People and Politics
TV News Reporter
Readers’ choice: Gloria Campos, WFAA-TV/Channel 8
Critic’s choice: Chris Heinbaugh, WFAA-TV/Channel 8
Heinbaugh has done a nice job in recent years covering Dallas City Hall, and he’s very informative when it comes to local politics. But our favorite Heinbaugh report this year was in July, when he covered the exploding acetylene tanks at the gas company near Reunion Arena in downtown Dallas. Because WFAA’s offices were so near, Heinbaugh was the first reporter on the scene. While doing his live stand-up, with fiery explosions in the background, he promptly got hit in the head with some flaming shrapnel. He wasn’t seriously injured, but every TV reporter in town was jealous. Perhaps impressed by the reporter’s courage under fire, Dallas Mayor Tom Leppert recently named Heinbaugh his chief of staff. Now he’ll be deflecting shrapnel from the always-contentious Dallas City Council.
Readers’ choice: Dale Hansen, WFAA-TV/Channel 8
Critic’s choice: Derek Harper, KTXA-TV/Channel 21
We usually aren’t in favor of ex-jocks moving into the ever-more-serious world of TV sportscasting. The world of groin pulls does not exactly meld smoothly into the world of quote pulls. But former Dallas Mavericks great Derek Harper has moved into the TV biz in a good way. His pre- and post-game Mavs shows give the viewer worthwhile insights and a bit of inside humor that you don’t get elsewhere. He doesn’t fall back on jock homer-ism either; he was very critical of the Mavs when they got blasted in the first round of the playoffs by the lowly Golden State Warriors. Harper also co-hosts a must-see hoops show with Mavs coach Avery Johnson. Just two old point guards breaking down plays and then playing horse.
Hottest Local Celebrity – Male
Readers’ choice: Mike Modano, Dallas Stars
Critic’s choice: Kelley Gulledge, Fort Worth Cats
The 28-year-old Gulledge, son of Texas Rangers announcer Chuck Morgan, has had some professional curveballs thrown his way: college baseball stardom followed by frustrating stints in pro ranks with the Rangers, Minnesota Twins, and Milwaukee Brewers. He joined the Fort Worth Cats for the 2007 season and scored a team-leading 11 homers. We’re more interested in other stats: 6’1′”, 200 pounds, lantern jaw, Romanesque nose, and lips like ripe figs. He is pure, youthful Brando-esque masculinity poured between a cap and cleats. Should he ditch baseball after this season, we suggest he get an agent and try acting or modeling.
Hottest Local Celebrity – Female
Readers’ choice: Julie Bologna, weathercaster, KTXA-TV/ Channel 11
Critic’s choice: Mara Lee Miller
Miller, who goes by the stage name Bosque Brown, is more waif than femme fatale, yet her spare, sentimental songs delivered in a fragile, melancholic voice combine to make her downright sexy. She can cry on our shoulder anytime.
Print Journalist (Not at Fort Worth Weekly)
Readers’ choice: Randy Galloway, Fort Worth Star-Telegram
Critic’s choice: Yamil Berard, Fort Worth Star-Telegram
One of the few true journalists left at the daily – or at least one of the few still willing to expose the flaws in the societal and political systems no matter whose ox gets gored – Berard does outstanding work for a paper that too often thinks celebrity news is all that the great unwashed care about. She goes after the sacred cows who aren’t nearly as sexy as Paris Hilton but whose misdeeds have a far greater impact on ordinary citizens than the spoiled heiress’ whinings about jail conditions. From the scandal of a $400 million deficit in the city employee retirement fund to the school district’s hiring of shoddy contractors to a slum landlord’s abandonment of his poor tenants, Berard still adheres to the near-forgotten journalistic tenet of “afflicting the comfortable and comforting the afflicted.” Bottom line, she’s just damned good.
Local Morning News Show
Readers’ choice: Good Day, KDFW-TV/Channel 4
Critic’s choice: Good Day
Weather, traffic, and news are pretty much the same regardless of which channel you watch. It’s the personalities that make or break a morning show. Tim Ryan and Megan Henderson are just goofy enough to make Good Day fun without losing credibility. Ryan’s deadpan delivery and daily dollops of derision are especially refreshing. So are the “Tell It To Tim” segments on Fridays, in which he shares recorded messages from people who usually aren’t as enamored of the show as we are. A recent caller criticized Ryan’s “buffoonness” and “sarcasticness,” and he suggested the caller improve her vocabularity.
