Pulse of the CITY

Who will be the next police chief for Dallas?

We handicap the field.

Rumors of Chief Ben Click’s impending retirement have run rampant almost since the day he came to town in 1993. In a recent interview with D Magazine, Click confirmed that he is ready to retire sooner, not later.

The big question: Should the new chief come from outside or inside the department? Without a firm departure date from the chief yet, City Manager Ted Benavides-the man responsible for filling the job-isn’t talking. But interviews with officers and supervisors throughout the department indicate strong feelings that after three outside chiefs-Mack Vines, Bill Rathburn, and Click-it’s time to promote from within. The problem, some say, is that the DPD’s weak command staff doesn’t give Benavides much to choose from.

Here are die likely candidates and the inside line on their chances of becoming the next Dallas Police Chief

■ “The Firebrand”: Deputy Chief Jill Muncy, southeast operations division. If Dallas is ever to have a female police chief, it’ll probably be Muncy. Brash, bold and opinionated, she’s a natural leader. But she lacks seasoning and polish, not to mention a keen political acumen. Odds: 20-1.

■ “Damage Goods”: Executive Assistant Chief Willard Rollins, office of investigations. On the surface, Rollins is the best candidate-he has the training, the experience, and the commanding presence necessary in a successful chief. But his detractors call him “Willard the Rat.” Rollins was tainted by the largest civil penalty ever paid by the city-$1.5 million-in connection with a whistle-blower case brought by two undercover detectives against the city, Rollins, and former Deputy Chief Rick Hatler. The detectives claimed they were demoted after I complaining that their superiors-“including Rollins and Hatler-had put their lives in danger. Some believe Rollins is lucky to still have a job and that he may not survive a new administration. Odds: 100-1.

■ “Thundercloud”: Assistant Chief John Holt, patrol operations west bureau. A command-staff veteran with a short temper. Holt incurred then-Chief Rathburn’s wrath by allowing City Council member Don Hicks to be arrested and hauled off to jail during a protest at the southeast operations division in 1992. Rathburn was forced to apologize publicly, and many in the department say Holt has never gotten out from under that cloud. On the other hand, if the debacle was orchestrated to hurt Rathburn, as some have claimed, well, that didn’t quite work out, either. Odds: 50-1.

■ “Capt. Courageous”: Deputy Chief Doug Kowalski, special operations division. One of the department’s most recognizable faces, he made his bones as a captain for years in the tactical services unit and is known for speaking his mind. But he’s only been a member of the command staff for six months. Odds: 30-1

■ “Will Rogers Jr.”: Assistant Chief Terrell Bolton, patrol operations east bureau. Should the city manager’s office promote from within, Bolton could very well be Dallas’ new police chief, not to mention its first black chief. Bolton’s charisma is unmatched on the command staff, and he has strong community ties. But there’s still some resentment internally; the former police sergeant made news in 1988 when he was double-promoted from a civilian post to deputy chief. Odds: 10-1

Whoever gets the job will take over during a time of unprecedented harmony between the Police Department and the community, thanks in large part to Click’s tireless work. Insiders say no chief has ever sacrificed more of his time, eaten more rubber chicken, and shaken more hands man Click. Of course, it’s easy to look brilliant when crime around the country is down dramatically.

Click admits that he wants to go out on a high note. “I’ve watched a lot of people, some very prominent police chiefs in this country, that could have left at one point in good standing, and yet they couldn’t make that decision when things were going real well,” he says. “They stuck around until things turned on them.”

Things may be turning already. After seven years of downward spiraling, crime statistics are starting to hit the up cycle again. In April, total crime was up nearly 6 percent over April 1998, including increases in murder, robbery, and aggravated assault. Did Click wait too long?

Retirement Nirvana

The ultimate for rich empty-nesters.

