Static Part Two 8/24/05: Wednesday, August 31, 2005
It’s Not a Math Course

Students of city management could learn a lot by observing how this city deals with the Woodhaven neighborhood in East Fort Worth. “OK, class, this is Gentrification 101. Gentrification is defined as getting rid of poor minority folks so that the wealthy and politically connected homeowners will be happy and businesses will flock to the area. This increases property values, which means more taxes for the city, and everyone wins. Well, everyone except for the poor folks, but they can move back to Poly or the North Side or wherever they came from.”

The city spent $236,000 to develop a plan that called for knocking down a half-dozen apartment buildings to make way for a fancy, landscaped gateway to the Woodhaven Country Club area. Apartment managers complained that the city is trying to gain control of the apartments by exaggerating crime problems and low occupancy rates there. Gentrification proponents say residents displaced by the plan won’t have to move far because most complexes are barely half-full.

However, records at the Apartment Listing Network, which tracks these things, show average occupancy rates in Woodhaven are about 80 percent, not far behind the citywide average of 87 percent. The complex that the city calls the worst of the bunch, Villa del Rio, which just happens to be in the way of the fancy gateway, is listed at 86 percent occupied.

The King of Repres-siam

One way to assess the war on terror is to think about the seemingly innocuous things we give up while trying to protect our way of life. Some Grapevine residents recently were told they could not leave their homes or businesses during a seven-hour period on Aug. 3 because President Bush would be arriving by helicopter for a speaking engagement at the Gaylord Texan Resort. “Our best advice is to leave the area before 9 a.m. and don’t return until after 4 p.m.,’’ Grapevine police advised their citizens. And those who stayed at home were advised against even trying to watch the president’s arrival from certain perches. “No one will be allowed to be standing on the [nearby] apartment patios or even looking out of the windows toward the landing zone,’’ the police said, adding ominously, “You wouldn’t want to be confused for a sniper.’’

Certainly not. Static understands the need to safeguard the president but wonders if there might not be another way to get the dude in for his speech without resorting to a virtual lockdown of the neighborhood. Let’s see, which civilization was it that wouldn’t let its people so much as look at their supreme ruler? Made ’em lie face down ’til he passed? Static, who last took a history course shortly after the printing press was invented, doesn’t recall, but it sure wasn’t listed under “democracy.”

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