ASD property torn up by neighbor’s contractor

Everything to the right of the orange survey flag in this photo is on property belonging to AIDS Services of Dallas, including where the backhoe is parked.

A contractor working on a convenience store adjacent to property owned by AIDS Services of Dallas has done considerable damage to the agency’s lots acquired for future expansion of housing for people with HIV and AIDS.

After leaving a business card and sending two certified cease-and-desist letters, ASD President and CEO Don Maison said he was going to have to hire an attorney this week to have a restraining order placed on the business. However the owner of  City View Food Store finally responded to Maison on Tuesday.

“We own three lots behind the store,” Maison said. “They encroached on one and trespassed on our land on the other two.”

—  David Taffet

Top 10: City elections proved groundbreaking for LGBT community

Rawlings

VOTERS LIKED MIKE  | Mike Rawlings defeated David Kunkle in a runoff for Dallas mayor in June. (John Wright/Dallas Voice)

No. 2

With former Dallas Mayor Tom Leppert announcing that he was stepping down early to run for the U.S. Senate, and longtime Fort Worth Mayor Mike Moncrief announcing he would not be running for re-election, candidates were lining up early this year for both offices. And the LGBT community on both sides of the Trinity River played a more visible and more vocal role than ever before in city elections.

In Dallas, businessman Mike Rawlings, former Dallas Chief of Police David Kunkle and City Councilman Ron Natinsky, who had reached his term limit representing District 12, quickly emerged as the frontrunners in the mayoral election. All three candidates came courting the LGBT community, participating in the North Texas

GLBT Chamber of Commerce’s mayoral debate and asking for endorsements from individuals in the community, as well as from the Dallas Gay and Lesbian Alliance and Stonewall Democrats of Dallas.

Kunkle’s involvement with the community during his days as police chief helped him win the Stonewall Democrats endorsement in the general election, while Natinsky withdrew his name from contention for the Stonewall endorsement after questions came up over whether his Republican voting record disqualified him.

DGLA threw its weight behind Natinsky, then went a step further to issue a warning against Rawlings, saying that based on his answer to a question during the confidential interview, they feared the candidate’s commitment to business interests might override his commitment to civil rights.

In the general election, Kunkle won in precincts considered to be heavily LGBT and came away with 32 percent of the vote overall to claim a place in the runoff against top-vote-getter Rawlings, who had 41 percent.

The two candidates continued to court the LGBT vote in the runoff, both participating in a second debate on LGBT issues, this one sponsored by Dallas Voice and partner organizations. Although DGLA had shifted its endorsement to Kunkle, Rawlings’ performance in the second debate seemed to win over some LGBT voters, and he won the runoff and the mayor’s seat, with 56 percent of the vote. Kunkle, however, again captured the most heavily LGBT precincts.

DGLA and Stonewall also split their endorsements in the District 14 City Council race, where longtime LGBT ally Angela Hunt faced three opponents, including one-time supporter James Nowlin, a gay man who filed in the race early when Hunt was still considering a run for the mayor’s seat. The race split the community, with Stonewall

Democrats endorsing Nowlin, who was a member of the organization, and DGLA backing Hunt. Hunt went on to win another term of the council without a runoff, taking 65 percent of the vote in the general election. Nowlin was second with 30 percent.

In Fort Worth, former City Councilman Jim Lane, who was on the council when the city became one of the first in the state to include protections for lesbians and gays in its nondiscrimination ordinance, and former Tarrant

County Tax Appraiser/Collector Betsy Price were the top two vote-getters in the general election, and during the runoff campaigns, the two met for the first-ever Fort Worth mayoral debate focusing on LGBT issues.

While Price had raised suspicion among some with a vague answer regarding her position on the city’s recent decision to include protections based on gender identity and gender expression in the nondiscrimination ordinance, both she and Lane pledged at the debate sponsored by the GLBT chamber and Fairness Fort Worth to support LGBT equality and to maintain an open door to the community.

