Hooray for Laura Miller! ["Mr. Mayor, meet your nightmare," December 18]. We will vote for her change from journalist to crusading politician. As an African-American, I have known all along that Mayor [Ron] Kirk did the bidding of the businessmen. That was his job as a lobbyist, and it hasn't changed since he got to City Hall. What's embarrassing is the way City Manager [John] Ware and Mayor Kirk are doing this Amos 'n' Andy routine for Perot and the Chamber over the arena. And then to lie through their teeth about what it will cost the city, who will pay the taxes on it, and what it will mean for "economic development." Shame on them! As Laura says, they can do better than that. And soon she will get her chance to keep them honest. Too bad our good man Bob Stimson won't be there to help.
I have but one thing to say about Laura Miller's quest to join the City Council: You go girl!
I think it's wonderful that you are willing to make the sacrifices--personal, professional, and financial--that it will take to run for the council. I've read your work for years. Most of the time I agree with you. Sometimes I don't. Regardless of your--or my--take on an issue, I have always found you to write with intelligence, wit, and a passion for fairness. We need people like you on the city council. (What a pity voters can't switch residences like recent candidates have...I'd "move" from East Dallas to your district to vote for you in a heartbeat.) I hope you win, and what's more, I hope you can effect the kinds of changes that need to happen in our government, this time from within.
I only have one caveat for you: Your biggest challenge may not be getting elected, or even being an agent for change. It may well be trying to keep from being infected by the intoxication of political power. Your ongoing crusade over Arenagate is a priceless contribution to the city. It is only because of your work that many in Dallas (including me) are aware of the shenanigans going on in this project. I regret that you won't be able to write more on this. We need your voice of reason, but in a way, we may need you more working to change the council as one of the insiders.
Godspeed, and may you be as effective a candidate (and a council member) as you have been a journalist.
Oh, where to begin. Laura Miller's most recent episode of "dear diary" is fraught with opportunities to grill the erstwhile city council gadfly/columnist in a fashion to which she will have to become accustomed.
The first thing that comes to my mind is Ms. Miller's response to being on the other side of the coin, should she win the election. For example, what will her reaction be to the new city council beat reporter showing up at her doorstep at 10 p.m. on a Sunday night demanding information on some innocuous piece of bullshit the reporter considers newsworthy? While this scenario provides much fodder for biting humor, there is something much more serious that should be considered. How effective can Laura Miller really expect to be as a council member? What happens when she realizes how difficult it is to be a council member that hasn't lost her "ghetto status?" I doubt she will be any better received by the council and mayor than Pat Buchanan was by his peers. It takes a lot more skill and talent to lead than it does to point out problems with public policy. And "perpetual outrage" can only get you so far before the people get bored. Just ask John Wiley Price.
Not a year ago, she wrote at great length about her decision to go on hiatus to get "caught up" with her children. She stated that she would be gone for at least a year (as if that's as long as it takes to get caught up with your children). Well, we've all seen how long that commitment lasted. And those were her children.
Ms. Miller would be well advised to check her motivation and goals before placing her hat into this particular ring. Her constituency, not unlike her children, needs someone who can commit for more than 10 months to a particular "instinct." (God knows she can't commit to a story long enough to file a public records request.) The public deserves someone who has loftier goals than to "get even" for perceived wrongs against her.
How quickly she forgets that public office shouldn't be used for one's private agenda. She states, ironically, at the end of the article that she sounds "an awful lot like a politician." Well, this town needs another politician like it needs another arena.
Kristen L. Schnellenbach
You go! I suspected we'd all be better off if we could swap this new arena for more bronze cows, but I had no idea things were this grim. I think all it would take to kill stuff like this is to shine some light on it and watch it shrivel up.
I've never been a true proponent of Laura Miller (the cat story early on didn't help). I don't like feeling manipulated when reading an article, but I also realize that sometimes that manipulation comes from the truth being clearly and unflinchingly delineated in a way not known to other publications or broadcasts in this town. I have come to appreciate Ms. Miller's writing over the years. I hope that she receives the support necessary to gain the office she seeks, and I hope the city of Dallas' collective eyes will be opened to some of the questionable goings-on in its government. Good luck, Ms. Miller; don't forget to write.
Right on, Laura Miller. Way to make this election season interesting. Kirk and Ware have had their way for too long. How many streets and potholes can be fixed for the $125 million-plus that Kirk, Ware, and their cronies want us to spend on their arena?
