The scene of the not-crime Image courtesy Google

Politics & Government

City Council Candidate Got Into Kerfuffle at East Dallas Bar

John Botefuhr appears to lead an action-packed life.

Under normal circumstances, this sort of thing wouldn’t rise to the level of justifying a post here on this august blog. But we’ve got ourselves some unusual circumstances, so here we go with a tale about two guys getting into a kerfuffle one night in 2019 at the Lakewood Landing.

Our players in this drama are the previously mentioned District 9 city council candidate and chiropractor John Botefuhr, and a lawyer and political activist named Barry Jacobs. Before we get to the story from the bar, you need some context. Let’s start with Botefuhr.

As we discussed Tuesday, there is some question about whether Botefuhr was arrested in 2009 for public intoxication and whether he lied on his DMN candidate questionnaire about said arrest. Avi Adelman, the former Lower Greenville watchdog, posted those many years ago a database of names and dates of arrests along the street in 2009. The name John D. Botefuhr appears on the list. Botefuhr told me that he was, indeed, involved in a Lower Greenville incident after watching a Cowboys game at Ozona, but he was never arrested; only his drunk designated driver was arrested.

Those are the Botefuhr basics. The political group Reform Dallas first brought to light on Facebook the existence of this list of arrestees, which is why I’d asked him about it.

Now Jacobs. He is in his mid-50s and requires a cane to walk, which is important. He is a member of Reform Dallas. I know him, though not well. Jacobs once served on D Magazine’s Reader Advisory Panel, a revolving cohort of subscribers who generously sacrifice one evening of their lives every quarter or so to come to our office, eat cheese, and tell us how we can do our jobs better. I always enjoyed Jacobs’ contributions. He’s a smart, outspoken guy.

Jacobs now hates D Magazine. That’s because last fall Jim Schutze wrote a story about Jacobs’ wife’s campaign for a seat on the DISD board of trustees, and Jacobs took issue with the story’s assertion that his wife is a Republican.

OK, you got all that? I know it’s a lot to digest. But I want to be transparent about how I came to learn about the Lakewood Landing kerfuffle and how I gave both participants a chance to explain it.

After reading my post about the Greenville Avenue Botefuhr incident, someone known to the magazine contacted us. Requesting anonymity, this person, who was present at the 2019 kerfuffle, described what had happened. I then emailed Jacobs, asking him to tell me about what sounded like an assault. Bear in mind, this involved a group of about 10 Reform Dallas folks hanging out. I’ll just give you our exchange, starting with his first response:

JACOBS: “I think ‘assaulted’ is too strong, though it may (just) meet the definition under Section 22.01(2) of the Texas Penal Code.

“We were at Lakewood Landing, shortly after the election. Botefuhr was gloating over [Paula] Blackmon’s victory (I had supported Lamb in the general and Moore in the runoff). He especially stressed Blackmon’s warm relations with DPD. I told him, probably using colorful language (I could perhaps recall the metaphor I used off the record), that he was deceiving himself, that Blackmon was quite progressive and that she was unlikely to be a strong police supporter. He became angry and stood up menacingly as though to strike me. Some other people who were present, including [redacted] intervened to hold Mr. Botefuhr back before any actual fisticuffs ensued. I honestly did not give the incident much weight, perhaps because I often elicit strong reactions from people, but several others who were there seem to have been appalled.

“Ironically, the basis for our argument was Botefuhr’s contention that I would grow to like Paula and mine that he would be disappointed in her. As it turns out we were both right.”

ROGERS: “Someone who was there told me he shoved you. You saying that’s not the case?”

JACOBS: “I do recall a shove. As you may know, I am disabled and walk with a cane, and my balance is none too good, so John’s shove may have looked more dramatic than it was. I didn’t fall and he didn’t strike me.

“Bottom line: I don’t care for Mr. Botefuhr one bit. I think he’s a cretin and, more importantly, will be a very bad councilmember. But I do have a personal code of honor in this stuff and I’ll be scrupulously honest, even when it works to Mr. Botefuhr’s advantage. I didn’t view that interaction with him as an assault at the time (though I’m pretty sure it would have become one had not others intervened), and I won’t exaggerate it now to make it look worse than it was.”

ROGERS: “That’s very fair of you. But if he shoved you, that’s assault.” I then asked if this exchange was on the record.

JACOBS: “It’s all on the record, and I’m an attorney, so you needn’t educate me on what is and isn’t an assault. With regard to physical contact, an element of assault is the actor’s knowledge or reasonable belief that the subject (me) would find such contact offensive or provocative. I’ve told you I didn’t see the incident as an assault at the time, so I obviously did not think it satisfied that element.

“Let me also say that my wife was unjustly subject to a D Mag hit piece last fall. It sucked because there was no way to counter the bullshit once you printed it. I think the Adelman arrest story is legit or I wouldn’t have raised it, and it’s my belief that Botefuhr lied in his conversation with you last night, so I’m happy to help advance that story. But I will not stand by while you spin the Landing story in a misleading way, even to fuck with Botefuhr. You can run with my account, but if you embellish it I will call you on it.”

So there you go. I texted Botefuhr yesterday at about 3 p.m. and said I wanted to ask him about the 2019 Lakewood Landing kerfuffle. “Ugh, in between patients,” he texted back. “Let me give you a call here in a bit. Why does Barry get all this credit, I wonder?”

Botefuhr never called. At 5:40, I texted him again, saying that Jacobs was afforded the opportunity to tell his side of the story in writing and that I wanted to give him the same opportunity. I told him I’d just emailed him Jacobs’ account of the evening and that my deadline for his response was 7 this morning. At 7, I texted him to say I assumed his lack of response meant he had no comment. It is now noon. Still no answer from Botefuhr.

That’s what I can tell you. Well, there’s one more thing I can tell you. If Botefuhr had called me back, my first question to him would have been “How weak are you that you can’t push Barry Jacobs over?”

Election day is May 1.

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