If caring about our ’hood means I’m a whiner, then rosin up the tiny violin

One of the most remarkable things about the Advocate is that people actually read it and care about what they read. Given the travails in the media business these days — the company that publishes Sports Illustrated is losing money, believe it or not — that’s amazing. Your loyalty is the main reason why we have been here for more than 15 years.

So when I make a mistake, as I did last month in discussing why the Medallion shopping center is called the Medallion shopping center, it’s not surprising that the e-mails poured in (and are still coming in, weeks after the column appeared). Yes, I was aware there was a store called Medallion there — why I wrote that the center was named after a theater rather than the store remains a mystery to me. I am, after all, supposed to know better.

It’s also remarkable that so many readers take so much offense at what I write, especially about real estate development. I have never objected to their objections, because if I have a right to my opinion, they certainly have a right to theirs (though my standing policy is that they should try to spell “moron” and “idiot” correctly; however I’m not as fussy about punctuation). What has always baffled me is why they get so angry, including the letter this month that says I do entirely too much whining, and that they’re quite tired of it.

It is true that many people over the years (starting with my mother) have noticed that I do sometimes whine. I have also been accused of bellyaching, griping, and even ranting and raving, especially when I get on the subject of the Chicago Cubs or Richard Nixon. But regardless of anything else, my first concern is for the neighborhood and what we have here — a community that is a terrific place to live, not because someone with money has anointed it as such, but because those of us who live here have worked to make it so terrific. Our blood, toil, tears and sweat built this, and that’s something to be proud of.

Do I think that quality of life we have here is more important than someone else’s right to make money, especially at the neighborhood’s expense? You bet. And if that’s whining, then I’m going to keep whining until the undertaker drags my cold, dead hands from this keyboard.

I once asked someone who doesn’t agree with me about this stuff: Why this fascination with money? How much money is enough? Their answer: It’s a question not even worth asking. Which to me is even scarier, that making a bundle is more important than your neighbors.

Also on readers’ minds is next spring’s mayoral election, now that the incumbent has decided not to run for re-election. Regular visitors to this space will know there is no love lost between the mayor and myself, so it may sound surprising to hear that she will be missed. Because, to paraphrase Louis XV (and yes, I double-checked that one), after her, the deluge.

For all of the mayor’s faults, she remained more or less a neighborhood advocate. None of the candidates — announced or rumored — has yet demonstrated they will put the interests of the neighborhoods above those of the people who think asking how much money is enough is not a legitimate question.

Besides, I don’t think her political career is over. U.S. Senator John Cornyn’s term is up in 2008, and several people I have talked to expect her to run against Cornyn. Which will actually be quite interesting, since the mayor is so much fun to write about, and Cornyn is Cornyn.

One caveat, though: The political highway is littered with Dallas mayors whose electoral careers ended when they stopped being mayor, including heavyweights such as Ron Kirk and Steve Bartlett.

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