By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
Not our man
Your recent story about John Spano ["Meltdown man," July 31] mentioned Sebring Corporation. You referred to a deposition in which Spano claimed to be a "partner" in Sebring. This is not the case. Spano is an investor in Sebring, but he owns less than 3 percent of the company's stock. He sat on Sebring's board for a time, but was expelled. At no time did Spano play a role in the management of the business.
Neal R. Meissner
Sebring Capital Corporation
As I read "Slip sliding away" [July 24], I am appalled by the complacency and arrogance of our public officials--people who are paid by our tax dollars.
The article says that City Engineer Steve Parker "will ask for more flood control funds, [but] he doubts that any of it will go to the Barneses if it's approved."
Parker adds: "He's on the list. Will he get funded? Not likely." Has Parker unilaterally decided that the Barnes property is not worth the city's attention or money? Why?
It seems to me that Mr. Barnes, the homeowner whose back yard is slipping away, has gone through civilized and proper channels in his hope to get help from the city. It's a shame that the people at City Hall think of him as an annoyance because he keeps returning to them with more questions. Perhaps if they had a little courtesy and straight answers, Mr. Barnes would have been spared the frustration he has suffered.
My dad was the subject of the "Slip sliding away" article. Yes, he has made numerous trips to the city offices in search of answers. As you see other homes on the creek being fixed that are not in as bad of shape or that do not fit the priority list as defined to you, and your house is not even being considered, wouldn't you ask questions? As you see not just inches but yards of the property wash away, wouldn't you raise a question? And when city officials can't give you straight answers, wouldn't you keep asking?
The previous engineers and Councilman Larry Duncan told my dad that my grandmother's property should have been on the list and that it was overlooked on the original report. At the time of the report, the yard appeared stable, they said. But we have years of pictures to dispute that. After admitting a mistake had been made, they still seem unwilling to correct the situation. Engineer Lloyd Denman says it is the homeowners' responsibility to repair/protect their own property. If that was the case, why did the city repair 20 out of 25 homes on our street? Did those 20 homeowners protect their property?
This is not a case of sour grapes because my grandmother's property didn't get a wall and the neighbors' did. In fact, we are happy that they don't have to go through what my parents have been through! This is a case of the city telling my parents that a mistake was made, but that nothing can be done because there is no money. We are now on a list to possibly get something done in 2002. How much more damage will be done between now and then? How much property will be lost that could have been saved?
Missing in action
I formerly enjoyed the Dallas Observer each week...er...parts of it at least. But nowadays I don't get to see it much. You see, it's no longer made available in my downtown office building like it used to be every week. Maybe it has something to do with the fact that attorney Brian Loncar is in this building...ya think? I guess the property manager is more interested in keeping BL happy than in distributing the Observer. Go figure.
Congrats to Tim Schuller. His piece on the Holmes Brothers' new record, Promised Land, and his recapping of their career was pretty much right on target ["Holmes style," April 24]. It showed some real conscientious reporting.
Too few music writers take the time to get the history and facts right before sharing their point of view. The Holmes' music is a rich, distinctly American stew, and it was good to see its origins so comprehensively accounted for in print. I consider myself fortunate to have played a role in their unfolding career, and it's gratifying that folks in Dallas seem to have gotten a good representation of not only their stirring music, but their intriguing lives as well.
Again, glad to see an accurate piece about my friends...but about that "weepy" pedal steel and "tacked on" horn part...best regards.
Dreaming of Dea
Many thanks to Matt Weitz for the article he wrote about me ["A dream deferred," July 31]. However, during that interview there were a couple of things that we failed to discuss that I think should be known. My wife Deanna (Dea) has worked hand-in-hand with me over the past 36 years not only in music, but as a wage earner and provider. She had her own professional career as an executive secretary at Texas Instruments until she retired in 1991.
Dea has also written many songs that I have recorded, including two on the new CD: "Who Stole The Marker From The Grave of Bonnie Parker?" and "Goodbye Priscilla." I have always been a family-oriented person, and I'm extremely proud of Dea and our sons, Steve, Shawn, and Dusty. Over the past 17 years, I have toured in various parts of the world at least 15 times, and Dea has always been by my side. Hopefully, we'll be doing the same thing 17 years from now.
Worthy of office
Concerning your article "Executive Sweet" [July 31], I am compelled to ask you how much your office cost to have renovated when you have one to fix up? Is it not reasonable to expect money to be spent on a space to work in that is pleasing and safe?
DISD needs to spend some money on fixing up its real estate, and if you want to accuse Yvonne Gonzalez of anything, then accuse her of being overly careful in disclosing information that you are misconstruing.
As a parent with a child in DISD for several years, I can say that I'm glad we have someone in the superintendent's office who doesn't back down when challenged on the real issues of teaching our children. Everything else is mean, cruel, ugly, and useless exercises in getting attention diverted from educating our children. All this article does is divert even more attention from that goal.
So you go work as hard as Gonzalez is--and as many hours--and do it in the old office she had and see if you are as good and as productive as she has been. She has already changed my child's school for the better. I met our new principal today and can say he is very busy getting his priorities and our school ready for the school year. Way to go Yvonne.
