As Tim wrote Tuesday morning after the Cowboys loss to the Redskins, there’s no reason to freak out about a 6-2 start to the season. But at least one Cowboys fan couldn’t control his emotions after Monday’s loss. Actually, he basically tore apart his entire apartment (including ripping a kitchen counter clean off the cabinets) in a display of pure fan anguish that is surely fueled by alcohol and, frankly, kind of depressing to watch. Imagine what this guy would have done after Game Six if he was as big a Rangers fan as he is a (drunken) Cowboys fan. Deadspin has the (language NSFW) video.Full Story
Just eight days after filing for bankruptcy, former Billionaire Sam Wyly sold $320,000 worth of art at Christie’s auction house. His lawyer said the timing of the sale was inadvertent, but lawyers for the Security Exchange Commission, who successfully convicted the Dallas man for trading stocks held in offshore accounts for 13 years and reaping at least $550 million in illegal profits, say the sale of the art is evidence that Wyly is trying to liquidate his assets. The SEC filed a letter in federal court today calling for a freeze in Wyly’s assets. The namesake of Dallas’ Wyly Theater is on the hook to pay back the feds something in the $187.7 million range.
Joseph Guinto went in depth on the Wyly case back in 2013, and followed-up on the fallout from the trial back in May. Just last week, Wyly was making headlines again for trying to get a judge to loosen up his court-ordered budget of $10,000 per month. Of course, after hearing about the art sale, my first thought was, “What kind of art did Sam Wyly collect?”Full Story
You may or may not have heard that this coming spring the Congress of New Urbanism is holding its 23rd annual conference right here in DFW. Today, the group announced their keynote speaker, Jan Gehl. Gehl is an architect, author, and urban design consultant noted for his influence in pioneering the so-called “human scale” movement, advocating for the rethinking of built environments that place priority on pedestrians and cyclists. A resident of Copenhagen, he has been instrumental in that city’s emergence as a model of walkability, and he has also worked on acclaimed projects in Manhattan, London, and Melbourne, including the pedestrianization of Broadway.
Gehl’s 1971 book Life Between Buildings is considered a landmark in the field. For a taste of what he will bring to Dallas, check out this trailer for a film that explores themes and ideas contained in that book.Full Story
The stage was set: the Three Generals of the Trinity Toll Road — former City Manager Mary Suhm, former city council member Craig Holcomb, and North Central Texas Council of Governments transportation director Michael Morris — in the same room as a council member who rides bikes with Better Block’s Jason Roberts and the guy who launched the campaign to tear down I-345. And all five were going to have a moment on the mic — all in front of the rapt, gracious attention of an old-school Dallas business association. It sure felt like a potential moment.Full Story
City Lab rounds up progress that is being made around the country with regards to realizing high-speed rail. California’s plans have leaped some (but not all) of its legal challenges, and it could face a difficult obstacle if the gubernatorial candidate who refers to the plans as the “crazy train” wins in next month’s election. In the Northeast, a private company has entered the conversation about adding high speed rail, but the Japanese-backed project will have to figure out how to compete with Amtrak’s own efforts to upgrade to high-speed transit.
That leaves Texas which, by comparison, looks like it is coasting towards a high-speed future. The private effort, which also has Japanese backers, kick-started public meetings this month as it prepares its environmental impact statement for federal review.
It The Federal Railroad Authority, the Texas Department of Transportation and a third party entity (URS) has also launched a website that offers renderings of proposed routes. With regards to alignments, City Lab says the lines should probably terminate downtown:
It’s far too early to say for sure where the lines will end up, but running the train from one city center to another would reduce overall travel times, facilitate connections to local transit, and generally boost downtown areas. That should be the idea to beat.
Two buildings downtown that have sat vacant for decades are set for major redevelopments. Yesterday, the Dallas Business Journal broke news that the historic Dallas High School has finally found a developer, and what’s encouraging is that it’s South Side on Lamar developer Jack Mathews. Mathews has a strong track record with regards to turning around historic properties. Dallas High School has sat on preservation lists for years, and with its odd lot – adjacent to I-345 and Dart – it was clear it would take a creative developer (plus a rebounding downtown residential market) to make the property work. Mathews hasn’t said what he’ll do with the building, but it’s reasonable to expect some mix of residential and commercial.
