Thursday, December 8, 2022 Dec 8, 2022
67° F Dallas, TX


By Kimberly Goad |

IAM STANDING IN THE MIDDLE OF THE DALLAS VISUAL ART CENTER TRYING my best to act like I belong when anyone can tell I clearly do not. It is January 1997, the night of the Dallas Assembly’s annual Dine Around. The politicians, civic do-gooders, and power brokers who make up the Assembly are mixing and mingling over cocktails; later, we’ll all splinter off into groups of 10 for dinner at the home of an Assembly member.

I am waiting for my date to return with our drinks when I begin to eavesdrop on the chatter around me. The subject: Laura Miller. She is (apparently) the woman standing on the other side of the room. 1 conclude this only because 1 notice everyone around me stealing glances her way and the entire room navigating circuitous routes to avoid Miller and her husband, state Rep. Steve Wolens, the Dallas Assembly member of the family.

The Dallas Observer’s muckraker has just announced herdeci-sion to take a leave of absence from column-writing at the alternative weekly to be a stay-at-home mom (“People who know me, of course, think that my surprise foray into domesticity proves only one thing-that I’m out of my goddamned mind…”). I am hearing words-bad words-like “evil” and “egomania-cal” and “unethical” to describe Laura Miller. Because I read Miller’s column only occasionally and have never actually met her, I can’t really say whether she is a good person or a bad person, or for that matter if her column is a good thing or a bad thing. Iremember how she went after WalkerRailey, and that was good. But then she criticized the pink pinafore-clad volunteers at Parkland, and that seemed bad. She championed Paul Fielding for having die guts to fight bad back-room deals at City Hall, and mat was clearly good. But then Fielding pleaded guilty to federal charges of mail fraud and conspiracy (clearly bad). She lives in Oak Cliff, which is good. But then I discover that she and her husband occupy a sprawling Tudor, that Miller drives a Mercedes, employs a nanny, and sends her older daughter to Hockaday, all of which seems Highland Park-like, which, of course, is bad.

As I listen in on Dallas Assembly members picking apart Miller’s columns (“Kirk is very much into me pomp and circumstance….And so you have theinexplicably ostentatious white 1995 Lincoln Continental. And you have Kirk… summoning one of his two full-time, city-paid drivers to pick him up last Saturday at his Lakewood home…”) all I am thinking is, Laura Miller has the entire room in her thrall! I look her way. 1 see a tall, striking woman with bright blue eyes and a warm smile perfectly turned out in a stunning black dress with a sheer midriff, the kind you’d see at one of those Dallas charity galas rich white people love to attend, and I am thinking, So this is what Controversy looks like. How deceptively Dallas she looks. The big hair, the expensive dress, the earnestly handsome husband. I begin to wonder, Is that good or bad?

Before I’m able to reach a conclusion, my date returns with our dinner assignment. He and I will be dining at the Turtle Creek high-rise of Carol Reed, the political consultant who commandeered Ron Kirk into office in 1995. As it turns out, die group of 10 at Reed’s apartment also includes Ron and Matrice Ellis-Kirk.

An hour later, I find myself seated next to my mayor, who, for a bad City Hall guy, seems affable, funny, self-deprecating, We begin to talk about the local press and its coverage of City Hall, which not surprisingly leads us back to Laura Miller. My mayor- who, by now, I have decided is good, if only because he is an immensely entertaining dinner partner-offers a story. After one of Miller’s recent columns, an angry Kirk, whose way with an expletive is matched only by Laura Miller’s, called the columnist and, sparing none of his famous vocabulary, told her what he thought of the column.

I am thinking my mayor and his most volatile critic must’ve waged a cuss-off. But I am wrong. My mayor tells me that Laura Miller-the tough-talking columnist who’s called Kirk “a soap salesman for other people’s dreams” and “chief water carrier for the sports teams and downtown arena boosters”-broke down into tears.

Laura Miller? Crying? To Ron Kirk? My mayor?

