Candidate for Alien Abduction

Critic’s choice: Keller school board member Jo Lynn Haussmann

Haussmann had been on the Keller board less than a month when she posted a Facebook message chastising local voters. “Do you realize because so few voters took the time and responsibility to vote in the municipal elections YOU NOW HAVE A ‘MUSLIM’ on the City Council!!!” she wrote in the since-deleted post. “What A SHAME!!!!” What a shame indeed, that an elected official who is so ignorant as to hold such views would also think it acceptable to spread them around on social media. She apologized but refused to resign. Nor was it Haussmann’s first public foray into bigotry. According to news reports, she made similarly anti-Muslim remarks in a video posted on YouTube last year. Aliens, your passenger is ready for pickup.



Johnny Simons (right) might as well put “Free Spirit” on his business cards. What else would the founder of Hip Pocket Theatre be? Jeff Prince
Johnny Simons (right) might as well put “Free Spirit” on his business cards. What else would the founder of Hip Pocket Theatre be? Jeff Prince

Politician Most Likely to Sell Grandma to the Highest Bidder

Critic’s choice: Tarrant County Judge Steve King

Tarrant County Judge Pat Ferchill isn’t the only jurist abusing his position to suck elderly and disable people into a legal system that strips their rights while emptying their bank accounts. Tarrant County boasts two elected judges –– Ferchill and King –– who hear guardianship cases on a regular basis and seem overly eager to put people (and their money) under guardianship. They do this under the guise of protecting the seniors, but many of those seniors say what they most need protection from is the court.



Local Political Development

Readers’ choice: Wendy Davis campaign

Critic’s choice: Joe Palazzolo’s lawsuit win

When a Wise County jury returned a verdict in favor of former Arlington Heights’ assistant principal and chief whistleblower in his wrongful ter-mination lawsuit against the Fort Worth school district, there was a collective sigh of relief from those who’d followed the story for several years. His reports of the high school’s rampant attandance fraud, grade-changing, misappropriation of funds, and a host of other illegal practices had already been verified, but the district decided to fire him for doing his job and telling the truth. The verdict and $2.4 million in damages would have been sweeter, however, if the district hadn’t decided to appeal.


Old Guy

Critic’s choice: Stephen Seleny

Few living people can claim to have influenced Fort Worth as much as Stephen Seleny (or “Pista” as his friends call him). After fleeing his home of Hungary and the Soviet occupation in 1957, Seleny and his family settled in North Texas and, eventually, Fort Worth. Seleny came from a family of musicians and soon took an interest in the Texas Boys Choir. His efforts to create a school for the choir led to the creation of one of Fort Worth’s largest private schools, Trinity Valley School. Even today, Seleny is one of the city’s most active music and art supporters.


Old Gal

Critic’s choice: Wanda Conlin

Having just turned 85, Wanda Conlin is certainly entitled to some spare time. She’s long been a tireless advocate for economic and environmental improvements on the East Side. For 17 years, she has published the Greater Meadowbrook News, a paper delivered free to thousands of Eastside households. The final print edition went to press in late August, although it’s still published online. Conlin shows no signs of slowing down her efforts on behalf of her neighbors.



Fort Worth’s new 7th Street Bridge is a beautiful — and efficient — use of taxpayer money.   Robert Hart
Fort Worth’s new 7th Street Bridge is a beautiful — and efficient — use of taxpayer money. Robert Hart

Young Person

Critic’s choice: Alexa Sankary

Alexa Sankary, now 15, has been raising money to fight neuroblastoma since she was 9, after her best friend Michael died of the disease. That year she and her Girl Scout troop organized a 5K run that raised $19,000; in the intervening years, the annual event has raised a total of about $600,000. Last year Nike stepped in to help, rebranding her 5K “The Blast,” and now Cook Children’s hospital has a new suite devoted to treating neuroblastoma, thanks to Alexa’s efforts.


Free Spirit

Critic’s choice: Johnny Simons

Ever notice how much easier it is to be a free spirit when you’re young? It seems simple enough to improvise then. But few folks can carry it off when the details of real life demand attention, which makes Johnny Simons all the more remarkable. This dedicated, hard-working 74-year-old co-founded Hip Pocket Theatre in 1976. Since then, more than 100 of his own plays have premiered there, and the group’s community outreach program brings enrichment to area schools and Cook Children’s hospital system. Simons was recently honored with a prestigious Doris Duke Impact Award.



Underrated Pro Athlete

Readers’ choice: Monta Ellis, Dallas Mavericks

Critic’s choice: Jamie Benn, Dallas Stars

The Stars’ captain would be a much bigger deal if he were playing in a better hockey market or if the team hadn’t been largely irrelevant for so long. The native of Victoria, British Columbia, is not only an inspirational presence on the ice but a hugely productive one as well, finishing second on the team in points scored this past season and leading the team back to the NHL playoffs after a long absence. To top it off, he won an Olympic gold medal with the Canadian hockey team at the 2014 Olympics, scoring the winning goal in the semifinal game against the United States. We’ll forgive him for that if the Stars’ future continues to be as bright as it has been lately.




  1. While I am honored to be a recipient of the 2014 Critic’s Award in the Watchdog category, I would like to correct a couple of details. While the railing against gas drilling for several years at Arlington City Hall is true, I would like to clarify that I was not a key player in the Dalworthington Gardens case of XTO’s illegal taking of water from Pappy Elkins Lake. The Pappy Elkins Restoration Group is currently working on that issue. Regarding the water, however, I did catch Chesapeake red-handed when they violated the terms of their permit by hauling water from Arlington into Grand Prairie for fracking during the epic drought of 2011. Also, while I did participate in the process for the Rush Creek Drill Site, I cannot in good conscience accept full responsibility for that victory since the members of that community organized a strong coalition against the zoning of that drill site. We did, however, win a case just last week at a Planning & Zoning public hearing. EnerVest’s request to amend a Special Use Permit to establish a drill zone in south Arlington where they planned to drill at least three more gas wells was denied, and we blocked XTO from setting up frac pools on a south Arlington drill site last year. All of these stories and more may be found on our community blog at where citizen journalism happens.

    • Jane, you deserve all the kudos there are. You stepped up years ago, pushed through your quiet, reserved nature and transformed yourself into a force that cannot be ignored. You have helped shepherd many others into that role also. You are a leader and a light.