Taking sides


We suppose it might be wrong, ethically speaking, for a newspaper person to help raise money for one side in a heated political issue. But when the issue is raising money to help keep public swimming pools open for poor kids, who in their right minds could be against that? (Certain Dallas City Council members don't count. We said "in their right minds.")

So ethics, shmethics: Dallas Observer columnist Robert Wilonsky will be at City Hall Plaza on Saturday for a "Save Our Pools Party" being organized in part by Councilwoman Laura Miller. Wilonsky and Miller will be targets in a dunking booth set up to help raise money for pools in Arcadia Park in Oak Cliff and Wheatley Park in southern Dallas that were closed by the city because they don't meet state health requirements. (Buzz was going to suggest that Wilonsky paint his shaved head red and white so he looks like a fishing bobber, but that would be crass, so we won't.)

The party's organizers, which include council members Donna Blumer, Leo Chaney, John Loza, and Steve Salazar, along with Dallas Park and Recreation Board member Ralph Isenberg and "Save Our Pools" founder Tim Daniels, hope to raise at least some of the $50,000 Miller says is needed to keep the two pools open. Wilonsky and Miller, a former Observer columnist herself, have won many friends with their gentle, heartfelt critiques of city government and local music, so we're not sure who would actually pay money to dunk them -- unless someone puts live piranhas in the water. Mayor Ron Kirk and Hellafied Funk Crew ought to be worth about two grand each at the dunking booths, Buzz figures. We bet they throw like sissies.

Of course, none of this may matter. You may have missed it if you read The Dallas Morning News, but the city council refused last week to reconsider opening the pools, even if enough private donors come through. "Sending checks is not going to open these pools," the News quoted Mayor Kirk in the one-paragraph story printed in a column of crime briefs.

But what the heck. Go to City Hall Plaza at 11 a.m. Saturday anyway, or check out www.saveourpools.com for more details. Even if the city won't take your money for the pools, maybe they can put it to good use, perhaps by combining it with the $2 million anonymous donation pledged last year to build a fancy new highway bridge over the Trinity River.

This blows

Bob Dylan was wrong. You do need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows, and not just any old weatherman will do -- at least not at the Morning News.

"Just a reminder: When covering Texas weather stories, we should check with Channel 8's team for quotes. They're generally more tuned in than either Weather Data [sic] or the NWS," Morning News managing editor Stuart Wilk wrote in an e-mail to two of the paper's editors last month. WeatherData Inc. is a company that provides weather summaries and graphics to the Morning News and other newspapers. The NWS? That's the National Weather Service: You know, the government meteorological agency.

Which of the three, counting Channel 8, do you trust to tell you in your morning newspaper whether it rained yesterday, or to offer that tricky Dallas summer forecast? (Hot! Dry!)

Why, Channel 8, of course. That's the TV station owned by Belo Corp., which, coincidentally we're sure, also owns the Morning News.

Hard time

Some of you who have followed the tale of former city council member Al Lipscomb's downfall in these pages may be thinking ol' Al got a pretty light sentence last week for his federal bribery conviction. What adult wouldn't welcome being ordered to stay home for 41 months, you wonder? Well, Buzz hates to tell you this, but you're getting old. You've forgotten what it's like to be grounded. Just imagine Al's daily diary for roughly the next two and a half years:

9 a.m.: Watched Regis and Kathie Lee. That Kathie Lee is so hot!

10 a.m.: Nothing on but news and soaps. Read comics. Can't wait for the new Archie and Jughead.

11:30 a.m.: Made crank call to Sandra Crenshaw's house. "Is your refrigerator running?" Ha ha!

1 p.m.: Organized sock drawer.

2 p.m.-2:02 p.m.: Called Floyd Richards. Talked about the good old days.

4 p.m.: Can't believe no one shows Gilligan anymore. Nothing good on TV. I'm, like, sooooo bored!

And so on, multiplied roughly 1,200 days, barring appeal. Think U.S. District Judge Joe Kendall was being compassionate? Poor Al is in hell, Buzz tells ya.

Obviously, the man needs help. Buzz's heart was moved. We polled the Observer staff for tips for things for Al to do to pass the time until that happy day comes and he can go play outside. Some ideas:

Have a video party with your friends, featuring movies about home and/or confinement themes. Our picks: Home for the Holidays, Homeward Bound, Home Alone (just the first one, not the sequels), and The Desperate Hours.

Get cable or a satellite dish -- a must. Not only can you get cartoons and porn 24 hours a day, but cable offers several craft shows that demonstrate how to fix up your cell...er, house. The New Yankee Workshop is our favorite. Then, of course, there's Martha Stewart Living. Just think, a few lessons in lace knitting and presto! Handmade seat covers would make excellent holiday gifts for your cab-driver friends.

Compiled from staff reports by Patrick Williams

What would you do if you were Al? Send suggestions to patrick.williams@dallasobserver.com.


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