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Leading Off (5/25/2015)

We Live In Seattle Now. The weekend was marked by heavy rain and more flooding. Meanwhile, two tornadoes were confirmed in Dallas County early Sunday morning, one that moved into Farmers Branch, and another in Irving.

Theatre Three Founder Jac Alder Has Died. Our former critic, Lindsey Wilson, and I heard the news Friday evening just shortly before walking into the New Works Festival’s main stage show at Kitchen Dog. It’s an enormous loss for the theater community.He died of respiratory failure, but had been battling cancer. Over on Art & Seek, Jerome Weeks has a thorough tribute to Alder’s life and work.

Frackquake Investigators Receive Oil And Gas Funds. In this next round of budget votes, lawmakers will probably appoint the Bureau of Economic Geology as the official investigating body tasked with researching the recent rash of Texas earthquakes. According to the News, the Bureau of Economic Geology gets “roughly half its funding from the oil and gas industry.” Okay, sure. No problem.

It’s Memorial Day. Our headquarters are closed in observance of the holiday honoring the men and women of our armed forces who died in service. Have fun, be safe.

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Leading Off (5/18/2015)

Trinity River Levels Approach Moderate Flood Stage. The river is expected to rise to 39 feet, thanks to all the drought-mitigating rain we’ve had. Dallas County’s drought officially began five years ago, so this beautiful fullness is something we haven’t seen in awhile. It’s pretty all right.

Biker Brawl In Waco Leaves Nine Dead. The Twin Peaks where Sunday’s deadly altercation went down was known to police as a hangout for rival gangs. As many as 100 weapons were recovered from the scene, and at least five different biker gangs were involved. In addition to the casualties, another 18 people were injured.

George W. Bush Speaks At SMU Commencement. And he made a funny about the presidential prospects of “C” students. But seriously, congrats to all the graduates.

Wrong-Way Crash On I-635 Kills Mother, Injures Two Children. Crystal Nuncio, a 28-year-old mother of two who had worked as a dispatcher for the Garland Police Department for nine years, was driving her kids to a caretaker before her shift Sunday morning when a Tahoe going the wrong way on I-635 slammed into her SUV. She died at the scene; both children, a 10-year-old and a 9-month-old, were taken to the hospital with injuries. The driver of the Tahoe is believed to have been intoxicated.

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Leading Off (5/11/2015)

North Texas Sees More Severe Weather. I was driving very urgently back from Austin on I-35 yesterday and beat the storm moving into Italy and Hillsboro by about 20 minutes. I felt like the Millennium Falcon bursting out of the exploding wreckage of the Death Star. But seriously, the brief tornado that hit Denton did some damage, while the one that went through Cisco, about 100 miles west of Fort Worth, killed at least one person. Flooding is still a danger.

Mayor Mike Rawlings Wins Second Term. Rawlings won handily, beating challenger Marcos Ronquillo with three-quarters of the vote. Three sitting City Council members who support the Trinity tollroad won re-election, but Carolyn King Arnold and Mark Clayton, who ran as opponents of the tollroad, won crowded races in District 4 and District 9, respectively. Until the runoff election in June to decide the four remaining seats, the Council is split 6-6 on all things Trinity Parkway.

High-Speed Rail Plan At Risk. A last minute addition to the state budget bill, made by State Sen. Charles Schwertner (R-Georgetown), would effectively kill the private plan for a high-speed rail line between Houston and Dallas by limiting the involvement of the Texas Department of Transportation in the project past the environmental study phase. Neither Mayor Mike or the new mayor of Arlington are pleased.

Irving Doctor Indicted In $5 Million Fraud Scheme. Dr. Hector Molina, of Molina Medical Housecall Services, and his associate, Blanca Mata, who is not a doctor, were charged with conspiracy to commit health care fraud and health care fraud. Allegedly, since 2012, Molina has been billing Medicare for home visits made by Mata (again, not a doctor) as visits he had made. Molina also billed for home visits he claimed he made in Dallas while he was out of the country. Happily, he has been found out.

