Letters: Thursday, April 21, 2004

Who’s the Real Shirker?

To the editor: William Laatsch II calls members of the military reserves and National Guard “whining warriors” for complaining about their combat duty in Iraq (Letters, April 7, 2004).

Has he considered that some of our leaders and strongest supporters of the war in Iraq were draft-avoiders via military reserves, i.e., President George W. Bush and former VP Dan Quayle? Whether Bush even performed his minimal reservist’s duties is now in doubt.

It’s unfair and hypocritical for the president to expand the war in Iraq, using “Weekend Warriors” (National Guard and reservists) as a major fighting force (40 percent of the combat troops), when he used the reserves to avoid “real” military duty during the Vietnam War. (I served in Vietnam in the Army, 1967-68.)

Michael J. Gorman

Whitestone, N.Y.

Digging Deeper on TIFs

To the editor: Thanks to you and Betty Brink for being the only newspaper in Fort Worth that will take a critical and informative look at some of the “good old boy” deals taking place in our city. I couldn’t help but notice that the Fort Worth Star Telegram printed what looks like a completely regurgitated version of Ms. Brink’s article, with only one purpose in mind — making our city leadership appear a little less incompetent. The Star-Telegram’s idea of comprehensive coverage of city government is to interview our mayor and council members and then just print whatever they say. As a result, when our council membership is misinformed, we are misinformed.

As it turns out, Ms. Brink was able to uncover a great many facts concerning TIFs and “under the table” deals created by our city leadership that we (Fort Worth Citizens for Responsible Government) were not able to discover with our limited resources.

Unknowingly, your newspaper was very helpful to our organization, to me, and to our quest for a more responsible and accountable government. With that in mind, I want you to know that I fully intend to pursue the possibility of legal challenges to some of the TIFs created thus far, especially if the city decides to create TIFs for Cabela’s and the Southwest Parkway.

As stated before, we are grateful for your time and print space. However, there is a very sad side of this story that you didn’t print. We have a mayor with government experience on the state and local level. Additionally we have two attorneys on our city council with numerous years of experience in law and local government. Which begs the question: With this much experience, why does our city leadership not have a better understanding of state law and the fundamental application of the TIF legislation? Has city government simply found a way to sidestep the law and the citizens (voters) of Fort Worth — as our leadership tried to do with the city-owned convention center hotel?

In the Startlegram article, Mark Hill, senior vice president and chief administrative officer for RadioShack stated, “We took a piece of property that generated zero taxes ... and now has $150 to $200 million of improvements on it that will generate taxes for years and years to come.” What wasn’t reported? Almost all of those taxes will go into the TIF created for RadioShack, for their exclusive benefit. Not for the benefit of the general public. When do we get our benefits? We, the people, are paying through the nose for these TIF districts, yet we must wait 25 or 30 years to realize any advantage for our properties.

Perhaps we will be able to answer these questions, among others, in the very near future.

Louis McBee

Fort Worth

Ambivalent in Sundance

To the editor: As a 45-year resident of our fair city, I have mixed feelings about our downtown development (“Square in Sundance,” March 17, 2004; and “The High Cost of ‘Blight,’” April 7, 2004). If I were in charge, the Ripley Arnold residents would have been relocated to Westover Hills; I bet there would have been some real screaming then!

I’ve also wondered why the Bank One building couldn’t have been converted into a badly needed parking garage as opposed to condos that no one I know can afford to rent. The asbestos didn’t matter when people worked there before the tornado; why would it have mattered if people parked there today?

In Santa Monica, they have an area called the Promenade that the Basses need to visit. It’s a little touristy, with street performers and those damn mimes you want to pepper-spray, but the streets going north and south are pedestrian-only and are packed shoulder to shoulder with people almost any night of the week. It’s a great place for people-watching as well as hanging out. Just like Sundance Square, they have movie theaters and places to eat, but they also have multiple bookstores (Am I the only person in Fort Worth who misses the two Thompson’s Books that used to be downtown?) and the coolest used-clothing store I’ve ever seen, called the Muskrat. But what the hell do I know, right?

Brian Roper

Fort Worth

A Farewell, Well Done

To the editor: What a wonderful article Peter Gorman wrote on Lydia (“Death in Familiar Places,” March 31, 2004). I glanced at the article, then started reading it and couldn’t put it down until I read it from start to finish. A great story and exceptionally well written.

Joe Oppie


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