The Mommy Card

Buzz, being born and raised in the heart of United Mine Workers territory in Illinois, can't help but feel some sympathy with organized labor. So it pains us to say this to Steel Workers Local 9479: Guys, did you really have to sink so low as to play the awful, execrable "mommy card?" Gack.

We're talking about a line of kids T-shirts created by the local, which represents about 700 Dallas city employees, and available on the Internet: On the front, in a childlike scrawl, are the words "My mommy works for you. She fixes your roads and takes away your garbage and keeps your water running. The mayor works for you. She takes money from my mommy. Some people are just big meanies, ya know!"

The shirt front also has a caricature of Mayor Laura Miller--the big meanie--drawn as if in crayon.

(Also available are a "daddy" version and a T-shirted teddy bear. Double gack.)

We called Michelle Frey, president of the local. She laughed. "It is a little saccharine sweet for us," she admitted. But the shirts are intended for kids, and Buzz supposes you can't very well have the wee ones walking around with shirts with a big "Fuck you, management pig" on it. (Well, the UMW we remember might. But that was a long time ago.)

Only a handful of the shirts have been sold, and the goal is not to raise money for the local, Frey says. "We're just trying to keep our spirits up the best we can." That's a tough gig in the face of staff cuts, no raises this century, slashes to benefits and a mayor who routinely refers to city staff as "dead wood."

"Gosh, I wish I knew why the mayor is so cranky these days," Frey says.

These days?

The shirts are available at

Two-faced: Television news schizophrenia--a.k.a. the "We Must Do Hard News, We Must Have Big Boobs" syndrome--is reaching new high-lows at KTVT-Channel 11.

Hard news: Chief investigative reporter Robert Riggs put together an excellent report a few weeks ago on questions surrounding the U.S. Patriot missile system. Riggs found evidence that suggests friendly aircraft were often mistaken for enemies by the Patriot batteries in Iraq. It was the sort of story that gives credence to Channel 11's long-stated desire to be taken seriously as a news force in North Texas. In fact, he was just interviewed by 60 Minutes, recounting key portions of his story for a national audience.

Big boobs: Channel 11 just hired a beautiful young woman named Suzanne Sena to co-anchor on weekends and produce "D Minutes," segments about stuff D magazine thinks is cool and hip, like, say, oh, we dunno, white people with lots of money. Sena has her own Web site ( from which you can learn her qualifications, like that she's met Regis Philbin.

None of which is as cool as the background for the station's other recent hire, Maria Arita, co-anchor of the 4 p.m. weekday newscast. Arita has at least played an anchor in four film and TV projects: Leap of Faith, Hexed, Dallas: J.R. Returns and Universal Soldier: The Return. Before coming to Channel 11, she broadened her experience by playing a reservations clerk in Serving Sara. Channel 11's next hire: either Tim Russert or Angelina Jolie.

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Patrick Williams is editor-in-chief of the Dallas Observer.
Contact: Patrick Williams

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