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Leading Off (5/4/2015)

Two Dead After Shots Fired At Anti-Muslim Event In Garland. Every word in that sentence is rotten. The American Freedom Defense Initiative, essentially an anti-Muslim hate group, held a cartoon contest for drawings of the prophet Mohammad, which culminated in the event Sunday. According to CNN, “The group said it specifically picked the venue, a public school-owned facility, because it was host to a event denouncing Islamophobia in January.” Of course. Two men opened fire outside the venue, which is owned by the Garland school district, injuring a Garland ISD officer. Police shot the two gunmen dead. Their names haven’t been released, and because of the shooting, high school students won’t get to take their AP exams as scheduled today.

That Earthquake Sunday Morning Definitely Woke Me Up. I can exclusively report that this one was strong enough to disturb both me and my dishes. The magnitude was 3.2. I love the “guess where the epicenter was” game, so we’ll play that again.

Former Dallas Assistant Police Chief Killed in Corpus Christi. Floyd Simpson, a 25 year Dallas Police Department veteran who worked alongside then-chief David Kunkle before becoming Corpus Christie’s chief of police in 2012, died in a motorcycle accident Sunday evening.

City Councilman Scott Griggs Under Investigation For Coercion of a Public Servant. The case seems a bit dodgy, starting with the dump of this news at the end of the day Friday. City secretary Bilirae Johnson filed a complaint with the Dallas Police Department eight days after the alleged incident occurred. Griggs, allegedly upset about the way a posting about the April 16 Trinity River toll road meeting was or wasn’t handled, is accused of attempting to “stop Complainant Johnson from performing her duties by his use of profanity and threats.” I say “was or wasn’t,” since the agenda for the meeting was posted, per City Hall, before the alleged incident between Johnson and Griggs occurred. Supporters of Griggs say that the investigation is a scare tactic, because Griggs has been such a vocal opponent of the toll road.

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The Most Dangerous Book In Dallas Is Also The Most Lucrative

In the May issue, Peter Simek wrote about The Accommodation, Dallas Observer columnist Jim Schutze’s out-of-print book about the city’s racial divide that has seen a surge in black-market popularity among the young and civic-minded. You should read Peter’s story, and not just because it is both timely and contains a fascinating aside on how a certain embattled county commissioner came to possess the book’s copyright.

You should read it because it could make you rich. Well, richer. And only if you happen to have a copy of The Accommodation already in your possession, and only if you feel like divesting yourself of that copy. As we were finishing up the issue, I happened to mention to a longtime Dallasite and FrontBurnervian that the cheapest copy was selling online for $989. This Dallasite owned a copy in good condition. And because I am a triple threat of nice person, shrewd businesslady, and believer in the free market, I suggested she list it on Amazon. Yesterday, it sold to someone in the Park Cities for $599. She emails that “two other people posted books for about the price I’d listed when the issue came out—and they sold too.”

I can’t tell you where the copy that was in our office went. No clue. I am just saying that if I did know, drinks would be on me.

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Leading Off (4/27/2015)

First Tornadoes Of The Season Roll In. Dallas and Tarrant Counties were under a tornado watch for much of the night, but the really scary stuff seemed to skip us. Around 11 pm, WFAA’s Pete Delkus tweeted that North Texas was under a new tornado watch until 5 am, but the watch didn’t include Dallas-Fort Worth. However, at the time of typing, five confirmed tornadoes were spotted elsewhere, such as Glen Rose and west of Rio Vista. Hope everyone stayed safe last night.

Texas Railroad Commission Considers Shutting Down Azle Injection Wells. After SMU’s scientific report last week linking the wastewater injection wells to significant earthquake activity in Azle and Reno, the Railroad Commission has announced that it will hold hearings in June to determine the fate of XTO Energy and EnerVest Operating’s wells. The 27 earthquakes from  November 2013 to January 2014 “were in an area where no earthquakes had been reported or felt for 150 years, leading [the researchers] to link the quakes to nearby wells.” The spokespeople from both oil and gas companies agree that they are looking forward to the hearings, which, what a coincidence, me too. I can’t wait to hear how they try to spin this.

Steve Blow Is Part Neanderthal. Genetics told him so.

