By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
Holy crap: Man oh man oh man. Just met Dallas County Judge Jim Foster for the first time. Wow. In more than a decade of writing nasty things about public officials, we've never been speechless or felt a twinge of conscience, but writing an accurate description of a chat with Foster feels a little bit like kicking a man with no legs.
Seriously...this guy...county judge...makes $153,000 a year in salary...large urban county...chief elected official...
OK. Wait a minute. Let's focus on that second thing. How much? Paid by taxes? Suddenly, the conscience is clear. Now we're pissed. Listen, we're gonna put it to you straight: The village idiot has done been elected mayor of the village.
Former County Judge Margaret Keliher, who was competent but lost to Foster in the county Democratic sweep in November, must feel like an NBA player who lost a pickup game to a first-grader.
Foster came by the Dallas Observer's offices to meet with the editors about an online column written by staffer Matt Pulle, who had requested copies of Foster's schedule, which Pulle summarized this way: "One of the top elected officials in North Texas puts in as many hours as a stunt man in a Merchant-Ivory movie." Foster didn't like that. Or rather, three people he knew read the column—he didn't bother—and told him he shouldn't like it, so he set up a meeting with Editor Julie Lyons to complain that Pulle didn't give him enough time to come up with an answer to the question, "What is it exactly you do?" He still didn't have an answer when we asked him Tuesday, and Buzz know this sounds cruel, but as we listened to him speak, we thought, "Head trauma...is it head trauma?"
Foster didn't want to talk about dealing with the Legislature or any, you know, work issues. Or maybe he just doesn't do much, which is probably for the best. He just wanted to know what we all could do to "work together," he said, after warning us that he and some unnamed supporters were talking about going after the Observer's advertisers unless we make nicey-nice. We pointed out that we don't work with public officials; we ask them questions and write down the answers.
For instance, Lyons asked him about rumors that he drinks heavily. "You will never find anyone to testify to that—that I drink heavily...maybe a glass of wine at dinner," he replied.
And he asked again if we had any advice on how we could all work together. No, judge, but we do have some advice on how to improve your reputation as a leader: When someone asks, tell them you drink like a fish. At least then you'll have an excuse.