Illustration by Craig Winzer

We really wish we didn’t have to do this. We really wish we were back to 2010 or thereabouts, when life seemed so much kinder, gentler, easier. Now, it’s nonstop political bullshit, all because one side of the aisle is trying to turn our free country into a church-state. From all the wonders of the Obama years — forcing health-care and Wall Street reform, signing the stimulus, ending the Iraq War, killing bin Laden — one stupid, poorly timed headline before a pretty significant presidential election five years ago launched what will surely become decades of social, economic, cultural strife. One side wants equality, freedom, fairness, justice, and peace. The other wants … I’m not quite sure what the other wants, other than to say that they would be A-OK with AR-15-armed deacons watching over our every move in our homes to make sure what we were doing gibed with the Bible. Sorry, lefthanded people. Y’all are going straight to hell. What does the Bible say about conception? That’s right. Nothing. And yet here we are.

It’s funny. Even during the Obama years, we had no problem coming up with deserving Turkey Award recipients, including many Democrats and Independents, and we still don’t, thanks to the fact that we live in the reddest big city in one of the reddest states in the union. As with previous years, our cup runneth over with grisly gravy. If our 2021 Turkey Awards issue were 500 pages long, I still don’t think we’d have enough room to properly acknowledge all of the mean, evil-spirited jerks making decisions on our behalf or in our communities here in North Texas. The tragedy is that some folks are cool with this. They want chaos. They want the strife. They want a civil war. It’s so bad I spend my nights praying for Anonymous to do something, anything. Lord knows the Democraps in Congress won’t lift a withered finger.

These are treacherous times. On the one side, you have freedom lovers like us, and on the other, you have mostly white, mostly wealthy, and mostly uneducated white people clamoring for a church-state. At this magazine, we will continue to fight for freedom. What that means is that you’re going to see the same kinds of biting editorials from me, and our board, and the same kinds of hardnosed investigative coverage that we’ve been offering since our first day 25 years ago only amped to the max. Edward Brown — who covered the #BLM marches every single day last summer and is now digging into the DA’s office and the county jail — is the best print gumshoe working in North Texas. Period. Show him some love.

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Someone in this one-horse town needs to tell it like it is. The Star-T has no balls, the Business Press and Fort Worth Report are even less inclined to piss anyone off, especially their advertisers and well-off owners, and Fort Worth magazine actually craves a church-state — but only one for well-off whites and well-off POC who are so desperate to be white-adjacent they turn their backs on their own heritage. The truth hurts, and I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t hurting us. Any of you who’ve lived in Fort Worth for longer than a minute know that that’s the (hurtful) truth. Still, we persist.

That’s why the Weekly is here, to speak truth to power, and your support would be appreciated now more than ever. You can help by showing our advertisers lots of love and by sharing our stories on social media. And maybe by firing back in the comments section after the 500th troll has told us we suck, can’t form sentences, and are going to hell for supporting equality and peace. I hate to say it, but if there comes a day when we have to close up shop — taking with us our 2.5 million monthly views, our 40,000 Instagram followers, and our 20,000 Facebook followers that we did not buy like some other publications but that we earned the hard way, one good story at a time — then there’ll be nothing left. And certainly nothing left.

I know we’ve made some cringy, “non-woke” mistakes in the past — one or two on my watch over the past couple of years, at least one I can think of under my own damn name a decade ago — and if you’re still tuning us out despite our sincere apologies, we totally understand. All the best to you, regardless. For those of you who remain, we thank you and appreciate you, especially now. Sheer numbers are what we need: registering voters, writing letters, door knocking, block walking, backtalking, voting. Now is the time to come together to defeat the great enemy baring down on us. And he’s orange and obese and super-rapey, and if he and his millions of cultish followers aren’t stopped — including the ones in our own neighborhoods, in our own houses! — then democracy as we know it will die. We will be living The Handmaid’s Tale. Spoiler alert: It’s super not fun.

Now is the time to put aside our minor differences in key. Now is the time to join voices and fight.

Welcome to our 25th Annual Turkey Awards. — Anthony Mariani


And the Golden Gobbler Goes to …

Congratulations to Texas’ governor and chief numbskull for winning this award for, like, the 500th time in a row. Greg Abbott certainly doesn’t live in Fort Worth, but because his seemingly endless streams of asinine policies rain down brown times upon us, too, we can’t help but serve him some puke pie yet again.

