Dallas Flashes Back to 1997

A maverick female city council member challenges the powers that be at City Hall all by her lonesome. Voters trek to the polls to decide the fate of the Trinity River project: Will it be a park or an expressway? The feds are sniffing around alleged corruption among southern Dallas political leaders. The Dallas Citizens Council, that secretive body of éminences grises, lurches back to life and puts its man, who has more attachment to the Park Cities than Dallas, in the mayor's seat. Meanwhile, Dallas' schools continue their never-ending struggle to improve.

Somehow, it all seems vaguely familiar. Is this déjà vu, or did we somehow slip through a hole in space-time and land back in 1997? They say that one definition of insanity is doing the same thing again and again and expecting a different outcome. If that's true, then welcome to Crazy Town, U.S.A.

Still, some things did get better in 2007. There were the Cowboys, and there was the...um...um...well, shoot, as long as the Pokes are winning, all's right with the world, isn't it? So let's go ahead and celebrate the year gone by. Buzz even has a theme song for this party: "Time Warp" from that fine motion picture classic, The Rocky Horror Picture Show. It's just a jump to the left and a step to the right. So everybody put your hands on your hips and pull your knees in tight. Here's hoping that 2008 brings lots of pelvic thrusts your way. —Patrick Williams


Judge not: A new era for Dallas County politics begins with the swearing-in of 47 new Democratic officeholders who broke the GOP lock on the courthouse by sweeping the November general elections. The ceremony is delayed briefly by the late arrival of County Judge Jim Foster, who apologizes and explains he accidentally locked himself inside his car for 40 minutes.

Get a grip: The Cowboys' hopes for their first playoff victory since 1996 are dashed when quarterback Tony Romo bobbles the hold for a potentially game-winning field goal against Seattle. Romo apologizes for the fumble and vows to spend the next year improving his grip by "working closely with some of the best ball-handlers in the nation...blondes, mostly."

Boot Hill: Despite the threat of an ongoing federal investigation into corruption at City Hall, city council member Don Hill announces he will join the field of 11,249 candidates for mayor. "We're going to run hard, and we're going to win," Hill tells supporters, including his wife, Sheila, also a target of the FBI investigation. Hill loses the election but says he's still keeping his options open on "running, and running damn hard" when later in the year a federal grand jury hands down indictments naming the Hills and several associates.

Too many vowels: Dallas-based restaurant chain Pizza Patrón receives threats and angry e-mails when it announces it will begin accepting pesos at its U.S. stores. The Farmers Branch City Council proposes a resolution condemning the decision and threatens to ban "foreign-sounding" foods within the suburb's limits. "Pepperoni, cappicola, mozzarella—you start lettin' all them Mexican foods in your town, next thing you know, the damn Mexicans follow and start marryin' our women," says city council member Tim O'Hare, leader of Farmers Branch's effort to prohibit landlords from renting to illegal immigrants in the city.

Try pass/fail: DISD Superintendent Michael Hinojosa announces that the district has met 64 of 109 targets meant to improve student achievement. Hinojosa admits he is disappointed at reaching only 59 percent of the goals but notes, "On the plus side, 59 percent is about 10 points better than most of our students do on the Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills test."

Hold the Tuna: Cowboys coach Bill Parcells retires after racking up a 34-32 record in four seasons leading the Pokes. "I just think it's time," says Parcells, who adds that innovations in the game since the heyday of his career, such as the forward pass and the use of plastic instead of leather helmets, make him feel "as though the game has passed [him] by."

Roadkill: Dallas Zoo officials seek leads in the disappearance of an African white-back vulture that escaped from a holding pen. The zoo is flooded with tips from witnesses who spot the carrion-eater perched on a telephone pole outside the mayoral campaign offices of Don Hill.

Let my people golf: In February, mayoral candidates Tom Leppert and Darrell Jordan draw criticism for their ties to the Dallas Country Club after The Dallas Morning News reports that the club has yet to admit a black member and prominent black businessman Kneeland Youngblood's 6-year-old application is being held up because of his links to the Reverend Jesse Jackson. Jordan remains a member of the club, but Leppert says he resigned in December to prevent his membership from becoming an issue in his campaign. "It's one thing to swill gin with a bunch of well-heeled bigots in your personal life, but if you're going to run for office, you have to at least project the appearance of giving a rat's ass about diversity," Leppert says.

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