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Making Dallas Even Better

Susan Hawk May Have Suffered Relapse

FOX 4 reports that Dallas County district attorney Susan Hawk has missed several public speaking events this week. Her office released a statement saying relapse is common for those who suffer the sort of depression that led to her seeking treatment last year:

“She is taking the necessary steps so that she can continue to serve the community. She is being proactive with her mental health plan and is determined to stay whole and healthy to insure that Dallas County is safe and thriving,” the Dallas County District Attorney’s Office said.

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A New Plan For a Park Between the Trinity River Levees

Architecture critic Mark Lamster of the Morning News has taken a look at a new design by New York-based landscape architecture firm Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates for a park between the levees of the Trinity River downtown, and he says Dallas “finally has a serious plan” for the space:

If realized, it would stand as an urban landscape of unrivaled scale, a lush green sash that would reorient the essential polarity of the city, pointing it decisively inward toward the core.

The breakout success of Klyde Warren Park should stand as an example of just how desperate the city is for a unifying public space of recreation, entertainment and civic celebration. A reinvented Trinity would be exponentially more consequential in the suturing of a divided city.

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Leading Off (5/20/16)

Arlington to Build New Rangers Stadium. At 22 years old, Globe Life Park is already the 11th-oldest stadium in Major League Baseball, and it appears it may not survive to celebrate its 30th birthday. The city of Arlington and the Texas Rangers have reportedly agreed to go halfsies on a new $900 million ballyard with a retractable roof. The deal is expected to be officially announced at a press conference this afternoon. The new digs could open even before the team’s current lease expires in 2023. Arlington taxpayers would have to approve dedicating tax funds to the project, a possibility that only exists because the city anticipates paying off its debt the Dallas Cowboys’ AT&T Stadium early, as soon as 2021. Guess downtown Dallas missed its chance to lure Major League Baseball east.

Missing Woman’s Body May Have Been Found. Richardson Police have confirmed that they’ve discovered a body in a field off State Highway 78 near Farmersville while investigating the disappearance and alleged murder of 27-year-old Jessie Bardwell. Bardwell’s boyfriend, Jason Lowe, has already been arrested and charged with her murder. The county medical examiner is working to identify the remains.

People Who Bought Homes Near a Landfill Surprised to Smell Garbage. One resident of the River Glen neighborhood of Carrollton describes the odor wafting into her home from nearby DFW Landfill as “rotten eggs mixed with stale milk.” Residents have asked the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality to investigate. A spokesman for the city of Lewisville, where the dump is located, said recent rains have stirred up the scents. “We noticed it in the past only if we stepped outside,” said one resident whose real estate investment choices I find confounding.

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Dallas Mavericks to Enter the World of Minecraft

So says Mashable:

The Dallas Mavericks will launch Mavs World, a dedicated Minecraft hub for fans to experience American Airlines Center remade in all its blocky glory. Mavs World will include games and activities — some focused on basketball, but others will include building competitions.

To Mavericks owner Mark Cuban, Mavs World is a way for fans to have fun with the Mavericks, but also inspire their love of tech.

Minecraft makes you think. You have to be creative. Logical. Fun. Those are great foundations for learning,” Cuban told Mashable. 

Mavs World will launch later this summer.

Study: DFW Airport Quakes, Most Texas Quakes Caused by Humans

just-released University of Texas/SMU study has found that humans (specifically oil and gas industry activity) have been causing earthquakes in Texas since at least the 1920s. Some of this seismic activity is associated with the injection of fluids (usually wastewater) into the ground, while others involved oil and gas or fluid extraction. Say the scientists:

Altogether, for the 162 Texas earthquakes having magnitudes of 3 or greater and occurring between 1975 and 2015, we categorize 42 (26%) as almost certainly induced, 53 (33%) as probably induced, 45 (28%) as possibly induced, and the remaining 21 (13%) as tectonic

The study notes that analysis of the string of quakes centered near the old Texas Stadium site in Irving is not yet complete, but it does devote a section to discussing seismic activity at Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport between 2008 and 2013:

We and others conclude that the DFW airport earthquakes were induced because of the absence of historical seismicity prior to injection, the proximity of the injection well to a known mapped fault, the onset of activity only six weeks after injection commenced in 2008, and the earthquake depths at and below the depth of injection.

What do the government regulators charged with monitoring the oil and gas industry have to say about these findings? A Railroad Commission spokesperson told the Morning News the study’s methods — admittedly based on somewhat subjective questions and drawing correlations from the data — are arbitrary.

God bless Texas.

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Dallas Zoo Wallabies Pick New Joey’s Name

I don’t know if your morning has been as miserable as mine has been so far, but if so, I suggest watching the above video of wallabies at the Dallas Zoo. I’m not the most animal-friendly of people, but I found it strangely soothing.

What’s happening in the video? From the zoo:

Our wallaby joey is no longer nameless! In mob-style fashion, we let our wallaby joey’s Australian mob pick his moniker by eating one of two labeled cakes. The choices: “Burnum” after Australian aboriginal activist, or “Pedy” for Coober Pedy in South Australia. The mob has spoken. And eaten and hopped… they really just hopped a lot. Here’s our sweet Pedy on his naming day!

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Poll: Should We Buy Southern Dallas Another Grocery Store?

This is a tricky one. On the one hand, living in a free-market-loving country and state as we do, it’s hard not to experience cognitive dissonance when we hear about the government having to pay money (or grant big tax breaks) to bring businesses to town.