Price went on to win the runoff, 56 percent to 44 percent, and in October became the first Fort Worth mayor to not only ride in, but also serve as grand marshal of, the Tarrant County Gay Pride Parade.

Also in Fort Worth, the city’s first and only openly gay councilmember, Joel Burns, still riding a wave of national popularity following his “It Gets Better” speech during a council meeting the previous October, didn’t even draw an opponent in his bid for a second full term on the council.

Down the road in Arlington, Chris Hightower became the first openly gay candidate to run for city council, tossing his hat into the ring along with three others challenging District 5 incumbent Lana Wolff. Hightower, who easily outpaced all the candidates in fundraising, came out on top of the heap in the general election. But he lost the runoff to Wolff by less than 100 votes, an outcome many of his supporters blamed on anti-gay robocalls describing him as a “weirdo,” a “convicted sex pervert” and a “sex creep” — even though Hightower has no criminal record.

— Tammye Nash

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition December 30, 2011.

—  Kevin Thomas

Dynamic duo

Val Haskell and Jenni Stolarski stay fit with soccer, yoga… and anything else

FITNESS

SLIM WITHOUT GYM | Be it running, walking or swimming from a trapeze, Val Haskell and Jenni Stolarski find fitness almost anywhere there go — as long as it’s not in a gym. (Arnold Wayne Jones/Dallas Voice)

The adage every journey begins with a first step is as true for a fitness regime as a world tour. For dynamic duo Jenni Stolarski and Val Haskell, those steps may be along the banks of the Trinity River, on a soccer field or even on the rungs of a ladder for a trapeze course. These ladies mix it up in a spectrum of workout routines. They’re game to try almost anything, as long as it doesn’t involve being trapped indoors.

— Jef Tingley

Names and ages: 

Jenni Stolarski, 41, and Val Haskell, 39.

Occupations:

Stolarski: Realtor, Briggs Freeman Sotheby’s International Realty

Haskell: project manager.

Length of relationship: 

19 years.

Sports & activities:

Tennis, walking, running, soccer, yoga, trapeze (!).

Exercise regime: 

Stolarski: I walk five days a week for an hour. I have two walking buddies who make this possible. If left to my own devices, I’d just stay in bed. [I also do] yoga two or three times a week, including a core-strength class, and tennis once a week.

Haskell: Typically I run four times a week, play tennis once, and during the soccer season, I play a game a week.

Upcoming fitness goals:

Stolarski: Consistency. This summer, Val and I did a trapeze course with my brother and his wife in NYC. I was sore for days. But I want to continue to have the energy, strength and stamina to try fun things like that for the rest of my life.

Haskell: I’d love to show a decent time in a half marathon and help my soccer team with some goals and assists next season. Also focusing on the A’s next year: Abs, arms and…

Most memorable athletic accomplishment: 

Haskell: If the number of videos and random mentions are the barometer, it would have to be going to trapeze school for an afternoon. I had no idea it was so hard! Getting up and down from that bar in mid-air is serious work.

Least favorite exercise or piece of gym equipment? 

Stolarski: The gym. Period. I like to be outside.

Haskell: I can’t stand the gym, either.

Favorite spot in North Texas to exercise outdoors? 

Stolarski: We have taken to hiking/walking in the Trinity River Basin. There is a small dirt path that runs along the levee. It’s quiet down there, which is amazing when you remember it’s in this huge city. And the views are great.

Haskell: Coombs Creek Trail, Stevens Park tennis courts, Katy Trail and White Rock Lake

Ways you stay fit or workout together? 

Stolarski: Being active together was one of the ways we got to know each other. We played soccer and swam at UT. That just carried on through the years; we biked, we hiked the Tetons, we played soccer. Val taught me how to play tennis. It’s one of my favorite ways to spend time together.

How does your partner motivate you to work out? 

Stolarski: I know Val is always going to come up with some crazy idea of a fun thing to do. Did I mention trapeze school was her idea? And I don’t want to miss out.

