Buzz likes to gamble, and we would hereby like to put serious scratch on D magazine's publisher and editor, Wick Allison, if he were ever to rumble with Belo Chairman Robert Decherd. Not that Allison is a badass. In fact, we suspect the only thing he's ever tussled seriously with is an irate shopper during the 70-percent-off sale at the Orvis outlet.
But our money is on the Wickster not because he's an outstanding pugilist, but because Decherd is--not to put too fine a point on this--a monstrous weenie. How do we know? You got five hours? OK, you only want the latest example...here it is.
A few months ago, Allison met with a bunch of downtown muckety-mucks to discuss ways in which the city's core could be promoted. Let people know about cool spots like City Tavern and Umlaut, tell people about how young professionals no longer seem to be scared of buildings more than four stories high. Allison suggested the downtown group sponsor a page of downtown party pics every month, showing that, yes, people really do go into the central city for reasons other than to pay parking tickets.
The bigwigs dug the idea and sent a letter off to other suits who are concerned with such matters, including Mayor Laura Miller's "Inside the Loop" committee. The chairman of that committee is none other than Bobby D.
Quick journalism lesson. If you get an idea from some other journalist because you sit on a civic committee, you treat it just like you got the idea from a freelance writer pitching it to you. In other words, no matter how much you like it, you don't steal the idea. You don't use your position of influence to take ideas you wouldn't be privy to unless you happened to be on that committee. If you do that, you are what Buzz politely terms a sleazebag.
You see what came next. Decherd told his minions to take the idea and pitch it to those same downtown powerbrokers. Through a spokesman, Decherd declined to comment. But he obviously knew about the D plan, because Allison received a copy of his pitch letter for it in the mail stamped "Received, May 21, 2003, Robert W. Decherd." A handwritten note on that letter said, "Not only do we need to get ahead of D on this...[but] this was sent to Robert who [said] TDMN Guide Downtown page is much better sponsorship."
"It's a violation of public trust," Allison says. "Now, I understand that this city was built on self-interest. That's fine. But there is a difference between self-interest and self-dealing. To take a public position and use it for private gain--I was appalled."
He shouldn't have been. As Momma always said, weenie is as weenie does. Bet on it.