All I am thinking is. That’s not good, In fact, I’d call that bad.

HE WAS TIRED. (SHE ALSO CAN’T TAKE CRITICISM, BUT NEVER mind that.) Laura Miller was tired.

Uncovering a bad guy once a week 52 weeks a year for six years is a lot of bad guys. And Miller, a woman who took great pride in the many hyphens it took to identify her (award-winning journalist-political wife-mother-of-three-soccer mom-gourmet cook-all-around-Martha Stewart-meets-Jimmy Breslin-with-a-little-Dorothy Parker-thrown-in-to-romanticize-the-whole-thing). wanted a break. After the birth of her third baby in 1995, Miller, who rarely had been able to meet the Observers Friday deadline, had begun spending weekends on her column. Her husband, the respected legislator with a demanding career of his own, didn’t like it. She’d been talking to her editors about cutting back. But what was the Observer without Laura Miller? Then again, what was Laura Miller without her column? (More on mat later.)

Until Phoenix-based New Times Inc. bought the paper in 1991 and infused it with the kind of capital the scrappy alternative needed to become competitive in what was suddenly a one-newspaper town, the Observer was nothing more than “a collection of personal ads with an article in front that’s handed out free in restaurants.” to paraphrase one of Miller’s earliest targets, Ross Perot Sr.-Dallas’ quintessential rich white guy. The paper’s following consisted of underdogs, outcasts, and lonely hearts. Indeed, if Miller had written about Ross Perot Sr. allegedly reprimanding police officers for being rude to his daughter-in-law during a traffic violation for the Observer-as opposed to the Times Herald, as she did in 1988-chances are good that Perot wouldn’t have cared. Nor would he have been able to wield his influence over the editor to get the story killed, as he was reportedly able to with David Burgin, the Herald’s then-editor.

Now. the Observer was in-your-face, anti-establishment, anti-Dallas-a newspaper that allowed Laura Miller to be Laura Miller, a place where she could practice the kind of journalism that got her nowhere at the Morning News (in the early to mid-’80s), nowhere at the New York Daily News (in 1987), and fired from the Times Herald (in the late ’80s). Miller, who liked to paint with broad-brush strokes from a palette of black and white, lived in a world occupied, handily, by: The Good and The Bad. And never was there a question about which was which. Miller was Good; everyone else was Bad.

In Miller’s early columns for the Observer, former Mayor Steve Bartlett and City Manager Jan Hart were the “consummate control freak” and “the ice queen,” respectively. Later, it was Ron Kirk and John Ware-the ’”hired gun” and “one mean sonofabitch”On the City Council, Don Hicks was “the maniacal one;” John Loza was the “pompous ignoramus;” Craig McDaniel was “a tepid sort;” Larry Duncan, “the champion of the little people…the stalwart defender of the smallest neighborhood, the most powerless constituent. . .the white guy who somehow managed to get elected to represent a district that is 61 percent black” (in other words, a Good guy), became Bad after he asked a city employee to repair a flat tire.

Someone was always lying. Alphonso Jackson was a “cheap liar;” John Ware was “a liar and a cheat.” Paul Fielding, meanwhile, was “an ethical man…an honest man.” Her favorite targets were rich white guys like Trammel! Crow, Ray Hunt, Tom Hicks, and Ross Perot Jr. When Dallas elected a black mayor four years ago, she was forced to expand her definition of bad guy to include Ron Kirk, who became a sort of honorary rich white guy to Laura Miller.

“There’s no question Laura sees the world in black-and-white terms,” says Peter Elkind, editor of the Observer from 1991 to 1996. “She sees good guys and bad guys.” As for the pressure of being a six-figure columnist who’s required to uncover liars and cheats on a weekly basis, Elkind says, “there wasn’t a requirement that she kneecap people every week. She wrote soft features that were nicely done, although she’d hold her nose about it.”

