Saturday, March 2, 2024 Mar 2, 2024
65° F Dallas, TX


By D Magazine |

For the ancients, influence was thought to be some ethereal fluid or substance that flowed from the stars. Don’t laugh. We may not haw come much further in our understanding of this mysterious force. Influence is by nature an indirect power, moving as subtly as a whisper but carrying the force of a freight train. We know it when we see it, but we don’t always know from whence it springs. Historically, Dallas was shaped by the heads of the major banks and their customers, particularly if their wives were in the social set. It was strictly board room government, and if you think our mayor and council are weak today, they are Daley-esque colossi compared to the days when all influence flowed downwardfrom the Petroleum Club and the Southland Life Building. Likewise with the media, who served as timid lapdogs for the powerful. In recent years, of course, we have seen some diversifying toward multiple sources of influence. Historian A. C. Greene was right to dismiss TV’s “Dallas”as anachronistic: even by the mid-Seventies, no J.R.-style potentate or Citizens Council could pull every string in town. Still, decades after the civil rights upheaval and the rise of the New Left and the blossoming of the women’s movement, corporate executives- most of them white, middle-aged men-remain the primary source of influence in our city. But as the list here reveals, that will almost certainly not be the case in the first years of the new century. We are living, perhaps, in the Twilight of the White Business Man. Influence here was and is built on consensus, and the consensus is changing-by frightening leaps for some, at a glacial crawl for others. Springing both from pragmatic considerations and brotherly love, the new consensus that is taking shape includes blacks, Hispanics, and women, who will soon be represented in numbers that match their demographic clout. The courts have been one engine driving this transformation, but not the only one. It would be sad indeed if future historians forget the conscience and good will of the many Dallasites who worked, before and during the Time of the Judges, to make this a city for all its citizens.

MARVIN CRENSHAW may be one of the most influential men in Dallas, though he has won his power by non-traditional means, to say the least. He terrorized the council chambers for years, railing against South African apartheid, among other issues. Along with sidekick Roy Williams, Crenshaw filed the lawsuit against the city that led to the 8-3 council system being declared discriminatory. A perennial candidate, if only to prove his contentions with the courts, Crenshaw will undoubtedly run for a council seat, or mayor, or something in the new 14-1 arrangement. If he wins, Pretoria is in for a weekly drubbing-along with the local white power structure.

BILL SOLOMON, forty-eight, president, CEO, and chairman of Austin Industries, is a member of Ray Hunt’s SMU mafia. But while Hunt’s global concerns often distract him, Solomon stays focused on Dallas. His high civic profile-he chairs the Citizens Council, has chaired the chamber, and is on the board of SMU and the A. H. Belo Corp., publishers of The Dallas Morning News-has been very good for his business. Austin Commercial, a subsidiary of Austin Industries, is the builder for several new corporate headquarters, including the new Oryx Energy Center and the Federal Reserve Bank.

Don’t be surprised if by the year 2000, ROBERT W. DECHERD has blossomed into the most powerful man in Dallas-that is, if he’s not already. Decherd has the personality and position to wield enormous power. From his post as chairman and chief executive officer of the A.H. Belo Corp., Decherd is the panjandrum of a media empire that includes not just the News, long Dallas’s most influential daily, but WFAA-TV Channel 8, the city’s most important television outlet.

The Harvard-educated Decherd, whom some view as “cold” with “ice water in his veins,” is young (thirty-nine) by Dallas business leadership standards, and for years much of his energy has been directed against his ailing competition, the Dallas Times Herald. With the News apparently unbeatable. Decherd has the chance to turn his attention to broader issues.

ROBERT D. “BOB” ROGERS, president and chief executive officer of Texas Industries Inc., is a fixture in Dallas business leadership circles. He is close to Hunt and Solomon, joining them on the boards of the Citizens Council, Breakfast Group, and YPO. Married to Erik Jonsson’s daughter Margaret, Rogers has made large contributions to Southwestern Medical School and others, but his abrasive style has won him as many enemies as friends. Rogers is often accused of a grievous sin-“thinking like a Yankee.” John Johnson, who preceded Rogers as chairman of the Dallas Chamber, is fond of summing up the hard-nosed exec this way: “The difference between me and Bob Rogers is that I know I’m an asshole.”

As First Son and managing general part-ner of the Texas Rangers, GEORGE W. BUSH has the name, the money, and the good looks to make him a potent political candidate. The Mentioners had tossed his name around for a run at the governor’s office this time, but Bush may have heard the Claytie Express coming and stepped off the track, Bush and his wife Laura have been hounded by every PR machine in town to lend the lofty Bush name to their cause, but so far it’s unclear where the pair’s loyalties will reside.

Attorney ADELFA CALLEJO was a leader of the city’s old Hispanic power structure. She remains a strong and visible leader, but age has rendered her a bit less active. When the Immigration and Naturalization Service conducted raids in Hispanic neighborhoods, sweeping for illegal aliens, Callejo organized protest marches. The longtime civil rights activist can still rattle cages, as she showed during the uproar over Father Justin Lucio, the Hispanic priest who was recently forced to take a sabbatical from the church because of alleged misconduct. Callejo is not known as one who readily shares her power.

RAY HUTCHISON, president of Hutchison. Boyle, Price and Brooks, is a bond attorney and a former gubernatorial candidate (he challenged Bill Clements in his first Republican primary). As one of the state’s most respected authorities on municipal governance, he agreed to pilot the Citizens Charter Revision commission through turbulent deliberations on a new council election plan. Hutchison’s style-stronger than horseradish-won him a reputation as brilliant but intractable, and though the commission’s recommended configuration of 10-4-1 council districts was ratified by voters, it failed to gain favor with Judge Jerry Buchmeyer, who will probably end up having the last word. Since that time, Hutchison has retreated from high-profile politics, from whence he may or may not return.

ROBERT CRANDALL, chairman of American Airlines, presents a paradox. His company is based in Fort Worth, but Dallas potentates fear him more than any of their peers. Crandall takes little part in Dallas affairs but enjoys veto power in matters vital to the city. The reason, of course, is simple: American controls 60 percent of the air traffic at D/FW, has a payroll of $750 million, and is responsible for some 20,000 jobs. The loss of A A’s headquarters and as a carrier would hurt D/FW and Dallas con-siderably. Currently, AA wants to build a $1 ably get his way. If, eventually, even this obsequious kingdom gets too small, Cran-dall is said to have his eye on the job of Secretary of Transportation.

HUGH ROBINSON. chairman of Tetra Group, is the Great Black White Hope, the sort of un-strident, unabrasive African-American leader that legions of white Dallasites hope will rise to replace the Al Lipscombs and Diane Ragsdales. Robinson serves on the boards of Belo Corporation, the Dallas Museum of Art, the Dallas Symphony, Dallas Opera, the United Way, and TACA. He was the second black member of the Dallas Citizens Council, following Comer Cottrell.

