A thankless job
After spending years trying to motivate city employees to do their job, I think Mr. Burkleo ["Demolition man," November 2] should be commended for continuing to keep Dallas clean--it is such a thankless job.
Code enforcement has been a political football for years. While city officials talk about enforcing the city code, they have slashed the budget for code enforcement, promoted the incompetent, and punished the good inspectors. For several years, code enforcement was moved from department to department to ensure that nobody was in charge.
As for the charges that Mr. Burkleo is responsible for denying or destroying low-income housing, get real! The incompetent employees have done more to destroy housing through inaction and stupidity. During the 1980s, the City of Dallas lost more than $100 million in federal housing dollars due to incompetence.
The city provides grants and low-cost loans to fix run-down housing, but the waiting list is two or three years. That is because the city spends more on a new sports arena study than for fixing up run-down houses.
Habitat for Humanity has built more low-income homes in Dallas with all volunteers than the City of Dallas does each year. Last year, Steve Bartlett promised hundreds of in-fill homes. The city had less than 30 built.
Thank you for the long-due story by Denise McVea, "Demolition Man." Who else but the Observer and "60 Minutes" dares to give us the truth?
URSB's positive impact
As a recently retired member of Urban Rehabilitation Standards Board, it's clear to me that these stories ["Demolition man" and "Razing hopes," November 2] stand as a testament to journalistic ineptitude or intellectual incompetence.
Mr. Burkleo's "power" over URSB? None. Although his one-man property condition jihad brings properties that deserve to be in front of URSB, there is no correlation between Mr. Burkleo's personal recommendations and URSB orders.
In "Razing Hopes," you use the isolated case to generalize. Ms. McVea cheats readers by misrepresenting the URSB process. She writes of a proposed outreach center for which URSB affirmed a prior demolition order. Now, Ms. McVea writes that they're having trouble finding $540 for the rehearing fee, failing to point out that URSB waives rehearing fees for non-profits.
To say the URSB hands down rulings "seemingly based on whim" is irresponsible. Judgments are based on current property condition, cost to bring the property to minimum code, ability of the person to do so, and consideration of prior code enforcement history. Writing about city citations, she states, "if the owner complies quickly enough, the matter is finished." Ms. McVea, most cases at URSB relate to violations at least two years old. You write, "although board member are supposed to use the photos to help determine whether a home is substandard, and tour the home whenever possible..." Ms. McVea, we have toured all properties. Members have been shot at. I have walked through burned structures, over broken bottles, used condoms, and needles to see properties. I resent the patently false indictment.
URSB is helping contain and remedy the decay of neighborhoods all over Dallas. With tax delinquent properties, the job is made more difficult by statutory regulations. You referred to a buyer who boarded a foreclosure-acquired property for two years to wait out the tax redemption period. Many tax-delinquent properties belong to out-of-town people who have abandoned them. If state law allowed taxation bodies to negotiate or "trade" the property for the outstanding tax balance instead of making them foreclose, we could catch some properties before they become irreversibly dilapidated and not make buyers wait two more years to invest in repairs. On repairable properties, we tried to find a non-profit in the area to apply for receivership; few step forward.
It takes courage, vision, and effort to carry out the program Dallas has implemented. And, on balance, it has positively impacted the city. Want to do a follow-up and see the benefits of timid inaction? Visit New Orleans.
Get off your Hightower
Contrary to Molly Ivins' assertions, there is no right-wing plot to silence poor Jim Hightower ["Media merger madness," November 2]. His show is a bore, his point of view so stereotypically leftist, that only his "soft Texas twang" differentiates him from a thousand other media clowns.
Both his and Ivins' hackneyed polemics and cruel wit, aimed solely at one segment of the political spectrum, are woefully out of touch with reality. "All leftists, unions, government programs good, all Republicans and businessmen bad!" Now that's deep thinking for you.
Better we acknowledge them for what they are: persons of quick wit, some intelligence, and a great big political agenda. Sources of useful information they ain't.
I hate to burst Pamela Ferguson's nationalistic bubble [Letters, November 2], but Cornwall, home of the pasties, has been firmly located in the west of England for quite some time now. Perhaps her Cornish mother's grave turning may be related to her daughter's lack of attention during geography classes.
