Debbie M. Price
Send not to
learn for whom
the broom comes
I meant to write this column last week, but other things got in the way. That is the way it is with life--things get in the way of things. While some things can be handled quickly--a pink slip here or measured tongue lash there--at the end of the day, still more things always seem to be left over.
As I write this, I have on my desk a pile of things, all seeming to need my immediate attention. Something is always getting in the way of what is important, until something else pulls us up short.
Which is why I have been planning to write this column.
Of all the Disney characters, my favorites have always been the dancing brooms in Fantasia. I hope the dancing brooms would like me too, should we ever meet.
For the past few weeks, we here at the Star-Telegram have often felt like dancing brooms. We have been overwhelmed with plans to expand our newspaper, which is not a "failing newspaper" no matter what anyone tells you, and what do they know anyway?
We--well, certainly me--have spent more hours than mere mortals can even imagine, attempting to develop nothing less than a complete redefinition of journalism in the free world as we know it. Frankly, I don't know if anyone else in the industry would have been up to the task.
And I do it all for you, Arlington.
We have made some mistakes in our haste to improve the newspaper--colossal, embarrassing mistakes. One day, because of a production error, we called the U.N. General Secretary a "gas-filled, opium-snarfing chipmunk."
Things happen. Heads roll. Life goes on.
At the time, things may seem like the end of the world. Until we stop and consider what is truly important. Like our families, our faith, our friends.
With journalism, that's been the case for too long, which is why the Star-Telegram is announcing its new Find Waldo in The Weather Map Contest.
When I was a little girl, my parents always taught me that the joy was in the search, the quest its own reward. Is that not so true even today?
Readers who find Waldo in the weather map will be eligible for free passes to Disneyland, and will also receive a free sucker from my personal stash.
You like suckers, don't you? And you'll like our newspaper. Before Disney's brooms come for me.
We're still Arlington's only real daily newspaper
By Joe Cutbirth
Fort Worth Star-Telegram
The Fort Worth Star-Telegram, still the only daily newspaper serving Arlington, plans to vigorously expand its commitment to the 56th largest city in the United States of America, Star-Telegram President and Publisher Rich Connor announced Tuesday.
The paper will host free weekly barbecues, offer hot air balloon rides to longtime subscribers, and pay every reader's parking tickets during the month of April, Connor said. "Newspapers must be creative to survive," he added. "We know what Arlingtonians expect from their newspaper, and we plan to deliver."
The efforts are not related to the recent startup of another almost-daily newspaper in the area, Connor said. Rather, they reflect the Star-Telegram's "historical commitment to our friends and neighbors in Arlington, the Gateway to Dalworthington Gardens."
To strengthen the paper's ties with Arlingtonians, all remaining Star-Telegram writers and editors will be required to perform 20 hours a week of volunteer service in Arlington, such as delivering meals to the elderly or picking up roadside litter.
"They will do it. They will smile," said Debbie Price, Star-Telegram vice president and executive editor.
Leading by example, Connor himself recently volunteered to drive youths from an Arlington recreation center to their weekly clogging class. Price has volunteered to counsel suicidal journalists.
"Arlington, we'll be there for you," Connor said.
In addition, the paper intends to expand its coverage of Arlington, including comprehensive Little League scores, local Luby's lunch specials, and weekly tips on swimming-pool maintenance.
Because the paper's staff has dwindled in recent months, Connor said, Arlington civic and business leaders will be invited to cover themselves by submitting stories for publication. "This is an opportunity for us to formalize our longstanding efforts to be receptive to the community we cover," Connor said.
The paper will also attempt to become more interactive with its readers. Arlington subscribers will be able to earn special awards and bonuses under a soon-to-be created Star-Telegram Frequent Reader Program.
Households purchasing a one-year subscription to the paper will receive a case of Skoal and a coupon good for one free obituary (subject to availability of space). Readers can also win passes to Disneyland by finding Waldo in the weather map. (See related column, this page.)
"No one practices journalism the way we plan to practice journalism," Connor said.
