VIDEO: Watchdog Dave Lieber shares his best secret

Here’s Watchdog Dave Lieber’s gift to you.

His secret weapon to survive.

The best way he knows how to keep you, your family and your business out of trouble.

It’s so simple.

Watch The Dallas Morning News Watchdog columnist share it now on NBC5 with news anchor Kristi Nelson.

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Watch Dave talking about matters important to you Mondays around 11:20 a.m. on NBCDFW.
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Dave Lieber book that won two national awards for social change.\

Watchdog reveals secret land deal between Ross Perot Jr. company and TxDOT

Along a 35-mile proposed superhighway only one landowner has been able to sell right-of-way to TxDOT.

The seller is the biggest name in North Texas real estate. Ross Perot Jr.’s Hillwood Development.

Ross Perot Jr.

Ross Perot Jr.

The deal was never revealed to the public until this Dave Lieber Watchdog report in The Dallas Morning News appeared.

Read more Watchdog reports here.

Watch this video by Dallas Morning News Watchdog Desk Administrator Marina Trahan Martinez.

Read The Watchdog every Friday and Sunday in The Dallas Morning News and at DallasNews.com.

 

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Dave Lieber book that won two national awards for social change.\

Still here? Visit Dave Lieber’s other fun websites:

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Hipster site: DaveLieber.org

New book site: BadDadBook.com

The Watchdog: JFK launched the U.S. consumer-rights movement

In the billion words written about President John F. Kennedy in these last days, almost everyone has missed one of the most important contributions of his presidency.

JFK is the founder of the American consumer rights movement.

I bet you didn’t know that. Here’s how it happened.

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The year before he died, Kennedy stood before cameras in the Roosevelt Room in the White House and announced his support for changes in law that we take for granted today: truth in lending, pesticide regulations, meat inspections, government approval of pharmaceuticals, product safety and, my favorite, more TV channels.

Kennedy said, “Consumers, by definition, include us all. If consumers are offered inferior products, if prices are exorbitant, if drugs are unsafe or worthless, if the consumer is unable to choose on an informed basis, then his dollar is wasted, his health and safety may be threatened, and the national interest suffers.”

No president had ever talked like that.

Kennedy went further, announcing his consumer bill of rights:

The right to safety. Products should not be hazardous to health or life.

The right to be informed. Consumers should be protected from fraudulent, deceitful or grossly misleading information in advertising and on labels.

The right to choose. Give people a variety of products at competitive prices.

The right to be heard. Consumer interests should be heeded by legislators and policymakers.

Kennedy’s wishes are now enshrined in law.

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More Watchdog Nation News:

Watchdog Nation Partners with Mike Holmes

America meets Watchdog Nation/Listen to Fun Radio Interview

Watchdog Nation Debuts New e-Book and Multi-CD Audio Book

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Dave Lieber book that won two national awards for social change.\

Still here? Visit Dave Lieber’s other fun websites:

Personal: YankeeCowboy.com

Hipster site: DaveLieber.org

The Watchdog frets about his son’s new driver’s license and car

The Watchdog is supposed to be infallible, impervious to supervillains, shoddy corporations and disappearing refrigerator repairmen. But I have one vulnerability that leaves me with an overwhelming sense of helplessness and resignation.

It’s not battling an electric company or arguing with a cellphone company. Much worse than that. My vulnerability involves someone I cherish, now permitted under law to insert himself inside a 3,246-pound machine and hurl himself along a superhighway at speeds approaching 70 mph.

Last week, my youngest son, the 16-year-old, got his driver’s license.

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With that, my lack of control and helplessness truly begins. As The Watchdog, I’m not used to this. I know how to take care of business. Make sure things go right. Fix them when they go wrong.

Take on a powerful corporation? No problem. Stand up to formidable politicians? Child’s play. But give my youngest kid a driver’s license and a car and suddenly, that’s me — a howling watchdog with no more bite. He’s free, and I can’t be around all the time to protect, to scold, to nurture, to watchdog him anymore.