Haskell: She gets out of bed early and meets someone for her workout five days a week, which means lounging in bed is not as compelling. She also says nice things about the way I look, which I really like.

How do you reward yourself after a great workout? 

Stolarski: My reward is waking up every day, getting to feel good. It sounds cheesy as all get out, but really, the reward is that I get to keep exercising.

Words of advice for people trying to work fitness into their life? 

Haskell: Incorporate it socially. Walk with a friend, play tennis with a work buddy, join a team or a running group like the Dallas Running Club. The more you merge your social life and active life, the easier it is to make it fit into your schedule. And your friends end up with shared goals and you encourage each other.

If you could become an Olympian in any sport, what would it be and why?

Stolarski: I’d want to play soccer on the U.S. National team. Those women have such a great dynamic; it’s a joy to watch. Plus it would make my dad, who’s been a soccer coach for 40 years, ridiculously proud.

Favorite song or playlist for working out? 

Stolarski: None. That is part of the joy of being outside: It comes with its own soundtrack.

Haskell: I’m usually outside running in the dark, yelling at my teammates on a soccer field or chatting
on the tennis court, so no playlist for me.

Which celebrity or athlete’s physique would you like to have and why? 

Stolarski: Abby Wambach. That woman was built to play soccer!

Haskell: A few years ago, I saw a picture of Joan Jett at a concert and she still looked great
and had amazing arms. I aspire to look good, healthy and lean in my 50s.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition December 16, 2011.

—  Kevin Thomas

What is Dallas’ obsession with building useless crap downtown?

Proposed Fair Park tower, from a pdf of a City of Dallas Landmark Commission agenda

The latest piece of useless downtown architecture is a ferris wheel approved by Dallas County Commissioners Court at Tuesday’s meeting. Another ferris wheel? Really?

First Dallas built that hideous new 1980s glass box of a hotel that’s attached to the Dallas Convention Center. How much more would it have cost to tell the architect to make the building attractive? Make it a place people will say, “Hey, I wanna stay there.”

OK. The lighting at night is interesting. But the architecture is as updated as the city’s other half-empty decades-old reflective-glass office towers.

Next, there’s The Bridge to Ray’s Gun Shop. That’s not the official name, just what the people at the Old Oak Cliff Conservation League are calling it.

Impressive close up; a meaningless non-golden arch from a distance. Iconic? Only because the Trinity River will be recognized around the world as the smallest trickle of water ever crossed by suspension bridge. And it’s destined to become a traffic nightmare each evening when six-lane Woodall Rodgers crosses the mighty Trinity River and backs up onto two-lane Singleton Boulevard in West Dallas.

For the same money we could have had two or three new bridges that crossed to where much of the traffic is actually going — Oak Cliff. Hopefully Ray, operator of the oldest sporting goods store in Dallas, will see an increase in business.

Now the Dallas Commissioners Court has approved a new ferris wheel for Founders Plaza.

Daniel Cates and GetEQUAL will have to find a new location for weddings, protests and other demonstrations.

A ferris wheel? Don’t we already have one of the largest — yet mostly unused — ferris wheels in the world a mile away in Fair Park?

OK, this one is being billed as a 17-story “observation wheel.” What’s an observation wheel? Well, it’s round and has baskets and rotates in a vertical circle. Like a ferris wheel. What about it is not like a ferris wheel? The baskets will be air conditioned and a ticket will cost $15. And unlike the Texas Star in Fair Park, it will be a sightseeing attraction. And the Texas Star? Well, that’s just a ferris wheel.

And if downtown is going to have a ferris wheel, then Fair Park must have an observation tower. This planned 500-foot needle will be nothing like downtown’s Reunion Tower. And it will never be built because Fair Park is on the glide path to Love Field and the FAA won’t approve it, but that’s beside the point. And unlike Reunion, this won’t have a restaurant and there won’t be an elevator.

The observation deck itself will ride up and down the spire. To see downtown. Which you apparently can’t do from the nearby ferris wheel — because 49 weeks a year, it doesn’t operate.

