Hidden Door faces TABC sanctions after fight left bartender injured

Bill Loveless' head needed 12 staples after a fellow employee at the Hidden Door beat him repeatedly with a beer mug in December.

Bill Loveless’ head needed 12 staples after a fellow employee at the Hidden Door beat him repeatedly with a beer mug in December.

The Hidden Door bar faces closing its doors for 40 days or a fine of up to $12,000 for Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission violations.

Bill Loveless, an employee for almost nine years, filed a complaint with the TABC after a bar fight with another employee on Dec. 9 ended with a trip to the emergency room and him needing 12 staples in his head.

Loveless had argued with the employee, Mark Kirby, before and said Kirby caused trouble. But that night the two went beyond words and began fighting. Kirby took a glass beer mug and repeatedly beat Loveless over the head with it, according to a Dallas police report.

Kirby was later arrested for aggravated assault causing serious bodily injury.

When the bar’s owner, Tony Bobrow, wouldn’t pay Loveless’ medical bills or report the incident to TABC, he hired an attorney and filed paperwork. He was then fired in February after the bar received the paperwork.

Bobrow did not return calls seeking comment.

The TABC started the investigation in March and concluded in mid-April that the bar was in violation for an aggravated breach and failure to report the incident.

Carolyn Beck, spokeswoman for the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission, said an aggravated breach is an incident that involves a shooting, a stabbing or a fight that causes serous bodily injury and results from action on behalf of the bar, like a fight among employees, or inaction from the bar, such as not breaking up a fight before it becomes serious.

—  Anna Waugh

Round-Up Saloon patron accuses club of anti-Hispanic discrimination

A Round-Up Saloon patron says he fears the bar is discriminating against Hispanic clubgoers who have permanent resident visas, but management says it accepts them.

Eddie Munoz said he and a friend visiting from out of town went to the Round-Up on Tuesday night after the Lady Gaga concert. Gaga was expected to appear at the club after her Dallas performance.

But when Munoz’s friend presented his permanent resident visa — commonly called a “green card” — the doorman told him that management had changed the policy to no longer accept them as valid IDs. When Munoz and his friend asked to speak to a manager, Munoz said they were rudely told to wait outside.

“It was a perfectly legitimate ID. We never had issues before,” Munoz said. “I was infuriated.”

While waiting, Munoz said he saw a group of women who looked Hispanic being turned away with their IDs in their hands.

Munoz ended up texting a friend already inside the club to seek out a manager to address the issue. His friend spoke to a manager who then approved the ID and let them in.

But Munoz said his friend, who is from Mexico but lives in South Texas, had been admitted to the club last Saturday and Sunday using the same ID, so he wanted to know why the policy had suddenly changed, but he said they were never given an answer Tuesday night.

—  Anna Waugh

The Drama Room is closed

Lonzie Hershner, owner of the Drama Room, confirmed Thursday that the Cedar Springs bar is closed.

“We sat and decided it’s not worth pursuing,” he said. “We shut it down yesterday.”

The Hershners had been haggling with the property owner over the renewal of their lease.

Meanwhile, Arthur Hood sent Dallas Voice a copy of a lawsuit he filed in September against the Hershners for breach of contract.

Hershner said there were no grounds for the suit. He called Hood a disgruntled former employee who was relieved of his duties.

Hood said the closing of Drama Room does not affect his lawsuit. In the suit he said he entered into a sale agreement with the Hershners and put money into the bar to bring it current. He said the Hershners canceled the sale.

Hood said he plans to amend the suit next week and is trying to force the Hershners into arbitration.

Meanwhile, on Friday, an administrative law court will hear a challenge to the issuance of a liquor license for the Hideaway, the Hershner’s proposed reopening of a bar on Buena Vista Street in the Cole Park area of Oak Lawn.

—  David Taffet

Judge continues Hideaway hearing

A state administrative law judge on Friday continued a hearing on nearby residents’ challenge to an alcohol permit for Marty’s Hideaway, a court clerk told Instant Tea on Monday.