Did Dallas really need to give the Richards Group $1.8 million to subsidize the building of its parking-garage-with-an-office-on-top in one of the most desirable, walkable neighborhoods in the city? Or $450,000 to Zale Corp. to move to a segment of the city so remote that most of the economic benefits will likely spill into the suburbs? Or $3 million to a multibillion dollar big-box retailer to set up shop in North Dallas?

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Rougned Odor Cements His Spot in Texas Rangers History

Zac mentioned in “Leading Off” that the Texas Rangers and Toronto Blue Jays brawled during yesterday’s game after Jose Bautista made a hard slide into second base that gave Rougned Odor an excuse to seek revenge for last October’s bat flip heard ’round the world.

The video of Odor’s punch will likely join the famed Nolan Ryan-Robin Ventura fight in the team’s lore. It maybe already has. Check out this peppy fan-generated clip of the incident that was posted to YouTube last night.

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Podcast: Skip Hollandsworth, Author of The Midnight Assassin, Talks Serial Killers and Costco Jewelry

You can make an argument that Skip Hollandsworth is the all-time champ among D Magazine writers. He’s the only staffer, current or former, to have placed three bylines in our list of our 40 greatest stories ever, which we put together a couple years ago. (If you haven’t read “The Black Widow,” “Max’s Last Hurrah,” or “The Fall of the House of Von Erich,” you should.)

Hollandsworth defected to Texas Monthly in 1989 and is now one of five (!) executive editors on that magazine’s masthead. He still lives in Dallas and is the author of a well-reviewed new book called The Midnight Assassin, about the unsolved mystery of a serial killer in 19th-century Austin.

He was good enough to sit down with us at the Old Monk for a chat that spent far more time focused on the merits of Costco than I would’ve expected.

You can have a listen via the player below, or find EarBurner on iTunes, Stitcher, or through your favorite podcatcher. But first, please note:

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Leading Off (5/13/16)

Dallas ISD to Cut Jobs. A proposed budget for 2016-2017 would eliminate about 260 positions to offset a $24 million drop in revenue (most of that reduction is due to a decrease in state revenue.) DISD is aiming to have a balanced budget of about $1.42 billion developed by the end of June. The plan would also give stipends to high-performing teachers who haven’t had their pay increased for the current school year. Most district hourly workers would meanwhile receive 2-percent raises.

DISD Expands Magnet School Enrollment. The school district has added 107 students to the popular programs at William B. Travis Academy, cutting its wait list in half. The plan is to increase the number of available slots at other campuses with similarly high demand as well. Meanwhile, district trustees are still considering the elimination of the controversial sibling rule, which gives preferential placement at magnets to kids who meet minimum admission standards just because they already have a brother or sister enrolled at the same school.

GOP Leaders Grandstand on Bathroom Debate. Because there’s no more pressing issue to deal with than deciding who can use which toilets? Gov. Greg Abbott and Lt. Gov. Greg Abbott appeared at the Republican Party of Texas Convention in Dallas on Thursday, and both decried what they perceive to be outrageous federal government overreach that dares to suggest that transgender people ought to be able to use the bathroom consistent with their own gender identities. The convention continues through Saturday, when Sen. Ted Cruz will deliver his first formal remarks since he suspended his presidential campaign.

Frisco Hospice Overmedicated Patients. According to a Texas Department of Aging and Disability Services report, Novus Health Services gave excessive doses of morphine and other drugs to those in its care. In addition, the FBI is investigating whether the company ordered nurses to end the lives of some. Novus says it treated patients properly and committed no violations.

House-Broken Bison For Sale. If you’re interested in purchasing Bullet, a 1,000-pound bison that routinely walks around inside the Schoeve family’s home in Argyle, the Craigslist ad is right here. She’ll cost you a little less than $6,000, and she won’t poop in your house.

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All Clichés Are Bigger in Texas Award Nominee: Friday Night Lights Edition

Last weekend, voters in McKinney approved a bond that will fund a nearly $63 million high school football stadium, and national press outlets have taken note. At that price, it would be the most expensive in the country, supplanting the troubled Allen ISD ball yard.

Today’s nomination goes to a Forbes contributor, Maury Brown. He writes:

This all gets back to keeping up with the Jones’. McKinney may be the biggest Taj Mahal high school football stadium now, but only a fool would think that there isn’t already boosters from other areas trying to mount a charge to get theirs built. Everything is bigger in Texas… including stadium envy.

Pray this newfound trend doesn’t gain a foothold outside the state. Imagine what the response from the state that prides itself on saying, “don’t mess with Texas” might be.

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Dallas City Council Approves $3 Million to Lure Costco

After a long debate during which nearly every member of the Dallas City Council expressed a desire to do more to help underdeveloped southern Dallas, a 10-5 vote granted $3 million to multi-billion-dollar big-box retailer Costco to bring a new store to North Dallas.

The discussion centered on whether the city’s finite economic development resources should be spent on recruiting Costco to its proposed site along Coit Road near the High Five interchange, which is hardly in the sort of “food deserts” found in other parts of the city.

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Sam Wyly Committed Tax Fraud, May Owe IRS $1.4 Billion

A bankruptcy-court judge yesterday found that Dallas former-billionaire Sam Wyly and his late brother Charles committed tax fraud by putting more than $1 billion in trusts in the Isle of Man in the 1990s.

Wyly filed for bankruptcy protection in 2014, after he and Charles were found liable for $299 million in damages for federal securities violations involving the same trusts. Joseph Guinto wrote in D Magazine about the potential problems for the Wylys ahead of the SEC trial in 2013.

In the October 2015 issue of D CEO, John Browning described what was unusual about the Wylys’ bankruptcy strategy:

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