Sucking up to Sam
Purported writer Ann Zimmerman's bitter attack on City Attorney Sam Lindsay weaves a few threads of fact into a tapestry of falsehood ["Jurist imprudence," July 17]. Zimmerman's characterization of Lindsay as "mediocre" is patently untrue and simply not supported by an objective look at Lindsay and the Dallas City Attorney's Office.

Lindsay brings to the office a dedication to excellence mixed with a practical knowledge of the law. Zimmerman forgets, or perhaps intentionally ignores, the fact that the office under Lindsay's leadership consistently (and successfully) handles hundreds of civil lawsuits and thousands of Class C criminal prosecutions, not to mention myriad complex contract, zoning, police, and political issues. The very examples cited in the article underscore Zimmerman's ignorance of both the facts and the day-to-day workings of the courthouse and city attorney's office. Apparently while dozing during her journalism classes, Zimmerman's daydreams about law now qualify her to critique Lindsay on complicated legal and factual issues about which she obviously has no knowledge. The federal bench would be well served by a person such as Sam Lindsay.

Robert Davis

I just finished reading Ann Zimmerman's article on Sam Lindsay's nomination for a federal judgeship. The article should have been titled "Mediocre Journalist Looking for a Story," since Zimmerman is obviously not a competent journalist and had no basis for her diatribe against Lindsay. Apparently, the Dallas Observer's search for a writer reached the "lowest common denominator" when it hired Zimmerman.

Paul Pearce

Wanna bet
Your recent piece on jockey Marlon St. Julien was informative and nicely done ["The Saint," July 17]. I have a lot of respect for these athletes since they risk their lives or permanent injury every time they ride a thoroughbred.

The reader might come away with the impression that many jockeys have a very hard time making a living earning the kind of pay mentioned in your article. However, not one time did you mention that these jockeys, their agents, their immediate family and friends, and/or the owners and trainers they represent actually win a lot of money (not inclusive of purse money) at the race track. I am talking about betting on races themselves, some of which they are not involved in at all. It basically boils down to receiving good information about a horse or other horses from a reliable source.

Just think, who collects the huge payoffs on exactas and trifectas, and especially superfectas and Pick 6's? Imagine how much horse people make when they know something the general racing public doesn't know.

Don't get me wrong--I'm not suggesting that races are "fixed," but only wish to say that these people are privy to inside information that the average horseplayer doesn't know about. I've personally seen, time and time again, important race people or their designated gambler go to a pari-mutuel window and place large bets on a horse that looked awful in the racing form but ran the race of its life that particular day.

I suppose it goes with the sport. As long as vast moneys are involved (the on-track handle for weekends at Lone Star is always well over a million dollars), you are always going to have things happen that are somewhat fishy and inexplicable. There are certainly no guarantees in horse racing--except that the tracks always make money and, most of the time, the average person ends up losing!

Chris McAllister

Julie Lyons responds: Jockeys are not allowed to bet on races, and I never observed Marlon St. Julien or his wife bet or offer tips to anyone. And while jockeys, trainers, agents, and owners do possess some "inside information" on a horse's condition, the laws of probability make it extremely unlikely they'll ever parlay that to a winning Pick 6 or trifecta wager.

Who's to blame?
I was touched by the story of Maricela, Jorge, and Diana ["Borderline case," July 24]. Here is a couple that is married, working, insured, and taking responsibility for their child. While healthy newborns are left on doorsteps and other couples have children without the commitment of marriage or get divorced over trivial matters, this couple is fighting for the right to stay together and take care of each other and their child.

Immigrants need to follow the law. However, the spirit of the law needs to be honored. This woman is married to a permanent U.S. resident and is the mother of a U.S. citizen and is trying to work within the law. If she is not deserving of legal status, then who is? I feel that she and her husband are deserving of sainthood. How many of us would continue their fight daily?

I will pray for this family and for a bolt of lightning to hit whoever needs to be hit at the INS or wherever to get this matter handled at once. This family deserves peace, not more pain.

Ellie Wilson
Red Oak

A colleague has directed my attention to the article by Rebeca Rodriguez. The article is compelling, setting forth the dilemma of an alien mother (illegally in the United States, with a gravely sick child) who may be required to return to Mexico to await the issuance of an immigrant visa with which she may enter the U.S. to assume a legal residence. Surely no one can read the article without being moved.

My purpose in writing is to ensure that your readers understand clearly what role the Immigration and Naturalization Service may play in this particular case. Rodriguez has unfairly mischaracterized INS' responsibility to the Garcia family when she repeatedly employs pejorative language in referencing the agency. She writes: "applicants seeking permanent residency in the United States must return to their home countries while their immigration paperwork inches along. Maricela applied several years ago...but the INS is still working on applications from 1992..." and "...once the INS gets around to it..." and "...she won't have any right to remain in this country while the INS plods along..." and finally, "As the political waters roil, the INS moves on at slug speed."

It's true that the INS has unprecedented backlogs generated by an avalanche of applicants seeking legal residency or U.S. citizenship, without which they may no longer be qualified for public benefit programs. However, with respect to Ms. Garcia, the delay in obtaining permanent residence does not lie with INS, but rather with the congressionally mandated quota allocation system, strictly enforced by the Department of State.

In short, Ms. Garcia may not even submit an application for permanent residence to the INS until her priority date for a visa number is reached. Unfortunately, because so many intended immigrants come from Mexico, the annual legal allocation of visas for Mexican nationals is oversubscribed by many years.

I know it's popular on occasion to "bash" INS, and we'll take the licks when they're due. But please don't credit us with liability for an administrative process beyond our control.

