We've made our list, we've checked it ... well, not really twice. There was a ton of bourbon in the eggnog. But now we're ready to air our grievances with those North Texans who've wronged us and celebrate those who help make Dallas such a special place. It's the official Dallas Observer Festivus 2015 Naughty and Nice List. Oddly enough, the naughty list is only about twice as long as the nice one. That's a holiday miracle.
Greg Hardy — Cowboys defensive end Greg Hardy lived down to the worst expectations in 2015. Trailed into Dallas by allegations and photographic evidence of a beating he allegedly dished to an ex-girlfriend, the former Carolina Panther walked on criminal charges in North Carolina and straight onto the only team in the NFL likely to have him, your Dallas Cowboys.
In a move that surprised no one except maybe Jerry Jones, Hardy continued a Cowboys tradition of unrepentant jack-assery, coming off a four-game suspension and making a crack about the wife of Patriots quarterback Tom Brady. “Have you seen his wife?” Hardy said. “I hope she comes to the game. I hope her sister comes to the game, all her friends come to the game. One of my favorite games of the year, guys.”
We suppose that in Hardy's mind, he was paying a compliment. Unfortunately, his is the mind of a man who evidence suggests has beaten at least one woman.
He followed that up with missed team meetings, poorly worded tweets and a tantrum on the field. His playing sucked, too.
Ethan Couch — Tarrant County's favorite son got himself back in the news in December when he skipped town and missed a probation appointment after someone leaked a video in which the 18-year-old lethal drunk driver appeared to be playing beer pong. Couch was sentenced to 10 years probation after killing four people while driving drunk in 2013 in a case that coined the word "affluenza," his defense's term describing a boundary-less childhood that made him unaware of the consequences of his actions. (The condition was formerly known as being a spoiled, rich asshole.) The Tarrant County Sheriff believes Couch has been helped in his escape by his mother, Tonya.
Elvis Andrus — The Rangers had an unexpected dream of a season, storming back from as many as eight games back in August to win the AL West division title. They took a 2-0 series lead over the Toronto Blue Jays in the American League Division Series. After two limp Rangers performances evened the series, the Rangers clawed their way to a 3-2 lead after six-and-a-half innings in Game 5. Rangers fans, and shortstop Elvis Andrus, will never forget what happened in the bottom of the seventh. Andrus was charged with two errors and involved in a third as that 3-2 lead melted into a 6-3 deficit. The Rangers lost the game and the series, and the chorus calling for dumping Andrus and his $100 million-plus contract grew louder still.
Don Huffines — Dallas state Senator Don Huffines, the Tea Party favorite who knocked off longtime Dallas operator John Carona to get into the Texas Senate, made his debut in 2015, introducing a bill to kill assorted LGBT non-discrimination ordinances adopted by Dallas and other cities. That failed, but Huffines didn't stop. After the session, he led a crusade against a vote by the Dallas City Council that simply clarified some language in the city's non-discrimination ordinance. Huffines said the change could allow men to use women's restrooms. The ordinance wasn't new, and people are still using the appropriate restroom.
Robert Jeffress — So far in 2015, First Baptist Dallas Pastor Robert Jeffress has said, variously, that Donald Trump has a "grasp of the issues," that the U.S. Supreme Court decision legalizing gay marriage was the court's worst ever and that American Christians are being treated similarly to Jews in Nazi Germany prior to the holocaust.
DeAndre Jordan — The Mavs bet their entire offseason on signing DeAndre Jordan, the Clippers' All-Star center. He agreed to a contract, but backed out before it was officially signed after effectively being held hostage by Clippers personnel who helped him wait out the last few hours of the NBA's dead period, during which contracts can be negotiated but not signed. The Twitterverse lit up with reports that a frantic Mark Cuban was driving around Houston trying to find Jordan's house. That turned out not to be true, but Jordan's going to be a persona non grata at the American Airlines Center for as long as he's in the league.