TCU Security Guard Arrested For Improper Photography. Alexander Marin, a security guard at TCU’s library, was fired and arrested after he was identified as the brazen creep who stuck a cell phone under the door of a stall in a women’s restroom and took photos of a student. He was also linked to two other incidents in the library. Ick.

Mavs Win! No sweep for the Houston Rockets. I am guessing this is a relief for the many Dallas sports fans I know, and even the ones I have yet to meet. Meanwhile, Jordan Spieth is getting some mileage out of that green jacket.

 

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Tesla Mobile Projection Vehicle Puts a Panda on the Meyerson

Okay, yes, the company has done other stuff to help the planet, too, like produce a beautiful electric vehicle people actually want to drive. Our photographer, Elizabeth, went out with the Tesla team around midnight last night to document this Earth Day-inspired project: mobile projections of animals in acute danger. It’s promotion for a film called Racing Extinction, which delves deep into the international wildlife trade, that screens Saturday and Sunday at Earth Day Dallas in Fair Park. The activists featured in the documentary use cameras hidden in water bottles and button holes to expose the lucrative markets that threaten species with extinction. A Tesla is, of course, also involved in the somewhat less covert operations as a way of attempting to get people to wake up and pay attention to world around them. The film, which premiered at Sundance this year, is directed by Louis Psihoyos, the man behind The Cove, a documentary about the Japanese dolphin trade that won an Academy Award in 2010. See it Saturday or Sunday, 2 pm and 6 pm.

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Leading Off (4/20/2015)

Stevie Ray Vaughan Inducted Into Rock and Roll Hall Of Fame. The ceremony took place on Saturday in Cleveland, but for fans of the Oak Cliff guitarist and his band, Double Trouble, the induction was a long time coming.

Plano West Sports Star Arrested. Soso Jamabo, a senior running back who had signed with UCLA, was arrested in Kaufman County on a charge of evading arrest with a vehicle after he allegedly attempted to avoid a traffic stop Saturday evening. Police say they tried to pull him over after he exited Highway 175 at a high speed, and in response, Jamabo, driving a truck, sped up and ran a stop sign, turning on to State Highway 274. He eventually stopped. The three other people in the car with him were cited for minors in possession of alcohol and minors in consumption, but not arrested. Jamabo bonded out Sunday afternoon.

Rockets Beat Mavs In First Playoff Game. The score was 118-108. This is a fun quote from Houston Rockets player Corey Brewer, who was once a Maverick: “It feels good, especially playing against a former team,” said Brewer, who was sent to Denver in a salary dump when Dallas acquired Lamar Odom before the 2011-12 season.  “I think they traded me away for a bag of chips, so it’s always good to play against them.”

Did Someone Lose A Tortoise? The Sulcata tortoise is not inconspicuous, considering that it weighs more than your average dog. It was found near Ferguson Road and St. Francis, so if anyone in Casa Linda has lost a pet speed demon, call Dallas Animal Services and Adoption Center.

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Leading Off (4/13/2015)

Jordan Spieth Wins Masters. The 21-year-old Dallas native finished ahead of Phil Mickelson, Tiger Woods, and Rory McIlroy to nab the green jacket.

Thousands of People Watched Katie The Giraffe Give Birth. It’s a girl. And already six feet tall. Here are some photos of the as-yet-unnamed baby giraffe.

Gas Well Leak Prompts Evacuations in Arlington. Residents were displaced Saturday night while Halliburton-owned Boots & Co. attempted to seal the leak, which had something to do with the “flow back of pressurized fracking water” well into Sunday afternoon.

Major Crash On I-30 Kills Five Early Sunday Morning. It started as a minor accident in Fort Worth. Then an 18-wheeler carrying the Sunday edition of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram wrecked and caught fire. Nine cars and 17 people were involved. Be careful out there.

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Leading Off (4/6/2014)

Pedestrian Dies In Hit-and-Run Near Mockingbird Station. The victim, 20-year-old Paul Miltenberger, attempted to the cross Mockingbird Lane at a non-crosswalk area very early this morning and was hit by a black Dodge Charger. Miltenberger was a sophomore at the University of Missouri, and the campus newspaper reports that he is from Southlake. Let’s hope this pedestrian bridge happens.