But the kneecappers won the awards. The kneecappers made her a must-read downtown. The kneecappers gave political Dallas a reason to pick up “the charming little rag with the Futon ads,” as Miller now refers to the paper. “Her journalism was like a car wreck,” says former City Council member Craig McDaniel. “Everybody slowed down to see who got hurt and what kind of damage was done, but then they drove on.” Nonetheless, the Observer had a journalistic presence for the first time since its launch in 1981. By January 1997, the month Miller announced her leave of absence, the Observer’sdistribution had jumped from 80,000 (in 1991 ) to 97,000. Miller needed the Observer. And the Observer clearly needed Miller. She was what New Times Inc. executive editor Michael Lacey called a “franchise player.”

Which may explain the weeks Miller was allowed by her editors to wander embarrassingly far afield of City Hall. One week she wrote about tracking down her old high school boyfriend back in Stamford, Conn. (“I liked him immensely, but V m afraid that I treated him like most 15-year-old girls treat boys they like-badly.”) Her third pregnancy, the birth of her son, was Miller’s opportunity to reflect on her perfectionism-in this case, her obsession with staying in shape. (“When you know you’re in the last pregnancy of your life, and you’re 36 years old, and you have two other rambunctious children and a full-time job and a traveling husband and no earthly idea how you’re going to be able to handle it all, you live in dread of unlikely diversions. . .that, after all, can absent you for many precious minutes from the productive world. The only sure way to avoid such inefficiency, I figured, was to remain fully in the game: stay focused, never skip a beat-or a morning jog-and simply incorporate the birth into my weekend workout.”) Everything and everybody-babies, boyfriends, rich white guys-were treated equally under Miller’s microscope. And her skewed sense of proportion was never questioned.

Miller was the staff member with an office of her own. The one with the reserved spot to the right of Elkind at the Monday editorial meetings, the one who had unofficial veto power over stories and staff hires. There was the Good Laura who won the awards, brought her Rolodex toeditorial meetings to help co-workers source their stories, showed up with pesto (carefully labeled “homemade”) for a sick friend, coached her daughter’s soccer team, and converted to Judaism when she married attorney Steve Wolens. And then there was the Bad Laura. The one whose ego clouded her perceptions, the one whose drive and ambition made it impossible for her to make lasting friendships, the one who spewed profanity sometimes out of anger, but more often for effect.

Former Observer staff writer Holly Mullen had never met Laura Miller but had read her columns when she attended her first editorial meeting in 1993 (two years before Mullen joined the staff). “I remember silting in the staff meeting and seeing Laura for the first time. You read what she writes, and you think she’s this dirt-under-the-fingernails, hard-bitten, tough broad. Physically, she looks like a Junior League president,” says Mullen, now a staff writer for die Salt Lake Tribune. “But she curses a blue streak. ’C~t’ was her favorite word, and the first time I heard her use it, she was directing it at Jan Hart. 1 remember thinking, ’Wow, this woman is wearing a Chanel suit and she sounds like she just got off the merchant marine ship.’”

By January 1997, Miller, desperate to cut back on her workload, decided to take a leave of absence. She announced die news in a farewell column casting herself as a journalist of heroic dimensions, (“I’ve soldiered on, week after week, zealously pursuing stories dial were important to me… working nights and most weekends, and pulling the occasional all-nighter at the office to get a story just right.”) But Laura Wolens’ identity was so tied up in being Laura Miller, no one believed she was really dropping out.

Sure enough, 10 months later, Miller was back-prompted, she said, by the $230 million arena deal Ron Kirk and John Ware had negotiated with Tom Hicks and Ross Perot Jr., the issue she turned into her own personal cause celebre during her six-year tenure at the Observer. Initially, her coverage centered on Ray Hunt: after it became clear that he was the wrong rich white guy to pursue. Miller redirected her prose to focus almost solely on her favorite foursome: Hicks, Perot, Kirk, and Ware.

