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North Texas Gets TIGER Grant to Study Schools, Transportation

The feds announced their annual divvying up of TIGER grants today, and North Texas once again finds itself in the mix, albeit for one of the smallest amounts granted.

The $210,00 grant will help “create a regional program and implementation plan to promote connections and coordination between transportation agencies, local governments, and schools.” The benefit, according to the U.S. DOT:

There are very high pedestrian and bicyclist accidents within a half mile radius of schools in the region. The project seeks not only to improve critical aspects of bicycle/pedestrian access to schools, but also will advance community health, environmental quality, and economic vitality as communities’ accessibility to schools and school-related activities is increased. The proposal will target an awareness-building campaign to communities found to be most vulnerable to bicycle/pedestrian crashes in the Dallas region.

Bicycles! Community safety! Education! What could be wrong with this?

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DISD Trustee Bernadette Nutall Apparently Can’t Do Math

Take nine minutes to watch the below video. It is truly amazing. What you’ll see: DISD trustee Bernadette Nutall trying and failing to understand a math problem that my 8-year-old daughter could probably grasp. The district budgeted $1.9 million for a program last school year. It spent all but about $400,000. So it is going to roll that amount over to the next school year. The district’s CFO spends nearly 10 minutes trying to explain that concept to Nutall. Watching the video, I laughed out loud at several points. It’s almost like Nutall is trolling the CFO, just screwing around with him.

Eric didn’t think it was so funny. He spent a few minutes yelling into my ear about how this sort of foolishness happens at every board meeting and how it hurts the district because good, smart staffers simply can’t put up with this sort of thing very long before they throw up their hands and go get another job. He’ll have a much lengthier post over on LearningCurve about this. For now, just watch the video:

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Former Parkland CEO Ron Anderson, RIP

The longtime Parkland CEO died yesterday of cancer at age 68. Read much more on D Healthcare Daily. The hospital system’s release about the man who ran the place for almost 30 years is below:

Ron J. Anderson, MD, a national spokesperson for public health issues and a champion for the poor and medically underserved, died Sept. 11, 2014 of cancer. He was 68 years old. Services are pending.

A native of Chickasha, OK, Dr. Anderson was President and CEO of Parkland Health & Hospital System for 29 years, a job he assumed in 1982 at the age of 35 after serving for two years as Medical Director of Parkland’s Emergency Room and Outpatient Clinic and Head of The University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center’s Division of Internal Medicine. He retired in 2011. In his final years at Parkland he led the successful bond campaign that secured public financing for the new $1.3 billion Parkland hospital due to open in mid-2015.

On Sept. 10, the Parkland Board of Managers unanimously endorsed a plan led by Parkland Foundation to place a commemorative statue in the new hospital and to name Parkland’s new medical/surgical outpatient clinic after Dr. Anderson. In the 1980s, Dr. Anderson suggested setting up health clinics in Dallas’ poorest neighborhoods, convincing skeptical Board members and local officials of the need. Parkland now operates a dozen Community Oriented Primary Care clinics throughout the county, making primary and preventive health care more accessible.

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Another Free Idea for DART: Commission a Designer Bus and Make Bus Riding Sexier

Yesterday Unfair Park told us that DART has some competition from another transit organization that may be cannibalizing its main source of income, namely, the self-defeating strategy that forces DART to continually gobble up further flung municipalities into its system so it can increase the sales tax dollars coming into its coffers — all the while promising service that is increasingly spread thin.

As I have argued before (here and here), DART’s problem is that it lacks a centralized network that can get people in and around the city efficiently and practically, connecting people to jobs, entertainment, shops, etc. And I think the best way create such a system quickly and cheaply (relatively) is to rethink DARTs miserable bus system. Step one should be to force all DART board members to ride the bus everyday for a month so they realize how miserable the bus service they provide actually is.

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RadioShack On the Verge of Bankruptcy

Despite trying to rebrand itself as The Shack and hiring a bunch of has-beens to be in its ads and whatever else, the formerly useful electronics store now says it can’t stay afloat “beyond the very near term.” (As of August 2, it had $30.5 million in cash, or $6,800 for each of its 4,485 stores.) Yeesh. If it goes under, I don’t know where I’m going to get my, uh, hmm, my, let’s see here, my, um, uh — yeah.

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Leading Off (9/12/14)

Planners Back Off Tolling Central. The Regional Transportation Council met Thursday, and its members indicated they’re not moving forward with plans to toll some lanes of U.S. Highway 75. Of course, the move comes only after the Texas Transportation Commission, which is in charge of state-owned highways, said it wouldn’t support tolling. And the RTC didn’t actually take any action Thursday and could still move to toll other highways as a funding mechanism to increase traffic capacity throughout North Texas.

Lawsuit Against Jerry Jones May Be Too Late. The statute of limitations on civil claims of sexual assault is five years. The incident at the center of Jana Weckerly’s suit against the Dallas Cowboys owner, which was filed this week, took place five years and 10 weeks ago. But legal experts say Weckerly’s attorneys could argue that she was of unsound mind for more than 10 weeks of that period, or that Jones was out of the state on business for longer than 10 weeks since the alleged crime occurred. Either finding would make it possible for a judge to decide that the case can proceed.