I would like to refer to an item in Letters regarding "the edible pasty." The writer stated that her mother would turn in her grave if she found out that "pasty" had been referred to as English. The Cornish pasty--and I repeat, Cornish--is indeed a meal in itself and is made as she described it.
However, the English pasty is not made in the same way as the Cornish pasty, and luckily, my mother is not turning in her grave, but a happy English pasty maker of some 95 summers. She will tell you that an English pasty can be stuffed with all sorts of goodies, including jam. And I, for one, still enjoy my English jam pasty as well as "meat 'n' tater" pasties, when I can get 'em.
So for heaven's sake, let's not take this further and go on about meat 'n' tater pies or pasties, 'cause the meat 'n' tater pasty is English, and so am I!
Ho-hum haute critic
In reading Mary Brown Malouf's review of Cafe Sierra ["Ho-hum," November 2], we found it odd that she would take the time to offer reflections on the surrounding businesses.
As some of those "tentative business" owners, we are thankful of the diversity that flourishes on Lower Greenville Avenue. The absence of slick chain stores and suburban sterility gives the area the character that Dallas sadly lacks.
The liquor store mentioned has been a Dallas landmark for more than 30 years. It employs a wine steward and provides an extensive selection. The "antique" and art store does not purport to carry antiques, and continues to prosper into its fifth year.
MBM obviously had PMS and should have gone to GBG.
The review of Cafe Sierra was particularly harsh considering the restaurant has only been open a few weeks. We welcome them to our neighborhood, and urge your readers to try them and form their own unbiased opinion.
Amy and Nora Czigan, Art & Salvage
Peggy Bullock, Goody Goody Liquor Store
I would like to take a moment to respond to a letter printed in the November 2 issue of the Observer regarding Redbeard. First of all, I think Redbeard deserves that award and recognition more than any other DJ here in Dallas-Fort Worth. Mr. Cullen's letter not only insulted Redbeard, but it also insulted our hometown music.
Dallas has a very diverse music scene, and quite frankly, Mr. Cullen, we are pretty damn lucky to have so much talent right here in our own backyard. It is a shame that you referred to some of the Dallas bands as "lethargic thugs with the innovation of an electric powered bathtub." Until you take the chances that they have taken and sacrifice what they have and worked your ass off like they have, then I think you should not be so quick to judge. Furthermore, I am curious to know what station plays more new Dallas music than Q102. It is my experience that the other stations don't play Dallas music until Redbeard has broken them in first.
All of us Q102 listeners could sing along with all the Toadies songs before the other stations even put them on their playlist! So maybe I should remind everyone about the "New Rock Preview" that airs every Tuesday afternoon on Q102, because that is where you will find all the great Dallas bands. I love our hometown music and I am a huge fan of Redbeard and Q102, so back off, Cullen ol' boy! Keep up the great rockin', RB!
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Golden era for local bands
Talk about the wrong time to be bitching about Dallas rock radio [Letters, November 2]! 1995 will probably be remembered as a true "golden era" for local bands getting meaningful, rotational airplay on powerful P-1 commercial radio stations in Dallas. Check out Billboard and you'll see that we had three local bands in the Top 200 album charts recently!
I hate to burst your bubble, but it doesn't work that way in 99 percent of the other cities in this country, and you're damn lucky to have the Toadies, Tripping Daisy, Sop, The Nixons, Quickserv Johnny, Hagfish, Deep Blue Something, and yes, even Funland in regular rotation on Q102. For that matter, other combinations of those and other local artists are in rotation on all three of Dallas' modern rock stations (KDGE, KEGL) and, as Funland's local indie label, we couldn't be happier. If you even had a clue how hard it is to get any local artist on a commercial radio station in most other cities, you'd change your tune, dude.
As a matter of fact, we're looking for interns at Crystal Clear Sound, and since you've obviously got nothing better to do than bitch, we'd like you to come down and we'll put you on the phones as a radio promo person, and you'll see how hard it is to get indie records like Funland's played elsewhere. And since you're an expert on bands, we'd also like your A&R advice on other bands that aren't "lethargic thugs" that we can sign to rectify this awful problem we're all having with local radio. Sheesh!!!