Sunday, May 19, 2024 May 19, 2024
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Politics & Government

Lee Kleinman Got F@*&>! Over the Cotton Belt

At yesterday's transportation committee meeting, things did not go well for the councilman.



What you see here is Councilman Lee Kleinman’s wheels shooting off at a meeting yesterday of the transportation committee. You can watch the full video for yourself. Go to the 30:00 minute mark. Kleinman doesn’t actually say anything. He just mouths the words. But I believe the message was: “You fucked me.” You wouldn’t know it from reading Julieta Chiquillo’s account of the meeting, but it was an exciting one (we miss you already, Brandon Formby). Here’s what I think happened:

The committee was meeting, in part, to vote on a resolution that lays out the city’s transportation priorities. Kleinman wants one of the priorities to be the Cotton Belt line, a $1 billion stretch of DART track that would run from Plano to DFW Airport. Councilwoman Sandy Greyson isn’t as sanguine about the Cotton Belt as Kleinman is. She thinks DART might have trouble paying for that and the proposed downtown subway.

It’s complicated. The agency says it has the money to build both projects. But there’s reason to believe, as Councilman Philip Kingston does, that spending all that money all at once will lower DART’s credit rating and thereby undermine its own efforts to get federal funds for the subway. Got that? Okay, moving on.

Kleinman brings his Cotton Belt-loving resolution to the meeting yesterday and essentially says, “We can talk about the Cotton Belt separately. But let’s agree on the rest of the resolution, the stuff about buses and the subway.” To which Greyson says (again, paraphrasing), “No, Lee, I don’t think so. I’ve drafted my own resolution, thank you very much. It says nothing about the Cotton Belt. Because the Cotton Belt shouldn’t be on the list of Dallas’ transportation priorities.”

Go to the 4:00 minute mark and watch till about 5:30 or so. That’s when Greyson springs her surprise on Kleinman. He nearly jumps out of his chair.

Sometime between that point and the GIF point, Kleinman has a realization. He realizes that he is screwed. Greyson has her own resolution, it doesn’t include the Cotton Belt, and she has the votes to get it passed. Seated to Kleinman’s left are but two committee members, Councilman Casey Thomas and Councilman Adam Medrano. Thomas is with Kleinman. Medrano is the one who seconded Greyson’s motion on the proposal. So the fucking, from Kleinman’s point of view, was done by Medrano.

Yesterday was a big loss for Kleinman. It’s still not clear to me what, exactly, he lost. What was he expecting in return from DART for carrying the water for the Cotton Belt? In any case, his loss was Dallas’ gain. It brings us one step closer to building a subway rather than jamming more surface rail through the heart of downtown.