People & Politics 2012
Thing Tarrant County Needs
Critic’s choice: Another Super Bowl
Super Bowl XLV in 2011 went awry thanks to crazy bad weather, ticket mishaps, and the fact that the Dallas Cowboys missed a rare opportunity to both play in and host the Super Bowl. Give us another chance, NFL! We’ll outlaw snow and ice. Ticket buyers will get actual seats. The Cowboys will try harder. We’ll do better. Promise!
Candidate for Alien Abduction
Critic’s choice: Domingo Garcia
Oh, Domingo. For a while there, you really had us interested in your District 33 campaign against Mark Veasey. You had compelling arguments for better Hispanic representation and looked like a pudgy, Latino Burt Reynolds. Who could resist? Then you had to call your black opponent an “errand boy.” You brought in the Rev. Al Sharpton for a last-minute rally. You criticized the county’s most important industries to your potential constituents. Finally, in the blazing crossfire of campaign endorsements (most of which you didn’t get) you actually issued a press release about getting endorsed by your dog. When NASA finally decides to send a manned mission to Mars, we’re nominating you, buddy. To the little green men out there: He’s all yours.
Reader’s choice: Brett Shipp, WFAA-TV/Channel 8
Critic’s choice: Byron Harris, WFAA-TV/Channel 8
Byron Harris is not afraid to bite into a tough news story. Last year Harris led an investigation exposing a Dallas dentist who cheated taxpayers and the welfare system out of millions of dollars. As a result, the Texas attorney general filed a lawsuit against the dentist. Harris has proved once again that he is a talented, one might say dogged, watchdog for the community.
Readers’ choice: Dale Hansen, WFAA-TV/Channel 8
Let’s count out the TV guys right away. They’re just re-hashers. Play-by-play guys? Yawn. For late-breaking and in-depth coverage –– and who doesn’t want up-to-the-minute scores and rich backstories –– sports talk radio can’t be beat, and at the top of the North Texas heap sits the region’s oldest all-sports talk radio station, The Ticket. And atop The Ticket’s slew of shows is The Hardline. Hosted by Mike Rhyner, Corby Davidson, and (Calhoun bassist) Danny Balis, The Hardline (3-7pm Mon-Fri) offers way more than who’s-on-first prattle. The show has plenty of failings, including some knuckle-dragging sexism. But the trio’s “hot sports opinions” are typically enlightening, unbiased, and spot on, and the banter and in-jokes are always tinged with self-deprecating humor.
Hottest Local Celebrity — Male
Readers’ choice: Joel Burns
Critic’s choice: Ryan Jeri
This Fort Worth filmmaker isn’t just a guy who wrote and directed his own adaptation of The Phantom of the Opera using locations in the city. He’s also an aspiring actor with a sidelight in modeling, and his smooth good looks (bestowed on him by his Persian ancestry) mark him out as a face to watch — and worth watching too.
Hottest Local Celebrity – Female
Reader’s choice: Charla Corn
Critic’s choice: Charla Corn
This bold, blonde beauty is making her mark in a musical genre dominated by men — Texas country blended with rock. Corn, who hosts a daily show on 95.9 The Ranch (see next item for another honor for her), has an almost spellbinding personality that shines through in her songs and music videos.
Readers’ choice: Kidd Kraddick, KISS/106.1-FM
Critic’s choice: Charla Corn, 95.9- FM/The Ranch
Singer-songwriter Charla Corn pulls double professional duty. Her first love is traveling the state on weekends as a musician playing clubs, dance halls, and private events. Her steady paycheck, though, is derived from her weekday afternoon gig as drive-time DJ for The Ranch. Her effortlessly charming chatter combines the insights of a Texas music biz insider with the down-home appeal of a BFF BS-ing over beers. No wonder her fans are called “Corn stalkers.”
Readers’ choice: Bud Kennedy, Fort Worth Star-Telegram
Critic’s choice: Kathryn Jones
In June, Kathryn Jones and the paper she edited, The Glen Rose Reporter, racked up multiple awards at the Texas Press Association convention. Small-town papers aren’t typically known for investigative stories and hard-hitting city hall coverage, but Jones wielded a big-city journalist’s sensibility from years spent working at Dallas and New York newspapers. She was fearless while turning a dull weekly into a must-read newspaper. Of course, by August, she was out of a job after banging heads with corporate owners, so she also receives the “No Good Deed Goes Unpunished” award.
Servant of the People
Readers’ choice: State Sen. Wendy Davis
Critic’s choice: State Sen. Wendy Davis
This Fort Worth Democratic senator is all brains and doesn’t back down from a fight — especially when it means protecting the little guy. Last year, she filed tough legislation to crack down on the state’s pervasive payday loan industry and staged a filibuster trying to stop $5 billion in education cuts. She doesn’t mind going nose-to-nose with the likes of Gov. Rick Perry or big business. No doubt about it, this senator is poised for great things.
Politician Most Likely to Sell Grandma to the Highest Bidder
Critic’s choice: T. A. Sims, president, Fort Worth school board
Sims, a 20-year board member from Fort Worth’s Far Southeast Side, has been hungry for the title of president for at least a decade. He ran for the post in 2002 and lost. Now it’s his, thanks to a little behind-the-scenes maneuvering in May that resulted in then-president Juan Rangel — T.A.’s longtime colleague and friend — being thrown under the bus. Rangel’s ouster was accomplished by a coalition of five trustees led by Judy Needham, who has been openly hostile to Rangel for years. The night of the coup, Rangel was up for reappointment by the board that had appointed him three months earlier to fill the spot temporarily. Rangel’s board supporters said an agreement had been reached with Needham, Sims, et al, to allow Rangel, the first Latino in the post, to continue. Instead, Tobi Jackson, who votes with Needham on most issues, “blindsided us,” Rangel said, by nominating Sims for the job. The 5-4 vote for the slate angered Hispanics in the audience and on the board, one of whom pointed out that in a district whose student population is more than 60 percent Hispanic, not one board officer is Latino. Sims said he had no idea that Jackson was going to nominate him. Of course, T.A.
Local Political Development
Readers’ choice: bicycle lanes & infrastructure
Critic’s choice: Creation of a new Latino-friendly school board district
Fort Worth’s school board, while dysfunctional in nearly every respect, came through this year in an area that really matters. It voted to accept a redistricting map that now includes four single-member districts that are mostly Hispanic, including the new District 9, thereby complying with the U.S. Voting Rights Act and avoiding a costly lawsuit threatened by the Greater Tarrant County Hispanic Council. The new map more accurately reflects the changing demographics of the district, which is now more than 60 percent Latino. The board later named J. R. Martinez to represent District 8, the post formerly held by Juan Rangel, whose residence now puts him in District 9. That gives the nine-member board three Hispanic members and a chance for Latino constituents to elect even more years to come.
Critic’s choice: Allan Saxe
Saxe positively influenced thousands of students in almost a half-century of teaching at the University of Texas at Arlington. Political science is his forte, but the cynicism that often surrounds politics never stained him. The goofy, tenderhearted Saxe has donated much of his money (including a large family inheritance) to a wide variety of local charitable causes and is rarely without a smile and a kind word.