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Leading Off (7/27/2015)

Popular Park Cities Personal Trainer Killed By Car. Michele Albanese was crossing the street at Travis and Armstrong, near the gym where she worked, around 12:30 pm Friday afternoon, when she was struck by a car going north on Travis Street. Police say Albanese was not at a crosswalk, failed to look both ways, and was talking on her phone when she was killed. The police have not released details about the driver of the vehicle. Very sad.

Dallas Makes Garth Brooks Feel Our Love. We’ve missed him in the two decades since the country singer last stopped by. It’s going to take seven shows at the American Airlines Center to accommodate the demand for tickets.

Boy Scouts End Ban On Gay Leaders Today. That’s the good news from the Irving-based organization, which will also ban discrimination based on sexual orientation for its paid positions. The bad news is that the new policy will still “allow church-run units to pick leaders who agree with their moral precepts,” according to the Morning News.

You Can All Officially Complain About The Heat Now. Dallas-Fort Worth achieved its first 100 degree day of the season over the weekend.

So Long. And thanks for all the fish. This is my last Leading Off, and after many years, my last day with D is this Friday. The September issue will be my last as the magazine’s managing editor. It’s been a fun and instructive ride, and I will remember you all with fondness. Mostly. It’s likely you’ll still see my byline here and there, so nobody worry too much.

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Leading Off (7/20/2015)

Jordan Spieth Enters Final Round of The Open. There are only three players ahead of him. Nancy’s brother, Bill Nichols at the Dallas Morning News, can explain his positioning much better than I can. So just read this. And make sure your TV is properly tuned in by 8:20 am, when Spieth tees off.

Bernie Sanders Talks Progressive Issues In Dallas. Sanders, a Vermont independent running for president as a Democrat, brought out an estimated crowd of 7,000 for a rally on Sunday around topics like a $15 minimum wage and tax increases for the wealthy. According to the Texas Tribune, “the event appeared to be the largest held by any presidential candidate in Texas so far this election cycle.” Sanders also did some damage control, speaking out against police brutality after he stumbled in response to the “Black Lives Matter” protesters who overtook his Netroots Nation event with the former governor of Maryland on Saturday.

To Catch A Puppy Thief. A Siberian Husky puppy worth $2,850 (this is nuts) was stolen from a pet shop in North Dallas. A man walked out with the adorable little puppy Saturday night and jumped in a getaway car, but was caught fairly quickly.  The puppy was returned to the store. Stealing and reselling a puppy? Terrible. That puppy stuck in a pet shop? Also not a great feeling.

Leading Off (7/13/2015)

New Criminal History Monitoring Program Introduced at DFW Airport. The TSA has chosen DFW and Logan Airport in Boston to test an FBI pilot program called “Rap Back,” which is part of the Bureau’s massive biometric identification database. Rather than relying on just a one-time background check, the Rap Back program will use the fingerprints provided when an employee starts a job to continuously scan for future “felony-level” offenses. Per the Morning News, “other types of employees, such as teachers, doctors, nurses and even Little League coaches, may eventually be scrutinized by the program.”

Standoff At Omni Hotel Ends Peacefully. A man staying at the downtown hotel barricaded himself in a room Saturday afternoon, and allegedly told a friend who brought him a drink that it would be the last time that friend saw the man alive. The friend had noticed a gun in the hotel room, and alerted hotel security. SWAT was called, and streets surrounding the hotel blocked off. Happily, the man was taken into custody without incident.

Jordan Spieth Wins Again. He beat Tom Gillis at the John Deere Classic to go in to The Open in Scotland on an even higher note.

Greg Hardy’s Suspension Reduced To Four Games. The Cowboys’ defensive end had originally been suspended 10 games after the NFL found that choking and smacking his girlfriend was against the league’s personal conduct policy. But now his 10-game sentence has been reduced to four games, equal to the punishment of Tom Brady, who is suspended for deflating some footballs.

Jac Alder’s Memorial Is Tonight. Celebrate the life and work of the late founder of Theatre Three at Dallas City Performance Hall. The parking lot under the building with be free for the event. Doors open at 5:15, and the memorial starts at 6 pm.

Leading Off (7/6/2015)

North Texas Residents Were Really Determined To Blow Stuff Up Saturday. Dallas Fire-Rescue confiscated more than 1,000 pounds of illegal fireworks and put out 45 firework-related fires on July 4th. Meanwhile, a firefighter in Azle was injured in a blaze possibly started fireworks, as well. Luckily, no one here strapped a mortar to his or her head. That would just be completely nuts.