The Hershner family is trying to reopen the iconic gay bar on Buena Vista Street, which closed in 2009 after 26 years. The Hershners, who also own the Tin Room and the Drama Room, couldn’t be reached for comment Monday.

A neighborhood group has challenged the alcohol permit for Marty’s Hideaway due to the additional noise and traffic they say the bar would bring to the area.

The hearing was continued at the request of attorneys, the court clerk said. According to the court, the two sides have until next week to submit additional papers, but that court is now setting new dates from October through January. The court clerk said it’s more likely the case will be heard later rather than sooner.

The Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission is not challenging the license. The new operators have a clean record with TABC. The property has no violations that relate to the location. And a study by the agency found that while the neighborhood is quiet during the day, the area is already noisy with traffic and parking problems at night.

—  David Taffet

Rainbow Lounge panel to feature FW police chief, TABC captain, Queer LiberAction founder

An “unprecedented” panel discussion focused on the Rainbow Lounge raid and its aftermath will follow a third-anniversary screening of Robert Camina’s documentary film about the raid on Thursday in Dallas.

The panel discussion will feature Fort Worth police Chief Jeffrey Halstead, Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission Maj. Charlie Cloud, TABC agent and LGBT liaison Leigh Ann Wiggins, Queer LiberAction founder Blake Wilkinson, Fairness Fort Worth spokesman Jon Nelson and Camina himself. The 30-minute panel discussion will be moderated by yours truly.

“I really do think that the panel discussion is unprecedented, where all these people are getting together in one room to talk about it,” Camina said.

Tickets are still available for Thursday’s screening of Camina’s Raid of the Rainbow Lounge at the Magnolia Theater, which will precede the panel discussion. The screening is the third and last scheduled for the award-winning film in Dallas.

Doors open at 7 p.m., and the screening begins at 7:30. Those who’ve seen the film but want to attend the panel discussion should arrive by 9 p.m.

Tickets are $12 and can be purchased here. Use Coupon Code ETT87D to get a $3 discount. For more on the film, go here.

—  John Wright

Alan Steen, who guided TABC through Rainbow Lounge aftermath, to retire from agency in June

Alan Steen

Administrator Alan Steen, who guided the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission through the aftermath of the Rainbow Lounge raid, is retiring from TABC effective June 1, according to a press release.

Steen famously apologized to the LGBT community after the raid, which TABC conducted with the Fort Worth Police Department. Three TABC officers involved in the raid were later fired, and the agency settled with Rainbow Lounge patrons who were injured. TABC also became the first state agency to conduct comprehensive LGBT diversity training for all employees, and assigned a liaison to the LGBT community.

“I wanted to leave the agency when it was right for me personally and when I felt the agency was in the best shape of its existence,” Steen said in the release. “I believe that time is now. I know the dedicated employees of TABC will continue to progress and move forward. … I’d like to acknowledge the board that hired me. They wanted change for the agency and took a chance on someone who had no alcoholic beverage industry experience and who wasn’t a peace officer. I also want to thank the current board. During tough times, they stood by me, pushing the agency to cultivate a professional image, business-friendly practices, and a common sense approach.”

According to the press release, Steen has accepted the position of executive director of the National Cutting Horse Association (NCHA), which is based in Fort Worth and has more than 20,000 members around the world. Steen is a native of Granbury. An interim head for TABC has not been named.

—  John Wright

WATCH: Robert Camina’s long-awaited “Raid of the Rainbow Lounge” to premiere March 15

Meredith Baxter and Robert Camina

Robert Camina announced that the premiere of his documentary film Raid of the Rainbow Lounge will be held on March 15 at the AMC Palace 9 in Sundance Square in Downtown Fort Worth.

Meredith Baxter, who narrates the film, and Camina will be in attendance.

The film documents the events that happened at the newly opened Rainbow Lounge when Fort Worth police and the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission raided the bar on the 40th anniversary of the Stonewall Rebellion.

Camina uploaded a new trailer for the film. Watch it below.

