Leading Off (8/6/08)

1. The old Hunt mansion on White Rock Lake, Mount Vernon, is up for sale (for something like $50 million). I have three questions. First, why doesn’t this DMN story name the owners — especially since Keith Nix, a PR rep for the real estate broker, says they are downsizing? Well, the owners are Teresa and John Amend. Second question, this one for the Amends: the aforementioned real estate broker is Eleanor Mowery Sheets & Associates. Your home was apparently put on the market before the feds sued the Sheetses for not paying taxes. Any second thoughts? Third question: how come the DMN story doesn’t mention the lawsuit?

2. Homebuilder D.R. Horton lost $400 million in the latest quarter. The sound you hear is me snapping my chin strap, because I’m not sure my hands alone will allow me to hold on to my hat.

3. Speaking of bad financial news, you know what is no fun? When your locked-in electricity rate expires after a year, and your rate automatically resets without your knowing it. In the Rogers house, it led to a $513 bill last month, so I know how some of these people feel. Make sure the same thing doesn’t happen to you.


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68 responses to “Leading Off (8/6/08)”

  1. I’d like to start today’s Fburner bidding war off today at $50,000,001.01 and make a request to have it painted pink like Paris wants to paint the White House? If we ever had the money, I’d consider buying that place. It Rocks… (pardon the local colloquialism.)

  2. amanda says:

    Tim, my locked in was over, and my June bill? $1600! They dinged me for a variable rate that averaged .22/kwh. Just for giggles, when you locked in, what did you wind up with. I spent three days, and every day the provider and offers varied, meanwhile the meter was running…

  3. CDD says:

    Times like these that I’m glad my HOA dues, ridiculously high as they are each month, pay all my utilities for a lot less than it seems to cost my neighbors.

  4. Mom Jeans says:

    Poor DMN. FB pounds them because of details that should have been in there. But FB would have pounded them anyway if the details were in there (“we wrote about it first, damnit!”)

  5. ll says:

    Are you guys hanging meat?

    My bill for each of the last two months was$90. I have 1300 square feet, lots of trees, an efficient unit, a couple of ceiling fans and I refuse to pay to put on a sweater.

    I have heard that for you have a savings of 5% for each degree.

  6. Tsk Tsk says:

    Did anyone listen to 1310 Ticket yesterday when Team Hardline did that ugly segment on their colleague, Norm? I see the point of complaining about his behavior privately, but in the wake of their other relationship challenges the “bit” felt rather dark. Yeah, I know, full disclosure is their schtick. It still felt unfunny-uncomfortable.

  7. Spamboy says:

    We’re bound into a co-op up in northwest Collin County — no energy-hedging for us.

  8. jrp says:

    move to Oak Cliff, or another place with lots a trees, spend a few grand on new windows, keep the temp at 69-70, use all five ceiling fans liberally, hang dry your laundry and pay about 150 a month during the hottest parts of the year and about 75 a month the other two months of the year for a 2100 sq ft home

    oh, and read your bills

  9. Tim Rogers says:

    @ Amanda: I don’t know what my locked-in rate was. It shot up to .199, though.

    @ ll: I’ve got 2,000 square feet. Poorly insulated house built in 1961. I keep the thermostat at 78 when we’re home, turn it up to 84 when we’re at work. And now you know.

  10. Daniel says:

    1450 sq feet, bill: $400 very nearly even. Amanda, you must live next door to Mount Vernon.

  11. Jim says:

    Whatever you do, don’t freak out and lock in now or you’ll be stuck with those rates. Ride the adjustable rates for the next to months or so and lock in the fall. If demand still eases on oil and the hurricane season is tame, you’ll see prices go back down.

  12. Thanks guys for the 411. My bride’s been complaining when we get a $500-600 bill for our 4,000-sq-ft 2-story, 2-AC unit house and we’ve been keeping it at a balmy 73 degrees and running the pool pump 4-6 hours a day. This makes me feel better. Apparently we’re doing something right.

