Ken Starr is still president of Baylor … for now

Starr

Ken Starr

Baylor President Ken Starr, the special prosecutor who was so outraged over President Bill Clinton’s consensual affair with Monica Lewinsky, has done little or nothing about sexual assaults taking place on the Baylor campus in Waco. He has been president of the school since February 2010.

Critics have been calling for his removal and news outlets on Tuesday reported he had been fired. But Starr was still on the job Wednesday morning, according to the Waco Tribune-Herald.

Baylor athletes have been accused of multiple sexual assaults:

A former football player was arrested in April for sexually assaulting a female student after leaving a bar in Waco. He claims the encounter was consensual.

Two former football players are accused of sexually assaulting a woman at a party in 2013. A former tennis player is accused in another sexual assault case.

In 2015, a former football player was convicted of sexually assaulting a player on the women’s soccer team. Another was convicted in 2014 and given 20 years in prison for two counts of sexual assault.

The president of a suspended fraternity is charged with sexual assault at an off-campus party.

Women who filed complaints said their cases have been mishandled. One said Baylor police blamed her for being raped.

One football player has been named several times in sexual assault and the school has taken no action against him.

With this sort of record, why does the NCAA allow Baylor’s sports programs to continue? Drive down I-35 and see Baylor’s shiny new expensive stadium. That’s why.

—  David Taffet

‘Obama’s a gay prostitute’ candidate loses primary

mary_lou_portrait

Mary Lou Bruner

Former schoolteacher and current lunatic Mary Lou Bruner, 69, lost her race for the Republican nomination for Texas State Board of Education.

Bruner made national news when she claimed President Barack Obama was a gay prostitute in college to pay for his drug habit. She also said dinosaurs and humans lived together until Noah took two baby dinosaurs on the ark who were too young to reproduce. Of course, they couldn’t mature because there wasn’t enough vegetation left on earth. Hmmm … how did the elephants survive? She claimed climate change is a hoax created by Karl Marx. (Hasn’t he been dead since 1883?) And Democrats killed Kennedy because the communists in the party didn’t want a conservative president.

She lost the election to Keven Ellis, president of the Lufkin ISD board. Ellis was endorsed by, well, every newspaper in the district. Bruner’s most visible endorsement came from Cathie Adams, founder of the Texas Eagle Forum. On her website, several endorsements are marked, “Withdrawn.”

In the November election, Ellis faces Democrat Amanda Rudolph, a professor at Stephen F. Austin University.

—  David Taffet

Resource Center calls on Dallas Police to repudiate any affiliation with First Baptist

Ribbon cutting

Chief David Brown, left, at LGBT Community Center ribbon cutting ceremony on May 21

Resource Center responded to statements by the Rev. Robert Jeffress of First Baptist Church Dallas by calling for the Dallas Police Department to repudiate any involvement with that organization.

Over the weekend, Jeffress said transgender friendly businesses are a bigger threat than ISIS. Yes, he is saying it is safer to vacation in Fallujah than to go to a Target.

In April, First Baptist Church offered free counseling to Dallas police as well as scholarships to church camp for officers’ children. First Baptist honored Dallas police at service that Chief David Brown attended.

A similar offer of counseling by Cathedral of Hope was ignored by Brown. Brown did, however, attend the opening of the new LGBT community center on Saturday, May 21.

Here’s Resource Center’s statement calling for Dallas Police to repudiate any affiliation with Jeffress.

Resource Center is calling on the City of Dallas and the Dallas Police Department to reassess its relationship with First Baptist Church of Dallas in light of recent statements made by church leadership comparing business supporters of the transgender community with a terrorist organization.

This most recent fanciful statement from the church in and of itself does not deserve a response. Our concern is with the alliance announced last month between DPD and the church, which has a history of making inflammatory remarks about women, Islam, the Catholic Church and the broader lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community. Dallas Police, as does the city of Dallas, has a responsibility to be an open and inclusive organization that serves all people as reflected in the city’s internal and external nondiscrimination statements. The Center believes the city of Dallas must make decisions and take actions that are consistent with those values. The partnership with First Baptist Church of Dallas fails that test.

—  David Taffet

Dallas Zoo welcomes baby elephant

Elephant calf May17_2016 LH11 logoThe Dallas Zoo has welcomed a big new arrival: a male African elephant calf born May 14 to Mlilo, one of the elephants rescued from drought-stricken Swaziland this spring.

The calf stands about 3 feet tall, and his tiny trunk is just over a foot long. His ears are light pink, contrasting with his darker gray body. He weighs 175 pounds, which is on the low end of the 150- to 300-pound range for newborn African elephants. A low birth weight isn’t surprising, given the difficult conditions in Swaziland during his 22-month gestation.