Robinson, who came to Dallas in 1980, was formerly a senior vice president of the Southland Corporation and head of City-place Development Corporation. He left in 1989 to form the Tetra Group, a consulting firm providing construction management and minority business development. In a race for public office, he would have strong support among white businessmen and middle-class blacks. Support from the black lower class is more problematical, especially if Robinson ran against a firebreather who would lambast him as “too white.”

LIENER TEMERLIN has led the way in the Dallas arts community for many years. But his most visible contribution to date has been his work with the Morton H. Meyerson Symphony Center. For his yeoman’s service, particularly on the spectacular grand opening fortnight celebration. Temerlin this year received Dallas’s most prestigious civic laurel, the Linz Award. But Temerlin’s influence is not only in civic and arts circles. As chairman of the board of Bozell advertising, he has developed close relationships with mega-clients like American Airline’s Robert Crandall and the honchos at NCNB Texas. (With $1.15 billion in gross billings, Bozell currently ranks fourteenth among U.S. advertising agencies and fifteenth in the world,) Temerlin doesn’t hesitate to call on these friends to help the Dallas community. Faced with nearly insurmountable problems in opening the symphony center on time, Temerlin talked Crandall into flying the marble for the floors from Italy so that the show could go on as planned.

If longtime Republican leader KAY BAILEY HUTCHISON becomes state treasurer in November, her clout will burgeon, especially with bankers. She was the first Republican woman elected to the Texas House of Representatives, serving from 1972 until 1976, and she married Ray Hutchison when the two were serving in the House. In I976-’78, she served as vice-chair and then acting chair of the National Transportation Safety Board and, in 1982, was defeated in a bitter run for Congress against Steve Bartlett, who still represents the Third District. The second female to chair the North Dallas Chamber and the first woman president of the Dallas Assembly, she has worked hard to bring other Dallas women into positions of power and authority. Hutchison has managed to draw a wide coalition of both conservatives and liberals to her side, though some fear her blind ambition.

DIANE M.OROZCO, a former colleague and protege of Adelfa Callejo, is an ambitious, aggressive Hispanic lawyer who boosted her image by supporting the police review board proposal. Then came a series of angry appearances on local television arguing against 10-4-1. A former president of the Mexican-American Bar Association. Orozco has the mettle of a street fighter and will be a key leader of the city’s confrontational left guard.

WALTER J. HUMANN, chairman of the executive committee of Hunt Consolidated, Inc., is a force because he works for Hunt, but he has garnered respect and influence on the weight of his own intelligence. Humann earned a bachelor’s in physics from MIT and a MBA from Harvard; later, he took a law degree from SMU and served as a White House Fellow. Famous for his intricate flow charts. Hu-mann is the most knowledgeable private businessman on the vital issue of transportation, enjoy ing (if the word applies to this painfully modest man) tremendous influence on such projects as DART and the Central Expressway renovation. The son of a German immigrant cotton broker, Hu-mann was an early bridgc-buildcr in minority relations and an early chairman of the Dallas Alliance. He served twelve years on the chamber board and helped to form the Leadership Dallas program. A perennial Eagle Scout, Humann would never risk the combat of a run for public office, but he’ll continue to hammer away at pet projects.

WILLIAM R. HOWELL, chairman of JCPen-ney Company Inc., held an automatic seat of power upon his arrival in 1988 as head honcho of the city’s first in a string of recent major corporate relocations. As such, Howell was welcomed into the Dallas business leadership and offered seats on the Citizens Council and the chamber. Howell, fifty-four, is also the 1992 national chairman for United Way of America. Penney’s has been a generous civic player since the relocation, using a “shotgun approach” to spread money liberally throughout the local arts and charities. It has committed $500,000 over three years to the symphony’s “Super Pops” series.

RODGER MEIER, chairman and owner of Rodger Meier Cadillac, Sterling, and Infiniti, is one of the best-liked men in Dallas, Proof positive that nice guys need not finish last. Meier is close to the Bent Tree crowd, but his personal network is much broader as a result of activities like chairing the support committee for Dallas’s largest school bond issue in 1985, chairing the D/FW airport board, and serving as a member of the Citizens Council. He has also been a diehard for DART, serving as finance chairman for the transportation agency’s doomed 1988 bond issue. Some business leaders wanted Meier to tackle Mayor Annette Strauss in 1989, but he declined.

DAN S. PETTY, a former assistant city manager under George Schrader (he preceded Charles Anderson who preceded Richard Knight who preceded Jan Hart), is the president of Ray Hunt’s Woodbine Development. Petty is enormously likable, known to be hard-working, bright, and fair-minded in the New Dallas Way. He has been discussed as a possible candidate for mayor, but would probably be disqualified on the basis of Woodbine’s ties with the city {the firm developed Reunion Arena in a public/ private partnership). Besides, many believe he would lose influence if he were elected-even if he could afford the pay cut. Petty chairs the finance committee of the North Texas Commission and is new chairman of the Centra! Dallas Association, which works on beefing up the downtown profile. He also served on the interim board for DART and is a member of the Dallas Citizens Council.

DON WILLIAMS, managing partner of the Trammell Crow Company, is a Democratic heavyweight {he backed Richard Gephardt in the 1988 presidential sweepstakes) and an incredibly respected leader both locally and on a national scale. A devout Christian, a vocal proselytizer for Pepperdine University, and a strong leader within the local business establishment, Williams can play a real role here if the real estate collapse allows him the time.

HELEN GIDDINGS, whose family, landowners in the LBJ Freeway area, positioned her well financially, has become an important bridge between white leaders and middle-class blacks. Gid-dings is a graduate of Leadership Dallas, a trustee of Dallas Alliance, and has served on the City Plan Commission, Dallas Together, the Dallas Symphony board, and a dozen other local boards and committees. She was the first (and only) female president of the black chamber. So far she has failed to translate her contacts and influence into a City Council seat, but it is well known that she desires one.

JERRY R. JUNKINS, president and CEO of Texas Instruments Inc., is fast becoming a major influence in Dallas as he attempts to restore the company to the lofty position it held in the days of its legendary co-founder (and former mayor) Erik Jons-son. Junkins’s new prominence-he is the incoming chairman of the Citizens Council-is the result of a 1984 company study that found TI had a low community profile. To combat the problem, the company decided to position its executives in twelve key civic organizations. So, in 1989, Junkins headed the United Way campaign, then chaired the committee that developed a strategic plan for the future of the city for the Citizens Council and served as finance chairman for the committee that drafted the Super Collider proposal. The consummate diplomat, Junkins will carry the education reform mantle for the Citizens Council.

BILLY R. ALLEN, president of Minority Search, is one of the most respected black small businessmen in Dallas. His business-a job placement service placing blacks mostly in white-owned corporations-makes him a natural bridge between racial groups. And in fact, Anglo leaders tend to like Allen and have encouraged him to run for public office. Formerly head of the Park Board, Allen currently serves on the D/FW airport board.

