Paid endorsement

It must have warmed Mayor Pro Tem Mary Poss' heart: Just three weeks after she wrote a column for The Dallas Morning News' editorial page announcing that the city's streets were in better shape than anyone who actually drives might think, the paper published a letter filled with effusive praise for the column and Poss.

Buzz was jealous. We write a column every week, and the closest thing to effusive praise we have ever received was from our engineer brother, who said, with wonder in his voice, "So, they pay you for that?"

Buzz knows that you can't buy the sort of happy feeling you get from a letter like that -- or, in Poss' case, maybe you can.

The letter was signed by Mike Lindley of Dallas, who is, coincidentally, the man behind Michael Lindley Consulting. According to Poss' most recent campaign finance reports, she paid him more than $5,500 for political consultation and for help in producing a newsletter in late 1998 and early 1999.

Lindley told Buzz that he wrote the letter but that he is no longer a paid consultant for Poss. Of course, it's not campaign season either.

If we had reached Poss, who didn't return Buzz's call, we would have asked her this: Why bother paying someone to produce a newsletter when the Morning News offers the same service for free?


Buzz warned Dallas park board member Ralph Isenberg once last May -- when he was accused of all sorts of malfeasance for arranging to have an Oak Cliff Little League field cleaned up by the city -- that no good deed goes unpunished. Did he listen to Mother Buzz? Of course not. Is he paying for it now? You bet.

Isenberg, the anti-graffiti vigilante of Oak Cliff, was out doing good works a couple of weeks ago, spending his own time and money to paint over gang graffiti in the Arcadia Park neighborhood in West Oak Cliff, when he saw something he didn't like: graffiti on a house across the street from Arcadia Park Elementary School. "Kids were going by this stuff every day and being exposed to this ugliness," Isenberg says. He knocked. No answer. So he painted. Hauling a can of lime-green paint from his vehicle, Isenberg covered the offending portion of the house.

OK, so the man's a bit high-handed. His heart, if not his head, seems to be in the right place. But then, it's not our house. It's a little rental quarters behind the home of Teresa Riojas, who thought Isenberg's head must have been up his keister. When she saw that ugly green paint all over her wall, she figured it must be the work of some idiot. First, she yelled at her tenants. "They said they didn't do it, so I went and yelled at my husband. But he said he didn't know anything about it."

When she finally figured out who it was, Riojas got mad. She thinks it's pretty arrogant of some guy from Kessler Park to come slap paint on her house without asking, and she wonders whether he would be so cavalier in his own neighborhood.

"How is it any different from the kids who do the graffiti?" she says. "I assume he is an educated man. He must know he can't come on other people's property and do that without their permission."

Isenberg was uncontrite at first. "If you look at this place, it's not exactly the Garden of Eden."

Ralph "Mr. Sensitivity" Isenberg, we call him.

The incident caused major embarrassment for a number of Isenberg's biggest fans, including state Rep. Domingo Garcia and City Councilwoman Laura Miller. Garcia's staff wound up negotiating a settlement in which Isenberg painted Riojas' entire rent-house.

The very mixed feelings of local officials were perhaps best stated by Assistant Dallas Police Chief John Ferguson of the Southwest division.

Ferguson said graffiti that doesn't get painted over tends to lead to gang activity and decay in an area. (Leaving uncovered graffiti on your property is also a city code violation.)

"But you do need to get a person's permission before you go on their property," Ferguson says. "I just hope you won't beat up too bad on Mr. Isenberg, because he does a lot of good too."

Nah, we won't beat up on him. In fact, Buzz has a kitchen that needs painting, and Isenberg won't even have to ask permission.

Foul ball

Here's some free advice for Gov. George W. Bush: Use some of your kabillions of dollars in presidential campaign donations to buy yourself a sense of irony. You need it.

Buzz laughed so hard that we nearly snorted our nicotine gum out our nose when we surfed over to the Bush campaign's official Web site,, to check out its Youth Zone, titled "Just for Kids."

The site, written in dumbed-down language fit for defecting Pat Buchanan supporters or kids too young to use the Web for its intended purpose -- downloading porn -- announces that "Running For President Is A Lot Like Playing Baseball."

This is from a man whose baseball foray involved turning a minor stake in the Texas Rangers into a near-miraculous fortune -- the same man whose limited political experience plus a near-miraculous campaign fund has made him the Republican presidential frontrunner.

Eye-ron-ee. Say it with us, George.

The site discusses the differences and similarities between baseball and running for president. Here's a sample, with additions from Buzz for the irony-impaired. In baseball, fans "must buy a ticket to see the game." Voters "must register to vote."

Or they can form a political action committee or be a big money donor and get a front-row season ticket.

"In baseball," the site says, "it takes an entire team to win games. Baseball teams have pitchers, catchers, and outfielders. Candidates also need teams. Candidates put together a staff of people to help them win votes."

And in both baseball and politics, the team with the biggest payroll tends to make it to the playoffs most often.

Compiled from staff reports by Patrick Williams