The Best Thing Written So Far About the John Wiley Price Indictment

The John Wiley Price indictment is a big story, and I’m sure many journalists in town scurried to the courthouse, drooling over the drama that would unfold in the months to come. I did. But I also thought about Jim Schutze, because Schutze knows this story better than anyone in this town, and I was excited to see what he would do with it. In short, Schutze is delivering. Here’s his latest piece, a comprehensive overview of the real scandal, not the bribery, but the way Dallas leaders sold out Dallas and lost the opportunity to develop an Inland Port in South Dallas that would have completely transformed the city’s economic base while bringing tens of thousands of jobs to South Dallas. Here’s the money quote:

I’ve known Price for a long time. I look at him sometimes, and I don’t see a black guy anyway. I see a Dallas guy. He’s a typical Dallas guy who worships money. He loves the thrill of the deal. He thinks of hardworking pluggers as just shy of losers and worse. In 2008, when I asked him how he could oppose something that promised so many jobs in southern Dallas, he told me sneeringly he associated labor with slavery.

In fact he put that thought in a letter to Allen. “During slavery,” he wrote, “everybody had a job.”

Put it in writing. That proud of it. That may be a cynicism so profound that it transcends race, or descends it. I wonder sometimes. If all anybody really believes in is the big money and the fast deal, is there no one left out there to believe in the city?

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8 Achievable Steps to Improve Urbanism

Streets.mn, a blog based out of Minnesota offers eight ways to improve urbanism, some of which may seem obvious, others not so much. My favorite suggestions:

- Making accessory dwellings legal: They’ve been playing with the idea in Minneapolis, and Austin has been savvy to it. What accessory dwellings (or granny flats) offer is quick and achievable density in-fill on single-family lots.

- Better transit, not more transit: Dallas boasts more miles of light rail than any other city in the world, which is one of those claims that sounds good on paper, but is really embarrassing. The rail is so long because it is trying to wrestle with so much sprawl while not actually providing the most efficient or usable service. Streets.mn argues more attention should be paid to improving the efficiency and usability of less sexy, but potentially more effective modes of transit, like the modest, old bus. Hmm, sounds familiar.

- Eliminate one way streets: Come on, Dallas. It is time to kill ALL of downtown’s one way streets. Today. Fine, tomorrow. But still, it’s 20 years too late. They make no sense at all.

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Why the Cotton Bowl Still Has Value as a Sports Facility

Back in March, I made a somewhat far-fetched proposal.  The best way to transform Fair Park and The Cotton Bowl would be to buy a Mexican league soccer team and have them play in Dallas’ most historic stadium. Some of the people I spoke to who have experience working with Mexico’s Liga MX agreed that the Cotton Bowl was a great soccer venue but were skeptical of the feasibility of actually moving a Mexican team to the United States, due to complications over ownership and the interest of the Mexican league. But whatever. A man can dream, no?

Well, tonight a little piece of that dream comes true.

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Feeling Sam’s Club Blues? Don’t Worry, There Are Some Developers Who Have Vision

Today is the second day of hearings in the East Village Association’s attempt to block that idiotic effort to build a Sam’s Club across Central Expressway from the West Village. If even thinking about that controversy, which we detail in the latest issue, sends you into the doldrums, well then spend a few minutes perusing some more uplifting development plans. These are the latest renderings from Scott Rohrman’s 42 Real Estate, which plans a sweeping renovation of the many Deep Ellum properties it has scooped-up in over the past few years. The designs look both sensitive to the historic neighborhood as it exists today as they carve out a few improvements. My favorite idea, the addition of an alley between Main and Elm Streets that will create a pedestrian corridor that will shorten the too-long blocks lengths that are there today. Wilonsky breaks down the plans in detail here.

The renderings were prepared as part of 42 Real Estate’s effort to get all of their holdings rolled into the Deep Ellum Tax Increment Financing District. If all goes according to plan, Rorhman expects the alley portion of the renderings to become reality within 18 months.

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Dallas Morning News Adds Another ‘Subject Matter Expert’

Poynter reports on Dr. Seema Yasmin, a doctor-turned-journalist who is the third of the Dallas Morning News’ so-called “subject matter experts.” That’s the term the paper is using to describe their joint hires with area universities, a funding scheme that has helped the paper hire an architecture critic (Mark Lamster) and art critic (Richard Brettell). The experiment has worked pretty well in those cases. We’ve just named Lamster “best critic” in the August issue, and Brettell has added welcomed depth to the paper’s art coverage, even if it is a little odd that the art critic at a city’s daily newspaper was once the director of the city’s museum.

So what does Yasmin bring? Well, for example, after the crash of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17, Yasmin discovered that she knew one of the HIV/AIDS researchers on board, Dr. Joep Lange, and she wrote a column about the doctor and his work.

And Yasmin isn’t the first doctor to jump careers into journalism. Attendees of the Mayborn Conference this past weekend heard Pulitzer Prize winner Sheri Fink speak.

