I know I’ve said this before, but one of the best aspects of publishing a newspaper is getting to meet people in person that, for the most part, most of us only see on television or read about in the newspaper.

During the past few weeks, we’ve met with Dallas Police Chief Ben Click and the new Mayor Ron Kirk. And after a couple of hours with Chief Click and an hour with Mayor Kirk (both of whom are proud neighborhood residents), I feel a lot better about our City and its future.

Now this is only my opinion, and feel free to take it for what it’s worth, but I’m impressed with both men – not because of their job titles or their political ideology or their personal agendas, but because of who they are.

If Chief Click walked up to me somewhere, unknown and unannounced in a business suit, I’d never guess he’s a policeman, much less the chief of 3,500 Dallas officers. The man is soft-spoken, but he speaks with impressive clarity.

He doesn’t seem to be one of the rough-and-tumble officers of television lore, and in my opinion, that’s exactly what we need in this City.

But I don’t think the head-cracking, rock-bursting philosophy of many politicians is going to solve our problems, and Chief Click seems to agree.

So does Mayor Kirk, who is one of the most genuinely personable politicians I’ve ever met. And I think in Kirk’s case, calling him a “politician” is a compliment, because that’s what it takes these days to govern a major American city such as Dallas.

We’ve done the right thing here by establishing diverse leadership on the City Council, but you have to walk the walk and talk the talk to lead this group of budding politicos.

Maybe he’s naïve, or maybe he simply has enough years of politics and politicians under his belt, but you can tell by reading this month’s Advocate interview that Kirk has an almost supernatural confidence in his leadership ability.

He’s going to need that confidence, and probably a few divine miracles, during the next few years if he hopes to keep the Council on speaking terms. But after reading this month’s interview, I hope you’ll feel as if you were in the room with us for the entire hour the Interview encompasses.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t thank Doctors Hospital for sponsoring the annual Interview. Publishing 60 minutes of unedited questions and answers – from a politician no less – is a risky annual endeavor for our newspaper, much less for a neighborhood advertiser interested in getting the most bang for its promotional dollar.

So the next time you run into someone from Doctors, let them know you appreciate their support of our newspaper and this format.

After all, this is supposed to be the “sound-bite” society, with children and adults having the attention span of Coke commercials. And of course, this interview offers no blood, sex and, to my knowledge, no blockbuster gaffes or quotes.

There’s not supposed to be any, either.

Instead, this annual, “kinder and gentler” July feature is designed to make you think. And I hope you’ll sense one of the positive aspects of being a newspaper publisher – even if it’s only for the hour or so you invest in reading this month’s discussion with Mayor Kirk.

Really, that’s all we’re trying to accomplish with this story.

Let me know if you like, or don’t like, our format by dropping me a line. Everyone who writes in, whether you like the Interview or not, will receive a free, 100-percent-cotton Advocate T-shirt.

Who knows? If you wear our T-shirt around the neighborhood, maybe one of our local political luminaries will stop you and begin talking with you as if you were, well, a newspaper publisher.

If that happens, take good notes and then give me a call.

A Sad Note

Lots of us in our neighborhood see Carol Hensley’s work, even if we don’t really know her.

If we’ve attended the annual Fourth of July Parade or the Lakewood Service League Ball or the Lakewood Early Childhood PTA’s Home Tour, or if we’ve attended meetings of the Long or Woodrow PTAs or the annual Long or Woodrow musicals, we’ve seen some of her family’s work in our neighborhood.

I first ran into Carol and her husband, Gary, in early 1991, when we were getting ready to publish our first newspaper.

After a little begging on my part, Carol became one of our first advertisers, and she pretty much forced Gary to buy an ad for his landscape contracting business, too.

A few months later, Carol volunteered her home as the drop-off point for thousands of our newspapers every month. (Carol helped us contract with J.L. Long’s choir students to deliver our papers throughout Lakewood during our first year of publication.)

At the time, Carol didn’t know me from one of the guys picking up trash in the alley. But that didn’t stop her from rolling out the neighborhood red carpet.

Truthfully, I didn’t stop to think about why she and her family were being so helpful. I was just grateful.

Well, if you haven’t heard the news, Gary died unexpectedly at the age of 49 last month, and I think it’s safe to say Carol is going to be busy at home – rather than throughout our neighborhoods – for awhile. In a typical gesture, however, Carol asked that memorials for Gary be sent to the Lakewood Service League, P.O. Box 140157, Dallas, TX 75214.

I never seem to have appropriate things to say during times such as these. Perhaps the best tribute to the Hensley family is to keep showing up at the neighborhood events and to remain (or become) active with the neighborhood groups to which they have devoted so much of their time.

Now, We Have Too Much Space

Several months ago, I wrote about our newspapers’ need for a new office space.

I’m happy to report that, beginning Oct. 1, we’ve found a new home in the First Interstate Bank Building, thanks in large part to the efforts of neighborhood chamber member Chilton Sanders, who handled negotiations on behalf of the building’s owner.

However, the space comes with a hitch: the space includes about 750 square feet more than we need. The extra space includes two “window” offices and a storage area on the building’s eighth floor, overlooking the Lakewood Shopping Center and Lakewood Theater.

If you know of a small neighborhood business that needs a common reception area and secure, private offices, give ma a call at 341-3353.

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