Leading Off (7/25/14)

34th Person in Dallas County Exonerated by DNA Evidence. Michael Phillips served 12 years in prison for raping a 16-year-old girl in 1990. He didn’t do it. Good thing his wasn’t a death penalty case.

American Airlines Posts Record Profits. $864 million in the second quarter. Eight months ago the carrier was in bankruptcy. What a country!

Park Cities to Get AT&T Ultra-High-Speed Internet First.  The company hasn’t specified which Dallas-area neighborhoods will be able to get broadband speeds of up to 1 gigabyte per second by the end of the summer. But they did say the initial launch would come in areas already served by AT&T U-verse, starting with parts of Highland Park and University Park and soon after that areas of Dallas,  Allen, Fairview, Irving, and McKinney. One gig per second allows you to download an HD movie in just 36 seconds. What a country!

Amon Carter Museum Pays $1M For Painting. It’s a picture of peaches and grapes. What a country!

Collin County Commissioner Warns of “Illegal Immigrant Tsunami.” He makes it sound as deadly as a sharknado. Mark Reid introduced a resolution to the commissioners’ court’s upcoming agenda that would discourage the federal government from using Collin County to house any of the migrant children who have spurred the recent crisis on the border. Reid is concerned about the spread of “various communicable diseases” from the kids, despite having no evidence to support his claims. What a country!

DISD HR Executive Makes $140K a Year. This story is actually about how a Dallas ISD investigator who was put on leave last week (without being told why) was investigating his boss for having lied on her district job application. But I got hung up on how much that boss gets paid. What a country!  (Kids, don’t go into journalism.)

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D Magazine’s 40 Greatest Stories: Are There Any Decent Men in Dallas?

You might also consider this post an early plug for our 10 Most Eligible Men in Dallas contest, which will begin in the middle of next month. Sarah Hepola’s funny, thoughtful piece about her adventures in dating men she met online appeared in the February 2013 issue of D Magazine, and it is one of the 40 greatest stories we’ve ever published.

Spoiler Alert: Sarah hasn’t found her Mr. Right by the end of the article, so I asked her how things have been going in that realm since. She replied:

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Leading Off (7/18/14)

Dallas ISD Investigator Placed on Leave. Jeremy Liebbe managed the Professional Standards Office, a investigative unit of the school district’s human resources department. He recently led the probe into the sports recruiting scandal that led to the firing of 15 employees and had previously made a name for himself as a DISD police officer by uncovering the “cheese” heroin epidemic. On Thursday he was placed on paid leave and escorted out of his office by district police. The district declined to comment on the reason for the move but did say it’s unrelated to the recruiting scandal.

Ellis County Judge Paid For Work She Didn’t Do. The state of Texas pays county judges — whose primary responsibility is presiding the commissioners court that oversees county government — an extra $15,000 a year if they devote 40 percent of their job to judicial cases. Carol Bush filed a request for that payment for the last couple years even though she didn’t hear any cases. The money, more than $22,000, has been repaid, but Bush is under investigation to determine if she committed any crimes.

Mortuary Gives Woman Wrong Ashes. It’s the same place in Fort Worth where, on Tuesday, eight bodies were found after the mortuary’s operators had been evicted. Michelle Jones-McElhanon told Fox 4 that her mother, who died three months ago, was supposed to have been cremated but was instead among the bodies found. Jones-McElhanon had already been given what was supposed to have been her mother’s ashes.

Enjoy the Cool Weather. Yesterday the temperature only got up to 79. That was a record-low high for the day. Today’s forecast calls for a high of 83. It is July 18. So much for global warming, amiright?

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Dallas Weather Forecast: DUCK!

Nothing much happening in downtown Dallas right now, except for a bunch of clouds. But — holy hell — up north in Denton and Cooke counties today’s heavy rains have already arrived and it sounds like chaos, with highways shut down and roads flooded.

WFAA says we’re going to several rounds of rain through tomorrow. So a downpour is coming your way later today, if it hasn’t reached you already.

Be careful out there.

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D Magazine’s 40 Greatest Stories: Clayton Williams Runs For Governor

I sort of remember Bill Clements vs. Mark White in 1986, but the first Texas gubernatorial election to which I paid any measurable attention was state treasurer Ann Richards’ victory over West Texas oilman Clayton Williams in 1990. The GOP wasn’t yet the wholly dominant party in our state, but neither did the Democrats still hold the iron grip they’d maintained politically since Reconstruction.

