Stupidity seems to reign here.
Fur is flying over Dallas bat houses
Rasansky sticks neck out, opposes shelters that teen built in Glen Cove Park
08:04 PM CDT on Thursday, April 21, 2005
By GROMER JEFFERS JR. / The Dallas Morning News
Dallas City Council member Mitchell Rasansky is having a ball poking fun at a North Dallas Boy Scout who built three bat houses at Glen Cove Park.
"He's not from North Dallas," Mr. Rasansky said of the 14-year-old boy who built the bat sanctuaries as part of an Eagle Scout project. "He's actually from Transylvania."
Last Wednesday, Mr. Rasansky, who wants the bat houses removed, showed up at City Hall wearing a plastic bat on his lapel and sporting plastic vampire fangs.
But the father of the 14-year-old Boy Scout isn't laughing.
Ira Richardson said the controversy created by Mr. Rasansky's remarks has embarrassed and ridiculed his son, who was only trying to meet qualifications for his Eagle Scout badge.
"He's a minor child who has learned a tough civic lesson about the political leadership in this city," said Mr. Richardson, who declined to name his son. "I don't know Mr. Rasansky, and I don't want to know him. He's used my kid as the butt of his jokes. He's used his phobia to politicize what would otherwise be a good public works project."
Chasity McReynolds, a spokeswoman for the Boy Scouts' Circle Ten Council, said that the bat house at Glen Cove Park was a good idea and that Mr. Richardson's son would get his Eagle Scout badge.
"They didn't just go down to the park and start putting up bat houses," she said. "He did a great job with the project, especially on the conservation side, and we're proud of what he did."
Parks Department officials, who approved placement of the bat houses in the park over a year ago, also are standing by the boy's project. But they said Mr. Rasansky's public opposition to the houses may cause them to move the structures to a more remote area of the park.
When told about the teenager's trauma, Mr. Rasansky, a former Boy Scout, had little sympathy.
"I have enough people to take care of in my district. I don't need a colony of bats," he said. "We want people in our parks, not flying mice."
The bat houses were placed in Glen Cove Park in January, part of a project that included a 300-yard nature trail. Three houses rest on the east side of the park's creek, potential nesting places for Mexican free-tailed bats.
Bats are somewhat particular about where they live, experts said, so there's only a 50 percent chance that the houses will attract the flying creatures.
"Where do they want to stay, the Hilton?" Mr. Rasansky asked.
He first raised the bat issue at a recent neighborhood meeting in his northwest Dallas district. Asked whether he planned to visit the park and inspect the houses, he replied, "Am I supposed to take a wooden stake and a cross over there?"
Mr. Rasanky concedes that much of his dislike of bats come from being spooked by Dracula movies as a child. He acknowledges that his jokes and his anti-bat stance have attracted critics.
"One woman wrote me and said she wanted to drive a stake through my heart," Mr. Rasansky said.
Bat expert Ken Duble pointed to the success of bat colonies in Austin as a reason for the council member to rethink his position. During peak season, as many as 1.5 million bats call the Congress Avenue Bridge over Town Lake home, and they consume thousands of pounds of insects.
"That city overcame such ignorance decades ago in opting to allow a now-thriving colony of Mexican free-tail bats to roost unmolested beneath the Congress Avenue Bridge," he said in an e-mail. "Watching their swarm at sundown has become a tourist attraction. ... Any public figure making such remarks in Austin today would be pilloried in the media as the ignoramus he is."
But Mr. Rasansky says he's backed by a silent majority of people who fear being bitten by a bat and contracting rabies. The Scout, he said, should take his houses elsewhere.
"He should put the houses up in his back yard and see what his neighbors think," Mr. Rasansky said.