The best little old folks home in Texas offers stunning views, a prestigious address, very good neighbors, and-best of all-access to five-star amenities at the Mansion on Turtle Creek (i.e., 24-hour room service from the restaurant).The Mansion Residences-the high-rise located adjacent to the Mansion-was hotelier/oil heiress Caroline Rose Hunt’s answer to the question all other well-to-do (if maturing) friends were asking: Where do we live now? Hunt built the high-rise and then charged around $1 million for each shell of a space. Five years later, the list of tenants reads like a Who’s Who of the over-60 (or so) set.

No Reply.

City bureaucrat plays hard to get.

We, the public, recently tried to call a public agency, the Dallas Housing Authority, hoping to talk with DHA President and CEO Lori Moon.

214-428-1554: First number listed in the White Pages. No answer.

214-428^047: Second number listed. A digital operator advises us to check the number and dial again. Same response. Check the Web and find a different DHA number.

214-951-8300: Rings forever, but no answer. Invest 30 cents to confirm the number with Ma Bell’s Information Line. Call the Dallas Housing Services office to ask for the DHA number. A cheerful voice informs us helpfully that it is actually…

4.214-951-8830: Get DHA voice message system. Hear about patient care at Presbyterian Hospital and the “awesome” deals available at Southwest Airlines. No real person. Call the number again. Offered two more numbers to try.

5. 214-951-8331: Trapped in the voice mail system before being rescued and abruptly transferred to the second number.

6. 214-951-8302: Real person! Yes, Lori Moon can be reached at this number, but she had just stepped away from her desk. Ask for Ms. Moon’s voice mail. Sorry, the voice replies. Ms. Moon’s voice mail is out of service. We give up, as would anyone actually trying to find help with housing.

Fat Cat

Exxon by the numbers.

It’s easy to forget that Irving-based Exxon-now the largest corporate entity in the world, thanks to the $79 billion it paid to take over Mobil-is a local company. Some numbers to keep it all in perspective:

■ Amount Exxon paid of $5 billion in punitive damages assessed in 1994 for destruction of Prince William Sound: $0

■ Interest Exxon earned by maintaining control of that money for the past five years: $5 billion

■ Exxon’s profits in 1997: $8.46 billion

■ Company’s donation for Exxon Endangered Tiger Habitat at the Dallas Zoo: $1 million

■ Increase in the value of Exxon stock since the 1989 oil spill: 300 percent

■ Decrease in the value of a fishing permit in Prince William Sound since 1989: 91 percent

■ Estimated amount of Alaskan shoreline damaged: 1,500 miles

■ Area of “natural environment” created for Exxon’s Endangered Tiger Habitat at the Dallas Zoo: 1 acre

■ Number of species Exxon will be trying to save at the zoo exhibit: 2

■ Of the 28 species affected by the oil spill, number that have yet to fully recover: 26

■ Cost of seven tablecloths made for Exxon’s President’s Dinner at the French Room last year: $3,500

■ Total cost of the annual party for 65 people: $100,000

The Death and Resurrection of the 4th of July

Celebrating Independence Day in Dallas was once an act of treason.

During the Civil War, anyone in Dallas caught celebrating the enemy’s birthday was likely to be slammed in the pokey. Nerves were so frayed here by the second July of the war that Dallas Provost Marshall John J. Good drafted all local residents over the age of 16 to protect the town against “any celebration found to be injurious to the Confederate States of America.”

Years after the war, the Yankee affront was far from forgotten. On July 4,1872, an editor of the Dallas Herald noted that the day “comes and goes and brings no gladness to our hearts,” but only a reminder of “trampled rights and lost privileges.” The newspaperman’s sentiments were not surprising; earlier that year, Edmund J. Davis, the despised Reconstructionist governor, had Dallas Mayor Henry Ervay arrested for refusing to abdicate his office. Two years later, after states’ rights advocates took control of die State Capitol, Dallas was still officially unforgiving, but hundreds of local citizens couldn’t resist the 12-mile trek by horse and buggy to Mesquite for an old-fashioned 4th of July picnic.