Of all of his past victories, this one appears to be his most deserving yet, and that’s saying something coming from the state that petulantly sued Obama every day *nostalgic sigh* and routinely lost and that still refuses to expand Medicaid as millions of seniors continue struggling with health-care costs, but hey — they’re probably the same old folks who should have sacrificed themselves at the urging of Texas’ lieutenant governor, world-class got-nothing-better-to-do shit-heel Dan Patrick, to keep Donald J. Trump’s #sad #lowenergy lockdown-ravaged economy afloat. Fuck them old-timers, right, Greg? But as it turns out, all we had to do to get the economy humming again was take the COVID threat seriously and inspire more than half of the country to get vaccinated. Just ask Grandpa Joe.

Overseeing rising jobs, wages, and home values, craning his neck to watch the stock market soar, sinking personal debt, demolishing unemployment, ending the Afghan war — the very same war TFG promised to get us out of but didn’t — passing Infrastructure Decade with bipartisan support, not attacking the Capitol, and all the rest of Good-Timin’ Joe’s successes are why Republican legislatures like ours are wigging out over no-brainer shit and bending voting rules to ensure a Democrat never wins another election in our lifetimes. If the Democraps in Congress don’t wake up, and there’s little indication that they will, then Democratic voters here and in dozens of other states might as well toss their ballots into the river every two years.

Greg Abbott will be overseeing all our funerals, our bodies rendered lifeless probably from an energy grid that still — still — has not been fixed or from COVID-19 because the governor believes our “right” to harm others with our hacking, maskless coughs is more important than the public’s right to be protected from maskless coughers. Though he says the vaccine is safe and effective, and though he’s been vaccinated himself, he is still pushing snake oil treatments and arguing against mask/vaccine mandates in some perverse political danse macabre. In much the same way TFG should be held responsible for the hundreds of thousands of deaths he caused by playing down the deadliness of the virus, Greg Abbott should be thrown in jail for the very same reasons. Even if his rhetoric led to one death, that’s one death too many.

Funny, but the same people who claim, “My body, my choice” when it comes to masks are the same reactionary bozos who see no problem with Texas’ draconian new anti-abortion law. It’s exactly the kind of cultural bullshit that Republicans like Abbott and company stir up to distract voters from the GOP’s one and only goal: to slash taxes on the rich to keep Republican politicians in power … to continue slashing taxes on the rich … to continue allowing the rich to live lavishly and do things like raise money for Republican politicians and jerk off to Back the Blue bumper stickers and to not go to jail for murdering people with illegal AR-15s.

I’ll give Greg Abbott this: He knows how to play to his always angry supporters, and by giving them red meat to bitch and whine about like the true snowflakes that they are — girls and boys playing sports together! schoolbooks mentioning slavery! vaccines with normal side effects! — Abbott and every other GOP operative in the country is saying that while we wealthy, well taken care of white folks may be living extremely comfortable, nicely vaccinated lives and you uneducated whites may be struggling to survive in B.F., Idaho — or Arizona or West Virginia or Oklahoma or wherever — we are all united by one thing: our hatred of abortion (which is legal) and our hatred of the coloreds and the gays. Come. Let us thank the Lord for this hate-filled Chick-fil-A feast that we are about to eat. Amen.


Riders of the Purple Sage (and Onion)

Sometimes eating the same traditional meal year after year is boring. We all have our favorites, but after 21 years, even cornbread stuffing and pumpkin pie are tiresome. This year, let’s switch it up and order delivery from one of the only places open during the holiday! What could go wrong?

Everything. Everything could go wrong.

The Horned Frog football team haven’t been up to their previous world-beating selves in a while. Fans and, more importantly, boosters grew tired of the continued losing, especially after sinking serious money into multiple stadium renovation$ and facility upgrade$, so now we’ve parted ways with the architect of everything that is TCU football in the 21st century and are looking for the next great candidate to do what literally no one before Gary Patterson has. Except former Boise State coach Chris Petersen. He accomplished similar feats, and he said he’s not interested in coming to the Fort.

Sometimes the grass isn’t always greener, and the ease of delivery isn’t always tastier than the home-burned turkey. Just ask former Frog athletic director and now Longhorn headman Chris Del Conte. When UT announced their impending move to the SEC, pundits lauded him as one of the smartest administrators in football. Well, his Bevos are on a six-game losing streak that includes a home loss against lowly Kansas and will finish near the bottom of the conference. Del Conte probably has one more head coach hire ahead of him to rekindle success before he’s shown the door in Austin.

His protégé at TCU, Jeremiah Donati, also has one hire to get it right, but the process is happening now. It’s going to need to be a damn good substitution for Mom’s traditional afternoon feast, and, by God, it’d better not be second-rate, warmed-over takeout you gotta pick up yourself.

