So Sorry

We here at Buzz central are poor prognosticators. In succession, we've put our money on Gore, Iraq and Gigli. Last week, however, we thought we had a sure thing. We bet that readers and media-watchers would be outraged when they read that Dallas Morning News Publisher Jim Moroney had ordered the downsizing of a gay-themed story in the Religion section (see Buzz, August 7). Again, we lose: The story elicited nary a peep.

Well, outside the Morning News, that is. Inside, reporters and editors were fried. Especially when you consider that Moroney also made the folks in the Fashion! Dallas section change their page because of gay-related content. "A lot of us were concerned that we were getting big-footed by the publisher," says Jeffrey Weiss, whose Religion section story on the Episcopalian convention's gay-bishop vote was made less prominent by Moroney.

So Weiss and others were buoyed this week when the Big Man made a mea culpa: Moroney, Editor Bob Mong and other bigwigs met with the Arts and Religion staffs to explain why Moroney ordered the changes. Then Moroney apologized, saying he had made a serious mistake, sent the wrong message to the staff and that there would be no second-guessing of story placement on his part.

"I was pretty shocked about what happened last week," Weiss says. "It was, in my time here, pretty unprecedented. But so is an apology from the publisher." Weiss says he feels confident that the placement of the gay-themed story he is working on for this week's Religion section will be decided by his editor, as it should be.

Cheapskates: So Buzz, the ever-devoted news hound, has been poring over the city's proposed budget online. Why? For you, the reader, of course. Also there's only so much Internet porn a person can peruse at work during the week before the boss takes notice. We kid. (Not really.)

So far we haven't found any juicy surprises--in the budget, we mean. To wit: Civilian city employees once again are slated for the high hard one--no raises, higher insurance deductibles, and they might have to start paying to park at city garages. Garbage and water fees would go up some. Taxes wouldn't. In other words, another year of residents' complaints about the quality of city services is in the pipeline, Dallas being, apparently, unfamiliar with the saying "you get what you pay for."

One item near to Buzz's left-leaning bleeding heart isn't in this year's proposal: $3 million to fund a 24-hour "intake" service center for the homeless. The money is scheduled to be spent the following fiscal year, though $11.8 million for animal-control facilities is on tap for 2003-'04. Priority-wise, that seems a bit out of whack. We suggest shooting the stray dogs and housing the homeless at the pound, though understandably some in this city might disagree.


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