WHEN RICHARD KNIGHT was city manager, from 1986 until earlier this year, he was clearly the most powerful black in Dallas. Known for his stoic, musingBuddha face and his phobia about news coverage, Knight’s aloofness illustrated one of the paradoxes of the council-manager form of government. Since the manager is “only” the hireling of the council, he/she can duck media inquiries and “political” questions. So you have a manager accountable only to the council, but his knowledge of many city affairs greatly exceeds the council’s, and therefore they look to him for guidance rather than vice versa. So isn’t the city run, in truth, by an unelected official? Besides Judge Buchmeyer, that is?

Knight left City Hall last spring to fatten his wallet as director of total quality and environmental management for Caltex, but he’s not looking at Dallas in the rear view mirror. He will head up a permanent committee to study southern Dallas economic development for Goals for Dallas, and is yet another discussed as a possible candidate for mayor. However, being Number Two could be hard for him to swallow.

JEREMY L. HALBREICH is executive vice president and general manager of The Dallas Morning News. Halbreich attended Harvard with Decherd and is the husband of Nancy Strauss, the mayor’s daughter. They are a visible couple with a busy social life. Halbreich stays out of the editorial side of the News, but he’s the power on the business side.

JOHN F. SCOVELL, chairman of Woodbine Development, is a member of that tiniest Dallas minority, the Affluent White Businessman Who Still Cares About the Schools. Scovell has taken a leadership role in school bond elections and other education-related causes for a decade or more. He’s also an active proponent of DART’s new rail system.

CARL SEWELL, CEO of the Sewell automobile dealerships, atttended SMU with Hunt and John Johnson. Sewell has. through hard work and smart business sense, made the most of the Cadillac dealerships he inherited from his father, adding everything from Hyundais to Rolls-Royces to the sales mix along the way. Sewell is a diehard conservative, a strong Republican, and a loyal backer of U.S. Senator Phil Gramm. Sewell was a major player in the opposition to DART’s bond election of 1988, which went down in defeat and forced a downsizing of the pending rail system. Sewell was ostracized for a time from the bidness “in crowd” for his contrarian role.

DOMINGO GARCIA is an activist attorney in West Dallas. A partner with the firm of Garcia, Alonzo, Garcia and Gutierrez, Garcia is the leading Hispanic advocate for single-member districts. He lost a second race for an Oak Cliff-West Dallas seat in the state legislature last year and is likely to try again next time. Critics fault him, however, for his willingness to write off the Anglo enclaves of Stevens and Kessler Parks and pin his hopes on registering enough Hispanics to win the seat. Garcia’s power base is the Ledbetter Neighborhood Association, which joined in the suit against the at-large council system.

Unlike the city’s other living ex-mayors (Erik Jonsson, Robert Folsom, Starke Taylor), JACK W. EVANS SR., chairman, chief executive officer, and president of the Cullum Companies Inc., which owns the vast chain of Tom Thumb Page grocery stores, still has a hand in shaping the Dallas of tomorrow. Word has it that Evans, mayor from 1981-83, is preparing to retire from Cullum and seek the office again. Given the likely competition, Evans must be considered a strong contender, if not the frontrunner. This former chair of the Citizens Council and the chamber also has respectable ties to minorities.

When and if Evans comes storming back, like Napoleon from Elba, to reclaim the mayor’s office, PETE SCHENKEL, president and principal owner of Schepps Dairy, will mastermind the comeback. Schenkel has one of the shrewdest political minds in Dallas, and he breaks bread not only with Evans and the Bent Tree gang but with black leaders as well, making him one of the few true bridges between the black and white power structure. As an employer in a minority neighborhood (his dairy is located in southeast Dallas), he has even stayed out of The Breakfast Group to keep from compromising his relationship with black leaders. Schenkel is a board member of the Citizens Council, the North Texas Commission, and the State Fair of Texas. His greatest influence at the moment, however, derives from his stint as a past chairman of the D/FW Airport Board: he played a key role in getting Mayor Strauss and her council colleagues to back away from calling for an end to the Wrighl Amendment at Love Field.

Republican SALLY MCKENZIE may be the only woman in Dallas to have been tapped to sit on a major corporate board; in this case, Pier One. McKenzie has close ties to the White House, having served on the steering committee for President Bush during the ’88 campaign. Husband Bill McKenzie is a longtime Republican activist, but other than partisan work, neither is terribly active in civic issues.

JUDY NEAL STUBBS has devoted countless volunteer hours over the past ten years to civic causes, mostly centered on child and family issues. Now a professional recruiter, Stubbs was the citizen tapped by Jan Hart this past summer to head the special review panel investigating police procedures that led to the firing of officer Patrick LeMaire, who was accused of misusing the city’s deadly force policy.

REECE A. OVERCASH JR., sixty-four, chairman and CEO of the Associates Corporation of North America, garnered major respect when he brought the Associates through the Eighties unscathed, and in fact, healthier than ever. Company earnings were up by 14 percent in 1989 to $326.7 million. In that same year, the Irving-based corporation was sold to the Ford Motor Company for $3.4 billion. Bidness prowess like that gets attention in Dallas. For his part, Overcash pitches in on behalf of United Way. the Dallas Commu-nity College Foundation, and the Citizens Council.

Neighborhood activist JOAN SMOTZER is perhaps best known for her crusade against traffic in the M streets and Lower Greenville. As former president of the Greenland Hills Neighborhood Association, Smotzer was a vocal fixture at City Hall during hot zoning cases like the Granada Theater redo. Of late, her interests seem to have moved to minority issues; she was one of the lead Anglos on the fight against 10-4-1, forming close alliances with minority leaders such as Diane Ragsdale.

SAM COATS has a resume of civic service a mile long, though he often labors in the wings. A former state rep, Coats’s early career was with the late, lamented Braniff Airlines, where he squared off against both AA’s Robert Crandall and Southwest’s Kelleher. Coats’s power base is the North Dallas Chamber and the county Democratic machine. Now an attorney at Jenkens & Gilchrist, Coats has been mentioned as a future mayoral candidate.

All of a sudden, JOHN CRAWFORD. the incoming chairman of the Greater Dallas Chamber of Commerce, is everywhere, prompting one seasoned observer to ask, “Who died and made him God?” By vocation a real estate exec, formerly with Henry S. Miller and City-place, and current CEO of Kelley, Lundeen & Crawford, Crawford is immediate past president of the Greater Dallas Planning Council and a former member of the board of the North Dallas Chamber and the City Plan Commission. Crawford also serves on the Cotton Bowl Athletic Association, which faces the daunting task of deciding the fete of that decaying facility.

Former assistant city attorney SOL VILLASANA would be a likely candidate for a judgeship if the courts force Dallas into a single-member system of electing judges. Or an Ann Richards victory in November could net him a government spot in Austin. If Claytie and the courts don’t cooperate, he’ll continue teaching at SMU and writing op-ed pieces.

