Former Dallas Cop Goes Down Again

Got word of this last night from a great Dallas police officer, and now it’s up at FrontBurner.

As boss man Tim puts it:

If you’ve been following along at home, you know that four Dallas cops sued D Magazine for libel in 2008. For those who need to catch up, you can read about how the whole deal started right here. Needless to say, we and our fine lawyers and Haynes and Boone believe the suit is without merit. Nonetheless, it drags on. We won a judgment against them. They’ve appealed. It’ll be another six months probably before we get a ruling from the appellate court.

One of the plaintiffs in the suit against us is Jeffrey Nelson, who is now known to the fine folks of Seven Points, Texas, as Police Chief Jack Nelson. Or he was until recently. Seven points is east of Ennis, out by Gun Barrel City. After a political shakeup in Seven Points, Nelson was installed as the top cop there in July 2010. But just five months later, in November, Nelson had to resign “amidst allegations that he had made a sexual and racial slur to a female officer in the department.”

Here’s my 2007 investigative story that got Nelson, et al, up in D’s grill.

I give Tim the last word since he put it so perfectly:

Our magazine has spent quite a lot of time and money dealing with the groundless lawsuit that Nelson filed against us. Reading that story from the Athens Review about the allegations against Nelson, the word “schadenfreude” comes to mind.

Star Children’s Charity Responds To My Article in D Magazine

Cover_bigMy boss man over at D Magazine has posted a response we got from Star Children’s Charity to my story in the January issue of D.

As Tim notes, the money graph in my story is this.

A look at Star’s most recent IRS Form 990 provides insight. It shows that in 2008 Star brought in $979,081 in donations and grants. It spent $522,554 on administrative costs and fundraising events. So the organization spent 53 cents for every dollar it raised, quite a high figure. The national average is about 20 cents. That year, Star doled out just $367,764 to its partner charities. 2009 was worse. Star doled out only $294,000, and it spent $1.57 for every dollar it raised.

Here’s what they sent both Tim and me.

Your recent article negatively portraying Star Children’s Charity is a disappointment to our Board of Directors, members, sponsors, beneficiaries and so many others in Collin County whose goal it is to make life better for the children of our community.

The accusation that Star is one of the reasons that Crossroads Family Services was folded into Boys and Girls Club is one of several egregious misstatements. The article also infers that Star has not distributed funds to Crossroads. The fact is that we have distributed a total of $661,000 to our beneficiaries including Crossroads.

Star is a well-run volunteer organization led by business owners and leaders, corporate executives and community philanthropists. The cumulative Management and General Expense for our organization is 10% compared to an acceptable industry average of 12% to 20%. Star also compares favorably to the national non-profit benchmarks for the cost to raise a dollar with our expenses for fundraisers between 5 cents to 57 cents for each dollar raised.

But the most disrespectful part of your article was in demeaning the beneficiary agencies. These institutions are known for their stewardship and their integrity and we are grateful to be a part of their important missions for children. We invite your readers to visit our website, to see for themselves that we are a well managed organization dedicated to providing funding and leadership to important community organizations.


Michelle Brennan Hall, Chairman, Board of Directors
Michael Urtso, Treasurer, Board of Directors
Ronelle Ianace, Executive Director

Submitted and mirrored from here without comment. You decide.

In Print: Collin County Partied at Kids’ Expense

My investigative piece on the mismanagement of Star Children’s Charity in Collin County is online and in your mailboxes.

It was the kind of cool November evening in Frisco that allowed gentlemen to wear tuxedos without perspiring, while the ladies could still go bare shouldered in their Carmen Marc Valvo. As premium brands flowed from the open bar, guests in the Embassy Suites’ Grand Ballroom pored over four- and five-figure silent auction items like diamond rings and a $10,000 Super Bowl ticket package. Dinner, a live auction, a magic show, and casino games would follow.

