By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
Last week, a group of cops went to the city council to ask whether it would please pay Dallas police officers wages competitive with such crime-ridden hot spots as Plano.
This week, the cops aren't playing quite as nice.
The Dallas Police Patrolman's Union has posted four billboards around the city suggesting that citizens in need of a cop should "dial Tom Hicks, not 911. He has your tax money." Other billboards substitute the names of Mayor Ron Kirk and Ross Perot Jr. in place of Hicks'. Hicks. Perot. Kirk. Think of them as the new Mod Squad, with Junior reprising the Peggy Lipton role and the mayor as Linc.
Why pick on the mayor and two of Dallas' richest businessmen, when the city council sets police wages? Well, it's fun, and if you have no other appreciable talents, you can make a decent living at it in certain alternative rags. But union President Rick Wilson has a better reason. He notes that City Hall seems to have no trouble scaring up money for big-ticket projects, such as the arena, that benefit Hicks, Perot, et al. Now he wants money for such mundane items as public safety.
Obviously, his priorities are way out of whack.
"We don't want to hear that you don't have any money," Wilson says of the council. "What we want to do is look at their books...We'll find the money."
Wilson says that the starting annual pay for Dallas police officers, $28,575, is among the lowest of big departments in the region, and recruiters are looting Dallas' ranks, leaving the department to hire less-qualified rookies. He says he knows of one trainee who left Dallas in the middle of her training for a $9,600 pay raise in Carrollton.
"We're informing city council that we know the game. We know what they're doing," Wilson says of the billboards, which went up Monday. So far, he hasn't heard from anyone at City Hall about the signs.
Maybe that's because the union is being too subtle. Buzz would never, ever suggest this, but a less scrupulous person might say that the next billboards should include the home phone numbers of Hicks, Perot, and the mayor. Or maybe the next time the cops have a wagon full of weekend drunks, they could drop 'em by Tom Hicks' house.
No, don't do that. That would be wrong.
It took a while, but members of the Dallas Bar finally managed to get bad-boy lawyer and U.S. Senate candidate Bobby Wightman-Cervantes ("Impossible dreamer," March 2) tossed into jail. How long they might keep him there was an open question as the Dallas Observer went to press Tuesday night.
Wightman-Cervantes, a former Republican who was running in the Democratic Senate primary, was arrested at his home March 9 on contempt of court charges. Eight sheriff's deputies made the pinch, according to a friend of Wightman-Cervantes' who questioned whether so many officers were really necessary to take down one mouthy lawyer.
Not if they use their nightsticks and Tasers, Buzz thinks, but that, too, would be wrong. Perhaps.
Wightman-Cervantes, who has a long history of accusing judges and other lawyers of corruption, was cited for contempt three years ago after he wrote a letter alleging that state District Judge David Godbey was either an idiot or corrupt. He was sentenced to 90 days in jail for contempt -- less if he apologized -- but managed to fend off the sentence through legal maneuvers until last week. At press time, he had filed yet another appeal in federal court and was awaiting word on whether he would be released while it was pending. Barring that, those who know him expect Wightman-Cervantes to apologize for his letter about the same time he becomes Texas' first openly gay U.S. Senator.