Rock bottom

Jim Schutze's article regarding the closing of the pool at Arcadia Park ("The shallow end," April 27) hit home with me like no other. Long have I spoken to others outside this city about the ills that are inflicted on it by a city council with a personal agenda, and long have I disparaged those same council members for taking positions with city government to further themselves, or their own political ambitions -- or, to be frank, to just make themselves look good in front of their ass-kissing, rich neighbors. It's sickening.

I was appalled at the details of the meeting in which [Ralph] Isenberg was vilified for trying to do something honorable: help inner-city kids who need it. I was not surprised at the fact that once the media was made privy to what was going on, the tides turned against Mr. Isenberg. The council members do not live in those neighborhoods. They don't even know where they are on a city map. None of them was forced to swim in a poorly funded municipal swimming pool when they were kids -- if they were, they've long forgotten any humbling that can come from such an experience and decided only to focus on what's important to them: the funneling of any outside grants or money to their own districts for their own good.

What Isenberg failed to see, but Mr. Schutze so eloquently pointed out, was the fact that those inner-city kids don't mean a damn thing to the members of the city council. Ron Kirk for damn sure doesn't care about them, but we all knew that. As for Mr. [Dwaine] Caraway, pointing out the fact that he never turns to his wife to handle anything -- well, sure, except for getting him appointed to the park board. When I think of those holier-than-thou and whiter-than-thou council members wielding power that in no way benefits the children or the underprivileged of this city, well, it makes me long for the days of public stonings.

By the way, Mr. Schutze -- there is a way to get Mrs. Baggett to stand there in that park and explain what happened to those kids all summer long -- but you and I would go to prison for it. Thank you for a touching piece, Jim. You spoke up for kids who need to be spoken for, just like Mr. Isenberg, and Laura Miller tried to. I only wish that we lived in a city where it would do some good.

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Chris Gilbreath
Via e-mail

Laura Miller just doesn't get it. In her attempt to privately fund the opening of southern Dallas wading pools, Ms. Miller committed several political blunders -- blunders which, if left uncorrected, will ensure the failure of her noble cause.

To help her deal with a recalcitrant city council and mayor, I offer the following "15 ways to Political and Economic Victory in Dallas."

1. Hire a high-priced, out-of-state swimming pool consultant. Better yet, hire someone from a foreign country -- say Australia or England.

2. Form a "Breakfast Club" which meets at some fancy resturant on Wednesday mornings. Hobnob incessantly with this group, whose slogan is "you scratch my back..."

3. Hire a big-time, high-dollar p.r. firm like Rob Allyn's political consulting firm to sell the idea to the public. Have Rob lean on Roger Staubach to be chairman of the effort.

4. Devise a way to put this item on the ballot. Dallas taxpayers will vote yes on just about anything.

5. Even though Ms. Miller's request is simply to accept a free grant from local companies, she must find a way to use large amounts of tax revenue for the venture -- perhaps by hiring expensive financial consultants to manage the money.

6. Negotiate to sell the pools to some bigwig downtown developer who can then charge poolgoers a small fee for entrance.

7. Threaten to move the wading pools to some other city if the request is denied.

8. Commission another study.

9. With both studies in hand, hire a New York selection firm to choose between the two.

10. Put the mayor's wife on the board of directors of all firms involved.

11. After all of it is approved, hire the city manager at a huge salary increase. Put him to work organizing something around the office.

12. Offer to have the city pay for all the roads and land improvements.

13. Grant tax abatements for 20 years.

14. Allow bigwig downtown developer to receive tax-free income from parking, concessions, and naming rights.

15. Allow said developer to sell stake in pools at an enormous windfall profit -- all because of taxpayer-funded improvements.  

Well, that should get Ms. Miller started on her way to have the wading pools opened through the generosity of private funding. I just hope that one day she'll learn how to play ball with the good ol' boys downtown.

David Rucker

It's the money, honey

I am writing in regard to your article about the District 8 Dallas City Council race ("Damaged goods," April 27). Your article seems to portray James Fantroy as a two-bit hustler, and this judgment against him seems a little harsh when his "crimes" are put into a societal perspective. Yes, Mr. Fantroy seems to have had his share of brushes with the law. But in America, the land where an unjust system has given something like seven out of 10 black men jail time or probation, it is amazing that he has made it this far unscathed. Not only has James Fantroy managed to stay out of jail but he is a small business owner capable of financing his own city council campaign.

