Find a back issue

Making Dallas Even Better

The Organization That Benefited From Bobby Abtahi’s Missed Virgin Airlines Flight

Bobby Abtahi is trending. As Tim mentioned in Leading Off — and as you have surely read in either the New York Times, Jezebel, New York Daily News, Gothamist, or any of the dozens of media outlets covering the story — the lawyer, one-time city council candidate, and Dallas City Plan Commissioner didn’t board his flight from New York to Dallas with Virgin America Airlines. The Iranian-American, scruffy faced after a week on the beach, wasn’t allowed to board when the captain and crew of a flight allegedly stated that they didn’t feel comfortable with him on the plane.

Maybe it was racial profiling. Maybe it was a bizarre misunderstanding. Maybe it was a sprinkle of both. I’ll let other outlets hash that one out. I just wanted to call attention to the classy gesture Abtahi made in the heat of the moment.

Read More

Dallas Morning News May Raise Third Paywall in 2016

Warning: some insider-y media business baseball ahead. In an interview with NetNewsCheck, Dallas Morning News publisher Jim Moroney says the paper will, for the third time, attempt to raise revenues by offering some of its content only to paid online subscribers. Moroney admits that the first two attempts at introducing a paywall at the DMN weren’t executed very well, and he doesn’t see paywall strategies as a savior for the ever-struggling newspaper industry. But he still believes a paywall can be part of an overall diversification of the paper’s revenue base:

Read More

Toronto Scraps Highway Teardown, Opts for Skaters Under the Overpass

However smart, no one said tearing down highways was easy. And so while the city of Toronto had been mulling a demolition of Gardiner Expressway, an elevated highway that separates a stretch of the city from its Lake Ontario waterfront, in the end the city opted not to kill the road. Too bad.

So, time for plan B: a proposed park the city hopes to develop under the elevated freeway. I point you to this idea for three reasons.

Read More

A Curious Art Sale Puts DMA Bequest Back in the Spotlight

Art watcher Greg Allen noticed an interesting sale at a recent Christie’s auction of postwar and contemporary art. Felix Gonzalez-Torres’s Untitled (L.A.), 1991 sold for a record-setting $7.7 million. If you have been to the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth at any point in the last few years, you probably know the work. It consists of 50 pounds of candies laid out on the floor. Part of the fun of the piece is that visitors are invited to take pieces of candy. It’s art you can touch and eat, and as a result the piece itself is static and ephemeral. The record price was, in part, an acknowledgement that it is an important work by an important artist, whose career was cut short by AIDS in 1996.

Even though Untitled (L.A.) was on view in Fort Worth for so many years, it was on loan from the Rachofsky collection. It’s that provenance that Allen finds curious.

Read More

88-Year-Old Building in Bishop Arts Demolished Because, Well, Dallas

I’m going to try to restrain my anger in this post as best as I can, but my blood is boiling. This morning on Facebook rumors started to spread that a 1927 brick building on Davis. St. in the Bishop Arts was set to be demolished today. I was a bit baffled and reached out to a few people in the know. There hadn’t been any coverage of a proposed demolition and none of Oak Cliff’s characteristically combative neighborhood advocates had sounded the alarm that a historic building in the community was about to be bulldozed. I put a call into the owner of the building in question, but hadn’t heard back before Rachel Stone broke the news over on the Oak Cliff Advocate. Yes, it’s true. A building in the Bishop Arts is being demolished.


Why do you think? This is Dallas. The answer is always the same: mother ducking parking.

Read More

Why Downtown Dallas Still Can’t Solve Its Parking ‘Problem’

Here we go again. Dallas is worried it has a downtown parking problem. In the wake of the update of the downtown 360 study, the city now wants to hire a consultant to tell us how to fix this perennial impediment to downtown’s success.

I don’t have much to add to Mark Lamster’s assessment of the plan. As the DMN’s architecture critic argues, the move to hire a parking consultant completely misses the point. “Dallas doesn’t principally have parking problem” Lamster writes. “It has a downtown Dallas problem.”

The reason there is a logical disconnect between those who argue that downtown is a sea of empty parking lots and those who argue that there isn’t enough parking is that we continue to see parking as a cause of downtown’s shortcomings, rather than symptom. Lamster argues that rather than addressing parking, downtown boosters and the city should focus on improving the things that make downtown unique:

Read More

When You’re the Cowboys, It Pays to Lose

As Zac mentioned in Leading Off, Dem ‘Boys lost again. You know who doesn’t care? Jerry Jones’ financial advisers. That’s because despite not having won a Super Bowl since 1996, and more or less representing the ideal of meh, the Cowboys are the most valuable sports franchise in the world, valued at $4 billion. And as this graphic breakdown of the team’s success illustrates, a big chunk of the recent increase in the team’s value comes from the worst place to watch sports in the world Jerry World:

“The NFL’s media rights increased 38 percent this year. The Cowboys led the league in attendance, sponsorship and premium seating revenue, and generated $30 million at AT&T Stadium that was unrelated to the NFL.” Michael R. Lysko, director and professor of practice, Sport Management Program at Southern Methodist University.

This should, um, frustrate Cowboys fans. If American sports fans were more like Italians, I imagine that there would be some boycotting of games. But Jerry knows his audience, and there seems to be little reason to believe that continuing to offer a mediocre product on the field will affect the overall Dallas Cowboys package, which continues to win at the bank.

Read More

Who Has a Better Rail Transit, Houston or Dallas?

Dallas’ public transit system has been getting a little attention of late. There’s the ongoing kerfuffle about the suburban bus rival that isn’t panning out to be as much of a competitor to the regional transit system. In October, the PBS Newshour produced a lengthy report on DART’s successes and shortcomings. Now there’s a new report out of the Kinder Institute that takes a look at Houston and Dallas’ divergent philosophies towards transit development.

