By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
Weirdness All Around
The biggest bigot: Wednesday, September 22, 2004, was a day of weird circumstances: In the morning, I was in the Dallas City Hall council chambers, with other members of the Senior Affairs Commission, hoping that the final vote on the 2004-'05 budget would keep ours intact. I didn't feel particularly worried because, on several occasions, council members had expressed their support for our interests and modest budget requests. What was weird was when an African-American woman was recognized to speak: It was Betty Culbreath, formerly administrative assistant to County Commissioner John Wiley Price. In a non-combative, conciliatory tone she mildly berated the council for the "racist, racist, racist" verbiage she had been hearing. She thought it was inappropriate and destructive. She also seemed distressed that many of the "racist, racist, racist" comments seemed to be aimed at Mayor Laura Miller. Considering her background with Mr. Price, I was so pleased to hear her plead for a less "racist, racist, racist" attitude in the chambers that, after she had returned to her seat, I went over to thank her.
On my way out of City Hall, I got a copy of the latest Dallas Observer. I opened it to Letters to the Editor and, in keeping with the weirdness, found a letter from Commissioner Price (September 23), who I believe is one of Dallas' best-known racists, anti-Semites and anti-Latino bigots! Naturally, he had something to relate Mayor Miller, whom he despises, with racism: "Unfortunately, any time that an African-American--elected, appointed or otherwise--attacks this mayor and council by raising the issue of race, everyone wants to forget Dallas' dirty and disfigured past." If one cares to look into Dallas' "dirty and disfigured past," Mr. Price's name would be very prominent. The last time I saw him was when the chamber was filled with African-Americans protesting the firing of police Chief Bolton and blaming Mayor Miller. Mr. Price was sitting in the very front row on the extreme right, beautifully coiffured and dressed to the nines. I think he was waiting and watching to see Mayor Miller collapse in frustration and fear; a beaten Jewish woman in tears. She disappointed him by being calm, cool, collected and in complete control.
Does Mr. Price remember picketing Mayor Miller's home with his Warriors carrying a sign that called Mayor Miller a whore and filled with penis envy? Does Mr. Price remember picketing Parkland hospital with his Warriors, trying to get rid of Jaime Ramon, a Latino attorney on the hospital board? Was he the one calling Mr. Ramon a "coconut" and holding the sign that read "the boy has got to go...back to Mexico"? Does Mr. Price remember when Khallid Muhammad, one of Louis Farrakhan's elite supporters, came to Dallas to make a most virulent and despicable anti-white and anti-Semitic speech? He should; he was the master of ceremonies.
Mr. Price is not a peacemaker. Mr. Price is not a Mahatma Ghandi or a Martin Luther King Jr. They believed in peaceful resistance. Mr. Price, on the other hand, is an inciter, a believer in active resistance. He apparently believes that racial and religious friction will overcome the racial disparities that exist to this day. Mr. Price is a prominent figure in "Dallas' dirty and disfigured past."
Dr. Sydney Kay
Bureaucrats From Hell
Get to work: Jim Bryant's story of city incompetence makes me sick ("City vs. Citizen," by Jim Schutze, September 16). There are possibly thousands of homes and businesses in Dallas in various states of disrepair, but for some reason no one acts on that. Recently, it was reported that Dallas was owed nearly $100 million in unpaid property taxes, yet the city council wanted to increase taxes again. I guess the logic there is that they might as well screw the law-abiding as take the trouble to go after the scofflaws. When some property owners can act with impunity upon receiving notices from the city but Jim Bryant is nagged and persecuted for 25 years, then there is something seriously wrong here that won't be solved by re-reading the "Dallas at the Tipping Point" report. City employees and elected officials need to get over their love affair with themselves and go to work.
Profound incompetence: Jim Schutze wrote a good article, but there were some additional questions that he could have asked.
First, who has been assessed property taxes on 319 Starr St. during the past 25 years? If the taxes are 25 years in arrears, then why hasn't the city, DISD or county seized the house?
Second, when anyone with property dies, their property goes through probate, regardless of whether there was a will. After Elizabeth Bryant died on November 18, 1977, how did the probate court dispose of 319 Starr St.?
It sounds like Jim Schutze just scratched the surface of truly profound local government incompetence.
Our tax money at work: The old joke about the world's biggest lie--"I'm from the government. I'm here to help you"--is an understatement. As you can see from Mr. Bryant's ordeal, we are nothing but wallets to be milked. Governments think what we earn is THEIR money. "City services" is becoming oxymoronic.
But don't get me wrong--I'm not bitter.