Saturday, March 17, 2018

Deception & Delusion Name Of Fort Worth Public Projects Game

Saturday, St. Patrick's Day, I saw that which you see here, in the Seattle Times.

An article the likes of which one would never see in the current iteration of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, that being the newspaper which ill serves Fort Worth as its only newspaper of record.

But, instead functions as a propaganda organ of the chamber of commerce sort, touting an imaginary "vision" of Fort Worth which rarely resembles reality.

Fort Worth is currently the host of America's Biggest Boondoggle, a poorly conceived, ineptly executed, inadequately funded public works project which the public has never been allowed to vote on, til this coming May, when voters will be asked to approve a quarter billion buck bond to try and rescue this moribund project which has been limping along for 16 years, about which its incompetent project manager, Trinity River Central City Uptown Panther Island District Vision Executive Director, J.D. Granger, recently shared the shocking news that the slow motion project is currently only one-third complete, thus rendering its completion target 32 years in the future, in the year 2050.

Meanwhile up northwest, in the Seattle zone, there is more than one newspaper of record holding public works projects to account, with the public weighing in in various ways, in meetings, voting, letters to the editor, referendums and just an over all democratic culture of citizen input one does not see in Fort Worth, hence the chronic boondoggle problem and a city where it takes a long time to get little done, and rarely done well.

During the same 16 years Fort Worth has been limping along with a myopic vision with little to show for the effort, except a failed wakeboard park, a drive-in movie theater, an ice rink open a few weeks of the year, an imaginary pavilion at an imaginary world class music venue (with outhouses) where locals are encouraged to float in the chronically polluted Trinity River.

Oh and a lot of promises. Such as four years ago a big bang began construction on three simple little bridges being built over dry land to connect the Fort Worth mainland to that imaginary island. Still not completed, with the Trinity River Vision Authority's near-sighted visionary, J.D. Granger, always touting imaginary progress just ahead.

Currently Granger is touting 2018 as the year one of those bridges may be almost completed, as the year when a relatively puny $55 million apartment complex may get under construction on the imaginary island, along with a few feet of the future river walk canal. And some other big things in the works which may be announced any day now. Or any year.


During this same 16 year time frame, up in the Seattle zone multiple public works projects, massively bigger than the Trinity River Vision, have been completed or are well under way. The world's biggest floating bridge was floated during that time frame (over actual water), with a lot of roadwork along with the new bridge. Price tag, several billion. The world's biggest vehicle tunnel was bored under downtown Seattle, a project which did have some delays, but that tunnel was dug in less time than those three simple little Fort Worth bridges have been stuck teeter tottering over dry land becoming known as the town's Yeehaw Seesaws. Miles of light rail have been added to the Seattle area transit system, with many more miles under way. Last election voters approved a $55 billion dollar bond issue to build even more light rail.

This latest Seattle Times article about public works projects spinning out of control was provoked by Washington's governor proposing a bullet train be built running from Vancouver, B.C, through Seattle, and on to Portland.

Meanwhile in Fort Worth. Well, you get the picture. Ain't exactly one of America's boomtowns. I wonder why?

Well, let's just look at this Seattle Times editorial like opinion piece Deception and delusion: It’s the name of the game for public megaprojects and ask yourself why you never read any such thing in the Star-Telegram? And further ask yourself if maybe the lack of this type criticism is one of the reasons so much of what gets done in Fort Worth gets done in such a corrupt craptacular fashion?

No accountability.

In Fort Worth you can foist a public works project on the public, without a vote, Hire the town's congresswoman's unqualified son to muck up the project, in a classic case of corrupt nepotism, with that project turning into an embarrassing boondoggle, and the local newspaper bats nary an eye. Well, there was that recent weak call from the Star-Telegram for some straight talk about the Trinity River Vision debacle.

Just check out the first few paragraphs of this article and then go read the rest of it and ask yourself why your local Fort Worth newspaper of record never publishes anything even remotely as direct, honest and responsible about anything in Fort Worth, particularly that disaster which has become America's Biggest Boondoggle....

Seattle has a checkered history with transportation projects morphing into pricey boondoggles. On one day this past week there were two perfect illustrations why.

The first came in the form of a report in this newspaper that city officials last year lowballed the costs of a downtown Seattle streetcar. Nothing new there. Only this time, the costs were lowballed again even after city planners were told they were wrong.

“You aren’t changing anything in this operating plan,” a city transit chief rebuked another official, after it had been pointed out the new streetcars would cost 50 percent more to operate than either the public, or the City Council, had been told.

Fast forward and the streetcar line in question, along First Avenue, is under construction. So it’s too late to worry about a pesky 50 percent cost overrun! Mission accomplished.

This is a classic example of what university researchers have come to call “strategic misrepresentation” — or, as you amateurs might term it, “lying.” It is one of the two main reasons big public infrastructure projects are so often delivered late and way over budget.

Simply put, the political system first lowballs the costs and timelines in order to grease the projects for approval.

The second reason was on radiant display Friday afternoon up in Vancouver, B.C. Our governor, who I like to call Sunny Jay for his effusive and often contagious enthusiasms, was on full beam when it came to a proposal to build a bullet train from Vancouver to Portland.

Now go read the rest of this Deception and delusion: It’s the name of the game for public megaprojects article...

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