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Mark Cuban Gives Us Good Reason to Weep For the Future of the Republic

Today on his blog, Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban opined about the presidential race. He begins:

There is a mantra I repeat all the time: “If the information is important it will find me” . We don’t go find the news. It finds us.  The majority of presidential election voters don’t turn on the evening news or open a newspaper or even tune to cable news network to learn about the candidates and decide on who they will vote for it.  They probably can’t name all the candidates running for POTUS.  I’m not sure if they care.

What they trust are their social media news feeds.  Whats on their instagram.  Whats mentioned on snapchat stories.  What’s in their FB feed.

He’s right. So many of us live in a virtual echo chamber we’ve fashioned for ourselves that it’s little wonder the brashest voices tend to win out.

Cuban suggests that politicians looking to capture the youth vote would be smarter to eschew courting traditional influencers and to pursue instead the endorsement of the Internet-famous, like this kid:

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Poll: Should Dallas Ban a Porn Convention?

I’ll be surprised if this isn’t a landslide result. On one side of the issue that the Dallas City Council will consider at Wednesday’s meeting are Mayor Mike Rawlings and billionaire Ray Hunt, who believe there’s an opportunity to block the return of the Exxxotica sex show to the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center.

On the other, there’s city councilmen Philip Kingston and Lee Kleinman (who often disagree on other decisions), as well as future buddy-comedy co-stars Mike Hashimoto and Zac Crain, plus (probably) the United States Supreme Court and most of the Founding Fathers (not John Adams, who was a bit of a prude, but definitely Ben “Early to Bed, Early to Rise” Franklin.)

What do you think?

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Leading Off (2/5/16)

Johnny Manziel Allegedly Assaulted Ex-Girlfriend. WFAA broke the news late Thursday afternoon that Fort Worth Police are investigating a complaint that the former Texas A&M and soon-to-be-former Cleveland Browns quarterback beat up Colleen Crowley on Jan. 30 after arguing with her at his Hotel ZaZa room in Uptown. According to the report, he forced her into a car and drove her to her apartment in Fort Worth. Once there, Crowley says she became fearful for her life and banged on a neighbor’s door asking for help. However, after police arrived, Crowley was uncooperative and refused to make a report. Manziel has told TMZ the incident didn’t happen. Manziel is expected to be released by the Browns in March, and Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones has expressed interest in acquiring him as a backup for Tony Romo. It’s unknown whether this alleged incident will have an effect on that, or prompt disciplinary action by the NFL. However, as Dale Hansen noted when he went “unplugged” on the 10 p.m. newscast last night, the signing of Greg Hardy last year demonstrated the Cowboys are a team “that doesn’t care if you beat up women. It is a team that believes in as many chances as you need, as long as they think there’s a chance you can play.”

Students to Vote on Dropping Confederate Name. Dallas ISD’s John B. Hood Middle School in Pleasant Grove is named for a Southern general of the Civil War. Recently students raised concerns about honoring someone who fought to protect the institution of slavery, especially considering that Hood’s student body is majority Latino and African-American. So the principal is allowing the kids to cast ballots during lunch today. (It’s a non-binding referendum, since the school district’s board of trustees will have the ultimate say.)

Driver Pulls Gun on Biker. It happened outside of Las Vegas, Nevada, but a viral video of the road rage incident was all over North Texas newscasts because the fellow who was packing is from — you guessed it — Irving.

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Fort Worth Zoo Bear Predicts Carolina Panthers Will Win Super Bowl 50

Boudreaux the bear at the Fort Worth Zoo agrees with Vegas: the Panthers are slight favorites to win Super Bowl 50 on Sunday.

Today the zoo suspended two papier mâché footballs stuffed with fruit, nuts, popcorn, and cheerios in his enclosure. After nosing around them for a bit, as you can see in the video, Boudreaux settled on Carolina. He was too busy going to town on his favorite treats to comment on whether he expects quarterback Cam Newton to walk away with the MVP award.

Meanwhile, over at the Dallas Zoo, two tortoises raced for cakes decorated in the colors of the NFC and AFC champs. The outcome of that contest suggests the Broncos will emerge victorious. But whoever heard of a tortoise who knew anything about football?

My money’s with Boudreaux.

