By Stephen Young
By Stephen Young
By Stephen Young
By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
Mayor Tom Leppert's mad at the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Minority council members are mad at Leppert. Oak Cliff's mad at homeless people. Cowboys fans are mad at Wade Phillips. Dallas County commissioners are mad at Craig Watkins. Democrats are mad at Republicans (and vice versa). The cops are mad at Erykah Badu's naked behind. The Tea Party's mad at just about everybody.
That pretty much sums up 2010, The Year of Being Really, Really Pissed Off.
Want more details? Then read on at your own risk. All that anger can't be healthy. Seriously, Dallas, y'all need to calm down or you're going to blow an artery. Listen, do yourself a favor: Forget about 2010, find the nearest bartender and order yourself a wee li'l drinkee.
Or eight, cause the truth is, we don't see 2011 being much more serene. Hey, if you're going to feel pissed, we always say, you might as well get pissed.
At least, we think we always say that. Frankly, our memory wasn't what it once was, say, six drinks or so ago. Prolly was a bad idea to rely on it when we came up with all these quotes. Oh, well...
Cheesey: Irving City Council names Kraft Foods Inc. as sponsor of this spring's explosive demolition of Texas Stadium. As part of the company's promotion of a new macaroni and cheese product, Kraft will provide $175,000 in cash and food donations to local anti-hunger groups. The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine protests the sponsorship with a campaign featuring the slogan "cheese blows you up." Kraft, the maker of Cheez Whiz and Velveeta, dismisses the committee's complaint, noting there "is precious little relationship between what's in our products and what any reasonable person might consider 'cheese.'"
Art imitates life: The Global No Pants Subway Ride, an international event created by the group Improv Everywhere, makes a cheeky appearance on Dallas Area Rapid Transit as dozens of riders wearing nothing but underwear below their waists board local trains. The stunt raises little stir among DART's regular riders, however, as it is obscured by the transit system's regularly scheduled improv troupers: "Smelly Homeless Guy Muttering About the VA," "Spooky God Guy Talking to Strangers About Jesus," "Woman Loudly Cussing at Boyfriend on Cellphone" and "Commuter Desperately Trying Not to Make Eye Contact." Says one unimpressed Red Line rider: "Big whoop. So someone got on the train flashing his underpants. You see that every...Oh, you mean white people. Well, yeah, that's different."
A Santería priest walks into a bar: The city of Euless agrees to pay attorneys' fee on behalf of Jose Merced, a Euless resident and high priest in the Afro-Cuban religion Santería. Euless officials attempted to stop Merced from conducting religious sacrifices of animals at his home, but the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in 2009 that the sacrifices were protected under the Texas Religious Freedom Restoration Act. The ruling prompted a protracted fight over the payment of legal fees that ended in January with the city agreeing to pay $175,000 to the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, which represented Merced. In exchange, Merced promised to turn Mayor Mary Lib Saleh back from her form as a chicken. "But not too soon," a lawyer representing Euless says, "we need the eggs."
The horror: The Cowboys defeat the Philadelphia Eagles in the Pokes' first post-season victory in 13 years, but fall 34-3 to the Minnesota Vikings in the following week's NFC divisional playoff in a shellacking historians describe as "the greatest example of Viking looting and pillaging since the horrific raid on Lindisfarne abbey in Northumbria in A.D. 793."
The correct answer was "no": Debra Medina's Republican gubernatorial campaign tumbles in the polls after the Tea Party darling refuses to dismiss claims that the U.S. government had a hand in the 9/11 terrorist attacks. "I think some very good questions have been raised in that regard," she tells conservative radio host Glenn Beck, who asked Medina to respond to rumors she was a 9/11 "truther." Medina, who up until that point had been considered a possible contender for a GOP primary runoff with Governor Rick Perry, blames the ensuing kerfuffle on anti-idiot bias infesting the mainstream media. "Look," Medina says, "if you're going to record what I say, broadcast it accurately and take it seriously, well, that's hardly fair to idiots."
No, seriously: State Representative Terri Hodge pleads guilty to tax fraud for failing to report $74,000 in income from bribes, much of it in the form of reduced rent from low-income housing developers Brian and Cheryl Potashnik. As part of a plea agreement in a federal investigation into local government corruption surrounding the awarding of tax credits to the developers, Hodge resigns from the Legislature and agrees not to hold public office again. In reward for owning up to betraying the public trust, prosecutors dismiss numerous bribery charges against Hodge, and she is awarded a full year of 100 percent tax-supported rent, utilities, food and clothing at a federal home for wayward legislators. Asked for his reaction to Hodge's deal, former Dallas City Council member Don Hill, soon to be sentenced to 18 years in prison for his part in the bribery scheme, tells reporters: "Do what now? A year? Seriously, what'd she get? No, really, stop kiddin' and tell me. A year? Y'all are cold."
