A Statement from RNC Chairman Michael Steele

“Today the Republican National Committee remembers the 2,740 Americans who died in the terrorist attacks on America eight years ago. We share in the grief still felt by families and friends who lost loved ones.

Yet like all Americans, we are strengthened knowing that even in the tragedy of 9/11, the character of America was visible to all the world through the courage and compassion demonstrated by first responders and those who lost their lives.

We also proudly salute the hundreds of thousands of American service men and women who continue to fight the war on terror on far-away battlefields. Because of their sacrifice, we continue to live in freedom. And America remains a beacon of hope and opportunity to the world.”

Youth Activist Groups Honor Local First Responders on Sept. 11

Dallas County Young Democrats (DCYD) and Dallas Stonewall Young Democrats (DSYD) Host Barbecue for National Day of Service

Dallas (September 10) — The Dallas County Young Democrats and Dallas Stonewall Young Democrats are honoring service men and women with the “Serving Those Who Serve Us” Barbecue, this upcoming Friday at the Thurgood Marshall Recreation Center. The event begins at 6:30 p.m.

The Dallas County Young Democrats and Dallas Stonewall Young Democrats are partnering together to answer President Obama’s call to service by honoring our service men and women on Sept. 11, the National Day of Service and Remembrance.

President Obama started a national service initiative called “United We Serve”, this past June, aimed at encouraging Americans to volunteer to bring a greater level of visibility and responsibility for key social concerns. The intiative ends on Sept. 11 with a day of service.

When: Sept. 11 (Friday), 6:30 pm to 8:30 pm

Where: Thurgood Marshall Recreation Center

5150 Mark Trail Way, Dallas, TX 75232-1809

What: Food, games for all ages, prizes, fire truck tours, and more…

Admission is free to all firefighters, police officers, military personnel, reservists and the families of our first responders. A minimum donation of $5 is requested for non-first responder’s and families.

A portion of the proceeds will benefit the Dallas Fire-Rescue.

African-American unemployment rate 14.5% in July, down for 3rd straight month

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics announced that the U.S. unemployment rate was virtually unchanged for the second straight month, down .1% from June to July.  The 9.4% unemployment rate fir July is identical to May, but another 247,000 jobs were lost during this period.

The African-American unemployment rate declined for the third time in as many months, dropping to 14.5% from 14.7% in June.  The unemployment rate for African-Americans reached 15% in April. Black males saw a .6% drop in unemployment to 15.8% and down from 17.2% in April.

Click here for the employment situation summary by the Labor Statistics Bureau.

Henry Louis Gates, Jr. releases statement through Charles Ogletree

Here is a statement released by Charles Olgletree who has been retained by Henry Louis Gates, Jr. after he was arrested at his Cambridge Massachusettes home. This information was posted at theroot.com and distributed.

Statement on Behalf of Henry Louis Gates, Jr. — by Charles Ogletree

This brief statement is being submitted on behalf of my client, friend, and colleague, Professor Henry Louis Gates, Jr. This is a statement concerning the arrest of Professor Gates. On July 16th, 2009, Professor Henry Louis Gates, Jr., 58, the Alphonse Fletcher University Professor of Harvard University, was headed from Logan airport to his home [in] Cambridge after spending a week in China, where he was filming his new PBS documentary entitled “Faces of America”.

Professor Gates was driven to his home by a driver for a local car company. Professor Gates attempted to enter his front door, but the door was damaged. Professor Gates then entered his rear door with his key, turned off his alarm, and again attempted to open the front door. With the help of his driver they were able to force the front door open, and then the driver carried Professor Gates’s luggage into his home.

Professor Gates immediately called the Harvard Real Estate office to report the damage to his door and requested that it be repaired immediately. As he was talking to the Harvard Real Estate office on his portable phone in his house, he observed a uniformed officer on his front porch. When Professor Gates opened the door, the officer immediately asked him to step outside. Professor Gates remained inside his home and asked the officer why he was there.

The officer indicated that he was responding to a 911 call about a breaking and entering in progress at this address. Professor Gates informed the officer that he lived there and was a faculty member at Harvard University. The officer then asked Professor Gates whether he could prove that he lived there and taught at Harvard.