The crusty and bibulous HERBERT D. KELLEHER, chairman and president of Southwest Airlines, runs a distant second to American Airlines’ Robert Crandall in terms of influence. But not because Southwest isn’t crucial to the city’s economic growth. Kelleher and the powers-that-be have locked horns for years, most recently over the future of Love Field and the Wright Amendment. In fact, Kelleher is known to be perpetually perturbed by the lack of respect he gets from the city. He recently took advantage of a new state law allowing Southwest to pay taxes on its fleet in Houston, robbing the city of some $5.6 million in tax revenue.

LESTER M. ALBERTHAL JR., president and chief executive officer of Electronic Data Systems Corp., is far less visible than his predecessor, Ross Perot. But because of the apparent health of EDS-the firm recently announced a 1.6-million-square-foot international headquar-ters building in Plano-Alberthal can wield enormous influence if he chooses, despite being somewhat restricted by the firm’s owner. General Motors.

DALE V. KESLER, managing partner of Arthur Andersen & Co., is by far the most visible Big Six accountant in town, having toiled tirelessly for a decade on housing issues. Kesler was instrumental in snaring DHA dynamo Alphonso Jackson. Now serving as president of the Dallas Partnership, the economic development wing of the Dallas Chamber of Commerce, Kesler chairs the Citizens Council Housing Committee and the Dallas Housing Authority. He is a member of the Breakfast Group. Known to have political ambitions, Kesler can be counted on as a leading fundraiser for civic causes.

JOHN FULLINWIDER, Dallas’s pony tailed answer to the late Mitch Snyder, is a housing activist and head of Common Ground, a nonprofit that buys houses and fixes them up for folks on fixed incomes. Fullinwider has dedicated his life to helping the poor. He is, and will doubtless remain, an implacable foe of city efforts to tear down the West Dallas housing projects. He recently organized successful opposition to Oak Cliffs Dixie Metals lead smelter.

DR. KERN WILDENTHAL, president of The University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, had some big shoes to fill when he stepped in for longtime Southwestern Medical Center chief Charlie Sprague in 1986. Wildenthal is regarded as a brilliant autocrat with a demanding management style, but his hard work has paid off in an awesome string of donations totaling some $165 million in new gifts and pledges since his tenure began. If that weren’t feather enough for the Wildenthal cap, he presided over the opening of the long-sought university teaching hospital in late 1989.

Those who know ROGER STAUBACH say that Captain America’s Christian humility does not prevent him from leg-whipping his opponents in the real estate brokerage business. But the public knows him as the prime mover of the Cowboys’ glory years and a devoted family man. Should he want to slum it in public office, he could probably have his pick, from the council to the governors’ mansion.

The most successful (and arguably the richest) black businessman in town is COMER COTTRELL, owner of Pro-Line Corporation, the largest black-owned company in the Southwest, with $36 million in annual sales. Cottrell’s wealth and business acumen have granted him much influence, but his move to a wealthy white neighborhood diluted his power in the black community-until 1990, when he purchased Bishop College. A self-described “Jesse Jackson Republican,” Cottrell is active in national Republican politics. He is a pan owner of the Texas Rangers and sits on the board of Texas Commerce Bank.

Ubiquitous THOMAS M. DUNNING, insurance exec and Democrat with strong ties to Mayor Annette Strauss, rose to prominence in 1988 when he was chosen to chair Strauss’s task force on race relations, Dallas Together. Dunning appeared for a time to be on the fast track to the top slot himself, but talk of an impending Dunning race has waned. Well liked, and well regarded as a coalition builder parexcellence, Dunning has many strong ties with minorities like Pettis Norman and Rene Martinez. He currently chairs that bastion of racial harmony, the Dallas Alliance. Despite current indecision, Dunning aspires to be mayor and has the network and experience for the job. The key is picking the right year to run.

CHAHLES T. TERRELL, chairman of Unimark Insurance Companies, is the state’s most prominent civic leader on criminal justice issues, having served for the past five years as chairman of the Texas Board of Criminal Justice. Terrell, who served as a City Council member in the early Seventies, was widely believed to be close to a bid for mayor, but he recently disappointed supporters by buying a house in Highland Park, thus rendering himself ineligible to run. Terrell currently heads Goals for Dallas, the strategic planning organization begun by former Mayor Erik Jonsson in the aftermath of the Kennedy assassination.

PETTIS NORMAN appears to have all the credentials-and those Super Bowl rings from his years as a tight end for the Dallas Cowboys don’t hurt his profile one bit. He is liked by white businessmen, but like many putative black leaders, Norman suffers from Hugh Robinson’s Disease, the perception that he doesn’t know how to mau-mau the honkies. As the chief black supporter of the 10-4-1 plan, Norman lost some credibility in South Dallas when he was labeled a “sellout” and a tool of the while leadership. Ironically. Norman was once considered a bit of a mau-mau himself, back when he chaired the Coalition to Maximize Education and led frequent attacks on the DISD as run by chief Linus Wright. Today Norman sells hair care products under the Liquid Love label; he professes to have no interest in public office. Pity.

ROBERT K. HOFFMAN, president of The Coca-Cola Bottling Group (Southwest) Inc., has the credentials of the modern powerbrokers in Dallas: he holds a Harvard MBA and is a member of the Dallas Assembly, Dallas Citizens Council, and YPO. Hoffman is known for his irreverent sense of humor, which has its roots in his Harvard days, when he co-founded National Lampoon magazine. Hoffman is a director and past president of The Boys’ Club of Greater Dallas Foundation and was handpicked by philanthropist Ralph Rogers to direct the Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Society, where he squared off against Ross Perot.

The times have finally caught up with JOE MAY, director of Region 6 equal opportunity employment and veterans’ affairs with the Small Business Administration, who has spent years trying to prove that a “safe” Hispanic district could be carved out in Dallas despite the widespread dispersion of Hispanics. He ran for an unsafe district in 1985 and was trounced by Lori Palmer, among others. May will be closely involved with redrawing the new council district lines once voters-and the courts-agree on a new plan.

DAVE FOX. the powerhouse behind Fox & Jacobs, builders of the suburban dream, seems determined to spend his autumn years as one of the city’s big agin-ners. He lent his name and prestige to the SMART (Sensible Metro Area Rapid Transit) campaign, which helped engineer DART’s overwhelming defeat at the polls in June of 1988, and popped into view again this year arguing in Washington that DART be denied federal funds. Fox’s apparent view that DART is beyond redemption has been frustrating to the can-do types who hoped that the failed bond election would set both sides on a new, united course. Before SMART, Fox was one of the most respected, fair-minded civic leaders around. Now former fans don’t trust him.

ALVA BAKER is a banker suited to the kinder and gentler Nineties. With federal funding for nonprofits slowed to a drip, Baker is one who saw a need and a market for banking. As founding director of the Nonprofit Loan Center, a subsidiary of Dallas’s Center for Nonprofit Management, Baker made loans to nonprofits whose shoestring budgets were breaking. Now in business with Baker Campbell Associates, this former vice president of Citibank in New York provides management consulting for small businesses and works with larger companies in minority business development. She is also associate director/manager of the Common Ground Community Federal Credit Union.

