Static has a snarky good time examining the doings of residents, government officials, and various power players in this fair city of ours. Despite our typical irreverent tone, we understand the importance of getting the facts right. The same rules of ethical journalism apply here as they do in any of our news stories.
Last week, Static discussed how billionaire businessman Ed Bass was behind an organized push to keep a particular breastaurant out of downtown. We also wondered why the people who created the Facebook page Say NO to Hooters in Downtown Fort Worth (2,000 “likes” and counting) were so upset about the well-established wings chain featuring scantily clad female servers when another breastaurant, Ojos Locos, has been operating in Sundance Square for several years.
That prompted a Sundance Square spokesperson to ask for a correction. Seems Ojos Locos is not located in Sundance Square.
Anyone who has visited Ojos Locos would swear they were in Sundance Square. The sports bar with barely dressed female servers is located at 515 Houston St., and it sits next door to Milan Gallery (505 Houston St.), which is billed as being in Sundance Square.
As it turns out, streets, blocks, borders, and addresses don’t define Sundance Square, the downtown wining/dining/shopping haven and brainchild of the Bass family. Your business is considered a part of the exclusive district only if you lease space in a building owned by Sundance Square Inc., a real estate management company whose employees oversee more than 40 downtown buildings, all owned by the Basses.
In theory, you could own a business surrounded on four sides by Sundance Square properties but not be considered part of Sundance Square, according to Sundance Square logic. It gets even more convoluted. You could run a business in a building that isn’t owned by Sundance Square, and therefore not be in Sundance Square, but you could still bill yourself as being in Sundance Square if you pay a marketing fee. In other words, you’re in Sundance Square only if Sundance Square says you are. Otherwise you’re just in downtown.
Ojos Locos is not in Sundance Square, just kind of there amid it all. Fort Worth Weekly regrets the error. Static is deeply ashamed.
Which brings us to our second false statement.
Last week, we were contacted by Beth Hutson as well. The owner/founder of Hutson Creative, a Fort Worth public relations firm, asked the Weekly to print a correction saying that Ed Bass has no affiliation with Say NO to Hooters in Downtown Fort Worth.
“We’ve now been retained by a group of residents and people that live in downtown Fort Worth that are forming a committee against Hooters and other establishments,” Hutson said, “and I’m aware of who’s involved, and Ed Bass is definitely not.”
OK, follow the bouncing ball here.
Last week, the Downtown Design Review Board held a public hearing, and though a smattering of “NO” people showed up, Sasha Camacho did all/most of the talking. She said she lives in a building across the street from the proposed Hooters and is offended by a name that is “vulgar slang” for breasts. She is also afraid Hooters will attract an undesirable clientele. Camacho spoke with news reporters before and after the design meeting and said the Say NO group had gathered 1,300 signatures on a petition to keep Hooters away.
Only two other people spoke out against Hooters at the hearing. One was an older woman who said she didn’t want her grandchildren to see the signage out front. The other person said he had no problem with Hooters but thought the prospective sign should be smaller.
After the meeting, Camacho said Hooters was sneaky, using various limited liability company names. This hides the fact they’re coming to a neighborhood, allowing them to do an end-around on that organized resistance.
“I wanted to make the point to the Hooters administration from Dallas … that Fort Worth does not get bullied,” she said. “Fort Worth does not get tricked.”
Well, it looks like Fort Worth did get tricked, but anyhoo …
“They’re tricky,” Camacho added. “They’re very savvy. They’re Dallas.”
That kind of sneakiness is not how things are done in Fort Worth, she said.
After Camacho finished her mini press conference, she made her way to the city hall elevator. Weekly reporter Jeff Prince spoke with her while she was waiting for the doors to open. In November, Prince reported on one of Ed Bass’ favorite Sundance functions, the Lone Star Film Festival, and young Jeff saw that Camacho and Bass were connected at the hip. Prince even tried to interview Bass at one film fest function, but all the billionaire wanted to do was talk about how wonderful Camacho was.
“I was at the film festival and saw you hanging with Ed Bass a lot,” Prince said at the elevator. “Does Ed have any role in this?”
“And?” she replied. “And? I’m sorry, why are you asking? How is that related to this?”
“Because I’m a nosy reporter who’s wanting to know what’s going on.”
“Did you enjoy the film festival?”
“Did you have a great time?”
“I loved it, yeah.”
“That’s the kind of stuff I do in Fort Worth,” Camacho said. “I keep Fort Worth funky. I give it that charm. I give it that culture. I want to preserve everything that’s already been built here. I do a lot of stuff in the Stockyards as well.”
“What is your job position?”
“I do business consulting,” she said. “I help organizations.”
“For myself. I have my own business.”
“OK, so back to the question.”
“That’s your answer to the question.”
End of interview.
The next day is when publicist Hutson contacted the Weekly and asked for the correction.
And yet things get even Bass-ier. Two weeks ago, invitations asking people to join the Say NO campaign came from the Facebook page of Stockyards businessman Steve Murrin. Static asked Murrin why he did that. But Murrin said he hadn’t sent out the invitation but had allowed someone else access to his page. Who was that?
Why would he do that? Murrin has no moral objections to Hooters, he said, but he would “go along with Mr. Bass” because Ed Bass is a good friend and someone Murrin respects for doing great things for Fort Worth.
However, Hutson said Murrin’s remarks connecting Bass to Say NO’s efforts were “an assumption” on his part.
The building where Camacho lives that is across the street from Hooters, giving her such an awful view of the cheeky place? That would be Sundance West, which is described on its website as “the first apartment building constructed in Sundance Square during the transformation of downtown Fort Worth.” And guess who built that luxury apartment complex 25 years ago to live in while creating a downtown rebirth and who, according to public records, still lives there?
So it seems that Ed Bass has no involvement in any efforts being made to prevent Hooters from setting up camp across the street from his home and near his beloved Sundance Square. Static is deeply ashamed for implying otherwise.