From all outward appearances, Star Children’s Charity’s annual Winter Ball was a huge success. Guests, who paid a minimum of $250 per ticket, must have assumed that tens of thousands of dollars were raised by Star, which funnels money to other Collin County nonprofits that serve children. But it’s not at all clear whether Star made money that night (expenses ran north of $200,000). And, if it did make money, Star will have to use those funds to dig itself out of a deep red hole created by making pledges in past years to charities that it couldn’t fulfill. Take a look at Star’s books, ask around in Collin County nonprofit circles, and a picture of profound mismanagement begins to emerge.

“Besides hiding their liabilities and not fulfilling their commitments, they are telling people, ‘You don’t need to support this agency. You can support Star, and we will get the money to them,’ ” says a member of one nonprofit that has worked with Star. The source, like several who spoke to D Magazine, asked not to be named. “Star is just getting in the way and eating up donor dollars with their high overhead.

Full story here.

In Print This Month: A Look at Bill McNutt

On your news stand or in your mailbox, the June issue of D Magazine with my feature on Bill McNutt, the alumnus arrested and now under the spotlight.

Here’s a teaser. Follow the link for the full story.


The details of Bill McNutt’s February arrest—at least the details that have been made public—don’t add up. The prominent SMU alumnus had been banned from campus since November 2008. A university official would later tell the Dallas Morning News that SMU had “heard reports of alleged questionable behavior that caused concern among some students.” McNutt had dinner parties at his house, and he invited students to them. Alcohol was available. So was a masseuse. Several people told the News that the dinners were “creepy,” and girls felt pressured to undress for a private massage in a mirrored back room.

But even if true, none of that was illegal. So why would the university ban a donor and the founding president of the Young Alumni Association from campus? And why, if he was banned, did McNutt continue to receive personal invitations to on-campus functions from members of the administration? The administration was saying one thing; SMU Police Chief Rick Shafer was saying another. He warned McNutt that he was “not welcome on the SMU campus for any reason whatsoever.”

In Print This Month — C’est Moi

My column on the hunt for a new top cop for Dallas is up on the web now.

Read it here.Picture 1

Also, I get some kind words from Rudy Bush at City Hall.

My Piece on Judge Dread is in D’s December Issue

There’s always that guy who stays long after the party has ended. Drop all the hints you want. But he’s going through your music collection and checking to see if your couch folds out. Tell him you have an early meeting, and he’ll ask if you have anything to make a sandwich with.

Which brings us to Judge Charles Sandoval, arguably the most ineffective judge working in Dallas County today.

The party that Sandoval won’t let end gracefully started in 1996, when he took over the 380th District Court in Collin County

Read the rest online or in the print product.

UPDATE: Link fixed. Thanks to Joker’s Wild, Max Girth and Dear Amanda for alerting me. I’m leaving the comments — I’ll always edit other people’s comment mistakes on request, but my screw ups stay. Keeps me humble. Which is another of my great qualities. Hell, if there were a Humble Olympics, I’d take the gold.

My Piece on Dallas Constables Online or in Your Mailboxes

Pulse_cityI have a news-ish column in this month’s D Magazine questioning whether the anachronism known as constables in Dallas go way too far.

Short version: Constables, who have a necessary role, are doing too much, becoming too militarized, and don’t have enough oversight as they increasingly become — of course — revenue agents.

It’s online now.

Comments Return to FrontBurner

Goodbye, heavy traffic here.

Ah well.

Feherty Falls Victim to Ye Olde Double Standard

As Tim reports, David Feherty is in danger of losing his CBS gig because of a joke he wrote in the print product in the magazine where yours truly is one of the contributing editors.


But this video clip below is OK, where even Mr. Obama guffawed, I guess since the target was on the right side of the binary line.

(I guffawed, too. Sykes and Feherty were funny. So the Always Indignant on both sides can suck it.)

Monday Roundup: Do They Have Jokes in Your Country?

  • “If they ban smoking what’s next? Fatty foods?”
    “Oh, don’t be ridiculous. That’s a stupid slippery slope argument.”
    Guess what.
  • Good God. Almost three months for skipping jury duty? Which banana republic is this? Oh, it’s Collin County. That’s some fine police work, Lou.
  • picture-2And of course, a congratulations to the Mayor Tom Leppert, James Taggart, Phillip Jones, and Wesley Mouch on a sweeping win Saturday.