Professor Gates said that he could, and turned to walk into his kitchen, where he had left his wallet. The officer followed him. Professor Gates handed both his Harvard University identification and his valid Massachusetts driver’s license to the officer. Both include Professor Gates’s photograph, and the license includes his address.

Professor Gates then asked the police officer if he would give him his name and his badge number. He made this request several times. The officer did not produce any identification nor did he respond to Professor Gates’s request for this information. After an additional request by Professor Gates for the officer’s name and badge number, the officer then turned and left the kitchen of Professor Gates’s home without ever acknowledging who he was or if there were charges against Professor Gates.

As Professor Gates followed the officer to his own front door, he was astonished to see several police officers gathered on his front porch. Professor Gates asked the officer’s colleagues for his name and badge number. As Professor Gates stepped onto his front porch, the officer who had been inside and who had examined his identification, said to him, “Thank you for accommodating my earlier request,” and then placed Professor Gates under arrest. He was handcuffed on his own front porch.

Professor Gates was taken to the Cambridge Police Station where he remained for approximately 4 hours before being released that evening. Professor Gates’s counsel has been cooperating with the Middlesex District Attorneys Office, and the City of Cambridge, and is hopeful that this matter will be resolved promptly. Professor Gates will not be making any other statements concerning this matter at this time.

Is Dallas Main Post office about to close?

Late Friday afternoon I received a letter that supposedly went out from the American Postal Workers Union.  This letter was on American Postal Workers Union letterhead, and signed by President Larry Crawford and Secretary/Treasurer Jennifer D. Fulbright.  I was not able to call and very this information at (214)631-3162.  But here is the first 2/3 of the letter.

On Wednesday, July 1, 2009, at Mountain View College, the U S Postal Service held a Public Forum regarding the closing of the Main Post Office.  There was only one problem, the public wasn’t there. They (the USPS) said they notified you.  They said they sent out notices and posted the meeting time and place, but you chose not to come, because you just don’t care.  Funny, the Mayor and the City Council didn’t know, until we notified them.  The media didn’t know until we told them, so we can only deduce from all that you now know because we are telling you.  We need you to SAVE OUR LOCAL POSTAL SERVICE.

The Postal Service’s plan to shift mail processing operations from the Dallas Main Post Office at 401 D/FW Turnpike to 951 Bethel RD in Coppell, TX possess a serious threat to prompt and reliable mail service for the Dallas area.

What does this mean for the citizens of Dallas?  Despite USPS assurance to the contrary, mail service will suffer.  Mail will be collected earlier in the day and will arrive later, maybe even after dark.  And we could experience delays of several days in the time it takes to send and receive our mail Checks and medications may not reach their destination when they are needed: credit ratings could suffer because of late bill payments, and birthday cards and gifts could arrive late.  Everyone doesn’t use email or the internet.  Once again the southern sector of our city will suffer if the citizens are not heard from.  What a shame for the 5th. largest city in the United States to lose it’s identity by losing it’s postmark.

The letter goes on to ask citizens to “ring the phones of your Mayor, your Representatives and your Postmaster.”  They list several politicians and for people to call and say that the Postal Service is accepting public correspondence if postmarked by July 16th.  Because of the names in the email string I’m pretty sure this is real.  It may be out there somewhere else but I haven’t seen it yet.  I’ll try to verify this on Monday.

JoAnn Karr Crime Watch in Southeast Dallas get update from Dallas Police and Pleasant Grove Historian


At its recent monthly meeting, the JoAnn Karr Crime Watch group heard crime stats from the Dallas Police Department. Since our Neighborhood Police Officers (NPOs) have been transferred to another department, their supervisor (Sgt. Grant) will report to the group until replacements are announced.

Sgt. Grant encouraged members to report anything suspicious they may observe. He gave an example of how a neighbor in another area saw some men running from a pawn shop and got the license plate number of the car in which they left.

Figuring this spelled trouble of some kind, she gave the number to the police, and it turned out the men had killed the employee of the pawn shop. Thanks to the neighbor’s quick thinking, one of the men was arrested the next day based on the license plate number.
Members were cautioned to always secure yard equipment when going inside to rest or get refreshment. Often people think they’ll just be gone a minute, even though that’s not always the case. Upon their return their lawnmower, edger, etc. have disappeared.

