That sorry sidewalk
Congratulations to Juliana Barbassa and the Dallas Observer for highlighting the situation at Dallas' INS building ["Huddled masses," April 8]. As a recent immigrant from England, I have had the "pleasure" of lining up overnight on that sorry sidewalk on six occasions over the past three years. Twice, my wife and I were turned away after many hours of waiting.

We're the lucky ones--my case is relatively straightforward (I'm married to a U.S. citizen), English is our native tongue, and we're a healthy young couple. It's really tough on the elderly, mothers-to-be, and parents with young children, who have to endure exactly the same conditions. In a country with such huge resources, you'd think the INS could stretch to provide a few simple benches and a water fountain!

It's ironic that in this great country, which quite rightly prides itself on respecting human rights, many arrivals' first experience at the INS seems so un-American.

Name withheld

After reading your story on the "processing of applications" at the INS, I can honestly say that you guys just touched the tip of the iceberg on this one. I, too, have had the chance to experience lines reaching around the back of the INS building in the middle of the night, waiting for the opportunity to pick up a form, ask a question, and be generally treated in a manner more fitting to a herd of cattle.

Your story will be read by many who will say we as "aliens" should be grateful for the chance to become American citizens no matter what. They will say we have no right to complain, no right to seek better, more efficient service from a government office. They will even say that those who cannot come up with the fees asked of them would do well to just go home.

I know all too well these things, having heard them firsthand from teachers, employers, and even well-meaning "friends" who are all ignorant of the fact that I am not an American citizen.

There is so much that needs to be done to address the problems facing people like myself, who have been wanting to become American citizens only to be put off by the "process." Why complain when we cannot and will not be heard? Fear of what will happen to those who complain is why so many who are lucky enough to obtain citizenship choose to forget how degrading and frustrating their road to "joining the American mainstream" was.

Until someone speaks for the "huddled masses," we can only wait, and wait, and wait...

Dulce Torres
Via e-mail

No love lost
So, did someone at the USA Film Festival [Buzz, April 8] spurn the amorous advances of one of your staff writers, or what? I can't think of many other reasons for the level of bile hurled their way these last couple of years. You crybabies bitch and moan like jilted lovers.

First, you've been critical of the festival since 1995? Funny, I remember that festival and the rave review it received from this very paper. You failed to mention that in your article. Seems you have a nasty case of selective memory.

Further, regarding the "tepid" schedule, yes, it seems that sometimes the festival presents bland mainstream films with big stars in attendance just to make some money. What do you expect? They're a nonprofit arts organization with bills to pay; they have to do this, I'm sure, to offset the fact that they program so much non-mainstream, non-moneymaking material. Were any of you there for the "Century of Cinema" series of documentaries? I was. Along with about 12 other people. How much money do you think they lost on that one? I say, let them make their money off the Dennis Quaids of the world so that I get to see things like Sick: The Life and Death of Bob Flanagan.

I'm just a regular guy who loves movies. I am also a member of the festival, and I have never been disappointed by the quality of the programming. Sure, I don't care to see Mr. Jealousy or a tribute to Christopher Walken, but I do care about the long list of films I have been able to see: Guy Maddin's Twilight of the Ice Nymphs, local filmmakers Kim Flores' Vocesitas and Andy Anderson's Detention; Mod Fuck Explosion; Fame Whore; Breathing Lessons; Mary Jane's Not a Virgin Anymore; From the Journals of Jean Seberg; John Waters hosting a screening of Boom!; Bellytalkers; The First Hundred Years; Odile and Yvette at the Edge of the World; John Greyson's Uncut; The Personals; Waco: The Rules of Engagement; and on and on. And I'll be there for Todd Oldham. He's hosting a screening of the 1970s documentary Grey Gardens, which is a bizarre little movie. I'll have reserved seats, too. Maybe I could save you one if you cheap bastards can't afford a ticket.

