Pulse of the CITY

John Wiley Price Costs Taxpayers $250,000

Can Dallas make him pay it back?

Each weekday morning for the past two years, six Dallas police officers have arrived at Townview High School in order to provide “protection” for protesters sent by Dallas County Commissioner John Wiley Price. For two hours, while the small handful of protesters takes baby steps across the street, shouting “No justice, no peace,” officers block traffic. In response to D Magazine’s Open Records request, the police department has released figures showing that the service costs the city of Dallas about $10,000 a month.

Since the Townview protests began in January 1997, through December 1998. Price and his tiny band of activists have cost the city of Dallas about $250,000.

Exactly what injustice is Price and his crew protesting? Well, not much of anything. “I went to John Wiley Price and asked what the issues were, what we could do to get them resolved,” says Dr. James Hughey, DISD’s acting superintendent. “I haven’t been able to get anything concrete from him.” Hughey says the only real concern Price mentioned was the resolution of the technology problems at Townview. But Hughey points out that the district and Texas Utilities have been working together to determine the source of the electrical problems that play havoc with the super-magnet’s computer system.

If there are other serious issues, Price hasn’t expressed them to Hughey. “I can’t resolve the differences if I don’t know what they are,” Hughey says. (Price did not return our phone calls.)

It’s hard to see how an engineering problem is a violation of anyone’s civil rights. Some Townview observers believe the only real purpose of the protests is to waiting will be a rented Town Car stocked with country and western tapes. ■ Strange bedfellows: Check out the action on the street within the Dallas and Piano police, as well as the NYPD and LAPD, atwww.policescanner.com, which broadcasts real-time police radio traffic. (Also online: Dallas Fire not appear that Price’s strategy is working-or maybe much of the African-American community doesn’t care what Price thinks. The candidates he supported in two recent elections, Kathleen Gilliam and Richard Evans, were defeated. And KKDA-AM (730) canceled Price’s radio show. Talk Back: Liberation Radio-and the shows of several of his friends and employees-due to low ratings.

TOUGH TIMES AT THE MORNING NEWS; The price of stock in A.H. Belo dropped 50 percent from its 52-week high to about $17 in late October, with media analysts blaming the freefall on a drop in classified ad revenue and doubts about the company’s debt load. For the first time anyone can remember, normally paternalistic Belo is spreading the pain: Christmas bonuses-some up to $20,000-have been eliminated, travel has been cut, and worst of all, the company picnic was cancelled. Word is, even top managers are getting testy.

ARE READERS OF THE DALLAS OBSERVER getting worked-over news’? The alternative weekly’s Oct. 22 cover story {“Death Merchant”) was also the cover story of the Houston Press, a sister paper owned by Phoenix-based New Times. The writer of the two-fer, Steve McVicker, works for the Press. The big question: does McVicker get to count it as two stories toward the New Times’ much-loathed quota system? “Hmmm, I haven’t asked that, says McVicker.

■ Rumored to be written into Randy Galloway’s new contract with the Fort Worth Star-Telegram: when he arrives to cover a game out of town, waiting will be a rented Town Car stocked with country and western tapes. ■ Strange bedfellows: Check out the action on the street within the Dallas and Piano police, as well as the NYPD and LAPD, atwww.policescanner.com, which broadcasts real-time police radio traffic. (Also online: Dallas Fire Department and DFW Airport Air Traffic Control.) Ironically, the sponsor is Intercasino, purveyor of online gambling software.

■ “Our prima-ry business is in fine leather goods”-that’s a quote in a two-page piece about the King Ranch Saddle Shop in the November issue of Cowboys & Indians. Though not labeled advertising, the “story” has no byline and ends with the shop’s Internet address, toll-free number, fax number, and post office box.

WELL, WE TRIED. WHEN NEITHER threats nor entreaties could persuade the Morning News to desist from its godawful punning, we made an offer we didn’t think the News could refuse: Stop the low humor for just a while-the 15th through the 25th of October-and for each day that you do, we will donate $25 to The Stew Pot, a charity devoted to feeding the poor. We felt that surely the News would care about a hungry child- but we were wrong. “We’ll continue to use puns in the headlines,” executive editor Gilbert Bailon defiantly informed an inquiring reporter from Mediaweek magazine. “We still think it’s appropriate as long as they’re clever and used judiciously.” “Crime and fumishment,” clever? “A movie-able feast,” judicious? Cancel our subscription.

Pizza Hut vs. Papa John’s

Why sue each other over whose ingredients are the best? Our simple taste test settles the matter.