The calf, who isn’t yet named, is active and exploring the barn, although he doesn’t get too far from mom. He’s nursing and vocalizing as expected.

“This birth validates the critical importance of our rescue efforts and why we worked so hard to get these animals to safety as quickly as possible,” said Gregg Hudson, president and CEO of the Dallas Zoo.

The birth was quick and uneventful, and the calf arrived at 10:15 p.m. For several nights, Dallas Zoo elephant keepers stayed in the barn overnight to monitor the herd round-the-clock.

“Our entire animal staff, from keepers to veterinarians to the nutrition team, is involved in caring for this remarkable calf, as well as our other nine elephants,” said Lynn Kramer, D.V.M. and vice president of Animal Operations and Welfare at the Dallas Zoo. “He is doing well; playing hard and nursing often. And Mlilo is proving to be a very attentive and patient mother.”

Mlilo (pronounced “ma-LEE-lo”) arrived in Dallas showing signs of a possible pregnancy, but all tests conducted were inconclusive. Additionally, breeding-age bull elephants in Swaziland had been vasectomized, so the chances of a pregnancy were extremely low. Regardless, the Dallas Zoo staff was careful with the day-to-day care of Mlilo, creating positive conditions for her to have a successful birth.

“The small risk of moving a potentially pregnant animal was far outweighed by the certain death she and her calf faced in Swaziland,” Hudson said. “I shudder to think what would have happened to Mlilo and her calf without the last six months of food and water we provided while they were in Swaziland, as well as the excellent care and nutrition they received upon their arrival.”

Zoo officials don’t yet know when the public will be able to see the calf. It could be several months, while mother and calf continue to bond with each other and the rest of the herd. The introduction process between the other four Swaziland elephants and the Dallas Zoo’s four well-known “Golden Girls” is continuing.

“This calf will be an excellent ambassador for his species, helping us teach guests about the grave crisis facing elephants in Africa, and inspiring them to help protect this majestic species from extinction,” Hudson said.

This is the first birth of an African elephant calf in the United States in nearly two years.

The Dallas Zoo collaborated with conservation officials in Swaziland, Africa, and two other accredited U.S. facilities to provide a safe haven for 17 African elephants. The elephants had destroyed trees and other vegetation in the managed parks where they lived, making the land uninhabitable for more critically endangered rhinos. Swaziland managers planned to cull the elephants in order to focus on rhino conservation. The zoos’ collaboration to relocate the elephants was conceived not only to save them, but to support Swaziland’s rhino conservation efforts.

In a complex process that lasted nearly two years, the Dallas Zoo, Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo and Wichita’s Sedgwick County Zoo applied for permission from the U.S. government to accept the animals. The permit was granted in January after extensive review, and a detailed move was planned for nearly two months. The elephants were flown to the U.S. aboard a chartered 747 jet, arriving March 11, 2016. Five of the elephants found a home in Dallas, while the other two facilities are each caring for six of the rescued animals.

In addition to Mlilo, who’s believed to be about 14 years old, the Swaziland elephants at the Dallas Zoo include bull Tendaji and females Zola, Amahle and Nolwazi. All range in age from 6 to their mid-20s. They join the zoo’s four “Golden Girls” – Jenny, Gypsy, Congo and Kamba – in the award-winning Giants of the Savanna habitat.

All three zoos have expansive new habitats that set the standard for an advanced way of managing elephants in human care, allowing for socialization, herd behavior and extensive walking. Public support for the rescue has been overwhelming, given the critical situation in the animals’ native land. African elephants face many threats, ranging from human encroachment on their habitat to extreme poaching, which claims the life of nearly 100 elephants every day.

_MG_7317-CB logo

—  David Taffet

Oklahoma Legislature wants to ban trans peeing and impeach Obama

Gov. Mary Fallin

Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin, who figured out a way to veto an unconstitutional bill last week, may be faced with more nonsense to veto

Last week, Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin found a reason to veto an unconstitutional bill banning abortion in her state. So the legislature reacted by dealing with other pressing issues facing the state.

Oklahoma’s crumbling infrastructure? No, even though the day they passed the abortion bill, the May Street bridge in Oklahoma city collapsed on the highway below, inconveniencing at least some members of the legislature on their commutes home.

No, the Oklahoma Legislature turned from abortion, settled by the U.S. supreme Court 40 years ago, to peeing, this year’s important social issue.

The state Senate passed a resolution instructing its U.S. representatives to draw up articles of impeachment against President Barack Obama, the U.S. Attorney General and the Secretary of Education, according to the Daily Oklahoman.

Their crime? Instructing all school to treat all students equally.

Last week, the Department of Education issued guidance to all school districts about the pressing bathroom issue. If articles of impeachment were drawn up, they would be the first in U.S. history to involve urine.

