By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
The folks who sell real estate in the tony Preston Hollow neighborhood were emotionally traumatized last month when an appraiser they invited to speak before a North Dallas Branch of the Greater Dallas Multiple Listing Service Realtors lunch uttered words no North Dallas house shopper should ever hear: Dallas public schools are bad.
It is not precisely clear what D.W. Skelton, who owns Skelton & Associates, an appraisal firm, said to the 200 suddenly slack-jawed real-estate types at Massimo's on Preston Road. Skelton insists that he merely lamented that DISD schools are overcrowded and need attention. "I haven't given up on them," Skelton says he told the audience.
But two real-estate brokers who heard the talk recall him saying that DISD was irreparable, that private school alternatives were all overbooked, and that, as a result, buyers were no longer interested in Dallas real estate and headed instead to the Park Cities, Plano, and Flower Mound.
Maybe she didn't tip
Living in the Banana Republic of Dallas, we've all learned to deal with sullen, plodding bureaucrats as part of Modern Life. But have you sometimes wondered if your infuriating treatment at the hands of a civil servant went beyond casual incompetence and was perhaps intentional and even premeditated? Nah, you'd say to yourself, I must be getting paranoid.
Think again. Buzz witnessed a classic case of dumping on John Q. by an employee of the Dallas County District Clerk's office. The bureaucratic screw job went down as follows: Taxpayer innocently calls the records department, asking that a case file be looked up. The clerk, who shall remain nameless be-cause he can be so helpful to us, immediately muffles the phone with his hand, lowering his voice to a mumble.
"Whatcha shzthiqa?" says the clerk-tormentor, businesslike.
.."I can't hear you. Could you repeat that?" the citizen-victim probably asks.
"Msphtphlt," repeats the clerk-tormentor, politely.
"What?" asks citizen-victim.
"Shmufxztphlt!" says clerk-tormentor, now with mock irritation. This goes on for a minute before the exasperated taxpayer hangs up in frustration (or rips the phone out of the wall).
"Hey, why'd you do that?" Buzz asks the clerk with a newfound respect.
"That woman called before. She was really a pest," the clerk says, then adds, "I guess I shouldn't do that when the Observer is around."
Seitz: The sequel
Last week, you may remember, Buzz reported that Observer film critic and Pulitzer finalist Matt Zoller Seitz had been hired away by New York Newsday. The Big Apple. The Show. Yee haw!
Last Friday, Newsday closed its New York operation, throwing 800 employees out of work and un-hiring Seitz, who hadn't even gotten his first free lunch. We've decided to let him un-resign.
As our almost-wayward critic put it, "My ship came in...and sank at the dock."
Welcome back to fly-over land, Matt.