The other historic property long considered in-danger is the 508 Park, the four story art deco (or, “Zig Zag Moderne,” if you want to nit-pick architectural styles) that was famously the place where legendary bluesman Robert Johnson made half of his recordings.Full Story
We like to beat up on Dallas from time to time in this space, complaining about how it doesn’t do this right, or doesn’t do that right. Well one thing it definitely got right is Klyde Warren Park (even though we can still quibble about over programming). The Urban Land Institute has taken notice. Yesterday it awarded Klyde Warren its 2014 Urban Open Space Award, the “Oscar” of park awards. The Klyde beat out parks in other not-as-world-class cities like Columbus, Tulsa, Santa Fe, and Cincinnati.
“Klyde Warren is not only successful in fixing an urban fracture that isolated development and challenged the existing potential for the area; it also demonstrates that a long-term vision and commitment are critical to foster a sense of place and community, with lasting positive rippling effects,” said M. Leanne Lachman, Chair of the ULI Global Awards for Excellence Jury and President of Lachman Associates.
That’s right. And the park is celebrating two years of rippling this week. Here’s the full release.Full Story
We like to poke fun at Dallas’ perennial striving to be “world class.” It’s a symptom of a kind of self-regarding, aspirational character that is not unique to Dallas, but which does manifest itself in this city in a particular way. Most newer, up-and-coming cities share a sense of wanting to prove their worth. But Dallas’ history has shaped this sensibility in its own way. Entrepreneurialism is the city’s birth right; social status is engrained as one of its highest civic values. But our scars, too, have contributed to the particular substance of our striving, self-conscious attempts to be regarded as great.
As we spent considerable ink exploring last year during the 50th anniversary of the John F. Kennedy assassination, the scars left by those terrible events affected Dallas in a particular way. Not every city could have been branded a “city of hate;” that was the result of the particular cultural and political soup that was simmering here at the time. But also, not every city would have internalized that reputation – and its shame and sense of remorse – with quite the same measure of wounded-ness. Those wounds have taken decades to get over, and they have also contributed to the desire and drive to make Dallas a great city.
In the days following the Ebola breakout, I couldn’t help but think about the assassination.Full Story
Back in March, I wrote about a piece of public art at White Rock Lake that the Office of Cultural Affairs wanted to remove because the work had deteriorated over the years. Once a popular attraction on the lake, the city didn’t have the money to maintain and repair Frances Bagley and Tom Orr’s Water Theater. In fact, the city doesn’t have funds to maintain and repair any of the public work in its collection. Rather than let it continue to deteriorate and become an eyesore, the city thought it would simply pull it out of the lake.
Not so fast. The arts community struck back, and the issue got a lot of attention. That got the attention of members of the Cultural Affairs Commission, which is now taking some early steps to figure out how to take care of the public art it commissions. At tomorrow’s Cultural Affairs Commission meeting, commissioners will vote on allocating funds to study the needs of the collection and possibly hiring a conservation manager to implement that review.