TCU administration had grown discontent with a fine meal after watching too many episodes of Master Chef: SEC Edition. Realistically, most Patterson replacements are going to seem like canned green beans and store-bought pie. Might as well get drunk, purple people lovers, because Thanksgiving dinner is going to taste like crap for who knows how long.


Pass the Bottle Blonde

Jenna Ryan stormed the Capitol on January 6. So did many other people, but the Frisco real estate broker used Twitter to distinguish herself as a particularly loathsome member of that treasonous mob. When one tweeter taunted her about going to jail, she fired back, “Definitely not going to jail. Sorry I have blonde hair white skin a great job a great future and I’m not going to jail [sic]. Sorry to rain on your hater parade.” Judge Christopher Cooper read that tweet back to her two weeks ago when he sentenced her to two months in the slammer. Exhibiting that particular blend of victimhood and hate-laced entitlement that a certain breed of white woman has down pat, she complained about going through hell and being a victim of “cancel culture,” whatever that’s supposed to be. We’ll give her some barely done turkey and happily deliver it to her prison cell.


Kiddie Table

Sports are horrible everywhere. The Las Vegas Raiders and Washington Football Team are embarrassing in everything they do, the Phoenix Suns’ owner seems to think his team is a Virginia plantation circa 1840, the Chicago Blackhawks kept a serial predator employed during their Stanley Cup run, and the new owners of Newcastle United are straight-up murderers. How hard would it have been for the Dallas Mavericks to stay out of this company? Yet they hired Jason Kidd and his history of wife-beating to be their head coach after owner Mark Cuban vowed to stay away from employees with that kind of history. It’s not even like Kidd’s on-court record justifies that hire, since he had talented teams in New Jersey and Milwaukee that didn’t do anything. Factor in the recent infighting in the Mavs’ front office and the Terdema Ussery debacle, and it’s starting to look like the team won that NBA title in spite of management rather than because of it. Real turkeys don’t look up to see the rain, but as long as this group is in charge, the turkeys in Mavericks gear will be looking up at the Suns, Clippers, and Warriors.


Sour Krause

One can almost picture squeaky-clean, uber-Christian Matt Krause decked out in a blood-red galero delivering his own take on an old Monty Python line: “Nobody expects the Texas Inquisition!” Then he will go on to enumerate why his side will triumph in the end: fear, surprise, ruthless efficiency, fanatical devotion to 45, and tons of dark money.

District 93 Rep. Krause has certainly upped his profile of late, a necessity after throwing his galero into the state attorney general ring, hoping to best the venal and indicted Ken Paxton and the last of the Bushes. Krause is a founding member of the Texas House’s Freedom Caucus, which evidently isn’t interested in the freedom of teachers to teach their subjects without political interference or, just as important, the freedom of students to learn the truth about our shared history.

Krause is lately infamous for his 16-page list of 850 book titles he sent to school districts as chair of the House Committee on General Investigating, which you have to admit does sound vaguely menacing and Spanish Inquisition-ish. Such books as Ta- Nehisi Coates’ Between the World and Me and Leanne K. Currie-McGhee’s LGBT Families are on his s-list because they exemplify a changing world that conservatives can demagogue against.

Why, oh why, can’t we go back to the 1950s, when schools were segregated and gays were in the closet? Krause and his ilk scream. But we can’t for the simple reason that times have changed. We live in a diverse, multiracial democracy where everyone, regardless of gender, skin color, or sexual orientation, deserves respect, and, if every poll is to be believed, most of us want it that way.

After the Republican victory in Virginia, Krause smells blood. Encouraging fear of Critical Race Theory and trans students excites his base, already overdosing on the outrage du jour machinations of Fox News, though my hat’s off to anybody who can stare at a screen filled with Tucker Carlson doing his best imitation of a constipated cow and not vomit.

One point of Krause’s list is to intimidate districts and teachers, so they censor themselves. Failing that, I’m sure Krause can raise an evangelical army of zombie Trumplicans who would be all too happy to bring fuel and matches to any book burnings, so long as only the “left” books are burned.

Krause’s chief aim is do what today’s Republicans have to do to get elected: out-crazy each other in their primaries. And Krause might well succeed, unless U.S. Rep. Louie Gohmert gets $1 million in campaign contributions in the next week. Then he’ll throw his tinfoil hat into the ring. Sorry, Matt. I don’t think anyone alive can out-crazy Gohmert.


