Funny girl

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"It was only chips, the mulch, logs and all of that, but it didn't have no dirt or nothing like that," says Sistus, his bloodshot eyes squinting in the glaring lights of the courthouse.

Although Rhoads denies ever authorizing mulch-dumping on his property by Holcomb, in a letter dated September 15, 1997, Johnson stated that Rhoads asked his company to unload mulch on his property then later became hostile. "Mr. Rhodes [sic] started harassing our driver," Johnson wrote. "This incident is on file with the Dallas police."

Johnson was apparently referring to the complaint Sistus filed on August 28, claiming Rhoads assaulted him back on August 18 when Rhoads poked him on the forearm and told him to stop dumping fill on his property. The city issued Rhoads a citation for assault, which he considers, along with the letter, to be part of an orchestrated attempt by Holcomb to "cover their ass."

For the next two weeks, city employees, led by code enforcement inspector John Crowley, continued to make routine visits to Parkhurst's home--a situation Parkhurst says amounts to harassment.

"He came over every day. He would stalk me," Parkhurst says of Crowley. "He would back his car on my yard and rev up his engine. He'd drive around the circle drive and take pictures."

If Parkhurst wasn't already paranoid, she certainly had reason to become so on September 11, when code enforcement boss Ramiro Lopez took the unusual step of writing Parkhurst in person and ordering her to level the material on her property.

"The city of Dallas code enforcement staff gave you legal notice to cease what is known as illegal operation," Lopez wrote. "Since that time, staff has been monitoring your address to ensure continued compliance."

Crowley, who is handling the case for the city, says he is not allowed to comment on it in detail, and his boss, Lopez, declined to discuss the issue. However, Crowley's personal case notes suggest that Parkhurst did not respond well to the surveillance, which occurred on at least five occasions between August 29 and September 22.

On September 3, Crowley wrote that he was marking a pile of dirt on Parkhurst's driveway when Parkhurst wheeled into the drive, nearly running him over. Parkhurst then screamed at him before ripping up the citation he had taped on her door and retrieving a camera from her house.

"She took photos of me and continued this irrational obsessive behavior," Crowley wrote in his notes. "She then added that I should attend one of her neighbor's parties. She then called me a name that has to do with one's sexual preference."

The incident was repeated the next day, when Crowley and inspector Artie McDaniel returned to Parkhurst's home.

"As we were looking at the site, Mrs. Parkhurst came out of her house with a camera and started taking photos...Artie waved at the owner and she became hostile. She verbally abused Artie, the neighbor, and myself."

There is a good explanation for Parkhurst's strong reaction to the city inspectors who kept appearing outside her kitchen window. With each new day, it seemed, she was given a new citation for some new violation that she couldn't understand.

The day Parkhurst allegedly tried to run Crowley over in her driveway, Crowley gave her a citation for dumping 200 loads of dirt on her driveway. Crowley wrote the citation based on a statement he claims Parkhurst made, according to court records. Parkhurst denies making the statement and, though she concedes that there was a pile of dirt on her driveway, she says it wasn't 200 loads.

Two weeks later, Crowley issued Parkhurst another citation, in which he accused her of "vending services" without a certificate of occupancy. Crowley says he issued the citation based on a tip from a marshal that Parkhurst was getting paid to receive the mulch.

Both of those citations were later dismissed, but Parkhurst and Rhoads must still deal with a citation that fire inspector James Brown issued October 13 after he determined that the mulch pile posed a fire hazard.

"Spontaneous combustion creates deep-seated fires within the pile that are difficult to extinguish," Brown wrote. "Control and extinguishment of these fires require extensive resources from a manpower and equipment standpoint, resulting in a lengthy and expensive operation."

In addition, Crowley says he is going to issue Rhoads and Parkhurst a new citation each for operating an illegal dump without a permit with the hope that they appear together before the same judge, who will finally put the matter to rest.

"Once we get a judge to uphold our position, then that will give us more power to pursue a heavy clear," he says.

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Rose Farley
Contact: Rose Farley