In April, we’ll be announcing the recipient of the fourth annual Advocate Award, and we need your help.

Each year, Advocate Community Newspapers joins with the Lakewood Chamber of Commerce and the East Dallas Chamber of Commerce to honor a resident or volunteer working to improve the quality of life in our neighborhoods.

The winner is selected by representatives of the Advocate and the Chambers based on a simple criteria: Which nominee is making the greatest impact on life in our neighborhoods.

We search for nominees who aren’t accustomed to the media limelight because we’ve found that much of the hard work in our neighborhoods is completed by people who are more concerned with completing their tasks rather than seeking personal publicity.

But many of the people most dedicated to our neighborhoods typically are the most modest – they wouldn’t dream of nominating themselves for an award.

That’s why we need you to spend a few days thinking about potential nominees, perhaps neighbors or co-workers who deserve a recognition for their efforts.

Look on Page 4 of this month’s Advocate for a nomination form, fill out the brief questions, fax or mail us the nomination form, and we’ll take care of the rest. Remember, though: Deadline for nominations is Feb. 15.

And look for our April edition to help us celebrate the accomplishments of this year’s Advocate Award winner.

F. Lee, O.J. and Me

Now that the O.J. Simpson trial finally appears to be upon us, it’s interesting (to me, anyway) that one of O.J.’s most visible defense attorneys – F. Lee Bailey – and I go way back.

Back, in fact, to 1989, when Mr. Bailey represented one of the many Dallas S&L defendants, and I was called by the government as a prosecution witness.

It’s interesting to read the O.J.-frenzied media’s characterizations of Mr. Bailey and compare them with my recollections from his one-hour cross-examination of me.

Dapper dresser, the media says. Strange-colored, polyester-looking, matching suits and ankle-high boots, I recall.

Incisive, dominating courtroom personality, they say. A blustery, red-nosed bully who relied upon being a bully to get the answers he wanted, I recall.

A winner, they say. A guy who didn’t do a very good job of representing his S&L client, who was sentenced to 20 years in a federal prison, I recall.

In fact, I don’t think Mr. Bailey did the homework necessary to understand the trial’s pivotal commercial real estate transaction.

In the interest of O.J. receiving a fair trial, I hope this time around, Mr. Bailey is as effective at representing his client as he appears to be at attracting favorable publicity.

Thanks for Thinking of Us

Last month, our 1-year-old son spent six nights in the hospital while being treated for several nasty viruses.

Not to be outdone by his little brother, our 3-year-old son spent one of those six nights in that same hospital’s emergency room for some treatment of his own.

Needless to say, my wife and I were pretty harried during this period.

Somehow, people heard about our problems, and members of several neighborhood organizations to which we belong offered already-cooked meals delivered to our doorstep. Other friends stepped forward to take care of my job responsibilities.

Still others dropped off videotapes for our children to watch, shopped for our groceries, or called to say they were thinking of and praying for our family.

Even as I was sitting at the computer during the hour or so it takes to write this column, two calls came in offering assistance – one from a family we barely know.

There’s no doubt it can be tough to make friends in a big city, tough to really find a place you can call “home”.

There’s also no doubt in my mind that we’ve found one.

Thanks to all of you for your help.