St. Thomas Aq-whine-us

Sure, every American has the right to protest, but if you find yourself not only showing up to read Bible verses through a megaphone to drown out speakers at a rally but also waiting around an hour for the march to come back to the courthouse to continue heckling them, well, you just might be a Turkey.

Thanks to a bunch of other Turkeys, as of September of this year, abortion after detectable fetal heart activity is illegal in Texas.

The anti-abortion movement has a special love for protesting. At least one or two people show up outside of Whole Woman’s Health of Fort Worth daily. Some protestors stand quietly with a sign and give out pamphlets full of propaganda. Others run to the edge of the property line to shout, “Stop murdering babies” at employees as they walk into work. Some protestors are there so frequently they know the faces and cars of specific employees.

People who believe abortion is murder believe any action that might stop an abortion is justified. However, their time would be better served offering actual help to women (like wider access to birth control) before they find themselves needing an abortion in the first place.


Gavel, Gavel

Racism and dumbassery abound in our local courts. Danny Rodgers, Fort Worth’s chief municipal judge, is an affirmed racist who pines about the good ol’ days when his white ancestors owned Black slaves, according to a 2019 complaint filed against him with the city. City officials apparently found that to be a minor offense — they said Rodgers was investigated and disciplined for his actions and for being an all-around bully and general ass. Seeing as Rodgers is still the top turkey in his department, we imagine he was given what amounted to a slap on the wrist. Pending disciplinary action by the State Commission on Judicial Conduct (CJC) may reawaken public alarm over why Rodgers is allowed to remain in a position of power over his staff and Fort Worth’s public.

Rodgers is just part of a flock of local judges who openly spew racist rhetoric or treat defendants inhumanely. Judge George Gallagher of our 396th Judicial District Court was recently publicly admonished by CJC for activating a stun cuff on a defendant’s ankle three times during a trial in 2016, which spurred a criminal investigation that eventually cleared Gallagher of civil rights violations — judges are rarely held accountable for actions that send non-judges like us to prison.

Judges are also rarely held accountable for being racist jerks. In a series of social media posts, Patricia Bennett from Tarrant’s 360th Judicial District Court equated folks with Hispanic surnames as being fit only for food service work. According to CJC, she publicly mocked a Hispanic politician who lost his party’s primary as being able to find work elsewhere because “there are lots of local opportunities in both the hotel and food service industry.” Anyone who appears before Bennett’s court should justifiably be horrified that she is allowed to hold any position of power, let alone a judgeship.

And yet these cases are nothing compared to the conduct of Josh Burgess and Susan McCoy, two Republican Tarrant County judges who recently ruled favorably for the plaintiff in an ongoing lawsuit against the Carroll school district after accepting thousands of dollars in donations from the plaintiff’s pals. Burgess and McCoy attended a fundraiser in Southlake that was organized by the founders of Southlake Families, a PAC that is bankrolling the lawsuit that seeks to block the inclusion of much-needed racial equity language in the school district’s student code of conduct. Burgess and McCoy have done the public a favor by reminding Tarrant County that our local justice system is purely transactional in nature. Donate money to the right judges, and you can buy the golden keys to our civil and criminal justice systems.


Racist Birds of a Feather Flock Together

Contemporary racism hides behind paranoia over “woke” terms like microaggressions and pseudo-intellectual attempts to tie Marxist philosophies to modern social justice movements. In the end, what separates the hate-filled Southerners who readily segregated and lynched Black men and women and a frighteningly large portion of Southlake parents is one thing and one thing only — wealth.

Three years ago, videos of white Southlake high school students gleefully chanting the n-word to rap songs surfaced. Following those viral videos were dozens of first-hand accounts by Black students and LGBTQ+ youth in the Carroll school district that serves Southlake confirming what was known locally but not nationally — that many Southlakers openly held racist views.

When Carroll school district leadership took steps to adopt the types of equity language that Fort Worth public schools enjoy, white wealthy parents shot back with Trumped-up conspiracy theories generated by the alt-right. Pass student conduct rules that don’t allow little Jordann or little Brooklynne to tell their Black friend that he’s pretty smart for a Black guy? Why, that’s Marxist Critical Race Theory infiltrating our schools! Not on my watch!

John Huffman, Southlake’s mayor, recently lashed out at well-researched and accurate reporting on his city that found Southlake to be a cesspool of backwater conspiracy theories that are designed to prolong white supremacy’s historic role of governing economic and civic life in this country. His public statement that “national media appears to be designed to tear down the hard-working” people of Southlake harks to reactionary Southern leaders who were appalled by how they were portrayed in Northern newspapers for violently attacking unarmed Black protesters in the 1950s and ’60s.

