Asbestos I can recall
I'm very impressed with the reporting in your Fred Baron article ["Toxic justice," August 13]. It is a pleasure to read an article that uses no-nonsense words to tell it like it is. The amount of effort put into the article comes through loud and clear as well.

Great work. And courageous.
Kurt Look
Via e-mail

I worked as a lawyer at Baron & Budd from 1985 through 1991. During that time I defended scores of plaintiffs' depositions in asbestos cases around the country. Not once--ever--was I instructed, prodded, or encouraged in any way to have a client lie about product identification, nor was I aware that paralegals were being pressured in this manner. There was certainly no hint of any firm-wide, institutionalized practice of fabricating evidence.

It is not surprising that the asbestos companies, having concealed the hazards of their products for decades in the name of profit and thereby killing tens of thousands of workers, would like to turn the spotlight away from their own actions. What is telling to me is that the one lawyer who criticized the firm in the story refused to let you identify her. And what is most telling, of course, is that the clients themselves say their testimony was their own.

Charles Siegel
Via e-mail

One subcurrent to your Baron & Budd article was that the firm was originally inspired with a certain zeal for justice. While I am, certainly, not competent to address the fine legal distinction between appropriate counsel of a client's testimony and inappropriate coaching, I did want to address the continuing involvement of the firm and partner Russell Budd in our ministry to provide decent, safe, and affordable home ownership to hard-working families in need.

As a firm, Baron & Budd has been a consistent financial partner in the annual Dallas Bar Association Habitat home. The Bar Association is one of our longest-standing sponsors and volunteer groups. Beyond that, Russell Budd and his family have been extremely generous with their time, talents, and financial support. Certainly, he continues in his zeal to better the lives of those striving to provide their family with a decent, safe home. Incidentally, this letter was completely unsolicited and is written simply to provide an additional viewpoint.

Thank you for your continuing dedication to investigative reporting.
Jim Pate
Executive Director
Dallas Area Habitat for Humanity

No class
About Richard C. Evans and Se-Gwen Tyler: Your story on the clashes of the two in the upcoming race exemplifies no class at all ["He said, she said," August 20]. I find only statements of the various exploits of Richard Evans--[alleged] crotch-grabbing and price-switching--but nothing about the other candidate. May I ask, will crotch-feeling or price-switching be a part of the job description? I see no lives lost here, I see no money being misappropriated, only petty nonsense that a cheap column writer writes to get read. Somehow, all of the funny innuendos you write to sway people's convictions limit you. Why not accentuate the positive and discontinue the concept of Dallas degrading the abilities of black people?


Wimp-free column
Re: Robert Wilonsky's piece on Galloway/Dave Smith ["Paper cut," August 6]: Way to nail those low-rent, bean-countin', initiative-stifling, mediocrity-wallowing corporate-droning wannabes. And the kind words regarding Frank Luksa made good icing on a great cake.

Thank you.
Brad Bailey
Via e-mail

Making waves
For whatever it is worth--your Observer coverage [of the Trinity River plan] is being watched carefully in Columbus, Ohio--and discussed at every opportunity during our city council encounters. We have a similar problem here, and the people are being ignored.

Wish we could get some national press! Don't give up--keep the issue before the people.

Claudia Ward
Via e-mail

Lilith unfair
Gina Arnold has some gall! I wish she had more sense. I can't fathom why Sarah McLachlan or any of the other Lilith Fair talent ["Fair game," July 30] should be vilified for the success of their festival tour. I applaud them. Many of the artists relay tales of how promoters once refused to bill two female acts together in concert. OK, so they had a chance at the Michigan Womyn's Festival, but I see one major problem with that. It was in Michigan.

Thanks to the Lilith Fair, fans in Dallas and cities around the country can enjoy a number of their fem favorites' live performances--all for the the price of just one ticket. To me that's a clear advantage for fans.