In addition, the legislature introduced bills to authorize students and parents to request religious accommodation if their school allowed trans students to use restrooms, locker rooms or showers other than for the sex they were designated at birth. Providing a single-occupancy accommodation would not be considered an appropriate accommodation.

In other words, they want the trans student to be banned from peeing in school.

—  David Taffet

Dallas Wings dominate the court in home opener

Sims.Odessey

Odyssey Sims

The Dallas Wings, the area’s new WNBA franchise, pulled ahead of the San Antonio Stars in the first minute of the game and maintained their lead throughout the team’s sold-out home opener.

Odyssey Sims is quickly becoming a team favorite. Not only did she grow up in Irving, but she scored 10 of the team’s 21 points in the first quarter, continued scoring throughout the game and intercepted the ball in every quarter.

Although the Wings kept their lead throughout the game and were winning by more than 10 points through much of the third quarter, the game wasn’t without excitement. San Antonio finally seemed to wake up during the middle of the fourth quarter and narrowed their deficit to just two points. At four seconds before the final buzzer, the whistle blew calling a foul.

Sims scored two points. The score was 82-77.

The whistle again at 3 seconds. San Antonio had the ball. Final buzzer the Wings won their home opener.

The Wings opened their season out-of-town and are 3-1 on the season so far. If they keep playing like this, they’ll be a championship team soon.

Some notes about the game:

WNBA games are a whole lot of fun. Although the games are played on the UT Arlington campus, lots of people from the community made the drive from Dallas.

The Dallas Wings transferred from Tulsa, where they were known as the Tulsa Shock. Judging by the T-shirts people wore, lots of people made the drive from Oklahoma are are remaining loyal to their team.

Most of the team is new. Plenette Pierson is the team’s elder statesman. When I spoke team members several weeks ago at their College Park Arena home, the rookies look up to her for advice. She along with Coach Fred Williams, who’s from Oak Cliff, by the way, have done a great job of bringing this group of women together to work well as a team. Each time Sims signaled one of her teammates, that person was clear to catch her passing the ball. Watching such team work, especially among a group of women working together for the first time in their new home, was a pleasure.

I should note that the team played with just 11 players. Glory Johnson, one of the team’s stars, is on a seven-game suspension. She’ll be back in a few weeks and so will I. Can’t wait to see her on the court.

One thing I’ve noted before is I’m not a sports reporter, but I played one on TV. You know something I love about reporting sports? When I write anything else, I have to maintain some objectivity. When it comes to sports reporting, I can throw my objectivity out the window. You never heard a Dallas reporter talking about how great the Yankees are after they’ve blown out the Rangers. Or, hey, wasn’t that a great Giants win against the Cowboys.

So I can say it. San Antonio pretty much sucked throughout the game, and I love our Dallas Wings. The next game is Friday, May 27 against Atlanta. Do yourself a favor, have some fun and go.

Dallas Wings play at College Park Arena. Exit I-30 at Center Street and go south several miles. You’ll see the parking garages on your right. Parking is just $10.

—  David Taffet

Community celebrates opening of new community center

Elected officials and community members gathered at the new John Thomas LGBT Community Center at 5750 Cedar Springs Road today (May 21) to cut the ribbon and open the new building.

The Turtle Creek Chorale and the Oak Lawn Band performed. State Reps. Eric Johnson and Rafael Anchia presented a proclamation from the Texas House of Representatives to Resource Center honoring the grand opening.

—  David Taffet

New community center opens on Saturday

IMG_8224This is the picture I wanted to use for this week’s cover: Cece jumping for joy over the completion of the new community center.

We chose a different picture because either we lost her jumping or we lost the building. The picture is oblong and the paper is more square. And Cece didn’t want her stomach showing on thousands of copies of the paper distributed across the area.

One thing I didn’t get into the story is the donation wall, just inside the front door. Everyone who contributes to help pay off the remaining $344,000 will get their names on the donation wall. Cox said that they thought of cutting off the list at $100 or $250 or more, but this is a community center, built by the community and every donation is important. So she decided every name of every person (or company or foundation) that contributes belongs there.

Open house is Saturday, May 21 from 10 a.m.-noon. Stonewall Democrats holds a fundraiser and open house on Monday, May 23 from 7-9 p.m. Community groups are encouraged to use the facility. Contact the community center (the number’s the same: 214-528-0144) to reserve space.

Here are some more pictures of the new center:

—  David Taffet

Wings play home opener on Saturday

Brianna Kiesel

Brianna Kiesel fake dribbling at Dallas Wings media day

FNL

I’m not a sports reporter, but I played one of TV.

I’m not a sports reporter, but I played one on TV. Really. For five seasons, I was in the background on Friday Night Lights, on the field at every game the Dillon Panthers or East Dillon Lions played. I covered five years of fake football. See:

So when the Dallas Wings — our new WNBA team that has its first home game on Saturday, May 21 at 7:30 p.m. — invited me to media day, I figured it sounded like fun. Fun? I had a blast.