Southlake, it’s time to take a long, hard look in the mirror.


Gobbling Up Vapid Conspiracy Theories

Wealth-worshiping evangelicals seem at peace with a value system that conflicts with the basic tenant of Christianity — that money, like a gold statue or McMansion or Mercedes-Benz, is a false idol that is not to be worshiped. Evangelical Republicans like Tim O’Hare espouse values that could not be more anti-Christian, and yet it’s a ploy that draws flocks of followers who want to feel that their bigoted worldviews are somehow in line with a higher benevolent power.

O’Hare is the former head of Tarrant’s Republican party and a current candidate for county judge, the confusingly named title for Tarrant County’s lead elected position. As the nation watches the dumpster fire that is Southlake politics slowly smolder as it clings to conspiracy theories over Critical Race Theory as a means of justifying pushing back on racial equity, it is important to remember that the whole debacle was started and continues to be fueled by O’Hare and his base of powerful Republican donors. O’Hare is the self-described founder of a PAC, Southlake Families, that funds the campaigns of “religious liberty” supporters who are pushing for a real-life version of The Handmaid’s Tale in tony Southlake.

O’Hare’s press releases are alarming if not horrifying. He levies baseless lies at his Republican opponent, former Mayor Betsy Price, describing her loving abortions and somehow being a leftist. For her part, the former mayor has pledged to run an honest campaign. Politically, it’s a smart move. Price is widely expected to trounce O’Hare and his minions in March’s Republican primary. *fingers crossed*

Tarrant County voters, by all means, vote for your values. Just remember that the turkeys who cluck the loudest about their faith are often the ones who aren’t living it out.


Critical Rice Theory

Like the ones we know every year, the best Thanksgiving dinners are alive with erudite and polite political, religious, and extremely detailed, almost narrative sexual conversations among caring and understanding family members. When talks hit a lull (oh, darn!), be sure to atomic-knee-drop your views on Colleyville-Heritage High School’s firing of their first-ever Black principal for brainwashing students with Critical Race Theory. Oh, he also took some fully clothed photos with his white wife on a beach 10 years ago. Da hell this guy think he is?!

James Whitfield, said former principal, was dismissed by Colleyville’s school board “due to deficiencies in his performance,” the board claims, and while we could say that about any principal anywhere, it seems that the little community by the airport is simply trying to out-Southlake their neighbors to the north, the ones with the nicer houses, better high school sports, better shopping and dining options, and bigger national profile now that most Southlakers are basically donning white Prada hoods at this point to show how fraidy-waidy they are of big, scary CRT, a.k.a. Freddy Kreuger in blackface, which isn’t even taught in schools. Being openly racist is Southlake’s bag, C-ville. Get your own bit!

The curdled whip cream atop this moldy pie of local shame is Stetson Clark. The Colleyville board member who serves professionally as an operations manager for a wealth management firm first made news by publicly naming Whitfield during a meeting, which is against established rules and procedures. Clark promised, during his campaign, that his auditing experience would make sure residents received the most from every dollar they invested. Well, now that Whitfield has challenged his dismissal, the good citizens of Colleyville and Grapevine are paying a former principal’s salary until his contract expires in 2023. Money well spent, right? Just to get rid of that ooooh-so-scary CRT stuff. But since Clark once worked for Goldman Sachs, you can’t expect him to follow rules or keep any financial promises.


Just the Tip

In a group of diners, it’s pretty easy to tell those who have served their time in restaurants from those who have never known the pain of running out of forks at 6 p.m. on a Friday night. The second group gripes about the service while the first group tries to make friends with the overworked, underpaid staff.

From owning to managing to working the line to busing tables — all aspects of the “essential” restaurant industry are essentially thankless. The pandemic and subsequent fallout have turned an already difficult industry into a hellscape. Many restaurants bit the dust during COVID-19, and those that remain face new challenges. Employees are overworked and emotionally beat up.

