C'mon Get Happy

Even Buzz finds something to smile about in 2006

Free at last: Dallas County officials consider reopening a long unused jail, built in 1915, to relieve severe overcrowding at other facilities. Touring the old building to see if it is still fit for use, jailers discover the skeletal remains of one Thaddeus Grotweyler, who records show had been incarcerated in 1917 for illegally parking a buggy, only to be forgotten as the result of a "paperwork SNAFU."

Separate but unequal: Acting in a lawsuit filed by Latino parents, U.S. District Judge Sam Lindsay rules that Preston Hollow Elementary School principal Teresa Parker "was, in effect, operating, at taxpayers' expense, a private school for Anglo children within a public school that was predominantly minority." Plaintiffs accuse the school of segregating Anglo students into their own classes in an effort to encourage white parents to send their children to the predominantly Hispanic and black school. DISD officials deny that Parker or the district was deliberately creating an unlawful system of separate but equal at the school. "White kids from affluent North Dallas families are notoriously shy and retiring, so we thought that giving them their own bathrooms and drinking fountains might make the environment seem friendlier," a school spokesman says. "Guess they'll have to poop with the poor folk now."

Keep out: The Farmers Branch City Council adopts anti-illegal-immigrant measures that require apartment renters to provide proof of citizenship or residency, make English the city's official language and allow police to check the residency status of arrested suspects and initiate deportation proceedings in certain cases. The laws prompt several lawsuits and a petition drive aimed at their repeal. Critics complain the ordinances will make Farmers Branch appear to be a xenophobic enclave of white-flighters hostile to immigrants and minorities. "Ya think?" says city council member Tim O'Hare, who spearheaded the effort.

All Illustrations by Kyle Webster

Oh, Tony: Tony Romo leads the Cowboys to a 21-14 victory over the unbeaten Indianapolis Colts on November 19, raising his record to 3-1 since he replaced the almost lifelike Drew Bledsoe as starting quarterback. Dallas County mental health workers report an upsurge in calls to counseling help lines from distraught males complaining of sexual confusion prompted by homoerotic dreams starring the young QB. "NFL fans include a substantial number of homophobes, so it's not surprising that these thoughts and dreams might cause a certain level of anxiety," a mental health worker says. "We're calling it 'romosexual panic.'" The Cowboys go on to defeat Tampa Bay 38-10 on Thanksgiving Day in a game that sees Romo tie a club record by throwing five touchdown passes. Romo celebrates the victory by serving holiday meals to the homeless at a Dallas shelter, successfully dividing one drumstick and two loaves of bread among a multitude of 1,100 hungry guests.

Doesn't add up: David Fryar, hired to lead DISD's new one-man Office of District Integrity, quits after the Morning News reveals that he claimed on his résumé to be a certified public accountant despite having his CPA license revoked in 1996. Fryar was hired in response to the scandal involving the district's lax oversight of credit card use. Superintendent Hinojosa announces the creation of a new division to oversee the hiring of the new integrity officer. It will be called the Office of Let's Stop Doing All This Stupid, Embarrassing Shit.

Set them free: The county auditor's office reports that the Sheriff's Department paid $9.4 million in overtime last fiscal year to staff its overcrowded jails. Sheriff Valdez blames the record high costs in part on paperwork errors that resulted in 27 jailers being mistakenly locked in the Lew Sterrett Justice Center for six weeks over the summer.

Cheap shot: SMU becomes the likely home of the future George W. Bush presidential library as the president and first lady enter into "exclusive" discussions with the school. Some SMU faculty members fear the link to the Bush administration might mar the school's standing as a nonpartisan institution, but administrators dismiss their concerns. "With the Kennedy monument downtown, the Bush library is a natural for Dallas. Now we'll have two facilities honoring brain-dead chief executives," a school spokesman says.

Jim? Jim who?: Weeks after the U.S. Justice Department issues a scathing report about poor inmate health care, understaffing and overcrowding at the Dallas County jail, Democratic County Judge-elect Jim Foster gets a first-hand look at the problem during a tour led by Sheriff Valdez. Foster vows to make fixing the jail's woes a top priority for his administration. Valdez in turn, promises to locate and free the MIA Foster from the jail in time for his swearing-in this month. "We know he's still in here somewhere; we just misplaced him somehow," Valdez says.

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