By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
If at first you don't succeed...
So Jesse Diaz is all set to attempt yet another ascent up the greasy pole and run for the Dallas school board seat so quickly vacated by Don "See ya later" Venable. That leads to the obvious question--no offense to Diaz--Is this the best the city can do?
Venable trounced Diaz in a runoff about a year ago after reports surfaced that Diaz was behind in taxes and slept in his office to meet district residency requirements. Diaz, who has paid his taxes and still lives in his office, says that he and Venable have since become friends and that he "hated to see [Venable] go."
That puts him in a pretty tiny minority, but it was a magnanimous thing to say, especially considering Diaz' past as a hothead and rabble-rouser at DISD meetings. (At one time, Diaz said he intended to run against County Commissioner John Wiley Price in two years. He told Buzz that he still might, that the school board might just be a "stepping stone." Our advice: Watch your step.)
Diaz's announcement that he will again seek the seat he lost to Venable rated only a one-paragraph mention in Saturday's Dallas Morning News. On the opposite page was a much longer story about 17 people applying to fill two vacant seats on the Grand Prairie school board.
Granted, one of those was Dallas' troubled NAACP chapter president, Lee Alcorn, but a least a sizable number of people in Grand Prairie are expressing an interest in the schools. In Dallas, the best we can do so far is the man who couldn't beat Don Venable. Recent articles in the News halfway suggested that one way to cure DISD's ills would be to do away with the board and appoint a grand poobah--read: autocrat--to oversee the district. At the time, that seemed a touch undemocratic to Buzz, but maybe DISD, like parts of the old Soviet Union, just isn't ready for democracy.
Those swell guys
The last time Buzz mentioned Bickel & Brewer, it was to report on protesters who claimed that the law firm's South Dallas storefront operation--opened to give low-cost legal aid to low-income African-Americans--was scarcely more than a public relations front that offered little in the way of actual service and rejected many deserving clients.
That was followed by several letters, which all sounded suspiciously alike, from happy storefront customers attesting to the firm's good works.
This week the firm announced that it is opening another storefront--this one in the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce building--to serve the Hispanic community. Is that a little offering of penance from the firm that represented former DISD financial honcho Matthew Harden in his legal battles with the district and Yvonne Gonzalez, DISD's first Hispanic superintendent?
Partner John W. Bickel II says no.
The firm always intended to serve both communities, he tells Buzz. They just needed to raise the money to support another storefront operation.
We'll take Bickel at his word, but the firm might want to have its clerks type up another batch of testimonial letters, just in case Hispanic protesters show up outside its newest love offering.
--Compiled from staff reports by Patrick Williams