As she told it-in her first column back on the job-she walked out to her front yard one October morning, and “there it lay, staring up at me from my front lawn, as appealing as a dead possum. It was the Saturday front page of the Dallas Morning News-on this day, a truly nauseating sight. It featured a gigantic color photo of Mayor Ron Kirk. Dallas Mavericks owner Ross Perot Jr., and Dallas Stars owner Tom Hicks. All three sported huge grins, expensive silk ties, and those big, frat brother-type shoulder squeezes. They.. .had finally made their deal with the devil to build a new arena.” With that, “this semi-retired writer” marched back inside “to scrounge through drawers in search of that long-lost key to the office.”

That’s Miller’s version.

Skeptics believed Miller returned to the grind of weekly column-writing because she discovered she wasn’t cut out for full-time motherhood (a bad thing), and the only way she could return to being Laura Miller was to cast herself as Good triumphing against the rich white guys and their chief water carrier. By the time voters approved the arena deal during a January 1998 election, Miller had already cast herself as better than Good by announcing her intentions to run for Bob Stimson’s newly vacated City Council seat.

Although she lost the arena fight, she discovered the spotlight through televised debates with the mayor. Laura Miller the candidate foreshadowed Laura Miller the City Council member, who simply couldn’t help being Laura Miller the columnist when, in search of a new issue to oppose, she came out against the Trinity River project. Alas, the same voters who elected Miller to the City Council in May 1998 also had me temerity to pass the bond package that included development of the Trinity River.

“I have no idea how I’ll feel if I actually get a place at the table,” she had admitted in the Observer cover story she wrote announcing her candidacy. The headline on die piece was “Mr. Mayor, Meet Your Nightmare.” But Ron Kirk was already well acquainted with his nightmare.

LAURA Miller isn’t talklng. Not to me, anyway. In the weeks and months after she was diagnosed with breast cancer last August, she’s appeared on Channel 4 in “A Public Woman’s Private Battle” and on Channel 8 as co-host of Good Morning Texas, as well as random newscasts during October’s Breast Cancer Awareness Month; she’s granted interviews to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, the Associated Press, the Dallas Morning News.

Her friends wondered if the glare of the TV cameras hadn’t become too seductive. Her critics scoffed at Miller for using her disease to build political clout. All of which makes me think. Only Laura Miller could use her own battle with breast cancer to spread the word about early detection and then be accused of trying to build political capital. Does she deserve this kind of criticism? Is Laura Miller really that bad? Or is she that good?

I call her office at City Hall on March 10 to request an interview for my own Laura Miller profile. She is not in, so I explain to her assistant, Debbie Brown, the purpose of my call. Brown promises to relay the message. Then I ask her about Miller’s schedule. I want to see Miller in action, so I ask if she will be making any public appearances over the next few weeks.

“No,” Brown says, flatly.

“None?” I ask, incredulous.

“None,” she says, her tone curiously apologetic.

1 later discover that Miller has, in fact, a number of engagements on her calendar. She will be the featured speaker at the March 23 “Tuesday Talk” luncheon (confirmed since December). She is scheduled to accept the Sherry Crowe Award at the March 27 Evergreen Gala benefiting cancer research {confirmed since January). She and her husband will be featured at a Greater Dallas Association of Realtors event, “A Power Couple: From City Hall to Capitol Hill-Who has the Power at Home?”, on April 15.

I begin to wonder, Did Laura Miller instruct her assistant to lie to me? Is Laura Miller a fibber?

Two weeks later, 1 am mingling with the wives of a bunch of rich white guys at Maggiano’s (the Italian restaurant at NorthPark launched by Norman Brinker, himself a rich white guy). PR. woman Julia Sweeney has reserved the upstairs ballroom for her “Tuesday Talk” luncheon. Sweeney, a former features writer at the Dallas Times Herald, has known today’s guest speaker, Laura Miller, since 1979, the year Miller interned for the paper.

