What Rufus Wrote

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Rufus Shaw

Services for Rufus Shaw and Lynn Flint Shaw will be held tomorrow morning, during a funeral mass at St. Elizabeth of Hungary Catholic Church in Oak Cliff scheduled to begin at 10 a.m. In addition to their son, Ian Shaw, surviving the couple is Rufus’ son, Rufus Shaw III; his two daughters, Raquel Stevenson and Angelica Harrison; along with his grandchildren. Lynn also left behind her parents, Eddie and Lena Flint; her two sisters, Debra Dean and Eddie Reed; and several nieces, nephews and cousins. In lieu of flowers, the family is asking instead for contributions to the Dallas Symphony Orchestra HeartStrings Program, made in the memory of the Shaws.

On the eve of the couple's funeral, it seems appropriate to take a look back at some of Rufus Shaw’s stories from Dallas Blog. Shaw had a unique and important voice in local politics, and while he was a polarizing figure in the black community, no one can deny his place in or impact on Dallas’ political landscape.

Shaw was well known for his strong opinions and willingness to take on the big-time players at City Hall. His headlines were usually short and simple, and his columns always ended with: “At least that is how I see it from South of the Trinity.” From what I can tell, Shaw’s first post was on October 4, 2005, which was called “Commentary: South of the Trinity.” It didn’t take Shaw long to make an impression as he questioned why former Mayor Laura Miller wasn’t part of the FBI investigation at City Hall; he also attacked her for losing the Dallas Cowboys to Arlington. It ended with a slightly modified version of his catchphrase: “That’s what it looks like from South of the Trinity.”

Because his final post became his most-read story (and now the most-viewed of all Dallas Blog's stories) after his death, I’m guessing most people have read it, so I’ll run down the next 10.

1. “Lynn Flint Shaw New DART Chair,” posted October 24, 2007: I suppose it’s fitting that the top spot goes to Shaw’s announcement of his wife’s appointment as chair of the DART board. Shaw applauded Deputy Mayor Pro Tem Dwaine Caraway and council member Tennell Atkins for helping a black woman become chair despite “being under enormous political pressure from radical elements in the black community” who thought it couldn’t be done. He described the major political story as Mayor Tom Leppert’s “unprecedented effort” to lobby DART board members to vote for Ms. Shaw.

2. "The Politics of Destruction,” posted January 13, 2008: This was a very popular story when it was originally published, and it became even more significant after the Shaws’ deaths. Shaw wrote that he was advised by his wife’s attorney, Bill Brewer, to not comment on the stories circulating about Ms. Shaw’s alleged forgery of the district attorney’s signature. “I have never seen the kind of attacks -- personal, financial and political -- that she has endured since becoming chair of DART. But I can reveal to the public that she has now become a victim of the politics of destruction.”

Shaw explained that he “made a career out of exposing the corrupt, the inept, and the purveyors of hate and personal destruction in the black community,” which resulted in hatred from politicians and business leaders. “I have often said in this column that being married to me is Lynn Flint-Shaw’s biggest political liability.”

Shaw closed by saying that Ms. Shaw called for an audit on the day the DART board was informed of the $1-billion dollar shortfall and didn’t know anything about it until she was told at the board meeting. He also said his wife had not “embraced any plan that will take money from Dallas’ rail projects to make up for the billion dollar shortfall,” and DART hadn’t lost or misappropriated the missing money. Instead, he wrote that DART staff “missed their forecast on the cost of future projects by the tune of a billion dollars.”

3. “Oakley Gave Us Something to Vote Against,” posted June 10, 2007: During the mayoral runoff between Tom Leppert and Ed Oakley, Oakley launched a last-ditch effort when he attacked Leppert in a series of TV ads. Shaw said these ads, which depicted Leppert “as an untrustworthy corporate villain,” morphed the race into “one of the nastiest elections in mayoral history with Oakley’s campaign furnishing most of the dirt.” This gave black voters something to vote against, according to Shaw.

Rufus quoted his wife in the story regarding a Super Sunday event coordinated by Lynn. He said the event “was a success which many figured will boost Tom Leppert’s numbers in the southern sector.”

4. “I Thought They Were Better Than This,” posted October 26, 2007: While voting early, Shaw and his wife were given a handout by proponents of keeping the Trinity Rier toll road outside of the levees, and he was “stunned at its contents.” The handout had a picture of Laura Miller and said the toll road delayed flood protection and economic development in the southern sector for almost 10 years, along with calling it “Laura Miller’s toll road.”

Shaw wrote that the toll road had never held up southern sector redevelopment and called it “an insulting, cheap scare tactic by the Vote Yes! folks.” He said calling it Laura Miller’s toll road was “disingenuous when you consider that former Mayor Ron Kirk was equally involved in selling the toll road to voters.”