Arnold takes exception to some of the merchandising at the shows. So what? If you don't like the T-shirt, McLachlan jewelry, tie-dye underwear, or whatever, don't buy it. End of argument.

Financial profit isn't the only sign of success for the Lilith Fair, but it's nothing participants should be ashamed of!

At the top of Arnold's attack on the Lilith Fair, she chastises Jewel for walking out of a Joni Mitchell performance. Then, only a few paragraphs later, Arnold herself characterizes a tested talent like Bonnie Raitt as a "token fogey." Perhaps Raitt in Arnold's mind has also committed the "sin" of success.

All I can say is--you go girls. And for Arnold, get used to it.
Dana Rogers
Via e-mail

Gina Arnold misses two key points:
1. Sarah McLachlan-style music will continue to be played long after all the with-it '90s bands have faded from public memory. There's a reason "Yesterday" generates more money than the rest of the Beatles songbook combined.

2. Feminism is not synonymous with dyke, it is synonymous with crap. Tying an art form to politics is a guaranteed failure mode!

John Hines
Via e-mail

Your paper really slammed one of the truly precious moments of my summer. The article reeked of sexism and presented such mixed-up logic as to make the article incomprehensible. The sexism in the music industry is legendary, and here you scoff at it as if it didn't exist. Sarah McLachlan is not a revolutionary, and the best I can tell, has never presented herself as such. She is not expected to be a Gloria Steinem or a Jane Fonda. She is a musician who was doing just fine on her own, but came up with the brilliant idea of an all-women festival.

Perhaps it just upsets your sense of status quo that an all-women program could out-profit all other programs in its class. The question about whether it is about money or about purpose is moot. Rock and roll is about making money, and I am proud to be a part of a venue which allows women artists to be as monetarily successful as their male peers. There are not many arenas in which women can prove themselves as thoroughly as they have in this one. I think it must just gall the traditionally macho rock and roll world to see what has happened with the Lilith Fair.

Gina, you completely missed the point.
Via e-mail

Like Lilith Fair, your article was long, repetitious, and full of contempt for the opposing side. I can understand not liking the format or the forum for Lilith Fair, but taking away from the fact that they are artists by bringing up money is childish. Hail the Mighty Dollar! Show me a musician who isn't in it for the money and fame, and I'll show you someone who knows they have no talent.

The Spice Girls never had a qualm about stating that they were in it for the money and that they were not the best in the business of singing. Madonna said in Truth or Dare that she's not the best singer or dancer in the world, but at least she's making money. (I'm paraphrasing here.) Why are they wrong to do that? If the girls of Lilith Fair are making a buck on badly written love songs that were undoubtedly taken from their diaries in junior high, then more power to them.

In my life, the only people that I've come across who hated money were the ones without any.

Via e-mail

Some coincidence
I find it somewhat comforting to note that I can accurately predict the future--at least in regard to feature stories on WFAA-Channel 8 and The Dallas Morning News. All I need do is pick up a copy of the Observer and then wait a few weeks (or in some cases months). Is it my imagination, or didn't I read an expose on towing companies operating outside the law in the Observer? Just last week, good ol' WFAA ran a hard-hitting expose of the same thing happening along Lower Greenville. Coincidence? You be the judge.

Brad Kozak
Via e-mail

Editor's note: The story to which Mr. Kozak refers--"Feeling lucky?"--ran in the Observer on December 19, 1996.

Just saps
Have you always been an idiot, or did you recently have a head injury?
I'd refute [Robert Wilonsky's] preview of Elton John [Music listings, August 6], but I scarcely know where to begin. Of course, as a critic for an "alternative" publication, I suppose you couldn't possibly like something that is popular. Or, I should say, have the honesty to admit it.

To say that Elton John hasn't written a good song since the mid-1970s is absurd. If you don't like his music, fine. But as a critic, you ought to attempt to find out why someone like John has touched so many people with his music for nearly 30 years.

Or are millions of people just saps?
Jeff Stevens
Via e-mail