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Buttering up the upper crust: DMN's timing is hardly like a fine Rolex

Peppard (center) on the job at the Dallas Polo Club Soiree Party.

This site generally is devoted to television and its attendant offshoots on the Web and DVDs.

But in light of ongoing events at The Dallas Morning News -- the third semi-annual fall clearance sale of employees -- I'd like to address the almost insane insensitivity of Sunday's featured GuideLive presentation.

Consuming most of the section's front page, it's headlined, "Sun Birds Fly the Coop: Where the city's elite go to cool their beaks in summer."

The writer, Alan Peppard, is the newspaper's longtime chronicler of the activities engaged in by those closest to the heart of Belo chairman of the board and CEO Robert W. Decherd. In other words, Peppard writes reams of copy about the city's filthy rich. It's his job, and it's probably the least endangered one at the newspaper.

Less than a week earlier, Decherd told shareholders that Belo would be cutting "approximately 500 full-time equivalents" (a k a living, breathing human beings) from the corporation's three major newspapers, which also include The Providence Journal and The Press-Enterprise in Riverside, CA.

A large number of DMN employees will be hitting the bricks before the end of September -- either voluntarily via a "buyout" or involuntarily if not enough people take one. What better time then to write a long tome (with just two people quoted) on the summer migration habits of the silver-spooned super-privileged?

Even worse, Peppard begins by writing, "No doubt you've noticed there's no line to get the oil changed on your Bentley, there's no need to sweet-talk Jean-Pierre to get a billionaire table at Cafe Pacific, and the lights are out at some of the grander estates."

No, as a matter of fact, 99,999 out of every 100,000 North Texans haven't noticed. They don't move in those circles. In a death-spiraling economy, they're scrambling to stay ahead or even keep apace. Their jobs might be in jeopardy, or perhaps their homes are facing foreclosure. They wouldn't know a Bentley from a Kia.

This is nothing personal against Peppard. During my long tenure at the DMN, we weren't close friends but we certainly were friendly. But this particular article (which I tried and failed to find on the newspaper's Web site early Monday morning) is "prima facie evidence" (as Peppard wrote in his second paragraph) that the newspaper is out of touch not only with the struggling city at large but with its own highly vulnerable, financially imperiled work force.

Here's another swift, Gucci-toed kick to stomachs that have never housed a plate of fine Russian caviar: "Even a leased Maserati and a leased Rolex can't erase the shame of not having a summer home in the Hamptons," Peppard writes.

The story has nary a reference to the ongoing economic downturn. There's no sense of irony. It celebrates excess. Cute little Ross Perot, for instance, jets away during Dallas' hot summer months to a "gated enclave" in Bermuda.

The Perot manse is "dramatically situated high on a rock cliff," Peppard writes. "When not entertaining guests such as Margaret Thatcher, Mr. Perot is at his most relaxed in Bermuda, dashing about in his armada of boats and Jet Skis. Four years ago, he had a little too much fun and was ticketed for running his 38-foot boat Rough Rider at 30 knots through a 5-knot zone."

Oh, those wacky rich.

Then there's "Dallas banking billionaire" Gerald "Jerry" Ford, who "brings guests aboard his Gulfstream IV to his beachfront estate in the holiest of holy Hamptons: Southhampton. He and his bride, Kelli, hosted their wedding on the tented tennis court at the home. Architect Peter Pennoyer is responsible for the shingle-style house, which is elegant but comfortable inside."

Well, that's reassuring.

Back in the day -- a few years ago at the DMN -- some editors used to live in fear of managing editor George Rodrigue "spitting up his Cheerios" if he'd been offended by something he read in the paper. This often had to do with printing naughty words -- no matter the context -- such as "bitch" or "crap."

It's hoped that Rodrigue had the good taste to spew his Cheerios after reading this particular affront to his employees and the city's legions of less fortunate. But Peppard knows which side his baguette is buttered on. And Belo's master puppeteer no doubt approves.