Shady Dealings Left Us All Feeling Burned.
Welcome to D-Rated, in which we try to determine if the quality of life in Dallas and its surrounding areas is moving up or down by arbitrarily awarding and subtracting point values to our living situation based on current events.
Watch Your Wallet Around Watkins: Former District Attorney Craig Watkins was accused of mishandling his office's budget by lots of folks, including current District Attorney Susan Hawk. And now there's some official records to back that claim up. The state finished its audit and announced Tuesday that, among the violations, Watkins used $50,000 of the forfeiture funds — which is a questionable practice in and of itself, but not something the D.A.'s office actually collects — to settle with a driver he got into a collision with. In fact, at least $80,000 of the million bucks the D.A.'s office spent in 2013-14 went beyond the allowed guidelines. Hopefully after all the mishaps, Susan Hawk can get back on the right foot and shore up some of these shady doings. Minus 2.
Margot, Mar-going, Mar-gone: Margot Winspear, who with her husband Bill helped open the Winspear Opera House, died Tuesday at 83. She had long battled Alzheimer's. Together, she and her husband were some of the biggest boosters for the arts in North Texas. In addition to the fabulous opera house, they helped get the Murchison Performing Arts Center built at my alma mater UNT. They also donated millions to aid in the fight against Alzheimer's. She was preceded in death by her husband. She will be missed. Minus 1.
Hot as Lava: It may not look like much now, but the area surrounding the ginormous Nebraska Furniture Mart in the Colony is going to be pretty happening soon. Next year, the massive Lava Cantina will open. In addition to a mix of Mexican and Creole cuisine, the spot will also serve as a music venue for live bands. If the food is good and it attracts bands doing stuff other than covers of “One Scotch, One Bourbon, One Beer,” this could become quite the hangout for people who live north of the Bush and don't feel like driving all the way down to Dallas. Plus 121.
Karena, Karena: Southlake's Karena Mondrianh works as a life coach (and will also hypnotize you for $175 with a Groupon), but has now been accused of coaching in an area she shouldn't have been. She allegedly helped hundreds of military contractors falsify their tax returns to the tune of $26 million, which makes it one of the biggest fraud cases ever. The income she got from allegedly got from helping these folks doctor their tax returns, in addition to her life coaching business, served as a major windfall for Mondrianh, who declared bankruptcy in 2006 and 2007, but now lives in a house worth more than $600,000 and drives a Land Rover. Minus 26.
Separation of Church and What Now?: That chill you might have felt Sunday probably came from the direction of Prestonwood Baptist Church. The megachurch, known also as Prestonworld or Six Flags Over Jesus, hosted the Faith & Freedom Coalition's presidential forum. While I do give them props for inviting every candidate — including Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders — there's something I find a little icky about bringing all these candidates to a church to whip up support. It also doesn't help that all have them pandered to the audience of about 7,000. Mike Huckabee kept beating the drum for Kim Davis, the Kentucky clerk who refused to give out marriage licenses to same-sex couples. Sen. Ted Cruz also kept trying to scare the crowd, repeating his refrain that “religious liberty is under attack.” At least Donald Trump, who has said the Bible is his favorite book, wasn't there to make the rest of the crowd look good. Minus 11.
Won't Get Tolled Again: If you live south of I-20 in Tarrant County, I've got good news and bad news. The good news is Texas Highway 360 will eventually go to U.S. 287 in Mansfield. The bad news is — and this shouldn't be a surprise for anyone who lives in North Texas — it's going to be a toll road! I'm all for improving and expanding roads, but we've got to figure out a way to make that happen quickly without getting the North Texas Tollway Authority involved. Nothing against them personally, but this is getting ridiculous. Between tolled express lanes under I-635 and I-35, the Dallas North Tollway, the Sam Rayburn Tollway, the Chisholm Trail Parkway, the Lewisville Lake Toll Bridge and the President George Bush Turnpike, we're running out of places you can get to without paying extra. Minus 360.
QF-U, Irving: In what is the rare win for both the victim of Islamophobia and for Islamophobes themselves, Ahmed Mohamed and his family are moving to Qatar. You may remember, Ahmed was the Irving kid who brought his clock to school and got arrested, and never once got an apology for it. Ahmed has been accepted into that country's Young Innovators program, where his gift will be nurtured instead of punished. I can't wait to see when this kid becomes a tech mogul and hopefully buys up a ton of land in Irving as a “fuck you” to the city that mistreated him and his family. But he's probably a better person than that. Best of luck to you, kid. Plus 278.
This Week's Total: Minus 1.
Last Week's Running Total: Minus 9.
This Week's Running Total: Minus 10.