They Call Me Shoots: Blasting Away at Winfrey Point Crapola and Cops on the Katy Trail

Tried to get past these two very irritating issues but couldn't pull it off. Woke up in middle of night last night reaching for the shotgun. Please indulge. Eye and ear protection recommended.

First clay pigeon I'd like to try a couple 12-gauge shells on: a throw-away line in an editorial last Sunday in The Dallas Morning News dealing with the concept of paving over open space at White Rock Lake to accommodate the metastasizing parking needs of the Dallas Arboretum, a pricey private botanical park at the Garland Road (southern) end of the lake.

In its best school-marm voice, the editorial board of the News told us to grow up and get on with it: "There are more than 300 acres of grassland around the lake, and it is unreasonable to expect every blade to be protected in perpetuity given the urban nature of this public park. The arboretum's needs are significant, and addressing them is a priority -- it is, after all, one of the city's jewels."

What a load of unadulterated, in-our-face, utter and brazen, bald-faced, preposterous, infuriatingly galling bullshit.

In a column to be published in this week's Dallas Observer, I interview some of the people who have fought for decades to protect every single blade of grass in the fragile necklace of open land around the lake, one of whom makes the point that White Rock Lake really is the city's Central Park. He suggests it's a serious dereliction of duty for any elected official or hired city staffer to start parlaying away any portion of the land around the lake without a full public address of the question.

White Rock is governed by official city policy dating to 1939 by which it is to be preserved as a natural area, not a son-of-a-bitching parking lot for people who want to sell more tickets.

I happen to know that Mary Brinegar, director of the arboretum, met with the editorial board of the News last week, even though she was unable to chat on the phone with me. And, hey. There's an obvious reason people like Brinegar will talk to the News and not the Observer. It's because the News is what we call in the journalism business a "lay-down."

Confronted with pearls and Louboutin shoes, they can't say no. If this were a child custody dispute, they would give Brinegar the little girl from the waist up, only they would mean it. It's no more "unreasonable to expect every blade to be protected in perpetuity" than it is to expect the kid to be left in one piece. What's unreasonable and downright loony is just giving away the hard-fought protections that have bequeathed us this treasure after Brinegar makes one lousy visit to the editorial board.

And it came right after the paper had devoted endless barrels of ink to bragging about the downtown park their own boss endowed.

I don't know why they always have to play the Vichy in these things.

Second clay dinner plate I'd like to take a crack at quickly: the assertion by the Dallas police department that they were sitting on the Katy Trail armed-robbery story as part of a Sherlock Holmes strategy to catch the bad guys. In a statement released yesterday the PR cops at the Dallas Police Department said,

"The Police Department must continually balance the need to inform the public against releasing information that could jeopardize the investigation and potential suspect identification."

So we have this picture in our minds of the bad guys holed up in an old hotel downtown, sending the bell boy out every 20 minutes for hot new street editions of the paper to see if their mugs are on Page One yet. Or maybe listening to Walter Winchell on the radio. What is this, a Jimmy Cagney movie?

Sure, maybe. But I have another scenario I'd like to suggest: the bad guys are cruising around in the same get-away car they've been using for a month shooting junk in their arms, going to the bathroom in the back seat and drooling snot on their laps until they start to come down and need more money, so they just haven't had time really to keep up with local news coverage. Journalism really isn't a part of their culture, if you know what I mean.

So what's the real reason the Public Information Office cops wouldn't comment on this when reporters confronted them over the weekend?

It was the weekend. Come on, man, you expect the Dallas Police PIO to give up its weekend and go look shit up and make calls to get information for reporters? I sure don't. Plus, you know, it's negative. They know they're just going to get crap from City Hall for letting out a bad story. So why not take the safe route and do nothing?

All right, that's it. Kaboom-kaboom. I don't know what I hit. Man, I should have checked to see there weren't any orphanages in the way. Next time, a full night's sleep and more gun safety, definitely, I promise.

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Jim Schutze has been the city columnist for the Dallas Observer since 1998. He has been a recipient of the Association of Alternative Newsweeklies’ national award for best commentary and Lincoln University’s national Unity Award for writing on civil rights and racial issues. In 2011 he was admitted to the Texas Institute of Letters.
Contact: Jim Schutze