Business Briefs: AssociaTitle names Mark Sadlek director of business development

AssociaTitle names Mark Sadlek director of business development

Mark Sadlek

AssociaTitle announced it appointed Mark J. Sadlek director of business development at its corporate headquarters in the heart of Uptown Dallas at Crescent Court.

“We are thrilled to be adding Mark Sadlek to the AssociaTitle team,” said AssociaTitle President Paul Reyes. “He is a seasoned real estate professional in the Dallas area with a track record of proven success and will serve both our clients and our company well.”

Sadlek joins AssociaTitle from Republic Title of Texas, where he served as vice president of business development and director of coaching services. He worked to build and promote the company externally with Realtors, developers and lenders. His focus also included business coaching and training.

He has also served as vice president of business development for American Title and as home mortgage consultant for Shelter Mortgage & Wells Fargo Home Mortgage. Previous to his work in the North Dallas real estate industry, Sadlek worked in marketing and sales for almost 20 years and was intimately involved in the start-up of two companies, VerCeram and Velux-America.

For the past nine years, Sadlek has worked in the North Dallas real estate industry, building positive relationships with local Realtors and lenders. He was awarded the 2010 Affiliate of the Year Award from MetroTex Association of Realtors, served on the MetroTex Board as an affiliate appointee board member, and chaired the Affiliate Forum Committee of MetroTex.

He was a co-founder and co-chair of Leadership Lambda Inc., an LGBT leadership development organization. He was also a board member of Design Industries Foundation Fighting AIDS (DIFFA) and has chaired the Heart Strings Fundraiser at the Majestic Theatre. Additionally, Sadlek served on the Board of Governors for the Human Rights Campaign, as well as a co-chair of the Dallas-Fort Worth Federal Club.

Ernst & Young Announces Gross Up for Jan. 1

On Jan. 1, Ernst & Young joined more than 30 major U.S. employers that are equalizing the pay for gay and lesbian employees by covering the cost of state and federal taxes for domestic partners.

Employees enrolled in domestic partner benefits incur additional taxes as the value of those benefits is treated as taxable income under federal law, while the value of opposite-sex spousal benefits is not.

Federal law treats domestic partner benefits differently from federally-recognized spousal benefits.

—  David Taffet

Deaths • 02.24.12

Larry Summers

Larry Wayne Summers, 44, passed away Feb. 12, at Medical City Hospital in North Dallas. Summers was an avid reader, largely of the sci-fi and fantasy genres. He enjoyed playing softball in leagues both in Seattle and more recently here in Dallas. In his spare time he enjoyed watching movies, playing video games, playing with computers, boating with friends, grilling and collecting books — but above all just enjoying time spent with friends.

One of his longtime interests was sitting for hours watching cartoons from his childhood. In recent months he picked up knitting again, a hobby he shared with his mother.

Summers was an easygoing man with uncomplicated demands. He was a loyal friend to many, and will be remembered as a soft-spoken, sweet man. Although a man of few words, he had an understated charm, sweet smile and an infectious laugh. He was always in a good mood regardless of the stresses in his life, which is a testament to the genuine good soul and the good person that he was.
Services were held in his hometown of Mart, Texas. He is survived by his parents, Leo and Frances Summer; his younger brother, Michael; his grandparents, Roy and Virgie Summers and Annie and William Beck; and his cherished cat, Alex.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition February 24, 2012.

—  Kevin Thomas

DEATH: Paul David Tomko

Paul David Tomko, 41, of Dallas died on Aug. 19.

He was born in El Paso and graduated from Irvin High School and University of Texas in El Paso.

Tomko had lived in Dallas for the past 10 years. He worked as a senior IBM consultant, and previously had worked as a project manager at CPM, and before that worked at White Sands Missile Range.

Tomko was preceded in death by his mother, Dorothy Tomko.

He is survived by his father, Donald Tomko; brothers, Jackie Tomko, Donald Tomko Jr., DwayneTomko and Jammye Tomko; nieces, Megan Tomko and Samantha Tomko; and many aunts, uncles and friends.

A memorial service will be held Saturday, Aug. 27 at 11 a.m. at North Dallas Funeral Home, 2710 Valley View Lane.

