A clockwork Buzz

1999, the year Bill Rojas brought panic and paranoia to DISD. But was there any other good news? Buzz takes a look back.

SeptemberUnfair testCity Councilman John Loza is sentenced to two years' probation and ordered to perform 100 hours of community service -- being a Dallas council member doesn't count -- after being found guilty of driving drunk in Austin in 1998. Loza was arrested after police stopped him for running a red light and demanded that he perform sobriety tests, despite his contention that no sitting Dallas council member can reasonably be expected to walk a straight line.

OctoberKnow your placeDISD Superintendent Bill Rojas asks the leaders of the district's Latino and black ethnic advisory groups to step down, accusing them in a letter of "focusing on non-substantive issues that create suspicions, divide the community, and undermine public support for the district," the Morning News reports. Damn straight, Bill. If they want to engage in that sort of behavior, they should run for the school board or take an administrative job.

Top copTerrell Bolton becomes Dallas' first black police chief and quickly begins a series of promotions, demotions, and reassignments aimed at increasing diversity among the department's top ranks and placing more patrol officers on the streets. The moves anger many veteran officers, who accuse Bolton of "pulling a Waldemar."

Rand Carlson
Chip off the old blockhead
Rand Carlson
Chip off the old blockhead

The nerveDallas school trustees reject a proposal pushed by Superintendent Bill Rojas to turn management of up to 11 schools over to Edison Schools Inc., a private educational company.

Apparently, trustees have not kept up with their recommended reading.

Gen. Rojas swiftly counterattacks, holding a news conference at which he ridicules trustees Hollis Brashear and Lois Parrott for their opposition. He then complains to U.S. Attorney Paul Coggins and U.S. District Judge Barefoot Sanders that the two board members are attempting to micromanage the district -- by daring to say no to him.

Rojas later apologizes.

NovemberHere we go again...Chris Beamon, a 13-year-old Ponder High School student, is freed after spending five days in the Denton County juvenile detention facility for the crime of doing his homework. The seventh-grader was arrested by sheriff's deputies and ordered detained by Judge Darlene Whitten after he read aloud in class a graphic Halloween horror story in which he describes shooting a teacher and three students and getting high on Freon.

The arrest makes the tiny community the butt of jokes worldwide, including one in the Dallas Observer, which publishes a satirical story containing obviously fictional quotes from Whitten and Denton County District Attorney Bruce Isaacks, who sue us. Our made-up quotes hurt their feelings and, they claim, damaged their reputations. What reputations, you might ask? You might. We won't.

Our lawyers tell us that political satire, even when it uses made-up quotes from real people, is protected by the First Amendment. We hope they're right, otherwise a whole bunch of people are going to come gunning for Buzz's butt, including this next guy.And againThe Dallas school board narrowly approves a scaled-down version of the Edison plan after Rojas tells trustees: "Look, I said I was sorry. I even revised the plan. If you people don't OK it this time, I'm gonna bitch-slap you so hard, your grandchildren will be born dizzy."

Four legs good, two legs betterCity council members take up proposed revisions to the city's ethics code drafted by a task force whose recommendations include a ban on nepotism, adoption of a detailed financial disclosure form, and the creation of a permanent ethics commission to review complaints of bad behavior.

They quickly put them down again.

Hailed as the toughest ethics rules in Dallas history -- a title it wins by default; any code would be -- the proposal's chief virtue is that it manages to unite the Dallas business establishment and newly empowered minority council members. Neither group likes it. It cramps their style.

"Just when Hispanics and African-Americans are coming to the table, they want to make a big hue and cry over it," council member Al "Mr. Ethics" Lipscomb tells the Morning News.

Pardon us while we pontificate, Al, but isn't that the point? Didn't voters elect all this new blood to the council to change the way the city does business? Of course, that's the proletariat's dilemma. Once the revolution finally does come, you're no longer part of the masses. You're The Man.

Quick, someone lend Lipscomb a copy of Animal Farm before the new code comes up for a vote in January.

Shooting the messengerCouncil members Barbara Mallory Caraway and Maxine Thornton-Reese call for the resignation of City Auditor Robert Melton after he issues a report that finds Margie Reese, director of the Office of Cultural Affairs, and other officials rigged the award of an architectural consulting contract.

She did it. She was reprimanded for it. But she has friends, and at City Hall, friends are sometimes more important than integrity -- sometimes, but not always. A council majority votes to keep Melton on the job.

DecemberScrumptious American Airlines pleads guilty to illegally storing and transporting hazardous wastes and is fined $8 million by the Justice Department. Among the materials the U.S. Attorney's Office in Miami uncovers during a two-year investigation are 6,000 trays of heat-and-serve chicken Kiev and 32,000 dinner rolls dating to the Korean War. "Hey, we've got to serve our passengers something," an airline spokesman says.

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