Before you think my fears are overblown, know that Austin, my beautiful son, has already set a world record of sorts involving his new car and an auto body repair shop. But I’ll get to that in a moment.

My two older children received their licenses and first cars in the pre-9/11 era. It’s different now. Getting a license has become an ordeal, apparently part of Homeland Security’s desire to keep licenses out of the hands of terrorists and scammers.

Instructions are overly complicated. There are too many forms (the DE-964, DL-92 and the ever-popular DL-90b). Supplemental documentation resembles what’s needed for a home loan.

The PTDE packet was nearly my undoing. That’s the Parent Taught Driver Education packet. Otherwise known as the PWJOCW for Parents Wanting to Jump Out of the Car Window. The inventor of Parent Taught Driver Ed also probably invented waterboarding.

Our nighttime lessons took place after I came home from work. They’d begin the same way every time. He’d pull out of the driveway and I’d say, “You forgot to turn on the headlights.”

He’d say, “It’s not the end of the world.”

“You left the garage door open.”

“Dad, it’s not the end of the world!”

Watching a teen learn to drive is probably funny if it’s someone else’s kid. But when it’s your own, it IS the end of the world.

Hanging on fearfully to the passenger side door during sharp turns, I began to understand that a new driver’s license serves as the main doorway into adulthood. This is where a watchdogging parent must learn to give it up.

His mother and I have done what we can. We purchased a safe, dependable used car for him and signed him up for proper insurance. We bought him an associate membership in AAA, taught him how to use his new debit card at a gas pump, lectured him about tow-away zones, red-light cameras, suburban speed traps and the most important challenge: how to remember where you put your car keys.

At the end of our lessons, once we were back safely in the garage, I always tried to end on a positive note.

“Good job, son. You forgot to turn off the lights.”

“It’s not the end of the world.”

My son named his car after a favorite character in the movie The Hangover. Previously, I mentioned that Austin and Mr. Chow together set a world record of sorts — the fastest time for a new driver to send his car to the body shop for repairs. In my son’s case, before he even drove his car, he put a hurt on Mr. Chow.

Poor Mr. Chow had barely entered his new home before my beautiful son closed the garage door on his back bumper. A $500 repair — before the car left the house.

Yes, as a parent watchdog for my children, I have this vulnerability that leaves me helpless. But I’m looking for a sign that he and Mr. Chow will make a good team.

I found one. On New Year’s Day, my son hosted five friends for a sleepover. At 3 a.m., when the boys were still up talking. Austin left to go to his job. Every day before sunrise, he cleans a neighborhood restaurant before it opens for business.

That’s real responsibility for any 16-year-old. I’m proud of him for that. I know in my heart that it’s time to let the bird fly.
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Dave Lieber book that won two national awards for social change.\

Still here? Visit Dave Lieber’s other fun websites:

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The Watchdog: Future Dallas judge Staci Williams accused of failing client so she could campaign

An unusual sight occurred in a Dallas courtroom. A woman stood before a judge and fired her lawyer. Right there, on the spot.

She accused the lawyer of abandoning her case, leaving her high and dry without a defense. She said the lawyer had ignored her requests for information, failed to show up at a hearing and didn’t file legal papers when she should have.

That alone was unusual, but what makes it more so is that the lawyer she fired is not going to be a lawyer much longer. She has a new and better job.

The lawyer, Staci Williams, is set to become the next state district judge for the 101st Judicial District in Dallas County. Supported by Dallas County District Attorney Craig Watkins, she defeated incumbent Judge Marty Lowy in the March 4, 2014 Democratic primary. No Republican is slated to run against her in November 2014.

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Williams’ client, now former client, is Barbara Carr, a longtime DART bus driver. Carr told the court that she wanted to relieve Williams of her duties because Williams was so busy campaigning she didn’t have time to represent her. Williams, hearing that, announced that she wanted to withdraw from the case.