It's always funny how supporters of such projects talk about this big economic impact, as if that money wouldn't come from somewhere in the Dallas area, anyhow. We paid for a symphony hall, and what has that got us? But while such projects are obvious pork, concerned taxpayers cannot overlook the largest expense of any government budget: employees' salaries and pensions. Since when did "public service" guarantee many such "servants" six-figure salaries and pensions, or even high five-figure ones? Such "servants" only serve themselves, and taxpayers better wake up about this scam quick. This is the primary reason why we all spend 40 to 50 percent of our hard-earned income in taxes (I'm not talking about the real public servants who slaved their careers away for $30,000 at the most--they deserve pensions--I'm talking about the Ware and [Yvonne] Gonzalez types).
If Miller makes it to the council, she could wind up as much an outcast as Paul Fielding was--and she better do better than he did as far as back-watching and company-keeping.
With growing admiration, I continue to read Laura Miller's take on the proposed new arena for Dallas. She writes with such intelligence, humor, and directness. I read every word she writes and am eager for the next issue. I don't live in Dallas County, so I cannot vote, but if I could, she would most certainly be my candidate.
Go Laura! Although I'm an Oak Lawn resident stuck with my own invisible council member and unable to vote for Ms. Miller, I'm ready to come out of political retirement to help her win in May. Finally, someone willing to do the homework, ask the hard questions, and make decisions based on what's right for Dallas residents rather than old-moneyed white guys from Highland Park. What an idea!
I agree with everything that Laura and this group of respondents are saying. Our city will continue to be sucked dry by these centi-millionaires who see such easy pickings thanks to our collection of gutless politicians.
Not only do I look forward to contributing to Ms. Miller's election campaign, how about looking into the legality of the city's behavior on these secret shenanigans that Laura has reported with such understandable disgust and frustration? I have actually had some first-hand experience with the city of Dallas on a number of issues very closely related to this arena caper, and it would come as little surprise to me that an appropriate review of this disgraceful deal would generate some quite decent causes of action.
In other words, with the January vote imminent, Ms. Miller's successful election to the city council obviously will not be as timely as I and most sensible voters would like. Therefore, if any appropriate members of the Dallas Bar honestly believe there exist actionable issues here (as I suspect), let's explore. I would be more than willing to sponsor an initiative to enjoin this mess on the taxpayers' behalf.
Things are so amiss and corrupt in this city that they even have mold growing on the outside of City Hall, so that should show you something is amiss somewhere. I wish Laura Miller luck in her run for a council seat, but she has to remember that politics corrupts, and I wouldn't like to see her take that route. I'm a big fan of hers, but what's done is done, and I've a feeling she may not win because of what the mayor told her in the Dallas paper: "If her only reason for running is to come down here and mess with me, then she's in for a long road."
The election isn't until May '98, and the arena vote's in January, so how long will it be until the groundbreaking happens after the votes are cast? I'd like to know just how much of the taxpayers' moneys have already been spent in the four years that this research has been going on. In one report that I saw, they said they spent $40,000 for one study to see what the feasibility was, and I think by now they could have already had it built--after all, it took Arlington less than two years to get the Ballpark under construction at way less than they've spent on this catastrophe, so what's their problem? It's no wonder Bruton Smith ran away to Fort Worth with his racetrack, and now Dallas is kickin' itself in the butt for lettin' that happen.
If Laura Miller is serious about running, sign me up to work on the campaign. I'm all for getting rid of the smooth talkers and their B.S., and I've always thought that Ms. Miller would do a lot more good working on City Hall from the inside. You go girl!
Way to go, Laura! Where do I get a yard sign?
Tim J. Bradley
Editor's note: Several readers have made similar inquiries. Laura Miller informs us that she will obtain a telephone number for her campaign in early January. Call directory assistance at that time, and ask for "Laura Miller Campaign."
In perusing the Dallas Observer for the last 17 years, the majority of its articles were short-sighted, self-absorbed, or mean-spirited. Charles Bowden's article alone is an example of what the alternative press should be providing. The pictures and prose were so potent ["Through a lens darkly," December 11] that I found myself questioning my schedule for the day and considering how I might better spend my time in terms of responding to those matters that should consume all of us.
After quite a day at school here in northwest Arkansas, where the unemployment rate is nearly zero and the wealth brought in by Wal-Mart, J.B. Hunt, etc. is more and more visible, I was brought to abrupt reality by the story of the evil in Juarez. I shall share this with my history students. Thanks for waking us up and sending me (for one) back to the novels of Dickens, Hugo, and Zola for a refresher course in what price the modern world exacts upon the poor and working mass of humanity.
