No strings attached?
Buzz likes trees. Buzz likes plants. Some of our most memorable moments--well, not memorable, but enjoyable, anyway--come from plants. So we're as happy as anyone to hear that the Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Gardens has completed plans for a $16 million expansion, funded largely with private donations that include $2 million from the family of mega-developer Trammell Crow.

Nice people, those Crows. At least, we hope they're nicer than another Dallas gazillionaire who donated $2 million to the arboretum.

Buzz couldn't remember it ourselves--darn those plants--but a number of Dallas Observer staffers recall the time in 1988 when Ross Perot Sr. gave $2 million to the arboretum, only to decide he didn't like what was going to be done with the money and to ask for it back. The arboretum eventually got to keep the $2 million, but not until after a little tug-of-war.

The arboretum might want to make sure all the donors' checks clear before it spends the dough.

The cradle of democracy
What's on the mind of the men of Irving these days, besides the Cowboys? Apparently constitutional law, the rules of grand jury procedure, and civil rights.

We base this on a call we received last week from an Irvingite who asked that Buzz look into whether President Clinton's civil rights had been violated by the decision to make public the grand jury testimony from the Kenneth Starr investigation.

This fellow, who spoke in a deep country twang, said he and about 20 of his buddies were just sittin' around when they got into a discussion over whether the release of what was presumably secret grand jury proceedings was illegal.

Picture it. "Now, Joe Don, the revised federal code clearly says...Dammit, Billy, don't pump that keg no more! It'll foam!, as I was sayin', the code..."

When they decided that Clinton just might have been done wrong, the caller said he telephoned his local congressional reps to demand an answer.

(The short answer, according to a federal lawyer who should know, is that Congress makes the rules, and if Congress wants to release the Starr report, nothing says they can't. Sorry, boys.)

Teasing aside, Buzz must admit: If it came down to watching 10 minutes of blather on Crossfire about the same subject or spending an afternoon knocking back a cold one and debating the law with the men of Irving, we'd pick Irving.

Ignorance is bliss
If our friends in Irving are looking for a place to put their intellects to work, they might want to cruise west and volunteer their time at the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, which apparently needs all the help it can get. In an editorial published Sunday, the newspaper--i.e., the pillar of an informed electorate, the watchdog of government, the defender of free speech--urged its readers not to watch the televised videotape of Clinton's grand jury testimony.

The Star-Telegram opined that the "vox populi" need not be consulted on possible perjury by the president. The paper suggested that readers turn off their televisions.

The really scary part is that the editorial writers for the Star-Telegram may have taken their own advice.

--Compiled from staff reports by Patrick Williams

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Patrick Williams is editor-in-chief of the Dallas Observer.
Contact: Patrick Williams