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Demolishing The Berry Theater (shown here in the 1950s) has been delayed. Courtesy of Paul Millender

With temps topping 100 degrees, many of us have taken to whispering “Hail Mary”’s as we pass our domestic altars — our thermostats — hoping our overburdened and underregulated power grid doesn’t unexpectedly test our rugged independence once again. Load up on ice and refreshments in bottled or canned form just in case. Now, your News Roundup.

 

Tragedy in Como

The historically Black community of Como was the scene of a mass shooting by unidentified armed assailants that wounded 11 and killed three. The violent attack occurred just before midnight on Monday near 3400 Horne St. Despite the bloodshed, area residents held their annual Fourth of July Parade Tuesday.

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The bloodshed over the Fourth of July holiday was not isolated to Fort Worth. At least 17 mass shootings across the country took place within the same time frame. Ours remains the state of choice for mass-murder events like the one that recently unfolded near Horne Street, and those armed assailants often wield the NRA’s favorite instrument of death: the AR-15. The Lone Star State is one of the most gun-friendly parts of the country, and it’s little surprise five of the 10 deadliest U.S. mass shootings over the past eight years have been in ruby-red Texas.

Fort Worth police are investigating Tuesday’s crime and asking anyone with information about the identities of the shooters to call the Fort Worth Homicide Unit at 817-392-4330.

 

Saving Berry Theater

Following mostly online public uproar over the potential demolition of The Berry Theater, near TCU, preservationists are cheering the recent decision by the owners to not tear down the 83-year-old building — for now.

Fort Worthians are rightfully protective of historic structures even as they often fail to take proactive steps to ensure old buildings and facilities are preserved or restored. Historic Fort Worth, a preservation-minded nonprofit, deserves kudos for maintaining a list of endangered buildings (HistoricFortWorth.org).

Former District 9 Councilmember Ann Zadeh said she was glad to see the community rally behind The Berry, although if everyone paid attention to preservation, we wouldn’t be caught in sticky situations in the first place.

“We tend to be a city where people do little until they see a fight, and then they come in guns blazing,” she said. “I would love people to be involved prior to a fight.”

Zadeh continues to advocate for saving historic buildings among other urban design initiatives as the head of a new nonprofit. Community Design Fort Worth focuses on improving the quality of life here.

“If you are talking about the economic value of preservation, you can see how Fairmount [on the Near Southside] has added value for homeowners,” she said. “I think there is value in maintaining some historic buildings just for the sake of the history that they emote. Fort Worth has tended to be property rights-focused. They haven’t been a city that is willing to place an overlay over property without the owners’ consent.”

Zadeh urges folks who value decades-old buildings to follow Historic Fort Worth and suggest structures for the group’s annual list of endangered sites. Finding credible sources of information is also important, and she recommends relying on city officials for overlay maps and other data. Locals who want to learn how to designate their neighborhood as a historic district, which comes with the benefits of tax incentives and protections, can email the city at DesignReview@fortworthtexas.gov.

The clamor over the possible demolition of The Berry follows news that Fort Worth’s Central Library downtown will likely be torn down by Dart Interests, developers who purchased the building from the city several months ago for $18 million. City officials said the location and layout of the Central Library no longer served the long-term goals of the public library system. City officials said they plan to lease a downtown space to relocate the Central Library’s offices and public resources.

Along with the good news about The Berry, the Fort Worth Public Market will soon be restored and revamped by Wilks Development. The $58 million project will add coffee shops and stores to the near-downtown building from 1930 that has been long vacant.

Zadeh said the pause of The Berry Theater’s demolition is a “win-win” for the South Side and nonprofit owners.

“The owners have shown that they are community-minded and at least willing to listen to the community,” she said.

 

Tight Housing Market Helps Slumlords

Like bail bondsmen and scam artists, slumlords run predatory businesses that can wreck the lives and livelihoods of folks struggling to find affordable housing. In Republican-led Texas, tenants have few protections, and our gun-obsessed, Trump-loving state leaders are unlikely to take any steps to address the plight of renters anytime soon.

Local singer-songwriter Simone Nicole is dealing with health problems due to mold in her Near Southside apartment. The property managers inspected the bathroom around the tub and just told her “it was normal and nothing to worry about,” Nicole said. “Last year, I had to beg management for a month to clean my air ducts because of a strong musky smell. Turns out the vents were filled with mold. I noticed I was getting sick more often. Last weekend, I decided to open up the bathroom duct myself. It was very black and moldy. I haven’t been staying at home because I keep feeling sick when I’m there. The lady in the office won’t hire anyone to come inspect the mold or eradicate it or professionally clean the ducts again.”

Tenants with mold problems have three options, Sandy Rollins has said. The director of Texas Tenants Union said renters can “terminate the lease and sue, stay and sue, or repair and deduct the price of repairs from your rent.”