Additionally, members were encouraged to keep a close eye on elderly or disabled neighbors during excessive heat and ozone days to be sure they are cool and well hydrated.  The group was also advised of work the DPD is doing with Code to stop unlicensed food, produce, and ice cream vendors in the area. Any sightings of these should be reported.
Local historian Frances James also made a presentation during the meeting. Ms. James has lived in the Pleasant Grove area and studied its history for many years. She said that many people are confused about what actually constitutes Pleasant Grove. That may sound strange until one realizes that most people define Pleasant Grove as everything south of I-30, east of 175, and west of Balch Springs.
View Map of Pleasant Grove Area

Actually, Pleasant Grove began at the crossing of Buckner Blvd. and Elam Road and extended in a one-mile radius. North of that one mile radius is the Piedmont/Scyene neighborhood and then Buckner Terrace.
Ms. James and others have worked with the newspapers, Radio, and TV stations over the years to encourage them to report accurately when stating where a crime occurs. Interestingly, the very next day after the meeting, one of the members heard a report on the radio about a crime around the Fair Park area and the reporter finished by saying, “actually in Pleasant Grove.”

The member immediately called the newsroom and provided the correct information; however, the misstatement was not corrected over the air.

Other interesting points made by Ms. James included:

  • The first public cemetery is on Buckner Blvd., next to the Pleasant Mound Cemetery. Burials are no longer allowed. The Pleasant Mound Methodist Church established the Pleasant Mound Cemetery next to its own site. From the cost of burial, $5 went to the church. That is how the First Pleasant Mound Methodist Church which is now at Bruton and Pleasant Mound was built. In the public cemetery, the markers were made of Bois D’arc trees, some of the hardest in the world. There are a few of those markers still in the cemetery.
  • The first train stopped in Dallas in 1872 in the area of what is Gaston and Central today. There were about four cars on that train. One was for the passengers and the others for materials.
  • The T&P Railroad was originally scheduled to run along the 32nd parallel through Corsicana; however, John Lane got legislation through the Texas Legislature to have it come through Dallas at Browder Springs which is in the area of Old City Park. Money was paid to appease the citizens of Corsicana.
  • The Houston and Texas Central crossed with the T&P in Dallas. Thus, a thriving metropolis was born.
  • There really is an Elam Springs (remember Elam Road) and is located in what is now the Trinity River Audubon Center on Loop 12, West of Jim Miller Road.

There’s so much more history about Pleasant Grove that Ms. James shared at the meeting. In next month’s column, we’ll share more interesting facts.

Caught in Monday’s Police Chase, I Now Wonder is it worth it

On Monday afternoon I made a snap decision, as I’m known to sometimes do.  Heading south out of downtown, I thought it would be cool to take my son to Celebration Station in Mesquite, so we headed East on Interstate 30.  I set the budget at…well cheap, and figured we’d get in and out pretty quick.  But a funny thing (not so funny in hindsight) happened on our way there.

As we started getting closer to Jim Miller Road, I noticed Dallas County Constables parked at the off ramps and standing outside of their cars.  When I looked up and saw helicopters, I started putting two and two together and figured there must be a chase in progress.

It was about that time that I started hearing a police siren.  Looking in my rearview mirror, I saw that it wasn’t a law enforcement vehicle approaching from behind, but a grey colored Nissan that was followed by a lone squad car.  I really didn’t have much time to react as I drove in one of the center lanes, but both vehicles passed us to the right.

“They didn’t seem to be going very fast for a chase,” I told my son, as I estimated that they were traveling a little less than 70 miles per hour.  After seeing the video later I saw that that was the only time the suspect Shane Michael was driving less that 80. We started a conversation about why someone may be chased by police and followed by helicopters, when I started to hear more sirens.

This time when I glanced in my mirror I saw a slew of squad cars.  It seemed to me that there were about 9 cars barreling down on us.  “What do I do,” I thought in the 8 seconds or so that this second portion lasted.  “Should I move right?”  Because we were coming around a curve it was hard to judge exactly which lane they were in.  “Should I slow down?”  It felt like they would run right through me if I did.

