Athlete Almost Worth His/Her Salary

Readers’ choice: Yu Darvish

Critic’s choice: Tesho Akindele, FC Dallas

Downtown Arlington- Rectangle

The first half of FC Dallas’ season was little short of nightmarish, but it started to turn around in January, when the Hoops acquired this 22-year-old striker from the Colorado School of Mines in the MLS SuperDraft. The speedy native of Calgary, Alberta, has been good for a phenomenal stretch of goals, helping the resurgent Hoops back into playoff position. For a draft pick many thought of as a stretch, he has been an excellent value.


The winning verdict for Joe Palazzolo in his suit against the Fort Worth school district was a favorable development on the local political scene.  Jeff Prince
The winning verdict for Joe Palazzolo in his suit against the Fort Worth school district was a favorable development on the local political scene. Jeff Prince

Use of Taxpayer Money

Critic’s choice: West 7th Street Bridge

Last year, a new bridge was needed to span the Trinity River and allow motorists to easily navigate between downtown and the bustling West 7th Street entertainment corridor and the Cultural District. The existing bridge, built in 1913, desperately needed updating. City and state transportation officials did more. They oversaw the design of a gorgeous new bridge with 10-foot pedestrian walkways and bold, eye-catching arches, which were built off-site to minimize the amount of time the existing bridge had to be closed. Work was completed a month ahead of schedule and on budget, and the end result says a lot about Fort Worth’s progressive and artistic bent.


Neighborhood Group

Critic’s choice: Riverside Arts District

This feisty group has been working with the Better Block folks and surrounding residential groups for two years, taking on the redevelopment of Race Street into a lively arts district one chunk at a time as part of the Six Points Urban Village. Last year they worked on the south side of the street, helping turn vacant buildings into artists’ studios, offices, a martial arts school, and, behind the buildings, a community garden. When the city was set to re-stripe and resurface the street, the group asked for bike lanes and got them. Change in this part of Riverside has come in fits and starts, but the arts district organization is an important part of a revitalization that seems to be picking up speed.


Example of Gumption or Grit

Critic’s choice: Dorothy Luck

When Dorothy Luck, age 85, saw her life savings being drained away by Fort Worth probate Judge Steve King, she fought back and eventually won. As she found out the hard way, Texas allows its judges to initiate guardianship cases, unlike most states. Thanks in part to reporting by Fort Worth Weekly, King signed an agreement last March that gave Luck her life back, but not before she lost a small fortune in the ordeal.



Readers’ choice: Dave Lieber

Critic’s choice: Jane Lynn

Jane Lynn has been railing against gas drilling in Arlington for several years now. And she’s been heard. A regular at Arlington City Hall, she helps keep the city council apprised of what drillers are doing — from buying water the city can hardly afford to sell to raising a ruckus over XTO’s illegal taking of 1.4 million gallons of water from Dalworthington Garden’s little Pappy Elkins Lake. She was also instrumental in getting Arlington to deny Chesapeake Energy a permit to drill on the Rush Creek site the company wanted. Keep it up, Ms. Lynn.


After thieves made off with supplies for the community garden, the Riverside Arts District just turned it into part of the area’s “growing” charm.  Gayle Reaves
After thieves made off with supplies for the community garden, the Riverside Arts District just turned it into part of the area’s “growing” charm. Gayle Reaves


Critic’s choice: Walkable Dallas-Fort Worth

Scientists say that getting people out of their cars is not only good for the environment but also for traffic patterns, social interactions, and general mental well-being. Patrick Kennedy’s blog (also known as Car Free in Big D) is devoted to changing car-dependent North Texas into a region that is more explorable on foot. Though he sometimes uses statistics to the point of wonkiness, his knowledge and passion for the subject are easy to get caught up in, especially when you’re stuck on I-35 during rush hour. (Don’t read and drive, though.)



Preserver of History

Critic’s choice: Botanical Research Institute of Texas, 1700 University Dr

Since 1987, the scientists of this amazing research and education institute have been finding and documenting the history and present of plant life from around the globe. In the last decade, they’ve discovered dozens of species previously unknown to science. In addition to projects in Europe and the Pacific, BRIT now is working with prairie preservation groups to help save that natural ecosystem so integral to the history and, one hopes, the future of this part of Texas and much of our nation. If in wildness is the preservation of the world, then surely preserving the natural world in all its variety is a link in the process of saving us all.



Unused P.R. Slogan

Critic’s choice: “Save Water — We Can’t Drink Frack Fluid”

Watering restrictions are understandable in a time when lakes are anywhere from six to 20 feet low and drinking water supplies have reached the critical point in many places. But the water saved by reducing lawn watering and fixing leaky faucets seems almost pointless in the face of the fact that it takes three to five million gallons of water to frack one gas well. Texas should be rethinking the downside of the fracking boom on many counts, but this is an important one.



Critic’s choice: West 7th Street Bridge bike stunt

Mat Olson’s BMX bike ride over the arches of the newly built 7th Street Bridge grabbed national attention for a couple of days in January. The daredevil scaled the six arches — sans guardrails –– while friends videotaped his stunt and then posted it on YouTube. And it looks like he’ll be the only one to accomplish such a feat. He hyped his ride so well and earned so much attention that the city placed barriers to prevent future attempts.


Best-Kept Secret

Critic’s choice: Dreamy Life Records, 1617 Park Place Av

It’s not by design that Dreamy Life Records is a secret; it’s just brand-spanking new. Located within the Itsee Trading Co. women’s boutique on the Near Southside, Dreamy Life is the place to go for the latest and greatest in Fort Worth music and underground culture. Its still-growing record and tape selection is heavy on local stuff. The non-local selection is fastidiously curated by its staff, a handful of Fairmount residents who are passionate about DIY music and art. Better still, you’ll find fun stuff like local band shirts, guitar picks, and an ever-changing assortment of effects pedals.


Sign of the Apocalypse

Critic’s choice: Texas Railroad Commission’s decision to stop staff from speaking to the press

Talk about government neither by the people nor for the people. This is the same agency that said, on the record, in court, and got away with it, that their definition of serving “the public interest” is to do everything they can to help the oil and gas industry get the stuff out of the ground. Forget air pollution, earthquakes, the fouling of aquifers, the sucking up of increasingly scarce surface water, health problems, noise problems, livestock deaths, the dangers of huge trucks thundering through neighborhoods and down country roads, and the turning of some areas into environmental sacrifice zones. Perhaps if reporters carried stock certificates showing they own a share in Exxon or their mineral lease papers, they might be allowed in the door as being part of the commission’s true constituency. These bureaucrats should be ashamed, and they should be gone.



  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.