By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
It sounded like a right honorable thing to do: District Attorney Bill Hill, still in his rookie year, told The Dallas Morning News he was dustin' off his trial boots this week and gettin' back into the courtroom. He claimed he was just living up to the campaign promise he had made voters to have more of a courtroom presence than his predecessors. Former DA John Vance didn't try a single case during his 12-year tenure, and Henry Wade barely saw any action in the last decades of his rule -- only gaining guilty verdicts against assassin-slayer Jack Ruby and heiress-kidnappers Franklin and Woodrow Ransonette (and those convictions were reversed on appeal).
The case Hill chose for re-entry (he hasn't prosecuted one in more than 25 years) seems risk-free enough -- an aggravated assault on a police officer. The chosen defendant, Kenneth Ray Brown, is just some guy who was allegedly dumb enough to shoot a bicycle cop in the middle of downtown lunch-hour traffic. Witnesses aplenty. Jury sympathy toward the boys in blue. The case seems as bulletproof as the vest that protected the officer from serious injury. Hill said his rare appearance is as symbolic as it is physical, intended to show his support for our local constabulary. But if the truth be known, many of the blueboys are more than a little pissed at the county's top lawyer. They wonder out loud why so many of their routine cases -- often involving drugs -- are being tossed out at the grand jury level under the new Hill regime. It could be Hill's response to the chief criticism leveled against his predecessor -- that Vance indicted everyone -- but that doesn't mean squat to the rank and file.
Official bitching has even been reduced to writing. In one internal memo obtained by Buzz, a sergeant in the Southeast division complained to his deputy chief that "several county attorneys have commented that the chief county prosecutor has issued directives to the grand jury to reduce the number of true-bill findings." The sergeant reviewed his own cases and found that "most should have been [indicted]." Beyond that, cops say they don't have any inkling why their cases have been rejected or what they should do to shore them up so they can be resubmitted. Another sergeant says the word around the stationhouse is that Hill has heard police gripes and is now trying to make nice by leading the courtroom charge to protect one of their own. "That and to get some free publicity," the sergeant says. Hill's savvy PR move may work to quash discontent -- that is, if the DA doesn't lose the case.
The Dallas Morning News was able to prove one thing to state fairgoers this year -- something a lot of News readers probably suspected all along: The World Wide Web is a nasty, nasty place, and you probably shouldn't go there. The News set up a couple of computers in Fair Park's Centennial Building, ostensibly to show off the paper's online news service to the turkey leg and corny dog crowd. Sometime last week, though, in the fair's final days, someone apparently hacked their way into the system and sent would-be DallasNewshounds to a site titled "Bigdick.com." No, folks, this wasn't the home page of the Fletcher's footlong. The site turns out to be a gay porno station called Nasty Boys, which invites visitors into its "10,000-photo XXX gay gallery, 24-hour gay TV," and -- just like they warned at First Baptist -- the "worldwide gay network." Closer to home, bigdick.com promised browsers: "meat men in your area." If that wasn't bad enough, the site turns out to be one of those weirdly wired impossible-to-escape numbers where every button you push only pushes you deeper into its own muck and mire. The News did what any good parent would do. It unplugged its computers and hauled them away -- ostensibly to where nobody under 18 could see them. That's traditionally accomplished by programming them to display the contents of The Dallas Morning News.
Apparently the only one interested in celebrating D magazine's 25th anniversary (it's actually 24 years, but only Buzz is counting) is the magazine itself. Twice since its anniversary issue hit the newstands (actually, it didn't hit them; it just kind of laid there), the city mag and its publisher Wick Allison scheduled a big fandango at the new Magnolia Building. The party was postponed the first time; the second time, on October 15, so few folks had RSVP'd to the gala that band members who had been hired for the evening's entertainment were told their gig had been canceled. "I think they were worried there would be more musicians there than people," says one source close to the Rounders, one of the groups that did not get paid despite being booked long before the event. Instead, D decided to go with a solo flamenco guitarist.
Of course, with D's narrow target demographic, the appropriate number of invitees probably did RSVP. Or maybe it was the can't-tell-the-copy-from-the-advertising anniversary issue that kept people from responding in droves. Eventually more than 325 people attended the affair, and D now claims that it canceled the band, at least in part, because the Magnolia's outdoor courtyard just wasn't ready on time. The mag also plans on paying the band a cancellation fee.