In the courthouse corridor afterward, I asked Williams what happened.

“You know, I’m trying to figure it out right now,” Williams answered. “I have no comment at the time until I figure it out.”

I asked, “Did you abandon your client?”

“No, no,” Williams replied. “I don’t have a copy of her letter, so in order for me to be fair to you to give you an adequate response, I don’t know what the accusations are.”

She was referring to a letter that Carr wrote The Watchdog seeking help.

Later in the week, I called the future judge for more comment, but she didn’t return The Watchdog’s call.

Williams will learn her former client’s gripes soon enough. Carr filed a complaint last week against Williams with the State Bar of Texas. Williams has no previous public disciplinary record with the state bar.

The State Bar says the No. 1 complaint against lawyers is not returning phone calls, and also high on the list are lawyers who don’t pay attention to their cases.

In her complaint to the bar, Carr writes that Williams failed to keep her informed of her case, missed a hearing, didn’t file paperwork on time, accepted nearly $5,000 in fees but never provided a receipt and didn’t bring case files to the final hearing where Carr fired her.

She also writes that “Williams threatened me with $20,000 in legal fees if I exposed her misconduct of my case.” (That conversation supposedly took place after Williams shooed me away so she could talk to Carr privately in the courthouse hallway.)

Williams served as a judge once before, and her tenure was so rocky that she lost her job and filed a federal lawsuit. In 2006, the Dallas City Council appointed her to a municipal judge position. During the next four years she got into a series of scrapes with other judges and the court administrator, whom she accused of sexual harassment. The charge was never sustained.

She was also reprimanded for snooping around the desks of other judges on the court, according to court records obtained several years ago by Steve Thompson of The Dallas Morning News. At one point, she was reprimanded for entering a judge’s office and then a week later, she was accused of doing it again.

The City Council failed to reappoint her in 2010, and she sued the city, saying she was the victim of harassment and discrimination and her loss of the reappointment amounted to a retaliatory action. The federal lawsuit ended in 2013 when both parties agreed to a dismissal.

Carr hired Williams a year ago to represent her as a $250-an-hour lawyer. Williams represented Carr in a hearing last year in Carr’s lawsuit, which is against her employer, DART, and involves her need to get a medical certificate from a doctor.

At first, Williams stayed close to her client, according to records Carr provided me. Carr was pleased. In August, Carr wrote Williams in an email: “If it had not been for you, I’d be jobless. … Staci, you are a genuine person without a doubt, and I know you have my best interest.”

But around December, Carr said, she lost touch with her when Williams stopped answering her emails.

Yet while Carr couldn’t get hold of her lawyer, her lawyer still managed to contact her. Williams sent Carr several emails promoting her campaign. In one, she asked her to volunteer. In another, she asked her to attend a candidate forum to cheer her on.

In February, Carr, worried because she heard nothing about her case, called the court on her own and asked about her next hearing. Told the date, Carr showed up. Her lawyer didn’t.

Then before last week’s hearing, Carr filed her own legal papers asking for a postponement. She didn’t get it, which meant the hearing would go on with or without a lawyer. And because Williams had shown up and was familiar with the facts, a second lawyer whom Carr has asked to attend the hearing convinced Carr that Williams should handle her case at the hearing.

Carr reluctantly agreed to let Williams argue why her case should not be dismissed.

Williams complained in court that she was having difficulty communicating with Carr because Carr was rolling her eyes and refused to discuss the case with her. Williams went ahead and argued on Carr’s behalf.

Williams lost the argument. Carr’s case was dismissed.

Out in the hallway, Carr told me, “She wasn’t prepared.”

All of this could have been avoided, Carr said, if Williams, while busy as a candidate, had simply told her she was hard at work campaigning and didn’t have time for her anymore.

