Sunday, July 3, 2022 Jul 3, 2022
85° F Dallas, TX


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Allison’s Corollary to Murphy’s Law: When everything is going well, watch out.

By all fair measurements, this is a good time for Dallas. Our city government under Mayor Robert Folsom may make a lot of people unhappy, but that’s because it is making a lot of things happen. On the whole, we’ve rarely had better leadership at City Hall, and with men like Joe Haggar Jr. announcing their candidacies for the next city council, it looks like we’re going to keep it. This new leadership has emerged at the right moment, too: Dallas is stepping into the international spotlight. The American Airlines relocation is only a sign of things to come. All other signs are good. For example, while we receive fewer Federal dollars than any other major metropolitan area in the country, our unemployment rate remains the lowest.

Under such circumstances, it’s easy to be self-satisfied, and I’m afraid that’s just what Dallas is. Yet at the heart of our city lies a problem so corrosive that it has the potential of destroying Dallas just at the moment of its ascendancy. The problem is this: Our public schools are a disaster. They are failing in their mission to teach children how to read and write so that they can become productive citizens. The effect of this disaster is most devastating to our city’s black children, those who in only a few years will decide the fate of our inner city – and, thereby, the city as a whole.

What can be done? In April, five seats on the school board come up for election. Good winning candidates in each of those districts could combine to elect our next school board president (he or she is chosen by a majority of the board). A strong school board president could provide new superintendent Linus Wright with the leadership he’ll need to reduce the formidable bureaucracy built by Nolan Estes over the past ten years, and to focus the district’s energy on the only job that counts, teaching kids to read and write.

So my holiday greeting to the Dallas business community contains a note of warning as well as one of congratulation. Don’t break your arms trying to pat yourselves on the back for the great job you’ve done. The biggest problem remains unsolved, and there’s only a little time left to recruit candidates who not only can win the school board elections, but who can then transform our school board from the hopelessly mediocre mishmash it is today into a force for achievement for Dallas.

Our brush with the law: a small case of counterfeiting

The United States Secret Service may do a competent job. I’m in no position to judge. I hadn’t thought about the Secret Service much until one morning last month when I was informed that our engraver was concerned about some photographs we were about to publish. Because the model in the photo was holding U.S. currency, he thought the Secret Service might regard reproduction of the photographs as a violation of Federal law.

This is ludicrous, I thought, and promptly dismissed the warning. For one thing, any statute about reproduction of dollars is intended to discourage counterfeiting; this currency would be reproduced at one-twentieth the size of real money and in black and white. Besides that, the dollars were folded up and partly hidden in the model’s hand, hardly what you would try to pass off on the clerk at your neighborhood five-and-dime. Second, I knew the Federal government wouldn’t make a law restricting the editorial use of photographs of U. S. currency by legitimate publications; that would come too close to an intrusion into editorial judgment.

But our engraver was nervous; he’d had a minor skirmish with the local Service office a few years ago over something equally innocent. So he took the photos to the Service office and asked, in effect, for permission to print them.

That led to my conversation with Agent Townes. It was a brief conversation. Agent Townes informed me that our photographs were in violation of the law. To publish them would be to risk a stiff penalty. Thus was a triviality transformed into a Federal crime. Wick Allison, the well-known counterfeiter! Since we were past deadline, however, I missed the humor in Agent Townes’s zeal to protect America from irregularly-shaped, inch-wide black-and-white dollar bills scissored from D Magazine. I called our engraver and told him to deface the dwarf dollars so they wouldn’t be recognizable as U. S. currency. The magazine had to get printed.

It is a decision I regret. Our Federal bureaucracy is too many people with too little to do interfering with too many people who already have too much to do, namely, trying to make enough money to support the people who are interfering with us. When Jimmy Carter ran for President in 1976 one of his major planks was his determination to overhaul that bureaucracy. In two years Jimmy Carter hasn’t done much to change things. Maybe a President can’t. But citizens can. I could have started by telling Agent Townes to stuff it.

By the way, Agent Townes, how many real counterfeiters have you nabbed this month?

We’re moving on

The new year will mean a new homefor D Magazine and its sister, TexasHomes. We’re moving downtownin January to larger quarters in awarehouse that has been reconstructed byarchitect Bud Oglesby. The building is atthe intersection of St. Paul and the soon-to-be-built extension of San Jacinto. Ournew address will be 1925 San Jacinto (75201), but our phone number remainsthe same, 748-9166.