I can’t say what I did, but I know that some cars went right and some went left as motorists around me seemed to struggle with the same questions.  After these cars passed I figured that the suspect was probably headed towards Rockwall County by now until I saw the helicopters headed north.

I started taking a deep breath (all while my son played Nintendo DS in the backseat) and replaying the situation in my head when Act III began.  By now we were just about to get onto 635 South in Mesquite when I looked back and saw three more cop cars headed in our direction.  I don’t even want to speculate how fast these guys were driving.

The problem at this point was that motorists were in the process of selecting one of the 635 exits there was no time to process where the squad cars were headed.  It seemed like the three cars were headed at us from every direction.  They all passed on the left and then made their way right to the 635 North exit.  One had to go all the way out to the far left lane and make his way back right in order to make the exit.

After they passed, a motorist next to me and I looked at one another like “What’s next?”  I sat still on the shoulder for about 10 seconds looking around before I continued on our trip.  I sent out a Tweet asking for help on the status of the chase my Facebook friends kept me up to speed, up until this final comment:


I may not have revisited this scenario were it not for a story filed by Rebecca Lopez on WFAA 8 a couple of nights ago regarding police chases.  She contrasted the Dallas Police Department’s current chase policy where they have stopped chasing nonviolent criminals to Dallas County Constables who do.

Lopez reports that this has resulted in a decrease from 354 police chases in 2005 to 39 police chases in 2008.  The number of people injured in DPD chases also went down from 77 in 2005 to 10 in 2008.  Dallas Police figured that the danger posed to motorists and officers by chasing nonviolent criminals was too great.

I can’t say what the correct call is for Dallas County Constables and State Troopers, but I can say that Monday’s chase presented a dangerous situation.  A panicked driver could have easily make a wrong move and caused a chain reaction, even miles behind the actual chase.  On the surface, it seems like adopting the Dallas Police Police -or something close- would be a no brainer for Dallas County.

Image from wfaa.com

Ryan Grim’s “This is Your Country on Drugs” looks at the Iran-Contra scandal and black community

I met Ryan Grim online back in 2007 when he was with Politico and have kept in touch with him over the years.  I was excited to learn about his new book that I’m hoping to get my hands sometime soon.  It’s titled This is Your Country on Drugs.  I hope to get an interview with Ryan after I read through his book, but until then, I’ll post a few of excepts that appeared at The Root.

  • In the summer of 1996, the San Jose Mercury News broke the story of the connection between L.A. crack dealers and the U.S. funded Nicaraguan Contras. More than a month later, the Washington Post weighed in with a five-story, roughly 10,000-word broadside that ripped the series apart, debunking its central tenets and wondering aloud what it is about black people that makes them so paranoid.


  • The Post’s editorial board explained that “the shock of the story for many was not simply the sheer monstrousness of the idea of an official agency contributing to a modern-day plague—and to a plague targeted on blacks. The shock was the credibility the story seems to have generated when it reached some parts of the black community.”But it wasn’t their fault they were so gullible, the Postassured in a separate piece, blaming a “history of victimization” that had led to “outright paranoia.”
  • The Post’s longtime Central American correspondent, Douglas Farah, was in El Salvador when the story, written by the Mercury News’ Gary Webb, broke, revealing that the Contras, a confederation of paramilitary rebels sponsored by the CIA, had been funding some of their operations by importing cocaine into the United States. One of their best customers was a man named Freeway Rick—Ricky Donnell Ross—then a Southern California dealer who was running an operation that the Los Angeles Times dubbed “the Wal-Mart of crack dealing.”
  • “My first thought was, ‘Holy shit!’ because there’d been so many rumors in the region of this going on,” Farah said when I interviewed him for a book on the history of drugs in America 12 years later. “There had always been these stories floating around about [the Contras and] cocaine. I knew [Contra leader] Adolfo Calero and some of the other folks there, and they were all sleazebags. You wouldn’t read the story and say, ‘Oh my god, these guys would never do that.’ It was more like, ‘Oh, one more dirty thing they were doing.’ So I took it seriously.”

Read the rest of Ryan’s Black, Paranoid and Absolutely Right at TheRoot.com