Disappointed over TCC’s omission again
An open letter to Randy Ray and Deiadra Burns, co-chairs of the 2007 Black Tie Dinner:
This letter is a follow up to, and a confirmation of, our recent discussion concerning the exclusion of the Turtle Creek Chorale as a 2007 beneficiary of the Black Tie Dinner.
My partner, David Ellis, and I were disappointed over the similar exclusion last year, and so noted in a letter we sent. As longtime sponsors of Black Tie Dinner, we were disappointed again when our letter was ignored. When I called to follow up, I was told that Black Tie Dinner would do the right thing in 2007.
You didn’t. The rejection again of Turtle Creek Chorale has every indication of a petty action born of personal grudges, and it does not reflect well on the BTD board. Every member of the board has a fiduciary duty not only to properly handle and distribute charitable donations, but also to fairly support those institutions and groups that are important to the DFW gay community. I have concluded that the board has failed again, on both aspects of its duty.
Turtle Creek Chorale has made such an enormous and enduring impact on our community at large both gay and straight, both local and national that any attempted explanation for its exclusion smacks of pretext. I understand that Black Tie Dinner has criticized Turtle Creek Chorale for its revenues and its governance. Both of these points have an element of “kick-’em-while-they’re-down,” because, to the extent either criticism has any factual basis, each would be a compelling reason to maintain or increase financial support during a time of need.
Of course, each of these points can be debated. (TCC’s endowment and resources are significant, and its new artistic director and board are hard at work to build success for the future.) But Black Tie Dinner’s focus on these points seems to emphasize the very appearance of impropriety which concerns me, because of the animosity that some current BTD board members, with previous ties to TCC, seem to continue to harbor toward Turtle Creek Chorale.
That is why I ask you, again: How many board members of Black Tie Dinner with previous ties to TCC recused themselves from the vote on Turtle Creek Chorale?
Turtle Creek Chorale’s work and its need for support continue. Many events are on its calendar, including the upcoming benefit for the AIDS Interfaith Network, the Crystal Charity Kick Off Party and the City Arts Festival. David and I have concluded that the most effective contribution that we can make now to our community is direct support of Turtle Creek Chorale. I will sponsor a fundraiser for TCC on Saturday, May 5, at The Brick. I sincerely invite you and all BTD board members to attend to show a public vote of confidence in this outstanding organization. I hope you will do so, and I will ensure that you are warmly greeted and that you have an enjoyable evening.
David and I will continue our direct support of HRC in the future, as we have done in the past. We wish the Black Tie Dinner success, and we voice no criticism of the 18 beneficiaries selected. We simply note our strong disappointment that the board rejected Turtle Creek Chorale for one of the 20 available placements for worthy beneficiaries.
Could murder have been prevented?
I just wanted to say how furious I am over the April 16 murder of Jose Landa in Oak Lawn
About two months ago, I was at a coffee shop at the Crossroads when a man came running in with a guy chasing him. A coffee shop employee was outside and kept the second man from coming in, prompting him to start screaming at her. The man who was being chased said he had just gotten cash from the nearby Bank of America ATM, and that the man chasing him had tried to rob him.
When I saw the man outside hit the coffee shop employee, I ran out to help her. He hit at me and then at the coffee shop employee again. The altercation brought employees of other nearby stores outside and people began calling 911. We told the 911 dispatcher that we were being assaulted. During the calls and for the next 15 minutes or so, the man a black man, about 6 feet tall and with a slender, athletic build and gold teeth continued to threaten and try to intimidate us and to try to get to the man he had chased inside the store.
Even though we told the 911 dispatcher we were being assaulted, it took an hour and a half for an officer to arrive. And when he did get there, he said things to the coffee shop employee that made her feel like he was saying she should not have called 911. And then he was too lazy to even make a report on the incident; he told us since the man had left, there wouldn’t be a report.
That made me so mad. It’s true that none of us was actually hurt, thank God, but we were assaulted. And what about the attempted robbery? The police could have easily gotten a copy of the video footage from the security cameras at the ATM to get a photo of the assailant. We even gave the officer a description of the green station wagon the man left in.
What really made me angry afterwards is that I saw this same green station wagon sitting across from the ATM for long lengths of time for the next two days, and in the weeks after. I wish now that I had written down the license plate number. But honestly, after seeing the police treat what I felt like was a truly dangerous situation as inconsequential, I probably would not have called in to give them the license plate number, anyway.
None of us saw that car again after the murder on April 19.
We have been having this problem for some time. I feel that it is partly because the police districts are changing, and now those officers no longer see Cedar Springs as important because it will soon be someone else’s district, so why should they put much time or energy into accomplishing anything when they will no longer get credit for it.
But the police still seem to make sure that they keep up with revenue-generating efforts since the murder, I have seen countless people being pulled over and given tickets. I stand there, next to the local crack addicts, in front of the area stores and watch that happen.
The problem is that we don’t really have an issue with traffic in the area. But we do have a handful of crack addicts in the area that we can’t seem to get the police to do anything about, even though we call and call and call. The police don’t seem have a problem walking into bars to arrest people in a private establishment for public intoxication. But when it comes to the crack addicts who are obviously under the influence, walking up and down, down and up again, shoplifting, soliciting, loitering, prostituting and breaking into parked cars the police don’t seem bothered enough to make any arrests.
I have been to the police meetings, and I just sit there, frustrated. I have filled out the surveys on trouble areas and I have made list after list of issues that need to be addressed. I also read the lists compiled by my fellow merchants. Other than the problems caused by ongoing construction, I don’t remember traffic violations being on any of those lists.
Maybe the man I saw chase another person into the coffee shop that day is not the same one who murdered Jose Landa. But the descriptions are similar. If it is the same guy, then it is a real shame since the murder could have been prevented. I’m no lawyer, but I wonder if it would be partly the police department’s responsibility, since they never acted when they had the chance.
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This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition May 4, 2007