Readers’ choice: Kidd Kraddick, KHKS/106.1-FM (KISS-FM)
Critic’s choice: Richard “Big Dick” Hunter, KLLI/105.3-FM (Live 105.3)
Whether he’s going one-on-one with O.J. Simpson or hanging with Ron Jeremy at the Playboy Mansion, Richard “Big Dick” Hunter has carved out a unique niche for himself in the pantheon of local radio hosts. After a stint of doing weekends only, his show, “Big Dick’s Wild Ass Circus,” has finally returned to its proper prominence. His dulcet baritone and rapier wit can now be enjoyed Monday through Saturday from 10 p.m. to 12 a.m.
Servant of the People
Readers’ choice: Wendy Davis
Critic’s choice: Jim Wright
We don’t know whether a statistical analysis would reveal a connection between humor and red hair, but it’s a fact that some of our favorite funny people are redheads: Lucille Ball, Conan O’Brien, Willie Nelson, Carrot Top (well, maybe not Carrot Top). Add to this list of orange-coiffed wisecrackers Fort Worth native Jim Wright, who represented this area for several decades in the U.S. House of Representatives. Partisan firestorms prompted him to vacate his House Speaker hotseat in 1989, but Wright didn’t become bitter. He turns 85 this year and is slowed by physical problems but remains involved in local and national politics, teaches political science at Texas Christian University, writes a column for the local daily, receives and answers letters from his former constituents, and takes every opportunity to smell the roses. “For all the miles on my speedometer, I’m a lucky man,” he said. “I’m happy every morning I wake up.”
Candidate for Alien Abduction
Readers’ choice: George Bush
Critic’s choice: Allan Saxe
The University of Texas at Arlington professor and Fort Worth Star-Telegram columnist actually lobbied for this award – a first, in the Weekly’s collective memory. That fact in and of itself makes him eligible for this honor – but then he deserves it in so many ways. The local philanthropist with uncategorizable political views has left his name on everything from medical clinics to gardens to an art gallery by donating some $6 million to public institutions. Endless philanthropy on a poli-sci professor’s salary – he must be from another planet. When his fellow off-worlders come to take him home, his name will leave behind lots of evidence of his good works here.
Politician Most Likely to Sell Grandma to the Highest Bidder
Readers’ choice: Mayor Mike Moncrief
Critic’s choice: Arthur L. Raines, Johnson County medical officer and medical examiner
While Mayor Mike Moncrief and his relations with the gas drilling companies get all the hype, the jail at Johnson County turns out to be a terrific little racket all its own. The jail’s only doctor charges inmates $15 for an aspirin and leaves seriously ill prisoners to fend for themselves without hospital treatment. If they should die, he gets to change hats and investigate it himself, as the county medical examiner. What’s the legal remedy for a major conflict of interest? First find some local voters who care, then call us in the morning. Tarrant County looks better all the time.
Subject for Cryogenic Preservation
Readers’ choice: Van Cliburn
Critic’s choice: Fort Worth philanthropists
Let’s just freeze ‘em all. Those tasteless billionaires who have made Fort Worth one of the ugliest architectural and outdoor-art messes in the country, with a faux-stone library, a concert hall whose splendid angels face – what? – a narrow street and a restaurant for crisssake, a giant piece of ludicrous outdoor art paying homage to a suited-and-briefcased businessman that replaced four magnificent Matisse copper sculptures, and a downtown that looks like a Disneyland theme park as designed by Ed Bass’ favorite architect David Schwarz. Maybe in a thousand years, these folks can be thawed by some future scientists hoping to understand why Fort Worth never got out of Dallas’ shadow.
