"Home Rule" for DISD Is a Dead Letter, So Let's Go Back to Our Old Friend, Total Defeat

Categories: Schutze

Philip Kingston, left, and Mike Morath at the podium in front of Robert E. Lee Elementary School last November.

We have this basic impasse in Dallas where the public schools are concerned. The deal struck by the white and black leaderships 12 years ago was supposed to be that elected black leadership would get to run the school system and hand out the jobs and so on, and the white people would all please go away, put their kids in private school or move to Frisco. You know, do that white people thing and run away.

See also: Segregation Forever

But then the deal got messed up. Latino leadership looked around and said, "Hey, why are the black people running the school system when we have more kids in it than anybody else?" Next you had all these crazy white people, some of them rich even, sticking their noses back in and talking about "school reform." You know, weird stuff like really teaching the kids to read.

Lots of luck. The mountain that would-be reformers must climb is still the status quo. No matter who wants change, the sad truth is that more people are still invested in things the way they are now.

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It's Hard to Steal Trash, Plus Other Reasons Hutchins' Ex-Mayor Isn't a Criminal

Categories: Schutze

Wikimedia Commons

This item is in answer to a comment on Unfair Park yesterday that I thought deserved a more detailed response than I could provide in the comments section. Let's see if I can use more words to make things even worse.

This week I have a story in the paper about Artis Johnson, former mayor of Hutchins, a small community in southern Dallas County. He was indicted almost a year ago for criminal conspiracy and abuse of office.

See also: Former Hutchins Mayor Artis Johnson Is Clear of Criminal Charges, but Their Damage Lingers

All charges were dropped at the end of the year. My story is about what it felt like to Johnson to be under that shadow for months until the charges went away. The story ran yesterday on Unfair Park and appears in the newspaper on newsstands this week.

I said in the story that Mayor Johnson was indicted on the basis of a single check he wrote, which I characterized as "sparse evidence." A commenter using the pseudonym, James080, asked for more detail about the check, especially the purpose and amount. It's a good question. Not providing that detail may also have been unfair to former Hutchins Police Chief Frank McElligott, who found the check and won an indictment on the basis of it.

So here is the tick tock. Hutchins is a strong mayor town. The mayor is the top administrative official. He signs the checks.

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Former Hutchins Mayor Artis Johnson Is Clear of Criminal Charges, but Their Damage Lingers

Dylan Hollingsworth
Former Hutchins Mayor Artis Johnson

The legal event called criminal indictment is a familiar theme in the news of any given day: It's the step where a grand jury formally accuses a person of a crime and thereby launches the process that will lead either to a trial or a plea of guilty in some kind of bargain. But what is it like to be indicted? What is it like to be indicted if you believe you are innocent?

This cavernous place with shades drawn against the winter sun is the living room of Artis Johnson, 64-year-old former mayor of Hutchins, a hamlet on the southern cuff of Dallas County. His house, small and tidy, reflects the masculine tastes of its bachelor owner. On the wall directly in front of me is a flat-screen television, just above a desk carrying a computer and various cable TV boxes. Behind me is a small cast-iron wood stove, the source of heat on this cold slate-gray afternoon.

Johnson sits on a sofa to my left, a solid man in a black three-piece suit. I am here to talk with him about his indictment last March on charges of criminal conspiracy and abuse of official capacity. The original charges returned by a grand jury were for felony offenses, eventually knocked down to misdemeanors. At the end of last year, in the waning hours of Dallas County District Attorney Craig Watkins' tenure in office, all charges against Johnson and nine other Hutchins city employees were dropped.

I have no idea what the truth was or is about the other employees. I never believed the charges against Johnson — a two-bit opinion on my part except that I am familiar with the political context. At one point Johnson was at the center of the "Inland Port" controversy about a huge and star-crossed shipping and warehousing project that I have followed closely for the better part of a decade. We'll come back to that.

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Texas Tribune Blows Wallace Hall Story Again

Categories: Schutze

Can Turkyilmaz
Wallace Hall. We have no idea why he is standing behind this bar. But the man does deserve a toast about now.

Last week when the Texas attorney general released a long-stalled investigation of a lucrative off-the-books compensation system at the University of Texas Law School, The Texas Tribune, the on-line news service that has received hundreds of thousands of dollars in grants from the University of Texas System, blew off the report as old news and basically not much to talk about.

A story by Reeve Hamilton said: "The release of the long awaited report, with findings similar to those of an internal review conducted earlier by the University of Texas System, closes a chapter in the long and complicated postmortem on the law school's controversial compensation system."

Well ... not hardly. The AG investigation, launched after the university's internal investigation was tossed out as worthless and the author resigned, directly contradicts key elements of the discredited internal probe. In fact it exposes some fairly ghastly financial hanky-panky that the earlier probe failed to mention.

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Trust Your Dentist or Your Doctor On Chemical Exposures? Why?

Categories: Schutze

If somebody tells you to drink this stuff, it might be worth your while to wonder why.

