Find a back issue

Michael Morris, The Misinformationist

Morris, who is also white

Michael Morris is the transportation director of the North Central Texas Council of Governments. As Jason mentioned in Leading Off, Morris made some rather interesting remarks in the paper today about the effort underway to investigate whether it makes sense to tear down I-345. He went to a meeting where he met people who are suggesting that spending $100 million or so to repair I-345 is a bad idea and that we ought to consider instead doing away with it and allowing redevelopment to stitch downtown back together with Deep Ellum. Morris said he noticed something about those people:

“They were all white, they were very wealthy and I don’t think any of them live in the neighborhood,” he said.

Then this comes along later in the story:

Morris said that so far, the push for tearing down I-345 has been “top-down and not bottom-up.”

Here’s what I can’t wrap my head around: Patrick Kennedy is rich? Man, I knew he was white, but I had no idea he was loaded. Next time, he’s buying. I also have trouble figuring out how this is a “top down” push when the DMN story describes Patrick’s group thusly: “A New Dallas is a grassroots group that is gaining national attention among transportation experts and urban planners for its campaign to have I-345 torn down.” That’s a rare thing indeed, a top-down grassroots group.

Just a few thoughts from where I sit. Patrick does a much better job here of blowing Morris’ statements out of the water. And Councilman Philip T. Kingston wrote on his Facebook page about Morris’ comments. Kingston didn’t particularly like being called a racist.

25 comments on “Michael Morris, The Misinformationist

  1. Well, that’s the other thing: Patrick lives in the neighborhood. He lives downtown.

  2. However inartfully stated, his point appears to be that the tear down push has little visible support from large swaths of Dallas (particularly minority communities) and he is right.

    But mock away.

    And tear down advocates labeling opponents as misinformation artists is pretty rich.

  3. Nor does the push have visible opposition from large swaths of Dallas. But that’s how grassroots movements work: they start small, with a handful of people, and then grow into swaths.

  4. Question for you Tim. Lets just assume Kennedy’s wildest dreams regarding development are correct, and development spreads from the east to the south of downtown (particularly if I-30 goes the way of the dodos as well). Where are all the displaced South Dallas residents going to go? Even with affordable housing allocations, those never are enough to account for the entire original population.

  5. Kennedy’s dreams include 25,000 new residents and 22,000 jobs if I-345 were torn down. But you’re right. We could just keep the freeway and leave South Dallas the way it is. That, too, is an option.

  6. Way to not answer the question. Its a pretty big assumption to assume South Dallas residents will get those jobs, and not the new arrivals. Likely those particular residents will be getting the shaft in your scenario, though Dallas “might” be better off as a whole. Some local government and community leaders, realizing that, may be on the other side of you on this issue for that specific. Which was my point.

  7. Again, if you live near Fair Park or Pleasant Grove (not white, not wealthy) how are you suppose to get to North Dallas or anywhere along Central Expressway? Pushing them through Deep Ellum is not an option. The only way to make the streets wide enough to handle that kind of traffic would be to tear down historic building. Which wouldn’t make much sense since that is the exact neighborhood this short sided plan is suppose to help.

  8. Wait. Explain the reasons for getting displaced? Your tearing down a freeway, creating MORE livable room. The residents won’t need to leave unless they entertain an offer from a developer offering 2-3 times the value of their property.

  9. I think the fear Morris is expressing here is that South Dallas will gradually come out in favor of the teardown. And if that huge block of folks enter the debate, pro-highway forces have a problem. Anticipating that, he’s trying to subtly convince them that the teardown idea is the brainchild of a bunch of rich white outsiders trying to screw them for their own gain.

  10. Michael Morris is only held accountable by a 13-member executive board, comprised of North Texas elected officials. The City of Dallas’ sole representative on the Executive Board is Vonciel Jones Hill.

  11. And let them eat cake, too, eh?

    Each day that one mile stretch of I-345 carries as many people as the entire DART bus and rail system. You want to re-think your answer?

  12. “…stitch downtown back together with Deep Ellum.”

    How do you stick back together that which was was never stitched together in the first place?

    Deep Ellum developed the way it did precisely because it was the wrong side of the tracks. It was physically separated from central Dallas — what we now call downtown — by railroad tracks and rail yards. That separation made Deep Ellum Deep Ellum.

    Your statement is as wrong as the folks who call for “restoring the street grid.” There was no street grid to restore. Construction of the I-345 overhead didn’t impeded connectivity between downtown and Deep Ellum, it improved it.

  13. If that means they have to pull over and pay an 8.25% tax when they buy the cake, sure.

  14. Morris and COG are responsible for promoting regional transportation strategy for a 16 county area. I-345 helps people from Corsicana get to McKinney. Hence he’s going to be in favor of the freeway.

    But I think the bigger divide between Morris and the tear down highways folks is that they are looking at the same issue through two different paradigms. Morris wants to get low income people in south dallas to jobs in north dallas/Richardson as quick as possible. Kennedy is saying, why do they have to work in the northern burbs and commute all that way. Why can’t we bring jobs closer to them in south dallas or downtown.

    Morris’s 20th century paradigm is the idea of efficiently connecting residential nods to employment nods to reduce commuting time. Kennedy’s is more of a 21st century or 19th century idea of bringing those nods together to reduce commuting.

  15. I am curious as to how many people who live in the South Dallas displacement zone actually own the property they live in.

  16. Mr. Morris needs to apologize or find a new job on Monday. He may have a very valid point about the lack of support for this idea in parts of the city, but you do not issue a not-so-veiled assertion of racism to make that point. Where’s his evidence that the teardown supporters hate black and/or Hispanic citizens of the city? That was the implication I got from his remark. He really REALLY needs to apologize or the NCTCOG needs to show him the door.

  17. What’s so tragic to see is an area that was once obviously platted as part of a larger urban grid shredded apart and dying off by this diseased stretch of roadway. It breaks my heart to think of what downtown Dallas could be if it were finally stitched back together with Deep Ellum.