Tuesday, July 28, 2009

My Next Morning News Column

My new column for the Dallas Morning News will be published soon, which discusses the city's responsibility to help the working poor and the elderly in tough times. I reference a proposal floating around City Hall to stop providing hot meals to the elderly at the MLK Rec Center and close several clinics that provide low cost immunizations and health care in South Dallas. These proposals are being made because someone thinks no one will raise a stink. Thankfully, City Councilman Dwaine Caraway vows to at least keep the meal program going.

My column also mentions the burden code enforcement can be on many. Due to space limitations, I didn't go into detail over how the code enforcement citation system works - and why some may argue that it is effective - but the bottom line is code enforcement investigators should begin working with their city council members and local civic and neighborhood groups to solve the core issues behind the citations. Yes, it is a lot of extra work and responsibility, but it is an investment in the future of our communities. The system the way it is now does not work. We can't play "gotcha" with our citizens. We must give them the tools to become better neighbors. More on this to come.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Honor one of the "Band of Brothers"

The HBO miniseries "Band of Brothers" is one of my all-time favorite series. It's an amazing true story of heroes in a time when America needed them most. I was saddened then to hear from my friend Anthony Burris that one of the "Band of Brothers" featured in the miniseries, Darrell "Shifty" Powers, died of cancer June 17 at the age of 86.

As word of his passing spread online, many are asking how they can show their thanks. I've learned that you can visit THIS LINK to leave condolences. Hurry though, it's only available through July 20.

As the grandson of a WWII vet who is no longer with us, I know that this "Greatest Generation" is getting smaller every day. Let's honor them while they can. Our condolences to the Powers family.

Faith in America's People

I must share this. The video may be small (I had to squeeze it in) but you can click on the TV icon to see it full screen. Norm Gamel sent this to me, which shows how people in the state of Georgia welcomed home one of their fallen sons. No matter what you see on TV or the garbage that makes up our popular culture, it is nice to know that when it comes down to it, this is the real America.

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.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Random gunfire in Oak Cliff bad? Really?

I was so relieved to hear that our new north Oak Cliff leader, city councilwoman Delia Jasso, nipped the "July 4 random gunfire" problem in the bud by issuing a press release telling us how bad random gunfire is. She suggested folks lock away those guns and just be cool, basically. She also suggested we call 911 if we hear random gunfire. There's an idea.

The truth is, I stood a better chance of calling Domino's than 911 when I heard gunshots. At least Domino's would get here in 30 minutes, and we would have had pizza. Jasso should have grabbed the bull by the horns and worked with other Oak Cliff leaders and the police to beef up patrols and enforcement. They should have been on TV the week leading up to the Fourth telling everyone that extra cops would be out to respond quickly. That might have put a little fear into folks.

Instead, I spent the Fourth enjoying brats with family and friends and watching the neighborhood fireworks show (with random gunfire) that goes on every year in the parking lot across from Peabody Elementary near my house. Every year, an unofficial and illegal pyrotechnic demonstration is held, and once you've given up trying to call 911, it is actually enjoyable. With officers overburdened, everyone knows calls won't be responded to. The folks setting off the fireworks don't even try to hide. They sit outside their cars talking with friends and setting off rockets.

I gave up calling 911 about such things last year. After I saw a neighbor shooting bottle rockets at passing cars, I called 911. Eventually, a patrol car came by, and the neighbors responded by shooting a rocket AT THE POLICE CAR. It went off underneath the car with a loud bang and burst of light, and the car kept going. It never stopped. I officially gave up then. Say goodnight Gracie.

If we expect to make Oak Cliff a better place, we must first have lawbreakers believe the law will be enforced. Right now, I don't even believe that. For now, we just enjoy the fireworks.

My work on Examiner.com

I've been covering Dallas Republican politics on Examiner.com for a little while now, and the feedback has been great, even if it isn't all positive. Apparently, a few left-wingers are really upset over my "When Liberals Attack" articles, which point out some of the crazy and underhanded tactics coming from the left. I get a kick out of their rants which they post in the comment section after the articles. They think they can insult or shame me into keeping quiet, silly rabbits. They were especially upset over my July 4 article which reminded folks to remember the Prop. 8 musical clip that ridiculed Christians and Jesus Christ the next time they consider buying or renting a movie with Jack Black. Check it out here.

You can sign up to get an email when I post a new article on Examiner.com. Just click on the Examiner logo to the right or CLICK HERE and then click on the link that says SUBSCRIBE TO EMAIL. Thanks!

Thursday, July 2, 2009

4th of July Column

My latest column for the Dallas Morning News is now available to read BY CLICKING HERE. You can read it in print on Sunday, July 5 in the Metro section.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Cesar Chavez St. Controversy Is Back

Update (July 2): Steve Salazar, the city councilman supposedly behind the Chavez proposal, has withdrawn the request, saying he never intended to submit it. Right. Regardless, I'll keep my original post up for the next stupid request which is sure to come.

July 1: Here we go again. Instead of addressing a lack of education, jobs, and hope in our communities, Dallas area Latino leaders think the answer to all of our ills is naming a street for Cesar Chavez. There is now a push to rename Young St, located downtown, for Cesar Chavez. Why? Well, there is no official reason why, but once you realize that Young St. is home to WFAA, The Dallas Morning News, City Hall Plaza, and the Dallas Public Library, the reason is clear.

These folks are not motivated in honoring Chavez. They are using him. He is a tool to "stick it" to what they see as the "white powerhouse" that runs downtown and local government. They would love to see the Morning News change their address to say "Chavez." It doesn't matter that this does nothing to help local Latinos or even keep alive the work Cesar started. This is about local Latinos flexing their political muscle. They want to make a point that they can snap their fingers and get whatever they want. The Morning News, white city council members, and just about every other non-Latino in this city is too afraid to stand up to this silly demand out of fear they will appear racist. They are right - they will appear racist. They can't complain, this is the world of white liberal guilt they created.

I addressed this last year in a Morning News column (see the link to the right). If local Latino leaders were really concerned about honoring Chavez, they would do something more fitting than slap his name on some street signs. They would name a library after him. We already have a school. How about a "Cesar Chavez Educational Program," that closes the educational gap Latinos face in this town by starting GED classes around Oak Cliff, or help young working parents get into night classes at the local community college, or start a scholarship program with local four year colleges for those who need to complete their Bachelor's or Master's? No, they won't do that. That would require them to move their, ahem, behinds, and do something useful. Adelfa Callejo should spend more time inside a school instead of demanding she get her name put on the outside of one.

Roy Appleton of the Morning News asked our new city council member, Delia Jasso, why we can't name Jefferson Blvd., in the heart of Latino Oak Cliff, for Cesar, which makes more sense. "That won't happen," she said. Maybe because it's actually in a Latino community and it doesn't "stick it" in the face of too many gringos. Nice going, Delia.