and reinvigorate Fair Park and its neighborhoods. You may know it as the “Di Mambro plan,” named after its lead architect Anthony Di Mambro.

So, yeah, that’s a bad sentence. It’s not clear that I’m saying a separate group fashioned the DM plan; it should be “borne of frustration,” probably; etc. But let’s understand that I was on my way to Vancouver for vacation, and DESPERATELY NEEDED MY EDITOR TO STEP UP TO THE PLATE.

Here’s how he did so:

At the Old Monk, after a podcast, he yelled at me that my column contradicted itself in one place. I said okay, sorry. (Which is my default move these days. I never mean it. Unless I’m talking to you, then I totally mean it.) When I got home, I looked at this sentence and thought, no, I didn’t contradict myself. I simply wasn’t clear. So I sent this e-mail:

It easily could be argued I don’t make clear that “born of the frustration from” means “splinter group,” but that’s different than saying I directly contradict myself.

Tim’s response:

In a graph about how the task forces have sucked, you cite a source on Rawlings’ task force saying he knew the recommendations would be “useless.”

Then, a few graphs later, you talk about the same task force producing a “radical blueprint” that so threatens the State Fair oligarchy that its president says it would end the 129-year tradition.

To me, that reads like a direct contradiction.

At this point, I thought he was still criticizing my sentence construction, not that he actually thought I meant the Mayor’s Task Force produced a “radical blueprint.” I thought it was very clear that I thought that what the Mayor’s Task Force produced was — to use a modern urban planning term — “hot garbage.” And that I felt like the Di Mambro plan, while a political hot potato, was a thoughtful, even daring vision for actually putting the park back in Fair Park. So I replied:

I said the “frustration” led to a radical blueprint. That was the Di Mambrio plan, which I say in the next sentence.

It may not be clear, but it’s not a contradiction.

Boom! Roasted. I thought I’d set him straight; he thought I was an idiot. And that’s how the mistake got in.

So, to reiterate: Mayor’s Task Force = hot garbage. Di Mambro = solid plan. They have nothing to do with each other. Glad we could clear this up.

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