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The Watchdog: Roofer arrested, congressman gets a sign and other sequels

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Dave Lieber, The Dallas Morning News

On this Memorial Day weekend, The Watchdog catches you up on recent stories. Sometimes we don't get to share the endings. Here are the sequels.

Sad to report that my once-favorite, all-time contractor was arrested this month by Arlington police and charged with theft of services. I was Walter "Ty" Head's biggest fan after he solved my air conditioning problems more than two decades ago when no one else could. He was my AC hero.

Then recently he became a roofer.

Widow Rebecca Counts told The Watchdog how she gave him $11,000 to make repairs and replace her roof. He never did anything, she said.

I tried to contact Head, but couldn't find him. Arlington police did. Say it ain't so, Ty.

After my story on U.S. Rep. Kenny Marchant, the Incognito Congressman, things improved at his Irving district office. The Watchdog told you how knocks at his office door went unanswered. There was no sign on the door identifying it as a congressman's office. No signs outside either.

Constituents left gifts and cards by the door and posted images on social media. Where's Kenny?

After my story, "They allowed us in three or four at a time," Marsha Fishman reports. "There was an Irving police officer in the office. And yes, his name and congressional seal were back up on the door."

Sorry, Charlie

Still no check or free tuna from the Great Tuna Lawsuit. We're all waiting.

We're supposed to get some free tuna because StarKist underfilled its tuna cans.

Latest report on — "There were appeals filed, meaning the settlement is not yet final. Appeals can take months or years."

Donna Nelson, who ran the Utility Commission in Austin since 2011, has retired. (Remember, The Watchdog took "Public" out of the name when it became clear the UC isn't serving us.)

Nelson deserves credit for working to improve the all-important electricity shopping site. But she didn't push the matter far enough. Electricity companies continue to game the system.

Gov. Greg Abbott will appoint a new chairman soon. That's a big job. Let's hope he appoints someone who cares more about the public so The Watchdog can put the "P" back in the name.

Retired FBI agent turned public school investigator Don Southerland Jr. of Plano introduced us to problems in several school districts, including Hearne ISD.

The little ISD near Bryan with only 900 students has had six superintendents in six years. The fifth one, Raul Nuques, promised to clean up a culture of corruption. He hired Southerland and his team to conduct a fraud audit.

The audit recommended the dismissal of several employees who were friends and family of the board. For that, Nuques was fired.

The Texas Education Agency announced in April a plan to take over the district and appoint a new superintendent. A state-ordered conservator was placed in the district, too.

Last week, the TEA gave the district a second chance — by not completely taking over the struggling district. The superintendent and board members, after undergoing training, get to keep their jobs.

Frymire Services of Dallas, a longtime heating and air company, filed bankruptcy and shut down. I shared the story of my dealings with the company from two decades ago as a homeowner, calling them "a parade of nincompoops masquerading as air conditioning repair techs."

I wasn't surprised when they closed.

Now they're open again, with the same name but under new ownership. Old warranties under the original company are being honored, general manager Ken Elowe says.

Denton County elections

The book on Denton County's November election fiasco can now be closed after a three-page letter arrived from the Texas secretary of state. The Watchdog and County Judge Mary Horn's constituents had begged her to let an outside party look into the problem. She eventually came around.

The SoS confirmed the many problems with ballots, machines, counting, voter assistance, incorrect signage and, well, what's left?

The cause was "insufficient staffing" in the elections office. Case closed.

Watchdog Nation training

You're invited to a free and fun Watchdog Nation training session led by my colleague Marina Trahan Martinez and I at The Wild Detectives bookstore at 11 a.m. Saturday, June 24, 314 W. Eighth St. Dallas, 75208.

I mention it now so you can save the date.

We'll show you the latest tips and strategies to stay one step ahead of the bad guys, whomever they may be.

Remember, the deadline to file a property tax protest is May 31!

Staff writer Marina Trahan Martinez contributed to this report.


The Watchdog Desk works for you to shine light on questionable practices in business and government. We welcome your story ideas and tips.

Contact The Watchdog


Call: 214-977-2952

Write: Dave Lieber, P.O. Box 655237, Dallas, TX 75265