—  David Taffet

Bike vs. Bike

09.23.11-Cover-B

Jed Billings in Fort Worth, left, David Smith on Cedar Springs, right

Which is the best city for cyclists: Big D or Cowtown? Both cities have plans in place now to create safer, more convenient options for riders

DAVID TAFFET  |  Staff Writer
taffet@dallasvoice.com

This weekend, Lone Star Ride Fighting AIDS riders can decide for themselves which city is more bike-friendly — Dallas or Fort Worth — as the fundraising cyclists ride through Cowtown on Saturday, and Big D on Sunday (see separate story, New Routes, LSRFA).

Both cities have bike plans in place to increase bicycling for fun and fitness and to encourage two-wheel transportation as a viable means of commuting. But which city’s plan is the best?

The Dallas advantage in bike commuting is DART. Both cities have buses equipped with bike racks, and the Trinity River Express, the train running between the two, also welcomes bikes on board.

But the new center section on each DART train car eliminates the stairs and has hooks for hanging bikes.

Plus, the bike trails in Dallas are accessible from DART stations.

The Katy Trail begins across the parking lot from Victory Station. Fair Park Station is blocks from the new Sante Fe Trail. White Rock Station is adjacent to the White Rock Trail, and Forest Lane Station is right next to the Cottonwood Trail.

But on the other side of the Metroplex, Fort Worth has the extensive and interconnected Trinity Trails in its favor. The trails are named, of course, for the river and its forks, along which much of the 40-mile trail system runs.

Lone Star Ride will use 22 miles of the trail system on Saturday, the first day of the event.

Both cities have developed bike plans to make cycling a transportation alternative. The plans include a variety of ways to make the streets more bike-friendly.

Dallas

In Dallas, the plan includes creating bike lanes, cycletracks, shared lane markings, climbing lanes and paved shoulders that crisscross the city.

Some bike lanes will share a lane with a bus. Cycletracks are dedicated lanes separated from traffic with curbs or other barriers.

Dallas plans 840 miles of on-street bike lanes, with another 255 miles of off-street trails.

“That doesn’t include the trail network,” said Max Kalhammer, project manager of the Dallas plan.

Plans are to connect the Katy Trail and Sante Fe Trail through downtown Dallas with a lane over the Jefferson Street Viaduct to link the Bishop Arts District. That plan should be implemented by 2014.

The next phase involves a network of lanes within a three-mile radius of light rail stations. The full plan should take 10 years to implement, according to Kalhammer.

Fort Worth

The Fort Worth bike plan is simpler, with just two types of bike lanes — shared and dedicated — but no less aggressive.

City of Fort Worth Senior Planner Julia McCleeary said the Fort Worth plan extends more than 1,000 miles, but that includes expected future development and will take 30 to 40 years to fully implement. Currently, the city has 14.1 dedicated bike lanes and 30 miles of shared bike routes.

Over the next six months, another eight miles will be added.

Residents seem to be responding to the new lanes.

“I left work Friday and within five minutes saw three cyclists,” McCleeary said. “Wow. You wouldn’t have seen that before.”

She said that Fort Worth is the first city in Texas to pass a safe passing ordinance: Cars need to leave three feet between themselves and anyone vulnerable, including bike riders, horseback riders or the handicapped. Commercial vehicles must clear by six feet.

“We also passed a bike parking zoning ordinance,” she said. “Developers must install racks according to specs.”

Striping downtown streets was done with a Department of Energy grant. McCleeary said that when a street is repaved and must be restriped anyway, the cost of adding the bike lane is minimal.

Coming soon

“[In Dallas] none of the on-street lanes have been implemented yet,” Kalhammer said, but he added that the first lane should be opened soon. He said that will be on Mary Cliff Road in Oak Cliff, in conjunction with some road reconstruction.

The next project will be Bishop Street, which will have dedicated bike lanes.

The Dallas bike project includes destination signs that point in a direction with a distance to the destination. Those replace the current bike route signs that point down a street but usually go nowhere.

