Archive for the ‘Environment’ Category

My Response to Jim Schutze’s Post on May 10th

May 11, 2010

While the response below was included in the following blog posts (post one, post two),  in a issue so serious I felt the need to respond in a separate post. The answer to a question that he poses to me personally is also included.


Notice that even in Jim Schutze’s response dated Monday, May 10th he still hasn’t read the minutes that mentioned people opposed or the fact Oak Cliff Metals has illegally using land for years, nor why he bemoans the supposed fiefdoms of 14-1 except for this issue.  


It’s much more convenient when Schutze tries to make it a conspiracy headed by the Dallas Morning News.  The attempt to cloud the real issues with childish name calling is something I would expect from a high-school newspaper.  And if the best he can do is refer to me as a “little hench guy,” then I’ll just keep responding with facts.  For a so-called investigative reporter to use such a tone in such a serious issue makes him seem irrational and ridiculous.  It’s par for the course; the bully can’t take a punch back.  He’s done it before, and will again. 


Schutze only got involved after he thought he had a scoop on Mayor Pro Tem Caraway and figured he could use it to further his vendetta. As I mentioned before, no one at the Observer wrote about the issue on that day or in the days after, despite it being a contentious and contested vote at the City Plan Commission.



To claim that a council member can’t meet with a business owner “outside of the process” is one of the most ignorant comments I have heard about the zoning process.  So businesses should just apply for zoning and never meet with council members?  Such a process doesn’t happen in his district or others. Ask your councilperson if they’ve ever met with a business owner before the case got voted on.  In fact, Schutze should ask his own councilperson that question.  And in cases where a business lies near multiple district boundaries (Caraway’s council district is three streets down), the business will take the time to meet with all of them.  It’s perfectly acceptable and passes any ethics sniff test. Caraway was with the council member from that district at the time he was in front of Oak Cliff Metals, which was written by Schutze himself in his own article. 


What also is blatantly clear is that for someone that writes a political column as if he is a zoning expert, Jim Schutze has little actual knowledge of actual city zoning rules.  Regardless of what citations Oak Cliff Metals does or doesn’t have, the fact remains that they are operating illegally and are too close to residential zoning to get a Specific Use Permit.  This map proves it. The pictures show it. The City’s zoning rules do not allow it. Period. End of story.  I guess this means he’ll finally attend one of the hearings involving this case, since he hasn’t been at any to date.  

Oak Cliff Metals: More Ignored Facts

May 2, 2010

Tod Robberson on the Dallas Morning News checks in twice regarding the Oak Cliff Metals situation.

As he accurately reports:

They are seeking a re-zoning of part of their property, which they have been using without permission for industrial purposes even though it is currently zoned for retail use only.

 My hope would be that reporters like Schutze would more accurately reflect the situation instead of massaging stories and half-reporting for their own benefit.  But it hasn’t happened in two years, so I won’t hold my breath.  We will, however, continue to refute the lies that are reported by that paper.

Oak Cliff Metals: Half the Facts, and it never Mattered Anyway

April 28, 2010

(UPDATE: more on this situation in this newer post. Notice that even in Schutze’s response dated Monday, May 10th he still hasn’t read the minutes that mentioned people opposed or the fact Oak Cliff Metals has illegally using land for years, nor why he bemoans the supposed fiefdoms of 14-1 except for this issue.  It’s much more convenient when he tries to make it a conspiracy headed by the Dallas Morning News. And if the best he can do is refer to me as a “little hench guy,” then I’ll just keep responding with facts. Regardless of what citations they do or don’t have, the fact remains that they are operating illegally and are too close to residential zoning to get a Specific Use Permit. This map proves it. The pictures show it. Period. End of story.  I guess this means he’ll finally attend one of the hearings involving this case, since he hasn’t been at any to date.)

So Jim Schutze writes another article with a negative slant about what’s going on in Oak Cliff (He calls the area South Dallas, which it’s not. It’s Oak Cliff, which is inside Southern Dallas. But I digress).  So what else is new? They had a bunch of lead-up blog posts over the last month acting like they had a bombshell on their hands.  Not so much. Maybe he’s auditioning to be in a movie version of the book to the right. Who knows.

For whatever reason, Jim Schutze has had an agenda regarding Mayor Pro Tem Dwaine Caraway for the last two years or so.  I have talked about it from time to time this blog.  He claims to be even-handed, but the truth is the last decent story he wrote involving the Caraways was in March of 2006.  I only bring up this fact because he did.  Moving on.

A lot of things are left out of this week’s article in his paper, most of which is either by convenience, lack of investigation or both.

The truth is that Oak Cliff Metals is three blocks from the boundaries of District Four along Cedar Crest.  District Four residents are the ones that drive by these properties every day.

While Schutze was busy interviewing the security guard for Oak Cliff Metals, did he cross the street and ask the owner of the barber shop about Oak Cliff Metals?  No.  Did he interview the pastor of the church directly across the street? No. They would’ve told you about Oak Cliff Metals being a bad neighbor for as long as they can remember.In fact, they were at the City Plan Commission hearing.