Texas Health Resources Responds To Nina Pham’s Lawsuit. For starters, THR would like the whole thing dismissed. But the five-page response goes on to generally deny the allegations that the hospital’s lack of proper training and equipment caused her to contract the Ebola virus and that Pham’s privacy was violated. Pham’s attorney, Charla Aldous, says she is “disappointed but not surprised” by the hospital’s response.

Trinity Toll Road Faces Army Corps of Engineers. After the Federal Highway Administration approved the proposed six-lane Trinity toll road last Thursday, the final federal hurdle is the Army Corps of Engineers. Within weeks, they are expected to determine whether the road can be built without compromising the levees, as well as the overall impact of the project and whether or not federal funds should be used to pay for it.

A Bird-Napping In Oak Cliff Ruffles Feathers. Someone very nonchalantly snatched a wild male peacock from the Beckley Club Estates neighborhood, and the residents, who feed and care for the birds, are understandably upset. Considering that birds are really just tiny dinosaurs, you might wonder how this happened. “The bird wasn’t paying any attention. The male was, um, mating.” Anyway, just bring the peacock back, please.

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Leading Off (3/30/2015)

Meeting of Two Biker Gangs Turns Deadly. Two people were shot and killed at the scene Saturday evening in southeast Dallas, while a third shooting victim was dropped off at a police substation. Police are looking for witnesses, with no suspects in custody yet.

Sam Wyly Speaks. The Morning News has an interview with Wyly, former Dallas billionaire who has declared bankruptcy and is selling off his assets after a jury found in February that Wyly and his brother, Charles, had committed fraud by using offshore trusts to trade millions in securities. And while selling his indie bookstore in Aspen for $6.5 million, among many other things, might be “a disaster,” Wyly tells the News that it was worse to lose his state high school football championship.

Go Back To Dean Street. If you recall (and enjoyed) the Dallas Theater Center’s production of the new musical Fortress of Solitude last year, you will be pleased to note that the original cast recording, full of blues and funk and soul, with its recognizable homage to the real-life artists who refined the genres, is out on iTunes. I recommend it even if you didn’t get a chance to see it.

Republicans Want More Information About Minors Seeking Abortion Exemptions. Republicans in the Lege, including Ron Simmons from Carrollton and Matt Krause of Fort Worth, have taken a new tack this year by filing bills that would change how the legal exemption process for minors seeking an abortion works. Notably, these bills want to make public the names and identifying information of the judges who hear the exemption cases. I will leave you all to guess just why these lawmakers would like this information made public.

Homophobic Vandal Arrested, Charged. Excellent news here. A grand jury indicted outspoken anti-LGBT person Richard Sheridan, failed city council candidate who also apparently ran for mayor at one point, for painting “666” on the Legacy of Love monument in Oak Lawn and the Cathedral of Hope, the biggest gay and lesbian church in the world. (The Dallas Morning News building and the Dallas Observer building were also tagged.) Does this mean police got word of the theory posited by another former mayoral candidate who is “not a detective” but does work at D Magazine? Perhaps.

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Leading Off (3/23/2015)

Ted Cruz Is Officially Running For President. After majorly spoiler alert-ing this announcement on every single news organization and social media platform known to man, including Yahoo Groups, Sen. Ted Cruz will make the actual announcement today, though not from Texas. He’ll do it from Liberty University in Virginia. He’s the first GOP candidate to jump in.

Yoga Does Not Work For Everyone. As Nancy Duarte evidently found when she misplaced her zen and tried to burn down Sunstone Yoga on Mockingbird Lane Saturday night.  The studio suffered minimal damage.  Per the Morning News, “a witness, Phineas Bennett-Lovari, said the woman was lighting matches and pieces of paper and throwing them into the air, yelling, ‘I’m going to burn this [expletive] down. I don’t care if I go to jail.'” Duarte was arrested and charged with arson.

Arlington Might Get An MGM Grand Hotel. The city would not confirm, but sources told the Star-Telegram that a “convention-class” hotel with at least 750 rooms was in the works for a site near Globe Life Park.

