IS SMU THE WORST LAW SCHOOL IN TEXAS?
Bar results take a precipitions fall-and raise eyebrows in the legal community.
A law degree from Southern Methodist University, affectionately known to its alumni as the “Harvard of the South,” may guarantee the would-be attorney many things, but the grasp of the intricacies of Texas law is not among them. Only 37% of SMU School of Law’s first-time test-takers passed the most recent Texas bar exam, placing the nationally-ranked program dead last among its eight in-state competitors, leaving administrators scrambling to defend their program.
Whether or not the failing scores posted by 15 of 24 SMU graduates during last February’s exam will cause the institution to fall from its place among the nation’s top 50 law schools remains to be seen. What is clearly visible, after the school’s worst showing since the mid-’80s, is that something is amiss on the Hilltop.
Law School Dean John Attanasio told Texas Lawyer he had begun serious inquiry into the dramatic plunge from the 81.52% pass-rate among first-time testtakers last July to this spring’s bottom-of-the-barrel figures. (July ’98 results placed SMU in sixth place; the bar exam is offered twice a year.) But one culprit lies within the institution’s walls-its curriculum. Following a recent trend among law schools, SMU’s curriculum has a strong international and national focus, placing less emphasis on Texas law than do comparable schools such as Baylor, where 96.49% of first-time participants passed February’s bar. After completing several required courses, designed to prepare students for the bar exam during their first year, students can choose from a variety of électives. A recent study conducted by SMU found a direct correlation between the number of bar courses a student takes and his performance on the exam.
“We looked at the very bottom students and found those who failed the bar took an average of five classes that covered information found on the test.” says Dr. Trey DeLoach, Associate Dean of How City Hall Ruined the Dallas Farmers Market
Expensive renovations may look great, but higher fees have forced farmers out.
WATCHING THE STARS -Hits and Misses of the Stars’ local coverage
(Dont) Stop the Presses!
The Morning News shines, but the Star-Telegram blows it.
The Fort Worth Star-Telegram blew the biggest sports story of the year when it failed to get most of its Stanley Cup coverage into the newspaper the morning after the Stars won the championship. Unlike the Dallas Morning News-which had its reporters writing in Buffalo and its editors working in Dallas-the Star-Telegram apparently decided delivering an incomplete paper on time was more important than delivering a complete paper an hour [ate. Press box observers say that long after other scribes headed for their hotels in Buffalo, News writers were still updating and polishing stories about the game, which ended at 12:32 a.m.. Back in Dallas, editors coordinated with the press room to make sure that as many papers as possible contained the latest stories, even if it meant delivery would be a little late.
But the same can’t be said for the Star-Telegram, where publisher Wes Turner and executive editor Jim Witt failed to exercise the gutsy top-down management required to ensure the press room printed the latest pages their sports staff produced. Instead, their judgment was clouded by the goal of having the Sunday newspaper delivered by 7 a.m. So while Star-Telegram reporters and editors toiled halfway till dawn to bring readers what they thought was the full story in a special “Stanley Cup” section, what was delivered to readers was a section that didn’t even have the final score. Two days later, a note appeared on Page I blaming “press problems.”
What’s that saying about a poor carpenter who blames his tools?
Stanley Cup Comes to the DMA
Record-breaking crowds prove one thing-we may like art, but we love sports.
Dallasites may not know a Manet from a Monet, but they sure know a Modano when they see one. When the Hockey Hall of Fame placed the Stanley Cup on view at the DMA during the NHL finals, record crowds flocked to the museum. The cup knocked a world-renowned artist and an ancient kingdom off the pedestal with the highest per-day attendance in the museum’s history.
Faux pas at Fox
Putting a scare in Stars fans.
While the Star-Telegram’s lame coverage was a result of wimpy decision-making (see story at left). Fox 4’s playoff gaffe was simply a matter of someone inserting the wrong tape in the machine. On June 5, viewers of the Yankees-Mets game got a shock when a promo for Sunday’s sports wrap-up teased a story about the “disappointing end” to the Stars’ season. Dallas’ best team had lost, and was packing its bags, according to the promo. So what happened? The folks at Fox had taped two promos, and somebody in the booth punched the wrong button.
How City Hall Ruined the Dallas Farmers Market
Expensive renovations may look great, but higher fees have forced farmers out.
