Anonymous sources within U.S. Attorney Paul Coggins' office say he is angry at how The Dallas Morning News is covering the federal bribery indictment against city council member Al Lipscomb.
Those close to the case call the reporting "just bullshit."
"They're doing '[a] day in the life of Al' stories," one assistant U.S. attorney complains.
Maybe. Hard-hitting coverage of City Hall ethics is not exactly a hallmark of the Morning News; the paper was awfully quiet for an awfully long time about Lipscomb's willingness to accept money from business owners. It's also been dishing up rationalizations for Lipscomb's behavior: If council members received salaries, they might be more honest; prosecutors are racist because...well, because Al's friends say they are.
But let's face it. Lipscomb is widely considered a saint, and if federal prosecutors must whiz on a holy relic--and they must--they have to expect the faithful to howl, and the Morning News to report it.
Some in the U.S. Attorney's Office even believe that the reason the Morning News is friendly to Lipscomb is that prosecutors gave the Dallas Observer credit for breaking the story of Lipscomb's ties to Richards, who also was indicted.
"How could I ever have thought that I'd be mentioning the Observer in an indictment without actually indicting you guys?" Coggins says, laughing. "How disappointed I was when they came in and said the Observer is going to be in the indictment. I said, 'As a defendant?'"
Although he wouldn't comment on the case, Coggins didn't seem concerned about the Morning News or the political fallout from the indictment.
"I'll let the politicians do the political thing. We're just going to prosecute the cases."
Notorious hard case Brad "The Missionary" Lapsley has escaped the long arm of Dallas law, thanks to a pleasant face.
Buzz reported last month how Dallas authorities tracked the 71-year-old former missionary and ex-Dallas school board member to his Richardson real estate office. Lapsley had the audacity to own a building in the city on which someone painted graffiti, and two police officers were sent to deliver him, not the graffiti-painter, a citation. We're not exactly sure for what--malicious property owning, perhaps.
Lapsley was somewhat disturbed at the sight of the cops coming for him and wasn't particularly happy at the thought that he must trek down to municipal court to answer for a crime of which he was the victim. Still, he got out of bed at 5 a.m. last week to drive into town for his 8 a.m. court appearance to show the judge that he had cleaned up the graffiti.
"I made it out in nine minutes," Lapsley says. "I never even met the judge."
The prosecutor told him: "You have an honest face and a congenial smile. We're going to let you go." (Al Lipscomb, please note.)
That was mighty nice of the prosecutor, though it might have been nicer still if Lapsley hadn't been hauled out of bed to begin with. Still, Lapsley is a happy man. "I feel like I can breathe a free man again," he says.
--Compiled from staff reports by Patrick Williams