Just a bit ago, the Dallas Police and Fire Pension System issued a statement about the hubbub today. It reads:
The Dallas Morning News article about pending litigation is inaccurate. As a result of the Dallas Morning News’ numerous open record requests, we asked the Texas Attorney General to review parts of each request as allowed by law.Â A copy of that letter was required to be sent to the Dallas Morning News. The letter to the Attorney General is simply a prudent and conservative measure as allowed by law in response to the threat of litigation against Museum Tower as speculated in the press.Â More importantly, we agree with Mr. Luce’s statement today that last week’s discussions were successful, cordial and professional. We’re confident that the process will continue and we’ll have a positive outcome.Â The System has not changed its mission to try to resolve this matter in a reasonable and professional manner.
It’s an interesting statement. It says the DMN story is inaccurate, but, you’ll notice, it doesn’t say exactly what the inaccuracy is. The DMN story said that Richard Tettamant, the head of the pension fund, confirmed that a lawsuit is being considered. If that’s not the case, why not say that in the statement? Is it just an unclear, poorly written statement?
Meanwhile, Unfair Park has a letter written by the pension fund’s lawyer, Gary Lawson, to the DMN accusing the paper and D Magazine of practicing advocacy journalism. Following is an excerpt, with my comments in [brackets]:
We are a nation and state built upon the foundation of laws. Without laws there would be lawlessness. [And without feckle, there would be fecklessness.] That notion depends, in part, upon the exercise an open and free press that is obedient to the Society of Professional Journalist cannon of ethics to report the facts of a story objectively and not take sides. [I think a preposition is missing from that sentence. In any case, a state built on laws doesn’t depend on a free press. East Germany had plenty of laws. Beyond that, it is possible to report the facts of a story objectively while taking sides. The two practices are not mutually exclusive.] However, Dallas Morning News reporters, and at least one other media organization in Dallas [Say it! Say our name! Would it kill you to say it?], have chosen to ignore the SPJ Code of Ethics, which they so fervently hold up as a shield of honor [Really? When?], and instead are pursuing advocacy journalism to serve the agenda of one side of this complex situation. The Dallas Morning News has engaged in a coordinated campaign [It’s a large organization run by managers. I hope it works in a coordinated fashion.] to move public opinion toward the Nasher side of that agenda, because your own reporter openly stated he, and by projection your paper, hold the rule of law in disdain. [Whoa! Need more details here. Which DMN reporter openly stated that he (or she) holds the rule of law in disdain? And did he (or, again, she) really say it that way? “Mr. Lawson, you should know, sir, that I hold the rule of law in disdain.” Like that?] The Dallas Morning News, by this unethical act, has declared its advocacy agenda to influence public opinion with such pejorative fervor against our client in an attempt to force them to change their building. [Note: when you find yourself typing phrases like “pejorative fervor,” you’re working too hard to make your point.]
The Dallas Morning News and D Magazine [Thank you! See? You’re still alive.] have failed to explore other Renzo Piano projects elsewhere around the world that have been embroiled in controversy over his aggressive and purposeful designs that disregard the surrounding community. [Um, point being? Renzo Piano could have tortured kittens while he was eating veal scallopini, and it wouldn’t change the situation we’re faced with in the Arts District.] Likewise they have failed to explore Piano’s flawed analysis of what future effects his buildings may project upon the immediate area. [Wha?] To suggest the Dallas Morning News independently and benevolently sought out Piano for his comments on the Museum Tower and Nasher situation is a stretch of the imagination. To invite, perhaps by suggestive questioning, a quote from Piano that a lawsuit will be brought in the Museum Tower and Nasher situation the Dallas Morning News has poisoned the well for any real hope that mediation will succeed.
You see what the upshot here is, right? Gary Lawson, it seems to me, is laying the groundwork for the pension fund to break off talks with the Nasher. It’s poorly laid groundwork. But there it is.