The Dallas Institute of Humanities and Culture’s GAIL THOMAS functions as Dallas’s resident muse, nurturing imaginative solutions to the city’s ills. The institute was chartered in 1980; whenever contemplation is required, be the subject education reform, the dehumanization of urban space, or racial polarization, a visit to Thomas’s wonderfully rambling and restful headquarters on Routh Street is in order.

Dallas’s most loved and hated feminist, CHARLOTTE TAFT, has sacrificed some influence in the past few years as she’s distanced herself from the more moderate, ameliorating forces in the local pro-choice movement and become more vocal on gay rights. But there’s no doubt that Taft, who’s also active in Democratic politics, still commands the respect of the local intelligentsia.

There is no meeting too small for LARRY DUNCAN, an indefatigable neighborhood activist. The former president of the Dallas Homeowners’ League, Duncan is perhaps the man city bureaucrats most hate to see when it’s time to talk zoning changes or street widening. Also head of Dallas Citizens for Democracy, he ran against the phlegmatic John Evans in the ’89 council election, and should be a shoo-in for an East Dallas seal next time around.

RENE MARTINEZ is a good example of a city gadfly who made the system work for him. Even before his leading role in the 10-4-1 campaign, he was the most visible Hispanic leader to the Anglo business structure, partly because his mentor. Jack Miller, formerly of Sanger-Harris, thrust him into the limelight. Strong-willed and dominant in meetings, Martinez is trying to improve his connections in the Hispanic community (he made a big show of supporting Domingo Garcia once 14-1 was the chosen plan), but still draws most of his influence from his ties to the Anglo leadership. Now vice-president of the Park Board, Martinez is almost certain to run for public office in the near future. Before opening the Martinez Cafe, he was an unsuccessful candidate for the school board and a tireless promoter of Hispanic causes.

For the present, TOM LUCE is out of sight but not out of mind. Luce, of Hughes & Luce, was Ross Perot’s personal attorney while his firm did work for EDS. When a battle ensued between Perot and EDS, Luce took Perot’s side. Luce’s realistic, almost cerebral campaign for governor netted him a pathetic third-place finish in the 1990 Republican primary, despite strong support in Dallas. Now serving as a Harvard Fellow, Luce will remain an important voice from the legal community. Some hope that he will eventually take a seat on the Texas Supreme Court.


LEE M. SIMPSON, a partner with Cohan, Simpson, Cowlishaw, Aranza and Wulff, is a former council member and a former chairman of the Dallas Alliance. Simpson is smart, thoughtful, with impeccable relationships in the city’s progressive wing, and his supporters have begged him to run for mayor for years. But Simpson’s retreat into his private life, which began when he left the council seven years ago, appears to continue; the lawyer has gone to Austin for a year’s sabbatical to teach at UT.

Some white leaders fear CHARLOTTE ragsdale, who recently opened a boutique in Deep Ellum called Elegantly Africa {which sells, among other things, those intricately beaded and woven filas donned at council meetings by Lipscomb and Ragsdale), is more radical than her sister Diane and could be much more of an obstructionist were she to win office. As one interviewee who knows them said, “Business leaders think their problems will end when Diane is off the council. When they get Charlotte, they’ll beg to have Diane back.”


ran a strong but unsuccessful race as a Democrat for county judge in 1986. But Democrats behind this bright Berkeley grad have plans to revive her political aspirations, now dormant in her role as an attorney with Ful-bright & Jaworski, in the upcoming mayor’s race. Cain is a past director of the Greater Dallas Crime Commission and the Mental Health Association. She’s presently a director of the Baylor Hospital Foundation and a member of the Dallas Assembly.

Attorney ERIC MOVE is a key behind-the-scenes negotiator for minority concerns and a thorn in the side of Dallas’s white establishment when he needs to be. This Harvard Law School grad shuns public office, preferring to work for change using his private-sector influence. Moye is a member of the Dallas Assembly and the Dallas Alliance.

ron W. HADDOCK, president and CEO of American Petrofina Inc., has turned heads with his aggressive move into Dallas leadership circles and his association with Ray Hunt, whom he knew through the oil business. Haddock has been very active in social and charitable affairs, but also staked out the issue of race relations in his role as division vice chairman of community development for the Greater Dallas Chamber. If allowed to stay in place by Pet-rofina’s European owners, Haddock could be very influential.

SANDY. KRESS, a shareholder in Johnson & Gibbs, P.C., is a former Dallas County Democratic Party chairman who failed to halt the party’s continued slide toward secondary status. Kress, forty, was poised for a cakewalk into Congress when the Fifth District’s John Bryant changed his mind about running for attorney general and opted to stay in Washington. He’s one of a number of youngish Democrats around town who know they need to run for something soon or forget about it. While waiting for a niche to open, he’ll pour his energies into the issue of public education.

M. THOMAS LARDNER, president and CEO of The Lehndorff USA Group of Companies, is not widely known in Dallas, but he will be; his development company is in the process of fulfilling a longtime urban dream: residential housing in the State-Thomas area north of downtown. Lardner, a Midwesterner schooled in the hard-knock politics of Chicago, came to Dallas in the late Seventies when real estate was hot. Today he is responsible for Lehn-dorff’s U.S. commercial investments, valued at some $3 billion. He is a big Democratic fundraiser and an important supporter in the Ann Richards camp.

REGINA MONTOYA is a partner/shareholder with the law firm of Godwin Carlton and Maxwell ; until recently she was the only Hispanic partner in a major Dallas law firm. A Harvard law graduate, Montoya serves on the Dallas Museum of Art Board and formerly anchored “Nuestro Dia,” a weekly talk show on Hispanic issues. Look for MonToya to broaden her media horizons in the future.

OSCAR C. GOMEZ, a Dallas newcomer, is vice president for regulatory and governmental affairs for GTE Southwest. Inc. and the area’s highest-ranking Hispanic executive. He heads the company’s lobbying and regulatory depatments, giving him access to key state officials. Gomez recently became a board member of the Dallas Hispanic Chamber.

JOE ALCANTAR, co-owner and president of Alman Electric Company, one of the top 500 Hispanic-owned businesses in the U.S., had enormous impact as chairman of the Hispanic Chamber (his term expired in August) and a member of the Dallas Citizens Council. Alcantar was instrumental in reorganizing the chamber, devoting enormous amounts of time to civic affairs, forming ties with Anglo and black leaders. He is a director of EastPark National Bank.

MARCOS G. RONQUILLO, an influential Hispanic attorney with Ronquillo & Quimanilla, P.C., recently formed a tri-racial alliance with the black law firm of Hill Hicks & Collins and the Anglo firm of Arter& Hadden. PC. Their clients include the city of Dallas, DISD, and DART. Ronquillo, who learned his street smarts at Adelfa Callejo’s knee, was urged to run for the council when Al Gonzales retired, but he held back. His hesitation may have had to do with possible conflicts of interest; his firm would lose business with local government if he served on the council-a dilemma faced by numerous minority lawyers around town. Ronquillo spent four terms as chairman of the state bar’s immigration and nationality law committee and led the education committee of Dallas Together Given the right timing and the right district configurations, Ronquillo may make a run at a future council seat.

