For six years from her office at the Dallas Observer, columnist Laura Miller has wielded her pen like a rapier, scoring the backsides of the lazy, the dishonest, and the inept in city government.
Now she's off to put her own butt on the line in a race for city council. Before she does, however, her friends here at the Observer recall some of her tender thoughts regarding her potential future colleagues:
Laura on Mayor Ron Kirk
"Kirk's been a hired gun--a soap salesman--for other people's dreams and financial desires for a lot of years now."
--May 3, 1995
"Kirk...will never by accused of being at a loss for words when it comes to decrying the petty political shenanigans that go on at City Hall...He is funny, articulate, chatty, self-effacing, as colorblind as any person I have ever known, and completely down to earth..."
--May 18, 1995
"...the man [Ron Kirk] gets almost as much press coverage as Princess Di. All of that can make you feel pretty omnipotent, and make you act like you own the joint..."
--December 21, 1995
"...a man who, despite his nearly empty public service portfolio, was overwhelmingly voted into office because his No. 1 promise was to stop all the insane racial bullshit. Seven months after the election, he began running as fast as he could away from the DISD race circus--and he's been running from potential controversy every since.
"In fact, the only thing Kirk has shown he's willing to pound the table about is the prospect of a new area code for Dallas."
--June 27, 1996
"When Kirk campaigned for mayor, he was Jimmy Carter reincarnated--an average Joe who prided himself on the fact that he drove himself to campaign events in an old, battered BMW. Three years later, Kirk not only has city security officers chauffeuring him around town in a new Lincoln Town Car, but his personal car has been upgraded too--to a brand-new BMW 750il."
--November 20, 1997
"Mayor Ron Kirk, chief water carrier for the sports teams and downtown arena boosters..."
--December 11, 1997
Laura on John Ware
"John Ware, who is so ardently beloved by the Dallas City Council that he was just awarded a $12,000 raise (to reach a base salary of $150,000) after one year on the job, has always had one big Achilles' heel. He can be one mean sonofabitch."
--November 23, 1994
"Maybe it's because the council members, confronted squarely with the lies and misdeeds of their city manager's office, finally felt some embarrassment--at being dupes, at being weak, at being controlled by arrogant bureaucrats."
--March 9, 1995
"[John Ware and his deputies] lie upon their office couches--or so we imagine--loafers off, eyeglasses pulled down on the bulbs of their noses, and they try to think up ways to make the whole [arena] deal work."
--August 17, 1995
"I'd watched City Manager John Ware lie and cheat to get an arena deal done."
--November 6, 1997
Laura on the city council
"At this moment, there are only two people on the council with the desire and the guts to fight bad backroom deals at City Hall: Donna Blumer and Paul Fielding." (Fielding later pleaded guilty to federal charges of mail fraud and conspiracy.)
--January 13, 1994
"...a black politician [Barbara Mallory] the white business establishment could love."
--May 26, 1994
"Max Wells routinely spends council briefings with 'bored' stamped on his forehead as he catches up on his magazine reading (in a new twist, he actually slept through a good portion of the arena renovation briefing two weeks ago)...Bob Stimson, a freshman who should still be feeling somewhat humble, recently chewed out a constituent for putting the councilman's published home number on a neighborhood flyer about the proposed Oak Cliff racetrack."
--March 2, 1995
"Here it is, bottom line: why intelligent men and women cannot appease a sports franchise, snag a car racetrack (from Fort Worth, of all places), come up with some kind of recycling program. They cannot stop pecking each other's eyes out. Not for a minute."
--August 10, 1995
"[Craig] McDaniel, a tepid sort who, in 18 months, has added absolutely nothing to the arena debate..."
"...Sandra Crenshaw, the council's cellular-phone queen...does things with her mobile phone that no one who cares about the sanctity of a taxpayer dollar would ever think of doing...This councilwoman has no shame...Council members say Crenshaw is the master of the political junket...
"...[Donna Halstead] she's a faithful vote for Ray Hunt and his varied interests...
--April 6, 1995
"[Al] Lipscomb and the city's biggest Anglo business leaders...were partners in a long-standing marriage of mutual convenience while he was a council member that had spun out of control...
"...if anybody's been taking a free ride in this town, it's Albert Louis Lipscomb...
"Al may be clueless when it comes to some things--integrity and ethics are good examples...
"For too long now, Al Lipscomb, Dallas' icon of racial progress...has been allowed, if not downright encouraged, to blur the line between personal gain and public service...
"He seems to be oblivious to how he has been used..."
--May 30, 1996
"Zoom to Councilwoman Barbara Mallory-Carraway, sitting privately--or so she thought--in her elevated seat at the council seat...star[ing] intently at a...bright red Christmas catalog...She turned each page slowly, soaking in all the delicious holiday treats, her attention only occasionally diverted--usually to her hands, where she spent a good bit of time picking interesting bits of things from under her fingernails...
"[Charlotte] Mayes is clearly a powerful shopper..."
--November 20, 1997
"Dallas city councilman John Loza has been an elected official for only six months, but you'd never know it. Because when he opens his mouth--which he does frequently and with no small degree of self-importance--there is no doubt in his voice, no hesitation, no sign of a learning curve for this 34-year-old lawyer...the most pompous ignoramus on the Dallas City Council."
--December 4, 1997
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Laura on secrecy
"'Tis absolutely true: The only way to get the city of Dallas to obey the Texas Open Meetings Act is to sue City Hall...It seems certain that they have been breaking the Texas Open Meetings Act law on a regular basis for a year now. And they have been able to do it thanks to the erroneous, soggy, twisted legal advice--or lack of it--of City Attorney [Sam] Lindsay."
--June 15, 1995
Laura on her would-be career
"The point here is attitude. Arrogance. Those royal-like reflexes that seem to sprout, like mold on a mushy peach, on the brains of our local elected officials after five or 10 minutes on the hallowed fifth floor of 1500 Marilla."
--March 2, 1995