The Last Slice (?) of Bama Pie

The reason the Bama Pie isn't a museum yet? Red tape. That's what Dallas' Only Daily says. OK. Cool.

I hoped--no, prayed--our August 2 posting on the Bama Pie building would be our last; we've spilled a lot of virtual ink on the $364,000 project that's got zero to show for itself at this late date, some five years after Derrick Mitchem got the dough from the city and feds to build his Motorsports Museum in Fair Park. When last we looked, Mitchem was swearing the place was going to open "by the fall" and blaming the myriad delays on "the process" of paying for his project with government dough. Meanwhile, Assistant City Manager Ryan Evans is running out of patience with Mitchem and the entire project, having asked city staff to "determine compliance issues and determine what remedies there are, both administrative and even legally." In short, it's a mess, and not only have we written extensively about it, but so has Michael Davis at Dallas Progress, who is outraged that federal money that could have gone toward helping folks in the South Dallas/Fair Park area is instead stagnating in an old pie factory that may or may not be a car museum.

But you would not know how messy the situation's gotten from Saturday's Dallas Morning News, which contained a story about the Motorsports Museum that read more like a press release than journalism. (To wit: "Derrick Mitchem has always liked fast cars.") Headlined "Going full throttle for museum," the story, written by a freelance contributor, talks about the 38-year-old Mitchem's "passion" for racing and race cars and celebrates his "enthusiasm" for the project and dismisses any problems as nothing more than "red-tape delays." There's no mention of Evans' threats of administrative and legal action, no mention of how the money's been spent, no comment from the city at all--save for one from council member Leo Chaney, who says the museum will be a "vital asset to the community." Chaney--the same guy who told us last year the museum would be open by Christmas 2005.

Hey, maybe Mitchem's gonna get the place open by the end of the year. Maybe it'll be a destination for those living in and heading to the Fair Park area. Maybe it'll be a great school for auto mechanics. Maybe it'll be all Mitchem has promised and more. At this point, it had better be something, given how much is being sunk into the joint. And I do not care if The News does its own digging without ever citing our reporting; as Patrick "Buzz" Williams likes to remind me, the story is the story, not the person who found it. But for Dallas' Only Daily to pretend all is right with Bama Pie when it clearly ain't, and for it to claim that any delays are someone else's fault (the red-tape dispensers), that's just wrong. --Robert Wilonsky

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Robert Wilonsky
Contact: Robert Wilonsky