While he claims this is Dwaine’s one-man crusade against the “fantastic” business that is Oak Cliff Metals, did he look at the minutes of the City Plan Commission during which multiple residents and business owners said that they were against the zoning application? No. Did he even attend the meeting that day? No.  Did anyone at the Observer write about the issue on that day, despite it being a contentious and contested vote at the City Plan Commission? No.

Did he writer ever have a problem with council members in North of East Dallas rezoning entire areas or streets? No.

Did he miss the entire process undertaken by the City Council more than two years ago against metal theft and metal salvage yards, on which Dwaine was the lead?  How many times was Oak Cliff Metals mentioned during that process as one of the most egregious of violators? Countless.

Even the owners of Gold Metals on South Lamar are willing to talk to the press about their business. Why does Oak Cliff Metals continue to hide?

Here are some facts about zoning in Dallas: A metal salvage facility must have a Specific Use Permit to operate (zoning rules), and even at that point can only have such a permit on land zoned Industrial Manufacturing.  Such a business cannot exist 500 feet from residentially-zoned land.  Oak Cliff Metals is less than 500 feet from such property. By that definition alone, the permit should not be granted.

Did Schutze mention anything about the fact that Oak Cliff Metals skirted the law by getting a CO for outside storage instead of their true use which is metal salvage? Did he mention that they currently do not have the Specific Use Permit needed to legally operate? Nope.

As mentioned by the Dallas Morning News two weeks ago:

City code enforcers warned Falcon Transit’s owner about several potential infractions last year. “Violation confirmed” and “illegal land use” appear on one Sept. 27 code-enforcement report. A separate notice of violation, addressed to Mr. Smith, lists an invalid certificate of operation.

Did Schutze mention that in addition to their application for a Specific Use Permit, Oak Cliff Metals wants to take land zoned Community Retail along Cedar Crest and zone it Industrial Manufacturing? No.  Then his story would be that much more meaningless.  All facts conveniently left out of his article.

I openly wonder how Schutze writes articles bemoaning “ward politics,” and then write an article about a councilman that has the supposed nerve of speaking out against a problem business that is blocks from his council district.  So which one is it?  Are you for or against so-called ward politics? You can’t have it both ways.

Schutze mentions that he doesn’t live on land zoned for industrial uses.  Of course he doesn’t; he lives in East Dallas where no such zoning exists on main corridors. Let’s see how his neighbors feel if someone wants to take some of their best land on Live Oak or Gaston near his house that’s zoned retail and make it industrial.

Why most of land that is zoned industrial is south of I-30 and not in his high-income neighborhood is a discussion for another day.

As I have mentioned before, they resent the fact that we are as educated about the process of improving our neighborhoods as any other area, and that we address problems. Oak Cliff Metals, Texas-by-Products, and others are on a long list of bad actors.  Clean up takes time.

They use their paper for undercover political motives as well.  I can’t respect writers like Schutze because they have no goal; it’s all about burning people with no real positive goal to bolster their efforts, while hiding behind the cloak of “good reporting.”

Keep writing, keep lying, and keep hating. We’ll keep cleaning up our neighborhoods.

We Can All Take the Credit or Accept the Blame

September 30, 2009
Anything written by Rev. Gerald Britt will command my attention.  He has been in the trenches, working on behalf of the community for decades.  With that in mind, make sure you read his post on his Change the Wind blog.
Rev. Britt is right; a lot of people are working countless hours to improve the community. In some areas, assistance is given by the city but we always need residents and interested citizens to fill the gap. We also need media to report the good and bad that is going on.
With respect to District Four, the philosophy is to “make it safe,” and then businesses will return.  I still remember three years ago when people were telling Dwaine Caraway that his campaign would go nowhere if he made public safety his number one issue. Well, as we continue to find innovative ways to reduce crime the investment is coming back slowly but surely.

Even within the City, we are not waiting for the Task Force to do the work for us.  Crest Shopping Center in Oak Cliff is being revitalized, the 8th & Corinth/Fiji mixed-use transit-oriented development project will break ground shortly, and zoning is being reviewed on the eastern side of our district to ensure better uses for that area.

The convenience store initiative is now law, and the goal is for it to be expanded to car washes. The store ordinance requires videotaping of all areas of the premises, as well as all being part of DPD’s criminal trespass program which allows police to effectively address loitering issues which foster drug dealing and other crimes.
The city has a role, the newspaper has a role, and the community has a role.  Everyone has a part in the success.

DART: Buy the CNG Buses

December 2, 2008

Right now, there is a big debate at DART regarding the choice between purchasing compressed natural gas (CNG) buses or buses powered by diesel fuel. To me, while there may be a cost difference in buying CNG buses it’s still a no-brainer.

I can’t believe that in this day and time we as a region are considering purchasing buses that run off of diesel fuel. Diesel fuel is foreign oil. So-called “clean diesel” is still diesel, and therefore is still foreign oil. Natural gas is an American resource.

The life-cycle for this proposed bus fleet is said to be twelve years. Who wants to still be running diesel buses in Dallas in the year 2020?

Throughout our nation, we have been beholden to foreign oil interests and when the price goes up we all feel the pain. Automakers and other industries are being forced to retool and become more fuel-efficient and environmentally responsible. Why wouldn’t DART follow the lead of the City of Dallas as well as other area municipal transit organizations and buy CNG buses?