In 2010, we put Senator John Carona, astride an elephant, on our cover. It was one of the worst-selling issues in the history of D Magazine. I blame Wick. Sure, putting the story on our cover was mostly my idea. (Okay, entirely my idea.) But Wick should have had enough sense to lock me in a storage closet until my madness passed and the rest of the staff had time to get out a magazine with an attractive model on the cover. Also, he wrote the story. It was as much about the sorry state of the Republican Party as it was about Carona himself. But there was plenty about the man, too. Here’s how the story wrapped up:
Carona continues in his dogged way to press his case to whoever will listen. Like an Old Testament prophet, he’ll spell out the consequences of their mismanagement to his colleagues, even though they flee at the sight of him barreling down the halls of the state capitol. He knows a prophet is not honored in his own country or, in Carona’s case, in his own party. He knows the prophets of old were ridiculed, stoned, cut in half, and thrown into wells.
It doesn’t seem to bother him. Maybe it’s because he also knows those prophets of yore were right.
Contrast that with the Carona story in the current issue of Texas Monthly. Titled “Conflicts and Interests,” the piece by Jay Root (a joint project with the Texas Tribune) takes a fascinating look at how Carona balances his business interests with his duties as a state senator. Carona, you see, is the president and CEO of Associa, the country’s largest manager of homeowners’ associations, with 9,000 HOAs in 31 states. From the story:
But the Dallas millionaire isn’t just the president and CEO of Associa. He’s also a powerful state senator who chairs the Committee on Business and Commerce and who, back in 2001, authored the law that enshrined pro-industry HOA foreclosure practices in statute, ensuring that associations … could continue to aggressively collect fees and dues from homeowners. And if you’re flabbergasted by that fact, well, you don’t know much about Texas politics.
The story goes on to note that “Associa employs 8,800 people and remains the largest and most active business operated by a member of the Legislature” and that Carona employs lobbyists to influence his colleagues. It’s a fine piece of reporting that only — ahem — deepens my appreciation of Carona’s business acumen.
And now I will hand over my office key fob to Wick.
Dallas ISD Board Votes to Fire 2 Principals. At Thursday night’s meeting, district trustees (by a v0te of 7-2) approved the dismissal of the principals of Madison and Roosevelt high schools. District data show that last year only 2 percent of Madison seniors attained “college ready” scores on the ACT, and at Roosevelt no seniors at all did that. Superintendent Mike Miles’ plans to get rid of educators who haven’t met performance standards have been the subject of contentious debate for months. Some feel Miles is taking a bold stand to reform under-performing schools that have been allowed to languish for too long. Others believe he’s pushing too hard, too fast. For better or worse, there’s no doubt that Miles is transforming DISD. In recent weeks, at least nine other district principals have accepted demotions after learning they had been targeted for dismissal. And 730 educators voluntarily left the district between last July (when Miles became superintendent) and February, compared to only 430 during the same time frame the previous year.
Man Killed in Southlake Town Square Was Drug Cartel Lawyer. The murder that shocked this safe, affluent suburban community appears to be related to Mexican drug trafficking. The victim has been identified as Juan Jesus Guerrero Chapa, a native of Mexico who was a longtime attorney for the Gulf cartel and its leader, Osiel Cardenas (who’s serving a 25-year prison sentence in the U.S.).
Boy Scouts of America to Allow Openly Gay Scouts. Sixty-one percent of delegates to the organization’s National Council voted yesterday in Grapevine to permit boys to participate regardless of sexual orientation. The ban on homosexual leaders wasn’t lifted. The Onion reports that at least one gay Texas teenager is thrilled by the new opportunities afforded him by the policy change: “It’s perfect because I’ve been looking for a second thing to get mocked for, and Boy Scouts seems like a great fit. I think it’ll really open me up to a whole new batch of cutting insults.”
Barrett A. Stern, the attorney representing Carolyn Compton and Page Price, sent out a statement about the case yesterday afternoon.