“What Angela Hunt and her forces have done in this instance is attempt to manipulate black voters in an insulting and degrading manner similar to attempts used by disingenuous white folks in the past,” he wrote. “What is troubling to me is that I thought, as many of us who have been covering this story, that Ms. Hunt was above that kind of behavior and thus the reason for her being deified by her followers.”

5. “Black Power Blowout at City Hall,” posted July 12, 2007: Shaw set the stage for the eventual removal of Joyce Foreman from the DART board in a controversial 8-7 vote, writing that white council members were told that the black community would protest if she wasn’t reappointed. He also said Deputy Mayor Pro Tem Dwaine Caraway was “incensed” that Foreman was attempting to bully council members, and Foreman publicly called Caraway names that he could not print in his column: “Is this simply a personal fight between Mr. Caraway and Ms. Foreman? No. I think this is about power.”

Shaw wrote that he disapproved of how Foreman was handling the issue, but if she was able to scare the council into reappointing her, “then more power to Joyce Foreman.”

6. “It Was Leppert Who Made History,” posted June 17, 2007: Instead of Ed Oakley making history by becoming the first openly gay mayor in a major city, it was Leppert “who made Dallas political history by getting more black votes than any white candidate who had ever been demonized by a Democratic opponent as a Republican who would do harm to the black community,” Shaw wrote.

He said Leppert’s mayoral victory ended the John Wiley Price group’s dominance in black Dallas politics. Shaw named three reasons how Leppert won, one of which was “the Willis Johnson group who ran Leppert’s southern sector campaign was extremely effective in introducing Tom Leppert to the black community.”

He highlighted Dwaine Caraway and State Rep. Barbara Mallory-Caraway’s ability to give Leppert’s campaign “savvy grass roots political credibility in the southern sector,” and his wife’s organization of the “Super Sunday Get Out The Vote” event showed Leppert “would not be run out of the southern sector.”

7. “Does the Council Have the Will?,” posted August 30, 2007: Shortly after Joyce Foreman was removed from the DART board, Shaw wrote, “There was never a conspiracy to remove Joyce Foreman from the DART Board in order that my wife, Lynn Flint Shaw, could become the next chairperson of DART.” He added that it was “laughable” for Foreman to think there was a conspiracy, and “her performance and her unnecessary combative behavior were her real undoing.”

Shaw said his wife was appointed by former council member James Fantroy in 2004 because “he felt that the black DART board members at that time were not aggressively representing the interest of the City of Dallas.”

Again, Shaw says his wife’s problems were because of him.

“Unfortunately for Lynn Flint Shaw, her biggest problem is that she is married to me. As a result, anytime I write something controversial, she is the first person my detractors seek to unfairly attack.”

8. “There is No Machine,” posted May 13, 2007: Shaw said he wasn’t surprised that the mayoral runoff opponents were Tom Leppert and Ed Oakley, and the battle would “put the black electorate on center stage.” He wrote that Oakley might attempt to make the campaign featuring “a southern sector Democrat and a North Dallas Republican.”

Shaw was right as Oakley painted himself as a Democrat and Leppert as a Republican in fliers sent to South Dallas voters. “I consider the tactic of evoking partisan politics as fear mongering, designed to frighten black voters into voting against Tom Leppert,” he said.

9. “Here is What James Fantroy Told Me,” posted September 29, 2007: In a conversation with former council member James Fantroy, Fantroy told Shaw that he wondered how former Mayor Laura Miller could escape scrutiny in the FBI corruption probe of City Hall “when she received more money from Brian Potashnik and his company than any of the black City Council members who have been targeted by the probe.”

Fantroy also told him that Kathy Neely, John Wiley Price’s political consultant, played a role in the FBI investigation, working with them “to make the cases against the black defendants in the probe."

Shaw wrote, “But in his own elegance, [Fantroy] was clear about this (and I am paraphrasing here): Because of the way this FBI probe has been handled, all of the racial ugliness of the O J Simpson trial and the racial ordeal that besieged Jena maybe coming to our town soon.”

10. “This is Interesting,” posted July 20, 2007: Shaw described the new business venture for former Mayor Pro Tem Don Hill, who hadn’t been indicted yet and was regrouping after finishing third in the mayor’s race. He also talked about Deputy Mayor Pro Tem Dwaine Caraway and other council members “leading the charge” to replace former DART board member Joyce Foreman. Caraway did end up helping replace Foreman with Jerry Christian instead of Eddie Reeves, as speculated in Shaw’s column. --Sam Merten

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