  13. jrp says:

    went back to look at my electric bills online and we paid 107.31 last month and 73.03 in june. so i can’t really sympathize, but urge you to shop around

    and my wife read my prior post and called me to say we set the thermostat at 79-80, not the 69-70 i’d thought

    we locked in to a fixed rate at $0.11/per kwh about a year ago, but i still attribute the low monthly bills to the new windows and $250 worth of insulation i blew through the ceiling crawlspace when we bought the place two years ago

    just saying, man, that yous all can lower you bills through minimal effort and some due diligence

  14. Tom says:

    I’ve found that, thanks (or no thanks) to deregulation, your electric bill a lot like car insurance. It’s a hassle, but if you shop around (and keep checking every year or so for deals), some cash can be saved.
    @jrp: I’m sure you’re quite the expert in all this, given what your lovely wife writes about for a living.

  15. amanda says:

    Daniel/Tim…main house very poorly insulated, and I’m working on that. Total SF about 6000. I’ve got 14 SEER Trane units…I even R30-ed my attic. It’s got to be the windows.

  16. jrp says:

    true, tom, she’s acutely aware of where the rates are at any given moment, but that’s due to her attention to her job and following the market, which anyone can do

    don’t want anyone to thinking a reporter that covers energy for a beat has any inside info into electricity rates or anything like that because that’s not the case

    plus i like fixed rates, that’s just me, and it’s paid off the past few years for us with numerous bills – mortgage and elec as just two examples

  17. This stuff is scary. I went back and looked at our last few bills. We never locked in with anyone, but left our service with TXU.

    Our charge per kwh:

    May – 12.21 c
    June – 12.93 c
    July – 12.93 c

  18. Puddin'Tane says:

    I have to shop around for an electrical provider for my new campsite.

    Too bad co-op isn’t available on Turtle Creek. ~sigh~

  19. ll says:

    Any sympathy I might have had went out one of thos poorly insulated windows– 6000 sq.ft. do you have like a dozen kids. What does one do with that much space. And if you have that much, don’t conmplain about your bills.

  20. Tom says:

    I’m not trying to start any scandals, jrp. Just wanted to make a funny.

  21. I griped about this last week when I had my $1300. heart-attack. My husband called me yesterday and said, are you hiding something from me? He had actually read my blog — that was heart attack number two! We have great insulation, thermo windows, high ceilings yes, two boarders who probably yank the thermo down when I’m not looking. Oh well. The price of oil is coming down just in time for the cool weather!http://dallasdirt.dmagazine.com/2008/08/01/just-got-electric-bill-having-heart-attack/

  22. Spamboy says:

    @Tim And knowing is half the battle.

  23. El Rey says:

    1. I always enjoy looking at Mt. Vernon from across the lake during Cool Thursdays at the Arboretum. If only the Arboretum would let me haul a generator and a swamp cooler out on the lawn…

    2. Don’t forget to mention DR Horton’s issue with running flexible gas lines along the underside of people’s roof decks. Who woulda guessed, roofing nails go right through the pipes! (WFAA, Monika Diaz) http://www.wfaa.com/sharedcontent/dws/wfaa/mdiaz/stories/wfaa080730_mo_gasroofs.1b484171.html

    3. Same thing happened to me. I feel your pain. I ended up spending about $80 more than I should have this month. That’s like, a whole tank of gas or sumthin’…

  24. amanda says:

    II…ever met a “?”? Or one of these: “,”?

    And since you asked what one does with all that space: 1200 sf is devoted solely to running our business, one child takes up one bedroom, an exchange student takes up the other,I have a nearly blind relative who lives with us during hurricaine season, and an 88 year old grandmother as well.

    What about you? Where do you spend your time and energy? (Other than hurling spiteful jealousy-laden comments to a total stranger on a blog?)

    Re-read my post(s). I wasn’t shopping sympathy. I have a serious issue with the KWH rate doubling in under 6 years, and am curious what others are doing. Lighten up.

  25. Bethany says:

    I don’t know what you people are complaining about. My AC runs on toddlers, the energy and sparkle from Cynthia Izagguirrraaaaaaaaa, and one nectarine. I’m able to keep it at 45, which is nice, because then I can wear my full-length mink while I do my Billy Blanks exercise DVD.