Candidate for a Makeover
Readers’ choice: U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison
Critic’s choice: Fort Worth City Council member Chuck Silcox
We like Chuck most of the time, especially when he uses the argument on virtually every city spending project that inflation will make it cost more down the line. But Chuck needs to get a little more with it dress-wise. His suits seem kinda 1970-ish with lots of stripes and white collars on colored shirts. And he always has a Bluetooth phone in his ear. Plus, he eats M&M peanut candy at just about every council meeting. Maybe we know too much about Chuck.
Readers’ choice: Carter Burdette, Fort Worth City Council member
Critic’s choice: Jay Milner
This longtime journalist, author, and sidekick to Willie Nelson during the 1970s Outlaw phenomenon is still hanging on at 83. Milner was part of a revolutionary rabble of Texas writers who dubbed themselves Maddogs, including Bud Shrake, Gary Cartwright, Larry L. King, and Dan Jenkins. Milner was a hard-living raconteur during his Maddog years, living on booze, speed, and all-night revelry before ditching all that for the quiet life in Fort Worth. His 1998 book Confessions of a Maddog: A Romp Through the High-Flying Texas Music and Literary Era of the Fifties to the Seventies was well received. He began work on a novel after that, put it down when his health deteriorated a few years ago, but is trying to get it started again. “We’ve all quit hurting ourselves,” he said of his old friends. “Good thing we did, or we’d all be dead by now.”
Critic’s choice: Opal Lee
Old people, like old dogs, aren’t always great at learning new tricks or admitting mistakes, but this 80-year-old Eastside activist isn’t above a little self-scrutiny. As a longtime Metroplex Food Bank board member, Lee defended the nonprofit’s executive director, Sharon Hogan, during a Fort Worth Weekly investigation that produced evidence that Hogan was manipulating donors while severely mismanaging the agency. After the story was published, Lee, shocked by the revelations, withdrew her support of Hogan, called for her resignation, changed the locks on the doors, changed bank accounts, and set out to rebuild the food bank and its reputation.
Critic’s choice: Cri Nobody
We aren’t sure how old Cri is (early 20s, we think), not sure what his real name is, but this guy is active on many issues. He helps run the 1919 Hemphill collective, adding another level of variety to the city’s arts and music. Cri’s latest project is trying to convince Fort Worth to build a skate park so that all the young dudes have a place to practice their sport.
Underrated Pro Athlete
Readers’ choice: Frank Catalanotto, Texas Rangers
Critic’s choice: Juan Carlos Toja, FC Dallas
Deemed expendable by storied Argentinean soccer team River Plate, the 22-year-old left-winger came to America to deliver the ball to FC Dallas’ strikers, only to watch the goal-scorers suffer injury after injury. No problem; the tricky and fiery-tempered Colombian has started every game, scored six goals from his midfield position (good enough to lead the team), single-handedly turned a 3-0 loss to D.C. United into a 3-3 draw, made the All-Star squad, and kept the team in the thick of the playoff chase. All that deserves at least a five-minute break from Cowboys coverage by our local sports media.
Athlete Almost Worth His Salary
Readers’ choice: Dirk Nowitzki, Dallas Mavericks
Critic’s choice: Mike Ribeiro, Dallas Stars
Surprised to learn that Ribeiro was the Stars leading scorer last year? Us, too. While teammates Mike Modano, Jere Lehtinen, and Brenden Morrow grab the lion’s share of the attention, the Montreal native quietly carries the offensive load for considerably less money. Obtained at the 2006 trading deadline for the bargain price of defenseman Janne Niinimää, the 27-year-old center is tremendous value in a salary-capped National Hockey League.
Use of Taxpayer Money
Readers’ choice: Cowboys Stadium in Arlington
Critic’s choice: Fort Worth school district/John Peter Smith hospital school-based health clinics
Spending public money to keep kids healthy should be a higher priority than giving it away to RadioShack. But the health of the city’s children has not been high on Fort Worth leaders’ to-do list. Witness the city’s high infant mortality rates and the increasing rate of childhood asthma. Now a small but important step has been taken through a partnership put in place a couple of years ago between the Fort Worth schools and the Tarrant County health network, designed to take healthcare where the kids are. Three Fort Worth elementary schools – Rufino Mendoza, Forest Oak, and Eastern Hills – now offer clinics in preventive medicine and chronic disease management for students and their younger siblings. The clinics are staffed by JPS hospital personnel and are open five days a week during the school year.
