Leading Off (4/14/14)

One Year Later, Full Scope of Injuries From West Explosion Remain Unknown. The Dallas Morning News reports that the official government survey doesn’t account for people who were treated at private medical facilities as well as those whose injuries (brain injuries, hearing loss, PTSD) developed after the blast. Now, as safety regulations are up for discussion, and lawsuits are working their way through the system, the county is working to conduct a more comprehensive study.

Jordan Spieth Finishes Second at Masters. The 20-year-old from North Texas gave Bubba Watson a solid run for the green jacket but ultimately fell just short, finishing second in Augusta. He would have been the youngest person to ever win the Masters. From a quick Google search (my golf knowledge is not up to par), it looks like should Spieth win next year, he’ll share that record with Tiger Woods.

John Wiley Price Still Under Investigation, Still No Charges Filed. But the DMN is reporting that court documents in the federal investigation show decades of incidents and suspect dealings, stretching all the way back to the mid-1970s. Price is being accused of, among other things, money laundering, influence-peddling, and bankruptcy fraud.

Margaret Crow Dies at 94. The wife of real estate developer Trammell Crow, Margaret Crow was a philanthropist and, as Jeanne Prejean writes, had the kind of life story that makes for great movies. The Trammell and Margaret Crow Collection of Asian Art opened in 1998 in the Arts District. She passed away Friday at her home.

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Leading Off (4/7/14)

TxDOT Land Purchases Under Federal Investigation. This is what we know: In 2009, businessmen Kevin Bollman and Wade Blackburn started snatching up land the state would eventually need to widen I-35E in Denton County and make repairs in Dallas. They say they used public records in deciding where to buy. By 2011, the state was purchasing large swaths of the land, costing taxpayers millions. Now, the whole ordeal is under investigation.

Final Four Festivities Wrap Tonight. It’s been one heck of a weekend, no? The March Madness Music Festival finished off its three days of fun last night with a three-hour Bruce Springsteen show. The cold and rain kept the space from filling to capacity, but those who made it out were certainly rewarded. Tonight, Connecticut faces Kentucky (sigh) in the National Championship Game. And then, we can all set our sights on whether DFW will be home to the Final Four again in 2017.

Rain Pushes Duck Commander 500 to Today. For hours, attempts were made to get the track ready for the race, but it just wasn’t possible. The race is now scheduled for 11 a.m. today at the Texas Motor Speedway.

Country Music Awards Headed Here in 2015. In more big event news, Jerry Jones is bringing the awards show to AT&T Stadium next April. He was on hand for the announcement last night in Las Vegas.

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Plastic Landscape Project Seeking New Home

In response to a comment made at a Dallas City Council meeting that went something like, “I don’t see any problem with plastic bags,” Michael Thomas of 1814 MAGAZINE launched the Plastic Landscape project. Twelve photographers were invited to participate by illustrating the impact of plastic shopping bags on the environment. With assignment in hand, our very own Elizabeth Lavin along with Jocelyn Meinster came up with photo No. 12. Prior to the 8-6 City Council vote today, in which a partial ban on plastic bags was passed, the photos hung briefly in City Hall. Now, Thomas is looking for a new home for the project. “This is a great way for people to actually see the problem and be able to share it with other people,” he says. “It’s an easy, simple way to be able to educate people, whether the ban had passed today or not.”

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I-345 Panel Discussion Set for Thursday

Now First United Methodist Church is getting in on the act. On Thursday, Patrick Kennedy from A New Dallas will lead a panel discussion on “bringing investment to downtown and the surrounding disadvantaged areas.” Translation: tearing down I-345. Other panelists include the Dallas Morning News‘ architecture critic Mark Lamster, CitySquare’s Larry James and Gerald Britt, and BC Workshop’s Mark Lea. The “Let’s Do Lunch!” event runs from 11:30-1. Pompeii and Cup Cakin’ Machine food trucks will be on site, and the conversation will take place in the Fiedler Atrium.

