Static: Wednesday, June 20, 2002
A D V E R T I S E M E N T
A D V E R T I S E M E N T
Practical Math One

Which guardians of the public purse last week gave up the possibility of $60 million in cash for $7 million in telephones? The same ones who oversee the teaching of math and logic to Fort Worth schoolchildren.

FWISD trustees agreed to accept $7 million in telephone services — not a penny in cash — from Southwestern Bell to settle a 1996 lawsuit over tariffs for the use of public right-of-ways that the district claims Bell has owed since 1986. District lawyers and consumer advocates such as Pat Taylor and State Rep. Lon Burnam say the schools might have been due as much as $60 million.

Trustee Juan Rangel, the only one to vote against the deal, didn’t think much of that $7 million parakeet in the hand with the school district staring at a vulture-sized budget shortfall next year. “Now we’ll never know how much they really owed us or how much cold, hard cash we could have gotten from the courts. ... Then if we had wanted [the services SWB is providing] they could have bid on them like everyone else.”

“The phone company,” Taylor said, “just got a friggin’ monopoly.”

Practical Math Two

Static guesses it’s like going to the bookstore for regular folks — the new Sue Grafton mystery isn’t in, but how about Sara Paretsky’s latest? As executives of Sundance Square and Bank One showed off the new Bank One building to reporters last week, the old bank tower loomed next door like a toothless and uninvited relative at the ball. At one point, Bill Boecker, president of Sundance Square Development, explained that Calder’s Eagle, the sculpture that formerly graced the old building’s plaza, played a part in Ed Bass’ purchase of the full block on which the new building stands.

Seems Bass was asking John Hickey, then president of Bank One, whether the bank intended to sell the Calder. Bass wanted it to stay in Fort Worth. (The bank eventually sold the building and sculpture to Loutex, which promptly re-sold the Calder out of state.) If you’re not selling the sculpture, Bass said, is there anything else you’d like to get rid of? Why, the lot next door, Hickey reportedly replied. And that was that.

Current Bank One president Danny Smith, also touring, quickly added that Bank One hadn’t been trying to sell the sculpture back then — “we just tried to get a value on it.” Static did the same thing once, long ago in its callow youth when the rent check bounced. Tried to get a value on its inheritance (Grandma’s ring). Got value. Sold three-speed Schwinn instead.

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