DISD’s Director of World Languages. PHAP DAM, has been instrumental in steering community resources toward the great needs in the city’s Soulheast Asian community. He is past president of the Vietnamese Community of Greater Dallas and founder of the Multicultural Community Center. Dam has a master’s degree from Georgetown and a Ph.D. from the University of Saigon (both in linguistics).

ANDY STERN, director of the Sunwest Group, is a former staff assistant to Gerald Ford who came to Dallas in the late Seventies and has been building a civic resume ever since. (Stern. Nathan, Per-ryman, his PR firm, briefly represented D Magazine.) Chairman-elect of the North Dallas Chamber of Commerce, Stern was a relatively invisible player until 1988 when he hopped a plane to Cairo and helped Dallas snare the enormously successful Ramses the Great exhibit.

Dallas native JOYCE B. FOREMAN is a walking resume. A graduate of Lincoln High School and El Centro College, she has built a successful office products business while maintaining board memberships including the Greater Dallas Chamber, the board of management for Park South YMCA, and the chairperson of the DISD Minority Business Advisory Committee. Foreman is a new member of the Dallas Assembly.

MICHAEL H. JORDAN, CEO of PepsiCo Worldwide Foods and Chairman of Frito-Lay is a leader in the move to make Dallas international. A supporter of Clayton Williams-a rare breed in Dallas-he’s a member of the Dallas Citizens Council and the United Way of Metropolitan Dallas.

Bright, articulate, and black, BRENDA JACKSON is being groomed to take over for mentor Terry Griffin as Texas Utilities’ most visible community player. Jackson has the unenviable task of smoothing relations with TU Electric customers at a time when rate hikes are the name of the game. If anyone can pull it off, she can.

As Mexico’s number one spokesman in Dallas, Consul General OLIVER A. FARRES has, over the course of an extensive career in foreign relations, organized more than 300 bilateral commissions, international conferences, trade missions, and expositions. A feisty diplomat, Farres is a visible and powerful voice for the Hispanic community through two weekly radio shows. “Nosotros” and “Panorama.” He is the founder of the North Texas Immigration Coalition, the US-Mexico Chamber of Commerce/Dallas, and the Society of Friends of the Mexican Culture.

HARDEN WIEOEMANN, CEO, Bristol Overseas Management Corp., an international marketing and management company, which he runs with Joel Williams III, was formerly director of the Texas Economic Development Commission in Austin and head of the North Texas Commission. Wiedemann has the contacts, education, and track record to be a major player in the new Texas international trade and a powerhouse on the local civic scene if he desires. It’s a matter of timing. First Wiedemann needs to prove that he can make his new business fly.

Following in the footsteps of his father, Dr. P. O’B Montgomery, who virtually conceived of the downtown Arts District single-handedly, PHILIP MONTGOMERY runs the family real estate business and serves on community boards, most with an international bent like the Dallas Committee of Foreign Relations. Considered among the city’s new pool of best and brightest, Montgomery will be a player if he chooses.

YWCA Executive Director MARY EVANS SIAS is leading the pack for causes of women and girls. Her own $4.2-million budget at the YWCA is only the beginning of Sias’s influence. Sias, a former SMU professor, has progressed through the ranks of Leadership Dallas, Leadership Texas, and Leadership America. She’s a board member of Child Care Partnership and is on the executive committee of the Mental Health Association of Dallas County and the Board of Trustees of The Hocka-day School.


1. In the 1840s, John Neely Bryan lured weary travelers with free whiskey, honey, and bear meat, persuading them to help pursue his dream of Dallas as a major inland port on the Trinity. 2- Early Dallas stale legislators passed two sneaky taws requiring the Houston & Texas Central Railroad and the Texas & Pacific Railroad to come to Dallas, paving the way for Dallas to become a rail, if not a sea. port.

3. In the midst of the Depression (and without consulting the city), “Uncle Bob” Thornton offered a $25 million amenities package to the Texas Centennial Exposition, which was planning to celebrate the state’s 100th year of independence in either Houston or San Antonio. In

1936-’37, 13 million visitors attended the world’s first air-conditioned fair-in Dallas.

In the early Sixties, the Citizens Council met in secret with hand-picked black leaders, arranging to send several blacks to fashionable downtown stores, where it was prearranged that they would be allowed to shop. Dallas retail businesses were quietly desegregated.

In January 1960, Clint Murchison Jr. defied the naysayers who said Dallas could not support a professional football team and returned a professional football franchise to Dallas. Much opposition had come from other NFL owners, particularly George Marshall of the Washington Redskins. Murchison got Marshall’s vote by buying the rights to the Redskins’ fight song and forbidding Marshall to play it without permission.

In 1971, popular sportscaster Wes Wise was elected mayor, defeating the candidate hand- picked by the Citizens Charter Association, the political arm of the Citizens Council. Wise was elected by a constituency of minorities and progressive whites who rejected the paternalistic leadership style of the CCA.

In 1977, a court challenge by current City Council member Al Lipscomb resulted in the city’s election system being altered from an all at-large plan to a system with eight single-member districts and three at-large seats.

In the late Eighties, a bipartisan coalition of scientists, legislators, and business people snared the prized federally funded atom smasher, the Superconducting Super Collider, for nearby Ellis County, thus ensuring the Metroplex a more diverse economic future.


There are powers-that-be, powers that wanna be, powers that will be, yes. . . and then them are the folks who help channel that clout, fund the election, or dust up that image. Here are a few of the city’s stealth experts on the power grab. . .

Longtime political consultant Carol Reed is known for her mailing list of perennial money-givers. In the last live years, she’s raised almost $30 million for civic issues and needy candidates,the bulk of whom have been of the Republican variety. Since 1977 (John Tower was first to her). she’s worked on political races at every level, and even the biggies know she’s the one to call: she raised an ungodly amount of money statewide for both Ronald Reagan and George Bush.

When disaster looms, Lisa LeMaster, thirty-five, gels a call. She is a whiz at the relatively new art of polishing one’s image for public consumption, having counseled police chiefs in hot water; “franchise football owners with foot-in-mouth disease, and everyone involved in the SMU pay-for-ptay debacte. When Mike Wallace is in the reception room. Lisa LeMaster is the one to holler for.

No relation to council member Jerry Bartos (either by genes or ideals), Loriee Bartos is a poiilical Bartos has also worked on behalf of Lori Palmer, Glenn Box, and Harriet Miers.