  26. East Dallas Eccentric says:

    Just under $200 (bill on 8-05) in the pre-1920 Craftsman Bunaglow of 2,000 square feet plus 650 square feet occupied servant’s quarters. Trees and the bracketed overhangs make a huge difference.

  27. diahh says:

    I’ve got my thermostat at 78 while home and 85 when gone. Last months bill was $305 which i thought was pretty good for a 2000 sq. footer, until i saw what jrp and East Dallas Eccentric are managing. I could probably do better if i was more diligent about keeping curtains closed and things like that, about half my lighting is cfl.

  28. MIssing Dots says:

    We never turn on the AC is our home. When it gets hot we just sit in our Prius.

  29. amanda says:

    Bethany, it is your cold heart that keeps you cool…

    Okay, so is it just me, or does Cynthia Izagguirrraaaaaaaaa vary the length of her name by as much as 10 seconds in any given broadcast? So. Darn. Perky.

  30. AJ2 says:

    And another thing…why can’t I get no Tang around here?

  31. Bethany says:

    Maybe too darn perky. According to Uncle Barky, WFAA came in fourth in the 6 a.m. slot this time.

  32. John M says:

    All I can say is thank god that I am on a chilled water system. I’ve kept my place a nice 72 degrees all summer.

  33. jrp says:

    diahh, east dallas and oak cliff have plenty of 100-year, 80-year-old trees that keep our homes nice and shady and cool

    throw in my 7.2 mile commute and i’m guess trey and his kin folk in plano pay 10x to 20x a month in fuel prices to what i pay

    living close to work in a shady (in numerous ways) part of town has many benefits the ‘burbs simply can’t provide

  34. LM says:

    It’s not just the AC…look around at all the electrical gadgets/computers/chargers/tvs/extra fridges and freezers/fancy lighting. If you want to lower your bills, unplug everything you can and leave the all the lights off when the sun is up.

  35. Daniel says:

    Blind people do require a lot of space. Also, they go out of their way to use sight idioms: Do you see my point? It was great to see you. Hurricanes are a real sight to see! etc.

  36. amanda says:

    Daniel, she can’t evacuate. I know you’re trying to be funny, but 2 elderly widows loosing their homes in two consecutive years in my family (Ivan and Katrina) is nothing to laugh at.

    So 6 people in 6000 sf is okay? Just checking…

    And, what is the deal with “the trees?” Everyone assumes that only east and south Dallas have trees. Wrong, I’ve got 70 mature trees (50-100 years old) and 15 small ornamentals out front I just planted. It costs me $600 a month just to keep everything in the yard alive.

  37. monkey god says:

    End Texas electrical deregulation.

  38. East Dallas Eccentric says:

    Our houses also ‘breathe’. ‘Dr. Oz’ on Oprah says new houses are so air-tight they are toxic! FWIW.

    jrp I only buy gasoline once or twice per month. And many times when I stop at a light, I’m in the shade, so I turn off the AC. That’s just going home. In the morning some days I don’t even turn on the AC.

    I’m sure you can relate!

    Amanda, I don’t know where you are but up north to LBJ and around Northwood there are some lovely treed areas – many around creeks. But my water bill is less than $100 and nothing dies. I can only buy shade-tolerant plants.

  39. James says:

    Bethany-This post…cured my hangover. I just Heart you so much.


    Bethany @ August 6th, 2008 at 12:02 pm

    I don’t know what you people are complaining about. My AC runs on toddlers, the energy and sparkle from Cynthia Izagguirrraaaaaaaaa, and one nectarine. I’m able to keep it at 45, which is nice, because then I can wear my full-length mink while I do my Billy Blanks exercise DVD.

  40. bleacherbum says:

    Tim — You’re getting all Ahab-ish with this constant resentment of all things DMN. Remember the advice of good ol’ Ann Landers: “Hanging onto resentment is letting someone you despise live rent-free in your head”

  41. Bethany says:

    I don’t think it’s a constant resentment – it’s a legitimate question. How do you do a story about a house like that without mentioning the current owners, at the very least?

    James – I’m a hangover cure?

