Schoonerville Trolley


Buzz, hypocritical middle-class leftist that we are, wholeheartedly supports public transportation. That is to say, we feel guilty about not taking buses ourselves, and we definitely think you should ride them. (That would leave us more room to park our truck.) In fact, if you people would get your enviro-sensibilities in order and clear out of our way, Buzz might one day again haul our petit-bourgeois butt down to the parking war zone that is Lower Greenville Avenue.

To make it easier on you and us, DART has revived a proposal to offer free weekend trolley service to bars and restaurants along Greenville--provided the businesses are willing to promote it and chip in half of the $90,000 annual cost. Which is a pretty darn nice thing of DART to do, Buzz thinks, considering two facts. First, it would put DART in the middle of the bitter fight between Lower Greenville bar owners and neighborhood residents. Second, driving a bus full of barflies from Lower Greenville at 2 o'clock on a Sunday morning has to be the second-worst job ever. Barf, barf, barf went the Schoonerville Trolley.

So, hail to the bus driver. But will DART's plan ease the tensions between neighborhood associations and bars?

Fat chance.

Avi Adelman publishes Barking Dogs, an anti-bar, pro-neighborhood Web site ( /~adelman/dogs.html) that has led the fight to restrict on-street parking to residents only. He says the trolley is not a bad idea, except that it suggests that the Lower Greenville area is an entertainment district. It's not, he says. It's "a residential neighborhood with an entertainment district stuck up our back end."

The city has given up on Lower Greenville by granting variances that have allowed businesses to eliminate hundreds of parking spots, Adelman says. That sends cars into neighboring streets, where their owners have been known to toss the occasional beer bottle or 30 and whiz on the hedges.

Hey, and another one rides the bus.

Let the city enforce its codes and require bars to have enough parking first, he says, and then offer a trolley. "The city has not done squat," he says.

The notion of a trolley service has been kicking around for about a year and was revived last week at a neighborhood meeting. Under the plan, two trolleys would run from the Mockingbird light rail station down Greenville on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights. The rides would be free, paid for by the businesses, which would also have to promote and market the service. Tim Newby, an assistant vice president at DART, says it's now up to the city and business owners to carry through with it.

Buzz tried unsuccessfully to reach several bar owners to get their views, but Adelman, admittedly a biased source, isn't too hopeful. Liquor sales in the neighborhood have fallen off over the past year, he claims, thanks in part to neighborhood efforts to restrict parking. He also sees Lower Greenville's popularity as a nightspot waning eventually--just part of a natural cycle, he says--perhaps making the need for a trolley moot.

Somewhere, a bus driver is breathing a sigh of relief.

Oh, and in case you were wondering about the worst job: Our vote goes to one mentioned in the movie Clerks--mopping the floor at a peep show.

Silence is golden

If you're a DISD parent and you want to know whether having Edison Schools Inc. take over management of your kid's campus is a good idea, where should you turn for the straight dope?

To Edison Schools, of course.

That's the message, anyway, of the "Winnetka-Edison Fact Sheet for Parents," a missive being distributed by school administrators to parents of students at DISD's Winnetka Elementary. It's the official word on Edison for Winnetka parents. In fact, it's the only word, as far as the school is concerned, thanks to a memo sent to Winnetka staff telling them to keep their yaps shut about Edison when they communicate with parents.

Principal Leslie Coney issued the memo Monday after a teacher who opposes DISD's plan to turn management of some schools over to the private company sent a letter to parents calling for a protest two days before a scheduled informational meeting last week. (Winnetka isn't on any official list to become an Edison school, though it might be if enough parents support the idea.) The teacher's memo, Coney says, contained false and inflammatory statements. It's also against district policy to send communiqués to parents without clearing it through the central office, Coney told Buzz.

"Staff members are directed not to send any information to parents or community members regarding Edison schools without the permission of the principal," read Coney's memo to staff members, who are required to sign it.

Of course, someone sent her memo to Buzz anyway. Bad teacher! Write 100 times, "I will not talk to that nasty Buzz person."

"I'm not trying to squelch anybody's free-speech rights," Coney says. "I'm not trying to shove Edison down anybody's throat. [I'm]...just trying to follow policy."

Teachers and staff shouldn't be lobbying for or against Edison, Coney says. She's right, though the official "fact sheet for parents" paints a laughably rosy picture of school life under Edison. It also informs parents who want to know more that Edison has provided brochures and videos about itself--not exactly 60 Minutes-style exposés, we're guessing.

But maybe we're wrong. Maybe Edison's own info will contain a story published by the San Francisco Chronicle last week, which reported that 27 of 32 teachers at an Edison elementary school there are ready to quit next fall because they're overworked.

Compiled from staff reports by Patrick Williams


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