We are the world
In the three weeks or so since Dallas took over the reins from Arlington to bring the 2012 Olympic Games to the area, the Dallas Observer has run articles in three separate issues [these include "Going for the gold," September 17, and "Give her what she wants," October 15] criticizing the Dallas 2012 committee, already taking the editorial opinion that this is an inherently evil organization with a deceptive master plan to make the city of Dallas spend billions of dollars.

There are hundreds of questions that will have to be answered and challenges that will come in the next few months for this organization. However, Dallas 2012 deserves the chance to actually form their organization and start working on solutions for these challenges. It shouldn't be judged in the first few weeks for something that is going to be a three-year effort.

People of this area have the right to be concerned that billions of tax dollars are going to be wasted on this, but Dallas 2012 equally has the right to try to work to create a plan that meets both the needs of the citizens in this area and the needs of the International Olympic Committee. It isn't an impossible task. It's not landing a man on the moon or curing disease.

There have been two Olympic Games in the United States in the last 14 years, and neither has lost money and neither has tapped their city governments for billions of dollars. The Los Angeles Olympics made a profit of $225 million, and Atlanta made around $30 million, the major difference in profit coming from building a $200 million-plus Main Olympic Stadium as well as several other venues. This entire region has an enormous advantage in its existing facilities, which would save hundreds of millions of dollars.

Another thing that you don't seem to have addressed in your articles is that the Olympic Games are not a $2 billion hole that you just throw money into. The Games do produce revenue. People do buy tickets; they spend millions on pins, T-shirts, and caps. Major international corporations sponsor the Games through the IOC and the USOC. Television networks pay hundreds of millions of dollars for broadcast rights. And if you approach your budgeting logically and don't have to build major facilities, a profit--a small profit, at least--is not an unsafe bet.

The biggest obstacle Dallas 2012 faces is not facilities or budget or transportation or even Laura Miller; the biggest obstacles it faces are cynicism and paranoia.

This is the challenge for Dallas 2012. Because in the end, the Olympic Games are based on the complete opposite of cynicism. They are based on idealism. They are based on the ideals that we can all aspire to be more than what we are in whatever skill or particular talent we possess.

What if we could look past the worrying and start to begin to dream about the positives that could occur because of this? The revitalization of Fair Park and the surrounding area, an expanded transit service for the entire area, the chance of jobs and opportunity, the chance for all of the children in the area to experience something extraordinary in their lives.

The Olympic Games alone will not solve the problems we have in this area, but I can't think of a better catalyst. The Dallas 2012 Committee has taken its first baby steps. Give it at least the opportunity to start working before you proclaim it the Legion of Eternal Doom.

Shawn Mahan

Beggars beware
KERA ["Beggars banquet," October 1] has been my favorite local television station primarily because its programming is targeted to an intelligent, educationally oriented audience, and I egotistically think that I qualify. However, I am continually turned off by the asininity and frequency of KERA's on-air fundraising.

Ms. Miriam Rozen's article indicates that "Channel 13 has conducted pledge drives for 37 days during the fiscal year that ended July 31," down four days from the previous fiscal year. This is still a lot of days--more than one-twelfth of the station's actual programming days. Isn't there some way the station could condense this time to perhaps some kind of quarterly or even semiannual event? "Planning" viewing time becomes a joke. There seems to be no set amount of time given for each "break." (Sometimes I think there's actually time to run the New York Marathon before the next program begins.) "Fundraising days" are extremely frustrating because all your favorite programs run way behind schedule, and you're not told when programs will actually begin because of the frequent, lengthy interruptions between shows. TV and cable guides are no help at all, because this information is not being disseminated to the public that KERA purports to serve.

As a former employee of the Store of Knowledge in Fort Worth (which operates in conjunction with PBS markets), I am acutely aware of the necessity of fundraising programs. While KERA and other PBS stations have been recent recipients of some federal funding, I know that their primary source of revenue is still from viewers. However, some stricter guidelines for on-air begging or alternative solicitation should be implemented. Simply eliminating four fundraising days out of 37 is not enough.

The lack of planning and organization in the actual fundraising events is embarrassing. The prattling monologues are offensive and often incoherent, and poorly (if at all) scripted. It is not surprising that most people would rather switch the TV off than watch these people flounder in anticipation of the next show. Further, the "incentive gift" offerings are generally not well thought-out or exclusive. Many are available for direct purchase at the Dallas or Fort Worth Stores of Knowledge for a fraction of the amount of money the viewers are being asked to donate.

Fundraising is a necessary evil for KERA, but the station and its new president-CEO still have a long way to go in their efforts to streamline this process, and the marginal success (in terms of increases in amounts being raised) KERA is currently enjoying is nowhere near what it could experience with a minimum amount of frustration to its viewers.

Connie J. Grace
Fort Worth

Our gang
I applaud Rick and Mark Lannoye ["Boys in black," October 15] for standing up for their rights. Institutionalized bigotry is particularly onerous when perpetrated by government officials. We'd all benefit if more folks challenged such actions by officials when they cross the line into advocating or perpetrating civil rights violations. This includes not just simple symbols as Mark Lannoye wore, but more massive systemic problems such as Judeo-Christian-biased marriage laws, restrictions on public nudity tracing to days when nine of 13 original U.S. colonies were theocracies, and many other cultural remnants of our nation's church-state days at the local level prior to the 14th Amendment redefining the jurisdiction of the Establishment and Free Exercise Clauses of our Constitution.

An interesting question arises out of the facts reported in your article. Is the Mesquite police department a criminal gang?

Assuming they have more than three members, organized leadership, and typical police uniforms, and have been involved in patterns of criminal activity as indicated by an expressed intent to perpetrate or conspire to incite civil rights violations based on religion or sexual orientation, that police department meets its own definition of a criminal gang. Clearly suitable law enforcement action by higher authorities is needed to penalize severely those responsible.

Rev. Terry Smith
Earth Religions Legal Assistance Network
Derby, Connecticut

Either everyone gets to wear their religious symbols or no one. I don't think it would hurt anyone in a public school system where gang problems abound if all symbols were banned. Isn't that how laws work in this country--people have freedoms until they abuse them beyond reason? No crosses, no stars, no colors. No problem.

S. Urquhart
Choctaw, Oklahoma

It sounds to me as if the school decided wisely that persecution of a person for his choice of religion might be a mistake in the U.S.A., where such a choice is a guaranteed freedom under the Constitution.

I find it sad that all too often, adults and school officials take to task good kids who are doing nothing wrong but making their own decisions and standing up for themselves and their rights. If the schools would put as much energy into corralling the misbehavior of the students who are pursuing lives of criminal activity in fact instead of in fiction such as they tried with this child, we wouldn't have kids bringing weapons into our schools.

This is probably why the majority of the people I know are going in for home-schooling, and why we intend to home-school our children. Where do these adults think kids learn their intolerance if not from what they see around them?

Rev. E. R. Petersen
High Priestess, Sacred Hands Coven
Via e-mail

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