Townview Magnet Stages a Comeback
Despite bitter controversy, the school is alive and well, with its TAG program intact.
IT HAD ALL THE MAKINGS OF A RACE RIOT. By the fall of 1995, Ora Lee Watson, the black executive principal of the Town-view Center Magnet, had put into play her scheme to gut the Talented and Gifted Program, one of the six high schools within her domain. Backed by close personal friend John Wiley Price, she branded the TAG program “elitist” and unfair to minorities- despite the fact that TAG was the perfect example of a racially integrated, high-quality school, Watson, whose tyranny was legendary, slashed the number of TAG teachers, broke apart TAG classes and incited other Townview students to take to the streets and protest. She repeatedly bashed TAG’s competent principal Susan Feibel-man, whom she called a “white. Jewish insubordinate.”
Frustrated TAG parents watched angrily as DISD trustees caved in to demands from race-baiters like Lee Alcorn and Price, Frightened TAG students faced the wrath of clench-fisted protesters whose picketing prompted a continued police presence. Each evening, the press captured the mob scene for the local news. As things quickly reached a flashpoint, something had to be done.
School trustees summoned their political will and ousted Watson, reassigning her to a position within the DISD administration. Other Townview administrators and staff were either fired or transferred, Caught in the cross-fire was Feibelman, who was removed from her post and has since left the district.
What was designed as the crown jewel of two decades of court-ordered desegregation, a $30 million monument to racial harmony in South Dallas, became a pawn for local power-mongers bent on advancing their agenda of racial politics, patronage and intolerance. But quietly, with little fanfare, the TAG program has this year emerged from the rubble to regain its identity and focus as a program for the highly motivated and academically gifted.
Credit must be given to Townview’s new executive principal, H.B. Bell, as well as TAG’s new principal, Jan Chapman-Green. Before Townview. Bell spent years as an assistant superintendent and an administrator in staff development. “I came in to try to begin the healing process,” Bell says.
When Chapman-Green, then district-wide director of honors development, was appointed to replace Feibelman in early 1996, the students were demoralized, she says. They had suffered verbal attacks not only from other students but also from educators and protesters alike. With Bell’s support, Chapman-Green brought the number of TAG teachers back up from four to 15. She restructured the students’ schedules, allowing them to attend the majority of their classes with other TAG students. The emphasis again is on advanced-placement classes for college credit. The renewed academic rigor has paid off.
Emily Hurt graduated from TAG in May, garnering advanced placement for college credit in seven of her eight TAG classes. She admits that her junior year was traumatic, but she’s glad she stayed. “The atmosphere this year was a lot better,” Hurt says. “Everyone was a lot more understanding of each other. There wasn’t the harassment.” The fear of physical violence had dissipated.
Although many TAG parents felt they had no choice but to abandon the program, class size is now on the rebound, The freshman class last year had dropped to 29, for a total TAG enrollment of 135; this August, when school starts, Chapman-Green expects 44 freshmen, for a total of 156 students. (Townview has about 2,100 students total.)
School board support for TAG should remain strong. Kathlyn Gilliam, longtime school board member who backed the protesters’ agenda behind the scenes, was defeated by upstart Ron Price in May. The word is that Yvonne Ewell, another anti-TAG school board member who openly supported Watson, also will likely face a tough opponent in her next election.
“People outside the Townview complex probably don’t have a clue about how well the school is working now,” says Bell. Both the TAG and Science and Engineering magnets are slated to be rated “exemplary” schools this year by the Texas Education Agency, while three others at Townview are likely to be deemed “recognized.”
Although Bell fully expects to see the protesters return to the school this August, he remembers walking across the street last year and asking them what they wanted. “They couldn’t tell me,” Bell says.
Their ignorance alone speaks volumes about how far the school has come.
PULSE GETS SCOOPED BY CITY COUNCIL
Pooper-scooper ordinance finally becomes law of the land.
Readers of “Pulse of the City” may recall that in June, we ran a transcript of the pun-filled City Council debate on an ordinance making it an offense for an individual to allow a dog or cat to defecate on public or private property. After the ordinance was narrowly defeated, we felt it safe to publish that fact. What we hadn’t counted on was the dogged determination of council member Craig McDaniel, the bill’s sponsor who decided to push for its passage anew. On May 14, a watered-down version of the bill passed the second time around. (Dogs are subject to the ordinance, but cats are free of all governmental restraint. )
“Part of the initial failure was a result of the council being so flip about it,” says McDaniel. Council inaction seemed to give tacit approval for pets to treat the entire city as their own personal back yard.