Or. Richard Jan LeCroy president of the Dallas Citizens Council, was lured from his post as chancellor of the Dallas County Community College District after a Washington consumer activist, Nan- cy Harvey Steorts, had had a two-year reign (some say of terror) at the Citizens Council. LeCroy is quiet, unassuming, generally well liked, and considered fair-minded. With LeCroy as president. the council has taken off the rose-colored glasses to focus on the city’s future, Irving to tackle issues like education, race relations, and transportation, which threaten to leave Dallas in the backwaters.

As head of The Dallas Breakfast Group, Harry Tanner has access to all the key players (Ray Hunt, BID Solomon, Bob Decherd), and with a social service hackground (he was farmer director of the Communitv Council, a planning arm of United Way), his ties are strong within the minority community as well. Tanner often exhibits a wry realism that can border on cynicism, but he has worked hard to convince political ingenues to jump into the election fray. Unfortunately, he hasn’t had much luck.

Joseph Guise Jr.. president of the United Way, has steered the ship at this important Dallas institution for twenty-nine years. Once the premier Dallas charity and major steppingstone on the path to power and influence, the United Way has lost some of its local prestige in recent years.

Helen Hunt, Ray Hunt’s sister, quietly engineered the genesis of the enormously successful Dallas Women’s Foundation from New York, where she has lived since 1980. Her early involvement helped build the foundution, which gives grants to projects that help women and girls, to its current endowment of $1.2 million. If you want the biggest bank in town, NCNB Texas, on your side.

John De La Garza Jr.. vice president ami manager of public policy, is your first stop De La Garza is a longtime political activist and former publisher of the Dallas Business Journal.



The first clue is his office, which is decorated in dead animals. The stuffed and staring heads of Cape buffalo, waterbuck, leopard, puku, and greater kudu hang from the fabric walls-victims of one whirlwind bloodletting in Zambia seven or eight years ago in which this Dallas leader and several of his cronies stalked the plains, Rambo-style, for three long weeks.

The second indication, and this is probably unfair since he was bom this way, is his face-wince-eyed, ruddy, mustachioed. He agrees he is a dead ringer for madman movie vigilante Charles Branson. And he likes the comparison. “One night we were having dinner at Brookhollow, and Branson was there at another function,” he says. “I got up. He got up. We passed each other in the hall and both did double takes. I wish I’d had the guts to say something.”

If his guts did, in fact, fail him that night, it was a first for a man whose employees call him “the meanest man in the valley,” “a tyrant,” “a real Jekyll and Hyde,” and “a sonofabitch.”

Meet Johnny Johnson, founder of Johnson & Gibbs, Dallas’s largest, most influential law firm; a past chairman of (he chamber: a member of the still-tony Citizens Council; a buddy of business giants Ray Hunt and Bill Solomon. And the most feared and hated, yet grudgingly admired, lawyer in town-a town that still prefers to conduct itself, at least in monied circles, like a perfect gentleman, not a bawdy gunslinger.

Even Johnson agrees to that. “I think it’s a virtue to speak your mind, but I would prefer to have (he reputation of being a sweetheart. To the extent (hat any conduct bothers other people, it’s a detriment, not a plus.”

Then how does Johnson explain his legendary temper: the four-letter words, the diatribes, the belligerence-most of which is directed at employees waiters, travel agents, secretaries, or any other poor slob (hat might look at him the wrong way. “I always fell really bad because he picks on little people;’ says a fellow business leader. “People of his own ilk, he won’t touch.”

Says Johnson: “I think I can be impatient. And I’m extremely determined. I believe people should set very high standards for their actions and their conduct, but I don’t mean to be a bear with anyone. . .I don’t mean to intimidate anyone.”

Being a bear is a double-edged sword, though, Because it is precisely his maniacal impatience and determination that got Johnson where he is today-on most anybody’s short list of the brightest, wealthiest, most influential, most powerful men in Dallas. In many respects, the forty-nine-year-old Johnson is the quintessential Dallas insider: not a lot of people know him outside (he chamber, the Citizens Council, and the North Texas Commission-his three bases of influence. He and his wife do not appear on the society pages or faithfully attend the big civic soirees and charity balls. He does not serve on mayoral task forces or gubernatorial commissions; he does not run for public office; he does not take on high-profile cases for the sake of being written or talked about.

He just quietly builds his empire-trouncing the competition, leaving the second-rate in his wake.

With 315 lawyers and a gross income estimated at more than $100 million a year, Johnson & Gibbs can handle almost any legal problem. A Fortune 500 company might hire the firm to handle a leveraged buyout; a year later, if all is well, the law firm might be handling the company CEO’s divorce. The year after that, it might be defending the CEO’s brother on charges of securities fraud.

“The only large area we’re not into is personal injury work, and some other esoteric areas,” says Johnson, smiling. “For example, we don’t draft treaties between countries.”

But they do enough other things that Johnson literally can see, from an insider’s perspective, how Dallas is put together, and where it is going. “I personally handled, and am handling, the Exxon relocation to Dallas,” he says. “I handled the GTE relocation and American’s facility in Alliance Airport, and I’ve been hired to handle the building of the west side terminal for American. We’ve also done a lot of the LBO work for Seven-Up and Dr Pepper and the Southland LBO organization and reconstructing now.”

He has his fingerprints all over the public sector, too. The firm has several lawyer-lobbyists who represent all manner of clients, including DART and Southwest Airlines, on such matters as zoning, the environment, utilities regulation, and taxes. The firm has negotiated real estate deals involving public property-the Reunion project, for example, including the Hyatt Regency Hotel. It helped land the Super Collider in Texas.

All of which might sound like perfect training for the job of mayor of Dallas. Except for a couple of things. One, Johnson has no interest. Two. his closest rub with public service in the past-i.e., chairman of the chamber-is roundly seen within the business community as something akin to disaster; he refused to delegate any responsibility to the 100 chamber employees, thereby throwing the organization into gridlock. Three, the business community, which is his base of support, is already suspicious of his civic involvement, thinking, perhaps unfairly, that it is motivated solely by a lust for new clients. And four, there is that temper-sure to ignite all over City Hall, even if he could squelch it long enough to get there.

No, a betting man would probably say that explosively successful Johnny Johnson will slay the ultimate insider-for his own good, and for the good of Dallas.



Houston may have Bush, Baker, and Mosbacher, but Dallas isn’t exactly helpless when it comes to clout in the capitals. When Dallas powerbrokers need connections In Washington and Austin, these names leap from the Rolodex.

After almost a decade at the helm of the county Republican Party during the flush limes of Reaganism, Fred Mayer wants to keep the party growing as head of the state GOP. Meyer ran against Annette Strauss in her first bid for mayor; but lost.

Milledge (Mitch) A. Hart iII and Linda Wertheimer Hart art; strawbossing the fundraising effort for Ann Richards. Mitch, formerly of EDS (when Ross Perot was chairman). heads the Hart Group; Linda was a nationally known securities attorney who’s now joined forces, with Mitch; both Harts were big Gephardt supporters in ’88.

