Behind closed doors this afternoon, the back-to-work Dallas City Council will be briefed by city attorneys on a handful of lawsuits, all of which we're quite familiar with: City of Dallas v. Museum of the American Railroad (which, last we looked, is close to being settled); Marcus Wood, et al. v. Deborah Watkins, City Secretary, City of Dallas, involving efforts to overturn the November referendum allowing for the citywide sale of beer and wine; and Heather Stewart v. City of Dallas, which has to do with a torn-down house and the Texas Supreme Court's ruling that the city owes the owner $75,000.
That last one got some TV attention last night thanks to KXAS-Channel 5's Ken Kalthoff, who visited with eminent-domain attorney Julia Pendery and council member Tennell Atkins -- and Gladys Callado, a next-door neighbor, who says the bulldozers showed up after Stewart had begun giving the house a mandated makeover. Atkins, for one, worries that the majority ruling -- which says, in short, that the city can't wrecking-ball a house till it goes before a judge, not a board of appointees -- will delay razing eyesores and health-and-safety nuisances: "I bet the community will say, 'We have a house sitting there for five years. Now it's going to take 10 years.' What do we do now?'"
Kalthoff, whose account follows, ran into the same problem we did: City attorneys didn't want to talk about the case till it went before council. Perhaps later today they'll say something. But last time city attorneys tried to rewrite ordinances involving blighted structures, it wasn't easy -- only took a couple of years to settle the matter.