Let it snow: A bevy of hip-hop moguls, basketball stars and other assorted celebrities and their entourages flock to Dallas as Arlington's Cowboys Stadium hosts the region's first NBA All Star Game. Just days before the big game, Dallas is blanketed by a record layer of powdery white stuff. It also snows heavily.
Now she can't wear white: About 700 adults who enjoy dressing in animal costumes gather at an Addison hotel for the second annual Furry Fiesta. Among the "furries" are 200 or so "full fursuiters" who dress head to toe as various animals—a habit its practitioners insist is harmless good fun. Harmless fun turns tragic, however, as a group of fur-wearing conventioneers take a side-tour of the Dallas Zoo just a week after 19-year-old gorilla Tufani briefly escaped. Confused zookeepers plug a 47-year-old CPA from Venice, California, with a tranquilizer dart and mistakenly toss him into an animal enclosure for three hours. The accountant requires two more rounds of darts before keepers are able to break his embrace on a weeping and shaken Tufani.
Nobody rides for free: In what City Manager Mary Suhm describes as a session of "speed dating," city officials attend a reception and dinner at the Trinity River Audubon Center where they conduct rapid-fire interviews with six finalists vying to replace retiring police Chief David Kunkle. The session ends on an embarrassing note, unfortunately, as the city's credit card is rejected, sticking the job candidates with the dinner bill and forcing city council members to draw straws to determine which of them will have to "put out."
Through the looking glass: Outrage erupts after singer Erykah Badu strips naked for a stroll down Dealey Plaza and tapes the stunt for the video accompanying her single "Window Seat." Despite her claim that she merely removed her clothing upon becoming overheated while waiting for the No. 60 DART bus, Badu is fined $500 for disorderly conduct. The fine fails to put the controversy to rest, however, as conspiracy theorists, after repeatedly viewing digitally enhanced images of Badu's backside, allege she is not the woman shown in the video. Proponents of the so-called "Magic Booty" theory believe the video depicts as many as three women approaching the site of the Kennedy assassination from the grassy knoll, the former school book depository and a fence south of the plaza.
Sometimes flowers aren't enough: Despite a pending massive budget shortfall, layoffs and drastic cuts in city services, Dallas City Council member Tennell Atkins calls for pay raises and longer terms for council members. Atkins suggests salaries should be increased from the current $37,500 annually to $80,000-$100,000 and terms extended from two to four years. "Listen, if you think that's a lot of money, let's see how you feel about it when you draw the damn short straw," an angry Atkins tells reporters.
Kaboom: Thousands of fans gather to say farewell to Texas Stadium as engineers with A&R Demolition set off explosives that collapse the Cowboys' former home in a cloud of dust and incredibly obvious metaphors.
No, really?: In a rare touch of pessimism concerning the future of the Trinity River project, Mayor Tom Leppert admits that some parts of project may be "just a teensy weensy bit delayed." He blames rising costs, the need for massive levee repairs and the dawning realization among government officials other than himself that building a toll road along the river's banks "is a really boneheaded idea." In late April, a cash-strapped city council agrees to shift $150 million toward levee repairs. Leppert insists, however, that the planned road, riverside parks and lakes will be completed "sometime between now and when hell freezes over, if the good Lord's willing and the creeks don't rise. Of course, if the creeks rise, we're screwed."
Ay ay ay: Lamar Cooper, interim president of Criswell College, apologizes after he uses the term "wetbacks" during a radio broadcast of a Sunday morning Bible studies class at Dallas' First Baptist Church. Officials from the church and the small, Christian college insist the contrite Cooper is not a racist but merely intended the term as a sign of Christian fellowship. "I mean, any good Baptist, technically speaking, has a wet back, right?" a church spokesman says. "Ya know, if you really think about it, Jesus was a wetback. No? Not buying it? Goddamn it."
Why can't we be friends?: Via a posting on Facebook, City Manager Mary Suhm announces her selection of Dallas Police Department veteran David Brown as Dallas' new police chief. "david made gr8 impression at our speed date," Suhm writes. "unlike SOMEONE (looking at you, Loserville) who was all blah blah blah about his OLD police department...OMG...don't you hate that?!! and this ONE GUY—definitely no names, 'kay—asked me about fur suits!!! :-p LMAO! anyway, tennell said david's super sweet, so we'll definitely friend him."
