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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 
 
Where's Waldo? 
 
He's in Kaufman. Or is he, really? 
 
And more important, should the city's Zoning Board of Adjustment 
care? 
 
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 
plant. 
 
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 
does. 
 
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 
guys.' " 
 
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 - 
Waldo's attorney. 
 
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. 
Chiles asked. 
 
"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." 
 
E-mail: jgetz@dallasnews.com