By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
By Eric Nicholson
The dog never smells its own
DISD board member Don Venable has a tendency to attach himself to nitpicky legal issues like a rabid chihuahua, running, yapping, ripping, and biting till he manages to score a bloody chunk of flesh.
Venable has sued the district several times over the years, proving, among other things, just how bothersome and expensive a self-appointed watchdog can be. In one of those suits, he savaged former trustee Lynda McDow for filing an inaccurate campaign finance report.
So Buzz was awfully surprised last week when it asked DISD for a copy of Venable's last two campaign finance reports and discovered they don't exist.
"I just haven't sat down and done them," Venable explained rather weakly. "It's another chore I didn't get to."
Uh, Don, it's not a chore, it's the law.
Venable, in fact, has missed the last two deadlines for filing the reports, which were due December 2--four days before the runoff election that landed him in public office for the first time--and January 15, according to board secretary Bob Johnston.
While a candidate can get in trouble for filing an inaccurate report, there's no penalty for failing to file one altogether. "It's one of those toothless state laws," Johnston said.
Mind you, Buzz doesn't expect anything shocking to emerge from the reports. Venable ran a decidedly low-rent campaign in District 4--The Grove--hardly the epicenter of political activity in Dallas.
He offered that he'd raised the rather miserable sum of $2,850, something that shouldn't much concern anyone, he said. Venable's biggest donor was Larry Forsyth, executive chief deputy for the Dallas County Sheriff's Department, who gave $500, he added.
"If anyone wants to make an issue out of it, they can come over to my house and look at the originals," Venable said. "And while they're at it, they can help me put the report together."
Sorry, Don, we're not that interested.
Running with the pack
We have to admit a grudging respect for Ross Perot Sr., who apparently is the only sometime national political figure to have nothing to say about President Clinton's latest peccadillo.
We talked with Perot recently for an unrelated story and, while we were at it, tried to draw him out on Monica Lewinsky and her alleged Bill job.
Hey, even Buzz feels the pull of the media pack.
"I don't have first-hand knowledge on that," he said, laughing.
Come on, Ross. Of the zillion or so words of media blather Interngate has generated so far, how many have come from anyone with first-hand knowledge of anything? For instance, as the accompanying news story this issue shows, Perot would be a perfect source for The Dallas Morning News.
Laura Miller is the last person in Dallas who needs anyone to defend her, but we can't pass up the chance to make a few observations about publisher Wick Allison's column in this month's D magazine.
Allison slams Miller's reporting generally, and specifically targets her columns on the arena for being "weak on logic, facts and polemical structure."
Of course, Allison does say he hopes Miller gets elected to the city council. We also remember a happier time, in September 1995, when he wrote in the same space that "if Laura were to call tomorrow and even hint she's available, I'd hire her on the spot."
Let's see. The Wickster doesn't like Miller's writing or reporting, but would hire her. He doesn't think she would be an effective officeholder, but wants to see her elected.
And he faults her on logic?
Allison's column was right on one thing. Miller is still ready to feed tips to her former colleagues at the Dallas Observer. Just this week, she passed along an item that goes a long way toward explaining why Allison might have disliked her anti-arena columns--a slobbering letter from him to Mavericks owner Tom Hicks.
"I've been a big supporter of the new Arena," Allison wrote. "I've written editorials. I've bought bus signs. I've published stories about what arenas have done for other downtowns. I've done this because...I like the idea of new condominiums and office buildings downtown. You are one of the most brilliant negotiators in America today. You can make this happen. If it's good for Dallas, I am willing to help in any way I can."
What a guy.
--Compiled from staff reports by Patrick Williams