McCleeary said she would like to see standardized bike lane marking between cities to minimize driver confusion and promote safety. Kalhammer said he thought the markings will be similar enough to not confuse riders.

Dallas would like to see many more people using bikes as part of their intermodal commute to work.

Fort Worth’s goal is to triple the number of bike commuters, decrease bicycle-related crashes by 10 percent and earn the Bicycle Friendly Community designation given by the League of American Bicyclists.

Where do we rank?

Currently, the “bike friendly” designation hasonly been awarded to smaller cities — Steamboat Springs, Col., Burlington, Vt., and Santa Fe, N.M. are typical examples.

In Boulder, Colo, more than 95 percent of city streets have bike lanes. One Texas city was recognized by the group this year for the first time — The Woodlands — and another — College Station — received an honorable mention.

According to the census, of the top 50 cities, Portland is the No. 1 biking city in the United States with as much as 9 percent of commuters using bikes in some neighborhoods and 3.5 percent citywide.

San Francisco, which ranks fifth, has one of the densest populations in the United States and counts about 40,000 people commuting regularly by bike.

Even more — possibly 75,000 people — get around in New York City by bike.

With .02 percent of commuters using bikes, Dallas ranked 41st and Fort Worth 42nd. But those census figures were released in 2007, before either city instituted their current bike plans. DART added its bike-friendly trains and buses with bike racks just last year and the census undercounts intermodal bike riders by listing them as public-transit users.

Of course, even the bike-friendliest cities in the United States rank far behind many European cities.

In Amsterdam, the world’s top biking city, 40 percent of traffic moves by bicycle. Centraal Station, the Dutch city’s main train station, has parking for 7,000 bikes.

Trondheim, Norway became one of Europe’s top bike riding cities by tackling its hilly topography with bike lifts along some of the city’s steepest streets. That sounds like a great idea for the hills that climb into Oak Cliff.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition September 23, 2011.

—  Kevin Thomas

From light to darkness

‘B’way Our Way’ takes it up a notch; ‘Language of Angels’ best left unheard

ARNOLD WAYNE JONES  | Life+Style Editor
jones@dallasvoice.com

BOW-2011-Show-stills-592
PUTTIN’ ON THE GLITZ | Coy Covington and Drew Kelly display some sassy showmanship in Uptown Players’ annual fundraiser, ‘Broadway Our Way: Divas Rising.’

I kind of miss the old Broadway Our Way, Uptown Players’ annual comedy-musical showcase that served as a season-kickoff and fundraiser for the gaycentric theater troupe. When the company performed at the Trinity River Arts Center in a 120-seat auditorium, there was intimacy and love as local actors, musicians and directors volunteered their time with limited sets and costumes to put on a show the old-fashioned way.

Now that the show (like all Uptown shows) is performed at the historic Kalita Humphreys Theater, there’s more gravitas and less camaraderie. It’s not just a fundraiser; it’s An Event.

When you walk into the latest incarnation, Divas Rising, you can’t help but be impressed by the monster set, the use of the giant lazy susan stage, the many costumes and two-dozen performers. It’s a true production.

We can lament the all-in-this-together quality falling by the wayside, but we have to acknowledge how important it is for Uptown, in its 10th season, to have come so far so fast. This is slick theater — and still mounted, as a labor of love, by the talent onstage and behind the scenes — as usual, Andi Allen wrote and directed, with hip parodies of Glee and a swishy camp sensibility that plays well with the mixed audience.

Among the performers are some of Dallas’ best, who sing songs originally written for members of the opposite sex. That allows Wendy Welch to soar on the (now-lesbified) love ballad “Johanna” from Sweeney Todd and Rick Starkweather to jerk unexpected tears from my eyes on “I’m Not That Girl” from Wicked. It gives Natalie King a perfect-fit 11 o’clock number in “Memphis Lives in Me” and host Paul J. Williams free rein to vamp with the audience as Sister Helen Holy.

