Lancaster's tempest
Please allow me to offer some brighter colors to the dark picture painted of Lancaster in a recent Observer article ["Storm warning," May 2]. While the city's unique personality has always kept its politics interesting, there is much to appreciate about our rich history and promising future.

Big steps have been made to restore the tornado-damaged town square. Your article states, "virtually no rebuilding of the town square has taken place." Nothing could be more inaccurate. I invite anyone to our city to take a tour of the businesses that have reopened on the square, as well as the new businesses that have opened since the tornado.

Your article mentions an "established power structure"; the hard-working individuals who can always be counted on to step forward and solve the city's problems can hardly be described as a "power structure." In our town, like most others, 10 percent of the people do 90 percent of the work. Newcomers are always welcome to pitch in and help carry the load.

Your article also states, "Those without longtime ties...were excluded from decision-making." The fact is that 14 of the last 17 members of the city council are first-generation Lancaster residents. All are welcome to participate in city government.

The Observer article speaks of race relations in Lancaster. Your readers might be interested to know that race relations in Lancaster are improving. Lancaster's racial debates are getting more attention because they have taken on the form of an intramural competition. The emerging minority leadership is playing out its own power struggle. Recently, Victor Buchanon, Lancaster's first minority council member, publicly demanded the resignation of Carolyn Morris--Lancaster's first African-American school-board member. Morris, in turn, is leading a recall petition against Buchanon.

I believe Lancaster will emerge from these struggles as a successful, mixed-race community. We are already seeing a rapid integration of our boards and committees by members of an active and growing African-American middle class. We were proud to recently welcome our first African-American art studio to the historic town square.

Since the tornado, Lancaster's health has been improving, and our vital signs are growing stronger. I welcome the Observer and its readers to visit us early and often.

Rudy Oeftering
Member, Lancaster City Council

English heritage
The attacks on Carrollton-Farmers Branch Independent School District trustee Doug Hellman are to be expected when a public official takes a controversial position ["Power of words," May 2]. His only "sin" was to state that bilingualism does not benefit the Hispanic population, and may lead to disunity in our country. For his statement, a large number of activists engaged in a disruptive protest at a school-board meeting.

Mr. Hellman's point on bilingualism is well taken. A large majority of Americans do not trace their ancestry to the British Isles. However, previous immigration waves were assimilated into American culture through the use of English. The descendants of the coal miners, sodbusters, and pushcart vendors of the 1800s and early 1900s became the backbone of American society. Like their predecessors, Hispanic immigrants can follow the proven path of assimilation, entrepreneurship, and education. The alternative is to become increasingly dependent upon liberal politicians and government handouts.

Carrollton and Farmers Branch are fortunate to have a school-board trustee who is as forthright as Mr. Hellman. If I have any disagreement with him, it is in his apologizing in the face of a disruptive display by left-wing agitators.

Nick Howard

Tinseltown fallout
With regard to the ongoing mess with the city council, Cinemark, and Councilman Chris Luna ["Luna landing," April 18, and "Dallas' lawyer joke," April 25], I think the real scandal we should be looking at is the eight council members and the former mayor who voted against the theater, knowing the zoning was in place to legally allow the construction.

I am personally incensed that the council yielded to a loud, unruly minority of North Dallas blue bloods who have now cost me, the taxpayer, $5 million plus that was badly needed elsewhere in our deteriorating city!

I'm not convinced Mr. Luna did anything wrong in trying to work with Cinemark. If you knew that what your colleagues were doing was illegal, immoral, and not in the best interests of the whole city, what would you have done? Did Mr. Luna not have a moral duty to try to prevent the council from taking illegal action?

Are we also so naive as to think the attorneys for Cinemark did not already know the council action was illegal and that they would have firm grounds to sue if the council knowingly ruled against their development? Certain members of the council would have us believe those "dummy" attorneys would not have figured it out on their own. Yeah, sure.

Eight council members are trying to cover their own rear ends and shift the blame onto a council member who did not go along with them in selling out the city. I just hope come next election, we will remember those eight names. I know I will.

Alan Pierce

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