THE CASE FOR LAWYERS
WITH RESPECT to the statement made in the September issue of D Magazine [“What Makes a Tough Divorce Lawyer?”] on page 171: “Lawyers -Perry Mason notwithstanding -do not stand up for truth, justice and the American way, except perhaps during pregame ceremonies at Texas Stadium,” I respectfully dissent.
Perhaps I have been unusually fortunate, but both in private practice and on the bench, it has been my experience that the vast majority of attorneys are honest, hard-working, patriotic citizens who are committed to a concept of justice that is much more than their or their clients’ interests. Those few who aren’t do not tend to remain attorneys very long.
I do believe that the statement was overbroad and reflective of a “first thing we’ll do… let’s kill all the lawyers” attitude that is not up to the usually high standards of your magazine. You are correct that judges worry about justice, but so do attorneys.
John McClellan Marshall
Judge Presiding, 14th District Court
FEWER DOLLARS,MORE SENSE
I WISH to congratulate George Rod-rigue for his article for solving the Dallas traffic problem [“The Transit Game,” October].
His is the only feasible solution I have read so far. It is imperative that we get something on the board as soon as possible, as we are running 10 years late already. However, where Mr. Rodrigue and 1 deviate is on how to pay for this enormous undertaking. The people of the City of Dallas have already paid their dues in higher taxes, higher property values, etc. than the bedroom communities. Why should we have to pay for their convenience? I think they should have to stand the bulk of paying for this undertaking – say to the tune of 90 percent of the cost.
IN “THE Transit Game,” George Rod-rigue’s labeling of me as an “antitax crusader” is as highly inaccurate as the rest of his article. He obviously didn’t read my disputations carefully. But, please don’t get the idea that I didn’t enjoy the piece. I don’t believe I’ve ever seen so much nonsense packed into so few pages.
Never mind that George completely left out the most important mass-transit issues, such as the developer control of the IRTA [Interregional Transportation Authority], which threatens the home values of the multitude of Dallas homeowners who live near an expressway, tollway or railway, or the grossly unfair Dallas portion of the IRTA tax that will cheat us out of billions of our dollars.
Never mind that George let the IRTA make a complete fool of him by uncritically swallowing their phony “facts” -hook, line and sinker. They spoon-fed him an erroneous set of construction cost numbers that are considerably lower than the ones they finally unveiled. He gulped down their highly inflated estimates of ridership and fare revenues. In the computer business, there’s a saying that goes, “Garbage in, garbage out.” It means that you can’t feed lies, half-truths and distortions into a computer and expect to get out accurate, reliable results.
Never mind that George’s half-baked conclusions help the IRTA attain its objective of deceiving and duping the public.
One of the problems with the IRTA board is that there are 25 amateurs doing transit planning. We don’t need another one. What’s needed is a good article on the social, political and ethical issues of mass transit. Also, George owes the entire city an apology for such a trashy piece of work.
Norman V. Butler
George Rodrigue replies: Taking Mr. Butler’s points one at a time – There are 25 members of the IRTA. It is hardly fair to call that group “developer controlled.” There are 13 Dallas representatives; by my count, six and possibly seven of these are serious neighborhood advocates.
A transit route may or may not threaten property values. Sometimes it enhances them. A subway would have virtually no effect except at station locations. In any event, Dallas has to find ways to move its people around; passenger for passenger, a transitway would have a smaller impact on the environment than, say, a double-decked Central Expressway or a new superhighway.
As for the “grossly unfair Dallas portion of the IRTA tax,” it is true that most of the IRTA’s sales tax income will be collected in Dallas. But it is also true that the tax will be paid by people from all over – conventioneers downtown, Carrollton residents shopping at Galleria.
Any system will have to concentrate on serving downtown Dallas, so the bulk of its trackage will be within the city limits. And the benefits to city residents of a transit system cannot be measured solely by the proportion of Dallasites using the system. A transitway could help clear congested streets, obviate the need for some street widenings and permit the sort of high-density development that keeps taxes low in the long run.
The construction figures I used were unveiled to the public September 2, 1982, at the IRTA board meeting. The figures are preliminary, of course, as are all the other cost and revenue figures mentioned so far in the transit debate. That doesn’t make them “garbage”; it just makes them the best possible guesses, as I said in paragraph six of the original article.
The IRTA’s planning is not being conducted by 25 amateurs. Maurice Carter, the authority’s new director, helped develop systems in Atlanta and San Diego. David White, the authority’s chief consultant, has graduate degrees in civil engineering and business administration. The 25 board members represent a broad cross section of the Dallas community; they are supposed to handle the “social, political and ethical issues.” In a sense they are amateurs, but that’s how democracy works.
The problem with discussing social, political and moral issues is that they depend on the specifics of a transit system. They cannot be debated in the abstract. It seemed to me that before we got too involved in such metaphysical discourses about transit systems, we needed to see if we could afford one.
I had hoped that the article would give some idea of what might be possible and of what the nuts-and-bolts issues are, and therefore serve as a basis for rational discussion of the transit problem. In Mr. Butler’s case, I seem to have been overly optimistic.
THE CASE FOR LAWYERS