This year’s version of BOW is perky in Act 1, downbeat in Act 2, but then, like Glee, it ends with “Don’t Stop Believin’.” We believe guys;
we still believe.
If BOW keeps it light and gay, Language of Angels, in the appropriately cavernous space at Theatre Too, is dark as night.

The premise is intriguing: While out with friends, a teenaged girl disappears in the labyrinth of caves in the North Carolina mountains. Was she killed? Did she slip? Or did something else entirely happen to her? And why?

These kinds of mysteries are perfect grist for drama, from The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo to the new AMC series The Killing to Peter Weir’s allegorical film Picnic at Hanging Rock. It’s OK for these stories to luxuriate in the unanswerable, to raise existential questions and challenge us to understand.

Language of Angels does none of that, though it tries — oh, how it tries. It’s a muddle of naïve and conflicting ideas told out of time with deep pretension.

Playwright Naomi Iizuka is so fond of her own sense of language, she makes her characters say things they never would. (One beer-swilling mountain boy describes the “fuchsia” accents on his girlfriend’s tattoo; I doubt even the gay boys in Carolina say fuchsia, for crying out loud.) And it all takes place in near darkness. I doubt even the enhanced interrogation techniques usedat Gitmo to squeeze bin Laden’s location out of Taliban loyalists could be more excruciating than the first half hour of this play.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition May 13, 2011.

 


—  Kevin Thomas

District 7 challenger aims to become Dallas’ 1st out lesbian councilmember

Casie Pierce

Casie Pierce believes that the Great Trinity Forest could be the gateway to lifting up South Dallas community

DAVID TAFFET | Staff Writer
taffet@dallasvoice.com

If Casie Pierce wins her District 7 race, she would be the first open lesbian to serve on the Dallas City Council. She is challenging incumbent Carolyn Davis.

District 7 runs from the Mesquite border north of I-30 then dips south of the highway through Pleasant Grove, across parts of South Dallas including Fair Park and stopping just before North Oak Cliff.

There have been no openly-LGBT council members since Ed Oakley resigned to run for mayor in 2007. James Nowlin, another openly gay candidate, is challenging incumbent Angela Hunt in the District 14 race.

For a number of years, Pierce has been active in her Parkdale community, a section of Pleasant Grove with a large LGBT population. She worked on neighborhood cleanup and park projects with at-risk youth.

In 2005, Pierce founded Groundwork Dallas Inc., a nonprofit organization that has improved access to the Great Trinity Forest and cleaned up gateway neighborhoods. The group has built nature trails that connect with the Trinity River Audubon Center and the planned neighboring equestrian center. The group has also done landscaping around churches and on roadway medians, and, using grant money, it has employed at-risk neighborhood teens.

Pierce sees the possibility of bringing business to South Dallas by developing local eco-tourism in the forest surrounding the Trinity River.

“Lots of people go outside of Dallas to go mountain biking,” Pierce said, adding that most people don’t even know these trails are here.

Pierce said that much more could be done to develop the Great Trinity Forest into a recreational area. The 6,200 acres of forestland lies just four miles south of downtown encompassing an area four times the size of Manhattan.

While Pierce calls District 7 incumbent Carolyn Davis supportive of the work she’s done to clean up neighborhoods and attract more people to the district, “I’d be more aggressive” as the District 7 council representative, she said.

Pierce said that businesses should be given a reason to move into the district. With the opening of DART’s Green Line, she would work to bring development to the area as a council member, especially around the new Lawnview Station.

Pierce said that while she wasn’t expecting anything on the scale of the development that surrounds Mockingbird or Park Lane stations to come to her South Dallas district, she would like to see some new apartments and stores.

Pierce works as a grant writer. She cites that talent as a source for funding new projects that will stimulate and attract business to the district. Groundwork Dallas got started with an initial $100,000 grant from the National Park Service’s Rivers, Trails and Conservation Assistance Program.

As a City Council member, Pierce said she would be more aggressive in attracting grant money to her district for development.

