This debate hosted by NBC 5 took place a week ago. I’m just now seeing it. You’ll have to forgive me. But a little peek at it reveals, I believe, some important differences between Eric Johnson and Scott Griggs. Please watch it before we continue:
First, Rep. Eric Johnson is being disingenuous when he talks about the teardown of I-345. He says he doesn’t have enough information to take a position. Specifically:
“I am not the mayor yet, and I have not been fully apprised of the information that a mayor is going to be apprised of and the briefings that TxDOT will make available to the mayor to make a determination … . I am not going to cave to the pressure of a single newspaper or magazine publisher who’s decided this is his issue that he wants to make everybody who’s running for mayor answer before he will determine whether he supports them or not. I will tell you all the same thing I have told this publisher, which is I will make that determination once I have enough information to make the determination.”
He goes on to say that public policy is not based on the “threats” of a publisher. That publisher, of course, is Wick Allison. Wick hasn’t threatened Johnson. Just as those two ladies at Our Redeemer Lutheran Church didn’t threaten Johnson supporters at the poll there. Johnson appears to see a lot of threats that don’t exist.
More important, though, Johnson’s assertion about the flow of information is either a dodge or it demonstrates ignorance. The mayor of Dallas doesn’t get a Book of Secrets like the one in the second National Treasure movie. All the information is out there, in the public. If you don’t trust the Coalition for a New Dallas (the organization Wick co-founded), then have a look at the Congress for the New Urbanism. If you aren’t a fan of CNU, then you have one last option: look at what TxDOT has published. The City Master Assessment Process, aka Dallas cityMAP, is right here. Pages 183 through 276 cover the various scenarios for I-345. This document was published in September 2016. Johnson has had two and a half years to read it.
Now then. There is another point I’d like to make about this video clip: Johnson looks great. He’s relaxed. He dodges and weaves with grace. He’s in control.
Griggs, by comparison, looks like an excited underclassman. Oh, he’s smart. He knows his stuff. He has spent more hours preparing. Heck, I bet he’s read all 400 pages of cityMAP. But he doesn’t look as good as Johnson. He doesn’t command the stage. He doesn’t have it.
It would be an oversimplification to say this race is nothing but a choice between style and substance. Johnson is too smart to say he’s got nothing but style. And Griggs does have those cowboy boots.
But we are talking politics here. And in that game, something called cityMAP is about as useful as a 20-sided die.