Readers’ choice: Paris Hilton
Critic’s choice: Bill Parcells’ departure
The Dallas Cowboys could probably win this category every year, but the way the mainstream media handled the Big Tuna’s resignation did no one any credit. Yes, Parcells failed to win a playoff game (thanks to Tony Romo’s bobbled snap), and he seems like a pretty miserable guy to be around. But he got a kicking on his way out the door for only one reason: He treated the press with shortness and sarcasm. So it all counts for nothing – Parcells shepherding Romo’s early career and bringing the team back to relevance and the playoffs. Nice guy Wade Phillips will reap the benefits of whatever success the Cowboys have this year, but Parcells deserves much of the credit.
Readers’ choice: Fairmount Neighborhood Association
Critic’s choice: Lake Worth Alliance
Some neighborhood groups get caught up in the minutiae, like complaining about what kind of hedges a homeowner can plant or how to enforce historical guidelines to ban garage-door openers. But the LWA has a singular purpose, and they are hewing to it. They simply want the city to use funds to dredge Lake Worth, create attractive parks and beaches, and maybe open the way for floating restaurants and other businesses that will make the lake a jewel of the Metroplex. They figure all the money the city is getting from gas drilling under Lake Worth can pay for it without raising taxes. Their focus is not on how their streetlights will look next year but on how healthy and inviting all of Cowtown will be 40 years from now.
Example of Gumption or Grit
Readers’ choice: Child Advocates of Tarrant County
Critic’s choice: Gary Hogan
You can almost hear city officials, sounding eerily similar to Col. Klink, saying, “Hooogaaaan …. .” No wonder – one of the strongest and most rational voices representing neighborhood interests in the natural gas boom has been that of this mustachioed Westsider. Despite finding himself outgunned while serving on a 2005 gas drilling ordinance task force that was heavily stacked in favor of the industry, Hogan never lost focus or alienated himself. He fought for 1,000-foot buffer zones between homes and wells (the task force raised the buffer from 300 to 600 feet only after a fatal Forest Hill blowup), and he predicted widespread devaluations of property. Two years later, he remains a viable voice of the people as the scope of drilling intensifies. The city could use more folks like him.
Readers’ choice: Saul Garza, anchor/reporter, KDFW-TV/Channel 4
Critic’s choice: Steve Hollern
Hollern is the former chair of the Tarrant County Republican Party, but has stayed active in the community even after moving out of the job. His latest mission is getting signatures to put a referendum on the ballot that would cap spending on the Trinity River Vision project. He’s working hard against the so-called flood-control project that keeps getting more and more expensive. This goes against the city’s party line, but Hollern is doing his best to keep this boondoggle from becoming an even more massive waste of taxpayer dollars.
Readers’ choice: Caravan of Dreams (by Steve-O)
Critic’s choice: Caravan of Dreams
Some blogs are about one thing or another, like music or art, while others do little more than reflect upon some nut’s inner demons. The Caravan of Dreams blog mixes politics, culture, and music, all with a Cowtown perspective. Steve-O jumps around a lot but uses his local angles to make this blog distinctive. He offers a little news on the latest real estate action (condos on Bluebonnet Circle) and throws in some political commentary (Fort Worth striving for a smoking ban). But then he comes up with some weird ones, like a poem about a recent lunar eclipse. And he called the city and the Fort Worth Star-Telegram to task for supporting the recent decision to cut out old trees for Barnett Shale money on the Trinity River near Colonial Country Club. Steve-O’s musings are at www.thecaravanofdreams.blogspot.com.
Local Web Forum
Readers’ choice: Fort Worth Architecture Forum
Critic’s choice: Fort Worth Architecture Forum
This one is a no-brainer. Local architect John Roberts has run this forum for years, and it’s the place where architects and urban design folks and real estate developers all go to weigh in on what is happening in Fort Worth. These people are well-connected in the real estate development world, and anyone going online here can get the news first on what new project is being planned. You can find out where Village Homes is building new condos, get the design plans for Museum Place, and read discussions of big-time city issues like building a new jail downtown. If you want to find out what is happening in Fort Worth from the ground up, this is the place to go: www.fortwortharchitecture.com/forum.