You betcha: Organizers of a benefit for the Uptown Women's Center ban media members from attending a dinner featuring former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin. The speakers bureau that books Palin asked that reporters be excluded for fear that they would "record what she said, report it accurately and act like it means something."
Kaboom II: Men's Health magazine ranks Dallas the nation's fourth-fattest city, behind leading Lone Star lard-ass Corpus Christi (No. 1) and El Paso (No. 3). The magazine's rankings are based on a number of factors, including rates of obesity and type 2 diabetes and the per capita consumption of products manufactured by Kraft Foods Inc.
Take this job: Embattled Precinct 5 Constable Jaime Cortes, who lost his bid for re-election in March's primaries, announces he will resign. Cortes, the subject of a controversial investigation by Dallas County commissioners into allegations of kickbacks involving a towing contract, claims he is the target of a witch hunt by Republican commissioners and County Judge Jim Foster. His resignation comes after commissioners adopt new rules that would have required Cortes to post a $250,000 surety bond to indemnify the county against any liability from his actions. "A quarter mill?" Cortes says. "Damn, I don't think I could impound that many cars."
Wild card: In mid-May, the Morning News reports that Mayor Pro Tem Dwaine Caraway, chairman of the city council's public safety committee, interfered with police and prosecutors who attempted to crack down on a South Dallas house where men play poker. Prompted by neighborhood complaints, police in January issued 16 citations for illegal parking behind the house, where Caraway and his elderly father had in the past gambled. A less-than-contrite Caraway admits that his arm twisting of City Hall and police staff may have violated the council's policy of non-interference in police matters, but he insists his goal was to urge police to focus on serious crimes, such as the plague of young men walking about with their trousers slung low.
Shameless Joe: U.S. Representative Joe Barton gets a taste of his own shoe leather at a House hearing when he apologizes to oil giant BP for what he calls a "$20 billion shakedown" by the White House, referring to a fund the Obama administration arranged for BP to pay Gulf Coast residents for damages caused by a record-setting well blowout. "I'm ashamed of what happened in the White House yesterday," Barton tells BP execs. Hammered by the media, Democrats and fellow Republicans alike, Barton quickly apologizes for the apology, admitting that he misspoke. "I think the voters of North Texas I have served for so long are well aware of the fact that I have no sense of shame," he says.
Troubled waters: City and state officials gather at the Trinity River to watch as builders place the final 150-ton section atop the 40-story arch supporting the Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge. Construction of the $117 million bridge, designed by Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava as part of the Trinity project, was long delayed by cost overruns. Says Mayor Tom Leppert: "Finally seeing this arch rising majestically into the sk...HEY! Wazzat rain? I felt rain on my neck! RUN! Run for your freakin' lives!" The mayor, found by police hoofing it for higher ground a quarter mile away, sheepishly returns to the ceremony after learning that impish council member Angela Hunt squirted him from a bottle of Ozarka water.
Vagina Monologues was taken: Noted conspiracy theorist Robert Groden files a federal lawsuit against the city of Dallas, claiming police violated his First Amendment rights when they arrested him on Dealey Plaza in mid-June for selling without a permit his latest magazine, Naked Hunch: Proof Badu Badidn't.
Thanks for the tip: The Texas Department of State Health Services warns people not to consume any fish taken from a lengthy stretch of the Trinity River, including most of Dallas, because of PCB and dioxin contamination. In a follow-up advisory, the department also cautions Dallasites against running with scissors, cleaning loaded handguns and drinking drain cleaner.
Forbidden fruit: Swami Mukundananda, founder of Jagadguru Kripalu Yog, makes a stop in Plano as part of a 17-city U.S. tour. The Indian spiritual leader, whose saffron robes signify his renunciation of material things, intends to teach a program on yoga, meditation and spirituality, but the session is abruptly canceled after the swami makes unscheduled stops at Plano's P.F. Chang's and Gap. "Asceticism? Drafty robes? Bugger that. Gimme chinos and lettuce wraps any day," says Mukundananda, who announces he will renounce his renunciation, purchase a Lexus and 4,500-square-foot Plano mock Tudor and "maybe dabble in a little real estate."
Downright neighborly: The first of 17 homeless people move from The Bridge downtown shelter into Dallas Housing Authority's Cliff Manor apartments in Oak Cliff, despite the protests of nearby residents who fear the arrival of recovering addicts will depress property values. City council member Dave Neumann, who represents the neighborhood, leads the opposition. Neumann claims he was shocked and blindsided by DHA's plans for "permanent supportive housing" to the chronically homeless, apparently forgetting DHA had briefed council on the project in 2009. "Nope, doesn't ring a bell," he says. "You know how it is down at City Hall. So many bridges to think about. Just busy, busy, busy."