I’m already such a fan that I’ll be at tomorrow’s home opener. I’m even dragging Brian. I don’t think he’s ever been to a basketball game, but I told him to expect lots of home runs and touchdowns.

So far, the Wings are doing great. Although they lost both preseason games, they’re 2-1 on the season before even playing a home game.

The Wings play in Arlington on the UTA campus. From Dallas, take I-30 to Center Street in Arlington (between Cooper and Collins). Go several miles south and park in the high rise garage before College Park Center, 600 S. Center St., the 6,000 seat arena where the Wings play.

Tickets are still available and can be purchased here.

 

—  David Taffet

Stonewall turns 20

Founded to support one particular LGBT community hero’s reelection, Stonewall has grown into a political powerhouse

Birthday-Cake

DAVID TAFFET |  MSenior Staff Writer
taffet@dallasvoice.com

Michael Milliken, one of the four founders of Stonewall Democrats of Dallas, credits Log Cabin Republicans for the founding of the group.

Log Cabin was supporting a candidate running against state Rep. Harryette Ehrhardt, who had been an icon in the LGBT community since her days as a Dallas Independent School District board member supporting gay and lesbian teachers that superintendent Linus Wright was determined to fire.

An organization called the Lesbian Gay Political Coalition had previously been interviewing and endorsing candidates. Milliken said that group was all-inclusive, and that worked until it came to someone like Ehrhardt.

“We needed to do something about this,” Milliken said, explaining how a group met in his living room to create Stonewall Democrats of Dallas, modeled after a similar group from Los Angeles. The organization has grown from that small group of four to one of the largest Democratic Party groups in the state.

Former Stonewall President Omar Narvaez said Stonewall has gone from being an organization that begged candidates to come screen with them to one candidates beg for its endorsement. That’s because a Stonewall endorsement brings money, volunteers and votes.

Being a member of Stonewall helps get candidates in Dallas elected. Gary Fitzsimmons, one of Stonewall’s founders, served two terms as Dallas County district clerk. Narvaez was elected to the board of Dallas County Schools. Judge Tanya Parker and Sheriff Lupe Valdez are members of Stonewall. A number of members have been elected precinct chairs.

Being a Stonewall member hasn’t just worked for LGBT candidates. A slew of elected officials are straight members of Stonewall. Judge Tina Yoo’s husband even served several years on Stonewall’s board.

Former Stonewall President Erin Moore said, “I saw Stonewall evolve from challenging elected officials about our rights to working with elected officials to ensure our rights.” She said Stonewall became a trusted political organization within the Democratic Party by being the “trusted boots on the ground.”

That included providing volunteers for everything from block walking for candidates, phone banking and holding voter registration drives to making donations to campaigns.

Moore credits former President Shannon Bailey for organizing at the state level. The State Democratic Executive Committee added two seats for Stonewall Democrats of Texas.

Narvaez credits former President Jesse Garcia with creating alliances with groups like LULAC. Not only did he bring many LGBT Latinos into Stonewall, but helped LULAC understand that LGBT issues were their issues and their issues were Stonewall issues.

LULAC’s condemnation of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, among the first by a national organization that didn’t represent LGBT interests, originated largely in Dallas and Narvaez credits Garcia with laying the groundwork.

Moore said that in her years with Stonewall, she saw support for LGBT issues in the Democratic Party go from silence, to a whisper to full support. In 2012, she sat on the state platform committee, which made marriage equality a plank.

A turning point for Stonewall came in 2006 where Democratic candidates swept Dallas County elections. For the first time, a Democrat was elected sheriff. Judges such as Dennise Garcia came into office. By 2008, Democrats swept judgeships in the county, and by 2012, Republicans only held one position on Commissioners Court.

Many elected officials credit the largest Democratic club in the area for those victories.

Jay Narey is Stonewall’s current president and has been a member for most of the organization’s 20 years. He said he learned about Stonewall at a state Democratic convention where he was a delegate.

“What intrigued me was people walking around with rainbow Texas stickers,” he said. “The lesbian and gay community was welcomed and supported in the party.”

In addition to growth from a core group of 10 people when he first joined to paid membership of up to 300 during election years, Narey said he has noticed the support from local officials and how comfortable they are working with Stonewall.

To celebrate its 20-year anniversary, Stonewall will be the first group to hold an event at the new LGBT Community Center, with an open house and fundraiser Monday, May 23, at the new building at 5750 Cedar Springs Road. Cocktails and hors d’oeuvres would be served and members will reflect on where the organization has been and discuss plans for moving forward.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition May 20, 2016.

—  David Taffet