Tomko was a frequent donor to AIDS Inerfaith Network, Resource Center Dallas and Genesis Women’s Shelter and donations in his memory can be made to any of these organizations.

—  John Wright

Playing the waiting game — again

For the second time, RafiQ Salleh sits in Singapore waiting for a visa renewal as his business, his spouse in Dallas suffer from the separation

DAVID TAFFET  |  Staff Writer

FORCED SEPARATION  |  Cannon Flowers, left, is back home in Dallas, waiting for the U.S. Embassy in Singapore to once again clear his partner RafiQ Salleh, right, to return to the U.S. (David Taffet/Dallas Voice)
FORCED SEPARATION | Cannon Flowers, left, is back home in Dallas, waiting for the U.S. Embassy in Singapore to once again clear his partner RafiQ Salleh, right, to return to the U.S. (David Taffet/Dallas Voice)

RafiQ Salleh has lived in the United States legally since moving here in 1998 with his partner Cannon Flowers. But now, for the second time in two years, Salleh has been prevented from returning to the U.S. after returning to his native Singapore to pick up his visa.

In 2008, Salleh opened Chill Bubble Tea across the Tollway from the Galleria in North Dallas. He was approved for an E2 entrepreneurial visa, had to return to his home country to pick it up.

He traveled to Singapore but was stopped before returning because his name appeared on the terrorist watch list.

Flowers, who had accompanied his partner to Singapore, was forced to return to Dallas alone. He said after his return, it only took 20 minutes researching online to discover that the RafiQ Salleh on the terrorist watch list is a Pakistani who was already being held in Guantanamo.

It took the State Department almost two months to figure out the same information.

Flowers met Salleh when he was working for Texas Instruments and was based in Singapore. When Flowers moved back to Dallas, Salleh accompanied him on a student visa.  His stay was extended on a practical training visa and then again on an H1B three-year work visa, which he could renew once.

Flowers emphasizes now that Salleh’s residence in this country has always been legal.

To remain in the U.S., Salleh invested in a new business and qualified for an E2 entrepreneurial visa. That document can be renewed an unlimited number of times but expires every two years.

To renew it, Salleh must travel to Singapore for an interview at the consulate where the visa is issued.

The 2008 trip delayed the opening of his business — a costly setback — and it took congressional intervention and pressure before the embassy acknowledged that the Guantanamo prisoner from Pakistan and the gay entrepreneur from Singapore were two different people.

In April of this year, Salleh applied to renew his visa again.

“RafiQ and I traveled to Singapore on Sept. 7,” Flowers said. “RafiQ appeared before the U.S. consulate in Singapore on Sept. 14. An interview was conducted and he was informed that he would hear back from the consulate within four to six weeks but processing could take up to six months.”

And once again, because his shares a name with an incarcerated terrorist suspect, Salleh was not able to return.

“I feel it is even pointless to inquire about my status,” Salleh said, speaking this week from Singapore.

The consulate made it clear to not contact them for at least the first four weeks, Flowers said, because doing so would slow down the process and cause the embassy to view Salleh’s application in a less than favorable light.

“Homeland Security has already approved the visa, stateside,” Flowers said. “However the consulate has the final say and there is no appeal process to their decision.”

He said the problem is the two-track visa approval process between the State Department and Homeland Security. Neither wants to be accused of being the gatekeeper who let terrorists into the country, Flowers said.

“There needs to be one immigration approval process,” he said.

The current system that could keep a businessman out of the country up to six months once every two years makes running a business in this country extremely difficult.

“Physically I assumed I could take care of business from this end,” Salleh said. “But realistically it is affecting me [and]  I can honestly say I am so out of touch.”

He said it is difficult to run a business when he’s starting his day just as his employees are ending theirs. He has tried to adjust his schedule to Dallas time.

“It is possible but physically draining,” Salleh said.

Flowers said the waiting period is emotionally difficult. Salleh has been trying to keep busy in Singapore.

“The first two weeks I was focused on taking care of my family matters for my dad,” Salleh said.

His mother died earlier this year and he helped his father change the title on her property in neighboring Malaysia.

