By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
Police state, Part 2: Members of the Texas House's Civil Practices Committee sharply criticize Dallas for abusing the state's nuisance law. Legislators say Dallas police and attorneys have used the law--intended to close down criminal enterprises such as crack houses--to "intimidate and shake down" legitimate business owners whose properties are overrun by drug dealers, prostitutes and the homeless and who have the temerity to complain. Mayor Miller defends the city's practices, claiming the alleged abuse was part of the city's "Crime Victim Reduction Program." "Look, you can't have a crime without a victim, so we blame them for at least 50 percent of the crime problem," Miller says. "Plus, they're way easier to catch. The idiots actually call us."
Bricks in the wall: Dallas school trustees vote to end paddling. "We believe that smacking students' butts with boards is an outmoded form of discipline in 2005," a DISD spokesman says. "Especially since most of these li'l bastards carry at least shivs and aren't afraid to use them." At the same meeting, trustees agree to require students to wear uniforms through the eighth grade. "If we can't beat them anymore, at least we can break their spirits," the spokesman says. "Besides, one way or another most of the kids educated at our schools end up in places that require uniforms anyway--McDonald's, the Army, prison--so they might as well get used to it."
Unreality TV: Grin & Barrett, a reality show starring Dallas socialite Angie Barrett, premieres. The program tracks the life and shopping of Dallas' "biggest fashion fiend," who in the '80s was convicted of stealing up to $500,000 in merchandise from Neiman Marcus and who nearly four years ago was suspected of assaulting her elderly husband. The program airs between reruns of To Catch a Thief and WWE Smackdown.
Who wants to know? Leaders of Prestonwood Christian Academy, a Plano Christian school, delay issuing a survey they intended for older students after parents complain that some of the questions--about sex, drugs and cheating--are too prying. School officials reconfigure the survey, removing questions that asked students whether they used drugs, where they bought them, was it "good shit," whether they were sexually active and whether they were free Friday nights.
Oh, no. Size matters: To greet the Texas Rangers' new season, Ameriquest Field unveils the Big Dog, a half-pound hot dog smothered in chili and cheese. The $8.50 tube of meat byproducts is a steal at only 25 cents more than a standard ballpark hot dog, and ballpark officials say they hope fans will embrace the big wiener as a way to bring them closer to the team. "Anyone who chokes down one of these hawgs will have a pretty good idea of what it's like to be a Ranger," a team spokesman says.
Dumb Knight: City Councilman Mitchell Rasansky apologizes to the father of a Boy Scout whom Rasansky had jokingly called "Count Dracula" for erecting three bat houses in a North Dallas park. Rasansky, who feared that bats drawn to the houses might carry rabies and attack people, had said the boy, who was trying to earn an Eagle Scout badge, was from "Transylvania." Rasansky's apology comes after laughing fellow council members threaten to light a candle in the council men's room and chant "Candyman" three times while standing before a mirror. "Stop screwing around, you guys," a visibly nervous Rasansky says. "Like, I'm so sure that would work--duh--but just don't anyway, OK? No, I'm not being a baby. You're being a baby, you big baby."
Rah, rah, raw: After a lengthy, contentious debate, the Texas House narrowly approves an education bill vital to the future of Texas students. Nah, not a school finance reform bill--they couldn't pass that if you stuffed them full of prunes, mineral oil and oat bran. Instead, the House approves a bill authorizing the Texas Education Agency to police school districts that allow cheerleaders to get too sexy in their routines. "This is vital," the bill's sponsor, Representative Al Edwards of Houston, insists. "All these pubescent girls in their shorts skirts, twirling and jiggling and doing splits in steamy, lascivious displays, with their pert breasts and creamy thi...Uh, I'm sorry. What was the question again?" The bill fails in the Senate, where a counter-proposal providing $7.5 million for brass poles and mirror balls for "student athletes" garners support.
Careful what you wish for: In a landslide election, Dallas voters reject a ballot proposal to broadly strengthen the mayor's powers (a similar, watered-down version will likewise be rejected in the fall). Proponents of the initiative had promised that it would make city government more effective. "Listen, voters agree: The last thing this burg needs is for those clowns at City Hall to have more effect on the city," opposition leader Pat Cotton says.
Empty suits them: Dallas police credit a program that places empty police cruisers at strategic spots downtown for reducing crime in the Central Business District. "Seeing all these empty police cars gives potential criminals pause," Chief Kunkle says. "In fact, we've found that crime is actually less in neighborhoods with empty cars than in those with increased patrols by real officers. Boy, that's a puzzler. We're still scratching our heads over that one. Huh. Go figure."