There Goes the Neighborhood

OK, now we're confused. What else is new? Buzz essentially has only three states--confused, pissed off and asleep. Right now, we're vacillating between the first two, thanks to Deep Ellum and The Dallas Morning News.

First, a little background. Last summer, the Dallas Observer's own Zac Crain wrote a story about a growing late-night crime problem in Deep Ellum. He did this using the unique method of asking the people who live, work and party there questions such as, "So, what's the crime situation like these days?" The answers were pretty much "bad," "gettin' worse" and "please send more cops," which he reported. Business people thought they needed some help and were happy to talk to Zac, until the story ran. Stories about crime are not good for business.

Ever since, many of the same Deep Ellum-types have been talking to the Morning News, which in its own way has asked the same question, but judging from its stories, the answers have been slightly altered to "not bad at all," "what crime?" and "please send more cops."

So Zac's sources throw him under the bus. Fine. It's SOP in the news biz. First comes the news, then comes the spin. And if a paper can cast a few aspersions on its competition's reporting, well, okeydoke. But listen up, Deep Ellum supporters, you should at least try to keep the spin straight.

On February 4, the News published a letter from Sean Wisdom, executive director of the Deep Ellum Association, praising the paper for publishing a story about what a great place the community is to raise kids. That January 31 story pointed out that "one advantage of living the Deep Ellum life, though many might not think it an advantage, is that it frequently brought the homeless to the family's door." You know, cultural diversity and all that. Yet also in the February 4 issue is another story, quoting Wisdom, about Deep Ellum's deep desire not to have the city's proposed new homeless shelter located anywhere near there. In that story, a new Deep Ellum resident complained about robberies and panhandling already associated with the homeless in the 'hood.

So we wonder: Which is it? Crime up, crime down? Homeless good, homeless bad? Neighborhood great, neighborhood not so great? We'd venture to explore these questions further, but we suspect whatever answer we'd find would be contradicted in the News a week later by the same people we asked. So instead, we have some suggestions: Crime good in Deep Ellum? Fine. Let's move out all the cops to Buzz's neighborhood, where they're needed. And just in case we're wrong about crime, let's move all the homeless into Deep Ellum--lots of them there anyway--and deputize them. Give them nightsticks, pepper spray and a little beer and cig money and tell them to keep the streets safe.

There you go, Deep Ellum people! Problem--or non-problem--solved. Or non-solved. Whatever. No need to write in to thank the ol' Buzzer. Now excuse us while we go take our afternoon nap.

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

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