The Trinity River Vision was always portrayed as a flood control project – but with a wink. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers had concluded that it would cost about $9 million to better control “improbable” flooding on the Trinity River downtown, but somehow that swelled to $435 million when developers dreamed up a Venice on the Trinity. In the wake of Katrina, of course, the first (rational) thought was that the Corps would be moving its funding priorities to the Gulf Coast, leaving the Trinity, so to speak, high and dry.

But some folks apparently think that the specter of New Orleans makes the Trinity project even more attractive. “I think [Katrina] demonstrated … what may happen when you don’t get the funding to protect an area like it needs to be protected,” said Jim Oliver, general manager of the Tarrant Regional Water District. “It’s similar to our situation here, where the storm that could overtop our levees is improbable, but historically they have happened.”

What alternative-reality program was Oliver watching? “Similar to our situation here”? Fact is, Fort Worth hasn’t had a major flood since 1949. True, upstream development – read: covering more soakable land with unsoakable concrete – has lessened downtown flood protection. But last time we looked, the dire and heart-rending local need for more condos and riverfront dining wasn’t on anybody’s Top Ten worldwide humanitarian tragedies list.


A Peace-Seeking Sea

It was Vietnam redux, with Joan Baez singing the old songs and 100,000 or more citizens, according to an Associated Press count, filling the western end of the Mall in Washington, D.C., on Saturday for a “12-hour marathon” rally to protest the war in Iraq. On Sunday, about 500 people gathered in front of the White House to support Bush’s war, disappointing organizers, so the AP story goes, who expected 20,000 to rally ’round the flag for the Prez – who apparently could have used some rallying since his approval rating seems to be in free fall.

Joyce Hall, Dallas coordinator for Pax Christi, a Catholic peace organization, said that from where she stood the 100,000 estimate was low. Looking toward the Capitol, she said, there was a sea of people – in fact a Middle-America sea, not a Flower Children field, with young couples and old folks and families, like the group she spoke to who’d ridden a bus for 20 hours to get there. “I hope that I will always be able to live in a country where people can do this kind of protest,” Hall said. Static hopes so, too – but isn’t taking any bets on it.