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Things To Do In Dallas Tonight: July 8

Your usual guide to the comings and goings of Dallas fun is frolicking in the “City of the Big Shoulders” this week — or at least until tonight — that is, unless Second City can convince him to toss his Plano love to wind and double down with some of his We Shot Jr compatriots who decamped Dallas years ago for the capital of the Midwest (highly doubtful). So that leaves me, I suppose, to step in and offer an evening tour of our fair burg. We should be able to find a few titillations and stimulations for a run-of-the-mill Tuesday in July. Let’s see.

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How Syracuse Is Dealing With Its Inner-City Highway Problem

Govering.com has an interesting article about the movement to teardown a section of Interstate 81 in Syracuse, NY. If you’ve been following the conversation about the similar effort in Dallas, many aspects of this story will sound familiar. A road goes up in the 1960s that cuts through a predominately African-American neighborhood. Downtown business owners supported the road because they believed it would bring in customers. However, the opposite occurred, and downtown suffered. Now that there is a slow-moving revival of downtown, and developers, city organizations, and Syracuse politicians want to remove the road, which has reached the end of its useful life and requires expensive repairs, and stitch back the city’s urban grid. State agencies and suburban business leaders and politicians want to rebuild or bury the road.

The article offers a comprehensive and balanced overview of the debate that very much mirrors our own. And it reiterates something we wrote in the May issue: no matter what, reversing the effects of 20th century interstate building is a political nightmare.

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Obama May Discuss Border Crisis in Dallas, But Is This His ‘Katrina Moment?’

A “Katrina Moment.” It’s a phrase that, for whatever reason, immediately brings the image of Kanye West crying on TV to my mind. It’s the phrase Laredo Democratic Rep. Henry Cuellar used to describe President Obama’s refusal to break from his Texas itinerary, which will see him swing through Dallas and Austin and attend three fund-raisers in two days, in order to visit the detention centers on the Texas-Mexico border that are home to an increasing number of child refugees from Latin America. While in Dallas, however, Obama has invited Gov. Rick Perry to discuss the situation along with local faith leaders and elected officials. Expect Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins to be there; the judge has offered to find housing for 2,000 child migrants.

But Katrina Moment?

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The Cedars Is Getting a Movie Theater

The Alamo Drafthouse, which opened in Richardson last year, is expanding in DFW, and the new location is going to be in — wait for it — the Cedars. This is good news for those of us (myself not included, but I’m looking at you Liz Johnstone) who like their Hobbit-themed meals served inside the beltway. But the implication for downtown Dallas and the Cedars is equally positive. Jack Matthews appears to be hitting stride with his decades-long effort to redevelop the South Dallas neighborhood (he also has this and this in the works). And there has  been hope for a downtown theater for years. As Wilonsky points out in his DMN piece, an Alamo in that location makes sense:

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Why Public Transit Needs to Be Part of the Teardown Conversation

Forgive me if I dive into the recent past for a quick diatribe. I’ve been out of town for a week, and after arriving back in Dallas from the gut-punching landscape of central Wyoming — via a soul-sucking drive down 114 from the northern Fort Worth suburbs through such bucolic havens of American life as Southlake, Grapevine, Las Colinas, and Irving — something jumped out in a Jim Schutze column from last week:

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It Looks Like Trammell Crow Will Shove Another Sam’s Club Down Dallas’ Throat

Here we are, during a week that brought all of the country’s mayors to Dallas, when the city played host to a bunch of talking heads yammering on about how cars are evil, green is good, and yadda yadda, and Dallas’ plan commission flashes the green light for the development of a big box development in the heart of its urban core. It kind of puts all the urban envisioning and future of Dallas stuff in perspective. How did this happen?

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The Dallas Morning News Updates ‘Tipping Points’ for 2014

The DMN has launched a new comprehensive report on the state of the city, billed as an update of its 2004 Tipping Points special section. Making reference to J. Erik Jonsson’s Goals for Dallas program, which was launched 50 years ago this year, Mark Lamster offers some context for the new project in an introductory essay:

Mayor Mike Rawlings leads a city at a time of immense private prosperity offset by sweeping poverty, a city of newly erected architectural marvels set amid a crumbling public infrastructure too extensive for it to cost-effectively maintain. No city has a greater untapped natural resource than the Trinity River corridor, yet we threaten to pave much of it over in the name of convenience. Downtown languishes and rebounds, seemingly at once. Our patterns of consumption – of land, of water, of energy – are pushing beyond our capacities to sustain them. As a public, we are physically and figuratively divided.

Confronted by these challenges, we might well ponder the same questions Jonsson posed to Dallasites decades ago. What are our goals, and how do we achieve them? What exactly do we want Dallas to be?

I have only started to dig into the report. Consider it a little weekend reading and a primer ahead of next week’s New Cities Summit, when Dallas hosts a global discussion about the future of cities.

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