Just as rotten; Guilty, guilty, guilty

Just as rotten
From what I can tell by this week's article by Jim Schutze titled "To the rotten core" (February 3), the Dallas Observer brand of journalism is alive and well.

Mr. Schutze's "reporting" of my testimony in Mr. Lipscomb's trial is totally inaccurate and a complete fabrication. I'm not sure where Mr. Schutze was sitting in the courtroom when I testified; in fact, I'm not even sure he was in the same room.

If you truly want to share my testimony with your readers, then I challenge you to print a transcript of my testimony right next to Mr. Schutze's "characterization" of it. I would prefer that your readers know the truth, rather than the Observer's version of it.

To the rotten core indeed. This should be the new Dallas Observer motto.

Mayor Ronald Kirk

Jim Schutze responds: Somewhere in the writing and editing process, a paragraph was lost from my column. I fear that I may have lost it myself when sending different versions back and forth by computer. I should have caught the omission.

The point of the paragraph was to introduce the section that followed as a description of how the defense witnesses in the Lipscomb trial may have appeared to a panel of Amarillo jurors not versed in our local history in Dallas. The paragraph started, "Put yourself in the jurors' position. You're from outside Pampa or Borger or some place like that..."

There were several other cues in the following paragraphs to show readers I was not quoting the mayor or other witnesses. But I do see that without that introduction, the paragraphs that followed could have been read as direct representations of what the witnesses said. In the mayor's case in particular, that would have been unfair. He did not ever testify that he condoned Al Lipscomb's taking of bribes.

The mayor is a lawyer, and surely he understood that he was testifying before a jury that had not yet decided Mr. Lipscomb's guilt or innocence. Obviously, the mayor understood the intended impact on the jury of his tearful testimony that Lipscomb was "one of the finest men I have ever known." I assume Lipscomb's lawyers hoped the mayor's testimony would help persuade the jury to exonerate Lipscomb of the bribery charges against him.

It's true that I was not present when the mayor testified and relied instead on reporting to know what he said. It is also important to mention that, as a witness, the mayor was not able to be in the courtroom when the government proved Al Lipscomb took bribes.

Clearly, the adverse public reaction to the mayor's appearance on Lipscomb's behalf demonstrated that many citizens of Dallas interpreted the mayor's words as an attempt to help get the federal case against Lipscomb overturned. But the mayor is correct in saying he never condoned the taking of bribes per se, and I deeply regret that my mistake may have given some people that impression. I apologize.

Thank you so much for the refreshing double standard of journalist credibility that you, the Dallas Observer, and The Dallas Morning News so openly share. In your article "To the rotten core," you lambaste Al "crooked as a dawg's hind leg" Lipscomb, Dallas politics, and The Dallas Morning News, but you so dearly fail to include the Dallas Observer.

You talk about the bribes from the titty-bar industry and the people in it. But you won't mention any names. The Dallas Morning News did. The owner's name is Nick Rizos. He and his wife, the "virginal" Dawn Rizos, are the owners of Caligula XXI and The Lodge. Both clubs are advertised every week in the Dallas Observer.

Unfortunately, only The Lodge advertised that particular week. It is on page 120. Caligula XXI burned down. It was arson. Seems that a homeless man set fire to it after they wouldn't let him sell his jewelry there. The operative words here are "homeless" and "jewelry." These two words are just so congruous! Just how many homeless sellers of jewelry have you seen? The homeless people always offer my wife and me a selection of fine jewelry when I'm waiting for the light to change.

Maybe you remember the "virginal" Dawn stating that they were like the Cleavers on Leave it to Beaver. It was in one of your past issues of the Dallas Observer ("A woman's touch," September 9, 1999). You know, the one where she's on the front cover. My, how Wally and the Beav have changed.

Dawn: (Smiling and wearing a pearl necklace and apron) "Nick, isn't it time to bribe Al again?"

Nick: "OK (big stage wink to the camera), but I've only lived in America for the past 30 years, so I don't speak English that well." (Sound engineers add laugh track here.)

Dawn: (Leaving the room and picking up her purse and a silver tray of Tollhouse cookies) "That's OK, I'm off to the Highland Park Bridge Club. But if anybody asks about us cutting that deal with the federal prosecutors, I'll tell 'em, 'He's Greek, you know...'" (Sound engineers add laugh track here.)

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