Here's what I learn from your petty carping. With friends like the Dallas Observer, the USA Film Festival doesn't need enemies. If I were them, I wouldn't give you people the time of day, much less press passes. It all reminds me of something I learned in junior high: You don't hang around with people who keep telling you how much you suck.

Steve Holyer
Via e-mail

Men of integrity
I first met John Loza ["Whipping boy," April 8] at a neighborhood gathering here in the barrio. I didn't vote for him. I still cannot comprehend a man who is gay identifying himself as a Republican--a political party that builds on hate and the oppression of gay people.

But I will be voting for John Loza's re-election. Because I have found him to be a person of integrity. I have disagreed with John on many of his votes, including the arena and the Trinity River. I have seen him in action at City Hall. And he does care about affordable housing issues.

And he watches the gangsters and follows the bouncing ball. While he remains an enigma in many respects (gay and Republican), I must say that I have been very impressed by his attention to my neighborhood and affordable housing issues that are important to me. I intend to support him in his re-election, even though I didn't vote for him the first time.

I think he is a good man. I think he is honest. I admire his ability to focus on issues of importance, even though I may disagree with him. Perhaps I have reached an age when I can understand that reasonable people can be on both sides of an issue. That doesn't make them bad people. What a concept!

Don Maison
Via e-mail

Editor's note: Don Maison is executive director of AIDS Services of Dallas, a residential program for persons with AIDS.

As a resident of North Dallas, District 12, I take no position on the politics of District 2 or the upcoming city council election in that district. As a City Plan Commission member, however, I served with Rick Leggio for more than a year prior to his resignation. From personal experience, I find your characterization of Mr. Leggio's alleged sour temperament and irascible behavior both inaccurate and offensive.

As a commissioner, Mr. Leggio was thoughtful and judicious about all zoning cases. Representing District 2 in particular, he was always knowledgeable and prepared, asked incisive questions, treated all parties with respect, and articulated his reasoned decisions clearly.

The zoning case for a proposed Albertson's grocery store in Old East Dallas, by all accounts, including Councilman John Loza's, is complex, fiercely contested, and not an easy decision to make. The entire City Plan Commission spent months to fully understand the issues, reading materials and listening to the passionate arguments of both opponents and proponents. Mr. Leggio was deeply immersed, trying to forge a compromise solution recognizing merits of both sides of the debate.

Mr. Leggio had the courage of his convictions to vote his conscience. He agonized over the vote, well aware of his difference with Mr. Loza and the probable consequences for himself personally. He did not try to impose his will and encouraged his colleagues to vote our consciences. Based on land-use issues, the commission reached its recommendation to the city council not to support Albertson's proposal.

As district appointees acting in an advisory capacity, City Plan Commission members are charged to use their best judgment within the scope of zoning regulations and community input. The final decision rightfully rests with our elected officials.

Commission members most often share similar perspectives with their council member. At times we have our differences. Mr. Leggio's resignation was realistic rather than rash. It was a sad day for many on the City Plan Commission to lose such a competent colleague.

Ilene C. Perkett
Via e-mail

Biting justice
Don Crowder was more than a perfectionist; he was one effective lawyer ["Fatal perfection," March 25]. When he represented me, he came on late in the case. Never have I started at such a deficit and had things turned around so dramatically.

He sat next to me in court, breathing heavily, eyes darting around, spit coming out one side of his mouth like a rabid animal. My fear was that he would bite me, and I was his client. At the end of the hearing, my opponent had all she wanted of Don Crowder. He verbally knocked her and her lawyer all over the courtroom. The issue was settled quickly.

I always felt I had a powerful advocate in him. Now that he is gone, where do I find another Don Crowder? And will he bite me?

Raymond Jennison

Punching Don's ticket
Here's hoping that Robert Wilonsky's article on the Mavericks ["Boo ball," April 1] will do for Don Nelson what his last one did for Rocco Pendola. Now if we can only get Chuck Cooperstein back on The Ticket...

Via e-mail

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