Rick Perry Went On an Independence Day Charm Offensive in New Hampshire. “The candidate had an almost theatrical, hyperactive zeal as he marched with two dozen or so supporters through the streets of Merrimack. He began the parade pantomiming drumming motions, in time with a local marching band several floats ahead. ‘Happy birthday, y’all,’ was his refrain along the parade route. In Perry-speak, women he’s never met before were greeted with a “Hey, girl.’ Men are ‘Hey, man’ and any plurality of voters was ‘Hey, gang!’ He greeted children with fist bumps and an exclamation of ‘Bam!'”

Mavs Sign Free-Agent Center DeAndre Jordan. Apparently, Chandler Parsons attached himself to Jordan’s hip to convince him to pick Dallas. Thanks, Chandler Parsons.

Fort Worth Teen Charged With Making Terroristic Threats. Nineteen-year-old Nicholas Amrine has been in custody since June, after a pastor at Convergence Church in Fort Worth notified police of posts on Amrine’s Facebook page, which apparently warned people not to attend an upcoming church event and shows him posing with a rifle. He threatened a mass shooting “like Columbine.” Amrine was placed in state hospital, but was formally arrested and charged last week.

 

 

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Leading Off (6/29/2015)

Two Small Earthquakes In Irving This Weekend. They were tiny (a 2.3 early Saturday morning, a 2.1 early Sunday morning), so you will be forgiven if you did not feel them. In case you were wondering, I could not be more thrilled that my hometown has been officially dubbed “earthquake country.”

Texas AG Ken Paxton Says State County Clerks Who Have “Religious Objections” Can Refuse To Issue Marriage Licenses To Same-Sex Couples. S-i-g-h.

Lewisville’s Deputy Mayor Pro Tem Racks Up Second DWI. Greg Tierney was arrested after driving eastbound on I-35.

Jogger Finds Body in Oak Cliff Alley. The body appears to be of a teenage boy, dead of an apparent gunshot wound. A jogger found him on West Brooklyn Avenue around 7:30 am. He has not yet been identified.

Cowboys May Have Used Drones Illegally. Whoops. Apparently, the team might not have gotten the correct FAA waiver to film practices via drone. It’s cool, though. The Cowboys probably won’t have to pay a fine.

After SCOTUS Decision, Jack Evans and George Harris Go Get Their Marriage License

If you recall, we wrote about Jack Evans and George Harris, a wonderful couple in their 80s who have been fighting for marriage equality in Dallas and beyond since the early ’60s, in our 40th anniversary issue. They founded what would become the North Texas GLBT Chamber of Commerce, and started The Dallas Way, a project aimed at presenting the history of the GLBT community in Dallas. They were married in March of last year, but the marriage wasn’t recognized here. Evans and Harris have been together for some 55 years.

Minutes ago, to my utter delight, I saw their photo come across Twitter as they joined a growing line for marriage licenses at the Dallas Records Building, hours after the SCOTUS decision legalizing gay marriage in all 50 states.

Congratulations to Jack and George, congratulations to all.

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Leading Off: 6/22/2015

Jordan Spieth Wins U.S. Open. That green Masters jacket was not enough for him. He wanted a gigantic trophy, too. Congrats to Dallas’ own.

Thousands Show Up For Surprise $1 Concert at House of Blues. The concert, part of J. Cole’s “Dollar and a Dream” tour, was announced on Twitter around 4 pm, HOB staff announced a sellout around 5:30 pm. The Dallas Police Department shut down the streets around the venue to contain the very determined 2,000+ crowd. So, if, like me, you got stuck in traffic around downtown this evening, now we know who to blame.

Science Continues To Prove Recent Earthquake Activity Is Caused By Fracking. So pesky. Remember the recent SMU study that already reached this conclusion? A new paper from researchers with the University of Colorado and the U.S. Geological Survey was just published in the journal Science (what a coincidence) that further supports SMU’s finding, concluding “that the entire increase in earthquake rates in Texas and nearby states was associated with fluid injection wells.”

Flooded Grapevine Lake Causes Problems. Coppell, Lewisville, Grapevine, and Flower Mound all have plans in place for the evacuation of low-lying areas, as runoff from the lake caused road closures.

