Friday, April 14, 2006

I don't know if anybody else has been following the Wright is Wrong debate, but D/FW recently released a proposal to create a "truly" regional airport board that would govern all the aviation assets of North Texas. I'm not exactly sure what they mean by that, but I assume they're talking about some type of aviation board to govern all the airports, municipal, regional, national, and international, in Tarrant and Dallas counties. Sounds interesting.

But here's something more interesting: I know off the top of my head that Dallas has about 1.2 million people, Fort Worth about 600,000, Arlington about 350,000, and Irving about 250,000. Add in the dozens of smaller suburbs, and you've got a total population of almost 3 million people. When you start counting the big cities, New York (a cheater, to be explained below) has about 8 million, Los Angeles has about 5 million, Houston has about 4 million, and Phoenix and Chicago are in there somewhere. The "Metroplex" (as some people refer to the D/FW region) would rank up there with Houston, Phoenix and Chicago as dadgum big cities. Here's what they ought to do: copy New York.

So how is New York a cheater? It's actually five cities in one. In about 1898, the cities of Manhattan ("New York"), Brooklyn, Queens, the Bronx, and Staten Island got together and decided to invent a totally new form of municipal government: the borough. Now, Alaska has boroughs, but we're talking about something different here. New York City, what used to be called "Greater New York City," now consisted of five little cities and their respective counties, clustered together under one name and one municipal/county government. Each borough followed the boundaries of the county, and each borough had its own board or council or however they wanted to name it. Collectively, however, these boroughs would elect one mayor, one comptroller, etc. And one general police force would serve the whole city, meaning all five boroughs. You can see the advantage. Back in 1898, New York's population was probably much smaller than it is now, but I don't know how many people they had. Anyway, this arrangement ended the dumb (though eerily poignant) rivalry between Manhattan and Brooklyn about who was the "real" New York City. Dallas, Fort Worth, and Arlington could benefit from the same idea.

Why not merge and form a "North Texas City" or something? There's already a Texas City, so Manhattan/Brooklyn/Bronx/Queens/Staten Island's idea is out, but that's fixable. Consider Budapest (Buda's on one side of the river; Pest on the other): you could have Fort Dallas or Dalworth or (hehe) Worthlas. (You'll get it if you say it out loud enough times.) Or, hey, to take a page from science fiction, Metro City. Or maybe they could use their collective clout (we are talking about 3 million people here) to force Houston's Texas City to change its name to "Wannabe City" or something.

But I like this idea of a borough government for good ol' D/FW. I like D/FW, not as much as I like San Antonio, but I think that the area could really benefit from one big municipal government to handle all their collective issues. Then you wouldn't have to worry about airport rivalries, team rivalries (Why aren't there any well-known Fort Worth professional sports teams, even though they're all in stinkin' Arlington?), newspaper rivalry, all this other crap that's costly and interferes with good ol' l-i-v-i-n?

But alas there is a problem, the same one that keeps the unions out of Texas: Texans are rugged individualists. They view themselves as cowboys. Ain't no way, no how we gonna be hitched up withim Fort Worthians or Dallasanians or Arlingtinians or Irvingians. Plus, we like "small" government (even though the state government is about as big as a lot of countries' governments).

Maybe San Antonio and Austin will take up the idea and make "Austonio."

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