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Hawk, Hinojosa, and Highland Park — it’s the return of the SAGA Pod

We’re back! Jim Schutze promises to make this at least a bi-weekly exercise. We’ll see. This week we talk about the D Magazine story on Susan Hawk’s return, why Democrats are wrong to call for her resignation (at least over this), the real story behind the end of Michael Hinojosa’s honeymoon, and whether Highland Park has a pocket of racists located within. Oh, and we ask Jim why he’s such a baseless speculator. There’s also a some light cursing. Fun for the whole family.

Because we live in a wondrous era, there are many ways to listen. You can click on the link on the jump. You can subscribe on iTunes here. (There’s usually a delay before it shows up there, FYI.) The direct link is here. You can find all episode direct links here. As always, please listen with your ears.

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A Police Officer Explains Why Many Are Frustrated with DPD Management

My column for the November issue of D Magazine (on your newsstands in four short weeks) deals with the concerns of Dallas police officers. In said story, I say that the largest police organization, the Dallas Police Association, is wrong to buy into the silly narrative that there is a “war on cops.” I say they are absolutely right, however, to blame the administration for poor police response times. For days, I’ve been sent pictures of 3rd-shift details at large police substations that show only five or six officers available to handle calls from 3 p.m. to midnight.

This, I argue, is the issue that people care about. This is the concern supported by the data. This is why cops aren’t showing up for hours. And this is the concern that at least partially led to the behind-the-scenes meeting at City Hall last week, where Chief David Brown’s tenure was discussed.

In the column, I quote from a letter written by police officer Louis Mills.

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What Hinojosa Will Have to Do to Succeed This Time

The paper’s story today about the expected naming of Michael Hinojosa as the sole superintendent candidate has a telling quote right at that top from a longtime Skyline parent:

“I’m not excited about it, but at this time that’s the best we can do. He’s a great guy. He seems to want to do the right thing. But don’t tell me; show me.”

Behind the scenes, that’s the prevailing sentiment on Hinojosa.

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Despite Rule Changes, Trustee Joyce Foreman Will Try to Make Board Meeting Absurd as Ever

I talked to Superintendent Michael Hinojosa last week, and he was as charming as you’d expect — said all the right things, he was funny, he was self-deprecating, etc. One thing he said sort of made me smirk, though. He was talking about how he has to win the trust of a diverse group of DISD stakeholders because he knows that, if he can do that, the district can overcome some of the turmoil it’s had in the past. He believes this because, as he said, “All of those community people [various DISD stakeholders] have different interests, but they all want the same thing.” Meaning, better educational outcomes for kids.

This is good for him to have such a positive outlook. I think it’s one reason he will most likely by October have the “interim” title removed.

But I don’t necessarily believe he’s right. I know that “whatever is best for kids” is what everyone says he or she wants, but I don’t believe their actions always support this notion. And I think this evening’s DISD board meeting will prove me right. I think this based on how Joyce Foreman in particular has reacted to a rule change designed to improve governance. She has reacted in her usual petulant, self-centered manner.

This will, as usual, take a little explaining.

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Correction: Di Mambro Plan Did Not Come From Mayor’s Task Force

Got a really sweet e-mail yesterday from the mayor’s PR chief, Scott Goldstein, that called my attention to a mistake in my September column in D Magazine (not online yet). Helpfully, Goldstein cc’ed the mayor (because, duh, his boss) and Wick (because, duh, actually runs the city). The e-mail:

Good evening, Eric,

Your piece on Fair Park in the September magazine was brought to our attention today. You wrote: “Recently, Mayor Mike Rawlings commissioned a task force that came up with a radical new blueprint to fix the State Fair and reinvigorate Fair Park and its neighborhoods. In short, it would restrict the Fair’s footprint at the park. Unofficially it is called the Di Mambro Plan, named for its lead architect, Antonio Di Mambro….”

This is totally, unequivocally false.

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How Much Money is DISD Missing Out On by Not Fully Funding Pre-K?

At this past week’s board briefing, trustee Nancy Bingham said something that thoroughly irritated me. Now, I feel bad calling her out, because she is, for the most part, a fantastic trustee. She understands proper governance, and she doesn’t allow herself to get dragged into the mud with trolling status-quo types. I also like her because she tends to zone out and play Candy Crush Saga when status quo trustees start filibustering. Last week, though, she said something I’ve heard often from other trustees, too, and it was way off base.

Bingham, in an off-hand comment, said that she believes the district should move forward with putting the $1.6 billion bond issue on the ballot in November. Nothing wrong with that. As I said last week, it’s the right thing to do.

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DMN Offers Buyouts to 167 Employees

Here’s the letter DMN editor Mike Wilson sent to staff yesterday. Takeaway: The paper is getting younger/cheaper/more digital-y in the newsroom. Which should shock no one.


