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Leading Off (9/19/14)

Police-Fire Pension Fund Losses Total Almost $200M. The board that oversees the retirement money of Dallas cops and firefighters got details of the bad news in a report on Thursday. In venturing into speculative real estate investment, the fund lost $196 million in recent years. That figure includes $90 million on tracts in Arizona and Idaho, $46 million on Napa Valley resorts, and $60 million on luxury homes in Hawaii and elsewhere. Even as real estate values plummeted and the losses mounted, in 2012, fund administrator Richard Tettamant received $78,300 in incentive pay and a $25,000 bonus on top of his $270,000 salary. One consulting company on the failed Napa projects has also been paid $3.6 million. Tettamant, you might remember, was removed from his gig earlier this year.

Man Trapped Beneath DART Train. He fell onto the tracks just as the train was pulling into the station. Fortunately emergency workers were able to free him from where he was pinned, and he’d suffered only a broken arm and some cuts. It could’ve been much worse.

Report Places Blame For Firefighter’s Death. The widow of Stanley Wilson, the firefighter who perished in a six-alarm blaze last year, released the findings of the investigation into the incident. The state report faulted commanders’ assessment of the fire before sending several men, including Wilson, back into the collapsing condominium building.

Madison High Basketball Coach Officially Fired. Roderick Johnson was one of 15 coaches and administrators dismissed in June by Dallas ISD Superintendent Mike Miles following a recruiting scandal that caused the school to be stripped of its state championship. On Thursday, a hearing confirmed the termination. Meanwhile some of the others who lost their jobs have instead been given the option of resigning.

The Governors Rick Dine at Mi Cocina. Texas Gov. Perry and Gov. Rick Scott of Florida on Thursday both attended a fundraiser at the Highland Park Village offices of Republican Party national finance chairman Ray Washburne and then sauntered across the parking lot for some Tex-Mex.

Commie Logo Removed From Vietnamese Restaurant. Not sure how nobody at Yum! Brands wondered whether a big red star was the ideal symbol to feature on their new Banh Shop concept.

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D Magazine’s 40 Greatest Stories: Tom Landry’s Dallas Cowboys

I had an ulterior motive for yesterday’s poll asking who deserves to be the most beloved coach in Dallas sports history. I figured that Tom Landry, longtime coach of your Dallas Cowboys, would win easily. I left him in, and didn’t just make it a contest to find the second-most beloved coach, because I wanted to gauge just how easily. (Answer: extremely)

I knew I’d be announcing this morning that the latest selection in our 40 Greatest Stories series is Peter Gent’s October 1981 article about Landry and his teams of the 1960s and ’70s. Gent, as many of you know, played for the Cowboys for five seasons and went on to a career as a novelist. His first was a semi-autobiographical effort about his pro football career, called North Dallas Forty, and he penned the screenplay for the 1979 film adaptation as well. He died of complications of a pulmonary disease in 2011, at age 69.

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Poll: The Most Beloved Head Coach in Dallas History?

A recent Grantland piece about the abrupt resignation of Texas Rangers manager Ron Washington referred to him as “the most beloved head coach in the history of North Texas sports not named Tom Landry.” Which got me thinking “Really?” And then “Hey, yeah, I guess so, maybe.”

Followed by, since we’re now 25 years on from Landry’s dismissal by Jerry Jones and that first 1-15 season under Jimmy Johnson, “Does St. Landry still mean much to today’s whippersnappers?”

So let’s take a poll. Nominees are the two most successful coaches in each of Dallas’ pro sports teams’ histories, based on overall record and championships.

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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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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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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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Why Dallas Was Chosen the Best Skyline in the World

You may have seen, on any number of other sites accessible via the World Wide Web, that Dallas was chosen the best skyline in the world — let me repeat, the best skyline in the world — in a readers’ poll on USA Today.com. In other words, not only do we have a world-class skyline, we have the world-classiest skyline.

Here’s what the newspaper’s site had to say about that:

“Dallas became initially identifiable by the opening credits of an infamous ’80s TV show,” says expert Preston Kissman. “The contemporary Dallas skyline tells a story of big banking, big oil, big money, and the occasional big bust.” James Adams add, “Dallas has continued to stay flashy. Controversially, it has done this not with the height or style of its newest architecture, but rather through an internal race to adorn its existing and new icons with colorful interactive lighting that cannot be ignored.”