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City of Dallas Pushes to Keep Porn Out of Convention Center

But that pesky First Amendment made it impossible to do so last year when the Exxxotica Expo came to town. The city is apparently looking for a workaround:

[Ron King, executive director of the convention center] said he took the issue back to city attorneys when they started hitting “speedbumps” thrown in front of them by “people who said, ‘You shouldn’t have that in this facility.” He wasn’t more specific than that, but said that given the interest from the mayor’s office in the past, he thought it best to make sure Rawlings and the council knew what was coming.

“I suspect there will be some action this coming Wednesday,” said King. “I am awaiting what that action may be so we can move forward.”

[Exxxotica director J. Handy] said he doesn’t know what that would be. When asked if Exxxotica would sue Dallas if it’s not allowed in 2016 or simply move to another city, Handy said both options were, at this point, unfathomable.

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Poll: Does Dallas Need to Pay Down Debt Before Fixing Roads?

UPDATE: The City Council has reportedly agreed that there will be a 2017 bond program, because “deferred maintenance is not an option.” But it looks like it may well be a smaller bond, in the $200 million to $500 million range, than the $1 billion initially discussed.

We learned last week that several members of the Dallas City Council are pushing to delay what had been discussed as a possible $1 billion bond election in 2017. The argument for doing so is based upon concerns that the city has substantial debt obligations already, as well as uncertainty over how shortfalls in the police and fire pension fund might affect future operations.

But with so many roads across Dallas pockmarked with potholes, opponents of a postponement say there are too many vital infrastructure needs now that would prove even costlier if further delayed. What do you think?

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Zika Virus Confirmed in Dallas County

Dallas County Health and Human Services has confirmed a local case of the mosquito-borne Zika virus:

“The patient was infected with the virus after having sexual contact with an ill individual who returned from a country where Zika virus is present. For medical confidentiality and personal privacy reasons, DCHHS does not provide additional identifying information,” the county said in a news release Tuesday. “There are currently no reports of Zika virus being locally-transmitted by mosquitoes in Dallas County. However, imported cases make local spread by mosquitoes possible because the mosquitoes that can transmit the virus are found locally. DCHHS advises recent travelers with Zika virus symptoms as well as individuals diagnosed with Zika virus protect themselves from further mosquito bites.”

“Now that we know Zika virus can be transmitted through sex, this increases our awareness campaign in educating the public about protecting themselves and others,” said Zachary Thompson, DCHHS director. “Next to abstinence, condoms are the best prevention method against any sexually-transmitted infections.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 1 in 5 people infected with the Zika virus become ill. Symptoms are usually mild, including fever, rash, joint pain, or conjunctivitis. Most people are fine after a week, though there is greater concern for the disease’s effect on pregnant women and their babies. Severe illness and deaths are rare.

I’m sure local TV stations will take a measured, not-at-all-alarmist approach to their reporting of this news.

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Forget the Bullet Train. Let’s Build a Hyperloop to Houston (And Other, More Attractive, Spots)

Texas Monthly writes about a competition hosted at Texas A&M University over the weekend in which teams from around the country compared their designs for a pod that could travel at 760 mph in a tube based on air-hockey technology.

The event was inspired by Tesla and SpaceX founder Elon Musk’s 2012 proposal for the new form of transportation. Building a network or tubes across the country to allow incredibly fast travel between cities is a ways off, but smart people are working on it and the federal government has signaled interest in funding it.

Now, go ahead and fantasize about how quickly you, your children, and grandchildren might flit about the state:

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Barrett Brown Wins National Magazine Award From Behind Bars

Barrett Brown, a Dallas journalist/hacktivist imprisoned for threatening a federal agent, and himself the subject of a National Magazine Award-winning story penned by Tim Rogers for D Magazine‘s April 2011 issue, yesterday in New York City won an “Ellie” of his own.

The award came for a column called “The Barrett Brown Review of Arts and Letters and Jail,” which has been published since last July by the Intercept. Congratulations to him and to them.

If you’d like to read earlier installments of the column, written before Barrett sold out to Glenn Greenwald and Laura Poitras — when he was doing it for DMagazine.com primarily for the love of the game — you can find those here.

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What Dallas Can Learn From Houston About Folly of Bigger Highways

Last week Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner spoke to the Texas Transportation Commission about the need for a “paradigm shift” away from addressing traffic woes by building ever-more and ever-wider highways:

To help his case, Turner pointed to the Katy Freeway in Houston, or Interstate 10. A few years ago it was expanded to 26 lanes in some segments at a cost of $2.8 billion—good enough to earn the title of the “world’s widest freeway.” Despite all that new road capacity, rush-hour travel times increased between 2011 and 2014; in 2015, Turner pointed out, one segment of the Katy was ranked among the most congested roads in Texas.

