From what I can tell by this week's article by Jim Schutze titled " To the rotten core" (February 3), the Dallas Observer brand of journalism is alive and well.
Mr. Schutze's "reporting" of my testimony in Mr. Lipscomb's trial is totally inaccurate and a complete fabrication. I'm not sure where Mr. Schutze was sitting in the courtroom when I testified; in fact, I'm not even sure he was in the same room.
If you truly want to share my testimony with your readers, then I challenge you to print a transcript of my testimony right next to Mr. Schutze's "characterization" of it. I would prefer that your readers know the truth, rather than the Observer's version of it.
To the rotten core indeed. This should be the new Dallas Observer motto.
Mayor Ronald Kirk
Jim Schutze responds: Somewhere in the writing and editing process, a paragraph was lost from my column. I fear that I may have lost it myself when sending different versions back and forth by computer. I should have caught the omission.
The point of the paragraph was to introduce the section that followed as a description of how the defense witnesses in the Lipscomb trial may have appeared to a panel of Amarillo jurors not versed in our local history in Dallas. The paragraph started, "Put yourself in the jurors' position. You're from outside Pampa or Borger or some place like that..."
There were several other cues in the following paragraphs to show readers I was not quoting the mayor or other witnesses. But I do see that without that introduction, the paragraphs that followed could have been read as direct representations of what the witnesses said. In the mayor's case in particular, that would have been unfair. He did not ever testify that he condoned Al Lipscomb's taking of bribes.
The mayor is a lawyer, and surely he understood that he was testifying before a jury that had not yet decided Mr. Lipscomb's guilt or innocence. Obviously, the mayor understood the intended impact on the jury of his tearful testimony that Lipscomb was "one of the finest men I have ever known." I assume Lipscomb's lawyers hoped the mayor's testimony would help persuade the jury to exonerate Lipscomb of the bribery charges against him.
It's true that I was not present when the mayor testified and relied instead on reporting to know what he said. It is also important to mention that, as a witness, the mayor was not able to be in the courtroom when the government proved Al Lipscomb took bribes.
Clearly, the adverse public reaction to the mayor's appearance on Lipscomb's behalf demonstrated that many citizens of Dallas interpreted the mayor's words as an attempt to help get the federal case against Lipscomb overturned. But the mayor is correct in saying he never condoned the taking of bribes per se, and I deeply regret that my mistake may have given some people that impression. I apologize.
Thank you so much for the refreshing double standard of journalist credibility that you, the Dallas Observer, and The Dallas Morning News so openly share. In your article "To the rotten core," you lambaste Al "crooked as a dawg's hind leg" Lipscomb, Dallas politics, and The Dallas Morning News, but you so dearly fail to include the Dallas Observer.
You talk about the bribes from the titty-bar industry and the people in it. But you won't mention any names. The Dallas Morning News did. The owner's name is Nick Rizos. He and his wife, the "virginal" Dawn Rizos, are the owners of Caligula XXI and The Lodge. Both clubs are advertised every week in the Dallas Observer.
Unfortunately, only The Lodge advertised that particular week. It is on page 120. Caligula XXI burned down. It was arson. Seems that a homeless man set fire to it after they wouldn't let him sell his jewelry there. The operative words here are "homeless" and "jewelry." These two words are just so congruous! Just how many homeless sellers of jewelry have you seen? The homeless people always offer my wife and me a selection of fine jewelry when I'm waiting for the light to change.
Maybe you remember the "virginal" Dawn stating that they were like the Cleavers on Leave it to Beaver. It was in one of your past issues of the Dallas Observer ("A woman's touch," September 9, 1999). You know, the one where she's on the front cover. My, how Wally and the Beav have changed.
Dawn: (Smiling and wearing a pearl necklace and apron) "Nick, isn't it time to bribe Al again?"
Nick: "OK (big stage wink to the camera), but I've only lived in America for the past 30 years, so I don't speak English that well." (Sound engineers add laugh track here.)