McDaniel, who says he hates to lose, this time convinced AI Lipscomb, Mary Poss and Don Hicks to change their votes.
Fines start at $10 for a first offense, then jump to $25 and $50 for recidivists. Both seeing-eye dogs and police dogs are exempt from prosecution. With a run on pooper scoopers at area hardware stores, immediate compliance by pet owners is not expected. -M.D.
Whatever Happened to… The “Sump’n Else” Girls?
IF YOU WEREN’T THERE, MAN, YOU weren’t cool. Every weekday afternoon from 1965 to ’68, the place to zoom after school was NorthPark Center’s Studio 3. That’s where you could rock to tunes spun by the all-too-groovy deejay Ron Chapman as he emceed a live teenage dance show on WFAA-Channel 8 called “Sump’n Else.” Remember it or not, it was more boss than Bandstand.
Showing up for gigs were Paul Revere and the Raiders, the Mon-kees, The Mothers of Invention. Sonny and Cher, and the Jefferson Airplane. And Chapman-that hip cat-got to choose four go-go girls to pony, jerk, swim and lip-synch on his raised stages.
The original “Sump’n Else” girls were Joanie Prather (Highland Park High School). Delpha Teague (Thomas Jefferson), Calleen Anderegg (Richardson) and Kathy Forney (Highland Park).
“It was a phenomenon of its own,” recalls Joan from her hoirie in Malibu, Calif., where she lives with her husband and 9-year-old son. “After ’Sump’n Else’ my mother had to shop for me. I had no idea it would generate that kind of attention.”
After the Dallas hit show, Joan, now 46, graduated from SMU and left for L.A., where she danced on Julie Andrews’ variety show. Her big breaks came in 1974, when she starred with Angie Dickinson in Big Bad Mama, and in 1975, in Smile. Most people, however, know her as Janet on the series “Eight is Enough.”
Calleen, 49, won Miss Dallas in 1966, then went to Los Angeles after graduating from the University of Utah. She toured with the L.A. Civic Light Opera for two years, then married in 1981. She lives in Seattle, has five children and still sings in a local band with her sisters.
Delpha, 49, and Kathryn, 47, stayed closer to home. Kim Dawson was quick, to recruit the 5-foot-9 Teague and to launch her 15-year modeling career.
Delpha was first runner-up to Miss Dallas in 1966 and remembers a proud Ron Chapman “puffing up like a peacock.” Today, she’s a buyer for a Dallas interior design firm, and her 27-year-old son is the model in the family.
And the girl who got the most fan mail, Kathryn, graduated from the University of Kansas in 1972. Now a mother of two, she lives in Highland Park and works as a home builder with her husband.
Local legend has it that actress Morgan Fairchild, Patsy McClenny in those days, was also a “Sump’n Else” girl. Chapman recalls that she did audition for a spot, but he turned her down-twice.-Sara Peterson
Local Writer Sues NBC for Movie Theft
Fights to get credit where screen credit is due.
AFTER WATCHING THE FIRST FEW MINUTES of NBC’s “Voices From Within” on Oct. 10, 1994, Piano resident Karen Henry hurriedly searched for a blank vidéocassette. She wanted to record the made-for-TV movie for posterity-and for proof. It seemed as though someone had stolen her screenplay.
The official seal of the Library of Congress adorns Henry’s copyright of her screenplay entitled “Splintered Image,” which was optioned by Hearst Entertainment in 1992. But with the airing of “Voices From Within,” her movie would never get made.
The complex, plot-driven narrative of “Splintered Image” describes the story of Ann, a victim of sexual abuse who develops a multiple personality named Lisa, who hires a hitman to kill Ann. In the story of “Voices From Within,” Ann develops a multiple personality named Liz. who hires an assassin to kill Ann.
In 1996, Henry filed a lawsuit in a California federal court claiming that NBC. two production companies and whoever else was responsible for airing “Voices From Within” had infringed upon her copyright.
Henry and her L.A. attorney, David Berke, say they can document roughly 50 parallels between “Splintered Image” and “Voices From Within.” According to the lawsuit, these and other “fundamental similarities between the two projects would leave no doubt in the mind of the general viewing public thai ’Voices From Within’ is…at least a very .substantial adaptation of ’Splintered Image.’ “
NBC attorney David Aronoff says, however, that “all of the defendants vigorously deny all of the allegations.”
For Henry to prevail in court. Berke must prove first that the defendants had access to the property. Henry had a local agent shop “Splintered Image” around Hollywood, putting it into the hands of the networks, including NBC.