(More on US on Page 2)
Castration called 'Good for Arlington'
Area lawmakers, leaders pledge no mercy on crime
By Jackie Koszczuk
Fort Worth Star-Telegram
WASHINGTON--Responding to a "creeping sense of unease" that has gripped Arlington for the past several months, Congressman Martin Frost announced Wednesday that he will introduce legislation toughening penalties for criminals caught in Arlington.
"No longer will the 56th largest city in the United States of America be held hostage by con artists, parking violators, and shoddy lawn men," Frost said at a morning news conference. "This community and this Democrat will not be soft on crime."
Under his proposed bill, Frost said, suspicious men driving black pickup trucks will be subject to castration on the spot if stopped by police. Castration would also be mandated for real-estate developers suspected of using fraudulent appraisals to artificially boost the price of land, and 7-Eleven clerks who underfill Slurpees.
Trials will be optional, and any seven registered voters may administer penalties under what Frost is calling his "Ounce of Prevention" legislation.
"This is not about my re-election," Frost said. "I hear Americans saying they are sick of crime, and it's time we take bold steps." Large defense contractors will be exempt from all provisions of the proposed legislation, Frost said.
Although several civil-liberties groups whined about Frost's proposals, Arlington leaders hailed it as a "get-tough" approach that will help keep Arlington's streets sleepy.
"Castration? Could be the best thing that ever happened to Arlington," said Mayor Richard Greene.
Although Arlington has long thought of itself as a peaceful suburb, leaders say, it is now a big, really important city, and must take pains to avoid the pitfalls of its prosperity.
"Already, word on the street is that California gangs are moving into Arlington, selling counterfeit Ann Taylor clothes and Movado watches from vans with expired inspection stickers," said one police investigator. "We're big. We're fat. We're rich. And we have to be careful."
Frost cited a recent instance of a man wearing a top hat and driving a green Winnebago who bilked Arlingtonians out of thousands of dollars by promising to make it rain. "He was enticing our citizens to violate our Master Flood Control Plan," Frost said. "And people are weak. They can be hustled into doing things they may regret later.
"But give that guy a swift swipe with a well-honed machete, and see if he comes back here anytime soon,"
Local woman dies,
By Ken Dilanian
Fort Worth Star-Telegram
An Arlington woman mysteriously died Tuesday while working in her front yard. Agnes Smith suffered numerous potentially fatal injuries, although there was no apparent cause for her death. The case has mystified police.
Police investigators conceded that they have no direct evidence linking Mrs. Smith's death to a red Range Rover found disabled in her front yard. They admitted it is possible that Mrs. Smith might have been struck by falling space debris. "You mean like satellite pieces? Yeah, right," said one police investigator.
Police said they are also baffled by several clogging shoes found near Mrs. Smith's body. They hope members of a Chem-Lawn crew that was working in the neighborhood may be able to provide some explanation.
"You don't ordinarily think of lawn men as cloggers," one investigator said.
Mrs. Smith, 54, had recently moved to Arlington, the Gateway to Kennedale. She was known to neighbors as a quiet woman who didn't talk much. "She was well-liked," one neighbor said.
A native of Grand Prairie, Mrs. Smith told friends she moved to Arlington after growing weary of the "big-city hustle and bustle."
An avid fly fisher, Mrs. Smith had been a personal friend of Marlon Perkins. She built several fish stock ponds in her backyard, and was often seen wandering the neighborhood in orange hip waders.
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Internationally, Mrs. Smith was best known as the vivacious redhead whose sensational intimate relationship with Catholic Bishop
(More on SMITH on Page 2)
** On the western flank of Dallas, a great newspaper war rages. Troops
dispatched by the rapacious Dallas Morning News have invaded Arlington, bent on conquest of lucrative advertising territory long held by the vulnerable Fort Worth Star-Telegram.Three weeks have passed since the first shots were fired, and the Dallas Observer thought outsiders might like a taste of the battle. Staff Writer David Pasztor parodies the journalistic offerings now available in Arlington.
A warning to slower readers and Arlingtonians: This is a joke.