Jim Oberwetter, Ray Hunt’s vice president for governmental and public affairs, was a George Bush man back when then-candidate Bush was taking on Ronald Reagan in 1979. He ran Bush’s 1988 primary campaign in Texas and led Tom Luce’s ill-fated gubernatorial charge in the 199G GOP primary.

John Tower. the former U.S. senator who was almost Department of Defense but his connections to the defense establishment are still excellent.

Real estate developer Dary stone has been in tight with the Clements camp and looks as if he will parlay that GOP loyalty to Clayton Williams: Stone is the Dallas County coordinator of Williams’s campaign as well as an adviser.

Robert Estrada, an attorney and chairman of Estrada Securities Inc., has considerable clout at the Bush White House: he served as a special assistant to the president, responsible For coordinating appointments relating to financial, legal, and regulatory affairs.

A longtime Democratic powerbroker in Austin is Haynes and Boone partner George Bramblett. He sits on the Texas Higher Education coordinating board.

Jess Hay has been one of the strong Democratic fundraisers and has many chips to call in. Even his current troubles with Lamas Financial haven’t hampered Hay’s persuasive powers: he recently worked on a Sl,000-a-plate dinner that raised mega-bucks for Ann Richards.

Old-style Democrat Bob Strauss hasn’t lived in Dallas full-time for years but has strong family ties here, namely brother Ted, sister-in-law mayor Annette, and wheeler-dealer son Rick. Though Strauss’s kingmaking capability has waned over recent years, his longevity guarantees access-at least among the Old Guard.

Cappy McGarr, another of the Strauss extended family (he’s married to Annette’s daughter Janie), is friend and fundraiser to Democrats on more of a statewide scale, especially Pete Geren, whom he went to school with.

Robart K. Utley ill, a real estate developer and investments broker, is one of the most highly regarded Democratic fundraisers at both the state and national level, having begun back in the Dolph Briscoe days. He has close ties to Lomas’s Jess Hay.

Paul Wageman, son of Tom Wageman, SunBeIt Saving’s solid post-bust chairman, is voung (thirty), a new lawyer in town (Winstead Sechrest & Minick), and tightly tied to prominent Democrats, from Lloyd Bentsen (for whom he worked during Bentsen’s VP bid) to U.S. Representative Dan Rostenkowski ichairman of the powerful Ways and Means Committee) to Fort Worth’s rookie Congressman Pete Reran. Wageman is currently finance director for Bob Bullock, who hopes to succeed Bill Hobby as lieutenant governor on election day.

Alan Kahn sold his Coors Beer distributorship in El Paso two years ago and moved to Dallas to devote himself full-time to politics and his investments. Kahn raised several hundred thousand dollars for Dukakis and was rewarded with a senior position on the Democratic National Committee, He is coordinating fundraising for Ann Richards and is a longtime fundraiser for Lloyd Bentsen.


Along with ihe other components of power, Dallas-style, the role of the media has changed drastically in recent years. Twenty years ago the newspapers here were unashamedly boosterish, lap dogs happily guarding a herd of sacred cows. The Herald was slightly to the left of the News, which was stolidly anti-communist and anti-union. The TV and radio stations, of course, mattered hardly at all.

Not so today. Competition between media outlets and the migration of new citizens from the older cities of the East have led to a media willing to turn its reporters loose on many stories that may not flatter the city or polish the civic profile. While sacred cows exist, the herds are thinned considerably, and an editor who “spikes” a story to protect a powerful advertiser risks all credibility.

The impact of this change for the Dallas power structure is enormous. Since the media are no longer predictably “on the team” (despite the massive outlay of promo dollars on “Spirit of Texas”-type warm fuzziest, politicians and business types always ask “how the media will play it.” The flip side of this new freedom is obvious; some capable business leaders shun public service, unwilling to deal with ah aggressive, invasive press. And more radical leaders have learned to play the media like a pipe organ, intimidating and harassing the power structure. Recently, a study by Rincon & Associates revealed that the Hispanic leader with the most name recognition among Hispanics was Domingo Garcia, a skillful user of the press.

Influence in the media is of two types: internal, the ability to shape policy within a media organization; and external, through which a columnist, anchorperson, or talk show host molds public opinion.

In the former group, put Morning News Editor and President Burl Osborne, who sets broad direction for the paper rather than playing a hands-on role; and Bob Mong, the recently appointed managing editor. Over at the Herald, Editor Roy Bode is a strong, very involved editor out of the old Perry While mold, with a hand in everything from hiring to front-page coverage. But the ultimate newsroom general is WFAA Channel 8’s Marty Haag. He’s involved in Belobiz nationwide. But let a plane go down near Mesquite or a late summer storm rear its thunderheads, and the Haagster is on the phone in a blink, dispatching reporters to Waxahachie or Washington.

As for media types with personal follow ings-those who are probably not replaceable with another moving part-the short list starts with KVII’s morning maestro, Ron Chapman, who has been Mr. Radio in these parts for almost two decades. For proof, look no further than the incident in which thousands of listeners mailed in $243,000-for no reason, just because Chapman asked them to do so. Two other radio men with clout are the venerable Alex Burton, whose gruffly voiced opinions have bieen his own on KRLD and now WBAP; and talkmeister David Gold, KLIF’s resident liberal-basher.

In the cooler medium of television, two men with little in common stand out: KERA-TV’s Bob Ray Sanders, a voice of conscience and compassion with his weekly “News Addition,” and the irrepressible Dale Hansen, the Channel 8 sportscaster who wields influence like few others in his racket. Hansen, who doubles as 8’s sports director, is not afraid to spank the biggest jocks when they fail to live up to his standards or disappoint the kids who worship them.

The News has moved toward the political center over the past decade, a shift that can’t have pleased conservative columnist william Murchison, an eloquent reactionary with a strong religious conscience. His opposite number at the Herald is professional Texan and unregenerate liberal Molly lvins, who’s fashioned a national reputation in print as well as TV and radio. While Kins keeps ’em honest on the state and national scene, metro columnist Jim Schutze covers the city. Many City Council members don’t even know what they did that week until they read Schutze’s wry. idiosyncratic musings.


They’re dead, but we still feel their Influence. . .

Joe Campisi

Algur Meadows

Lee Harvey Oswald

Will Caruth

Candy Barr

H. L. Hunt

Santas Rodriguez

John Neely Bryan

Related Articles

Restaurant Reviews

The Best Steakhouses in Dallas

The leader remains the same, but a few upstarts have rocked the rankings in a steak scene that has changed dramatically over the last several years.
By Eve Hill-Agnus and Brian Reinhart
Dallas History

D Magazine’s 50 Greatest Stories: Heartbroken at the Stoneleigh

"Heartbreak Hotel" captures a very different bar at the Stoneleigh Hotel and a very different Dallas in 1977.
Restaurants & Bars

Find Your Next Favorite Bottle at Ampelos Wines in Bishop Arts

And don’t sleep on the “Wine-Dow,” a patio window through which you can order a glass to sip on al fresco.