By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
Out of sight, out of mind: There's a deeper issue behind the East Dallas campaign to drive out the "trailer trash" ("Board of Scrooges," by Jim Schutze, December 21), and it's one that exposes what is probably capitalism's most grievous flaw and one that may ultimately prove fatal to this kind of economic system. Adam Smith, the great capitalistic theorist, thought he had the problem hammered in "A Theory of Moral Sentiments" (along with Smith's The Wealth of Nations, one of the bibles of capitalism). Smith argued that the wealthy will always take care of the poor because their consciences won't be able to weather the discomfort of routinely seeing real want and deprivation up close. What Smith couldn't know is how effective the rich and the reasonably well off would become at avoiding anyone in poverty or genuinely modest circumstances. Call it the cocooning of the privileged. This isolation of sensitivities and sensibilities is achieved by such means as gated communities, megachurches, gerrymandering the homeless--and, of course, banishing the trailer trash. Too bad Adam Smith isn't around today; a sensitive soul in many ways, he'd probably be hard at work on a book titled "A Theory of Moral Wealth."
Eyesore and more: Schutze's story on the Ash Creek Mobile Home Park hearing before the Board of Adjustment has more holes than a shotgun target.
He says the 13 White Rock Hills neighborhoods represented by Delores Wolf want the park residents to be homeless. He overlooks Wolf's sworn testimony at the hearing regarding her efforts to locate two low-rent mobile home parks for those whose trailers can be moved and two nearby low-rent apartment complexes for those with trailers that cannot be moved.
He indicates that many of the 154 police reports from the park over the past 3 1/2 years are from outsiders in the creek adjacent to the park. If so, why didn't absentee park owner Steve Crossett or park manager Evelyn Rangel offer testimony regarding their efforts to stop this?
Jim, do you recall code inspector Carl Evans' testimony that in one visit he found raw sewage, exposed wiring, two mobile homes illegally on one lot, water leaks, unsafe electrical hookups, rotted wood, broken windows and litter at the park? Maybe you feel that the alleged creek people are also responsible for the 82 code complaints over the past 3 1/2 years.
Schutze says the appeal of the park is the low rent. Hell, Jim, almost any landlord can offer very low rents if he is allowed to disregard health, safety and zoning ordinances! Maybe the Board of Adjustment and the complaining neighbors aren't the Scrooges in this tale.
Divided we stand: As a resident of The Enclave at White Rock, I want to let you know that there is a group of us that were/are strongly opposed to presenting that petition to the Board of Adjustment. It was far from a unanimous decision on the part of the homeowners association to do so.
We moved to the neighborhood in the spring, far after the wheels had been set in motion to have the trailers removed. I think you would be deeply saddened by some of the e-mails that floated around our Yahoo group describing the park and allegations of behavior about the people who live in it. In an offline e-mail, I was personally told that I had to "agree to disagree" on the topic of the petition by the person who constructed it, and it was inferred that I should stop further communications regarding my dissenting opinion. There were several of us who thought if anything at all should be done, we should help them clean it up and let the powers that be handle the rest. Unfortunately, that petition was going to be filed regardless of what some of us said, and I'm honestly not sure if we were in the majority or minority. I don't think we as a group did enough to try to stop it, and I regret it.
I don't feel like those of us in the Enclave with a dissenting opinion were represented at all in your article or by "our" homeowner's association. The article portrayed ALL of us as the haves picking on the have-nots, and that was not the case at all. Nobody wants the families in Ash Creek to be exposed to raw sewage or electrical wires as the inspection stated but, as an affluent community, together we had the ability to handle the situation differently. There have been huge, heated debates within our community that I am sure have permanently divided us.
Treed by the Old Farts
Rent party: Say it ain't so, Sam, but come clean if it's true. Did you get scooped on the reason Trees was closing by the old-fart Dallas Morning News? I read your article in this week's Observer about Trees closing ("Is This On?", by Sam Machkovech, December 22), but you didn't offer a specific reason. Two days later, I read in the DMN that it's because of a back-rent dispute between the EC and the landlord, with quotes from the EC confirming this. Now I expect the Observer to be the authoritative voice on local music venues, but when something like this happens, it makes me wonder if you're doing your homework. Please tell me you found this out before you read it in the DMN.
Editor's note: The EC wouldn't comment on the back-rent dispute when the Observer went to press that week.