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Subsidy For Alamo Manhattan’s Oak Cliff Project Heads to Council

The Oak Cliff Advocate reports that the Dallas City Council’s economic development committee has approved a $11.25 million subsidy of the divisive Alamo Manhattan project that plans to bring an Uptown-style mixed-use development to the Zang Boulevard-Davis Street intersection:

The money comes via a tax-increment financing reimbursement. The committee approved it on 5-1 vote, though City Councilman Lee Kleinman (not a member of the committee) was on hand to question why property in as hot a slice of real estate as is North Oak Cliff should need government money to succeed:

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Dallas May Wait Even Longer to Repair Its Streets

As the DMN notes, at a retreat next week the Dallas City Council will discuss the possibility of postponing until 2018 a $1 billion bond program initially planned to go before voters in 2017. The reason is that Mayor Mike Rawlings and some other council members want the city to pay down some of its outstanding debt before taking on any more:

As things stand, $235 million out of Dallas’ $3 billion budget will go toward debt service this fiscal year alone .

“That’s money that could be going toward other services,” said council member Lee Kleinman, who has advocated that the city pay for repairs only when it can afford to do so. “That’s money that could go toward streets.”

“We’re trying as a council to bring our credit card spending down,” Rawlings said.

Any delay could be a disappointment to residents eager to get repaired many streets that are now in a near-post-apocalyptic state. Councilman Philip Kingston sounds ready to serve as their champion on the horseshoe:

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Leading Off (1/29/16)

Dallas Schoolchildren Required to Play. The DISD board voted Thursday that all district elementary schools must give students 20 minutes of recess each day for the rest of this school year, increasing that to at least 30 minutes daily next year. Recess also can’t be withheld as a form of punishment in disciplinary matters. Trustee Dan Micciche, who brought the proposal to the board, cited studies indicating recess improves social and emotional health. Considering the gorgeous weather we’re expected to have today, I plan to make the same argument to Wick this afternoon.

Arlington Woman Awarded Millions For Awful Book. I haven’t read Fifty Shades of Grey, unless you count Buzzfeed’s abridged, illustrated version. But millions have bought author E.L. James’ book that began as fan fiction published through a website co-founded by Arlington woman Jennifer Pedroza. A jury last year found that Pedroza’s partner had cheated her out of her rightful share of royalties from the work, and on Thursday a judge awarded the Fort Worth schoolteacher $10.4 million in royalties plus $888,643 in pre-judgment interest, as well as $1.7 million in attorney’s fees. So Fifty Shades has made so much money that a woman who didn’t even write the thing, and is splitting her royalty share with the other partners who worked to publish it, still looks to make $11.5 million? Jeez, you people like your S&M.

Dallas Police Chief Doesn’t Need Your Resume. Testifying as part of a civil suit filed against the city, David Brown explained the process by which he decided whom to promote to the rank of major within the department. His “intricate vetting process” has “little need for resumes, job interviews, detailed personnel histories or opinions outside of his command staff.”

Kennedale Smells Like Old Rotted Fish. Parts of Arlington too. Residents there are blaming recent changes at a landfill run by the city of Fort Worth. If I were better acquainted with Kennedale, I’d insert a cutting punchline here. But for all I know it was previously a veritable Garden of Eden, redolent of lilac and baby powder.

Jaap van Zweden Named New York Philharmonic’s New Maestro

We knew he was a finalist for the job. Now the New York media says it’s his:

Mr. van Zweden’s tasks at the Philharmonic will include more than music-making. He will be the orchestra’s public face as it works to raise $360 million to renovate David Geffen Hall and to bolster its endowment; act as the leading artistic voice as the hall is redesigned; and be charged with making sure the orchestra manages to retain its audience when construction, which is slated to start in 2019, leaves it homeless for at least two seasons.

“It’s a challenging time, but it is also a time where I would say that there are an incredible amount of possibilities,” Mr. van Zweden said in an interview at his Midtown hotel.

He will be music director designate for the 2017-2018 season and officially begin his five-year contract in New York with the 2018-2019 season. The Dallas Symphony Orchestra is releasing him a year early. His final season as music director at the Meyerson will be 2017-2018.

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