Arthur Strapp
District Director
INS, Dallas

Defending the narcs
Together with Paul Coggins, United States attorney for the Northern District of Texas, and St. Clair Theodore, lead attorney of the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force, I feel it necessary to respond to certain statements you made in a recent article ["Busted,"July 10].

I am the deputy chief of the Narcotics and Violent Crime Section of the United States Attorney's Office for the Northern District of Texas. As such, it is my responsibility to coordinate with the Dallas Field Division Office of the Drug Enforcement Administration in their efforts to investigate and prosecute major narcotics offenses in the Dallas area. In my view, your article is largely inaccurate.

The article suggests that the Dallas Office of the Drug Enforcement Administration has not investigated any major drug cases since 1994. This is simply not true. The article further suggests that DEA arrests and drug seizures are down. Again, this is not true. You also state that DEA agents "look down" on state, local, and other federal law enforcement agencies and refuse to work with them. Once again, the facts prove otherwise.

Between 1995 and the present, the Dallas Field Office of the DEA, working jointly with other law enforcement agencies, has arrested, indicted, and convicted over 345 members of major drug organizations responsible for trafficking in over 129,000 pounds of marijuana, 4,375 kilograms of cocaine, 5,235 kilograms of crack cocaine, 200 kilograms of heroin, 1,100 pounds of methamphetamine, and 50 gallons of PCP. Many of the convicted defendants involved in these cases are currently serving life sentences. The majority are serving sentences in excess of 20 years. Those defendants pending trial face 10 to life minimum/mandatory sentences.

The facts regarding these cases are matters of record that can be easily obtained in the files of the district court. The record demonstrates that the DEA, working jointly with other law enforcement officers, has been responsible for the successful prosecution of numerous large-scale offenders in Dallas since 1994. The records show that the Dallas Field Division Office of the DEA has continued to produce outstanding results in narcotics law enforcement from 1994 to the present. DEA agents continue to demonstrate the professionalism, dedication to duty, and diligence that are essential for a successful law enforcement team.

I personally extend an invitation to anyone concerned with the drug enforcement activities of the Dallas Office of the DEA to sit through one of the sometimes month-long trials involving major drug organizations investigated by the DEA. I am convinced that you, too, will appreciate the tremendous effort and sacrifice that special agents of the Dallas Field Division Office, together with other law enforcement agencies, put forth to rid the streets of our community of major drug traffickers.

Rose Romeo, deputy criminal chief
Paul Coggins, U.S. attorney
St. Clair Theodore, Drug Enforcement Task Force
U.S. Attorney's Office

Concrete analysis
Your recent series on TXI is living proof that the current liberal assault on the objectivity of the truth is in fact real ["Ill wind blowing," June 12, "Something in the air," June 19]. In other words, perceptions are more important than the truth.

There are a number of ways to critique the series and connect it with fibbing. However, I will address only three of the most egregious examples. First, one of the Downwinders thought it outrageous that she would be expected to know what an organic compound is. We live in a world of expanding science, technology, and cultural literacy. If she didn't know what constitutes an organic compound, she should find out. If she didn't do that or could not not comprehend the explanation, she has no right to protest something that she doesn't understand.

Second, there is constant allusion to the release of chromium, cadmium, lead, and other toxic metals into the atmosphere. Aside from inclusion into particulates, please explain how these metals can be sustained as ions even under the most extreme atmospheric conditions. (It cannot happen.)

Third, the support of the Sierra Club and other environmental organizations is constantly cited as proof that the claims of the Downwinders are valid. Is this a substitute for the tangible, analytical findings of the TNRCC? Is this the smoke-and-mirrors approach that activists constantly use when they cannot support their arguments with logic and technology?

Your reporter virtually admitted that the Downwinders lost their credibility in Midlothian. If they really want to be credible, they should forgo their hype and activist histrionics. Instead, they could easily set up a testing program of their own. It is possible that the results could be used to confront those of the TNRCC's. That would be not only credible, but innovative for a group of environmentalists. However, there is a major problem. What would happen if their results confirm those of the TNRCC's? What would it do to the Downwinders' rantings?

There is a natural marriage between environmentalism and tabloid journalism, environmentalism and political radicalism, and environmentalism and greedy crackpots. Ninety percent of the people who join such movements are frustrated individuals who hate themselves and their present surroundings. In order to break out of that mold, they become ardent believers in a mass movement who always see misery in an oppressive today and redemption in a utopian tomorrow. Such individuals are fanatics who will never be receptive to the evidence of logic, science, or just plain common sense.

Robert Warner

Contacting which gland?
I felt compelled to respond to the review of Contact by Observer reviewer Peter Rainer. ["To coldly go," July 10]. I felt that the review was harsh and hasty at best, almost as though the reviewer was not indeed paid to watch the movie, but rather, forced.

However, I feel that a certain respect should be given, or at least observed, for the concepts of the creator of the picture, Carl Sagan. Upon his passing, our culture, and our world, lost one of the greatest communicators and teachers of astronomy that we have ever known. As a liaison of science, and as an extension of that responsibility, this picture--based on Sagan's conservative and delicately poised explanation of the high probability of life beyond our earth--was executed perfectly.

I believe that if you approached this movie expecting to be entertained in the fashion of Die Hard, Independence Day, and Star Wars, you would be disappointed to find that this film about knowledge and the pursuit of it was really about learning, absorbing, and stimulation of the cerebral cortex, instead of the adrenal gland. Perhaps Rainer would judge the film differently from this perspective; perhaps not. I know that you are in the business of providing digestible information for a diverse demographic cross-section, and this probably limits your reviews to just that--digestible.

Julie Armstrong
Via Internet

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