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Inside D Magazine’s April 2014 Issue

When Zac Crain set out to profile Dallas ISD Superintendent Mike Miles, the goal was to humanize the man with what could be the hardest job in Dallas. We’d seen his very public flops and read about the troubled district over and over and, yes, over again. But Miles was a bit of a mystery. Who is he? And why is he here while his family is back in Colorado? Oh, and does he have a shot at doing anything productive with DISD? Frankly, a cursory glance of local media, including D Magazine, would have you believe Miles was a lost cause. That disdain, in fact, has already surfaced in the comments of “Who’s Out to Get Mike Miles?

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Leading Off (3/24/14)

I-345 Tear-Down Debate Continues. The Dallas Morning News ran this I-345 explainer on the front page of the Sunday paper. There’s no new news here, but it does provide a bit of I-345 history, namely that it was built in 1974 as suburbs like Irving took hold. There was also a nice traffic count graphic in the paper, but that didn’t make it online. To refresh, some 200,000 cars travel the 1.4-mile stretch on weekdays. Patrick Kennedy and co. want the 75-45 connector eliminated, but TxDOT is set to spend $100 million to renovate it instead. As is to be expected, and can be demonstrated here, debate persists, some of it well-reasoned, some … not.

Plastic Bag Ban Proposal Up For a Vote Wednesday. Dwaine Caraway has been working on this for a year and is expecting a partial ban, at the very least, to pass when City Council votes Wednesday. There are a number of options up for discussion, including a total citywide ban, a “responsible retailer” option that charges stores for distributing the bags, and an “environmental fee” that has customers paying for bags. Several council members are vehemently opposed to any change.

Bike Share Program a Possibility for Fair Park. The Dallas Park and Recreation Board has approved $125,000 for the project. If City Council passes it, some 15-20 bikes could appear in Fair Park by May. This is an impossibly small (yet expensive) program. For comparison, Fort Worth started with a $1 million grant, 300 bikes and 30 stations.

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Leading Off (3/17/14)

City Council Members Upset Mayor Rawlings Doesn’t Consult Them. Alternative headlines: “Mayor Mike Rawlings Hard at Work on Several Initiatives” or “Mayor in Desperate Need of Better PR Team.” Tip: Inform council members of plans before media inquiries, avoid much of these issues.

SMU Not Headed to NCAA Tournament. Some 1,000 people gathered in Moody Coliseum for Selection Sunday, anticipating SMU’s entrance into the tournament for the first time in two decades. But the 23-9 Mustangs never got called. There’s all kinds of speculation as to why they won’t appear (bad losses at the end of the season, their American Athletic Conference affiliation), but the team will be a No. 1 seed in the NIT.

TxDOT Officials Claim They Spend More on Repairing Roads than Study States. A report released this month from Smart Growth America and Taxpayers for Common Sense alleges that the Texas Department of Transportation spent 82 percent of its $3.4 billion budget between 2009 and 2011 on expanding roads rather than maintaining them. Another Smart Growth report has TxDOT spending just 11 percent of its budget between 2004 and 2008 on maintenance and repair, but officials maintain that number was closer to 35 percent.

Trimble Tech Group Holds Vigil for Local SXSW Victims. Tech senior Curtisha Davis and her boyfriend, 2013 Tech grad Deandre Tatum, both remain hospitalized in Austin after sustaining injuries in the crash that killed two and injured more than 20. A small group of parents, friends, and Tech alumni gathered on the school’s steps Sunday night to pray for the victims.

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Leading Off (3/10/14)

Wylie Teens Found “Burying a Body.” Two 16-year-old Wylie East High School students were charged with first-degree murder Sunday in the killing of  Ivan Mejia, a fellow Wylie classmate. Mejia was 17. Police claim the two juveniles killed Mejia Saturday and were found near the woods in Garland around 9:30 p.m. When asked what they were doing, they allegedly responded, “burying a body.” Police say the murder was planned, though no motive has been released.

Keller Man on Missing Malaysian Airlines Flight. Philip Wood, an IBM exec who was moving to Kuala Lumpur from Beijing, was one of 239 aboard the flight. He had recently visited family in North Texas. There is still little understanding of what happened to the plane, and according to the New York Times, the mysteries are multiplying.