Since the columnist turned Council member has refused to return my calls and refused to be photographed for this profile, the photographer and I decide to attend the luncheon in hopes that he will get his shot and I will get in a few questions. He and I plant ourselves just inside the entrance to the upstairs ballroom at Maggiano’s. Taking a lesson from the Laura Miller school of journalism, we plan an ambush the minute she arrives.

At 11:40, the room begins to fill with women-Lawrence Marcus and a few other men notwithstanding-who paid $35 to eat lunch and hear the Council member from District 3 speak. Sweeney confides she wouldn’t have booked Miller a year ago because none of the women in this room would’ve known who Laura Miller was. Now, however, she is practically a celebrity, given her regular appearances on TV.

Miller is scheduled to speak at noon. At 5 minutes past 12, the ballroom is full, but the podium at the front is empty. Laura Miller is not here. I begin to wonder: Where is she? Did she agree to speak before these wives of rich white guys only to no-show? Did something else come up? What could be so important? Was there a family emergency? An urgent City Council matter that needs her full attention? (Giant pothole? Burst water main?) Or was there simply another lunch ? A better lunch ? A good lunch ?

Before 1 have the opportunity to fish 35 cents out of my purse and find a pay phone to call Miller on her cell phone, catch her off guard, and inquire into her whereabouts (the way she did my mayor when he failed to show up at the Akiba Academy Jewish day school fund-raising dinner three years ago), she breezes in. After five months of chemotherapy and radiation treatment, her hair is finally growing back. 1 hardly recognize Miller in her new short do. But she recognizes me. As she walks in with Sweeney, I make eye contact with Miller. I barely have “Laura” out of my mouth when she gives me a look that makes me feel like I’m Ron Kirk. Without missing a step, she passes me by. Now I know what it feels like to be Laura Miller in pursuit of somebody bad at City Hall who won’t talk to me.

Sweeney introduces her guest speaker, and as Miller takes the podium and begins to dazzle the crowd with the anecdotes of her life, she literally turns her back to my side of the room, where the photographer is crouched nearby. I want to apologize to those around me who paid $35 only to have the misfortune of being seated on this side of the room, my side, the bad side.

As Miller speaks, I learn that not only is she the wife of a rich white guy, but the daughter of one as well. Former Neiman Marcus president Phil Miller (now chairman of Saks Holdings Inc.) got the oldest of his three children an internship at the Dallas Times Herald after she announced she wanted to be “a serious journalist” 20 years ago. The editors quite naturally assigned the daughter of Phil Miller to the ’’Style” section, but after a few days of attending parties and asking Dallas women about their designer clothing, she marched into the managing editor’s office and said, basically, that this was not what she studied journalism for.

After graduating from the University of Wisconsin in 1980, Miller went to work at die Miami Herald as a junior reporter covering church socials and high school plays. She lasted a year and then quit to backpack through Europe. Overseas, she filed stories for the Miami Herald on the war in the Falkland Islands, IRA bombings, and the funeral of Princess Grace. Back in the U.S., she returned to Dallas, where, as Miller says, she’s “worked for every daily except the Greensheet.” (She doesn’t mention her two-year stint at D Magazine.)

The speech, peppered with entertaining anecdotes, is vintage Miller: name-droppy and self-deprecating on the surface, self-aggrandizing underneath. Even in her speeches. Miller’s storytelling is simplistic in its familiar pattern of Good in the face of Bad. (For the Princess Grace story, she tells of how, as a young, idealistic reporter, she sniffed out the man she believed to have pulled Grace Kelly from the car. When she finally reached the man’s house, she “got to the door and banged and banged and banged. This farmer came to the door, and in my best high school French I said, ’Excuse me, I understand you dragged Grace Kelly from the car.’ In perfect English, he said, ’Honey you are three hours and $30,000 late. The National Enquirer’s already been here.”’)

At the end of her speech-which includes stories from her first year on the Council that have her inexplicably referring to her fellow Council members and Ron Kirk as “them,” as if she were still an outsider, still a naysayer, still the doubting columnist covering “them”-she agrees to take five minutes’ worth of questions.