And she believes the area is primed for business development. Pierce points to all of the vacant stores, offices and manufacturing facilities in the area. She said that while much of the opposition to beer and wine sales in last November’s election came from her district, she’d like to see a few carefully zoned stores inside the Dallas border that cater to the still-dry Mesquite market.

“Right now they’re shopping in Garland,” she said.

Pierce calls herself a fiscal conservative and said the city should stop giving away PIDs — public improvement districts that offer large tax advantages to locate businesses in certain areas. She mentioned the new Hunt Oil building downtown that she said was going to be in the exact same location whether they received a tax abatement or not.

“That’s $30 million,” Pierce said. “We shouldn’t bribe people to be here.”

Pierce said her strategy is to build a coalition of voters who want to see positive growth in the area. She said she hoped her fiscally conservative views would attract voters in the more conservative District 7 areas north of I-30. In her neighborhood clean-up campaigns, she has worked with a number of South Dallas pastors who she hoped would support her candidacy.

In addition to her grant writing career, Pierce has worked for the McKinney Avenue Transit Authority and still volunteers as a trolley operator when they need extra help for special events.

Her Parkdale neighborhood lies east of Fair Park and south of Military Parkway. She lives with her partner who manages a high-end restaurant.

District 7 incumbent Carolyn Davis was contacted for comment for this article, but had not responded by press deadline.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition March 4, 2011.

—  John Wright

Full text of Rob Schlein’s letter to Tom Leppert

Log Cabin Dallas President Rob Schlein

Earlier we told you that Rob Schlein, president of the Dallas chapter of Log Cabin Republicans, read aloud a letter he’d written to former Mayor Tom Leppert during the group’s monthly meeting on Monday night. Schlein was kind enough to send over the full text of his letter this afternoon, and we’ve posted it after the jump.

—  John Wright

Ed Oakley: ‘What is [Tom Leppert] smoking?’

Ed Oakley is shown alongside Tom Leppert during a runoff debate in 2007.

Turns out we aren’t the only ones concerned about the potential negative impact of Tom Leppert’s gay-loving past on his bid for the Republican nomination for U.S. Senate in 2012. From a Dallas Morning News article Sunday about Leppert’s chances, which appeared under the headline, “Ex-Dallas mayor Tom Leppert faces tough odds in U.S. Senate run”:

There are photos of Leppert participating in Dallas parades celebrating gay pride, which could cause angst for conservative voters, as well. …

But Leppert says he’ll be able to convince voters that he has the tools.

“I’m a conservative Republican and I always have been,” he said. “What our issues have to be is building a tax base. What you’ve got to do is grow the economy. I want to make a difference on those national economic issues.”

Leppert said he’s guided by his faith on social issues like abortion and gay marriage. He’s a member of the First Baptist Church in Dallas. He’s against abortion and believes marriage is between a man and woman.

“On the fiscal issues, on the spending issues, you’re going to find me as conservative as anybody,” he said. “On the social issues, I view those as faith issues. I’m comfortable talking about them, but I don’t want to lose sight on what’s going to make a difference.”

Leppert, of course, never mentioned his anti-LGBT views while serving as mayor. In fact, when we asked Leppert about marriage equality in 2008, he told us he was undecided on the issue. But don’t feel bad, because the LGBT community isn’t the only thing Leppert was for before he was against it. In a separate article on Sunday, the Morning News reported that Leppert, who championed the Trinity River Project as mayor, is now suddenly opposed to funding the project with earmarks. The article quotes openly gay former City Councilman Ed Oakley, who was defeated by Leppert in the mayor’s race in 2007:

—  John Wright

Local Briefs

Valentine’s dance set for GSAs

LULAC Rainbow Council is partnering with Youth First Texas to host “Love Conquers All Ball,” a special Valentine’s weekend dance for gay straight alliances in Dallas and Collin counties.

The “Love Conquers All Ball,” will be held Saturday, Feb. 12, from 7 p.m. to 11 p.m. GSA students, Youth First Texas members and LGBTQ teens ages 14 to 18, are invited. Chaperones will check I.D. at the door. A $2 donation will be requested and donations will go toward The Trevor Project, the leading national organization focused on crisis and suicide prevention efforts among LGBTQ youth. For information, call 214-879-0400.