The first token acknowledgement that Dallas was back in the Union came in 1876, America’s 100th birthday. The parade featured costumed bands of Irish, French, Germans, and Native Americans, but the two most wildly applauded ensembles were ragtag remnants of the Lamar Rifles and Stonewall Greys, companies of the Rebel Army. “Yankee Doodle” was largely ignored by the fried chicken munchers, but when the band played “Dixie,” the Herald reported, “a yell went up that made the oaks tremble.”

The sinking of the battleship Maine in the port of Havana brought us all back together. Exactly 100 years ago this month, Dallas reveled wholeheartedly in the fact that we had whupped up on someone other than each other, namely Spain. Firecracker sales more than doubled any previous 4th of July in local history, and Dallas was again a part of “America the Beautiful.”

HEARD ON THE STREET…

Sieve Bartlett can’t be accused of Potomac fever because he hasn’t lived in Washington since 1991, when he dropped out of Congress to become mayor of Dallas. Last month, the businessman and former mayor decided to pull up Dallas stakes once again and head back to the Capitol, this time to head the D.C.-based Financial Services Roundtable. The consortium of major banks wants an experienced hand at the till as it navigates tricky legislafive waters in its quest to modernize Depression-era banking restrictions. Bartlett spent four terms on the House Banking Committee and is considered an expert on the subject by his former colleagues. Is a George W.-inspired Republican migration beginning?

■ Satellite baron Alan Goldfield, Chairman and CEO of Cell-Star, is building a home near Lake Dallas off Turbeville Road that not only will be one of the largest personal residences in Texas but also one of the most ostentatious. With 50,000 square feet, it houses not only the usual big-rich amenities, but also a movie theater, live theater, barber shop, beauty salon, ballroom, and front windows with bulletproof glass, and is estimated to cost about $50 million. On the same property: two homes for his offspring and their spouses, at 14,000 and 20,000 square feet respectively.

■ Was it really a good idea for the Dallas Business Journal to use photos of Michael Irvin and Deion Sanders, well-known for previous encounters with law ■ enforcement, to illustrate a business story on the Dallas Cowboys’ ’ lawsuit against Univision TV and KUVN-TV called “Busted Play”?

■ Agents at the Dallas office of the Drug Enforcement Agency, squeezed by a budget crunch, have been told to turn in all their cell phones and pagers, The DEA relies on money from seized assets to make up any federal budget shortfalls, and those numbers are down.

■ Writer Ruth Pennebaker has published her second young adult novel, Conditions of Love (Henry Holt, $16.95), which looks at teenage life through the eyes of Sarah Morgan, a 14-year-old freshman at Hillside Park High School (HPPS), where they serve cappuccino in the school cafeteria and rumors of a girl gang called the Chihuahuas wreak havoc. Pennebaker, now an Austin resident, lived for years in Highland Park, and the similarity of Hillside Park is no coincidence. Her sensitive tale of Sarah’s attempt to come to grips with the death of her father, amid turmoil fueled by hormones and social pressure, is both poignant and hilarious, with touches that anyone who has ever lived in the Park Cities will recognize, like the mothers’ obsessive need to decorate everything, even their Suburbans, at Christmas.

Festa d’Italia is coming soon to a Neiman’s near you, and the revival of the old Neiman-Marcus Fortnight (which takes place this September and lasts longer than a fortnight) is a return to the glory days of The Store. Neiman’s buyers are toothcombing Italy to bring you the rarest, most spectacular merchandise in the boot. Ignaz Groischek, NM VP of visual planning and presentation, scored big last month, screaming down a two-lane road outside Bologna at 100 mph as he checked out the new Lamborghini Diablo. As the 500-horsepower engine idled at an intersection, a group of Italian schoolchildren stooped to peer inside, exclaiming “Bella, bella!” When a custom Diablo with croco-dile interior arrives in September, Neiman’s shoppers will get to do the same, but forget that fantasy about the Tollway.

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