Can’t shake it. Worried. I still think something scary could be going on with Dallas County District Attorney Susan Hawk.
After I read a story about her in the Saturday edition of The Dallas Morning News, I was even wondering if I should call 911, but then I thought, “Oh, wait, she sort of is 911. That’s kind of the problem.”
Sarah Mervosh, who has done all the bang-up news-scoop reporting on our district attorney’s AWOLs for mental health reasons, and Gromer Jeffers, the paper’s always able political columnist, had what I thought was a pretty darned good story in the paper under the headline, “Drugs, divorce and a demanding campaign: The undoing of Dallas County DA Susan Hawk.”
Wow. They had me at “Drugs.”
We have talked about the Susan Hawk situation, you and I, and I said I thought her big problem as district attorney was publicly lying or requiring her spokespersons to lie about the reasons for her two protracted absences. The first, in 2013 when she was running for office, was for drug rehab, but her people told reporters it was something about back surgery.
This second absence, still ongoing, involves an institutional stay of some kind for vaguely described mental health reasons. In this new instance her political adviser and confidante, Mari Woodlief of Allyn Media, first told Mervosh that Hawk was on “summer break,” a term not normally associated with employed adults, then admitted she was holed up somewhere being treated for “depression.”
During a tenure of only eight month in office, Hawk’s times of actually being at her desk may have been even more unsettling than the AWOLs. Not even 90 days into her first term, when she fired longtime associate and campaign ally Bill Wirskye, staffers whispered that Hawk thought he and others were sneaking into her home in search of compromising photographs of her.
After repeated staff purges, the talk from the office was about fear and loathing in an atmosphere of super-charged paranoia. Imagine, then, how high the hair on the back of my neck stood up when I saw this quote from Hawk’s close associate and mouthpiece, Woodlief, in last weekend’s story by Mervosh and Jeffers:
“Woodlief said Hawk, now in a position of power, has had to learn tough lessons about whom she can truly trust. ‘Everybody has their motives here,’ Woodlief said. ‘Every person piling on wants that job or wants something from her.’”
Oh, nice, Mari. Tell a person struggling with paranoia that everybody’s out to get her. I guess that would be everybody but …uh …let me guess … you? Why do I have an image in mind of Grigori Rasputin, the mad monk, whispering in the ear of Czar Nicholas II?
I have another Woodlief question, but first, Dear Reader, let me assure you I did make multiple unsuccessful attempts to reach her before this writing. Before Hawkghazi, Woodlief and I always managed somehow to maintain an outwardly professional decorum, and she was almost always kind enough to return my calls.
Post Hawkghazi, some battening of hatches seems to be going on at Woodlief’s firm, Allyn/Media. I notice their website is now a blank page with a message, “New website coming soon!” — anomalous, perhaps, for a company half of whose name is “Media.” Anyway I got no call back for this.
Which brings me to my second question, the one I wanted to ask Woodlief on the phone: Since we now know as a result of reporting by Mervosh that Hawk is battling for a grip on reality, how did it help her for Woodlief to spin untrue stories? In the situation, did Hawk’s spokesperson really have no alternative but to lie for her, and what exactly did the lying accomplish?
Hawk’s mental battles are now inextricably conflated with the question of her honesty and integrity as a law enforcement official. And whose idea was it that a thing like this could be kept secret? You couldn’t keep drug rehab and institutionalization for mental health reasons secret in an SMU sorority, let alone the county DA’s office.
At the personal level, truly caring about somebody in this kind of heartbreakingly tough battle for reality is all about reality, is it not? The reality here was that the drug and mental health issues were going to go public sooner or later. Better to prepare. If that was not possible, better at least not to actively feed denial and fantasy by telling her people are just out to get her.
What Woodlief told the Morning News was absolutely not true — that the only reason people spoke about Hawk’s problems was to gain political advantage. Sure, life is always complicated and some but not all of the opinions reporters have sought on Hawk were from politically active people who might conceivably become political rivals. But does that make what they said untrue?
Former Judge John Creuzot said her biggest challenge in returning to office will be questions about her honesty. Is that not true? Did Creuzot make that up? Lawyer Bob Hinton, a neighbor and friend, said he and others had tried to intervene in Hawk’s life after witnessing breaks with reality and bouts of paranoia. So that’s just Hinton lining up votes for some future campaign?
Don’t be crazy. In fact don’t have bouts of paranoia and breaks with reality. People — even people who may be competitors — speak truth sometimes. Not every single word that falls from people’s lips is a disingenuous ploy. In the bad movie of life, nothing is more important than keeping your ears open for reality when it does make a cameo appearance, because … you know … reality is serious. Drugs are bad, enemies are bad, depression is bad. But the one that will really kick your ass is reality.
So I thought about calling 911 why? Well, I’m reading the Saturday paper, and I’m thinking to myself, “Jeez, what if Hawk’s not at a legitimate outfit somewhere getting treatment? What if she’s in Woodlief’s garage?”
But that’s me. I’m nuts, right? So I did the right thing not calling? Right? Would it kill the cops just to go knock on the door?
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