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Leading Off (6/15/2015)

Shoot Out At Dallas Police Headquarters. Since it was all over local and national news, I feel like it’s safe to assume you heard about the situation that developed very early Saturday morning. But just in case: Shots were first fired outside the DPD’s headquarters, across from the Southside on Lamar residences, around 12:30 am, which led to a chase and stand off between the suspect and police down the highway in Hutchins. The suspect, James Boulware, was driving an armored vehicle, and police say he appears to have acted alone. Luckily, no officers were injured or killed; Boulware was killed sometime after negotiations for his surrender were cut off. However, Boulware had rigged several explosives near DPD headquarters, which led the evacuation of Southside on Lamar, and police say that Boulware’s van was also rigged. From beginning to end, the confirmed death of the shooter, the ordeal lasted 12 hours. The DPD posted on update on their blog on Sunday regarding the officers involved as well as ongoing issues, like clean up and crime scene processing.

City Council Runoff Race Decides Open Seats. WFAA reports that Casey Thomas won in District 3, beating Joe Tave. In District 7, Tiffinni Young won, beating Kevin Felder. In District 10, Adam McGough beat Paul Reyes. In District 8, Erik Wilson beat Dianne Gibson.

Dallas Could Get A New TV Show. Well, sorta! Some folks down in Austin decided recently that providing incentives for the film and television industry in our state wasn’t a priority, which is insane. However, Dallas is pretty close to enticing a USA show called Queen of the South, based on a hit Telemundo show, to film the show where it’s set: right here. However, the City Council does need to approve a $150,000 “economic incentive,” which would be worth it, since local spending is an estimated $18 million for the first season alone.

Brace Yourselves For More Bad Weather. And for everyone you know to post more annoyed screenshots of the bleakness staring back at them from their phone’s weather app. Storms are brewing.

Leading Off (6/8/2015)

McKinney Police Officer On Leave After Video Of Pool Incident Surfaces. Friday evening, McKinney Police responded to calls from residents and a private security guard about a disturbance at a community pool within the Craig Ranch residential subdivision. A total of 12 officers eventually arrived on the scene, and a video that surfaced later shows officers seemingly targeting only the black teenagers who were at the pool. Corporal Eric Casebolt, the officer in the video who manhandles a 14-year-old girl, shoving her face in to the grass, pulling her hair, and finally sitting on her back to hold her down, is the one of administrative leave. (This is also the same officer who pulls a gun on two black teenage boys, but two other officers stop him, so he goes back to attacking the girl.) Special shout out to the white adult male in the jean shorts who hovers by the cop for the entire thing and says and does absolutely nothing.

Three Pedestrians Killed Early Sunday. The incidents were all unrelated. One was in Northwest Dallas, and Dallas Police have charged  36-year-old Alejandro Hernandez-Vazquez with intoxication manslaughter. Another was in east Oak Cliff, where a woman was found dead after being struck by a car traveling westbound on McVey Avenue. The driver did not stop. Finally, the third was a man who was attempting to stop his car from being towed around 3:50 am. He fell, and was run over by the tow truck.

Bikers Protest in Waco. Nearly 1,000 attended the All For 1 Rally and protest against the Waco Police Department and judges, three weeks after the deadly shootout between rival gangs at Twin Peaks. Of the some 170 bikers arrested, more than 100 are still incarcerated. Supporters and protesters, who remained peaceful, say that most of the bikers behind bars are innocent.

DART Shooter Remains at Large. A gunman shot two fellow passengers late Friday night after one of these people made eye contact with him. Luckily, the two survived.

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Leading Off (5/27/2015)

17-Year-Old Charged With Strangling 16-Year-Old Ex-Girlfriend. Rachel Jean Wiest was in 10th grade; Jacob Lee Boyd was in 11th. They both attended Nimitz High School in Irving. They were at a friend’s house on Memorial Day, discussing their relationship. They argued. After that, police say, he choked her to death.

Runway at DFW Airport Reopened After Nearby Sinkhole Causes Shutdown. I really thought, after reading so many Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys books as a kid, that quicksand was going to play a much larger role in my life than it has thus far. News of this 25-foot by 25-foot sinkhole out at DFW Airport, created after a section of storm drain dislodged, is about the closest I’ve gotten.

Body of Trinity River Kayaker Found In Discharge Pool. Joshua Reed of Fort Worth, along with five others, was kayaking in a restricted area Saturday evening when water released from the Eagle Mountain Dam overtook their vessels. The five others, which included a 6-year-old girl, were eventually rescued; Reed was found dead Sunday.

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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.

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.