Uptown Definitely Getting A Dream Hotel. Dallas is one a few cities with Dream Hotels in the works, as the boutique brand is adding six new properties. It will be on McKinney Ave. near Bowen Street. The plans were delayed while developers worked with residents to address parking and noise concerns.

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Leading Off (3/16/2015)

Ponies Headed to NCAA Tournament. SMU beat UConn to clinch a spot. Thanks, Larry Brown. Yay, sports.

Pedestrian Killed In Hit-And-Run in Lake Highlands. David Benton, 55, was killed crossing the street at Skillman and Walnut Hill Lane Sunday morning when he was struck by a vehicle. The driver, identified as Angel Lopez-Gil, kept going, dragging Benton’s body, and then parked his damaged vehicle and fled on foot. A witness to the accident followed him, and police were able to make the arrest a few blocks away.

Pedestrian Killed By TRE In Irving. This was not a good weekend, you guys. Apparently, a woman ventured on to the tracks Saturday afternoon while the crossing gate arms were still down and was waiting for a westbound freight train to pass while walking south on Nursery Road. She did not see the TRE coming from the east.

Teenager Arrested In Death Of Iraqi Immigrant. Nykerion Nealon, 17, was arrested Friday in connection with the death of Ahmed Al-Jumaili, the Iraqi immigrant who was murdered while he was taking pictures of the snow. Police say that it was not a hate crime—Nealon was allegedly looking for a person who he claimed shot at his girlfriend’s apartment 30 minutes before when he randomly came across Al-Jumaili and his family while carrying an assault rifle. Why does a 17-year-old even have access to an assault rifle? This is insane.

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The New York Times Is Streaming Strike: The Greatest Bowling Story Ever Told

You may recall that Michael J. Mooney’s story, “The Most Amazing Bowling Story Ever,” inspired a short documentary about the night amateur bowler Bill Fong threw strike after strike. Filmmaker Joey Daoud read the story when it first came out and wrote to Mike immediately. Lest you think the praise for this Mooney classic had run its course, it was recently the subject of the Nieman Foundation’s Annotation Tuesday. You can read the story with his writerly notes here.

Anyway, I got to see the film, Strike: The Greatest Bowling Story Ever Told, last year at the Dallas International Film Festival. It’s great, and I’m not biased or being paid by Mooney to write all this. But starting to today, you can screen it on nytimes.com as part of their Made With Kickstarter series.

Go forth and watch.

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Leading Off (3/9/2015)

There Was Another Earthquake Saturday Night, And Guess Where The Epicenter Was. If you said anything that did not at least near-rhyme with “Flexas Titanium,” we’re sorry, you have reached a number that has been disconnected or is no longer is service. The magnitude was 2.3 for those keeping score.

Police Still Seeking Suspects In Last Thursday’s Murder Of An Iraqi Refugee. This story is sad and depressing and very troubling. Ahmed al-Jumaili had only recently arrived in Dallas, where he was reunited with his wife after staying behind in Baghdad last year to to try and save more money despite escalating violence there. He was shot outside his family’s apartment early Thursday morning, after he went outside to take pictures of the snow. The shooters fled, and al-Jumaili died at Presby. The police released a video of the suspects on Saturday. Vox has a longer piece on the shooting, which is recommended reading.

SMU Mustangs Win First Conference Title Since 1993. The Ponies beat Tulsa 67-62, with Markus Kennedy leading the team with 16 points.

Longtime KSCS Radio Personality Terry Dorsey Dies. He had just retired from the station in December of last year. He died Saturday night of a sudden illness on his farm in Illinois.

This Is The Most Dallas Thing Ever. Somebody rented a Bird Bird-infused Lambo (of course), drove it on the Tollway (of course), wrecked it after hitting a wall (of course), and then abandoned it on the shoulder (OF COURSE) late Saturday night. Even more fantastic: the luxury car rental company claiming the Lamborghini is Farmers Branch-based “Exotic Skittles,” because nothing says “luxury” like candy available in Fun Size. Personally, and sticking to the candy theme, I would have gone with “Exotic Green-Tea Kit Kats You Can Buy In Japan, But Also At That Grocery Store In Carrollton.”

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