By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
By Eric Nicholson
Pay up and shut up
Get ready. Buzz has located the nation's newest persecuted minority: the filthy rich.
That's their claim, anyway, judging by comments from two members of the metroplex's moneyed class, who say they were harassed by "Nazis" who (gasp!) demanded that they pay their taxes. A few months back, oilman Tex Moncrief called IRS agents a bunch of storm troopers when they came knocking with a legally obtained search warrant and a hunch ol' Tex might have owed as much as $300 million in back taxes.
Now comes Tincy Miller, wife of real estate heir Vance Miller, the multimillionaire who claims he's broke and can't possibly pay the $26 million he owes U.S. taxpayers for a few of the bad real estate loans he took out in 1980s.
After Dallas attorney Brenda Collier--under the authority of a federal court order and accompanied by federal marshals--visited the Millers' Highland Park home last fall and videotaped some of its pricey contents, Tincy sued. She claimed Collier violated her civil rights when her videographer pointed his camera at her stash of Judith Leiber handbags (appraised at $25,000), among other things.
In a deposition taken before the case went to trial, a bug-eyed-mad Tincy called Collier a Nazi at least six times, labeling her at one point "a model for all Nazis."
Tincy, a member of the State Board of Education (which, since its recent anti-Disney vote, spells its name n-a-t-i-o-n-a-l l-a-u-g-h-i-n-g-s-t-o-c-k) had her day in federal court on the matter last week. And on Monday, a seven-member jury rejected each and every one of her claims.
Her attorney, Gerrit Pronske, who is zero-for-five in his defense of the Millers on these issues, and the rest of his legal team told jurors the Millers were the victims of a "home invasion."
Of course, the jury figured out that all Collier was trying to do is pry some of those millions back out of the Millers' paws. For the next 15 seconds, Buzz has renewed faith in the legal system.
When Buzz first learned that retired American Airlines chief Robert Crandall and his wife, Jan, were sailing across the Atlantic aboard their yacht the S.S. Robber Baron and posting their adventures on the Internet, we salivated.
We envisioned all sorts of humorous misadventures, a la Gilligan, as grist for Buzz's mill. Unfortunately, the closest we've ever come to sailing the high seas is a rowboat on a muddy lake. Based on reading the Crandalls' Web site, in terms of boredom, sailing ranks up there with watching soccer.
We despaired, until we heard from an anonymous caller, who said he had hacked the Crandalls' computer files and obtained a copy of Bob's personal captain's log.
"Not so fast, pal," we said. "This isn't the Washington press corps. We need some verification."
He put a friend on the phone, who swore it was true--good enough for Buzz. So here you have it, selected excerpts from Crandall's log:
Day 2: Dirk, our first mate, reports problems with the bilge pumps. Jan, loyal trooper that she is, spends hours down below, helping him fix the pump.
Day 5: Cabin boy Billy, the little savage, serves a 1982 Chateau Lafite-Rothschild--a red wine--with our dinner of Atlantic sole. Am forced to have him lashed to the yardarm.
Day 7: Continuing problems with bilge pumps. Dirk says Jan is quite the little handywoman. The work seems to agree with her.
Day 10: Billy, the oaf, spills half a bottle of 1989 Romanee-Conti on my deck shoes. I keelhaul him.
Day 20: Dreadful night. Kept up half the night from noise down below as Dirk, Jan, and now Billy work on the pumps. Jan says the Barry White music helps them concentrate.
On it goes, until the little ship arrives last week in Newport--somehow minus Billy.
Welcome home guys! Buzz hopes the sea air did you, and we pray, your sense of humor, some good. (If you want to check out the Crandalls' Web site, it's at www.janandbob.com.)
The truth is out there
Apparently there is intelligent life in Oak Cliff, Barnes & Nobles notwithstanding. It even reads Buzz. Go figure.
Last week Buzz reported that Oak Cliff Councilwoman Laura Miller was trying to persuade the bookseller to locate a store in her district, but Barnes & Noble wanted proof that there were enough college-educated Cliffies to support a store. (Miller also is trying to score a Starbucks.) To help things along, in our own way, the Dallas Observer Web edition printed an Oak Cliff I.Q. quiz and commenced a search for intelligent life in the Cliff.
We seem to have hit a nerve. The educated, latte-starved masses south of Interstate 30 wrote in by the dozens, a bit like the wee folk of Whoville shouting "We're here!"
Their evidence of brains--other than their college degrees, we know what they're worth--is mainly along these lines: We may not have a big bookstore, but at least we don't live in Plano. (Note to Plano: They said it, not us.)
As one correspondent put it: "Believe it or not, it is possible to live in Dallas and not have a La Madeleine within walking distance, and to feel OK about it. Really."