Waltz to glory: The NFL Hall of Fame inducts former Cowboys running back and Dancing With the Stars winner Emmitt Smith, the last of the famed '90s-era Cowboys "Triplets"—Smith, quarterback Troy Aikman and wide receiver Michael Irvin—to receive the honor. Cowboys owner Jerry Jones notes with pride that not only did the three teammates make it to the Hall of Fame, "but only 33 percent of them had ever been charged with a felony."
To Russia with Love: Federal authorities charge Latvian-born Anna Fermanova of Plano with attempting to illegally smuggle three military-grade rifle sights from the United States into Russia. The case draws rabid attention from the tabloids, which dub Fermanova the "sexy Russian spy" after finding provocative photos of the attractive 24-year-old on her Facebook page. Fermanova eventually takes a job as entertainment-gossip commentator for KDAF-TV. The self-described "good Jewish girl" reveals that she intends to take spiritual instruction in Jagadguru Kripalu Yog after being "bombarded" with flowers, calls and dinner invitations to P.F. Chang's by a new Hindu neighbor.
Bummer: Dallas City Council votes to ban the sale of marijuana substitutes popularly sold under the brand names K2, Hush and Swerve. Mayor Pro Tem Dwaine Caraway pushes the ban on synthetic cannabinoids, which he claims are being sold to children in his district. In a surprising move, the Morning News editorializes against the ban, citing a lack of evidence on the substances' danger and criticizing Caraway for "harshing a good buzz" and "making life difficult for those of us too square, old or timid to know how to find the real stuff."
Boys and their toys: In a blessed finale to a seemingly endless series of Byzantine bankruptcy hearings, a group of really, really rich oil and gas men outbid really, really rich guy Mark Cuban to purchase the Texas Rangers from not-quite-as-rich-as-he-once-was-guy Tom Hicks. The proceedings bring joy to local baseball fans, who are happy to learn that there is something on Earth more tedious than baseball.
Family affair: An unapologetic Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson repays $31,000 to the Black Congressional Caucus Foundation after the Morning News reveals that she awarded at least 23 foundation scholarships to her own grandchildren and other relatives and the children of one of her aides. Johnson, a former foundation board member, insists she "broke no rules" despite the scholarship program's ban on nepotism "Nepotism? Nepotism? What's religion got to do with it?" Johnson tells reporters. "I'm proud to support students of all creeds: Methodism, Catholicism, even followers of Nepo."
Everything old: October marks the 125th anniversary of the founding of The Dallas Morning News, an occasion the newspaper celebrates by reprinting its inaugural issue. Among its articles is a glowing report about plans by an "august body of foresighted civic-minded gentlemen for the imminent construction of a tolled cart path along the banks of the Trinity River."
Well, shut my mouth: Dallas County Commissioner Kenneth Mayfield proposes rules of decorum for the commissioners court that would allow the forcible removal of commissioners and public officials who become "boisterous" or engage in "personal, impertinent, profane or slanderous remarks." In mid-September, Mayfield had boisterously told District Attorney Craig Watkins that he was "about the sorriest public official that I've been associated with. You have no morals." In an apparent change of heart, Mayfield now says a new code is needed to allow commissioners "to get on with the important work of doing whatever the hell it is we're supposed to be doing down here for the ridiculous money we're paid."
Usual suspects: Republican district attorney candidate Danny Clancy awakes to find his SUV in his driveway, up on blocks and minus all four of its wheels. Clancy, speaking to reporters who somehow managed to arrive outside his Dallas home before police, quickly points the finger at Democratic incumbent Craig Watkins' supporters. Clancy insists the theft and two earlier slashings of his wife's tires are related. "It's either somebody in [Watkins'] camp or it's his failed policies that have allowed my family to be victimized on three separate occasions in the last two weeks," he says. County Democrats issue angry denials. "Oh, that's right. Thaaaat's right," a spokesman for Watkins' campaign says. "A white man gets his wheels stolen, and who's he go and finger? Damn cracker."
Homebody: A bitter Tennell Atkins complains to the Morning News that he's "not in the loop anymore" after Mayor Tom Leppert and council member Ron Natinsky travel to France and Spain on an economic development trip, leaving Atkins at home. Atkins, who had split with the mayor and Natinsky in September when he joined an 8-7 council majority voting in favor of a 4.91-cent increase in the property tax rate, says he feels he is being punished. "Oh, the things I do for that man," an upset Atkins says of Leppert. "Then off he goes, gallivanting around Europe with that...that...Natinsky person while I'm stuck at home, like I wouldn't enjoy a nice trip to France. I should have listened to my mother. No man's going to buy the cow if he can get the milk for free."
