By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
By Eric Nicholson
It was more than just the thought of losing my weekly berth in the paper--I was also losing my only opportunity to publicly vent about perceived injustices small and large; I was walking away from a generous, regular paycheck with a matching pension contribution; and I was facing the prospect of being unemployed for the first time since I barked food orders as a waitress in a Greek diner at the age of 14.
Now I was leaving work for motherhood. And it was just a matter of time, I figured, before I found myself wrestling with the poisonous snake that is The Identity Thing, The Pride Thing, The Ego Thing.
But it never happened. Not when people asked what I did for a living. Not when I found myself with nothing new or interesting to pass along to anyone about Dallas City Hall, the Dallas schools, or Michael Irvin's always engaging extracurricular activities. Not even when I dug into my husband's wallet for restaurant money or sat in those long, plodding carpool lines with the other moms who have nowhere else to be at 3 in the afternoon.
But what did you do for nine months? people asked. Try this: school lunch-line duty, toddler gymnastics classes, afternoon movies, road trips to Austin, back-yard gardening, homemade desserts. I started my five-year-old down the road to reading. I designed and sewed by hand five lion costumes for my older daughter's first-grade musical. (No small feat considering that the only two crafts I've ever mastered are potholder weaving circa 1965 and button sewing. The day last spring when I realized I'd become a regular at Cloth World was, I assure you, a frightening moment in my life.)
But my greatest accomplishment by far was kids' soccer. Last winter, when I couldn't get my five-year-old onto a popular soccer team because it was full, I hauled off with another similarly frustrated mom, and we created our own team. Now in its second season, ours is one of the few teams at the Town North YMCA coached by women, and I can satisfactorily report that last weekend, when we found ourselves up against the hotshot team we couldn't get our daughters on, we hung in like tigers, pulling off a 0-0 game.
Nonetheless, there have been times when I've found myself missing my column voice.
There was the Paul Fielding trial. And there was the all-too-obvious lack of a trial for Fielding's sidekick, Dallas city councilman Al Lipscomb, who, unlike Fielding, figured out a long time ago how to play silent and dumb while taking people's money for council votes. Then there was the Rudy Kos trial, which The Dallas Morning News covered so tepidly that at times you would have thought it was just a case about a guy with a foot fetish.
And, of course, when Yvonne Gonzalez began gleefully whacking people's heads off in her new role as Dallas schools superintendent, I had wished I was in there with her, rooting out corruption. When she turned out to be the corruption, it was all I could do to stay focused on soccer games.
But the arena deal was not so easily overlooked. Not only was it a shamefully one-sided deal, but nobody seemed willing to say so. Although council members Donna Blumer and Bob Stimson are important exceptions--and a grassroots anti-arena group is starting to show signs of life--The Morning News has barely noted their concerns.
The newspaper appears totally uninterested in disproving the Mayor's No. 1 Fiction--that the hotel and car rental taxes hit only out-of-towners. And despite the fact that the city of Los Angeles just announced that it's building a new arena with virtually 100 percent private funding, The News' arena reporter, Todd Gillman, hasn't written a word about it. "I hope I haven't come across as a booster," Gillman said recently in a roundtable discussion of the Dallas arena proposal on live radio.
Gosh, no, Todd, why would anyone think that? Perhaps it's because your employer has shamelessly editorialized in favor of an arena deal--any arena deal--since early 1994, way before the public had a clue this was going to become the top priority at City Hall.
Sometimes it seems as though everybody's gone mad when it comes to this issue. The council vote three weeks ago to push ahead with the arena deal was ludicrous. There wasn't enough information presented to the council even to make a decision like that. We didn't have so much as a picture of what we were getting for our $125 million. And although we're the owners of the arena, we have no say whatsoever over the design or construction. As of today, we don't even have any idea where it's going to be built (although I understand that Perot is perfectly willing to tell Hunt to go screw himself, which is the one part of this deal that I like).
Shooting in the dark with taxpayers' money doesn't seem to bother our elected officials one bit. The majority of the council is inexplicably brain-dead on this issue. Many didn't even bother asking questions about the current deal before they voted in favor of it at a meeting on October 6.