Second, Berke must show that the defendants copied Henry’s work. To make his case, he points to the 50 parallels. “It’s a solo practitioner representing a first-time writer,” says Berke, but he is not intimidated.
It’s a typical case of David vs. Goliath. “Literally,” adds Henry. -A.E. McGill
Thou Shalt Not Covet Thy Neighbor’s Story
Dallas clerics tested on ten commandments.
OK, WE CONFESS. WE SAW THIS STORY thumbing through an Arizona newspaper. A pop quiz had been given to I Phoenix clergyman asking them to recite | the Ten Commandments, and of the 20 I polled, only four could recite them. Naturally we took it upon ourselves to follow their cue. figuring we would obtain similar results in Dallas. What we didn’t count on was that our clergy would get them right.
We called 30 churches in the area, and of , the II responses we received, seven remembered all 10 in some form; two of the seven recited them perfectly in order. Two remembered eight commandments.
“Can I look?” was the first reaction of the Rev. Michael Jeter of Highland Park Baptist Church before rattling off eight of the 10. Another pastor, Dr. Allen Walworth of | Park Cities Baptist Church, came close to perfection. He was going along fine, skipped one, but caught himself at the end. “P.S. Don’t steal!” he exclaimed. “That’s why God put them on tablets-so an editor like me wouldn’t rearrange them!”
Perfect scores go to the Rev. Bill Counts of Fellowship Bible Church and Rabbi Kenneth Roseman of Temple Shalom. Not only did Roseman recite them perfectly, he reminded us that there are two versions: one I in Exodus, the other in Deuteronomy. When he reached “Thou shalt not murder,1’ he offered an explanation: “The Hebrew verb is clearly murder, not kill.” But for those who responded “Thou shall not kill,” don’t worry. “It counts if they say ’kill,’ ” Roseman said, “but they don’t get the cigar!” -Jennifer Chininis
Psychic Speedwalker Goes for the Gold
Spirits don’t move clairvoyant as fast as she moves herself.
In July 1985, when D Magazine named Fan Benno-Caris “the grand dame of Dallas psychics” no one could have foretold-not even Fan-that 12 years later she would be ranked one of the best senior athletes in the universe.
Her event is racewalking. She’s rated third in the world and has the 50-plus medals to prove it. In May, Fan, 79, won the silver at the U.S. Racewalking Nationals in her age division for the 5K, and in 1995, she won the bronze at the World Senior Games for the same race. This month, she’s traveling to Durban, South Africa, to compete in the biennial Senior Games, hoping for a gold medal.
Fan has been a race-walker since age 70 and a highly paid psychic-she prefers “intuitive counselor”-for 35 years. Before dedicating herself to track and field, she “counseled” five to six people a day from her home in University Park. Today, she lives in Addison and has cut her $75 appointments to three to four a day, making time to walk 25 to 30 miles. That’s on top of the ballet classes and weight-lifting work-outs she schedules to maintain her elfish though agile 98-pound frame.
“We’re all gonna get older,” she winks, “but you don’t have to get old.”
Her speedwalking and “intuitive counseling” sessions have a deeper psychic connection. She’s never studied astrology or used tarot cards; instead, she simply holds her clients’ hands. In that moment, she says, her energy leaves her, enters the “counselee,” then comes back to her fully “charged.” She then “sees” their past, present and future. Exhausted from the energy drain, she began to take leisurely evening walks as a way of reviving herself-until one day she decided to walk faster.
She’s been winning ever since.
As for how she’ll fare in South Africa, she’ll have to wait for the results just like the other 12,000 participants. This omniscient Olympian admits that she’s never been able to predict her own future. -S.P.
City’s oldest Jewish congregation marks its birthright
temple Emanu-El, Dallas’ largest synagogue, traces its roots to a historical event that occurred here 125 years ago this month. On July 1,1872, two weeks before Dallas had its first railroad, 11 men met to form the Hebrew Benevolent Association to secure a burial ground, care for the poor and assist new arrivals of the Jewish faith.
In 1875, its 51 members pledged their support for formation of Temple Emanu-El. The group completed a small sanctuary four years later at the intersection of Commerce and Field streets. The congregation opened the first school in Dallas in the mid-1870s, an ecumenical undertaking that served as the town’s only serious educational effort until the public school system got off the ground 10 years later. By 1899, the congregation had outgrown its quarters so the women of the temple held a “Jahmarkt,” a week-long fair to raise money for a new building on the comer of South Ervay and St. Louis streets. In 1907, Rabbi William S. Green-burg organized a landmark interfaith Thanksgiving service, the first ever held in Dallas.