But, if every week my paper got a big fat luscious check from these people, I guess I could be just as hypocritical as Al "crooked as a dawg's hind leg" Lipscomb and The Dallas Morning News. Yes, journalistic credibility for a price. And that price is the journalistic credibility of not only you, Mr. Schutze, but of the Observer as well.
Someone should take Jim to lunch and buy him a big steak for the article about Al Lipscomb and that screwed-up paper that is called The Dallas Morning News. Jim is absolutely right in stating that The Dallas Morning News is morally corrupt in its reporting of Lipscomb's trial in Amarillo.
I have read every article about Al Lipscomb in The Dallas Morning News and the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, and the people in Dallas and Fort Worth should feel cheated by these two newspapers because of what the papers did not report and what they covered up.
I will bet you a steak dinner that these two newspapers will not follow up on the facts that came out during the trial about black politicians receiving money from the white Establishment in Dallas. I think that the white people who provide the money to black politicians should go to jail. Dallas needs people like the reporters who broke the story about Richard Nixon and his crimes and cover-ups.
Jim's article hit the nail on the head on all counts about all parties. I'm getting tired of reading and watching the same thing in the papers and on TV. As an advertiser, I will not pay to support the papers and TVs in this market for the garbage they report.
Like, duh, city of Dallas officials are corrupt? Gee whiz, and all this time I thought they were fine upstanding individuals whose only wish is to serve others in the community. Ha, ha, ha. Whew, my sides hurt from all that laughter.
Now that I have regained my composure, kudos to you guys for running the story about "Big Al" Lipscomb, and the city's breaking of its own building codes ("Raise high the roof," February 3) right next to each other. They both show what a corrupt piece of work our city really is.
I'm sure, however, most of your readers will be more concerned with who doesn't like their favorite band, or how their favorite anime isn't being translated into English the way they like. These are indeed tragic in their own way, I suppose, but to me, when stories such as the ones mentioned before are glossed over by the other -- oops -- only paper, I get bothered. Thanks for exposing this city for what it really is...a place for the elite to do exactly what they want, when they want, how they want. They don't let silly things like people, the law, or trees get in their way. They can't be bothered when money is their primary motivation.
I would like to add that although it is clear that Mr. Lipscomb has violated the law and, in doing so, sold out his "own" people, I don't understand why he's the only one being picked on. Can you guys answer that question? What, he's the only person in this city to get a kickback? I find that hard to believe. In fact, perhaps Al is right to some degree that somehow, his indictment was racially motivated, because after all, I'm sure he's not the only crooked person to sit on the Dallas City Council. It's all a "bad deal."
I agree that the facts cited in your article do raise some reasonable doubt questions ("Presumed guilty," February 3). However, a question always comes to my mind in these capital "new evidence" cases. Just what was Mr. Barnes doing while preparing to go on trial for his life? He is experienced with the criminal-justice system. He has a mother and a father. What were these people doing when nothing, according to the article, was happening to prepare for trial? Odell Barnes and his family had to know that the semen evidence was crucial to the case. And why were the victim's neighbors so quiet concerning the affair between Barnes and Helen Bass? Don't they care that the true murderer is escaping justice?
If Odell Barnes had been abused by a prison guard and was told he could sue for $100,000 or more, you can bet he would have found some way to communicate with a lawyer to get that going. If articles such as yours would answer these questions, it might avoid the public perception that the "new" evidence is nothing more than a change in strategy. That perception further causes the Legislature to enact more restrictions on post-trial proceedings.
Robert M. Nicoud, Jr.
It seems inconsistent that Odell Barnes says he had sex with the victim two days before she was killed, but his semen was found on the victim. Semen dies within 24 hours after intercourse. Even if he didn't kill her, he may be linked. There seem to be too many truths left undiscovered to render an irreversible punishment.
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