Grand Prairie Park-and-Ride Lot Under Construction, No Public Transportation Nearby. Soon, Grand Prairie will unveil a $14.7 million facility for … carpoolers. Because, yes, in a city that loves its cars what everyone will want to do is commute together. There’s even talk of developing an app to connect complete strangers who would like to share their ride. That’s often called a bus. Or Lyft. But hey, best of luck!

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Rena Honea and Mike Morath Debate Making DISD a Home-Rule District

Today is D Academy’s education day. We’re holed up in a classroom at Barack Obama Male Leadership Academy. Students were telling me how they’re learning Chinese and might go to Japan. I would like to do both of those things, but no such luck. In any event, as part of the day, Eric Celeste was set to moderate a panel with Mike Morath, District 2 Dallas ISD board member; Rena Honea, Alliance AFT president; and Tarick Ward, who is literally a rocket scientist but now works at Commit! I’m sure this panel would have been perfectly interesting if it had occurred a few weeks ago. But holy hell, it got interesting in light of the current home-rule discussion. Video to come, but for now, here are some highlights.

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Leading Off (3/3/14)

Can Dallas ISD Turn Into a Home-Rule District? Technically, yes, because of a 1995 state law. And the group Support Our Public Schools is trying to do it. On Tuesday, petitioners will meet Dallasites at the primary polls, looking to collect nearly 25,000 signatures. With the necessary signatures, the proposal could get on the ballot as early as November. No specific changes are on the table yet beyond the home-rule proposal, which would allow DISD to largely operate separate of state control. It would be the first district in the state to do so.

Part of Sylvan Thirty Burns Down. The West Dallas project was engulfed in flames (video) Saturday afternoon, setting off a two-alarm fire allegedly started by someone welding inside. The two-story building, the remnants of which will now be torn down, was going to house a yoga studio and a restaurant as one part of the $50 million project.

Steve Blow: Stop It. Just Stop It. It looks like he’s talking to us, all of you in the comments section, and certainly Patrick Kennedy. We all need to stop talking about tearing down I-345 because, “It’s never, ever, not-in-a-million-years going to happen.” Okay then.

Today Could Be the Coldest Day of the Season. That’s according to meteorologist Jesse Moore. Schools are closed, there’s a wind chill advisory until 8 a.m., and it’s cold. Very cold. Stay safe out there. More updates here.

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Inside the March Issue of D Magazine

There are things many of us typically don’t discuss. Let’s call them unmentionables. Or perhaps a desire to be polite. Nudity at a spa? It comes with the territory. The fake factor of “reality” television? Why waste your breath? Bathroom business? Goodness gracious, no. Well, in the March issue of D Magazine, we break all of these rules, all for the sake of good stories.

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Leading Off (2/24/14)

DART Contract Up For Extension. MV Transportation’s two-year pilot period will come to an end in September, but some DART staffers insist the contract should be re-opened for other bids. MV operates a fleet of paratransit vehicles that service the elderly and disabled. Some allege that since MV took over from Veolia Transportation in 2012, there have been problems. MV has even been fined some $335,000 for performance issues. Still, some board members insist there isn’t enough time to accept new bids. The contract is expected to be extended Tuesday.

Despite Felony, Constable Running For His Old Job. Who says a felony holds you back? Not this guy. Derick Evans is actively campaigning for his former Dallas County constable Precinct 1 position, the one he was removed from after he was convicted of running illegal raffles. Two federal lawsuits are also pending against the county from when Evans held the constable position, and he was accused of a vehicle-towing scam.

The Fascinating Tale of Eric Brauss. It’s not so fascinating for those who say he scammed them out of millions, but the Dallas Morning News details the rise and fall of the Dallas-based developer who eventually fled to Brazil and died last late last year, though some believe that’s just another part of his scheme to evade prosecution.

Times Criticized for Wendy Davis Cover.  Last week, I pointed you to The New York Times Magazine’s profile of Wendy Davis. This week, the Times’ public editor responds to complaints alleging sexism in the story.

Westbound Lanes of LBJ Closed After Fatal A.M. Accident. Be careful out there during your morning commute.