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More Watchdog Nation News:

Watchdog Nation Partners with Mike Holmes

America meets Watchdog Nation/Listen to Fun Radio Interview

Watchdog Nation Debuts New e-Book and Multi-CD Audio Book

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Dave Lieber book that won two national awards for social change.\

Still here? Visit Dave Lieber’s other fun websites:

Personal: YankeeCowboy.com

Hipster site: DaveLieber.org

 

Watchdog Nation Debuts New e-Book and Multi-CD Audio Book

Watchdog Nation training is now easier than ever. Learn how to save time, money and aggravation for the rest of your life! Thousands have been “sworn in” as citizens of Watchdog Nation and learned how easy it is to fight back and win. You can, too! And for a very small price that will result in huge savings over the course of your lifetime. That’s a Watchdog Nation promise.

The fun book that won two national book awards for social change — and changes lives — is now available as an ebook on Amazon’s Kindle and BarnesandNoble.com. The reduced price for the ebook is only $8.88. Watchdog Nation is now available on Apple’s iPad, too!

Dave Lieber's Watchdog Nation: Bite Back When Businesses and Scammers Do You Wrong on KINDLE

Dave Lieber’s Watchdog Nation: Bite Back When Businesses and Scammers Do You Wrong is also available as a new multi-CD audio book. Perfect for commuters and iPod lovers. (Buy at Amazon, Dave Lieber’s Yankee Cowboy Store, iTunes, and, of course, WatchdogNation.com.)

Dave Lieber's Watchdog Nation: Bite Back When Businesses and Scammers Do You Wrong on CD Audio Book

Listen to the opening chapter, one of more than 60!

Listen here 

Dave Lieber's Watchdog Nation: Bite Back When Businesses and Scammers Do You Wrong is now a multi-set CD audio book

This book pays for itself instantly. Why? Bernard Madoffs are everywhere! Don’t get snookered. Save time, money and aggravation. And the best part: Watchdog Nation — in any version, hardcover, ebook and multi-CD audio book — is FUN!

Now on iPad!

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More Watchdog Nation News:

Watchdog Nation Partners with Mike Holmes

America meets Watchdog Nation/Listen to Fun Radio Interview

Watchdog Nation Changes Lives/Two People Who Learned to Fight Back

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Watch this video of Dave Lieber taping the new CD audio book.

Of course, nothing beats the hardcover edition of the latest edition of Watchdog Nation. Get free shipping when you order your hardcover book at Watchdog Nation.

Dave Lieber book that won two national awards for social change.

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Dave Lieber book that won two national awards for social change.\

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Bob Mong: Dave Lieber has built a strong reputation as a consumer advocate

 

 The following first appeared in The Dallas Morning News. It was written by Bob Mong, The Dallas Morning News Executive Editor.

Consumer columnist Dave Lieber joined our staff in the spring, and his Watchdog column appears every Friday and Sunday in Metro.

For two decades, Dave built a strong reputation as the consumer advocate at the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. I regard him as one of the most trusted voices in North Texas.

He looks out for questionable practices in business and government and has the wherewithal to dig in and solve problems.

Bob Mong, Executive Editor of The Dallas Morning News, believes newspapers should fight for the people.

Bob Mong, Executive Editor of The Dallas Morning News, believes newspapers should fight for the people.

“I’ve been covering governments for almost 40 years for daily newspapers. Problems in government where taxpayers aren’t getting treated right, not getting their money’s worth, are as important to me as the typical consumer rip-off that can be prevented,” Dave said.

We invite you to contact Dave. He’s very conscientious and reviews every concern expressed by consumers. It is best to contact him by email at watchdog@dallasnews.com. You also can write to him at:

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

Dave brings an award-winning pedigree to his work, as well as a lot of enthusiasm. He fights for consumers. As he said to me the other day, he hopes his zeal for consumer protection “never goes away.”

Follow Bob Mong on Twitter at @bobmong1.