And yet people still have the gall to sit there and whine about their free bread or tortilla chips taking longer than usual to get to the table or about restaurants having inconsistent hours. For months, right-wing idiots railed against essential workers for not having better-paying jobs. Well, maybe now these same workers got better-paying jobs. For the ones who are left behind — maybe young, perhaps inexperienced — why mistreat them? Many of them could use all the support you can give. Waaa, right-wingers whine (freaking babies). Burgers cost 75 cents more now. As wage warrior Dan Price puts it, the argument is always that inflation is up because “essential” workers are being paid more than $7.25 an hour and never because of the following: stock buybacks and dividends doubled in the last decade to a record $1.5 trillion per year, the Fed printed a record $3 trillion for companies last year, median CEO pay rose 1,322% in the last 40 years to a record $24.2 million, billionaire wealth is up 70% during the pandemic to a record $5 trillion, and corporate profits are up 11% in the last year to a record $2.8 trillion and have been up 40% over the last five years. But, please, blame that extra 75 cents on your cheeseburger or that extra dollar on your tank of gas on Grandpa Joe. Perfect conservative logic: circular.


Fowl Ethics

Imagine volunteering for your community, both on and off the local school board, for several years with the aim of helping children and teenagers of all races and sexual orientations experience a top-notch public education. Then, imagine that you find yourself indicted by a Tarrant County grand jury for Texas Open Meetings Act violations that the local DA had never sought before and was only seeking because you, the school board member, were pushing back on a powerful group of well-connected parents who sought to perpetuate our country’s sordid history of racism.

That is exactly what happened in April in Southlake. The upscale suburb is the birthplace of the Tarrant County Tea Party and home to the most influential political donors in the county. When Southlake’s conservative powers-that-be decided that it was politically expedient to embarrass school board members Todd Carlton and Michelle Moore, who were expressing support for the adoption of racial equity language for the school district, DA Sharen Wilson brought the full weight of the criminal justice system on the two.

Politically motivated grand jury investigations have become a thing in Tarrant County. More recently, Wilson opened a grand jury investigation into the Tarrant Regional Water District (TRWD) for acts of cronyism that have been going on there for literally decades. The timing couldn’t have been more suspicious. The investigation was launched just weeks before a $160 million bond for new DA facilities and equipment.

If Wilson thought the investigation would earn her public support ahead of the bond vote, her plan backfired. Voters said no to the proposition — an act that left her department disgraced and likely underfunded for many years to come. Shortly after news of the failed bond proposal became public, Wilson announced that she would not seek reelection in 2022.

Tarrant’s county prosecutors are ethically obligated to drop the misdemeanor charges against Carlton and Moore. The acts of malicious prosecution undermine the work of the district attorney’s office and the criminal justice system writ large.


What the Cluck, TRWD?

For some reason, 2021 was the year that everyone started paying attention to malfeasance at the Tarrant Regional Water District (TRWD). We say that not to be coy but because TRWD, the governmental group tasked with flood control and supplying us with drinking water, has been the source of shady dealings for decades. In 2006, our news magazine published a story about extravagant personal spending by TRWD staffers — all on the taxpayers’ dime. Was anyone reprimanded? Of course not. That wouldn’t be the “Fort Worth Way.”

At the time, we tallied roughly $10,000 in tabs at restaurants, clubs, and bars that were charged to then-general manager Jim Oliver’s district credit card, even though none of the expenses complied with TRWD’s expense policy at the time. TRWD officials lived it up like drunken Vikings, and our newspaper has documented instances of nepotism, graft, and shady dealings pretty much every year since then. TRWD’s biggest boondoggle, the entertainment project masquerading as some sort of flood control measure called Panther Island, continues to be mired in unrealized federal dollars that the $1.2 billion project’s cheerleader, U.S. Rep. Kay Granger, has long promised.

This year saw Oliver part ways with TRWD after 35 years as the top staffer. His departure was caught in the same ethical morass that has made TRWD the poster child for local public malfeasance. In a classic good-ol’-boy gesture, former TRWD board president Jack Stevens promised Oliver a cool $300,000 as a farewell gift tied to supposed unpaid time off. When TRWD’s current board took office this summer, the five members nixed that lavish golden parachute. Oliver lawyered up, claiming age-related discrimination, and the water district recently settled the dispute for $161,647.20. (Why the 20 cents?)

Recent reporting by the Fort Worth Report found that Oliver hired his girlfriend Valerie Jay last year without posting a job opening. It was a final middle finger by a general manager who never seemed to care about ethics or how his behavior might negatively impact how TRWD and its hard-working employees are viewed by the wider public.


A TAD Overcooked

One of the most powerful local governmental groups is also the least understood by the general public, and the leadership at the Tarrant Appraisal District (TAD) seems pretty OK with that. Right now, TAD’s election cycle is running its course. By the end of December, five new board members will be heading the group that sends us those heartburn-inducing property tax notices.

