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Programming Note: Merry Christmas, Happy New Year

The D Magazine Partners offices will be closed beginning this evening until January 5, and as you may have already guessed by the relatively light output today on FrontBurner, most of us already have one foot out the door.

We’ve planned a number of bits and bites online for you between now and then, so be sure to check those out. And I’m sure some member of our staff is bound to get sick of his or her family during the break and will turn desperately to FrontBurner as an outlet.

Also important to note is that we’ll likely be inattentive to the moderation of comments, meaning that if you choose to comment without logging in via any of the social media IDs that our system accepts, it may take awhile for one of our editors to get around to approving your comment so that it will show up. There’s a simple way for you around this: Don’t comment anonymously and your point of view will be heard immediately.

Other than that, have happy holidays, and we’ll see you in 2015.

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Mayor Rawlings Implies Trinity Toll Road Opponents Don’t Respect Democracy

Tod Robberson just posted about a 90-minute meeting the Morning News editorial board had today with Mayor Mike Rawlings and city council members Vonciel Jones-Hill and Rick Callahan about the Trinity Parkway. Rawlings said he takes umbrage when people characterize his position on the road as unclear, so he wanted to leave no doubt where he stands: “The more I study it, the firmer my feet get in the concrete about this being an important thing for the city of Dallas.”

Rawlings repeated the oft-used argument of proponents that the votes of Dallas have twice approved this project, never minding the fact that many of those voters thought what they were going to get involved things like sailboats majestically traveling across picturesque lakes and other campaign images of the Trinity park project that will likely never be.

“What voters voted on has not changed. … The bigger question there is really respect for the rule of law and respect for democracy,” Rawlings said.

So toll road proponents are both anarchists and racists, apparently.

Meanwhile Robberson decries “scare tactics” on both sides of the debate. He buys the claims of Rawlings and other supporters that the road will yield positive economic benefits to the people of southern Dallas:

If Rawlings, Hill and other proponents stick to the basic arguments about economic impact and the positive impact on the lives of working people in southern Dallas, they will win the day. If they go that other route, this debate is going to get really nasty and threatens to widen this city’s already sizable racial gap. My advice: Just don’t go there.

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What It Means Now That Rajon Rondo Is In Dallas

First off, read this fantastic Sports Illustrated profile of Rajon Rondo by the great Lee Jenkins. This is the guy you’re getting, Dallas, a player so competitive he said this after a 12-year-old kid at a Boys & Girls Club in Dorcester, Massachusetts, beat him at Connect Four:

“But did you notice I played the guy five more times and won them all? I had to show him, ‘You beat me, but I’ll beat the s— out of you.'”

I, for one, am excited. So is my friend and fellow Mavs fan Rondo Estrello. Now, onto what this all means.

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Leading Off (12/19/14)

Mavs Acquire Rajon Rondo. In a move that signals the 19-8 Dallas Mavericks are planning a serious run at the NBA title this season, the team traded three players and draft picks to the Boston Celtics to get the point guard. Rondo is set become a free agent after this season.

Pilot Dead After Small Plane Crash. He was attempting to land his aircraft at Mesquite Airport just after 6 p.m. last night when he struck two homes in Seagoville about 9 miles south of the airport and landed in an open field. The Federal Aviation Administration is investigating.

Cow Thefts on the Rise. Just two or three cows are now worth $4,000 to $5,000 thanks to our insatiable appetite for beef, so the number of incidents of cattle rustling at North Texas ranches is up. As this great recent Planet Money podcast episode explains, the crime is fairly easy to get away with.

UT-Dallas Graduates Its Youngest Ph.D. Ever. Austin Howard started college at age 13 and earned his bachelor’s degree before he was 16. Now, at 22, he’s got a doctorate in physics. Yeah, so what have you done with your life, slacker?

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Potable Groundwater and the Excruciating Business of City Bureaucracy

This morning a St. Paul Place corner-office-dwelling FrontBurnervian passed along a public meeting notice he received at his Uptown condo. It concerns a request by a McKinney Avenue landowner to have the city officially prohibit the use of groundwater found below property between Leonard and Fairmount streets.

You see, about 28-30 feet down is a “perched shallow groundwater unit” that’s been affected by the chemical compound benzene at an unsafe level, so the water shouldn’t be considered potable. The contamination apparently was slowly released over time from the tank system of the Shell gas station right across Leonard.

Because this magazine-founding FrontBurnervian lives within a half-mile of the site, he had to be invited to a public hearing scheduled for December 29 at Reverchon Recreation Center. It amused him that such a formality was necessary since who in the neighborhood was going to argue that the water should be considered potable? Who’s going to want to drill a well in Uptown Dallas anyway?

I shared in his amusement, so I set about trying to determine what possible sense there could be in such municipal requirements.