Read the entire thing after the jump. (more…)
Every so often a divorce proceeding involves something called a “morality clause.” They are meant to keep a divorcing parent’s children away from new girlfriends or boyfriends, and a potentially unstable or unsafe environment. Earlier this month, Judge John Roach Jr., who presides over the 296th District Court in Collin County (his re-election site says Roach is a “Proven Judge. Proven Conservative.”), ruled that such a clause should be enforced in the divorce of Carolyn Compton. It effectively means that Compton’s lesbian partner, Page Price, must move out of the home they’ve shared for nearly three years, according to the Dallas Voice.
Neither Compton nor Price have spoken in public since the ruling, but Page posted about the ruling on Facebook. “Our children are all happy and well adjusted. By his enforcement, being that we cannot marry in this state, I have been ordered to move out of my home,” Price wrote.
In the same post, Price mentions that Compton’s ex-husband rarely sees the two children and that he was once charged with stalking Compton. (He later pleaded to a misdemeanor charge of criminal trespassing.)
Ken Upton Jr., a senior attorney with Lambda Legal, told the Voice that this case could set the precedent for how Texas courts interpret the morality clause for gay couples. “What the clause has become is an extra burden on gay people because they’re no more likely to violate it than straight people,” he said. “It’s a problem that continues with homophobia.”
UPDATE: I just got off the phone with the attorneys involved in the suit. Paul Key represents Joshua Compton, Carolyn’s ex-husband. He told me that morality clauses are included in divorces “all the time…There’s nothing exceptional about that at all. The only thing different about this is that Ms. Compton now dates women.”
“We Could Hear it Coming. It Was Like Thunder That Wouldn’t Stop:” The stories out of Granbury are horrifying and heartbreaking, awful reminders that we live in a strange, unforgiving world in which, on rare occasion, the sky can just come down and rip you right out of your closet:
The closet door flew open, and the tornado yanked her oldest son, Brandon, into the air.
Green’s body twisted and bent, and she began to pray.
“Please let this be over. I can’t take this anymore,” she remembers thinking. “I asked God, ‘Is this really the way I’m going to die?’”
The Legacy of Mary Suhm vs. the Legacy of Dallas’ Super Donors: Two features in the local daily frame two perspective on the shaping of the city. Sure, as Mayor Ron Kirk puts it in this profile of outgoing City Manager Mary Suhm, “Her fingerprints are all over the city.” But what is the legacy of any powerful member of city government versus the “thousand families,” the philanthropists whose Texas-sized generosity (sorry) make Dallas one of the nation’s most charitable cities:
The city’s wealthiest philanthropists are also sometimes called the new Medicis, and there’s something to the comparison: Not a single major cultural institution in Dallas would exist in its current form — or exist at all, in many cases — without their help. . . . The philanthropists’ generosity extends beyond cultural organizations.
Fort Worth Figures Out Trinity Project: And speaking of big ticket city items, while Suhm’s legacy contains the unrealized Trinity River Project, Fort Worth seems to have figured out how to have simple fun down on the river with a much more modest, accessible investment. This, ahem. Not this.
City Councilman Scott Griggs defeated fellow incumbent Delia Jasso last week in North Oak Cliff’s new District 1, where the voting-age population is 74 percent Hispanic. And DISD Trustee Eric Cowan fended off challengers Rafael Narvaez III and Arturo Sierra in District 7, where the student bodies of the three major high schools — Adamson, Sunset, and Molina — are all more than 90 percent Hispanic. So how did these two white guys cruise to re-election in overwhelmingly Mexican-American districts where their opponents were Latinos? It’s because the mostly white residents of Kessler Park, Stevens Park, and Winnetka Heights go to the polls far more than anyone else in North Oak Cliff.
The Morning News has the memo she sent to council members yesterday. Rudolph Bush writes her a love letter:
The beginning of the end of Suhm’s career comes at a time when a new council will shortly be seated. There is reason to believe several members of the new council would not be as supportive of her.