  42. bleacherbum says:

    Oh right, Bethany. Tim has shown never shown any resentment toward big bad belo. Come on. The guy has two gears: hipper-than-thou condescension and huge shoulder boulder.

  43. Tom says:

    I don’t see the resentment, either. It’s just business as usual. Nothing’s news until the DMN says it is. Maybe Alan Peppard will have a Sunday column with details about the Amends’ summer home.

  44. Bethany says:

    Which gear are you in, and how many more do you have, bleacher?

  45. bleacherbum says:

    I’m on automatic pilot.

  46. amanda says:

    Bethany, you are currently in FDA review as a hangover cure, aphrodisiac, and OTC cold remedy.

    EDE, re: my water bill, I’ve got 1.5 acres, so that’s why it’s higher. My trees had some drought stress, so I’m catching up a bit.

  47. James says:

    Bethany-You made me laugh and forget about how much pain I was in. Then I felt better.

  48. bleacherbum says:

    yes, Bethaneeeeeeeeee is hilarious. Making fun of someone’s name — what a hoot! I haven’t laughed so hard since 2nd grade.

  49. mm says:

    So, amanda, how much do you make, where do you live, and can I live there too? :->

  50. Bethany says:

    To be precise, I was making fun of the way she exaggeratedly rolls her R’s whilst saying her name.

    And I think you should check your gear. There’s just the one, right?

  51. mm says:

    Bleacher: I believe that Bethany was making fun of the pronunciation, not the name itself.

    But I’m glad you got a chuckle — unless that was sarcasm. Hmmm…

  52. bleacherbum says:

    Beth, your obsession with my gear is downright flattering. I also love that word “whilst”… it’s so darn WASPy.

  53. James says:

    Gosh Bleacherbum…You’re a

  54. Daniel says:

    You people need to learn to count your blessings. I haven’t laughed since 2nd grade. Some people say it’s because I have a chip on my shoulder, but I spit in their eye!

  55. amanda says:

    mm-I make almost nothing, married well, suburbs, and you would have to ask my husband, daughter, exchange student, mother in law, grandmother, and dogs.

  56. Daniel says:

    Whilst endeavouring to check his sole gear, perhaps bleacherbum should have a looksee beneath the bonnet, then?

  57. bleacherbum says:

    Let it out James. You’ll feel better.

  58. amanda says:

    Back to the earlier convo on electric bills…

    I counted, I have 103 lightbulbs averaging 60 watts a piece. Seriously considering going LED. Anyone have any experience in that?

  59. Bethany says:

    Have you tried cutting back to 40 watters everywhere you don’t need to be reading or performing brain surgery?

  60. amanda says:

    Bethany, I have to have bright lights for the various geriatrics who hang out over here. Oh, and BTW, Miss Smarty Britches, I perform brain surgery everywhere.

  61. Daniel says:


    Sounds like a sitcom in the making. And all together in one house … they add up to big laughs!!!

    In the sitcom, the exchange student is a clueless bimbo with a big chest and an exotic name, your daughter is bitingly sarcastic although not-so-secretly insecure and frustratedly boycrazy, your husband is a buffoonish incompetent, always comically botching some project around the house and making great money as a doctor or architect even though he’s virtually always home it seems, your mother-in-law is a mother-in-law — enough said there — and your grandmother has only one conversational phrase in her entire repertoire but it always gets the biggest laugh of the episode. You yourself are best described as “long-suffering.”

  62. amanda says:


    And, cut.

  63. amanda says:

    That”s a wrap.

  64. jrp says:

    forget a sitcom, man, that’s so last century

    reality show ratings bonanza is more like it…just put a bunch of cameras in, amanda, let the hijinx get taped and it’d be ratings gold…i know i’d watch

    you’ll offset the increased energy costs with the signing bonus you’ll get from Lifetime or We or any one of the other cable outlets that’d air the show

    also just got my July elec bill in the mail today…went up 56% to $167.30 from $107.31

    used 1388 kWh last month

  65. Susan says:

    Amanda, I had the same problem with our electric bill, is there any way to fight it? My kwh went up 70% when my lock in rate was over.