Lots of people -- and by that I mean Steve Blow -- base their faith in fluoridated drinking water on what they believe to be the preponderance of scientific opinion as expressed by dentists. I refer to Blow's recent column in The Dallas Morning News.

The implicit assertion -- made explicit by Blow -- is that people who oppose fluoride in drinking water have pitted themselves against dentists and science. Then we get into a debate about what science, whose science, and so on.

Right off the bat, I want to do something here that the lawyers call stipulate or agree in advance. I want to stipulate that the vast preponderance of dentists believe fluoridation is a good thing and also that the bulk of published science supports them. But then I want to offer three caveats. Science changes. Dentists are not scientists. Sometimes scientists lie.

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Pain of Selma Doesn't Stop When Movie Ends

Categories: Schutze

Sam Merten
Peter Johnson

Selma was on my mind again a few days before Martin Luther King Day, for unexpected reasons. I had to call my old friend, Peter Johnson, to ask him to talk to another journalist. He picked up, but he couldn't stay on the phone long because he was walking out of Baylor Hospital after an operation.

A Louisiana State trooper had bashed out most of his teeth with the barrel of a shotgun. The doctors at Baylor were trying to fix his mouth nerves so he could have teeth again. Peter is my age. Old.

Selma had been off my mind until that call. At the beginning of the month I made up my mind I wasn't going to go see the new movie about the 1965 "Bloody Sunday" civil rights march from Selma to Montgomery. That was that. I put it out of my thoughts.

See also: Boycotting Selma

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Dallas "Disparate Impact" Case Before Supreme Court Next Week. Maybe Not a Good Thing.

Categories: Schutze


For better or for worse, a fair housing case filed by Dallas plaintiffs will be heard by the U.S. Supreme Court next week. It deals with the "disparate impact" doctrine of discrimination -- the idea that if you do something that discriminates against protected groups, it doesn't matter whether it was intentional.

The for-better-or-for-worse part is this: Defenders of disparate impact -- the folks who think measuring impact is a fair way to find discrimination -- bent over backwards to keep two earlier disparate impact cases from getting to the Supreme Court.

Why? Because they have reason to fear that the court led by Chief Justice John Roberts is itching to toss disparate impact into the commode of history. That's why everybody from the White House to George Soros worked to get the earlier two cases settled before the Supreme Court could get its hands on them.

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What If the Guy Who Wants Us to Heal the Racial Rift Is a Right-Wing Homophobe?

Categories: Schutze

YouTube screenshot
Bishop Harry Jackson, in full camo

Today Dallas is host to a clerical "summit" called "The Reconciled Church: Healing the Racial Rift," put on by T.D. Jakes of the Potters House in Dallas and Harry Jackson, pastor of Hope Christian Church in Beltsville, Maryland. Something about it seems powerfully counter-intuitive.

Rift-healer Jackson is a right-winger who delivers his sermons dressed in camo clothing, often inveighing against the "radical homosexual agenda" in America. So we are left to assume Jackson is not against all rifts, nor is he opposed to all forms of bigotry and oppression, only the kind that affects him personally.

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I See the Future, and It's Steve Blow Using Cornball Expressions to Discuss Fluoridation

Categories: Schutze

I gaze into my crystal ball, and I see Steve Blow. I see what he is going to say. I got this ball on eBay.

Normally I don't talk about this, but I can see the future. I know ahead of time what's going to happen. It's better if we don't talk about how. It will just scare you. But I happen to know, for example, what Steve Blow is going to write in his column Thursday in The Dallas Morning News.

What is that you say? You don't believe me? Well, then, I guess you have forced me to show my hand. Tomorrow, on January 15, Mr. Blow will write a column in which he will use multiple folksy neologisms. I can't tell you exactly which ones, you know, like whether it will be golly-wolly-biz-bang or gee-shooter-wolly-dopple, but some kind of neologism will be in there.

What? Not good enough, you say? He always says stuff like that? You say a fourth-grader could have made that prediction? All right. You have pressed me to reveal even more. In tomorrow's column, Blow will use multiple neologisms to attack the anti-fluoride movement in Dallas and to urge the City Council not to vote January 28 to suspend fluoridation of drinking water. How's that for fortune telling?

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Dallas Has Learned Much about the Trinity Toll Road Since 2007. Steve Blow Hasn't.

Categories: Schutze


Some years ago I was brutally chastised by a person who lives in my house for an especially nasty column I wrote about Dallas Morning News columnist Steve Blow and something he said about the Trinity River toll road -- that unbuilt monster highway somebody wants to stick on top of the river downtown. I don't remember exactly what I said, but it was something to the effect that he was carrying water for the higher ups at the Morning News, and then ...

I honestly don't recall the rest of what I said. It was back in 2007, and we all said so much. I'm almost certain I did not say anything unpleasant about his parents. I don't know anything about his parents. Often a complete lack of knowledge about a person's parents will discourage me from casting aspersions on them. I probably just said something about his face.

Whatever it was, this person in my house told me Steve Blow's a good guy who writes what he believes. Fine. I can live with that. I don't think I was mad about him so much as his commenters. That was early on in the Era of Commenting.

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