Image is everything

We're sure resting easier now that The Dallas Morning News assures us that folks in, say, New Jersey aren't troubled by the stink of corruption rising from City Councilman Al Lipscomb's conviction for taking bribes from Yellow Cab.

At least we think that was the point of the News' bizarre story last Sunday that revealed that Lipscomb's bribe-taking and the prior public corruption convictions of ex-Councilman Paul Fielding and ex-Dallas schools Superintendent Yvonne Gonzalez will never supplant the real hallmarks of Dallas' national reputation: sports, the economy, and the Kennedy assassination.

This presumably is good news. In fact, Buzz thinks it might make the cornerstone of a marketing campaign the Dallas Chamber of Commerce:

"Big D: We haven't killed any presidents lately."

"Dallas: Not as corrupt as Chicago, and with a lot better hockey team."

OK, so those are silly, but then so was the News' story. The city confronts years of public scandals, and the question the paper asks is not "How can we fix this?" It's "What is it doing to our image?" Such a stereotypical question for a city whose motto might be "It's better to look good than to be good."

Yet in one aspect, maybe the News is right. Maybe Dallas is not so corrupt. And just maybe part of the reason is that the local feds have undertaken lengthy and politically thorny investigations of local grafters. No one else has said it, so we will: Thanks, guys.

Death watch

Getting public information from local government has been getting tougher lately. Maybe local leaders should take a cue from the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, a state agency so open with at least some of its records that it's downright scary.

The department, which oversees the Texas prison system, has a macabre Web site that offers scads of information about the men and women on death row. For instance, did you know that the drugs used in the process of lethal injection cost the state the curiously precise amount of $86.08? That's seems pretty high. You'd think Texas could get a bulk discount.

Everything you could possibly want to know about Texas' death row inmates is at Everything, that is, except whether they actually committed their crimes. But this is Texas, so who cares anyway?

Miracle cure

You say your presidential campaign is suffering from tired blood? Your get up and go got up and went in the cold New Hampshire winds? Well, my friend, step right up and try our invigorating miracle elixir: vitamins washed down with cold, hard cash.

Gov. George W. Bush's presidential campaign recently announced that Craig Keeland, founder of a company called Youngevity, has joined the list of "pioneers," or volunteer fundraisers who have helped raise at least $100,000 for Bush's campaign.

Keeland's 6-year-old Dallas company sells vitamins and minerals that its marketing literature claims help maintain youth. "Youngevity, where we are all living younger longer and in a state of youthfulness," says a message on the company's telephone line. Maybe they should send a truckload of free samples to help Bush deal with the newly invigorated John McCain.

Compiled from staff reports by Patrick Williams

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