A lawsuit in Dallas federal court has Addison-based Pizza Hut and Kentucky-based Papa John’s slinging charges and counter-charges about whose dough is fresher, which chain uses canned or fresh tomato sauce from “vine-ripened tomatoes,” and who uses (gasp) canned versus fresh mushrooms. Pizza Hut, incensed at upstart Papa John’s TV commercials claiming they use higher-quality ingredients, filed suit, saying it “seeks to stop this campaign of deception by Papa John’s and let customers know the truth.” and is demand ing a jury trial. In the interest of justice, Pulse con -vened a jury of 12 impartial pizza eaters with only one interest in the matter: taste. The panel (all sworn in on a stack of takeout menus) lasted slices of cheese, pepperoni, and mushroom pizza from each pizza purveyer. They munched, clearing their palates between bites with Diet Coke, then marked their verdicts on ballots, rating each from best (I) to worst (5). Their summary judgment: Pizza Hut wins in every category. The jury cited “springier dough,” fresh instead of canned mushrooms, and not-so-sweet tomato sauce. Issue resolved, and no lawyers’ fees.

What’s Good for the Goose…

One local lawyer will be watching Congressional impeachment proceedings against Bill Clinton with more than casual interest. Attorney Jim Rolfe represents Lawrence A. Petersen, 50, who on Oct. 15th pled guilty in Dallas to “making false statements to a grand jury.” Petersen, a Denver salesman for Dallas-based Absolute Resources, lied during his testimony in a federal fraud investigation. The salesman now faces a $250,000 fine and five years in prison. If the president skates through on his perjury charge, Petersen has a ready-made argument: Why should he be held to a different standard than Bill Clinton?



To the Dallas School Board and its president, Hollis Brashear, In a surprising-and refreshing-turn of events, the board has demonstrated real determination to straighten up the district and set it on a new course. In the past three months, it has approved a fraud audit, hired a top-notch CFO, and formed a consensus on what it wants in a new superintendent. Best of all, the volume of racial rhetoric has been toned down. Maybe after all these years, education is taking a front seat.



To the Sixth Floor Museum. In its effort to raise $3 million, the museum collaborated with a schlocky producer to create and distribute an exploitive version of the Zapruder film. Tricked up with “his- torical” footage pro- vided by the muse- urn, the video, Images of an Assassination-what one columnist called a “presidential snuff film”-shows the president’s head being blown off over and over.

Sybaritic members of the strong water and sot weed set have something special to celebrate this holiday season. The newly opened Pappas Brothers Steakhouse has snagged three bottles of The Macallan 1946 single-malt. The rare ambrosial whiskey, a bottle of which recently sold at auction for more than $10,000, runs a stiff $275 per glass-so be sure to clear your palate before imbibing. “I’m sure the true single-malt scotch connoisseurs will be very excited to know we have it,” says Pappas manager Ellie Porter.

For the smoker’s perfect accompaniment-an H. Upman Habana-stop by Cool River Cafe, where the 1961-vintage cigars sell for $120 apiece. If the SToc^rrrarKer^recem gyrations have you feeling a bit less flush, the self-same Habana is available for far less at a number of local tobacconists.

Of course, if you have to ask…

Tin Ear

Gay choir out of tune with new CD

The critically acclaimed Turtle Creek

Chorale, a 225- member male choir, recently issued a collection of love songs entitled Lifelong Friend. The CD may be noticed less for its music than for its cover art of two young boys whispering to one another. Was this a good idea when only a year ago the Rudy Kos pedophilia case produced the biggest jury award in Dallas County history? And when the Chorale is reaching for a mainstream audience? “Yeah, I wondered about that,” says Chorale spokesman John Shore.


Fori Worth architectural photographer takes on Europe.

Byrd Williams IV has mastered an unusual instrument: the large-format camera. Most people associate these unwieldy machines with Mathew Brady, the famed Civil War photographer. Bui Williams uses his to photograph architecture on highly detailed 16-by-20 inch negatives. (Buildings are among the few objects that stay still long enough for such a camera-which requires exceedingly long exposures-to record them.)

His most notable subject to date has been his hometown, which Williams shot for a photo book entitled Fort Worth’s Legendary Landmarks (with text by Carol Roark).

Williams, a fourth-generation photographer, has now been engaged by Luxembourg to do for the tiny European nation what he did for Cowtown; he will begin to record Luxembourg’s architectural treasures on his big film next year.

In the meantime, he says, sons Derrick and Byrd V are also beginning to take pictures.


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