08:45 AM CST on Thursday, February 9, 2006
Debate on horse meat plant takes puzzling turn
Kaufman: Zoning board tries to unravel mystery of companies' finances
By JIM GETZ
The Dallas Morning News
He's in Kaufman. Or is he, really?
And more important, should the city's Zoning Board of Adjustment
Many of the board's members were left scratching their heads Tuesday
night when Waldo – Waldo Inc., that is – suddenly popped up at their
meeting about setting a deadline to close the Dallas Crown horse meat
Waldo, it appears, is Dallas Crown's brother. They both list their
address as 2000 Fair St. in Kaufman, and they list the same officers.
Waldo owns the land, buildings and equipment – the assets that
depreciate over time. Dallas Crown uses those assets to slaughter
horses and sell the meat overseas, said David Carter, a Tyler auditor
and financial investigator hired by the city.
"One can't exist without the other," he said.
After residents' repeated complaints about flies, spilled blood and
an occasional stench, the adjustment board in November declared the
plant to be a nuisance that should be shut down. Mr. Carter was hired
to find the rate of depreciation of Dallas Crown's assets. That
information would have allowed the city to determine a closure date,
which would have to come after the business recouped its investments.
But Tuesday, the board learned Dallas Crown has no assets. Only Waldo
And that led to a lot of points, counterpoints and, ultimately, a
postponement until March 9 for the decision on a closure date.
The delay further disappointed slaughter foes, who earlier in the day
learned that a cutoff of federal funding for pre-slaughter horse
inspections would not shut down the plant as they had hoped. Instead,
the U.S. Department of Agriculture plans to allow Dallas Crown and
two other plants to pay for the inspections.
Mr. Carter told the Kaufman board that Waldo's assets had depreciated
from $890,000 in 1992 to $306,000 in 1999 and were now fully
depreciated. In his analysis, the business has made back the money it
had invested. City Attorney Bob Hager and Don Feare, an Arlington
lawyer representing a group of landowners near the plant, said that
was enough to shut down the plant immediately.
"I think there's a number of issues we could raise with that report
if we were given an opportunity to reply," said Kaufman lawyer Mark
Calabria, who represents Dallas Crown but not Waldo or the parent
company, Chevideco France. He said later that if Mr. Carter's report
was incomplete, it was because the board had requested records only
from Dallas Crown.
Mr. Hager countered, "We've been here since September, and no one has
stood up and said, 'Hey, you got the wrong guy' or 'There's other
Mr. Feare argued further to close the plant, saying that if Dallas
Crown owns no assets, it should not be afforded time to
depreciate. "So shut 'em down," he urged.
As the board contemplated that idea, an unexpected guest popped up -
Dallas attorney Bruce Monning stood and assured Mr. Carter that Waldo
would find any further financial records he requested. He confirmed
Waldo's assets but said it was absurd to conclude that their value
was gone. Under questioning from board member Diane Chiles, however,
he perhaps showed why no one had known where Waldo was.
"How long have you known about Dallas Crown being shut down?" Ms.
"Since what I've read in the papers," Mr. Monning replied.
"And how long have you been employed by Waldo?"
He looked at his watch. "About four hours."