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More Watchdog Nation News:

Watchdog Nation Partners with Mike Holmes

America meets Watchdog Nation/Listen to Fun Radio Interview

Watchdog Nation Debuts New e-Book and Multi-CD Audio Book

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Dave Lieber book that won two national awards for social change.\

Still here? Visit Dave Lieber’s other fun websites:

Personal: YankeeCowboy.com

Hipster site: DaveLieber.org

Texans need front license plate – or face $200 fine

Here I am, The Watchdog, solving the mystery of the Texas front license plate.

Texans need a front license plate by Dave Lieber, Watchdog columnist of Dallas Morning News

If your vehicle doesn’t have a front license plate, or a rear one for that matter, as of September 1, 2013, you’re looking at a $200 fine. 

Which leads to another amazing discovery I made while solving the mystery of the front license plate. (More news coming!) For the past two years, until Sept. 1, 2013, any motorist in the state of Texas who was stopped for not having a front or rear Texas license plate could not be fined. That’s right. Not be fined.

Legislators in 2011 accidentally removed the punishment portion of the license plate law. (Uh-oh.) The law was on the books, but the fine was inadvertently deleted. (Embarrassing.) That made traffic cops much less likely to make stops for a missing front plate. They could write tickets with no fine. (Where’s the fun in that?)

In Texas, a law enforcement officer is allowed to stop any vehicle if a front or rear license plate is missing. It’s the same as an officer making a stop when a driver runs a stop sign, makes an improper lane change or, everybody’s favorite, drives too slow.

As readers of The Dallas Morning News Dave Lieber Watchdog column first learned, now, with the punishment tacked back on to the law, the fine for a missing front or rear plate is specifically set at no more than $200.

The mystery of the front plates in Texas came up when I mentioned it in a recent Watchdog report that the license plate law is a personal pet peeve. If Texas requires a front plate, why is the law rarely enforced? The result is a lot of cars without front plates. How come they get away with it? Either enforce the law or dump it.

I see it as a safety tool that helps eyewitnesses and law enforcement identify the bad guys. Front plates double the chance for a clear ID of, say, a hit-and-run driver, a child molester or a killer.

Drivers, including Corvette and Prius owners whose cars don’t come with ready-made front license plate brackets, tell me they are concerned. Hey, nobody wants to drill holes in their beauty’s front hood.

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More Watchdog Nation News:

Watchdog Nation Partners with Mike Holmes

America meets Watchdog Nation/Listen to Fun Radio Interview

Watchdog Nation Debuts New e-Book and Multi-CD Audio Book

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One reader suggested, “Instead of forcing the law, why not eliminate front plates? Lots of states do not require front plates. The extra plate costs the state money. Put the savings in the highway fund.”

Another: “I think if cops would include checking stickers and license plates to the list when they pull someone over it would start to force more people to get current. Right now cops only ask for driver’s license and insurance.”

Car and truck owners without front plates may now be rushing out to Pep Boys for brackets. Or they could be running to their favorite auto parts website for the right make and model number. Yep, it’s my personal pet peeve, but please don’t blame me.

Who then? I looked up the recorded vote this year for House Bill 625, author, Rep. Linda Harper-Brown, R-Irving. The state Senate voted 31-0 for the new law; the House voted 139-4.

I talked to representatives of the San Antonio and Houston police departments who lobbied for it. Summarizing, they said both front and rear plates make it easier and safer for police to do their jobs.

With a money fine back in the law, San Antonio police Sgt. James Jones says he expects more officers to make no-front-plate stops.

“That would be enough to pull somebody over,” he said. “That is a traffic violation.” Officers will check for driver’s license, insurance and any outstanding warrants, he says.

I understand there are people across Texas who will not believe this is happening, people who’ve driven without front plates for years, and yeah, the Corvette and Prius owners.

There’s a bit of urban folklore about front plates in Texas. Considering the bungling in state law that was corrected, that’s no surprise. But let there be no doubt. The law is clear.