Scott Griggs, a sharp critic, handily defeated Delia Jasso, a staunch backer, in District 1. Lee Kleinman, who has a strong independent streak, took over for Linda Koop in District 11. And Philip Kingston, who has publicly questioned Suhm’s management, was the leading finisher in District 14, where he will be in a runoff with Bobby Abtahi.
People close to Suhm have said that she is terrified at the prospect of retirement. Whatever people think of her work, no one doubted her total dedication to City Hall and to the city itself.
Suhm’s commitment to the job was legend, and the loyalty she inspired among her top staff was unquestioned.
Her departure, and the effort to replace her, will draw a great deal of energy from City Hall in coming months.
She officially leaves the gig in September.
In an interview with the Dallas Voice, Leland Burk doesn’t blame his loss in the District 13 Dallas City Council race on anti-gay voters like fellow candidate Richard Sheridan. He says those who didn’t support him because he’s gay were in the “vast minority.”
“I think at the end of the day, I was running against Captain America, Roger Staubach, and there was absolutely no margin for error.”
Fact-check: The actual Captain America appeared to be primarily working on Scott Griggs’ District 1 campaign.
Lawrence Wright is a staff writer at the New Yorker and author of the books The Looming Tower: Al-Qaeda and the Road to 9/11 and Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood, and the Prison of Belief. (A book about terrorism and a book about the strange extent to which people will go to cling to their beliefs.) He was also at the George W. Bush Presidential Library a few days ago, when there was an “active shooter” alert on the SMU campus.
“We had just gotten through security and were standing in the vast marble atrium, waiting for some friends, when suddenly a cry went out: ‘Active shooter!’ Everybody dove for cover—but there was none. We were lined up against the walls, feeling very exposed. An elderly man had fallen and was lying on his back, helpless. People were crying and praying. The library went into lockdown. Two university policemen with automatic weapons and grim expressions shoved ammunition clips into their chambers and walked toward the front entrance. It was less than a month after the Boston Marathon bombing, and even though it seemed implausible that such a pleasant afternoon could be interrupted by a terrorist attack, I had to admit that the target would seem an obvious one if I’d just heard about it on the radio.”
Wright also gets into the loose gun laws in Texas. “Suppose the incident had happened at the other Bush library, the one for George H. W. Bush at Texas A&M, where it’s legal to display weapons openly unless they are used in a manner that ‘harms, threatens or causes fear to others.’ As we learned that afternoon at S.M.U., the mere presence of a gun openly displayed causes fear and confusion.”
Having now listened to the voicemail that city council candidate Richard P. Sheridan left our Dan Koller over the weekend because of his election preview article, I sincerely hope that the man is never a Twitter user. I’m sure that he could single-handedly add several degrees of red to Dallas’ appearance on the Geography of Hate map. Dan was too kind in his description of the message.
You can listen for yourself below. WARNING: Very Not Safe For Work. You may need a shower afterwards.
Richard P. Sheridan, the nutjob who finished fourth in Saturday’s election for the District 13 seat on the Dallas City Council, is mad at me. To hear him tell it, it’s because I didn’t do enough to inform the voters that Leland Burk, who finished second to Jennifer Staubach Gates, is gay. But I think it also has something to do with the fact that all I said about Sheridan in my election preview for Preston Hollow People is that he is best known for being physically removed from public meetings after exceeding the time limits for speakers. Or maybe Sheridan is just mad in general because he received only 28 votes (0.27 percent), two years after he somehow backed into 1,054 of them (10.56 percent). Heck, a teenager did better than him this time around; 18-year-old Jacob King garnered 77 votes, and Sheridan vowed to stop running for office if King’s total exceeded his.
Whatever. The reasons don’t matter. You can’t try to apply logic to the raving lunatic who left me a voicemail at 9:24 on Saturday night in which he called me a coward six times, a “[see you next Tuesday]” five times, a “mother[lover]” four times, a bitch twice, “a disgrace to our city” once, and “a sorry ass” once. In the middle of all that, he also said, “I don’t think you have one testicle, sir.” (He’s wrong about that last point, but I appreciate him calling me “sir.”)