Many area fanners are giving up on the Dallas Farmers Market, migrating to suburban markets to sell their produce. Why? Because mismanagement at City Hall is turning the facility into a development bust-and making life more expensive for already-strapped farmers.
Since it opened in 1951, the Farmers Market has been a place to shop for fresh produce minus a middleman, a simple but successful equation. Now, City Hall-sponsored “improvements” have turned the market-for decades one of downtown’s most winsome assets-into a multi-million-dollar disaster. According to a city audit released in May, those in charge of the facility forgot about marketing. But consid-ering that the open-air venue far ultra-fresh produce prospered back in the days when little else downtown did, it seems what was really forgotten was what made this 12-acre special in the first place-rural charm and just-picked produce. Driven out by the city’s higher ^ fees, farmers have sought greener pastures in the suburbs.
“It’s not nothin’ like it used to be,” says Canton resident Shirley Forde, who has been manning the Farmers Market stalls of Pat’s Pea Patch for 35 years. “Business has fallen off ever since they remodeled. Everyone’s leaving because they can’t afford to stay here.”
The most glaring example of the Fanners Market’s self-inflicted decline is Shed 2, a 26,000-square-fool building that remains largely empty. In 1995, the city spent 52.2 million constructing Shed 2 with the intention of creating Dallas’ own version of Pike Place, the very popular (and profitable) oceanfront market in Seattle. Pike Place brings in nine million visitors and $75 million in gross sales annually, and features butchers, bakeries, dairymen. But, admits Tony Johns, PR representative for the Farmers Market, “We can never be Pike Place.” The problem: The City forgot to install air-conditioning.
“Thai is what the city is working on now,” Johns says. By the end of September, she says. Shed 2 will have AC and heat, “so we can offer fish and meat and dairy and all the other products we know customers want. We’re trying to recapture customers.” During its construction, nearly five dozen vendor stalls were lost. Now, just over one-third of the available stalls are in use. “We left because there was no business in there.” says Paula Lambert, owner of The Mozzarella Company, which operated a booth in Shed 2 for three years. “We couldn’t make enough sales to pay the rent. All the food companies moved out.”
Air-conditioning isn’t the only problem. Many of die farmers have given up, preferring to sell their sauash and peaches al the thriving Cooper Street Farmer Market in Arlington, Big Town Farmers Market in Mesquite, Farmers Branch Farmers Market or Grapevine Farmers Market. Replacing the farmers are better- capitalized farm merchants and agribusiness dealers, who buy produce y wholesale and sell for near-retail prices. Kind of like Kroger, with less shrink-wrap.
Despite bad financial news and ill will from the farmers, Johns remains upbeat, “The Farmers Market still is a treasure and a jewel in downtown Dallas.” Johns says. “It’s the only family-oriented activity available seven days a week.”
Family oriented, perhaps. Just not family-farm oriented.
Mismanagement by the Numbers
City Hall’s plan to “improve” the Farmers Market.
INVESTMENT Since1991, the city has spent $16 million redoing streets, constructing new buildings, and adding neon signage. Result? A steady stream of fiscal losses-more than $350,000 over the past three years. That’s in addition to the approximately $320,000 lost each year during the actual reconstruction in the mid-’90s.
CASE IN POINT In 1995, the city spent $2,2 million constructing a behemoth building known as Shed 2, now virtually remains largely empty. During its construction, 59 vendor stalls were lost. Out of the 62 potential stall rentals, only 21 are being used.
PAPERWORK AND FEES The cost of stall rentals has increased steadily since 1991, and the city has instituted a twice-annual license fee. And this year, the city informed farmers that home-packaged foods-chutneys, pickles, jellies-are no longer allowed without a license from the Texas Department of Health. And if they want to sell beverages to thirsty customers? Another $30 a month. It all adds up to some hefty overhead for a vegetable stand.
Reversing the Truth
Local ad agency makes the Rangers’ star catcher a lefty.
“What do you want to know?” That’s the question posited by the Fort Worth Star-Telegram’s ad campaign for its sports section. What All-Star catcher Pudge Rodriguez wants to know, though, is who reversed his picture on the advertisement. “I drove by one of the billboards and was very surprised at what I saw,” he says. “1 had to ask myself ’Am I left-handed?’” The reversed photo was a creative decision made by the newspaper’s ad agency, Witherspoon & Associates. So what does agency executive vice-president Mike Wilie say about the billboard making Pudge ambidextrous? “If we had to do it over, we wouldn’t do it”