As of Sept. 1, 2013, it is required that all registered vehicles, including commercial vehicles, must display both front and rear plates.

“An offense under this section is a misdemeanor punishable by a fine not to exceed $200.”

Let the drilling begin.

Dave Lieber's Watchdog Nation won a 2013 writing award from the National Society of Newspaper Columnists

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Are you tired of fighting the bank, the credit card company, the electric company and the phone company? They can be worse than scammers the way they treat customers. A popular book, Dave Lieber’s Watchdog Nation: Bite Back When Businesses and Scammers Do You Wrong, shows you how to fight back — and win! The book is available at WatchdogNation.com as a hardcover, CD audio book, e-book and hey, what else do you need? The author is The Watchdog columnist for The Dallas Morning News. Visit our store. Now revised and expanded, the book won two national book awards for social change. Twitter @DaveLieber

AVAILABLE IN HARDCOVER, CD AUDIO BOOK, ON ITUNES (AUDIO), KINDLE AND IPAD.

NEW JOB: Watchdog columnist Dave Lieber is back

[This is a second edited version of the original post.]

I am pleased to share with you my new job! I am the NEW Watchdog columnist for The Dallas Morning News.

I write this today, Monday, May 20, 2013 — my first official day on the new job.

Thank God.

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Thrilled, not only for me and for my family but for the hundreds of newspaper readers I’ve heard from since my former paper laid me off after 20 years. People want a newspaper columnist fighting for them, righting wrongs, exposing illegal or immoral activities in business and government.

The editors of The Dallas Morning News know that.

Thank God.

With deep humility and high honor, I accept this chance to continue serving you. I am thrilled that I get to work with and learn from what is clearly the best newspaper staff west of the Mississippi.

All one has to do is look at the brilliant reporting and editing that have come out of 508 Young Street in Dallas these past several weeks to know that. Tough reporting about the explosion in West, Texas and also the murders of two prosecutors in Kaufman County. Fascinating coverage of City Hall, the suburbs, the Texas Legislature, the arts, business and sports. And a Pulitzer-prize-winning editorial page unmatched by the best of newspapers.

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I’ve always been inspired by one scene in my favorite movie, Citizen Kane. Charles Foster Kane is remaking the first edition of his new paper to share his Declaration of Principles with readers. It’s Hollywood’s vision of what a newspaper should be, but these principles ring true for me.

“I will provide the people of this city with a daily paper that will tell all the news honestly. I will also provide them with a fighting and tireless champion of their rights as citizens and as human beings.”

Watch that scene here:

After 38 years as a daily newspaperman, when I walked out of my former employer’s front door for the last time, I believed my journalism days were over. I intended to become a professional speaker and help hundreds, if not thousands.

Now, at the oldest continuously operated newspaper in the great state of Texas, I can do a lot more than that.

I can help millions.

Thank God.

P.S. The NEW Watchdog column will appear Fridays and Sundays in The Dallas Morning News and on DallasNews.com. (First column scheduled for Friday, May 31, 2013.)

Note: Please, if you could, share this link with your friends. And thanks for sticking with me — Dave.

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NEWS RELEASE

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

May 20, 2013

The Dallas Morning News Hires Veteran Watchdog Consumer Columnist Dave Lieber

(DALLAS) – The Dallas Morning News has hired Dave Lieber as its new consumer columnist. Known largely for his twice weekly ‘Watchdog’ column in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram for the past 20 years, he will bring his brand of investigative energy and what he has dubbed “Watchdog Nation common sense” to a twice-a-week column, “The Watchdog.”

Aside from creating his WatchdogNation.com consumer rights movement, Dave also created his all-volunteer charity, Summer Santa, which provides assistance for impoverished children in North Texas.

“Dave has one of the most trusted voices in North Texas and our newsroom is honored to have him here,” said Bob Mong, editor of The Dallas Morning News. “For 20 years, people in Tarrant County knew they had an advocate, someone in their corner to help them solve problems with business or government. We’re lucky to have him, and we think readers across the region will feel likewise.”

