| Schutze |

DART is the New Trinity River

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Pins and needles this morning about Dallas Area Rapid Transit board chairperson Lynn Flint Shaw and the grand jury.

Very strong rumors for the last few days were that Dallas County District Attorney Craig Watkins would offer Shaw a Class A misdemeanor plea on the accusation that she forged his signature and letterhead on a fake document in a half-assed scheme to avoid paying a personal debt. That deal was supposed to include jail time. Watkins, through a spokesperson, declined to comment late yesterday.

Must not have happened, because this morning the grand jury is continuing to listen to witnesses it has compelled by subpoena to come tell what they know about Shaw. Any idea that powerful black officeholders were going to lean on Watkins to go easy on Shaw was dead wrong, according to everybody with whom I've spoken. Shaw’s stuff piled up too fast and too deep. Watkins will play it straight.

The Dallas Morning News followed Unfair Park’s item yesterday about Shaw’s very squirrely little side deal with Deloitte &Touche, with a story inside today’s paper.

All of that happened two days ago at the DART board meeting, which was covered by three News staffers. Why wasn’t it in the paper when it happened? Also today, The News has a milquetoasty editorial about how maybe sorta shoulda kinda it would be nice for the DART board to do something about the criminal and other allegations against its chairperson, especially in the midst of a sudden billion-dollar shortfall in its budget.

And, get this: The editorial mentions something that has been reported only on Unfair Park and in the Dallas Observer, but never in The Newsa $17,000 discrepancy in Shaw’s city council campaign finance report.

They know because we told them. They never told you.

The editorial lets Shaw get away with kissing off the $17 grand as a “typo.” Yeah, but for that to fly, according to my review of the records, it would have to 14 typos. That’s just one hell of a bunch of typos, when you look at ‘em.

The State Ethics Commission told me that swearing to a campaign finance report you know to be false is a criminal offense, and the responsibility for doing something about it would fall to, uh… let’s see. Oh, yeah! The district attorney -- same guy who’s ushering all these folks in to chat with the grand jury today.

Strange about The News. They broke the first story about Shaw’s forgery accusation. Of course, since then, Shaw’s problems have nudged ever closer to Mayor Tom Leppert. He’s the one who engineered her rise to chair of the DART board. She’s treasurer of “Friends of Tom Leppert,” which is possibly illegally, as Unfair Park has noted. But there you have it.

Ever since her story started taking on the spots of the Leppert, The News seems to have backed way down. Count on ‘em to take a good run on a story and then trash their own credibility for political reasons. Shades of the Trinity. --Jim Schutze

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