Because of the religious and social foundation offered by Temple Emanu-El, a number of European Jewish terminal merchants who fol lowed the railroad from town to town decided to settle here rather than move on. The names of retailers Sanger, Kahn, Titche, Marcus and Linz became household words, and Dallas became the shopping center of North Texas.
Although never a large percentage of the population. Jewish families consistently supported cultural endeavors here that distinguished Dallas from its frontier setting. Though old in years. Temple Emanu-El, which moved to its current location in 1957, is young in spirit. David Stern, at 36, is the youngest senior rabbi in the city. -Tom Peeler
What’s the Worst Summer Job You Ever Had?
Norm Hitzges, KLIF-AM: PALL BEARER; “1 would take the S6 per funeral and go buy beer because the job depressed me.”
Kim Dawson, Kim Dawson Modeling Agency: COTTON PICKER;
“I thought I would make a lot of money.”
Paul Coggins, U.S. Attorney: ROOFER IN NEW MEXICO;
“The tar came right through my tennis shoes.”
Allie Beth Allman, real estate broken FARMHAND; “1 bailed hay and cut wheat.”
Phil Gramm, U.S. Senator FIBERGLASS BOAT FACTORY WORKER; “I drilled holes for the steering wheels and breathed enormous amounts of fiberglass dust.”
Résina Montoya, president, Workrules Company: BABYSITTER; “1 got the job through the classified ads, and the mother never came home.”
Lisa Loeb, singer/songwriter HOT DOG COOK; “I worked at the Chicago Dog; made them with non-traditional toppings-like celery salt and tomatoes.”
Bob Stimson, Dallas City Council member CITY COUNCILMAN; “I’m kidding…. Actually I was a busboy at the old Pig Stand at Northwest Highway and Abrams.”
John McCaa, WFAA-Channel 8 news anchor GROCERY BAGGER AT AIR FORCE BASE;
“I didn’t make an hourly wage-only worked for tips.”
Stephan Pyles, chef of Star Canyon: KENTUCKY FRIED CHICKEN COOK; ’I was fired for confusing the breading with gravy and burning a whole batch of chicken.”
FOR THE RECORD
“Larry North Total Fitness is the finest health club organization in America, mainly because of my CEO and president Steve Mekuly…”
Comments of fitnessmeister Larry North in his book. Living Lean, published last scar. North is currently suing Mekuly for mismauagement and misappropriation of corporate assets.
PIGS ARE PEOPLE, TOO
“To me, it’s still a farm animal. It roots, it’s a pig. We just honestly feel that a crowded condition like a city is not the proper place for a pig.”
Justification of Farmers Branch Council member Bill Moses lor rejecting the plea of potbellied pig owner Joe Turner to amend the ordinance banning all pigs from the city. Turner argued that his 8-month-old pig. Copper, had become a member of his family.
THE RIGHT TO BEAR COOLERS
“You’ve got to understand the racing fans….They believe they have the inalienable constitutional right to bring in [their] own coolers. Now I haven’t found it in the Constitution, but they will swear by it.”
Texas Speedway General Manager Eddie Gossage responding to plans by Denton County Commissioners to allow alcohol to be sold at the raceway.
REPRIEVE FOR THE POLITICALLY INCORRECT
“Everybody’s an executive assistant until National Secretary’s Week.”
Passing comment of Alfretta McCaine. executive assistant al B/H Industries. Dallas.
AND NOW FOR SOMETHING COMPLETELY DIFFERENT
“Our children cannot continuously see board members fighting, pointing fingers and using the race card….So my first initiative is to try to get the board members to come together as one for our children.”
Comments of newly elected school board member Ron Price alter his dramatic 33-vole victory over incendiary school board trustee Kathlyn Gilliam.
S&L CONVICTION SCORECARD: Who’s still behind bars and who’s not?
They were the icons of Eighties avarice, greedy promoters who took over the savings and loan industry and sent it into financial collapse at a rate unparalleled since the Great Depression. And they did it with such flagrant impudence, making millions in ill-gotten gains from land flips, fraudulent loans and phony bank entries. Between the partying and the prostitutes and the payoffs, they invoked our scorn as well as our awe. But playing fast and loose with other people’s money has its price. As one bank failure triggered another, a pattern of illicit activity was revealed. By 1993, in the Northern District of Texas alone,more than 700 individuals had been convicted of some form of bank fraud. Several became household names as we followed their shameless peccadilloes in the press. But harsh sentences didn’t necessarily mean long prison terms as bank execs snitched on each other like drug dealers after a major bust. To see how the mighty have fallen, here is an update on 10 of the most heinous S&L guys.
Townview Magnet Stages a Comeback