Winning is everything: In the team's first-ever World Series appearance, the Texas Rangers fall to the San Francisco Giants. Despite the Ranger's disappointing elimination in game 5 of the series, the American League champs earn thousands of new North Texas fans, who flock to Rangers Ballpark in Arlington bearing signs reading "Go Local Sports Team" and "We Support You, Baseball Player Persons." The newly minted supporters insist they are a not merely fair-weather fans and vow to stand behind the team when the 2011 baseball season begins next October.
You say you want a revolution: In a TV interview, Republican congressional candidate Stephen Broden says that violent revolution is an option that's "on the table" to remove a tyrannical U.S. government. Dallas Republican leaders quickly distance themselves from the remarks. Broden, endorsed by Sarah Palin and a favorite son of the Tea Party in his bid to unseat U.S. Representative Eddie Bernice Johnson, blames the ensuing controversy on the media. "Once again we have a case in which the liberal mainstream media, in their continued gross unfairness to idiots, have ruthlessly recorded what a Tea Party supporter said, reported it accurately and insisted that what was said means something."
He never studied: Mayor Tom Leppert and other city officials express deep frustration with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, blaming the agency for continued delays in repairing the Trinity River levees before a federal deadline to create new flood maps that take into account the levees' deteriorated state. Failure to repair the levees in time could require countless property owners near the river to purchase costly flood insurance and lower property values–not to mention, you know, drown people. Dave Neumann, chairman of the city council's Trinity project committee, tells reporters he was "shocked and blindsided" by the Corps' declaration that the levees might not withstand a 100-year flood, adding: "Here we were just rocking along with the project in 2010, and suddenly I'm told the levees are for shi...Huh? Whaddya mean 'they said that in 2009?' No kidding, in the papers and everything? Guess I oughtta start paying more attention."
Prospects for peace: Democratic incumbents are returned to county offices, and the party wins a majority on the commissioners court as Dr. Elba Garcia defeats long-time commissioner Ken Mayfield in November's election. Democratic leaders are thrilled by the county's blue tilt in an election that saw Republicans make major gains at the state and national levels, but others fear the party's grip may dash hopes for greater civility among county officials. "Oh, man, if you thought Republicans and Democrats went at it hammer and tongs, wait till you see what a Democratic majority can do to itself," one courthouse observer says. In other election news, Dallas voters approve a measure that would allow the retail sale of packaged beer and wine throughout the city, over the objections of liquor store owners, city councilman Dwaine Caraway and a coalition of southern Dallas ministers. Caraway fears that the spread of legal alcohol sales in dry parts of his district will lead to an increase in drunkenness and crime. "Drinking beer and wine is a terrible vice," Caraway says. "As it stands now, a man in my district can hardly go out for a genteel night of sipping tea and playing poker for, um, funsies without fear of getting rolled—or a parking ticket."
No more mister nice guy: After an embarrassing 1-7 start to the NFL season, Cowboys owner Jerry Jones names assistant head coach Jason Garrett the team's interim coach, replacing Wade Phillips, who tells reporters he is leaving professional football to return to his true calling, becoming a Walmart greeter at his hometown of Orange, Texas.
Easy being green: DART opens its Green Line to Carrollton, bringing light-rail to thousands of new suburban riders. A DART spokesman says service began smoothly, despite some initial confusion among first-time riders who arrive at rail stations pantsless. "We just want all our new customers to know that, yes, they are allowed to wear pants and, no, we can't do anything to make that Jesus guy and the woman on the cell phone shut the hell up."
Ho, ho, ho: First Baptist Church pastor Robert Jeffress angers some non-Christians with the creation of www.GrinchAlert.com, a website intended to identify groups and businesses that don't adequately acknowledge Christmas' religious origin. Among those targeted on the site's "naughty list" are companies that use the words "happy holidays" rather than "merry Christmas" to mark the season. Also targeted are stores that tell customers "feliz Navidad." "Fleas navvy dad," says one First Baptist member, "what in the heck does that mean? Listen, it's called Christmas, get it? Not Fleas-mas or Nepo-mass or any of them other durn things."
Ah, nostalgia: Former President George W. Bush and wife Laura are joined by former Vice President Dick Cheney in turning over ceremonial shovels of dirt at the official groundbreaking for the George W. Bush Presidential Center. Cheney tells Bush that "history is beginning to come around" as the public takes a kinder view of Bush's two terms in office. "As time passes, more and more people will join me in looking back on your record of war, water-boarding, homophobia and economic collapse and saying, 'Those were the good old days.'"