By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
We did what?
Of course, it doesn't take a Meyer Lansky to float financial shenanigans past DISD's crack board of trustees, as they prove in January when they approve the sale of Crozier Tech High School for more than $6.1 million. Trustees also agree to pay a 6 percent commission to the real estate broker on the deal, despite the commission's being in violation of district policy. The board claims they unknowingly OK'd a contract for the sale without being told by district staff that the commission was included. In an effort to make up the $366,000 commission, the board, on staff's advice, votes to invest the $6.1 million in a "really hot bridge property in Brooklyn." The investment will be made in payments to a guy named Sid in cash amounts of less than $10,000.
Quid, yes, but no quo
DISD trustee Don Venable says that the law firm of Bickel & Brewer, Matthew Harden's attorneys in a lawsuit against former board President Kathleen Leos, offered to help finance his school board campaign. Venable claims the firm was trying to influence his vote in favor of a settlement with Harden.
Taking a page from the police association's playbook, a firm spokesman swears that their offer and Venable's potential vote were just a happy coincidence. "It's totally absurd. We're interested in being good citizens," the spokesman says, presumably with a straight face.
Trustees will eventually pay Harden $600,000 to settle the lawsuit.
We wish this were true
In what becomes known as the "Dallas Police Association defense," one Wanda Delatouche pleads not guilty in a Dallas court to charges of prostitution, explaining: "Yes, there was money exchanged. And yes, I had oral sex with the man in question. But the two events were just a happy coincidence."
Former DISD superintendent Yvonne Gonzalez, who in January filed for personal bankruptcy, is sentenced to 15 months in federal prison and ordered to pay $16,279 in restitution for misappropriating school district money to purchase a collection of froufrou furniture for her home and office, including an ivory-inlaid pagoda for displaying knickknacks. In addition to her prison time, which Gonzalez will begin serving in March, the judge orders her to read Town and Country and Martha Stewart Living "to correct her really tacky taste."
Pittsburgh Steelers offensive coordinator Chan Gailey is named Cowboys head coach, replacing Barry Switzer, who was fired in January. Why did the Pokes' owner Jerry Jones pick Gailey? You weren't home when Jones called.
City council members Don Hicks and Al Lipscomb announce that they are under investigation by federal authorities.
As the year passes, the investigation purportedly focuses on Lipscomb and whether he received money from Yellow Cab in exchange for favorable votes.
"I'm not in the business of buying political influence," Yellow Cab's owner Floyd Richards says.
The relationship between the money given to Lipscomb and his council votes is purely a coincidence--though not a happy one for Lipscomb.
Real men don't sue
Former Cowboys coach Barry Switzer returns to Dallas to face a civil suit alleging he assaulted two larger, younger men at the Melrose Hotel in 1994.
Plaintiff Randy Mayes tearfully testifies that the incident, in which Switzer tapped Mayes on the chest and called him a "big son of bitch" who could play pro football, left him so emotionally bruised that he has trouble concentrating at work. Fellow plaintiff Stephon Bolton claims Switzer attacked him and called him a "black expletive." He testifies that the incident left him prone to panic attacks and fits of crying.
The men want money--at least $400,000--to calm their nerves and dry their eyes.
A weeping Switzer testifies that he loves black people and only meant his actions in a playful "guy" sort of way.
A jury finds in favor of Switzer and recommends in their verdict that all three men should "buck up and act like they've got a pair."
The city council decides to send a record $543.5 million bond issue to voters that includes, coincidentally, $42.3 million for a new police headquarters.
Stop it, you're killing us
Laura Miller formally files to run for the District 3 city council seat. As an Observer columnist, Miller at various times called Ron Kirk a "soap salesman" and "chief water carrier" for big business and referred to assorted city council members as pompous ignoramuses, clueless, and lazy. Nevertheless, she quickly shows promise for having what it takes to serve in Dallas politics--the ability to say patently ridiculous things without flinching. She tells the Morning News:
"Am I going to sit around the [council] horseshoe and yell and scream and be vitriolic and accuse people of things? No. I'm going to get on the council--hopefully--and work with everybody, have good relations with everybody."
Three Observer staffers are rushed to local hospitals to repair hernias caused by violent, uncontrollable laughter.
When neutering isn't an option
In what its officers swear is an honest mistake, the Dallas Rotary Club gives travel bags to DISD board members attending a luncheon, only to find out that club members left a pack of Trojan-Enz condoms in the bag given to trustee Don Venable.