Suing a landlord puts the onus on working-class people when basic regulations could prevent the types of serious problems afflicting Nicole.

For James Talambas, broken pipes created the smell of feces at the home he recently vacated just off West Magnolia Avenue on the Near Southside. When the artist/musician called the city to complain, he was told Fort Worth’s health department does not become involved unless leaking sewage reaches the sidewalk or street.

So how much leaching crap does it take for the city to get involved? Apparently, a shit ton.

Talambas, unwilling to wait for the refuse to overflow onto public property, recently moved and bought a home on Hemphill Street, but not everyone has that option. Nicole is looking to move, but with average rent starting around $1,400 pretty much everywhere, she said that’s no easy task.

Talambas believes North Texas’ tight housing market emboldens crummy landlords to neglect properties because there’s always someone willing to live with broken pipes and mold. Sadly, he’s probably right.

 

Fenced Out

After a contentious seven-year court case, the owners of The Original Mexican Restaurant recently lost the lease to their Camp Bowie location, where they served Tex-Mex for 93 years. With a July 1 deadline to vacate the building, the owners left a parting gift — a chain-link fence marked “Private Property. No Trespassing.”

Turns out that the Original still owns the parking lot.

“Seems like they’re playing chicken” with the building owners, someone commented online.

It seems that if anyone wants the Original’s original building, they’re going to have to go through the Original’s owners for convenient parking. The abrupt lot closure also leaves nearby Fort Worth Coffee Co. without easy access to parking. The Original is relocating to the North Side soon.

The Original’s owners should realize that kneecapping parking out of spite doesn’t help their public image at all. We get it. You’re mad you had to leave your home. But don’t take it out on your neighbors or the neighborhood. Be better.

Locals are wondering what prompted The Original Mexican Eats Cafe to fence off its old parking lot after relocating to the North Side.
Courtesy Facebook

 

New Hardware in the Newsroom

Congratulations to the Weekly for bringing home another Diamond Award, this time for an editorial by Editor Anthony Mariani and Staff Writer Edward Brown. The Southwest-regional distinction by the Arkansas chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists was awarded for the writers’ Feb. 23, 2022 piece on a constable allegedly using public resources to manage his campaign.

“Strong community focus,” the judges wrote. “Immoderate language but contextualized facts and process back up arguments. Calls for action, not just critiquing what’s past.”

Good job, boys. Keep up the great work.

 

Pride Month Flies High

Tim O’Hare can suck it. Fort Worthians rolled deep for a glorious month-long Pride Month bash that only recently ended. Whether hosting drag shows, selling Pride Month cocktails to support LGBTQ+ nonprofits, hosting discussions on gay history, or organizing Trinity Pride Fest, business owners and locals sent a message to the county judge and all his backward cronies in charge that love is love.

The homophobia from a liar who claims drag queens are a danger to children should be seen for what it is — a limp move and more projection from sex-obsessed Republicans. It doesn’t take a degree in psychoanalysis to understand conservatives clearly have a hard-on for drag queens and sexually liberated folks. We just wish they would find healthier ways to cope with their pent-up frustrations because the whole groomer thing is really getting stale.

 

Race to the Bottom  

Rick Barnes recently withdrew his bid for Precinct 3 County Commissioner following uproar from within his own Republican party over his work as Tarrant County Republican Party chair. Over the past six months, our office has fielded complaints from active Republican volunteers alleging Barnes failed to properly pay taxes and fees for his party while hiding the address of former precinct chair Lisa Grimaldi, which allegedly allowed her to represent part of Fort Worth even as her social media posts indicated she lived in Saginaw.

One email forwarded to us from a Republican Party insider which circulated among numerous Republican precinct chairs described mistrust over Barnes’ leadership. Or lack thereof.

“Barnes neglected important financial duties and should not be entrusted with public funds,” the email reads. “He has not been transparent regarding [Tarrant County GOP] finances and projects, and there are legitimate concerns that this will continue if he attains public office. He allows his ego to get in the way of the deliberative process.”

Rather than doing the county a favor and leaving any ambitions for public office behind, Barnes recently announced he will run against Republican Wendy Burgess for her elected seat as Tarrant County tax assessor-collector in 2024. For a guy who clearly has difficulty maintaining clean books and the trust of his employees and supporters, his newfound political ambitions could spell danger for property owners throughout Tarrant County.

Barnes, who pushed baseless voter fraud allegations against Deborah Peoples during the race that put pathological liar Tim O’Hare in office, has lost the faith of his peers, which undoubtedly means he will push further right and fail upward like a few other GOP “stars” we know and loathe. Only in the Republican Party can you make a cushy living demonizing the very system in which you are comfortably ensconced. And conservative voters eat it up.

 

This column reflects the opinions of the editorial board and not the Fort Worth Weekly. To submit a column, please email Editor Anthony Mariani at Anthony@FWWeekly.com. He will gently edit it for concision and clarity.

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