TREE staging LGBT awareness week

Trinity River Equality in Education presents “a week celebrating the LGBTQA community at TCC [Tarrant Community College] Trinity River Campus” Feb. 14-17.

On Monday, Feb. 14, there will be a tree dedication ceremony at Trinity River Plaza, on the patio across from the bookstore, at 12:30 p.m., an on Wednesday, Feb. 16, English faculty and Justin Brumit present a discussion of William B. Turner’s A Genealogy of Queer Theory ay noon in TREF 1402.

On Thursday, Feb. 17, there will be a TREE panel discussion, “A Conversation About LGBTQA Youth in our Community,” from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. in the Action Suite, fourth floor TR. Also on Thursday, there will be a reception featuring the LGBTQA artists participating in the Synergy Art Show, at 5:30 p.m. in the TR Art Gallery, TREF 1311.

Ongoing exhibits include a LGBTQA books and film display in the library, TREF, 2302; and the Gay Straight Alliance’s poster display at the TR Campus.

For more information contact the Student Life Center at 817-515-1197.

TWCOD holding open rehearsals

The Women’s Chorus of Dallas will hold open rehearsals for women interested in joining the chorus on Monday, Feb. 14, and Monday, Feb. 21, at 7 p.m. both nights. Interested singers are invited to sit in on a rehearsal, meet with members of the chorus and learn more about becoming a member.

Prior experience or the ability to read music is not a requirement for membership. Regular season rehearsals are held every Monday from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. at the Sammons Center for the Arts, 3630 Harry Hines Blvd. Members are expected to attend every rehearsal. The chorus performs a season of three concerts annually, and this season will perform at the Dee and Charles Wyly Theatre at the AT&T Performing Arts Center as well as a special concert at the Texas Discovery Gardens.

To sign up for one of the open rehearsals, call 214-520-7828 or e-mail at twcdoffice@twcd.org.

GAIN holding Valentine’s social

GAIN, a program of Resource Center Dallas that provides learning, social and entertainment opportunities for LGBT seniors, will hold its second annual Valentine’s Social Thursday, Feb. 17, from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at Good Eats Restaurant, 3888 Oak Lawn Ave. The event will include heavy hors d’ouevres and a cash bar.

For more information, call 214-528-0144 or e-mail gain@rcdallas.org.

TDWCC holds February meeting

The next general meeting of Texas Democratic Women of Collin County will be Monday, Feb. 28, at 6:45 p.m. at the Preston Ridge Campus of Collin College, 9700 Wade Blvd. in Frisco, in Founders Hall, Shawnee Room F148.

The agenda includes planning for the upcoming Legislative Lobby Days, with members presenting information about the state legislative agenda and issues that are important to TDWCC.

The goal is for members to commit to attend one Lobby Day this legislative session.

Political appearances

Rep. Jessica Ferrar of Houston will appear at a fundraiser for Dallas Stonewall Young Democrats at the home of Mark Sadlek and Steve Habgood in Kessler Park on Saturday, Feb. 12.

Farrar is the newly elected House Democratic Leader and wrote House Bill 604, which would repeal Texas’ sodomy law eight years after the U.S. Supreme Court declared it illegal.

Information on her appearance is available at their website DallasSYD.org.

Dallas mayoral candidate David Kunkle is the guest speaker at Stonewall Democrats of Dallas monthly meeting on Feb. 15 at 6:30 p.m. at Ojeda’s Restaurant, 4617 Maple Avenue. Kunkle is the former Dallas Police Chief.

Dallas City Councilwoman Angela Hunt will speak at the LULAC 4871 Dallas Rainbow Council meeting at Havana’s, 4006 Cedar Springs Road. Hunt decided this week to run for reelection to her current council seat rather than seek the office of mayor.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition Feb. 11, 2011.

—  John Wright