“RafiQ has been doing volunteer teaching at the art academy he once attended,” Flowers said. “He is also spending time with his many nieces and nephews.”

But Salleh acknowledged that the long wait is disheartening.

“Slowly as it creeps into the third, fourth, and now fifth week, I felt very discouraged,” he said.

Although family and friends in Singapore surround him, they have no idea “how much it is affecting my emotional well-being,” Salleh said.

Immigration problems are common for binational same-sex couples. About 40,000 such couples live in the United States.

According to the group Immigration Equality, 19 nations allow their citizens to sponsor their same-sex partners for immigration benefits. The U.S. is not among them.

Henry Velandia and Josh Vandiver were married in Connecticut in August. That state allows same-sex marriage. However, the marriage is recognized only on a state level and not by the federal government under the Defense of Marriage Act.

A ruling by a Massachusetts judge declared DOMA unconstitutional but that rulling has little effect so far as it is making its way through the appeals process.

Vandiver was born in Venezuela and his residency visa has expired. He will appear before an immigration judge on Nov. 17. The couple hopes deportation will be delayed until after the Supreme Court rules on the constitutionality of DOMA.

“Asking for a stay is a good strategy,” Flowers said. “I believe they’ll get it.”

“The judge and the government attorney have discretion here,” said Lavi Soloway, Velandia’s attorney.

He said that the couple has not made contingency plans if Velandia is forced to leave the United States.

“For many couples, the only option is finding a third country and becoming refugees,” he said.

Flowers said he and Salleh will be together even if they have to find another place to live.

The Uniting American Families Act would prevent this type of deportation. American citizens would be allowed to sponsor a same-sex partner for residency and citizenship. Heterosexual couples who marry can apply for permanent residency for their spouse. This would give same-sex couples an equal right.

That bill along with the Dream Act, which would give people who came to this country illegally as minors a path to citizenship, are stalled in Congress.

Soloway said his focus right now is on DOMA. If the Supreme Court finds that law unconstitutional, marriages such as his clients’ would be recognized and Vandiver could sponsor his spouse.

Flowers said the treatment of binational couples amounts to nothing more than another form of bullying.

“I believe those that bullied us when we were young have simply grown up and continue to bully us in our grown up lives,” he said.

He said there are many forms of bullying including “don’t ask, don’t tell” and employment discrimination as well as forced separation due to discriminatory immigration laws.

Flowers said he always wakes up at 4 a.m. and that’s when he feels loneliest. It’s 5 p.m. in Singapore, the time when the U.S. embassy closes. If he hasn’t heard anything by then, it will be at least another 24 hours before he hears whether he and his partner of 14 years will be reunited.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition October 29, 2010

—  Kevin Thomas

To the Maximo

Chef Amador Mora goes to North Dallas in order to head South of the Border, with excellent results

ARNOLD WAYNE JONES | Life+Style Editor

Maximo’s roaming guacamole
HAVE AVOCADO, WILL TRAVEL | Maximo’s roaming guacamole cart brings fresh ingredients right to your table. Just try to resist. (Arnold Wayne Jones/Dallas Voice)

One of the first things you notice about Maximo is that the place is serious about its tequila. Makes sense — its full name is Maximo Cocina Mexicana & Margarita Lounge. If you’re gonna name yourself after a margarita, you’d better be adept at blending the fermented nectar of the agave with style.

One sip of the signature drink, an impossibly spicy concoction muddled with jalapeno that warms as it refreshes, and you know the bar takes risks. And they pay off.

But not just the bar. The restaurant, which opened in the North Dallas space vacated by BLT Steak more than a year ago, is no more a taqueria than Five Sixty is a Chinese takeout spot. The chef-partner, Amador Mora, trained at the Mansion and helped create Trece’s high-end Mexican style.

There are Tex-Mex elements, but the source is really Mexico’s regional cuisine itself without the American patina. Yes, there are enchiladas and quesadillas, but also steamed salmon, braised short ribs and banana crepes. Try finding that on the board next time you drive through Taco Bell.

