Monday, July 13, 2009

Can't See the Real Oak Cliff For All The Trees

Sometimes I wonder if I'm living in the same Oak Cliff as other folks. Depending on who you ask, I'm not. Even though I've lived here since I was I was kid, I was told recently by more than one Oak Cliff "Hipster Doofus" that because my Dallas Morning News columns lean conservative, I'm not a part of "their Oak Cliff" and don't speak for them. These goosestepping "Johnny-Come-Latelys" move in to the Cliff, fix up a tudor, and think they own the place.

Now, in a Morning News column published Sunday, I've actually been called out by one of my fellow Community Voices columnists, who disagrees with the fact that I say more folks aren't taking the proper responsibility for their community. Apparently, since the author is politically active and volunteers, I must be wrong. Really? Let's look at the facts.

In the June 13 runoff, voter turnout was under 7%. In my precinct, turnout was 10.50%. By the already low standards we set, that is "good." However, outside of our little social circles and the "bubble" created by our friends and neighbors, there are a bunch of disaffected people who either think their vote doesn't matter or don't care who is in charge. THAT is the real problem. If you are going to take a swing at me, try using a fist full of reality, not some rose-colored perception of how things are.

I didn't want to criticize a fellow columnist in print, because I think it's bad form, but I'm also not going to sit back and have what I think is a valid point diminished. There are real problems in Oak Cliff, and WE, the people who live here, are to blame. I love living here, and I'm not going to give it up without a fight. I've served my time on boards and committees working to make it better. Even with the good, that doesn't mean we should close our eyes to the bad. I'm sorry if pointing out the realities or "experiences" of the 93% of the people who didn't vote June 13 offends some.

Sooner or later, those realities, those problems festering under the surface are going to burst the bubble some Oak Cliff apologists live in. If we don't deal with it now, and pretend everything is wonderful, the name of Oak Cliff will continue to have a stigma attached to it. No wonderful restaurants, no big trees, and no good intentions are going to change that.

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