—  David Taffet

TABC settlements bring ‘closure’

Tom Anable

Fairness Fort Worth president says payments to Gibson, Armstrong fair; TABC spokeswoman says agency is happy with mediated settlements

JOHN WRIGHT | Online Editor
wright@dallasvoice.com

Two years and one month after the Rainbow Lounge raid, Fort Worth’s LGBT community finally has some closure, according to the president of an advocacy group formed in response to the incident.

Last week it was reported that the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission had reached monetary settlements with two patrons injured in the June 2009 raid of the gay bar, which occurred on the 40th anniversary of the Stonewall Rebellion.

Chad Gibson, who suffered a serious head injury in the raid, will receive $210,000 from TABC. George Armstrong, who suffered a torn rotator cuff, will receive $15,000.

The city of Fort Worth, whose police officers conducted the raid along with TABC agents, previously settled with Gibson for $400,000 and with Armstrong for $40,000.

“It closes all the legal issues, and the damage issues,” Fairness Fort Worth President Tom Anable said this week of the TABC settlement. “It’s closure in regards to the Rainbow Lounge incident.

“It’s all done and closed,” Anable added. “We have closure and we’re moving forward with other issues.”

TABC fired two agents and a supervisor after the raid, and FWPD suspended three officers.

“Fort Worth ran the operation. Fort Worth was in charge of the operation,” Anable said. “TABC fired employees, and Fort Worth gave some wrist slaps, so I think it was appropriate they [Fort Worth] paid more money.”

Carolyn Beck

TABC spokeswoman Carolyn Beck said her agency’s settlements with Gibson and Armstrong were agreed to during mediation in March, but had to be signed off on by the offices of the attorney general and the governor.

“Those approvals came through in June, and so here we are now,” said Beck, who was named the agency’s liaison to the LGBT community following the raid. “We are happy that we were able to come to an agreement with mediation, and I personally feel like our relationship with the LGBT community is a lot different than it was two years ago. And I hope that it continues to stay positive.”

After the raid, TABC became the first state agency in Texas to conduct comprehensive LGBT diversity training for its employees.

Don Tittle, the Dallas attorney who represented both Armstrong and Gibson, didn’t respond to a phone message from Dallas Voice this week.

But Tittle told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram: “It is done. They are very relieved. I think they feel that they received a level of justice, although it was slow. The monetary compensation was fair, but I think it was important to both of them that there be change within both organizations. As a result of the incident, both Fort Worth and TABC have taken affirmative steps to improve relations and to be more sensitive to diversity.”

—  John Wright

FEEDBACK: Tavern Guild treasurer responds to criticism over gay Pride festival changes

Clearing up some Festival facts

I’m a bit disappointed by the tone of Hardy Haberman’s article on the Festival in Lee Park (“The end of the free festival,” Dallas Voice, April 15).

The writer admits up front that he never attended the event. I’m not sure where the nostalgia comes from if you have not been a regular in the park following the parade.

We all miss the “good old days” when the world was different. Days when people respected the law, followed rules, respected each other and controlled their drinking and fighting.

Things have changed. Sadly, the festival has degenerated to an embarrassing level. It was evident on the parade route this past year. It was most evident in the park for the last two years.

Uncontrolled drinking of cases and cases of beer brought into the park led to a lot of issues: Gay on gay issues; drunk, loud, vulgar language in front of children; rude behavior and more fights than we have ever experienced.

The actions of a few of our community disgusted several GLBT families with children. Rude, vulgar actions led only to anger on the part of the offending parties that their actions were questioned. And most all of it was due to uncontrolled beer and even liquor consumption.

Public drunkenness is illegal. Bringing liquor into the park is illegal. We run the risk of losing the support and attendance of much of the GLBT community if we do not control the events in the park. That would be a real loss.

TABC and Homeland Security are an issue, even though the writer scoffed at the idea. Homeland Security is the reason police requirements rose from 20 officers to 85 officers (DPD wanted 100 officers). These are all $35 to $45 per hour, per officer. We are approaching $20,000 in security.

Add to that a clean-up cost of $12,000 because in a celebration, no one wants to pick up after themselves. Add to that a festival in the park where the celebration is used by a few as an excuse to get as drunk as they want, with no thought or respect for others in attendance.