The move makes sense. The percent for art ordinance requires municipal capital projects to dedicate funds for the commissioning of art, so the city should have a way to maintain the pieces it commissions. As I’ve argued in the past, it’s not the only change that needs to happen with how this city handles its public art program, but it’s a positive step in the right direction.Full Story
So, Ebola is no longer a West African thing. We have the first U.S. transmission of the disease right here in Dallas. Officials are urging everyone to keep calm, but that’s probably difficult if you’re a neighbor of Nina Pham, the nurse who contracted Ebola from Thomas Eric Duncan, and police officers are knocking on the door at 5 a.m. with the message, “Good morning, Ebola’s on your block.” Then, I just saw some wacky, unreliable outlet reporting in my Facebook feed that Pham has a boyfriend who was admitted into the hospital. I can’t find any serious outlets reporting that news, but it was enough to get me thinking. It is probably likely that Pham is not the last case of Ebola in Dallas. We’re still waiting out the incubation period for Duncan’s family, and Pham’s infection starts a new cycle of friends and associates who may have had contact with infectious fluids. I could see this growing to 4 or 5 cases pretty quickly. So my question to you: at what point do we all lose our junk? How many cases of Ebola can we handle before everyone goes into panic mode? Five? Seven? Seventeen? Thirty-eight?Full Story
Last Thursday, Mayor Mike Rawlings was the keynote speaker at the annual Downtown Dallas Inc. membership luncheon. The mayor has a lot on his mind these days. The talk opened with a recap of the Ebola situation before Rawlings made a stump speech for the proposition on the November ballot that will raise the salaries of city council members. But the Mayor reserved the majority of his talk for boosting downtown, running through recent successes – Main Street, the Farmers Market, residential development, and plenty of commercial real estate activity – before focusing on two big ticket projects.Full Story
Next City takes a look at Dallas’ public transit history and competition in the northern reaches of the region between DART and para-transit companies. There’s not much new in the piece if you’ve been following the issue closely, but perhaps the best part of the article is its summation of how policy and an evolving and expanding region have created a dysfunctional transit network:Full Story
Clay Jenkins, a freshman politician in an obscure political office, is back in the national spotlight thanks to the Ebola scare. Yesterday he described Dallas’ response to Ebola to Rachel Maddow as one of “unapologetic compassion.” If those words sound familiar — Maddow, compassion — that’s because this is the second time Jenkins has made the network news rounds. In July, he controversially tried to open county facilities to migrant children.
But who is this guy? That’s what I tried to find out in this profile from the October issue. Once labeled John Wiley Price’s “water boy,” he has emerged as a local political force. He was a hell raiser in his youth, survived a near-death car wreck, and, after some early term muffs, has demonstrated a knack for the political hardball of county politics. But will he even win his reelection this November? Here’s a taste:
In college at Baylor, Jenkins continued to distinguish himself dubiously. He was arrested twice, once for reckless driving after he led Baylor security and Waco police on a car chase he’d planned and a second time for criminal trespassing in a women’s dorm during a panty raid. Strangely enough, he was never arrested for his role as the famous Baylor Pie Man, a hit man for a student-organized ring that offered to throw pies in people’s faces—professors, ex-boyfriends—for a fee.
Read the whole thing here.Full Story
On Friday, we mentioned the Dallas Morning News’ story about how many of the supporters of the Trinity Toll Road had gone silent since a consumer advocacy group called the proposed road a boondoggle. Well, over the weekend, the DMN’s transportation writer, Brandon Formby, filed a follow-up. Road supporters are now talking, and if you need proof that they are scrambling to come up with any justification for this thing or apply antiquated thinking to its planning, then here it is. Basically, NCTCOG transportation director Michael Morris argues that we need the toll road not because it will substantially relieve congestion along the I-35 corridor (which traffic projections say it won’t) but because it will increase congestion on some streets, decrease on others, and otherwise shift traffic around in a way that will improve economic development. Here’s the breakdown of how Morris believes the road will impact traffic patterns:Full Story
Over the past week, Jim Schutze has been speculating on what the next city council election may mean for the future of the city. Last week – and again in this week’s paper — he writes about the “liars,” the city’s political old guard whom he believes will try to influence the council race in the same way they have sustained support for the Trinity Toll Road through the years, spinning the facts and coercing the city government to stay the course.
Earlier in the week, though, Schutze posted an addendum to his article on Unfair Park changing his tune a touch. The next election won’t be about liars necessarily, he writes, it’s about a change in civic culture. He relates a story about a city meeting in the Great Trinity Forest and how he observed a new alignment of environmentalists and activists who typically mobilized separately around issues like White Rock Lake and the Trinity River now coming together and forming a more cohesive block. It made him think that something else was going on in the city’s political soup:Full Story