So Mayor Laura was right, and she was wrong. Last September, as Hurricane Katrina evacuees were streaming into Dallas by the tens of thousands, the mayor fretted even before their arrival about the crimewave she expected to accompany our new citizens. So too did police chief David Kunkel, who used the pages of Dallas' Only Daily to panic the populace--the "hoping for the best but preparing for the worst" comment he made on September 2, for starters.
There has been some crime associated with former New Orleans residents, no doubt; there was the guy who popped a man in front of his girlfriend and their newborn. But maybe Dallas got lucky after all, spared from the mayor and chief's nightmares of a city overrun: This week's issue of Time says that Dallas actually inherited very few of New Orleans' infamous gang problems. There has been here, according to the magazine, just one murder linked to New Orleans gang violence, while there are as many as three Louisiana ex-pats wanted as suspects in crimes. Sure, four is more than one is more than none, but consider Houston's dire straits:
"Texas officials were worried from the beginning. On Sept. 1, Governor Rick Perry's communications director e-mailed the state's homeland security director: "Question between you and I, at what point do we go from being compassionate to being taken advantage of (meaning, are they sending us folks we don't want?)," according to records released by the Governor's office.
As of early November, the FBI had located about 80 people on the list of 112. Some had applied for government aid. But most had come in contact with police in some way. A large number had congregated in Houston, just as their law-abiding neighbors had done."
Thirty victims, 33 suspects for Houston--where it got so bad in January cops started offering threats about resorting to "Texas law," a phrase that suggests something awful even to a native Texan. So coulda been worse. Not like they came from El Salvador. --Robert Wilonsky