Looks like the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission may have written the last sordid act in the ugly saga of Thomas Pak and the Shamrock Kwik Stop on Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard. Records released yesterday reveal a settlement last August between Pak and the state alcohol agency by which Pak accepts a $1,500 civil fine for some kind of extremely bullshit-sounding charge: "failed to promptly report a breach of the peace."
His lawyer told Steve Thompson at The Dallas Morning News yesterday that Pak took a dive on this because he was sick of the whole thing. I have a personal interest because I share blame for getting the whole thing going in the first place.
Last January the Reverend Peter Johnson called to alert me to a protest going on outside Pak's little gas station/convenience store at MLK and Interstate 45 in South Dallas. African-American activists were accusing Pak, a Korean, of being a racist son of a bitch who shot people to death for stealing candy bars.
I heard, took notes on but did not report the candy bar execution story. Pak and his lawyer wouldn't talk to me. But I did give the protesters general cred by saying in a blog post that: "...the people on the community side include the Rev. Peter Johnson, the Rev. Ronald Wright, Joyce Foreman -- heavy hitters who don't jump into something unless they're sure of their ground."
Yeah, well. Later on our reporter Greg Howard established that the guy who got shot wasn't trying to steal a candy bar. He was trying to steal the cash register and maybe murder a clerk. He ran off with the register, heaved it at a pursuing clerk and then went for the clerk's gun. That's why the cops didn't bring charges against the clerk who shot him.
Howard did a great job of reporting on this incident, eventually showing that it was the opposite of what the African-African activists had conveyed to me. Instead of the community rising up against a racist Korean store owner, it was a cabal of interested parties trying to get the guy to sell them his store, for which they had no money. In fact Pak would have emerged from this whole thing absolutely clean and pristine if the TABC hadn't come up with this laughably transparently bullshit action against him. No, really, you have to read it.
In the "investigative report," TABC officer Tony Browning reports that when Pak's attorney, Richard Barrett-Cuetara, tried to reach him about the case, "I was advised not to contact Mr. Barrett."
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So if he wouldn't talk to Pak's lawyer, to whom did he speak? Throughout his report, Browning cites as his chief community liaison and source of information one Sandra Crenshaw, formerly of the Dallas City Council, recently indicted and arrested for car theft. You know, I love Sandra, but ... c'mon. Talking to Crenshaw while refusing to speak with Pak's legal representative? The TABC investigator could have come closer to the facts by studying the bones of a freshly slaughtered goat.
The charge is that Pak and a clerk beat up a guy for trying to buy gas from them. The story Howard reported is that the guy was trespassing and vandalizing expensive equipment. Remember, this is the same situation where all the heavy-hitter community leaders told me Pak's clerk had killed a guy for stealing a candy bar. So do we think maybe the TABC should have spoken with Pak's lawyer to get his side of the gas-buying beat-down story?
The TABC has a long sleazy history of chumminess with southern Dallas political leaders, going back to 2009 when they dropped an investigation of a Dallas saloon because, according to the investigator, "The club owner was a relative of State Sen. Royce West, who called me about the incident."
You know, there's a story in The Dallas Morning News today about how the city is going to spend five million bucks launching a new brand called "Big Things Happen Here." They need to stick an asterisk on that: "Except in southern Dallas, where you will get screwed to the wall by every government agency on the map if you make the stupid mistake of ever investing one thin dime."