I raise my hand.

I want to ask her about a recent profile, in which she was quoted as saying. “I could never go back and do those columns again because I just have a different perspective on life.” 1 also want to ask her why, according to Dallas Observer staff writer Christine Biederman, Miller “did everything she could to kill” a hard-hitting Observer cover story on witness coaching at Baron & Budd {her husband’s law firm) in the months after she left the paper. I also want her to comment on the fund-raising letters she recently mailed to state lobbyists seeking donations for her (uncontested) run for a second term on the City Council. Although it’s legal to do so, I’m wondering if she worries about die appearance of impropriety in soliciting funds from die people who lobby her husband while the Legislature is in session. Does she worry about leaving a bad taste in the mouths of taxpayers the way John Ware’s going to work for Tom Hicks left “a highly bad taste” in her mourn?

My hand is raised high.

She finally looks my way. Indeed, she’s looking at me. I am certain Laura Miller is going to call on me. But it is not to be.

Instead, she calls on the woman directly to my left, a woman who works with the American Cancer Society, the organization that will be honoring Miller with an award at the upcoming Evergreen Gala.

UNDAUNTED, I SOLDIER ON, ZEALOUSLY PURSUING THIS STORY, a story that is not merely important to me as a journalist, but also to the citizens of Dallas, the taxpayers. It’s that image of the common man that keeps me going, even as I stare at me long list of sources before me-old acquaintances of Miller’s from her days at the Morning News, former co-workers at the Observer and Times Herald, editors who found Miller to be a “prima donna,” and assorted friends who won’t talk to me because they’ve had a falling out with her or because their friendship is “too complicated to discuss,” as well as, of course, the many liars she has exposed over the years.

I am thinking, This is a woman who has spent virtually her entire professional life alienating people. Now, she’s alienating herself at City Hall.

When the Council endorsed spending $50,000 on a Veterans Day Parade, Miller called the expenditure “excessive,” leaving a number of people in me Council chambers that day visibly upset, including Councilwoman Veletta Lill, who walked out in tears. As part of her obsession with changing the city’s ethics policy, she accused Ron Kirk of a conflict of interest in negotiating die legal feud over services at Love Field. ( Kirk is a partner at Gardere & Wynne, the law firm representing American Airlines, which joined Fort Worth in a lawsuit against Dallas seeking to restrict flights out of Love Field.) The closed-door meeting ended with the mayor hurling a string of obscenities and slamming a door,

But the instincts of Laura Miller the City Council member didn’t give in to the instincts of Laura Miller the columnist until Dallas began pursuing the 2012 Olympics. When it looked as if taxpayers might have to foot part of the bill if die city wins its bid to host the Games, Laura Miller-in a perfect Laura Miller moment-accused the Olympics committee of lying. “I’m so tired of being lied to,”she announced to the Council (and, by extension, the television audience). With an eye on the May election, she turned the Olympics bid into her new cause célèbre.

She opposed the arena. She opposes the Trinity project. She opposes the Olympics. I am thinking, Laura Miller is against everything. Which makes me wonder, Why does Laura Miller hate Dallas?

IT IS ANOTHER DAY. IT IS, IN FACT, WEDNESDAY. THE DAY OF THE weekly Council session. I will walk over to City Hall, I will take the elevator up to the hallowed sixth floor of 1500 Manila, and I will catch Laura Miller in an unguarded moment. I will find a clever way to provoke her into saying something untoward.

The City Council has been in recess for the past two weeks, so I am forewarned by Justin Lonon, public information representative in my mayor’s office, that today’s session will probably run long. Lonon and I have been trading phone calls for many days. I want an interview with my mayor. I want to know what he thinks about Laura Miller and the perception among television viewers that she’s keeping him in line down at City Hail.

When I initially made my request to talk to Ron Kirk about Laura Miller, Lonon let out a heavy sigh. “I don’t know how interested he’ll be,” he told me. “It’s not his favorite subject.” Lonon agreed to approach Kirk again.