Frankly, this damages the GLBT image. It drives away good, responsible GLBT people from attending, and it cheapens the event.

A loss for the community? Yes, but that loss is not about a free event in the park. It’s a loss of reason, a loss of responsibility, a loss of respect and decency.

Americans in general have lost it. Some in the GLBT community have lost it. Fencing in the park was a last resort effort to control the drunkenness and the sanity during our festival.

The decision would have been taken out of our hands next year anyway. The Tavern Guild made the only good choice, and thanks to that decision, the festival will continue, “for now.”

Alan Pierce
Treasurer, Dallas Tavern Guild


More on charging for the Festival

Though I understand the reasoning, I think they will find that far fewer people attend the event, myself included … unless truly there is big name entertainment.

Bummer, via DallasVoice.com


The entire “Pride” thing is a joke. There is no pride. Its an excuse to be exhibionistic and to get stinking drunk. Sad, sad, sad.

Jim, via DallasVoice.com


This is what you get when you allow a community event to be sponsored by a group of business people whose main concern is getting a large amount of people into their bars and drinking their overpriced drinks. Lee Park is a PUBLIC PARK and the idea that a business group could fence it and charge admission goes against everything the idea of a public park should be. Of course, if the Tavern Guild is decrying the amount of “drunks” at the parade, they have no one to blame but themselves. Pride Schmide.

Brett, via DallasVoice.com


It (charging admission) is a great idea. I wish it would have happened sooner. I re-read the article and the negative comments seem extreme and unfounded.

Little Monster, via DallasVoice.com


Log Cabin Republicans was planning on having a booth as it always does at the festival until we read about the rule changes. The rule changes will impede attendance as much or more than the $5.

Can you imagine Lee Park with a perimeter fence? Nobody will be able to enter without going through a main entrance. Can you imagine renting a booth and not being allowed to bring in a cooler for your workers and guests? We just offer water and soft drinks, but coolers are now prohibited.

I don’t believe these rules will stand for very long as surely nobody will commit to a festival that nobody will attend.

Robert Schlein, via DallasVoice.com

—  John Wright

TABC, Fort Worth consider settlement with patrons injured in Rainbow Lounge raid

Tom Anable

Fort Worth city administrators are recommending that the City Council approve a settlement with Chad Gibson, one of the patrons who was injured in the Rainbow Lounge raid. The pending settlement is a result of mediation among the city, the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission and Gibson’s attorneys.

The amount of the settlement from the city is $400,000. The amount from TABC has not been released.

The raid by Fort Worth police officers and TABC agents occurred on June 28, 2008, the 40th anniversary of the Stonewall Rebellion.

Gibson suffered a head injury. George Armstrong was also injured and is included in the settlement. Pending felony charges against Gibson and Armstrong were dropped toward the end of last year before the mediation began.

Three Fort Worth police officers received short suspensions, and two TABC agents were fired, as a result of the incident.

Tom Anable, a founder of Fairness Fort Worth, a group formed in the wake of the raid, said he’s pleased that the city had come to an agreement.

“I think that the willingness of the city to enter into mediation without a federal lawsuit being filed is an indication of their willingness to move forward with our community,” Anable said.

Anable said this is the first time the city has entered into mediation without the threat of a federal lawsuit and the first time a city and TABC entered into joint negotiations.

“That speaks volumes of the city and of TABC,” Anable said. “No one wants to go backward, and that’s the story.”

While Anable said he has no inside information about the negotiations, he added, “As with any mediation, it’s successful if neither side is really happy but both are satisfied.”

Carolyn Beck, a spokeswoman for TABC, said, “TABC has engaged in settlement discussions with [Gibson] attorney Don Tittle. At this time the parties have agreed not to comment on those discussions until any resolution is finalized.”

Adam Seidel, an attorney for Gibson and Armstrong, was not available for comment this morning.

The item is on the agenda for Tuesday’s Fort Worth City Council meeting.

Gibson, who was hospitalized after the raid, is still receiving treatment for the injuries he sustained.

—  David Taffet