Unidentified floating objects
Re: Lex & Terry ["Lex & Terry's wet dream," December 18]. I hate to burst your bubble, but to use your own words, you guys are "a turd in a punch bowl." So why do you still have a show? Unfortunately, some people get off on crap.
Name withheld. I'm not interested in getting an early-morning call from a couple of really annoying DJ's hell-bent for on-air revenge.
Either I'm getting old and cranky, or local radio really does suck. The latest example is well documented in Rose Farley's article on Q102 and Lex and Terry's embarrassingly crappy morning show.
It's not that Lex and Terry are complete Neanderthals. That would be insulting to Neanderthals. The sad, simple fact is: They just ain't funny. Apparently there's a good reason why they were No. 1 in Jacksonville: They were in Jacksonville. It's a shame their witless repartee doesn't translate to a major market. It's a bigger shame the suits at SFX still don't realize it.
It didn't use to be like this, of course. For all its warts and flaws--maybe because of them--Q102 was the rock and roll soundtrack of late '80s-early '90s Dallas excess. Bo and Jim, Redbeard, Bring in the Weekend parties, the clean, dynamic production values--man, that was a real radio station.
I have no idea what it's supposed to be these days. Between flip-flopping formats, knee-jerk programming, and bone-headed management decisions (canning Bo and Jim, turning Redbeard into an alternative jock--geez, it's hard to pick just one), it seems like Q102 has forgotten everything it learned about radio back when they had the DFW market in the palm of their hands.
But I guess you should expect that from a rock and roll radio station that's getting its ass kicked by WRR.
WRR. Jesus, that kills me.
"The other arena" [December 11], a touching plea on behalf of deserving theaters without space, falls absolutely flat without the rest of the story. A rent hike from Deep Ellum Opera Theatre (DEOT) crushes a spunky little group; the big bad Theatre Projects Consultants talk to dozens of little groups only to give them no guaranteed venue; and of course, a touching paean to gifted little performance groups gone by, sob-wrenching--but wait.
Why did the rent go up at DEOT? Hmmm, they were only charging one-half the operating costs of the space to use it. That would have to mean that--do the math--they took it upon themselves to subsidize New Theatre Co. and others that used the space, for which I must say they received nothing but adolescent resentment.
Well, add DEOT to the pile of groups without space, but more importantly to the pile of groups that no longer see a reason to help less fortunate and considerably less appreciative groups out. And on the subject of appreciation, of the defunct groups mentioned, I no longer count the number of times I have personally helped productions by these groups or their survivors, usually on technical set-up, loans of equipment, and sometimes even operating a run, only to find my name nowhere in the program and myself persona non grata in their midst.
The Theatre Projects Consultants no doubt saw exactly the same lack of appreciation from the start. The word that our small group, Bucket Productions, got back from the TPC was that it seemed unlikely that small groups would get much consideration, not because of stature, but because of attitude. The consultants cited a distinct mindset of entitlement. The belief that just because they exist, artists deserve big chunks of the pie is wrong. This isn't high school. This isn't college. The real world costs a lot. Space is expensive; save your pennies. Tech work is expensive; thank your people. Money is expensive; show some humility and appreciation. I will work with DEOT anytime, not because they are bigger than XYZ theatre company, not because they have a cool space (they don't anymore--the rent went up on them too, dummy), and not because they are my friends, but because they say "thank you" and mean it.
V.P. of Development, Bucket Productions
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Dallas Observer theater critic Jimmy Fowler responds: Mr. Rice's complaints about the unsung contributions of a small theater techie in this town are well observed, and by no means his alone. Whether a show costs $30 million or 30 cents, actors and directors should realize that the contributions of these professionals are part of the artistic process, not just loose ends to be tied up by a guy who knows a lot about electricity.
As far as Bucket Productions having spoken to Theater Projects Consultants about the proposed space, the September study that TPC released included a list of all 102 individuals and organizations they consulted to arrive at their findings. Neither Jason Rice's name nor anyone from Bucket Productions is on the list. A TPC spokeswoman confirmed that this list was comprehensive.
Mr. Ware's neighborhood
I believe that the condition of Mr. [John] Ware's fence is no concern of ours ["Don't fence me in," December 11]. Many Americans' fences need repairing; his fence is just representative of the American body politic as well as of America itself.