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12/03/02  Miller + Belo

Mike Watson              12/03/02 Jason Roberts          12/07/02
Every known language has a word for a woman who's honor is for sale.  Apparently, at least one of those words is "Mayor".

It all became clear to me when I read about Mayor Miller making Robert Decherd her downtown "Czar".  She couldn't beat 'em so she joined 'em. 

$600 Million?  And what's in it for the taxpayers?  What happened to the little things? What happened to potholes?  

Is downtown the only neighborhood that counts now?  How does building a park on Commerce Street help the homeowner living across the street from a disintegrating crack house?  Will a pedestrian-friendly corridor between the Arts District and City Hall keep any hookers away from the homes near Hines and Walnut Hill?  

We already know what happened to the cops, firefighters and civilian employees who put Miller in office:  They were sold out.  Now we're beginning to see what else was for sale. 

This isn't about "several incumbents that [have] been obstructive".  This is about swapping sides.  This is about sleeping with the enemy.  This is about using hundreds of millions of dollars to protect and enhance the investment of the wealthy downtown property owners.  We should call the park on Commerce Street "Palladium Park". 

I hope part of the deal was naming the park after Laura Miller.  After all, every time I drive past it and see a bum relieving himself I'm going to think of her.  

When I see the "artist's renditions" showing tax-paying families walking on pedestrian-friendly streets and sitting on park benches along a downtown greenbelt, I'm going to think of the sailboats on the Trinity.

Mike Watson
Sharon, please forward this to Mr. Watson:

Mr. Watson,
  Your argument of the Mayor's betrayal to the city sounded as if you copied and pasted one of Jim Schutze's stories directly from the Dallas Observer.  Always remember this, Jim Schutze and his cohorts are sensationalistic journalists whose jobs are to get your attention with hard hitting stories and possibly garner a few awards along the way. If he makes a mistake, he brushes it aside in the next article much like a teenager being forced to apologize to you for bashing in your mailbox with a baseball bat after the cops pick him up.
   Unfortunately, the dye has already been cast, and people either don't remember or choose to forget his apology. Everyone on Dallas Arena has seen him do it...often.
   I don't know where you live in Dallas, but I live in Oak Cliff. I moved here from West Plano and let me tell you, it was a complete culture shock. The mayor lives about one and a half miles away from me, albeit in a classier neighborhood, but everything in Oak Cliff is only minutes away from an assortment of run down bail bond shops, and streets filled with gang members and hookers. 
   Harry Hines looks like the Champs-Elysees compared to Ft. Worth Avenue on a weekend night, and that's a two-minute walk from the mayor's house. Right now, the gun shots have died down to about once every other week.  I assume that's because it's the winter and people are too cold to shoot at each other.  Plus it's probably hard to see what you're aiming at when your heater steams up the car windows.  
   This summer it was a weekly occurrence. There was a shootout directly in front of my house in July, only a few feet away from my 12 month old's window. I picked up five 9mm slugs out of my yard. In August, a handful of gang members went door to door and tried to lure my neighbors and I out of our houses at about 2:30 in the morning. 
   Some nights, we sit back and watch the helicopters run down our little road with search lights on while criminals quickly dart between the houses to hide in the neighbor's bushes, trying feverishly to avoid the aircrafts giant sweeping eye. The sad thing is that I wish I was joking, but it's completely true. 
   Here's my point, if you think the Mayor doesn't know what needs to be fixed, you are kidding yourself. If you think she doesn't want to fix the potholes or give the police raises, you're kidding yourself. If you don't think the mayor doesn't hear the same gunshots I hear, you are really kidding yourself. 
   My wife and I get together with other parents in the adjoining neighborhoods, including the one the mayor lives in, and talk about counting gunshots instead of sheep while trying to fall asleep. 
   Your diatribe about the mayor being in bed with Belo and selling out means that you've missed something huge. Why on earth would Laura Miller court her enemies? 
   Think real hard about that. I'm sure you know the old saying, "Keep your friends close, but keep your enemies closer". 
   The downtown and inner city areas are the most plighted by far. If you don't believe me, spend a weekend night at my house.  Oh, yeah, bring your police scanner. 
   The city's monopolistic daily paper is a major player in the revitalization of downtown Dallas. To ignore that is crazy. They have connections with all of the major CEO's in and around Dallas. 
   I don't necessarily love them myself, but they are a major employer in the area, they do pay taxes, and they do have a vested interest in making the downtown vital. 
   If you want to see what happens to a city that doesn't cater to private business, head to Jefferson, Texas some weekend and ask them what killed their city.  Iron horses were crossing the nation and businessmen wanted the booming port town to help pay for a new railroad infrastructure.  The city, in its lack of foresight, decided to buck the trend because of the expense involved, plus it had its steamboats. When the river died so did the city...but it didn't have to.
   If you're wondering why I and many others chose to live in Oak Cliff and leave the plushy, cookie cutter confines of places like North Dallas and West Plano, then spend a weekend day with us. It's simple; we love our beautiful old homes and our neighbors. We sit on our front porch swings reading books, talking to each other, and playing games.     Everybody knows each other here, and when a new neighbor moves in, they are greeted with batches of warm cookies and a box of goodies familiarizing them with their new community. 
   Christmas, we have home tours and everyone goes door-to-door getting to know each other better. At night, when some of those gunshots get a little too close for comfort, we call each other and make sure everybody's accounted for and all right. 
   Your great grandparents did the same thing when they banded together for safety in their prairie schooners and crossed hostile Indian territories. They knew that they'd be safe and that a brighter future lay on the horizon, as long as they stuck together and more people joined them. 
   So, how do we get more people to join us? Fix our sidewalks? Fill our potholes? Paint over our graffiti? Sure, that couldn't hurt, but we still decided to move here while that was all in disrepair. 
  There are a few other major reasons we decided to come. We love
living near museums, zoos, symphony orchestras, mom-and-pop shops, art houses, trees, light rail stations, mailmen that walk to the door, natural rolling hills, and every culture imaginable. You just don't get that in the suburbs.
   In West Plano, I lived next to my neighbors for a decade and hardly knew their last names. In Oak Cliff, I can name you twenty, and I've only been in my house for two years. In the 'burbs, a fun weekend was getting in the car and heading out to one of a multitude of Brinker owned theme restaurants in an overly lighted restaurant row and topping off the evening with a Blockbuster rental. 
   Here we walk up the street to a small authentic family owned Mexican restaurant, where nobody speaks English and an old woman sits near the front of the place rolling out tortillas by hand, then we'll head to the corner ice cream shop and listen to the local poetry guild, and finally head home where we'll sit on our front porches and talk to our neighbors over glasses of wine. 
   As the city adds more amenities, more families like mine are coming back. Head downtown and look at all of the new lofts built or under construction...the majority of them are leased before they are completed. It's all because of that same downtown that you think of as a toilet for bums. 
   Wonder why property taxes are so high? So many businesses have left that the remaining residences have to take up the slack for the cities coffers. 
   How do you attract businesses to downtown? You've got to make it pretty. You've got to fill it with middle-class people walking around at night. You've got to have plazas. You've got to do something with the homeless. You've got to have retailers, and only then you'll get what Regan referred to as "trickle-down" to the surrounding communities. 
  Of all people, the Mayor knows that first hand...and it's all starting to occur now, but anything that anyone can add will help. 
   I'm concerned about the sidewalks too.  But, if everyone keeps leaving because no businesses are here (think Flint, Michigan), there won't be any money to pay for a trash man to stop by your house.

Respectfully,
Jason Roberts

 

                                        

    





                            

 

  Ward politics is the Devil's key to the soul of the city council.  It is how some council members got themselves in trouble in the past.  It is the bait that will get others in trouble in the future. 4/6/8