No Fooling

There's an old maxim in the reporting business that states, "If your grandmother says she loves you, check it out." This rule was tattooed on Buzz's soul by our college newspaper adviser, a cranky old nicotine-stained newsman who, rumor had it, would hurl typewriters at student reporters who got sloppy with facts.

Yet even Buzz, trained by fear to be suspicious, was surprised at the reaction to a press release issued April 1 by the city's public information office concerning plans to demolish unused buildings in the East Concourse at Love Field--space that might one day have been converted into gates. Danielle McClelland, public information manager for the city, sent the notice to media in an e-mail, then shortly afterward sent another message: "Before I get another call on this, I know today is the 1st, but this is NOT an April Fool's joke. The City of Dallas really is tearing down gates at Dallas Love Field."

McClelland told Buzz that after sending the first notice, she received five calls and eight e-mail messages from people wanting to know whether it was for real.

Now, while the city's flacks are pretty friendly people, they are not generally known to be raucous cut-ups when it comes to city business. You could chalk up the suspicions to press paranoia, but the truth is likely this: The various disputes over whose and how many planes can use Love Field are so convoluted--Fort Worth and Dallas suing, American Airlines threatening everybody else, Legend Airlines taking off then going belly up, neighborhood groups protesting--that anything anyone says about the issue should be taken with a shaker of salt and consultation with a lawyer.

The new Love Field Master Plan, which calls for eliminating the East Concourse, allows for no more than 32 gates total at the airport--a concession to neighborhood groups that complain about jet noise and fear an overexpanded Love. But there are only 17 active gates there now and 26 available, so why eliminate 10 to 14 potential gates in the East Concourse before you hit that magic number?

Call it an act of good faith by the city--and no, we're not kidding either.

"We're just removing that space out of the equation," says Terry Mitchell, assistant director of aviation-operations. The site will be used for a new consolidated cargo facility, which the airport needs, without adding any additional planes or noise. Mitchell calls it a "win-win situation" and hopes Love's neighbors will be pleased; he expects to find out on Thursday, when Mayor Laura Miller, U.S. Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison and the city council and others are scheduled to gather at the airport for the start of demolition work. Apparently, everyone wants to "check it out."

"See?" the city can say. "We're not trying to sneak anything by at Love. Just trust us."

Uh-huh. We'd like to do that--truly--but we're no fool, April or otherwise. Besides, we don't want anyone chucking typewriters at our head.

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