Like Javier’s and the late, lamented Ciudad, Maximo relishes fine dining with that familiar flair. Take the empanadas: These small turnovers (here called empanaditas, $9) have the usual chorizo and spinach filling, but then Mora sneaks in olives, an airy tomatillo salsa and watermelon pico de gallo. The crust itself is flaky as all get-out.

Enjoy them with the flavorful lobster nachos and the signature guac, handmade at a roving cart. There’s something tantalizing about the glistening reds of tomato, the verdant cilantro and creaminess of avocado mashed into a chunky dip that can’t help but get you salivating. Add to that three salsas — one green with pineapple, a charred red and a creamy style — that elbow each other around for the title “favorite;” I’m still undecided which to hoard next time.

Maximo’s gazpacho ($4.50/$8) is a study in scarlet — a startlingly vibrant soup that packs a kick from fresh cilantro, heirloom tomatoes and pickled garlic, then cooled by cucumber and a crabmeat ragout. For a late summer dish, it can’t be matched. Heartier is the tortilla soup with chicken stewed in guajillo chile broth. The salads are as lightly dressed as a bodybuilder on Venice beach and equally mouthwatering.

Hands down, the top enchilada I’ve found in North Texas is at Reata in Fort Worth, but Maximo’s version, called Alberta’s ($15), gives it a run for its money.

Ceviche and grilled shrimp notwithstanding, Mexican cuisine doesn’t get its due for use of seafood; Maximo helps right that wrong. Here, a steamed fillet of salmon ($23) glazed with tequila and lime and brushed with a citrus pesto perches atop an organic corn pudding. The salmon, such a strong fish, stands up well to the spicy chiles (and a second margarita if you’re so inclined), with the sweetness of the corn offering balance.

A braised short rib ($22) doesn’t sound very Latin, but add a truffled chimichurri and you’re onto something. Even the most American element on the menu — a side of mac and cheese — takes on a Mexican accent with a chipotle infusion. After 24 hours slow cooking, the meat falls off the bone.

The desserts are great, too — and not just flan and tres leches. In fact, we tried completely different offerings (all $6): Crepes with caramelized banana, chile pecans and rum, which give a French classic a mariachi’s flamboyance; the “bomba” chocolate volcano cake with tequila in the fudge; and a peach and basil sorbet, more refreshing than an honest politician.

The wine list is as substantial as the tequilas (ask for a bottle of the Torentes — a real treat), which helps establish Maximo as a fine dining destination, as do the lush curtains and muted lighting. But there are also rustic tables and natural woods to keep it earthy and grounded. Casual and classy. Muy bien.



Rathbun goes retail; Samuel gets his Nosh on; Dish’s new menu

Kent Rathbun, the chef who happily lines up diners for his restaurants Abacus, Jasper’s and Rathbun’s Blue Plate Kitchen, is now making it easier for them not to visit. He’s launched his own home product line, named Kent Rathbun Elements, so amateur chefs can approximate the cuisine he whips up.

Well, not really. Just take a look at the dish Kent whipped up, below, using his roasted shallot and black pepper vinaigrette. Most of us won’t take the time to make something that gorgeous after work, but damn if the dressing — straight out of the bottle — doesn’t finish the dish beautifully.

The products have been on the shelves since April, but only recently did Rathbun tweak the recipes in the entire line, which also includes a home version of his coconut lobster shooter sauce, a Thai style, very spicy red curry with a terrific taste on the back end, a Caesar salad dressing and a barbecue sauce that works just as well on a scallop as on a spare rib.

Over on Oak Lawn, Avner Samuel’s new venture Nosh opened this week in the space previously occupied by his high-end French bistro Aurora. The atmosphere (and the price point) is more laid-back as the name implies, with almost all entrees $19 and under and noshable small plates like ahi tuna tartare ($11), spiced beef cigars ($5) and miso glazed Bershire pork ribs ($6).

Dish at the ilume has added a few new dishes to its lunch menu, including a turkey club wrap, spinach-artichoke flatbread and two pasta dishes. The kitchen has also introduced “protein plates” for the gym rats. Mention that you heard about the new lunch menu and they’ll take 10 percent off your check.

