Calling Jesse Jackson

Calling Jesse Jackson: The race wasn't even close, but some black leaders in Dallas are as furious as a Florida Democrat over what they claim is another stolen election--this one the recent Smith vs. Wallace race to head Dallas' dissension-plagued NAACP chapter.

Victor Smith, a community relations officer for DISD and former local NAACP head from 1990 to 1994, won the December 2 contest between himself and Juanita Wallace, an assistant principal at W.T. White High School. Smith succeeds Brenda Fields, who assumed leadership of the group in August after longtime president Lee Alcorn made some unfortunate--or more precisely, boneheaded and anti-Semitic--remarks on the radio regarding Sen. Joe Lieberman, money, and the Jewish faith.

Turnout was low at the election: Smith won handily, with 191 votes compared with Wallace's 60, plus another 85 for Patrick Buchanan. (If you thought for one instance that Buzz was serious about Buchanan, please put the paper down and back away slowly.) Butterfly ballots were nowhere to be seen, but the election's outcome has elicited howls of protests from black leaders in Dallas who doubt Smith's commitment to their agenda. "He is an embarrassment," Dallas County Commissioner John Wiley Price fumed to one black newspaper. "There is nothing left to say about this Negro."

So who's under fire for election theft? Wallace blames Dwaine Caraway, member of the city park board and chairman of the local NAACP election committee. She claims he withheld membership lists, and as a result, she couldn't campaign effectively. She also charges that some dues-paying members weren't allowed to vote. Alcorn, head of the rival Coalition for the Advancement of Civil Rights, also thinks Wallace got a raw deal. Smith leads "the same people who tried to sabotage my leadership," he says. (Unless those people had some way of controlling what comes out of Alcorn's mouth, sabotage wasn't really necessary.)

"I'm not going to get in the mud with anyone," Victor Smith replies. But Caraway says that Wallace's allegations are baseless, and the election was "the best election the Dallas branch has ever had without a doubt"--that's not exactly a high bar to jump, but it's better than nothing, Buzz supposes. Caraway says he didn't receive updated lists from the national NAACP until the Wednesday before the election, and claims Wallace sent out mailings anyway using other lists.

So why all the bellyaching? The allegations, Caraway says, constitute a smear campaign to discredit Smith as a spokesman for black Dallas. "What you got here is a whole bucket of sour grapes," he says, "and some people who are no longer in charge of black people's minds."

Those of you who can't get enough of Digital Convergence's CueCat bar-code scanners--the nifty, inane computer peripheral intended to make Web surfing easies--seriously, get some help.

No, wait. A.T. Cross Co. has joined Belo Corp., Radio Shack, and others as supporters of Digital Convergence's technology, which allows users to scan bar codes on products and news stories to link directly to Web sites with more info. The Cross Convergence is a ballpoint pen with a portable scanner built into it. It can store up to 300 codes for downloading to your computer. Or, you can use the writing end of the pen to simply write a note telling you to look up the Web site later, but where's the fun in that, you Luddite?

So far, the pens are available only online for $89.99. Around 900 have been sold so far, and there's a waiting list for buyers--which likely means roughly 900 dads are going to get yet another useless Christmas gift, and others will get shafted come Valentine's Day. To those unlucky men, Buzz says cheer up. At least you can write with the pen. Besides, you could have received a singing bass.

--Compiled from staff reports by Patrick Williams

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