Today the News is offering a buyout to 167 newsroom employees whose age and years of service total at least 60 years. All editorial areas, including Al Dia, NeighborsGo, FD, Briefing and, are included.

This is a voluntary program. Eligible employees […]

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SAGA Pod: Exit Interview with Former DISD Supe Mike Miles

This one’s pretty self-explanatory. On his way out of town, former DISD superintendent Mike Miles stopped by the SAGA Pod world headquarters to discuss all things education: teacher evaluations, pre-K, bonds — you know, the sexy stuff. Also, I tell him he’s “stubborn as hell” — so that was fun. Remember, the iTunes link is here if you wanna subscribe. As always, please listen with your ears.

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DISD Trustees Plan to Name Michael Hinojosa Interim Superintendent

After days of negotiation, a majority of Dallas ISD trustees plan to vote tonight to name Mike Miles’ predecessor, Michael Hinojosa, as the interim superintendent, according to multiple administration and board sources.

Hinojosa left the district in 2011, went to Georgia to run a suburban Atlanta district, then quit in 2014 to return to his family in Texas and work for an education company. The reason trustees see him as the best possible interim superintendent: he won’t want the job full-time, he has credibility with many disparate stakeholders in the DISD community (Bill Betzen loves him!), and yet he will gladly sign on to promote the district’s (likely) bond package (he sold the last bond package) and protect Miles’ key reform initiatives. That’s because Hinojosa was seen as sort of a “pre-reformer” — laying the groundwork for teacher evaluation, bringing in TFA, etc.

The key quality trustees feel that he brings: stability. He’s likely to keep the cabinet in place, and gives hope that the full-time successor will do so as well.

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Dallas ISD Superintendent Mike Miles to Resign

Barring a last-minute change of heart or trustees changing their minds, DISD superintendent Mike Miles plans to resign at a morning press conference, according to multiple sources.

The decision comes after the board refused to consider amending Miles’ contract to protect him from repercussions if he was fired this year — an increasingly likely scenario given some board members’ seething hatred of the man who tried to break up their fiefdoms.

But that is really just the culmination of a long slog Miles has endured as he fought to pass reform initiatives, including a revolutionary teacher and principal evaluation system, school choice, preK expansion, and others.

If you care about kids, especially poor kids, make no mistake: This is a sad day for Dallas.

I’m out of town but will have much more to say about this later in the week.

UPDATE (7:49) Miles confirms via text that he will resign.

DMN Education Blog Poll on DISD Elections Pretty Funny in Retrospect

All apologies to the many fun polls on FrontBurner, but online polls are notoriously poor gauges of public opinion. They are, however, a good vehicle to determine the thoughts/feelings of a site’s audience.

If this is true, then I submit that the readers of the Dallas Morning News education blog are out of step with the rest of the city.

Example No. 90illion of that theory: The online poll the paper put up asking readers to pick the winners of each of the three DISD trustee races. Here are the final online poll results: […]

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SAGA Pod: Jim Schutze on Trinity Toll Roads New and Old; Also, DISD

It’s SAGA Pod After Dark! We stop by Schutze Manor to discuss the Trinity Toll Road, the Mayor, the people who really run this city, the group trying to get the Toll Road done at any cost, the Dream Team plan and more traffic noise. Then we go over the latest non-scandal scandals in DISD and wonder if the Bad Guys have finally won. Also, you can find it on iTunes here. As always, please listen with your ears.

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Brett Shipp E-Mail Suggests He Reports DISD Stories With a ‘Miles Is Evil’ Mindset

On Learning Curve, I have a post that mentions Schutze once again criticizing Brett Shipp for his willingness to believe anything bad about the DISD administration and Mike Miles. I’ve written about this many times. But I just thought it would be helpful to let Shipp respond, in his own words, about why he does these things: Because in his mind, Mike Miles is evil.

Okay, I’m exaggerating. But look at the potboiler language he uses and tell me he doesn’t at least see Miles as a cartoon villain.

Below is an email response Shipp sent to a 20-plus-year WFAA viewer. This person […]

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Anti-Muslim Sentiment in Irving (And the Imam Who Has To Tolerate It)

In the paper today, Avi Selk has a lengthy story about some anti-Muslim foolishness going on in Irving. It centers on a religious tribunal that is supposedly going to usurp the U.S. Constitution and ruin America. (I’m exaggerating only a little bit.) Last night, the City Council voted 5-4 to support a bill authored by Rep. Jeff Leach (R-Plano) that would forbid such tribunals from using foreign law in their rulings (which is already illegal).

I wrote about all this for the April issue of D Magazine, which won’t mail to subscribers for another three days. So I’m posting the article here. Before I wrote my story, I spent some time with Imam Zia ul-Haque Sheikh, the head of the Islamic Center of Irving and a man who has far more patience and compassion than I do. For your edification:

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