Well, Richard (or should I call you Dick? Yeah, I should), all I can say in response, Dick, is your talk is cheap; you’re not a man. The word is out, you’re doing wrong; gonna lock you up before too long. I’m telling you, just watch your mouth; I know your game, what you’re about. What I’m trying to say is, I’m bad. (And the whole world has to answer right now just to tell you once again.)
UPDATE: Listen to the full, NSFW voicemail here.
In the May 2012 edition of D Magazine, I wrote a column about the political scene in North Oak Cliff. The column was inspired by how shocked I was to see that City Councilman Scott Griggs had endorsed Domingo Garcia’s bid for Congress, as opposed to the bid of Griggs’ pal Jason Roberts. I wrote that Garcia had shown me who was truly running things in North Oak Cliff, and I closed with a prediction: Griggs would lose his May 2013 showdown with fellow incumbent Delia Jasso.
Well, we all found out Saturday how wrong I was. Not only did Griggs cruise to victory, but so did incumbent DISD Trustee Eric Cowan, who faced two opponents, including one who was hand-picked and financially backed by Garcia. So I’m getting out of the predictions business … in about 30 seconds. I have one more to make.
Given that the URL for Griggs’ website is “scottgriggsdallas” and his Twitter handle is “scottgriggsdal,” I have a sneaking suspicion that a run for the mayor’s office is in his future. You heard it here first, folks. But I’ll hang on to that crow, just in case I’m wrong.
Where Do Saturday’s Elections Leave Hispanic Dallas City Council Representation? The answer, in short, is not in a good way. In a newly drawn district that is 74 percent Hispanic, incumbent Scott Griggs defeated Hispanic incumbent Delia Jasso. In another new district drawn to give Pleasant Grove single representation at the horseshoe (the neighborhood was previously split between multiple districts), candidate Jesse Diaz is headed to a runoff with white candidate Rick Callahan. If Callahan wins, then there will be one less Hispanic representative on the council than previously, whereas the redistricting was seemingly designed to add one Hispanic representative. In other news, Farmers Branch got its first Hispanic City Council member.
Arlington Man Throws Homemade Bomb at Neighbors: Michael Alex Johnson, 32, allegedly lit an eight-gallon bucket of gasoline on fire and threw it at two vehicles in a neighbor’s driveway. Luckily, another neighbor saw the incident and immediately called police. No one was hurt. Other bomb making materials were found in Johnson’s home, and Johnson’s mother described her son as “mentally ill.”
State Rep Wants to Build Bullion Depository: I don’t know why storing gold that belongs to the University of Texas Investment Management Co. out of state is a big deal, but apparently Giovanni Capriglione of Southlake is afraid the Yankee state may seize it when Texas declares its independence, or something like that. That’s why he wants the state to fund the construction of a Texas depository for the roughly $1 billion in gold bars. Rick Perry is, of course, on board: ““If we own it,” Perry said, “I will suggest to you that that’s not someone else’s determination whether we can take possession of it back or not.”
Worst Son In the World: Gonzalo Lopez: The night before Mother’s Day, Lopez killed his mother.
The race for Dallas City Council District 11 hasn’t received nearly as much attention as some of other contests in Saturday’s election. The area straddles what’s considered North Dallas and Far North Dallas.
One one side is Lee Kleinman, the COO of an Allen-based company called Bridge Metrics, which offers digital sales and marketing tools. On the other is Ori Raphael, a partner in Fresh Loc, which monitors temperatures in hospitals via “the cloud.”
Kleinman, 54, says he’s interested in a City Council seat as a capstone to his public service — as opposed to his 29-year-old opponent.
“I’m not here launching a career. I’m finishing a career,” Kleinman said. “I’m in a very good stage of life.”
Raphael sees that stage as something voters should be wary of.
“My opponent likes to say he’s at the end of his career; he has nothing to lose. Well, then that means he couldn’t care less what the taxpayers think,” Raphael said.
Kleinman’s got the endorsements of the establishment, including outgoing councilwoman Linda Koop and previous councilwoman Lois Finkelman, but does that guarantee a win over Raphael?