Preserver of History
Critic’s choice: Hollace Ava Weiner
Local history has often overlooked the North Texas Jewish community, but author, editor, and chochema Hollace Weiner is doing her best to reverse that trend. She left a Fort Worth Star-Telegram reporting job in 1999 to write Jewish Stars in Texas: Rabbis and their Work, and followed that with Beth-El Centennial and Lone Stars of David: The Jews of Texas. She’s currently working on a book about the history of women’s clubs in Fort Worth and has been instrumental in preserving artifacts such as the friezes from the old Beth-El Congregation and incorporating them into the new building on Briarhaven Road.
Unused PR Slogan
Readers’ choice: No fun intended
Critic’s choice: Three From Those Wacky Architects
The Fort Worth Architecture Forum started a thread last year in which someone came up with the idea that Cowtown has outgrown the old slogan, “Where the West Begins.” Most of the suggestions for a replacement were sort of boring and pedestrian (“West in Class,” for example), but some were funny and potentially useful. Our three favorites: 1) “A Little Slice of Paradise, 30 Miles East of Hell,” 2) “Not Just for Rednecks Anymore,” and 3) “Dallas’ Hot Little Sister.”
Critic’s choice: University of North Texas football
Let’s face it, college football had become played out. Who wanted to see Big Time U. crush Northwest Wilderness State by six touchdowns in preparation for the “real” (conference) games? This season looks different, though – just ask Michigan. And now Todd Dodge, having found no more worlds to conquer in high school ball, makes the leap to the NCAA by taking the job at UNT, coaching a team that plays against Oklahoma, Arkansas, and Navy. That first game didn’t go so well, but here’s to the North Texas cupcake team and their schedule, one that’s so heavy-duty it might well choke some of the big boys.
Readers’ choice: Put a Cork In It, 2972 Park Hill Dr, FW
Critic’s choice: Fort Worth’s East Side
This part of town, with its rolling hills, creeks, parks, and often lovely views isn’t a secret to the thousands of folks who call it home, but it frequently seems to be so to the Fort Worth City Council, which for years has ignored the area’s needs, including economic development, crime control, and flood-control measures. One of these days, the masses of Eastsiders will discover the idea of voting and wielding political power, and then the Westside fatcatters will need to run for their holes. Or, they could join their Eastside sisters and brothers now in making this one healthy, safe, prosperous city instead of two disjointed pieces. Whoa, that idea is a major secret, perhaps a pipe dream.
Sign of the Apocalypse
Readers’ choice: George Bush
Critic’s choice: Murphy’s Law
My, my, what a mess they’ve got in Murphy, the little North Texas town that made the news in a bad way. There was always something unseemly about Dateline NBC’s “To Catch a Predator” series, but it wasn’t until the crews started operating in Collin County that we found out how messed-up it all was – wild-eyed moral crusaders with a tenuous grip on reality luring potential sex offenders into neighborhoods with schools, using tactics so far beyond the level of entrapment that the district attorney had to throw out their cases. NBC, the group called Perverted Justice, and some loose cannons in Murphy’s law enforcement apparatus all combined to make the Iraq war look like a model of good planning. Yeesh.
Public officials are supposed to be, for lack of a better word, public. That means our elected officials need to be responsive to the voters, both in terms of being available to answer concerns and being able to articulate a vision for the community. Fort Worth Mayor Mike Moncrief has decided he needs to do none of these. He rarely attends neighborhood community meetings, doesn’t talk much to the media, and, quite frankly, acts as if he is above all that. Some might think this criticism of Mike has to do with his refusal to talk to the Weekly and telling the other council members to stonewall us as well. Sure, we’d prefer he talk to us, but in some respects he has dropped a present in our lap. Many neighborhood leaders are now rallying around this newspaper, working more closely with us on big-city issues. But that’s not enough, in the bigger picture of what’s good for the city. Cowtowners need to ditch the back-room Fort Worth Way and embrace vigorous debate in the public arena. Just because Dallas can’t do it without a lot of red faces and bitterness shouldn’t stop us – we do other things better, we can do this better as well.