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Michael Keaton Reads SUCCESS Magazine

Perhaps you’ve heard of SUCCESS. Perhaps not. It’s a monthly based in Lake Dallas that positions itself as “the only magazine that focuses on people who take full responsibility for their own development and income.” Well, last night on Jimmy Kimmel Live!, Michael Keaton was being his highly entertaining self, spinning tales about Jack Nicholson, when he stopped down briefly to tell Kimmel that he really enjoyed the profile of him he’d read in SUCCESS. I bring all this to your attention because I knew you’d appreciate it.

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Leading Off (12/18/14)

Eric Williams Sentenced to Death For Murders. Williams, a former justice of the peace, was convicted of killing Kaufman County DA Mike McLelland and his wife, Cynthia, and prosecutor Mark Hasse. “You made yourself out to be some sort of Charles Bronson ‘Death Wish’ vigilante in this case,” said District Judge Michael Snipes. “I never bought that … You murdered a little old lady, and you would have murdered two other innocent people if you would have had the opportunity. That puts you right there with Charles Manson and Jeffrey Dahmer and Richard Speck.”

Mavericks Reportedly in Talks To Acquire Rajon Rondo. A deal for the enigmatic Boston Celtics point guard would involve a 2015 first-round pick and Brandan Wright, plus some other players to make the numbers work. Rondo would be an upgrade over current starter Jameer Nelson, but would he fit in? And would the team be desperately thin up front if they made this trade? I’ll take your calls after the break. You’re listening to The Whooping Crain.

Reminder: Plastic Bag Ordinance Goes Into Effect January 1. Unless you bring your own reusable bag, it’ll be an extra nickel. Unrelated: I always want to type “ordnance” instead of “ordinance,” which really changes the sentence.

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DMN Reveals Its Bias About DISD

Let’s say you just received the results of a survey. For the sake of argument, let’s say the survey asked whether people agree with, disagree with, or are neutral toward the statement “Overall, pornography is headed in the right direction.” Let’s say 48 percent of respondents agreed, 26 percent disagreed, and 26 percent were neutral.

Now let’s say you wanted to report those results on your website. How would you write that headline? Would you write, “A majority of respondents are neutral or disagree that porn is headed in the right direction”? Or would you write, “A majority of respondents are neutral or agree that porn is headed in the wrong direction”?

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Here’s How Highland Park Responded To Having Its Suit Against Dallas Tossed

Fingers of Fury has (have?) the story about a Dallas County judge throwing out a suit filed by the town of Highland Park against the city of Dallas. The suit sought to nix a zoning change that will allow a mid-rise to be built in Dallas, on the Katy Trail. Upon learning of the news, the entire town of Highland Park thought: “Wait. What? A Dallas County court surely doesn’t have jurisdiction over Highland Park, right? A federal district court, maybe. The Supreme Court, almost certainly. But Dallas County?!”

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Barrett Brown Moved Due to Threats Against Him

Kevin Gallagher runs Barrett Brown’s legal defense fund. On Twitter, he is reporting that Barrett has been threatened by inmates. Gallagher shared some more details with me, and I’ve talked to Barrett’s mother. Here’s what I can tell you:

Last night, Barrett was threatened by two inmates, one an associate of the Aryan Brotherhood. Barrett’s cellmate called Barrett’s mom this morning to tell her about these threats — Barrett having already been moved to SHU (isolation) for his own protection. Then Barrett called his mom this afternoon but not from the Seagoville unit, where he has been incarcerated. He has been moved to the Kaufman County jail, and all his belongings have been sent to his mother. Barrett’s cellmate told Barrett’s mom that he thinks yesterday’s op-ed in the Morning News might have had something to do with the threats. Like the bad guys were all like: “You think you’re so fancy? We’ll show you.” But that’s speculation.

Anyway, Barrett’s mom says he sounds fine. He requested one of Robert Caro’s LBJ books and something on the Renaissance. No telling at this point where things go from here, how long he’ll be in Kaufman, but here’s his new address, if you’re inclined to send him something to read:

Barrett Brown, No. 45047-177
Kaufman Law Enforcement Center
P.O. Box 849
Kaufman, TX 75142

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Barrett Brown Will Just Have To Wait for That Sentence

“Lots of bench conferences and long recesses — this hearing has it all!” That was the sarcastic assessment yesterday of Tom Korosec, who was covering Barrett Brown’s sentencing hearing for Bloomberg. Tom and I know each other. He has written for both D Magazine and D CEO. We were standing around during an afternoon recess, marveling at how little Tom would have to work with when it came time to file his story. Before lunch, Judge Sam Lindsay had already warned everyone that things were moving so slowly that he wouldn’t issue his sentence until January 22.

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