City orders removal of Oak Lawn cross

The wooden cross at Atmosphere of Praise on Hall Street can be seen at left.

The city of Dallas wants a cross in the backyard of a property on Hall Street to come down. But apparently God doesn’t.

A cross standing for years in the backyard of the property at 3917 Hall is a city code violation and must be removed. The house is used by Atmosphere of Praise, a group founded by Pastor Linda Harris, who passed away on Jan. 5.

Local gay artist Robb Conover described Atmospere of Praise as “a meeting place for people in the community no one else will have anything to do with.”

He said that Byron Zealey lives at the property.

“Byron prepares lunch and invites people on the street to eat,” he said. “We don’t call it a church. We don’t have a parking problem. People walk there.”

Conover said it’s never a large group of people and not a daily occurrence. He said the house is not a shelter but has been used for meetings since 1999.

Councilwoman Angela Hunt’s office received a complaint from a local businesses. Hunt’s office didn’t say which businesses complained.

Hunt’s staff referred the complaint to city code enforcement. Code enforcement ordered the cross to be removed.

Conover thinks the timing is interesting coming just a week after Harris’ death — and after a notice in Dallas Voice included the address of Atmosphere of Praise.

To comply with the city order, the property owner hired someone to cut down the cross on Tuesday night. But as the workman began to cut it down, the chain on the chainsaw broke.

Zealey said he was consulting with an attorney. On Thursday morning, the cross was still standing.

—  David Taffet

Target flap helps inspire ‘GroupOn for the gays’

Cooper Smith Koch, the local entrepreneur whose Gay List Daily e-mail service has 10,000 subscribers for its Dallas edition alone, has launched an offshoot called Gay List Deals, which is just what it sounds like. The current deal, for example, is $10 to spend at Urban Dog Coffee for the price of $5, available for purchase directly on the site:

“We launched the Deals initiative to help support our community by encouraging our readers to buy from local gay-owned or gay-friendly local businesses,” Koch wrote to Instant Tea. “We’re highlighting these businesses at no upfront cost to them and allowing them exposure to our nearly 10,000 Dallas edition readers. … Some folks are jokingly calling us GroupOn for the gays. That’s a great compliment if you ask me!”

Koch added that his team is taking it slow with the launch, posting only one or two deals per week initially until they can work out the kinks. He said surveys and research showed people wanted something like Gay List Deals but didn’t want to receive a second e-mail about it.

He also said the new site was inspired in part by the recent Target controversy:

“This is really part of a bigger crusade for me, if you will,” he wrote. “As the owner of two businesses myself, I know the struggles that small businesses face, especially with this recession that just won’t seem to end. Many of us who have survived this long are coming out of it bruised and bloodied, and we need to band together to help each other get through the Great Recession’s final throes. It’s definitely more convenient to pop into Barnes & Noble or to have Bank of America ATMs on every corner, but at what cost to local businesses? And now that Target has shown its true stripes, the biggest companies aren’t much more supportive of us than some conservative small businesses.”

Koch said he eventually plans to expand Gay List Deals to other cities where Gay List Daily is well established.

“We’d been tinkering with it since early this year, but what happened at Target really pushed it forward more quickly,” he said of Gay List Deals.

UPDATE: If you’d like to give Koch some in-person feedback, Gay List Daily’s August Mixer is Wednesday night at the Brick.

—  John Wright