My memory of the election centers on Williams’ TV ad in which he explained his plan to put drug offenders to work busting rocks in hard-labor boot camps rather than lounging around in luxurious prison cells. Behind him is shown a group of college students who were dressed up as convicts, swinging pick axes and shovels. I was in junior high school and not terribly political at the time, but I remember thinking that this guy was laying on the tough-on-crime schtick a little thick.

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10 Reasons You Should Attend Best of Big D Live

1. You’ll get a sneak peek at some of this year’s winners in our annual Best of Big D issue.

2. Guests will enjoy complimentary beer, wine, cocktails, and same menu items from some of the best bars and restaurants in town.

3. DJ Sober and singer Sam Lao will perform.

4. The Rustic is a swell place to spend an evening eating and imbibing outdoors.

5. There’s a Jackopierce concert right after the party.

6. You can get 20% off an UBER ride to and from the event with the promo code ‘BOBDAL.’

7. Tickets are only $50

8. Tickets are only $65 if you want to attend the Jackopierce show too.

9. It’s an opportunity to swear at Tim Rogers to his face. (NOTE: Offer not valid after the Jackopierce show has begun.)

10. You know you don’t have any better plans for 6-9 p.m. Wednesday, July 23.

So get your ticket now. While they’re still available.

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Poll: Which Dallas Sports Team Will Win a Championship Next?

The Texas Rangers were expected by many baseball experts to contend for the American League West division crown. Instead, they’ve been beset by injuries and have limped into the All-Star Break having lost eight in a row and 22 of their last 25. It’s the worst such stretch for the club since 1972, the first year that the team played in Arlington (having relocated from Washington, D.C., where they were the Senators.) That team finished with 100 losses. This year’s team owns the worst record in Major League Baseball. It’s time — after cheering on Yu Darvish and Adrian Beltre in the All-Star Game tonight — to start thinking about next year.

Meanwhile the Dallas Stars and the Dallas Mavericks were both impressive, if unsuccessful, in their first-round playoff match-ups this spring. And each of those teams has made major additions to their rosters that raise hopes for next season.

So, we asked a version of this question back in May, but given what’s changed since then, it seems like an appropriate moment to ask again.

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Dallas Confirms Season’s First Positive West Nile Test

Not in a person — in a mosquito pool near the 6600 block of Brookshire Drive in North Dallas. The city is planning to spray insecticide tonight and tomorrow between 9 p.m. and 5 a.m. in the area bounded by Azalea Lane on the north, Tulane Boulevard on the west, Airline Road on the east, and Walnut Hill Lane on the south. From the city’s release:

While the insecticide is approved by the Environmental Protection Agency for treatment, residents in the above areas should avoid contact with the spray by staying indoors. Persons inside a vehicle while trucks are actively spraying should remain in their vehicles with the windows up and the air conditioner on until the trucks pass and the spray is no longer visible. Persons out during the scheduled spraying time should be alert for trucks and should not follow them. Residents who come in contact with the spray are advised to wash the affected area thoroughly with soap and water. The spray breaks down quickly in the presence of sunlight and has no residual effect.

Zac’s mosquito source could not be reached for comment.

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Leading Off (7/11/14)

How Soon Until Every Dallas Highway Is Tolled? Tomorrow new express lanes will open on Interstate 35E, allowing drivers to pay to bypass the usually congested interchange from I-35E to Interstate 635. Meanwhile some Collin County leaders are pushing back against a Texas Department of Transportation proposal to make the HOV lane on U.S. Highway 75 a managed toll lane. Their counterproposal is to get rid of the HOV lane entirely, opening it up for all traffic.

ACE Cash Express to Pay $10 Million For Illegal Tactics. The federal Consumer Financial Protection Bureau found that the payday lender used false threats, intimidation, and harassing calls to bully borrowers. ACE also took on new loans to pay off old loans, purposefully driving customers even further into debt. The company’s training manual even had a graphic depicting how to keep the vicious cycle going.

Abducted Boy Reunited With Father.  At age 2, Drew Drees was taken by his mother, who didn’t have custodial rights after she and his father had divorced, to India. Eight years later, she returned with Drew and was promptly arrested at DFW Airport after arriving yesterday.

It’s July 11. Free slurpees, everybody.

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What Does Google Think of Dallas’ Best Suburbs?

By now you’ve surely been up and down and up again our ranking of the Best Dallas Suburbs. Our sortable chart allows you to reorder the 64 North Texas towns (Dallas is included for comparison’s sake) on the list by factors such as population, crime, education, or just the overall ambiance of the place.

So you know what our numbers say. But what does the all-knowing, all-seeing Google machine think of our cities? How does Google Maps present us to the world? To find out, I asked for directions from Dallas, Texas (unspecified address) to each of the suburbs (unspecified address). Wherever Google dropped its pin representing each, I took a look around via the magic of Street View.

