Dallas' most wanted
Buzz is resting a lot easier tonight, knowing that men like Brad Lapsley can't escape the reach of Dallas law.

At 71, Lapsley, a former missionary in Ethiopia who once served on the Dallas school board, may not look like a hard case--except for that school board bit--but Dallas police know better. That's why last month they sent two uniformed officers--one for backup, we suppose, in case Lapsley turned violent--to his real-estate office in Richardson to cite this suburban Dillinger. Someone had spray-painted graffiti on a commercial building Lapsley owns at 3801 E. Kiest Boulevard in Dallas. That's against the law. Someone had to answer for it, and 71-year-old former missionaries being much slower afoot than teenagers with spray cans, that someone ended up being Lapsley, who was cited by the city and ordered to appear in court.

"That's disgustipating," Lapsley told Buzz. "It was ridiculous."
Lapsley, who owns several parcels of real estate in the city, says he wasn't bothered by the fact he had to clean up the graffiti, but wondered why two officers traveled so far to ticket him, rather than pick up a phone.

Notices of other code violations, such as tall grass or trash, are usually delivered by phone or mail, Lapsley says.

"But this case required two policemen, in uniform, to drive umpteen miles to a different city to personally accost the owner and summon him to court," Lapsley wrote in a letter to Mayor Ron Kirk. "It is patently absurd to see the city's resources squandered in this manner."

Writing a letter to Ron Kirk to complain about squandered city resources. How droll.

Lapsley says he certainly was willing to remove the graffiti from his building and send his property manager to municipal court to show the work had been done. But apparently, that's not good enough in Dallas. Lapsley is on the wrong side of the law, and he either has to show up in court himself or send a lawyer. (Which makes Buzz wonder, if a kid goes joyriding in our car and speeds, do we have to pay the ticket?)

Buzz tried repeatedly to ask someone with the city how exactly it handles cases like Lapsley's, but couldn't find anyone who knew.

For now, Lapsley is waiting for his court date in early March to clear his name. He says he will bring photos to show that his building is clean and hopes that will be the end of it.

Nevertheless, when Buzz called him Monday, he was still stunned by the memory of cops showing up at his door. "It caused quite a stir when they came in here," he says, though the officers were polite. "They were rather apologetic."

In his letter to the mayor, Lapsley noted that he had been involved days earlier in a traffic accident in Dallas with two unlicensed drivers--one drunk. "The police, thank you, took approximately one hour and 10 minutes to make an appearance! Perhaps all the officers were too busy delivering citations for graffiti!?" he wrote.

Here's a hint from Buzz: Don't bother with sarcasm toward the mayor. He's immune.

--Compiled from staff reports by Patrick Williams

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Patrick Williams is editor-in-chief of the Dallas Observer.
Contact: Patrick Williams