On Saturday, the Dallas Arboretum brings back its harvest tea service, which runs through Nov. 14. The most civilized of dining traditions, it features a butternut squash soup, finger sandwiches and dessert (including an autumnal-sounding apple spice cake), as well as a selection of teas of course, in the DeGolyer Team Room. The cost is $40 (add champagne to the lunch for $9 more). Admission and parking at the Arboretum are included.

Naan Sushi, the Plano-based Japanese restaurant, will open its new Uptown location in the Gables Villa Rosa project. Service will begin in November.

Chef Stephan Pyles is taking his cuisine on the road … sort of. He’s teamed up with David Morris International to offer guides tours of exotic culinary destinations including Tahiti and Peru. Trips begin in the fall.

— A.W.J.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition September 17, 2010.

—  Michael Stephens

New group forming for hate crime survivors

O’Connor, Mullinex both fell victim to hate crimes, and now they want to use their experiences to help others

DAVID TAFFET | Staff Writer

Maeve O’Connor, left, and Winter Mullinex

Options for victims of hate crimes are limited. But two transgender women who survived life-threatening attacks have the group formed Surviving Hate to try and offer more options for hate-crime survivors who are trying to put their lives back together.
To raise money to launch their group, Dallas filmmaker Israel Luna will screen his film, “Ticked-Off Tr*nnies With Knives,” on July 7 at Studio Movie Grill in North Dallas.

Surviving Hate organizer Maeve O’Connor said there are advocacy groups for hate crime victims, but survivor groups outside of a clinical setting are rare. She said she realized the need for such a group during discussions with Winter
Mullinex, who also lived through a violent attack.

“We realized we were able to empathize with each other about what we went through,” O’Connor said.

The new group is still in the development stage. Their goal, she said, was to empower survivors to live healthy lives. A website where survivors will be able to share their experiences, anonymously if they prefer, should be running next week. O’Connor said they are still creating their board of directors and then will apply for non-profit status.

O’Connor said she hopes this spawns a network of survivor groups across the country.

Surviving Hate will reach beyond the transgender community to help victims of any bias-related violence — whether it was motivated by race, religion, ethnicity or physical disability, as well as sexual orientation and gender identity and expression.

The most recent FBI statistics are for 2008, a year before the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Hate Crime law was enacted. Of the 7,780 bias incidents reported for that year, 16.7 percent were based on sexual orientation.

O’Connor believes that some crimes based on gender identity are included in that number, but most have gone unreported. Statistics compiled for the year 2010 — that will not be available until 2012 — will include gender identity and expression as specified in the new law.

Both O’Connor and Mullinex spoke about the crimes that affected their lives. Both were raped, beaten and left for dead. O’Connor said her rapists told her, “You look like a girl. You act like a girl. We’re going to help make you a girl.”

The attack happened 31 years ago when she was 16.

The first reaction is fear, she said, and like many hate crime victims, she did not report the crime. Next, she said, comes shame.

But she said at that age she did not understand gender identity and was not out, she believed the attack happened because of who she really was.

Winter, a survivor of multiple hate crime attacks, was first raped at age 9. She said she understood at the time she was transgender.

Both women said the purpose of their new group is not to wallow in pity. Survivors often think their reactions are unusual, but together victims discover their reactions are quite similar and normal.

The women said the victims are often blamed for bringing on the attack. But the purpose of Surviving Hate is not self-pity or assigning blame.

“How do you thrive?” O’Connor said. “How do you go on with your life? I’ve become successful. I’d like others to do that.”

“I can tell you, 31 years later, you don’t get over it,” she said. “But you do learn to deal with it and put it to the side.”

“When you’re in a victim mindset, you feel powerless,” Mullenix said. “No one lives unscarred, but survivors are empowered and capable of leading a normal life.”

She would like to help hate crime victims move past the fear.

Their goal for survivors seems simple but is something that took both women years to achieve.

“Learn to have healthy, happy relationships and trust again,” Winter said. •

“Ticked Off Tr*nnies with Knives” at Studio Movie Grill, 11170 North Central Expressway. July 7 at 8 p.m. $10.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition July 02, 2010.

—  Kevin Thomas