Rose by any name
Are there two Rose Farleys who write for your paper? Recently, Farley detailed how a large cement company with political access and deep pockets battled a group of concerned local citizens over the burning of hazardous waste ["Ill wind blowing," June 12]. She then analyzed the possible long-term health hazards from exposure to the waste emitted by the plant as well as some already apparent effects on a few of its neighbors ["Something in the air," June 19].
A couple of weeks later, Rose Farley writes in "O little town of Bethel-sham" [July 17] (Not too hard to figure out where her sentiments lie) that the town is "a ploy" by a few migrant suburbanites with "their bucolic visions, barbecue grills, and fancy cars" who recently have been buying land around the area and now want to deny some of the local farmers (by implication, the "true" custodians of the area) the right to sell their land at inflated prices to the North Texas Cement Company.
The rest of the article reads like a particularly vitriolic version of Green Acres as the two sides engage in a "good old country pissing match" even though the opponents have no realistic hope of stopping North Texas Cement Company from building.
While the article is cleverly written, it misses the most obvious point; common sense dictates that the people of Bethel should be concerned about the cement plant. The plant will produce huge amounts of particulate matter, which, as Farley points out in her TXI article, a recent Harvard Medical study tied to increases in respiratory illness such as asthma. Looming on the horizon--only a license away--is the specter of burning toxic waste.
In terms of land, it will be 50 percent larger than the TXI plant and have an estimated life span of well over a century. Furthermore, Farley misleadingly writes of Bethel as if it were located in a largely desolate area. Whitewright--one third the size of Midlothian--is actually only one mile away. There are a number of other towns in a six- to eight-mile radius from Bethel that would amount to a few more thousand with potentially a direct exposure to the plant's emissions. And the area is growing rapidly.
While one might debate some of the opponents' methods, can we question their motivation, namely concern that the proposed cement plant will reduce the quality of life for the vast majority of people who live in the area? Furthermore, these people do not have the financial resources to gain political access through the usual "respectable" methods of backdoor lobbying and lush campaign means to stop construction of the plant.
I regret that Farley chose to take such a smug and dismissive view of the events and participants behind the creation of Bethel. In doing so, the article fails to acknowledge an obvious point; the people who live in and near Bethel should be concerned about the building of the North Texas Cement Company plant, and they should not be ridiculed for seeking legal means to stop it. Somewhere in the two weeks between her TXI report and this one, Farley seems to have undergone quite a transformation...unless there are two Rose Farleys.
I never thought I'd write to defend the INS bureaucracy--which frustrates the public and its own hard-working members--but the article "Borderline Case" [July 24] by Rebeca Rodriguez contained so many misleading statements of immigration law that it might do more harm than good. The article tells of a young woman with a severely ill U.S. citizen child in the process of obtaining a green card through (I presume this, and it is important to know through whom) her permanent resident husband's filing in 1993. It is stated that the INS is simply backlogged on her case and is only now working on 1992 cases.
This has nothing to so with INS bureaucracy. The delay is caused by a quota system passed by Congress that limits the number of people who can get permanent residence per year. INS cannot process her petition (both before and after the latest changes) even if they pulled her file up front and placed it on the commissioner's desk. And while the changes in the seven-year residency for "suspension of deportation" do hurt her chances (which do appear strong), it is reckless to suggest that "she would be able" to stop a deportation under that provision, because it is "discretionary" and an immigration judge could still say no. Further, it requires her to turn herself in for arrest and deportation proceedings, a severe risk in itself.
Additionally, the article appears to imply that new legislation requires Maricela to leave. Now, unless she benefited from a special program called Family Unity Voluntary Departure, which the article does not state, she always has been in a status that required her to leave immediately. That's what it means to be an "illegal alien." The new law simply puts punishing delays on reentry on those who wait until after September to leave, whether or not "they get caught." Finally, the article states that Maricela is halfway to U.S. citizenship. She is going for lawful residency, not citizenship. It may take an additional five or more years after residency before applying for citizenship is an option.
Ironically, one of the few good changes proposed in the recent laws was to speed up the quotas for those in Maricela's category. This was defeated because it was part of a larger, unpopular set of limits on legal immigration. Another irony is that the current provisions putting punitive delays on her processing actually do punish her more for complying with the law and leaving rather than "laying low" until her quota number comes up. But that's the price we pay for our strange cyclical hysterias about immigrants, which result in legislation that is only a compromise with reality.
I thoroughly enjoy reading the Dallas Observer. I rarely go a week without reading the magazine. In a recent volume of the magazine [July 17], I saw something that really puzzled and upset me. On page 68, there is an advertisement for a bar called Martini Ranch. In this ad, there is a baby holding a martini in one hand and a cigar in the other hand. I was really angered by this poor and tacky slogan for a bar! I understand that this place should have an advertisement, but not in such poor taste!
As a non-drinker, I am very sensitive about placing kids in ads that have to do with alcohol and smoking. I thought that the Observer editors and/or staff members had good, sound judgment, especially when it comes to sensitive issues like this one. I am not at all pleased with this particular ad and would like to see someone with "brains" to realize the message this ad conveys. Like I said, I love the magazine, but if I keep seeing ads like this, I will stop reading it. You know it's bad enough to see young kids addicted to alcohol and drugs, and what this ad does is promotes and/or draws even younger children to that ugly lifestyle. I should say that I'm a recovering alcoholic. This is why it bothered me so much.