The Venable-ini speaks
Well OK, so I reserve the right to repeatedly change my mind and join or rejoin that troublesome tribe of cannibals known as the Dallas school board ["Now you see him," January 14].

Well...SUE ME!
Don Venable
Via e-mail

Editor's note: For more wit and wisdom from erstwhile DISD trustee Don Venable, see this week's News section.

She's not that crazy
Laura Miller for the school board!
Michael Smith
Via e-mail

One lucky kid
I just finished reading "The wrong man" [January 7], and it garners all types of emotions: sadness, anger, frustration, and pity for a country, state, city. It's a perfect example of African-American justice in America: "guilty until proven innocent," and sorry for the poor suckers who can't afford competent and responsible legal counsel, which most can't.

This is one lucky kid, but he will be forever scarred by this incident. He will be stigmatized and denied opportunities if he tries to attain the great American dream. Welcome to the real America--as seen through the eyes of older, informed African-Americans who are not victims of integration. The ones who clearly understand what it really means to be black in America.

Hopefully, Mr. Jolly has a store of inner strength, because he's going to need it to move forward. But it can be done, and I pray he'll succeed. It makes me sad that history and struggle have not made a difference in the attitudes in this country. Something of this magnitude should weigh on the conscience of America.

While Mr. [Arch] McColl can be praised for his actions (don't misunderstand--I am glad this kid got a break, it happens to so few), I wonder if he would have taken the case if he thought there might be a doubt about his innocence. It's a well-known fact in the African-American community that if you can't afford an attorney, you are probably going to jail. It's appalling this kid had to sit in jail, but I know it happens every day while careers are made on the misery of others.

I can thank the Dallas Observer for going on record with all the facts of the case, and maybe it will help this young man as he tries to move through life. Perhaps someone will give him a chance to prove his worth and value as a human being.

Nickiolas Jolly, keep your head up. We all have our burdens to carry, but the making of true character is how you carry the load. Never doubt there are a lot of people who are waiting for you to fall, but make fools of them all.

Charletta Compton
Via e-mail

Kudos to the Observer once again--the only real source of journalism in DFW with the guts to tell it like it is. Great story on the wrongful incarceration of Nick Jolly. Sickening to read about John Vance's philosophy to indict anything and everything. But this should not come as a surprise from Dallas County. Remember Randall Adams, Joyce Ann Brown, and oh, yes...Darlie Routier. Keep up the good work, Observer.

John McLemore
Via e-mail

Your article about Nickiolas Jolly should be read by everybody--it was tops. For your information, right now the Chicago Tribune is running a five-part article on prosecutorial misconduct, and it mentions Dallas' Randall Dale Adams case.

Hubert Boykin

Pumping credit
It's about time somebody exposed Bally Total Fitness' misleading sales tactics ["Hard body, hard sell," January 14]. In my experience, it was worse than buying a car. The reason you and I cannot get honest and up-front answers is buried deep in their all-important contract. Forget getting a price quote over the phone or even at the desk; you have to "come on in" and go through their machine, and for good reason.

Bally's "membership contract" is really a loan, just like a car loan, and it appears as an entry on your credit report at at least one of the big three bureaus. That's right. You don't "buy" memberships at Bally's, you have them extend you credit. My basic Fitness-B plan (opened in July '97 for the McKinney Avenue club only) was explained by "Buffy" in sales like this: "You put 100 bucks down on this $599 membership, and I'll throw in a $50 discount, so after state tax you'll pay $494.29. Your payments will be $17.68 a month for three years."

Here's what he didn't tell me: First and most important, I was really borrowing money and paying it back over time at quite a hefty interest rate. My "membership plan" was, in reality, a three-year personal loan with a principal of $494.29. At a 17.25 percent interest rate, my total interest was $142.19, plus my $100 down, which brought the grand total of my "super deal" $599 membership to $736.48!

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