And while you, the taxpayer, have the most at stake in the outcome of that election, TAD’s board is not elected by local citizens but rather by elected officials who represent “taxing entities,” i.e., counties, cities, towns, community colleges, and any large group that is funded by property tax revenue. Those elected officials have a vested interest in gobbling up ever-higher property taxes, which is why the murky election process needs to be transparent and fair. Our suggestion: Maintain updated election dashboards that tally taxing entity votes and candidate profiles.

Local Realtor Chandler Crouch did the community a solid when he recently pushed for House Bill 988. The new state law forces large taxing entities like Tarrant County to vote on TAD board candidates early. That seemingly small rule makes a huge difference because Tarrant’s commissioners court has historically waited until the end of the year to leverage their high number of votes to maximum effect.

Now that our commissioners have to play fair, non-establishment TAD candidates theoretically have a better chance of being elected.

Whoever takes over TAD’s leadership next year will be governing an appraisal district that has a recent history of doing favors to powerful law firms and letting nepotism go unchecked. To the second point, TAD’s policy on nepotism allows its chief appraiser, Jeff Law, to determine when familial relationships at TAD are allowable. The legal caveat was added two years after Law was hired in 2008 in direct violation of previous nepotism guidelines that did not allow any exceptions to the rules. Law’s first cousin, David Law, was already the longtime head of commercial appraisals when Jeff came on. When TAD says its staff is family, it’s literally true.

The aforementioned favors to powerful legal firms involved Wendy Burgess, Tarrant County’s tax assessor-collector, who pushed to award the law firm Linebarger a lucrative contract to look for abuses of exemptions even though Plano-based Tyler Technologies had topped Linebarger in TAD’s own evaluations. Could it have been because Linebarger donated substantially to Burgess in the months leading up to the vote? Sure does look that way. Beyond a handful of articles by us, Burgess has largely escaped punishment.

Public schools and community colleges need to be properly funded. Dirty dealings by TAD staff and taxing entities who too frequently collude as a means of placing this or that board member in power undermine the credibility of an appraisal district that continues to be mired in controversy and accusations of cronyism.


Deworm Up by the Fire

Where does it come from? This ability and willingness to not trust science and instead do your own “research,” which is really just you flittering around on your phone until you come up with the right “answer” to fit your suppositions? When your life is on the line, why would you believe one train of thought when there are millions of trains of thought going in the complete opposite direction? When there are studies and reems and reems of data yelling at you to “stop!”?

This is what it must be like for Jason Jones, the 48-year-old sheriff’s deputy on a ventilator whose family is suing the hospital where he is occupying a bed for not treating him with snake oil. We understand the desperation. When there’s no cure (only a vaccine that has allowed us to bust out of lockdown and that has saved countless American lives), we’re willing to try anything. What could it hurt, right? Actually, based on science and data, taking the dewormer Ivermectin could hurt a lot (seemingly nonstop nausea and diarrhea) while not doing a single thing to combat the actual virus.

Jones’ wife is suing the hospital to allow Houston’s Mary Talley Bowden to treat him with the snake oil, and the hospital has filed an appeal to pause a trial court’s order from Nov 8 that would have granted her temporary privileges there. The lengths the self-righteous right will go through to prove they hate science …


A Little Byrd Told Me

When City Councilmember Brian Byrd ran for mayor this year, he ran on a platform of “stopping corruption.” The guy has nerve, we’ll give him that. He compiled the biggest war chest of any candidate in the mayoral race, thanks in part to large sums from donors who then received millions in city contracts (but not only because of him). One could argue that the donations didn’t really matter, since the representative of District 3 with all that cash didn’t even make the runoff election. Even so, it looks like a really sweet deal to be his friend, with campaign donations paying off like they do. It’s too perfect giving a turkey to someone with his name, but this Byrd is definitely a species.


By George, He’ll Have Some Giblets

It was all going so well before Darien George decided to run for city council this past spring. His Twitter profile reads, “Focused on my family,” which is about par for the course for a guy accused by numerous sources of unwanted sexual advances. He wouldn’t respond to those allegations when we asked him about them, but he did portray his 2000 misdemeanor conviction of pointing a gun at someone as a youthful one-off. Then multiple witnesses heard him unleash a profane tirade at fellow candidate Jordan Mims at a public forum. Way to prove that you’re not some out-of-control rage case. Not sure how he still has his job as president of Mackenzie Eason & Associates, but tonight, he’ll be eating turkey chili with extra spice, angry food for an angry young fella.