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Leading Off (2/17/14)

Can Wendy Davis Have it All? The New York Times Magazine is asking this rather stale question in its perhaps now-definitive profile of the Fort Worth-based governor hopeful. Also interesting: The photographer who took the cover shot and the behind-the-scenes Q&A with writer Robert Draper.

Dallas Woman Fighting to Get “Revenge Porn” Removed From the Internet. This case seems a touch different from the rest, in which people send their x-rated pics to whomever and then are dumbfounded when they end up on the Internet. In this instance, “Lisa” (the Dallas Morning News respected her wishes not to be identified) says she didn’t know the pics were taken (?) and is in the midst of a costly fight to keep her ex at bay and get the images removed. This sounds awful. But two questions: 1. She’s contemplating paying $2,000 to ripoffreport.com to get personal details removed. What does this have to do with the revenge porn? 2. If the ex hasn’t been charged with the crime, why is his name used throughout the story?

Health Department Skipped Some Stops at DFW Airport. NBC 5 is reporting that because of the West Nile virus, some 30 restaurants went more than a year without required inspections. Health inspectors are supposed to visit twice a year, but they were out spraying for mosquitoes instead. Now, I’m sure, we’ll all get the joy of hearing what restaurants have moldy ice buckets in the near future.

T.D. Jakes Battling a Stalker. Karleisha Tarver, also known as Karleisha Washington in Dallas County Jail records, will not stop showing up at The Potter’s House churches in Dallas and Fort Worth, where she has been “excommunicated,” and Jakes’ Fort Worth home, where she is clearly not welcome. She allegedly appeared at his door four times alone in January. The unwelcome appearances started in 2011.

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Leading Off (2/10/14)

Texas Native Could Become First Openly Gay NFL Player. University of Missouri alum and NFL prospect Michael Sam came out to his teammates in August and graduated in December. Now, in anticipation of May’s NFL draft and as he believed rumors were starting to circulate, he decided to go public. “I just want to make sure I could tell my story the way I want to tell it,” Sam told The New York Times. “I just want to own my truth.” Commentary quickly ensued.

Bobsledder Gets Trapped in Bathroom, Breaks Through Door. Oh, Sochi. This is entertaining for the picture alone. Johnny Quinn, a U.S. bobsledder and former University of North Texas football captain, got trapped in his hotel bathroom Saturday and was forced to use his “bobsled push training to break out.”

Comings and Goings. UT Chancellor Francisco Cigarroa will announce this morning that he’s resigning, Fox’s meteorologist Ron Jackson is retiring after 32 years on the job, and Dr. Fred Cerise is set to sign a contract to take on the job of Parkland Memorial Hospital CEO.

Headline: Man in Banana Costume With Rifle Cited by Police. Citizens were concerned.

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Leading Off (2/3/14)

Dallas Poverty Rates High Despite Growth. According to the Dallas Morning News’ deep dive on the issue, “Texas may grow jobs like California grows oranges,” but those jobs don’t necessarily fit the profile of those looking. It’s not an uncommon story, certainly one heard around the country, but Dallas’ boomtown reputation doesn’t fit the storyline. Unemployment sits at 6.1 percent, and outside of Detroit, Memphis and Philadelphia, Dallasites are more likely to live in poverty than those in the rest of the country’s 20 largest cities. Mayor Mike Rawlings is concerned that if these high rates persist, companies might take their jobs elsewhere.

4-year-old Signs Letter of Intent with TCU Baseball Team. Warning: Grab the tissues. Micah Ahern has been battling cancer since he was 15 months old. He’s currently going through his sixth round of chemotherapy and has had radiation and a stem-cell replacement treatments in the past. But none of that was top of mind recently when he met with TCU’s baseball team to sign that letter, for the year 2027, and pose for photos with the team.

Those Bizarre J.C. Penney Tweets? They Were Intentional. During the Super Bowl, the Plano-based department store sent out two typo-filled tweets, leading some to speculate that whoever was managing the account was drunk. Not so. Apparently, it was all part of a plan to promote the store’s February campaign to raise money for Team USA. The tweeter claimed to be wearing Team USA mittens.

Southwest Airlines Announcing New Love Field Service Today. Customers will have to wait until October to fly nonstop on these new flights, but now they’ll know where they can go.

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