Lieber won the Will Rogers Humanitarian Award in 2002 from the National Society of Newspaper Columnists, for work that “best exemplifies the high ideals of the beloved philosopher-humorist who used his platform for the benefit of his fellow human beings.” Lieber is also a sought-after speaker, appearing in front of more than 100 audiences each year.

“Although I was at the Star-Telegram, I have always admired the newsroom, reputation and writers of the Morning News,” said Lieber. “Bob [Mong] shared with me the paper’s dedication to consumer support and advocacy, which is why I’m thrilled ‘The Watchdog’ has a new home up the road on I-30.”

The Morning News, named Texas’ best newspaper by the Associated Press Managing Editors, continues to enhance its award-winning newsroom. Last year it added Mitchell Schnurman as a business columnist. Earlier this year it hired Mark Lamster, a new architecture critic.

Lieber’s inaugural column with the Morning News will be published on Friday, May 31. His column will run every Friday and Sunday. 

 About The Dallas Morning News

Established in 1885, The Dallas Morning News (dallasnews.com) is Texas’ leading newspaper and the 12th largest newspaper in the U.S., based in the nation’s ninth largest city. Its portfolio of print and online products reaches an average daily audience of more than 1.1 million.

The newspaper has received nine Pulitzer Prizes since 1986, as well as numerous other industry awards recognizing the quality of its investigative and feature journalism, design and photojournalism.

In 2010, The News received the Pulitzer Prize for an editorial series highlighting the economic disparity between the northern half and southern half of Dallas.

In 2003, the paper launched the leading Spanish-language daily in North Texas, Al Dia and the nation’s first editorial blog. In 2007, the paper established one of the country’s first consumer-generated community news sites, neighborsgo.com.

The Dallas Morning News is the flagship newspaper subsidiary of A. H. Belo Corporation

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I am that one-in-a-million Bank of America customer

Several years ago, I wrote a story (now in my book Dave Lieber’s Watchdog Nation: Bite Back When Businesses and Scammers Do You Wrong) about how one father got so angry at a bank that wouldn’t believe his daughter when she said she made online bill payments that he contacted a congressman on a powerful bank-regulating committee.

I studied a ream of paperwork from the bank that showed his daughter didn’t make the online payment. But that didn’t matter. The powerful congressman made a phone call.

It worked.

That father is a one-in-a-million customer.

I guess I am, too.

bank of America

Three weeks ago, I made a monthly online car payment through my bank. The other day, I got a bill from the car finance company saying I missed a payment.

I contacted my bank, where a customer service rep told me that there had been some problems last month with a few online bill payments. She put me through to a supervisor.

The supervisor from Bank of America showed me the utmost courtesy. He did not know I run this blog or that I may write about it. He asked if I had any proof.

I did.

I had a printout on a single sheet of paper showing that I had tried to make the payment on their website. I faxed him my evidence.

Today he called and told me he would try to write a letter explaining what happened in case I got a late payment or a knock on my credit score. I appreciate that.

I asked him how often this happens and he said hardly ever. In his several years at the bank, he said he could count on two hands the number of times it had happened that he knew about.

Then he said the magic words: “You’re the only one of them that had proof.”

Darn right. That’s what we preach over and over at Watchdog Nation. No, I don’t always do this, but in this case I did.

He also gave me advice that surprised me, and I know you want to hear this. He said that if I were really concerned about online bill payments going through, I should make sure I don’t use the online system between the hours of 9 p.m. and 6 a.m. He said the system is being serviced and updated during those hours and the chances are greater (although still pretty slim) that there would be a snafu.

Better to pay bills online DURING THE DAYTIME than to run the risk at night.

Who knew?

I do because I’m that one-in-a-million customer.

And now that Watchdog Nation shares this tip with you, so are you.