Mustang Burgers

There’s really no one to award here, though I guess you could throw a wishbone to every elected leader for not looking beyond their next election. You’d think that after all the time and money our region has spent on promoting itself, that maybe, just maybe, we’d be prepared for a few more neighbors. We aren’t, and this is just judging by the traffic alone. Pick a part of the city, any part, and we guarantee you that between the hours of 6:30-9:30am and 3-6:30pm, the main thoroughfares are going to be jammed. The scary thing is: What if we are now at only the beginning of a population boom? What if all the road construction going on now is happening at the right time, before our neighborhoods get really, authentically crowded? What if as soon as we’re done widening 35, we’re just going to have to widen it again? With no true winner here, let’s just award all the bad drivers out there: road-raging, swerving, speeding, braking, not using turn signals, pulling all sorts of sometimes passive-aggressive, sometimes simply aggressive maneuvers because, clearly, these folks are better than everyone else and don’t deserve to wait in line like us normies. Go choke on a gizzard.


Beak Republican

If you’ve never heard of Allen West, a Republican who wants to be our next governor, congratulations for missing out on his disgusting displays of aggressive, disrespectful, and all-around asinine behavior.

West acts as if he’s taking private lessons from the master of rudeness, The Former Guy. West, who has served as the state Republican party chair, is attempting to promote himself by challenging fellow dipshit Gov. Greg Abbott in the 2022 primary election. Again, the only tact is to out-crazy each other.

To get there, West must first bypass the possibility of criminal charges related to a recent confrontation with a man at the airport.

West boasted about the encounter on Nov 3 on Twitter, writing, “This morning at the airport a man starts yelling at me and tells me to put my mask on and calls me an idiot. I walked over to him and asked if he called me an idiot, he continued to yell at me. I pulled down his mask and said see, nothing happened [sic].”

His actions are more mind-boggling when you consider West announced in early October that he had COVID-related pneumonia.

According to published reports and social media statements, West had a low-grade fever and slight body aches. He knows that COVID-19 is real, yet he ripped off another man’s mask. West has also said he is not vaccinated.

Now the man whose mask he ripped off is seeking criminal charges, alleging that West “violently” ripped it off.

But this is nothing new for this guy.

In July, The Texas Tribune reported that West exited his party chair post with “an explosion of the kind of intraparty drama he has become known for throughout his tenure.”

In a tirade over a party committee project, Allen called his party’s vice chair, Cat Parks, a “cancer” and “delusional and apparently deranged,” according to the report. Parks has had cancer.

West is too thin-skinned and volatile to serve as governor or in any other role that involves working with the public.  Politicians and anyone else in the public eye will get plenty of insults and cat calls. Sometimes they’re even assaulted by rude, entitled jackasses like West.

If all of that isn’t enough, West ended his tirade about masks with a statement that could well be used for a master class in gaslighting: “West will not tolerate abusive agitators. Rule of law and common decency will be defended.”

Really? Maybe West should start with a little rule of law and common decency himself.


Buns in the Oven

It takes a certain kind of cruelty to enact a law like the new anti-abortion law signed by Gov. Greg Abbott in May and enacted in September. The law bans nearly all abortions after a fetal heartbeat can be detected, generally about six weeks. There are no exceptions for rape or incest. The only abortions allowed after the six-week period are those in which a woman’s health is endangered by continuing to carry the fetus.

Here is the cruel kicker: The law calls for citizens to sue anyone who helped a woman obtain an abortion, from the taxi driver who brought her to the clinic, to the doctor and nurses involved in the procedure. If the snitch wins the lawsuit, each defendant can be forced to cough up as much as $10,000.

OK, it’s bad enough that the law tries to turn you and me into snitches for money, but how about this scenario: Dad or Uncle rapes daughter or niece. She gets pregnant. After she misses her second period, she talks to Mom, who arranges an abortion. Dad or Uncle turn in Mom and the clinic and enjoys a fine payday. This is for real. This is Texas.

Six weeks. I spoke with my sisters, ex-wife, friends. Not one said they would be thinking about being pregnant if they were just two weeks late, so this law effectively makes abortion completely illegal. And every Republican in both the House and Senate voted for it along with one Dem rep and one Dem senator.

We’ve got to do better. No one likes abortions, but things happen: condoms break, IUDs slip, the pill simply stops working. It would be even a little different if conservative lawmakers gave a damn about babies once they are born, but they don’t. Abbott and his gestapo just want to punish women, mostly poor women of color, and now they are.

This satirical story reflects the opinions of the editorial board and not necessarily the Fort Worth Weekly. To submit a story, please email Editor Anthony Mariani at Submissions will be edited for factuality and clarity.