I think it’s safe to say most of you have never heard of Avi Adelman.

Well, let me introduce you to him this way: Without question, Avi can be one of the most annoying people I know.

He calls virtually at any hour of the day or night with a breathless report about this or that issue affecting his little portion of the world.

He dashes off e-mails and letters threatening this or that elected official, store owner, property manager, or anyone else who crosses him (or, perhaps, even crosses his path).

He becomes fixated on seemingly irrelevant issues (as I write this column, he’s running a contest to select the most disgusting Dumpster on Greenville Avenue). Like an angry dog, he latches onto the nearest offending leg, and come hell or high water, he won’t let go.

And yet, I risk the ire of many neighborhood people when I tell you that I like the guy. I don’t always agree with his methods, his targets or even his goals, but he’s out there trying to make a difference.

Avi’s latest crusade is what he and others perceive to be the many inequities on Greenville Avenue, which just happens to be our cover story this month.

His group, Barking Dogs of Lower Greenville, fires off almost daily e-mail updates and posts a website (www.flash.net/~adelman/dogs.html) with information including monthly liquor sales updates for neighborhood bars and restaurants, City Council e-mail links, and Avi’s often impertinent comments about zoning, permit and parking issues associated with Greenville businesses.

But Avi’s antics haven’t brought us to the situation we face on Greenville Avenue, where neighborhood residents, business owners and City staffers neither like nor trust each other.

Instead, there is a more sinister villain: the City of Dallas.

Yes, some businesses have taken advantage of the complex situation. Yes, too many residents refuse to face the reality of urban life (for better and worse) next to a growing entertainment district.

But there’s no question that the City’s primal impulse to run and hide on many of these issues — ducking behind the old “we don’t have funding” or “we’re afraid of getting sued” excuses — is making the situation impossible.

In what we hope will be a refreshing change of pace, this month’s cover story doesn’t choose sides or dwell on personalities. Instead, we offer some solutions — some of which are actually being successfully implemented elsewhere.

But frankly, unless someone at the City grows a backbone and wades into the fray, nothing significant is going to change on Greenville Avenue anytime

soon.

And let’s face it: Too many of us don’t really care what’s happening on Greenville Avenue, anyway. We don’t live nearby, and there are plenty of other places to eat and drink if things become too dicey there.

But the fundamental question that seems to linger throughout the bitterness is pretty simple: Does the City have any idea what its role should be in situations like this?

And assuming it doesn’t, what’s the long-term impact on the rest of our neighborhood if City staff do not face the fundamental issues that affect how Dallas works and grows? Our story shows other cities can do it: Why can’t we?

It’s easy to dismiss Avi because of his in-your-face delivery style. But amidst all of the bluster, he’s at least asking questions.

I just hope he’s not staying up too late waiting for the right answers.