Until city council members are paid enough so that poor and working-class people can run for office, win, and put bread on the table at home, independent hustlers or "in the pocket of big business" candidates are what we are going to get. I choose the hustler.

Kimberly Olsen
Via e-mail

Network TV, RIP

Thanks for a really wonderful article about canceled television shows ("Geek love," April 27). I have known for a long time that TV executives didn't put things on the air to make me happy, but to make the advertisers happy. I also seem to have bad luck, because this makes the third year in a row that some network has canceled my new "favorite" show of that season. I become more cynical about television every year, and find myself watching less and less programming on the big networks. I think these big networks need to be cautious, because more and more intelligent TV viewers who do want to be challenged and entertained by what they watch are going to go running to cable.

I would just absolutely love it if some network showed nothing but high-quality shows that have failed on the big networks. In this fantasy, all of them would become major hits, leaving those TV execs kicking themselves for ever letting them go in the first place.

Kristin Archambault
Via e-mail

Lovely Havana

In Lisa Singh's piece on Elián González ("Elián's choice," April 13), she seems not to realize that poor Elián's case is the opposite of her own: It was Elián's mother who abducted him away from his home, country, and native language, and it is his father who is desperately trying to bring him home to a comparatively normal life.

She also implies that Havana might be as underdeveloped and poor as rural India was in 1982, with houses made of cow dung, no plumbing or sanitation, and schools where children are beaten. Having been to Cuba, I can assure her that this is not the case. As a country, Cuba is poorer than the United States, but its people do not live in misery and squalor. In particular, Cuba has probably the best educational and health-care systems in all of Latin America and the Caribbean, despite the shortages of pencils, chalk, and other materials mentioned by Singh (shortages caused in part by the U.S. economic blockade of Cuba, which Singh does not mention).

Elián's family is apparently well-off by Cuban standards, and the suggestions that he would be subjected, if he returned, to either material deprivation or political persecution (as the latter term is defined in international and U.S. law) are preposterous.

Nor has anyone argued that Juan Miguel González is in any way an unfit parent. The sole objection to Mr. González's parental rights seems to be that he lives in an allegedly unfit country. While it is true that thousands of people have emigrated from Cuba, Juan Miguel González is one of 11 million who choose to stay there.

The picture released of Elián following his much-delayed reunion with his father and stepmother is the first I've seen in which the boy looks truly happy. I hope they can all go home to Cuba soon.

Gary Cooper

Invisible man

I have been African-American for 49 years. I was involved in the political struggle in Dallas from before the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. I have lived all over this country. But I haven't had the pleasure of meeting a "centrist black," as in Jim Schutze's comment that "reasonable, centrist people in the black community tend to call [federal Judge Joe] Kendall, who is white, a good guy" ("Rotten to the core," February 3).  

Al Lipscomb was re-elected post-indictment with 79 percent of the vote. It's quite obvious that centrist blacks either did not live in his district or chose not to vote. The term is patronizing. It brings up memories of "good nigras," as in, "the good nigras ain't gonna let the bad nigras mess up this town." Where was your editor when you wrote that statement? Now you're probably wondering what my opinion is of the results of the Lipscomb trial. Not being a good nigra (mythical centrist black), I quite naturally am thoroughly convinced that this is a continuance of Cointelpro (I knew it -- a damn conspiracy theorist!). You get my drift.

I would really appreciate you having a centrist black to call me.

Akintunde A. Funso
Via e-mail

Bunch of blarney

Mark Stuertz's review of O'Dowd's Little Dublin was very accurate ("O'Dud's," April 20). The food blows, and the atmosphere is that of any meat-market pick-up joint in town. With regard to its authenticity, I've been to the Kansas City location, and it was exactly the same. The food was bland, the music too loud (Irish folk songs all sound the same), and it's infested with college grads who still wear baseball caps with khakis. I have been to the McKinney Avenue location two times and would agree with everything Mark Stuertz had to say. If you want Irish, go to the Tip or Old Monk, but beware of O'Dowd's. It's got no luck of the Irish.

Via e-mail

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