By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
How can we miss you?: Democratic Dallas County Judge Jim "Sleepy" Foster announces that he will seek re-election in 2010, much to the mortification of local Dems who hope to field a stronger candidate than the man dubbed "Foster Gump" by County Commissioner John Wiley Price, also a Democrat. Foster, known for being a bit, shall we say, "deliberative" and for occasionally dozing in meetings early in his tenure, says he will "absolutely" run, no matter how many primary opponents he faces. County Democratic officials react to the news by moving the party headquarters to a new location and withholding the address from Foster.
Butt out: Dallas City Council member Dwaine Caraway proposes banning the sale of machine-made "blunt" cigars in the city. Caraway accuses the maker of the cigars, which are often hollowed out and used to smoke marijuana, of poisoning the minority communities in which they're popular. He also accuses the brand's owner, Altria Group, of infringing on the name of his high school doo-wop band, The Black & Milds.
Suit up: Dallas County commissioners narrowly vote to overturn a 14-year-old ban on the distribution of free condoms by county health workers. Commissioners reject a counterproposal from Commissioner Kenneth Mayfield, who voted for the original ban, that would limit the free condoms only to those at high risk of contracting a sexually transmitted disease or those who have already had sex with a prostitute or someone infected with an STD or HIV. "I don't see any point in closing the barn door unless we're sure the horse is going to run out," Mayfield tells fellow commissioners.
Cause and effect: Dallas wins the dubious distinction of being home to the state's largest all-nude nightclub with the January opening of XTC Cabaret, a 25,000-square-foot behemoth on Stemmons Freeway. A spokesman for the club's owner, Rick's Cabaret International, said the company had originally planned to open up in Houston, "but then the county commissioners approved free rubbers for everyone, so we figure what the hey, Dallas is our kind of town."
Making the grade: The Pew Research Center releases the results of a national survey that finds only 24 percent of respondents want to live in Dallas. (Excluding respondents who already live here, the figure was 40 percent.) The 24 percent figure puts Dallas squarely in the middle of the pack when it comes to desirability among the nation's big cities. Mayor Tom Leppert rejects his city's C grade. "Obviously, this survey was taken before XTC Cabaret opened, or we would have scored at least a B-plus," Leppert says.
Surprise!: Sports Illustrated reports that former Rangers shortstop Alex Rodriguez tested positive for steroids when he played for Texas in 2003. Rangers owner Tom Hicks tells The Dallas Morning News he is "shocked" by the report. In other "shocking" baseball news, fans are stunned to learn that baseball is played with a ball and a bat, that three strikes is an out and that baseball is, for the most part, kind of boring.
Don't let the doorknob hit you: A slew of Democratic contenders announce plans to challenge incumbent County Judge Jim Foster in the party's 2010 primary. Foster shrugs off the challengers. "Apparently the party leaders are unhappy with me," Foster tells reporters. "I tried to talk to them about it, but the number I have is disconnected. You wouldn't happen to have the new one, would you?" Among the potential candidates are Dallas lawyer Clay Jenkins, former state Representative Sam Coats and a golden retriever named Skippy. "We're really happy with the way the field is shaping up," Dallas County Democratic Party chair Darlene Ewing says via telephone from an undisclosed location. "All the candidates are really sharp. Well, almost all, and I don't mean Skippy."
Baaad news: The Texas Freedom Network, a group that aims to counter the radical religious right, releases a damning report on the state of sex education in Texas' public schools. Just Say Don't Know: Sexuality Education in Texas Public Schools reveals that 94 percent of districts provide abstinence-only information, and 2.3 percent simply ignore the state requirement for sex-ed altogether. Information that is provided, however, is often inaccurate, misleading and includes religious indoctrination. The report cites an official in one rural school district who claims his students can learn all they need to know about sex from watching farm animals. The report's authors note that Texas ranks third nationally in teen pregnancy rates and second overall in incidents of teen goat-fucking.
Happiness is...: Dwaine Caraway leads a one-day anti-gun drive that offers anyone turning in a working firearm a $50 gift card for groceries from Kroger. The city council member's plan takes an unexpected turn, however, when roughly half those turning in weapons use their gift cards to purchase Black & Mild cigars. "Trading a snub nose for a few packs of blunts sounded like a pretty good deal to me," one participant says.
Tom to the rescue: The Morning News reveals that Mayor Tom Leppert met with state Senator Royce West to discuss potential legislation that would allow the mayor to take over leadership of Dallas Independent School District. Leppert is mum on his proposal, but the mayor has made it clear in the past that improving education is a key goal for his administration. By putting DISD under the mayor's oversight, it's hoped that the district could be provided with the same sort of sound leadership Leppert has brought to City Hall, which in 2009 saw one major corruption trial, a $190 million budget shortfall, layoffs of 900 city employees, reduction in city services and library hours, and unpaid furloughs for civilian workers. DISD Superintendent Michael Hinojosa defends the district's current management. "Shoot—budget cuts, layoffs and lousy service? We're doing just fine providing that all on our own."