IT WAS 10 years ago that I became executive producer of Channel 13’s Newsroom. Those were hectic days in Dallas. Current City Councilman Wes Wise was mayor. Black activist Al Lipscomb was logging more hours than anybody haranguing at the old City Hall on Harwood. More than once he had to be removed from the chamber.
Big Daddy Lamar Muse was president of Southwest Airlines in those days. Harding Lawrence was president of Braniff. Riding high on his decision to buy wide-bodied jets instead of a fleet of 747s, he never dreamed of the tragedy to come.
Frank Dyson was police chief in 1972. A thoughtful man of style, sensitivity and contemporary theory, he foundered on the shoals of too much innovation too soon and was replaced by low-key, foursquare Don Byrd, a successful chief who went on to become sheriff of Dallas County, replacing the Carl Thomas circus, which made even Clarence Jones look good.
Now, City Manager Chuck Anderson plus colleagues Camille Barnett and Levi Davis have just named Billy D. Prince the new police chief of Dallas. I’m glad they searched the country for the right candidate, and I’m also happy that they found him here in the department. We at D Magazine wish Chief Prince well.
SURVIVING THE SEVENTIES
Back to the early Seventies, when the achievements of Mayor Erik Jonsson’s terms (1964-1971) were coming to fruition. D/FW airport opened, followed by the new City Hall. The extensive Goals for Dallas program plugged away, working to implement the aspirations of the Sixties. Now it’s revving up again, this time to plan for the decade ahead. Reunion brought southern downtown back to life. Bryan Place brought residential living to the eastern edge of the Central Business District. Both were highly imaginative public-private ventures pioneered by former City Manager George Schrader.
Bob Folsom followed Wise as mayor and built Reunion Arena. He also pulled Dallas’ cultural groups together and kept them on the reservation long enough to get the Arts District idea started. A complicated accomplishment.
Now, with the Evans years, Dallas faces a series of major opportunities. The Arts District is launched with the building of the new museum, but it must be finished with a symphony hall, opera house and civilized development. The flap between the city and developer Lucy Crow Billings-ley over boundaries of the Arts District seems to be working its way toward an acceptable compromise. The City Council will decide this month whether or not to put a symphony hall on the bond election set for August 3. I hope the council bites that bullet and takes care not to make the mistake of 1978, when voters were asked to approve too many worthy projects at once. All except the new library were defeated that year. As one observer put it, “the trouble is that the voters were informed.”
NOT A MINUTE TOO SOON FOR TRANSIT
Transit, you don’t need me to tell you, is our critical problem. It must be solved, and soon. When the Interim Regional Transportation Authority sent a group to Toronto to investigate that system, they came back quite encouraged by the excellent light rail service they saw.
The proposal to buy the Rock Island line (“a mighty good line”) sounds promising; so does the Stemmons-Carpenter-Crow plan to build a light rail system from Fair Park to Parkland Hospital to Las Colinas to D/FW airport. Transit ideas are gaining momentum in Dallas. The question is, what will upwardly revised property tax assessments do to voter enthusiasm for a new, expensive system? Political reality bears close watching, but time has run out. The sooner the election to approve a transit authority, the bette
PUBLIC SCHOOLS AND VALUES
D Magazine has a keen interest in public education and believes that it needs our patient attention. We support Superintendent Linus Wright’s recent cuts in his administrative staff as painful but necessary. We also commend the Dallas Institute for Humanities and Culture for taking the lead in encouraging citizen participation in our public schools. Bringing distinguished scholars Mortimer Adler and Jacques Barzun to Dallas to explore what we mean by “back to basics” was a great service to the community. They reminded us that reading, after all, is a marketable skill, something we almost forgot in our zeal for vocational education. We must train kids, Adler said, “to lead a decent life, not only to earn a living,” important though that is. He was talking about values. It’s important to transmit them from one generation to the nex
D-DAY FOR WARNER AMEX
A word about cable television. Looking back over my several months as chair of the Dallas Cable Television Board, a position I resigned six weeks ago, I realize that Warner Amex’s performance hasn’t been as bad as some press reports have indicated; nor has it been as good as the city would like. Actually, the company hascompiled a better first-year record inDallas than it has in Pittsburgh or Cincinnati, but there have been delays nonetheless. It’s clear that patience is running out,both on the board and on the City Council. The next critical deadline is July 6,when Warner Amex has agreed to have aplan for cabling those parts of downtownthat are not now served by undergroundducts. Let’s hope this date marks a newbeginning for the company and the city.
Dallas’ agenda is D Magazine’s agenda.We look forward to following the futureas it unfolds.