We’re among friends here, so I’m sure we can all agree that ranking Dallas the No. 1 skyline on the entirety of planet Earth is ridiculous. What about Chicago? New York? San Francisco? Sure, we beat the pants off places like Houston, Omaha, and Atlanta, but do we even belong in the top tier once you factor in locales in all hemispheres?

So how did we win?

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D Magazine’s 40 Greatest Stories: Death of a Poet

I’m going to spoil a pivotal event of Paul Thomas Anderson’s Magnolia, but if you’ve not yet gotten around to seeing that brilliant, now 15-year-old film, then face up to the fact that you likely never will and don’t hassle me for spilling the following secret.

Magnolia tells a collection of interconnected stories of people in Los Angeles. There’s nothing too far-fetched about its plot lines about ordinary people moving about their fairly ordinary lives when, without explanation, it begins to rain frogs. By which I mean, full-sized frogs fall from the sky. There are apocalyptic, Biblical overtones, but no vengeful god appears to take credit for the act. It’s ridiculous. Makes little sense. Comes out of nowhere and alters lives.

The best explanation for the sequence that I’ve ever heard came from the late actor Philip Seymour Hoffman, who appears in Magnolia as a nurse caring for a man dying of cancer. He said — and I’m sorry that I can’t locate the interview anywhere online, so you’ll just have to trust my fading memory  — the rain of frogs began to make sense to him when he thought about cancer.

Why we shouldn’t we accept the possibility of a downpour of amphibians when we’ve become accustomed to a plague like cancer? Cancer is your own body turning against itself for ultimately mysterious reasons. It’s ridiculous. Makes little sense. Often comes out of nowhere and alters lives.

I’m sure that when, in 1976, 30-year-old Judith McPheron began to suffer an onslaught of clumps of tissue growth all over her body — a rare form of cancer known as liposarcoma — she could hardly have been any more shocked if she’d glanced out the window and seen frogs descending from the sky.

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Bill Bragg Still Really Wants to Be the Voice of Big Tex

Either that, or he’s realized he has no hope of ever reclaiming the job, because almost a year and a half after Bill Bragg was fired as the voice of Big Tex at the State Fair of Texas, he’s taking to his Facebook page again to decry the injustice of it all.

You may remember that Bragg’s contract for the gig, which he’d held since 2002, wasn’t renewed in March 2013. State Fair officials wouldn’t discuss the specific reasons for their decision, but they did imply that Bragg’s misuse of their trademark — presenting himself at other events as the voice of Big Tex — had much to do with it.

Well, now Bragg wants the world to know that the president of the Fair had no problem with Bragg calling himself Big Tex when it suited his own purposes:

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Poll: What One Word Best Describes Dallas?

Of course, it’s ridiculous to think that Dallas — bustling and vibrant, full of multitudinous contradictions creating the very friction that so often ignites inventiveness — could possibly be summed up in a single word. But let’s try anyway.

We put the question to eight of the Dallas 40 who appear on our 40th anniversary September issue. See for yourself what they had to say in this video, and then cast your vote on which you think encapsulates our city best.

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Ron Washington Resigns as Texas Rangers Manager

The Rangers are having a lousy season, but no one really blamed Ron Washington for that. It was the injuries done killed ‘em.

So it comes as a shock today that Wash, who’s managed the club since 2007, has resigned his post in order to address an “off-the-field personal matter.”

His full statement, from the team:

“Today, I have submitted my resignation from the job I love – managing the Rangers – in order to devote my full attention to addressing an off-the-field personal matter.  As painful as it is, stepping away from the game is what’s best for me and my family.

“This is in no way related to the disappointing performance of the team this season. We were already discussing 2015 and looking forward to getting the Rangers back to postseason contention.

“I deeply regret that I’ve let down the Rangers organization and our great fans. Over the past eight seasons, it’s been a privilege to be part of some of the best years in club history and I will always be grateful for the opportunities I’ve had here, and for the great management, players, and coaches who have made our time here a success.  Thank you for respecting my privacy.”

Tim Bogar is the interim manager.  Here is what Mooney wrote about Washington a few years ago.

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