Yesterday The Dallas Morning News published an editorial written in a style that I, as a journalist and one-time editorial writer, could only describe as screaming hissy fit
The newspaper is incredibly pissed off because a recycling yard they've been trying to run out of business for the last year won a lovely award from Friends of Fair Park, one of the city's most distinguished public service groups.
How could Friends of Fair Park dare to honor a company The News wants dead? Didn't they check first?
So angry was The News with the Friends of Fair Park for honoring Gold Metal Recyclers that they accused the Friends of some kind of complicated racism or elitism or something bad:
"The neighborhood surrounding the State Fair grounds is known as South Dallas/Fair Park, but don't be fooled by the cohesive connotations of that name. The gates and walls and chain-link fences make clear exactly where the boundary is between the park and its South Dallas neighbors."So that means what? The Friends don't give a damn about the neighborhood around them, right? They're a bunch of elitists and maybe racists.
Good God, what a crock.
Listen to what Friends of Fair Park Director Craig Holcomb had to say about the Goldberg family, owners of the recycling yard: "This is about three generations of the Goldberg family, going to work every day in South Dallas and doing their part to create a more vibrant and sustainable community.
"The Goldbergs have proven to be good citizens contributing to the welfare of the South Dallas area by providing hundreds of jobs, giving back to charities and organizations in need, preserving natural resources, and putting millions of dollars back into the economy."
If you judged by the tone of the editorial, you'd think the Goldbergs were serial killers. Talk about shrieky. My ears hurt after I read that thing. I bet every crystal wine glass in about a 10-block area cracked when they wrote it.
The News is on a tear to have a bunch of businesses run out of the area near the Trinity River. Who knows what it's really all about? For a long time the worst complaint they were able to come up with about Gold Metal Recycling was that it caused dust and was a source of loud banging noises.
To give you some flavor for the area near Gold Metal, about the only problem I can imagine coming from dust and loud noises would be if it's working some sort of hardship on the crack houses. And usually you can't even disturb those people with a two-by-four.
Now The News has a new drum to bang, suggesting broadly that the recycling yard is poisoning the soil: "The soil beneath Gold Metal is so full of toxins -- arsenic, mercury, benzene and lead -- that the company has entered a state-directed environmental remediation program," the editorial claims.
"The source of these toxins is under investigation but certainly comes from decades of industrial misuse, including by previous owners. The bottom line is that heavy industry has no place in residential neighborhoods. If Gold Metal hadn't been grandfathered under current zoning laws, it would never be allowed to operate there."
Hey, let me tell you something. That stuff is skating along very carefully just inside the libel line. I would bet 10 bucks it was carefully lawyered.
Read it again. Do they tell you that they know that the Goldbergs put that stuff in the soil? No, not when you read carefully. They suggest it. But a closer reading allows another interpretation: that the Goldbergs are cleaning up poisons put in that dirt long before they bought the property, an entirely predictable aftermath of a century of heavy industrial use.
But let's not get legal. I have a good faith proof in mind by which The News could show its good intentions and honesty of purpose. What they need to do is invite in a team of environmental investigators to check out the soil all over their own property, especially in the area where their original printing plant was downtown.
If we're going to damn people to hell for what's in their dirt, let's take a good close look at a major industrial use that has been in the same ownership for a very long time on the very same site.
Gold Metal owners Kenny and Neil Goldberg, praised by the Friends for "doing their part to create a more vibrant and sustainable community," were given the "2011 Spirit of the Centennial Award."
If The News submits to a pollution check of their own property, I think they should be given the High Screaming Hissy Fit Award for 2012, bequeathed only to recovering bullies who are able to acknowledge their own feet of clay.
Don't hold your breath.