To the editor: According to press reports, scores of officials from Tarrant County descended on the state capitol last week to tout a range of legislative priorities and to sound off against state budget cuts (“The Deficit Monster,” March 2) threatening to ripple through cities, school districts and the county government.
One of the visitors was County Judge Glen Whitley, who called on lawmakers to tap into the state’s rainy day fund to help offset some of the reductions. “If it’s not raining now,” said Whitley, the county’s top official, “I don’t know when it would be.”
Reductions that could be felt in Tarrant County government include cuts in criminal justice grants, mental health and mental retardation services, and reimbursements for indigent defense and juror pay. At other levels of local government, cities are facing reductions in homeless programs, police training, park improvements, and a statewide database used by public library patrons. Schools will be hit hard with possible teacher layoffs.
The only neck in this part of the state that seems safe from the government guillotine is that of the billion-dollar Trinity River Vision. The feds are on the line for half of $500 million. However, they’re digging in their heels and may renege on the deal. All local governments and an iffy Bonnie-and-Clyde tax increment financing district are obligated for the other half of the egregious pseudo-flood-control earmark. Why is this project — which we don’t need, don’t want, and can’t afford — immune from the squeeze?
The executive director of this eminent-domain earmark boasts that he has enough money to last for 18 months. Spend! Spend! Spend! Many who remember Waxahachie and the ill-fated superconducting supercollider have long been warning that federal funds for Trinity River Vision might turn out to be a similar unfulfilled promise, after millions of local taxpayer dollars have been wasted on it. Big-spending visionaries from Congress to city hall to the chamber of commerce have snickered at our skepticism. Will Trinity Vision turn out to be Trinity Mirage?
To the editor: E.R. Bills is to be applauded for his guest column, “An Immodest Proposal” (Feb. 23, 2011). Finally we have a savvy voice of reason willing to convey unvarnished truth to the public.
Yes, the American government is deserving of vitriolic criticism by journalists. We’ve made our surrogate soldiers, and then they bite the hand that feeds them. Bills’ thoughts about the Zetas have merit — government has subsidized them and legitimized their ruthlessness, all from chests of taxpayers’ money.
We must be suffering from narcosis. Why else would we pay a fox to guard the chicken house?
A Job and a Home
To the editor: After reading Dan McGraw’s “Halfway Scared” (Feb. 23, 2011), I don’t understand why folks always envision the worst about those who served their time and want to be integrated back into society. This can only be accomplished with a job and a place to live and by not always having to be suspected of recidivism.
Michael Vick served time. Now he’s a No. 1 quarterback. I don’t suspect there was much static on his choice of where to live. As for Joyce Ann Brown, she was wrongly convicted and incarcerated, got out, and made it her crusade in life to assist others, including with housing.
Wanda Conlin of the West Meadowbrook Neighborhood Association needs to look in the mirror. Her attitude of being a judge and jury for the homeless and parolees living in or near “her” sacred ground is indicative of a larger problem — her blatant prejudice and discrimination.
Betty Lou Raines
To the editor: Dan McGraw’s cover story exposé about people wrongfully convicted (“Let the Right Ones Out,” March 9, 2011) and the extraordinary work by the Innocence Project of Texas to free them is a wake-up call to the entire law enforcement establishment. Officers should at least presume the innocence of suspects and duly investigate all circumstances so that individuals do not end up in prison because of faulty eyewitness identification or faulty evidence.
Thank God for DNA testing and the diligence of folks dedicated to pursuing the righting of wrongful convictions.
Dallas County District Attorney Craig Watkins is to be commended for his proactive approach with his able team of Terri Moore and Mike Ware in obtaining releases for wrongfully incarcerated folks.
Tim Cole paid the ultimate price, but with that sacrifice he’s become the poster boy for the Innocence Project. His brother, Cory Session, helped start the crusade to correct his brother’s conviction and now is public policy director for the Innocence Project. His brother’s tragedy will be remembered for the good it did for others who are innocent. That’s his indelible legacy.