Meanwhile. I am sitting in Council chambers observing the bad guys sitting at the horseshoe. I fix my eyes on Miller, who looks quite chic, not at all like a housewife who views her Council post as a hobby. In a long blue-black skirt with matching top and a cardigan-style jacket resting just so on her shoulders, she looks, in fact, quite fashion-conscious. (I secretly hope she and my mayor get into a nasty spat, just so I can see what happens to the jacket resting precariously on her shoulders when she waves him off with her hand or shakes a well-manicured finger in his direction.)

Alas, what transpires over the course of the morning are those issues Miller described during her speech yesterday as “too boring to appear on the 6 o’clock news.” Indeed, all I am thinking is, What motivated this woman to trade a six-figure salary and star status at the Observer/or a $50 post? What drew her to a life of debates like this morning’s over the city’s neglected street medians and the cost of “median maintenance” ? I begin to wonder. Has that “sense of perpetual outrage” over the arena deal that Miller claimed when she announced her decision to run for the newly vacant District 3 seat in December 1997 turned into a sense of perpetual boredom? Did she ever imagine herself spending the better part of a Wednesday morning Council session debating “median maintenance” ? No wonder Miller spent her freshman term resorting to her old columnist-like ways of name-calling and fact-bending. No wonder Miller planted herself on the minority side of virtually every high-profile issue.

Which leads me back to my question: Why does Laura Miller hate Dallas?

The answer is deceptively simple. In her black-and-white world, we’re an infuriating shade of gray. Maybe it’s because we never do what she tells us to do.

THE MORNING’S HOT DEBATE OF PUBLIC-VERSUS-PRIVATIZED maintenance of Dallas’ weed-infested street medians is limping to a finish when a young bearded white guy who turns out to be Justin Lonon sits down beside me. The look on his face tells me the interview with my mayor is not to be. “The mayor just feels like he’s said all he wants to say.” Lonon says.

As I redirect my attention to the horseshoe. I don’t believe my eyes. Is that Laura Miller talking-indeed, laughing-in a face-to-face with my mayor? Is that my mayor running his hand over his bare head in a reference to Miller’s new pixie? Is that Laura Miller patting my mayor on the shoulder?

Has Laura Miller stepped into the murky gray?

The image before me takes me back to something Miller told the Press Club of Dallas during a recent panel discussion. “There were things that I assumed were black and white that were gray,” she said. “I see more of the gray now.”

Which makes me think, That’s got to be a good thing.

Laura Miller called Olympics advocate Tom Luce a liar. He’s in good company. Miller has a pantheon of liars that includes everyone who’s anyone-everyone except Paul Fielding, who’s currently in prison for being a very big liar. Long-ago Police Chief Billy Prince was “a fibber.” Ray Hunt was, too-though nobody can quite figure out why. Then it was those “lying arena shills ” Ron Kirk, John Ware, Tom Hicks, and Ross Perot Jr. And those are just her recent favorites.

Touchy, touchy! This eruption at a City Council retreat betrayed a new sensitivity that Miller never displayed when she used her column to beat up every elected official in town, To her, mayors were always acting like they “own the joint.” Steve Bartlett communicated “an aura of superiority.” And Ron Kirk is just “a soap salesman.” How threatening.’

Laura Miller didn ’t like being ambushed by a Channel 11 reporterseeking comment on Al Lipscomb’s indictment. Former City Manager John Ware probably didn’t like it either the day Miller ambushed him with an impromptu news conference, inviting local news cameras in for a one-on-one meeting with him. Miller liked ambushes then, but she sure doesn’t appreciate them now. In 1997 Miller traded kneecapping for housekeeping(although in the past, she said, “I had complete and utter disdain fornon-working mothers…! mean, what did these people do all day?”). But Millercould only suffer as a soccer mom for so long-she went back to work 10months after leaving and then announced for City Council, for which shethinks she should be paid $60,000 as “supplemental income.”