By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
By Eric Nicholson
Powder puff girls: Fifteen people attending a Mary Kay cosmetics meeting sustain minor injuries when a worker at the Dallas Convention Center abruptly changes the direction of an escalator they're riding. Rescue officials say the injuries were mainly scrapes and bruises, though a convention center spokesman says four paramedics called to the scene were treated for respiratory distress after inhaling "a fog of flying face powder" unleashed by the accident.
Grey Poupon is extra: In a bid to cover a $6 million budget shortfall for her department, Sheriff Lupe Valdez announces that the county's jails will stop providing free condiments and pickles to inmates. Prisoners who desire packets of ketchup, mustard and other items will be required to pay for them, the sheriff says. Eliminating free pickles will save the county more than $83,000 annually, The Dallas Morning News reports. The department also contemplates serving only Texas-made wines with meals, but rejects the notion after three days of rioting at the jail.
Brawn food: The Southlake Carroll Dragons high school football team announces that it will begin serving sushi to health-conscious fans attending home games in the new school year. To mollify traditionalists who complain that the team is going soft with froufrou dishes, the team later modifies its menu, offering servings of raw yellowfin tuna smothered in chili, cheese and Frito corn chips plus a 72-ounce Big Red and Moon Pie for $17.50.
Mmm. Bacon: The Texas State Fair unveils its latest deep-fried treat—chicken-fried bacon. To mollify health-conscious fair-goers who complain that the fair is trying to murder its attendees, the fair later amends its menu, offering a free defibrillation and stomach pumping to anyone who purchases more than $30 in Midway tickets.
Free at last: Jenny, at 55 the oldest gorilla in captivity, dies at the Dallas Zoo after slipping on a banana peel (rim shot). Kidding. It was a stomach tumor that got her. Mindful of mournful zoo patrons who will miss the aged ape, the zoo announces that it will hold a "tasteful, restrained memorial service" for Jenny during the seventh-inning stretch at the AirHogs last home game where Jenny will be interred in the centerfield warning track.
Give and take: DISD superintendent Michael Hinojosa announces that the district is facing a budget shortfall "somewhere in the neighborhood of $60 million, give or take $20 million, more or less," necessitating the layoffs of "600 or so " district employees, including "somewhere in the ballpark" of 400 teachers. The budget "gaffe" is blamed on a flawed computer system and poor accounting procedures that led the district to hire hundreds of additional teachers without consideration of whether any money was available to pay them. Hinojosa survives calls for his resignation. School board president Jack Lowe defends Hinojosa, citing academic gains made by the district. "The number of students passing the TAKS test under Michael's leadership has increased 110 percent," Lowe tells reporters. "We're not sure how that's mathematically possible, but it's pretty darn good nonetheless."
To scale: The Trinity River Corridor Project Committee reveals a 3-D model of the long-awaited Trinity Park, tollway and signature bridges, part of a massive, multimillion-dollar public works project to redevelop the Trinity River corridor near downtown. The model, made of "really clean" used Popsicle sticks and spray-painted elbow macaroni, took more than a year and a half and $500,000 to build.
October - December
Damn the torpedoes: Opponents of the city's plans to build a convention center hotel submit petitions bearing enough signatures to require a citywide vote on the project in May. City council supporters of the hotel vow to press ahead with financing and contracts for the facility regardless. "Nothing the voters of this city have ever said has made a damn bit of difference to City Hall," Mayor Tom Leppert says. "I don't see why that should change now."
Pay to play: The city of Duncanville secures misdemeanor convictions for Jim Trulock, an owner of the Cherry Pit, a notorious swingers club located in a residential neighborhood that provided alcohol and sex parties to members who paid $50 to join. A jury convicts Trulock on 10 counts of operating an illegal business. Trulock, who appeals the conviction, faces fines of up to $7,500, roughly half of which will be covered by a federal grant as part of the Twogether in Texas pro-marriage program.
Luck be a lady: DISD announces that it will rehire 57 teachers from among more 600 employees who were laid off to deal with its massive budget deficit. District spokesman Jon Dahlander says the rehirings are because a larger-than-expected number of teachers accepted the district's severance offer in October, plus "a really hot string of luck" with the Texas Lottery's "Jingle Jumbo Bucks" scratch-off game.
Acting like Democrats: Bickering on the Dallas County Commissioners Court breaks into the open once again, as Commissioner John Wiley Price brings an engraved placard bearing the name "Judge Foster Gump," an insult aimed at fellow Democrat County Judge Jim Foster, who is widely considered among court observers to be "a bit of a mutton head." Foster shrugs off Price's criticism. "John is just like a box of chocolates. You never know what you're gonna get," Foster tells reporters, a remark Price condemns as a veiled racist slur.
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