Ellis County Volunteer Fire Fighters — From our report in March: "Ellis County called in the Texas Rangers after the firefighter trainee first reported the assault on March 31. The trainee said Keith Wisakowsky, 27; Casey Stafford, 30; Alec Miller, 28; Blake Tucker, 19; and Preston Peyrot, 19, first attempted to sodomize him with a broom handle before settling on using a link of chorizo that was sitting in the fridge. According to the Rangers report, Tucker and Stafford held the trainee down while Wisakowsky inserted the still-wrapped sausage into the trainee. Wisakowsky then cut the sausage out of the package, but it broke up when he tried to assault the trainee with it again." Enough ... more than enough ... said.
Marqueon Skinner — Marqueon Skinner, a Dallas cop, admitted to police in August that he'd been robbed at an apartment at which he'd arranged a liaison with a craigslist prostitute. He made this admission naked, after he'd bolted from the apartment during the robbery and called the cops on his cell phone.
Eric Casebolt — A McKinney end of the school year pool party ended with an unarmed, teenage girl having a gun pulled on her and a knee placed in her back by a local cop. That cop, Eric Casebolt, resigned in early June, but denied he was a racist.
Corey Knowlton — After almost two years of waiting, Royce City's Corey Knowlton finally got his man, err rhino. Knowlton paid $350,000 for a license to kill an elderly black rhinoceros in Namibia in January 2014. Black rhinos are endangered — particularly the one he wanted to shoot — but Nambia said his money would help pay for conservation efforts. Animal lovers were almost as unhappy about the decision as the rhino itself, but this May, after he finally got federal approval to bring back his trophy, he shot the damn thing. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said it believed the money would do more to help conservation than, you know, not shooting the rhino. Knowlton would later sue Delta Airlines for not allowing the rhino carcass on its planes. That issue is still unresolved.
Miguel Solis — After finishing a stint as a Dallas ISD teacher as part of Teach for America, Miguel Solis was elected to the Dallas ISD board in 2012. While there, he's served as a key ally to former Superintendent Mike Miles and his reform efforts and a steady hand on a body perennially split by vicious political infighting.
Mark Clayton — Taking over for sleepy Sheffie Kadane in District 9, Mark Clayton warmed hearts and relieved bladders by spearheading the effort to mandate rest breaks for construction workers in Dallas. Those breaks kick in January 1.
Jeff Banister — All the Rangers' new manager did in his first year on the job was lead an undermanned, injury-riddled squad to the most surprising division championship in franchise history. Next year, he'll have Yu Darvish back and a full year of Darvish's co-ace, Cole Hamels, to work with. It should be fun.
Rougned Odor — Rougned Odor seems destined to be the Rangers' second baseman for the next decade. After being sent down to the minors after an ineffective early season, Odor returned with a vengeance in the summer, providing a much-needed edge to a club that was just rounding into form. He's got a terrific baseball brain — see his mad dash for the plate during game five of the division series against the Blue Jays — and plays with verve and menace. Get your kids a jersey.
Kelly Gottschalk — Gottschalk was handed an essential task: repairing the languishing Dallas Police and Fire Pension System. Under the leadership of its previous director, Richard Tettamant, the fund had built a potential shortfall of at least $1 billion, contributing to a move by bond rating agencies to downgrade the city's credit rating. Gottschalk has managed to tone down the doom and gloom talk by suggesting ways forward and upward for the fund, including getting out of Tettamant's "creative" real estate investments and partnering with members of the fund to make sure it, and the city, remain solvent.
John Warren — When the Supreme Court legalized gay marriage in June, Dallas County Clerk John Warren was ready. He began issuing licenses to same-sex couples the same morning and helped issue waivers of the state's usual 72-hour waiting period between license and ceremony. Unlike Irion County Clerk Molly Crimer and Johnson County's Katie Lang (no relation), he seemed genuinely happy to be taking part in the festivities at the Records Building.