Home again
Itinerant former city council candidate Brenda Reyes found a new place to hang her hat earlier this week--jail.

Police hauled Reyes to the slammer June 22 after they were called to an eye-scratching fight between her and her husband, Phillip Brooks Gould.

The question remains whether Reyes plans to list the Lew Sterrett jail as a home address the next time she runs for office.

When we left Reyes in May 1997, she had lost her bid for the District 2 council seat to John Loza. The bitter defeat followed a campaign that included allegations that Reyes wasn't living in District 2 because the Deep Ellum apartment she was calling home wasn't built in time for Reyes to meet the city's residency requirements. Reyes insisted she wasn't really living inside a house at 6112 Ravendale, far away from District 2. Ironically, she made the claim while speaking from that address.

Apparently, being away from city hall hasn't made her married life any easier. When the Dallas cops arrived at the couple's office on Greenville Avenue Monday morning, Gould said Reyes used her "fingernails to scratch [Gould's] eye, causing several minor lacerations around [Gould's] right eye and eyelid," according to the police report. In return, Gould grabbed Reyes' wrists and "began twisting them, causing minor bruises."

Buzz doesn't think domestic violence is funny, but we couldn't help notice that Reyes told the police where she lived: 6112 Ravendale.

Uncle, uncle!
Many years have passed since Buzz packed up our covered wagon--a Chevette--and headed south to Texas in the great Rust Belt migration of the mid-'80s. Since then, we've learned to toss around the words "ya'll" and "fixin'" like a native, but have never mastered what we like to call "talking Southern." It's the gentle art of hiding daggers in the most gracious, mannerly speech--sort of like delivering a sharp smack with a magnolia blossom.

We recently received a fine example of talking Southern from a master, former U.S. House Speaker Jim Wright of Fort Worth, who gently and sweetly informed us that he didn't much appreciate an item in the May 28 Buzz about rumors involving the potential departure of U.S. Attorney Paul Coggins. We noted that one possible replacement for Coggins was the wife of the "infamous publisher of Jim Wright's ill-fated memoirs."

"To identify Carlos [Moore] as an 'infamous' publisher, or the small book in question as my 'ill-fated' memoirs, is to stretch the point, I think...It wasn't what anyone would call great literature, I'm sure, but some folks liked it well enough to buy copies for friends and associates," Wright wrote in the tone of folksy modesty that is the hallmark of good Southern-speak. He also sent us copies--both signed, one with a little self-caricature--of the "small book," Reflections of a Public Man, and his actual 500-plus page memoirs.

In his letter, he took any blame for the "small ruckus" Reflections had raised.

OK, so he resigned as speaker of the House, in part, because of questions over who was buying the book and why, but who's quibbling? He sent us books. He drew us pictures. He gently chastised us. Maybe Buzz is getting soft, but we felt like we had mugged our grandfather. We felt like a damned smart-mouthed Yankee.

"For my part, I've always sort of envied the rhinoceros," he wrote as he closed his letter. "His hide is 2 feet thick, which would be an enormous asset, except that apparently he has no interest at all in politics."

Don't worry about Buzz, Mr. Wright. It'll be a cold day in Dallas before we stick a dart in your hide again. Just don't send us a Christmas card: Our conscience couldn't take it.

Upgrade this
The momentary shame we felt over being cynical after Wright's letter was washed away a few days later by this headline in the June 19 Dallas Morning News: "City, Belo Foundation to upgrade Ferris Plaza." Us cynical? We're lambs compared with the headline writers at the Orwellian Ministry of Truth at 508 Young St.

The "upgrade" in what the News story described as a "grackle-plagued park on downtown's west side" involves the city using money from the Belo Corp. to whack down 21 mature, beautiful live oak trees that ring the plaza in front of the newspaper's offices. (Belo owns the News.) That would be upgrade as in, "The timber industry wants to upgrade old-growth forests in the Northwest."

We spoke with Steve Houser, a certified arborist and vice president of the Dallas Historic Tree Coalition, which has not yet taken an official position on the plan. (The coalition will meet with the Downtown Improvement District on Tuesday to discuss it.)

Houser's personal opinion? "I think overall they're [the live oaks] not in ideal or perfect condition; however, most any of the experts that I've talked to felt like there was no obvious reason to remove the trees" except two or three that are ailing. That could cause a problem for the Belo plan. Dallas' chief arborist, Kassandra McLaughlin, says she will not grant a permit to cut down 18 of the trees, though proponents can appeal to the board of adjustment.

As for Belo's reason for wanting the trees down, another coalition member was more to the point: "To be quite blunt, there's a lot of bird shit, and people are tired of it."

Birds live in trees. Birds poop. Belo's solution? Cut down the old trees and replace them with smaller, new ones. And what does Belo plan to do about the street people who sleep in the park? Shoot them and replace them with street children?

Here's our suggestion. If you're a Morning News subscriber and like old trees, call the paper's circulation line at 214-745-8383 and "upgrade" your subscription.

--Compiled from staff reports by Patrick Williams

Spare a tree: write Buzz on the Internet at [email protected].

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