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Rock bottom

Jim Schutze's article regarding the closing of the pool at Arcadia Park ("The shallow end," April 27) hit home with me like no other. Long have I spoken to others outside this city about the ills that are inflicted on it by a city council with a personal agenda, and long have I disparaged those same council members for taking positions with city government to further themselves, or their own political ambitions -- or, to be frank, to just make themselves look good in front of their ass-kissing, rich neighbors. It's sickening.

I was appalled at the details of the meeting in which [Ralph] Isenberg was vilified for trying to do something honorable: help inner-city kids who need it. I was not surprised at the fact that once the media was made privy to what was going on, the tides turned against Mr. Isenberg. The council members do not live in those neighborhoods. They don't even know where they are on a city map. None of them was forced to swim in a poorly funded municipal swimming pool when they were kids -- if they were, they've long forgotten any humbling that can come from such an experience and decided only to focus on what's important to them: the funneling of any outside grants or money to their own districts for their own good.

What Isenberg failed to see, but Mr. Schutze so eloquently pointed out, was the fact that those inner-city kids don't mean a damn thing to the members of the city council. Ron Kirk for damn sure doesn't care about them, but we all knew that. As for Mr. [Dwaine] Caraway, pointing out the fact that he never turns to his wife to handle anything -- well, sure, except for getting him appointed to the park board. When I think of those holier-than-thou and whiter-than-thou council members wielding power that in no way benefits the children or the underprivileged of this city, well, it makes me long for the days of public stonings.

By the way, Mr. Schutze -- there is a way to get Mrs. Baggett to stand there in that park and explain what happened to those kids all summer long -- but you and I would go to prison for it. Thank you for a touching piece, Jim. You spoke up for kids who need to be spoken for, just like Mr. Isenberg, and Laura Miller tried to. I only wish that we lived in a city where it would do some good.

Chris Gilbreath
Via e-mail

Laura Miller just doesn't get it. In her attempt to privately fund the opening of southern Dallas wading pools, Ms. Miller committed several political blunders -- blunders which, if left uncorrected, will ensure the failure of her noble cause.

To help her deal with a recalcitrant city council and mayor, I offer the following "15 ways to Political and Economic Victory in Dallas."

1. Hire a high-priced, out-of-state swimming pool consultant. Better yet, hire someone from a foreign country -- say Australia or England.

2. Form a "Breakfast Club" which meets at some fancy resturant on Wednesday mornings. Hobnob incessantly with this group, whose slogan is "you scratch my back..."

3. Hire a big-time, high-dollar p.r. firm like Rob Allyn's political consulting firm to sell the idea to the public. Have Rob lean on Roger Staubach to be chairman of the effort.

4. Devise a way to put this item on the ballot. Dallas taxpayers will vote yes on just about anything.

5. Even though Ms. Miller's request is simply to accept a free grant from local companies, she must find a way to use large amounts of tax revenue for the venture -- perhaps by hiring expensive financial consultants to manage the money.

6. Negotiate to sell the pools to some bigwig downtown developer who can then charge poolgoers a small fee for entrance.

7. Threaten to move the wading pools to some other city if the request is denied.

8. Commission another study.

9. With both studies in hand, hire a New York selection firm to choose between the two.

10. Put the mayor's wife on the board of directors of all firms involved.

11. After all of it is approved, hire the city manager at a huge salary increase. Put him to work organizing something around the office.

12. Offer to have the city pay for all the roads and land improvements.

13. Grant tax abatements for 20 years.

14. Allow bigwig downtown developer to receive tax-free income from parking, concessions, and naming rights.

15. Allow said developer to sell stake in pools at an enormous windfall profit -- all because of taxpayer-funded improvements.

Well, that should get Ms. Miller started on her way to have the wading pools opened through the generosity of private funding. I just hope that one day she'll learn how to play ball with the good ol' boys downtown.

David Rucker
Dallas

It's the money, honey

I am writing in regard to your article about the District 8 Dallas City Council race ("Damaged goods," April 27). Your article seems to portray James Fantroy as a two-bit hustler, and this judgment against him seems a little harsh when his "crimes" are put into a societal perspective. Yes, Mr. Fantroy seems to have had his share of brushes with the law. But in America, the land where an unjust system has given something like seven out of 10 black men jail time or probation, it is amazing that he has made it this far unscathed. Not only has James Fantroy managed to stay out of jail but he is a small business owner capable of financing his own city council campaign.

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