That gives us the spot to which Google will direct travelers who don’t know exactly where they want to go in these towns, just that they want to get there. To my mind, that makes these locations the virtual entryway to each, the online face of these cities. I leave it to you to interpret whether there’s any deeper significance to where Google’s directions would take you and what it says about our suburbs.  (By the way, in Dallas, the location is Main Street downtown, right next to Plush nightclub)

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The Economist on Downtown Dallas’ Rejuvenation

A correspondent for one of the Economist’s blogs was recently in Dallas for the New Cities Summit, and writes about how downtown has transformed in the last 30 years:

It is clear that the old Dallas is fading into a distant memory. Today the downtown of America’s ninth-most populous city has thriving museums, performing-arts spaces, a green market, restaurants and innovative retailers that are bringing people back to its pavements. Detroit, Kansas City and Cleveland may be struggling to reinvent themselves, but Dallas has prospered, not only because of its oil wealth and low taxes, but also because the city and private-sector developers and investors have combined their efforts.

The author gives the Joule Hotel an awful lot of credit for rejuvenating downtown, more than maybe it alone deserves, and things aren’t maybe quite so active throughout downtown as they’re painted, but there is no denying that Dallas has made progress.

Anyway, here’s my favorite bit, in the conclusion:

Thanks to this attitude, the atrophied downtown area from three decades ago that Mrs Forsythe-Lill remembered is being wiped from the memory faster than Sue Ellen Ewing could get to the bottom of a bottle of vodka.

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Yu Darvish’s Translator Explains Baseball in 3 Languages

There’s a nice profile on Grantland today about Kenji Nimura, the man who translates for Texas Rangers pitcher Yu Darvish. He’s trilingual, so he speaks Spanish with the team’s Latin American players as well. A little about his background:

The rise of so many non-English-speaking players has led to a growing roster of professional interpreters, none of whom can marshal quite as many resources as Nimura. A cultural chameleon who moved from Japan to the U.S. at age 11, he can translate the profane slang of former Dodgers manager Tommy Lasorda into the rough-hewn dialect of Nimura’s hometown of Nagoya, joke around with Latin American stars so naturally that they call him paisano, and propose fan-outreach ideas in business vernacular to the team’s front office. Nimura is also a scholar. The right question can send him into reveries about the complex relationship between cultural identity, language, and geography — a result of his own peripatetic life and education. And while hardly anyone grows up dreaming of becoming a professional baseball interpreter, Nimura, because of his biography and passions, seems uncannily suited to the job.

The article also mentions Nimura’s MLB Japanese-language blog, Speaking Baseball, which explains common English slang used by baseball players, like “you bent but didn’t snap” and “ducks on the pond.” Check it out if for no other reason than to see Rangers pitcher Colby Lewis with two handfuls of dead ducks. Then ask Google to translate the blog for you:

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Why It Matters That the Morning News Failed at Paid Content

When I read this morning that the Dallas Morning News is giving up on its “premium content” experience  (which it launched last fall), my first reaction was to think “they’re still offering a premium content experience?” I have a subscriber’s log-in that I could use to access the site, but many months ago I stopped bothering to do so because the time it took to type in the email address and password wasn’t worth the payoff.

I wouldn’t do as the Morning News’ own story today has done and categorize this experience as a failed attempt at premium content. I’d instead think of it as an “incomplete,” given that there wasn’t anything terribly “premium” about the Morning News experience.

We have to get readers to pay for the content they want. We’re going to have to. I doubt greatly that the Morning News, in ending this experiment, has completely abandoned that fact. They’re just going to look for another means of doing it. In which case, I have a proposal.

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D Magazine’s 40 Greatest Stories: The Backyard Yacht of Highland Park

The 4000 block of Miramar Avenue looks pretty normal — if “normal” can ever appropriately be used to describe a row of homes in Highland Park. It sits just off Lakeside Drive, with easy access to sickeningly picturesque Lakeside Park and Exall Lake. It’s a block away from Beverly Drive and Dallas Country Club as well.

The homes are a mix of traditional and modern designs, most valued in the $3 million-$4 million range. On the corner, technically on Lakeside, sits the 60th most expensive home in Dallas. At 4004 Miramar, you’ll find one of D Home‘s 10 Most Beautiful Homes in Dallas for 2014. Across from that, at 4005, is a fairly unremarkable (by Highland Park standards) that’s valued at more than $3.1 million, with $2.5 million of that assessed for the land alone.

That lot looked very different 50 years ago.

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