Mineral Wells is Thirsty. The home of Crazy Water is looking for new water sources, as its primary reservoir (Lake Palo Pinto) has dropped from 28 feet to 14 feet in the last six months. If drought conditions don’t improve, the town could run dry by May of next year.

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Merritt Tierce’s Debut Novel Is Great, and You Should Buy It

In our September issue, I wrote a little ditty on Merritt’s Tierce’s first novel, Love Me Back (Doubleday), which comes out Tuesday. You should pre-order it right here. As I said in our pages, “it is a beautifully bleak, sex- and drug-filled story.” Yes, I just quoted myself. Writing for Texas Monthly, Michael Ennis said, “[T]his first novel could well emerge as a milestone in Texas literature.” Seriously. It’s a great book. Tierce is a protégé of Ben Fountain’s. I’m not saying this book is going to do what Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk did. But this book belongs on the same shelf. In fact, these two books can be read as companion pieces that explore some of the same themes — alienation, excess, money — in two very Dallas settings, a Cowboys game and a steakhouse.

Anyway, the book’s narrator is a sexually adventuresome (and deeply damaged) waitress named Marie. Much of her story takes place in a steak joint she calls The Restaurant. The book is autobiographical, though, and Tierce worked for years at Nick & Sam’s. So while The Restaurant isn’t exactly Nick & Sam’s, it’s pretty much Nick & Sam’s. Folks who know the score will recognize real-life Dallas characters in the book.

For the magazine piece, I just had Tierce tell funny stories about celebrities she has waited on. (She was really high on coke when she waited on George Clooney.) There was a whole bunch of stuff, though, that Tierce and I talked about that I didn’t have space for. Like, you know, what’s Joe Palladino going to think about this book and all the screwing and snorting it suggests goes down in his restaurant? Here’s a transcript of the material that didn’t make it into the magazine:

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Simplest Plan Ever For Dallas’ Future: Make It More Like Dallas’ Past

A streetcar system blanketing the city. Crowded downtown streets. A Trinity River Project without a toll road. Frog town. The cafes of Deep Ellum in the era of Blind Lemon Jefferson. Mayors who were Swiss abolitionists and former socialist utopians. Dallas was WAY hipper a hundred years or so ago. So that’s my suggestion for any and all conversation about where this city should head: let’s just try to make it more like it was.

What sparked this random, useless thought? Well, there’s more depressing news today about failed plans here, here, and here. But then I saw this post about Lake Cliff Park in Oak Cliff, which, in the brochure that dates to 1906, looks a lot cooler than anything that’s in Dallas today (seriously, it had the world’s largest roller skating rink). So let’s start there: bring back Lake Cliff Park as Dallas’ Coney Island. Anyway. Blah. Of course there was also the rampant racism, oligarchical governance, and all that other fun stuff. But, from an urban planning and land use perspective, this city had it figured out (oh, except for, you know, not paving the streets of or extending sanitation to West Dallas or Little Mexico — but come on, I’m trying to be nostalgic here). So what’s the biggest difference between yesterday’s Dallas and today? You know it: highways. Had to get that in there. Gratuitous. I know. Okay, I’m going back to trying to write about this.

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Biggest Grammar Mistakes in Dallas-Fort Worth Signage

Automated proofreader Grammarly recently held a contest seeking submissions of photos featuring the most egregious grammar mistakes on signs in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. Above you can see the winning entry, and right off the bat I have a complaint.

That sign is obviously filled with purposeful misspellings intended to attract customers’ attention and underline the folksiness of people selling the produce. I think it should have been disallowed rather than given the prize.

Below are the other top entries from North Texas.

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Why Are District Attorney and Judicial Elections Partisan?

Yes, Republican Susan Hawk, who’s seeking the Dallas County district attorney’s job, is most likely making the argument out of convenience and self-interest, but isn’t she absolutely right that we shouldn’t be electing our top prosecutors based upon party affiliation?

“Our District Attorney should be focused on law enforcement, not partisan politics,” Hawk said in a prepared statement. “Today, party politics permeates our DA’s office, from hiring and firing to who gets prosecuted and who goes free. When it comes to upholding the law, it shouldn’t matter if you are Republican or Democrat.”

Hawk is running for DA against incumbent Democrat Craig Watkins, an unabashed Democrat who contends political ideology should be considered by voters when choosing a district attorney.

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Things To Do In Dallas Tonight: Sept. 11

The Toadies are currently in the middle of a series of brief acoustic concerts they will be performing both downtown and in Deep Ellum. They kicked things off at 11:30 am, with a rare morning appearance in front of the Winspear. That’s probably either still happening or just wrapping up as I post this.

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Leading Off (9/11/14)

Small Earthquake Hit Irving This Morning. It was a 2.9. A 2.4 hit Arlington on Sunday. Based on the locations so far, we’re looking at places connected with the Cowboys, so keep an eye out if you live near Valley Ranch.

Prime Prep’s Enrollment Rolls Back. It’s down to around 320 students, or about half the 600 they were expecting. Glass is half full version: enrollment is still around 320 students, much higher than the zero many assumed at this point.

June Jones Did Not Recruit North Texas High Schools Very Well, According to North Texas High School Coaches. Maybe the next guy will do better.

Kid Convinces City Councilman To Buy Him a New Suit. Sounds like someone is learning how to be a county commissioner. That’s my five minutes. You guys have been great! Carlos Mencia is up next.

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