Read More

Is Dallas Better — Or Worse — Off For the Death of Art Prize?

Word went out yesterday to donors and stakeholders of ArtPrize Dallas that the much-touted art festival will not be coming to Dallas after all. The Grand Rapids-based art event has been exploring expansion into Dallas for about a year, an effort spearheaded locally by former Goss-Michael Foundation associate director Ariel Saldivar. In her rather lengthy letter to supporters, Saldivar accuses Dallas and its philanthropic community of not being ready for an event like ArtPrize.

“Despite the visionary understanding of our supporters, there were a few who saw the concept as threatening to the status quo,” Saldivar wrote. “The resistance was especially disappointing since ArtPrize Dallas would have had a tremendous, positive economic impact. Never the less, we made tremendous progress in this effort, and we truly believe that one day our city will be ready for such an inclusive and unique undertaking, but unfortunately, today is not that day.”

It hasn’t been the best week for ArtPrize.

Read More

Exclusive: DART Rolls Out New Fleet of ‘D-Link’ Buses to Deep Ellum

Well, here’s some incredible news coming out of DART this morning. Today, Dallas Area Rapid Transit, using powers granted exclusively to public transit entities that allow them to manipulate the very fabric of space and time, have announced not just a D-Link to Deep Ellum and the Farmers Market, but AN ENTIRE FLEET of D-Link buses that serve Deep Ellum and connect it to East Dallas, West Dallas, Oak Cliff, and South Dallas.

Read More

Moody’s Downgrades City’s Bond Rating

The fiscal chickens are coming home to roost. Years of under-maintained infrastructure and a police and fire pension system suffering from incompetent management and terrible investments have resulted in a downgrading of the city’s bond rating from from Aa1 to Aa2. The downgrading came on the same day the council approved $227 million in bonds for capital improvement projects, including $3 million for the relocation of a concrete plant at the behest of real estate developers already profiting from public investments in the Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge and new West Dallas infrastructure.

As a result, the city will wind up paying about $887,000 more in interest than it expected over the life of the debt stemming from the sale of the bonds approved Wednesday, said Jeanne Chipperfield, the city’s chief financial officer. Chipperfield said that will come out to an average of $46,700 a year over the next 19 years.

And while that’s a fraction of the city’s annual $3 billion budget, that’s still money that could have gone toward paying public safety officers and fixing streets, Mayor Mike Rawlings said Wednesday night.

And I would expect that bond rating to decrease before it improves considering the city has no real plan for improving the overall quality of its streets and the police and fire pension plan faces an FBI investigation as it stares down potential insolvency.

Here’s looking at you, A.C. Gonzalez.

Read More

How We Can Still Save the Half-Built Trinity River Project

That photo above is a Google maps shot of a house that sits on the corner of Marlborough Ave. and Davis St. in Oak Cliff. It has more or less looked like that for the better part of five years. The house is the ultimate DIY project. As Rachel Stone reported in the Oak Cliff Advocate earlier this year, Ricardo Torres bought the house in 2008 and set about building his dream home. Torres is a crafty guy. He started from scratch with a plan for a two story home. Then he realized that if he added a third story, he could have a downtown view. You know what would also be cool? A game room. So he tacked on one of those, and the house grew like a drawing in a Dr. Seuss book.

Read More

This Fort Worth Lawyer Is Absolutely Texas

To get a handle on my headline, take a second to brush up on your Norwegian slang. You may have seen the Texas Monthly post yesterday that broke down the etymology of the word “texas” as it is used in Norway. In short, it means “crazy” or “totally bonkers,” but with a Wild West association. Like, if you were in Oslo and you said, “That party last night was totally texas,” whoever you were talking to would immediately think of cowboys people pulling pistols out of their belts and firing wildly in the air while can-can girls swash their skirts on the top of the bar and some blasted old guy with a bushy mustache bangs away on a piano in the corner. Yep, that’s how the Norwegian mind works. Who knew?

Well, it turns out that there is a contemporary reference point for what the Norwegians mean when they call something “texas,” and his name is Bryan Wilson. Wilson, a criminal defense lawyer in Fort Worth, calls himself the “Texas Law Hawk,” and he is marketing his legal practice with a few commercials that are getting some attention for being so, well, Texas. The young lawyer seems to be chasing the frat boy DWI demographic. Enjoy them both after the jump. (H/t Daily Dot).

Read More

Harry LaRosiliere Shows Suburbs How to Mayor

Following up on yesterday’s effusive Plano love fest, I wanted to point to some interesting points raised by Eric Nicholson on the blog formerly known as Unfair Park. Plano’s new comprehensive plan, which controversially calls for denser development along corridors and throughout the city, has drawn plenty of criticism from suburbanites who fear that more apartment dwellers in their communities could harm schools and property values. That hasn’t fazed Plano Mayor Harry LaRosiliere, who has been the champion of the Plano Tomorrow plan. Sure, he’s shown guts, dismissing opposition as “noise” and keeping the city focused and on track. But his leadership is all the more impressive considering the recent track record of suburban DFW mayors:

Read More

Lamar Odom Found Unconscious in Nevada Brothel

One-time Maverick Lamar Odom had a rocky time during his stint in Dallas, which is more memorable for the Kardashian sideshow it produced than anything that happened on the basketball court. Things didn’t get much better for Odom after he left town. He returned to the LA, played a season with the Clippers, and then crashed out of the NBA. Late in 2013, Chloe Kardashian filed for divorce. The divorce was finalized in July of this year.

That should have been rock bottom for Odom, but things have taken a turn for the worse. Yesterday, the former NBA star was discovered unconscious in a Nevada brothel. He remains in critical condition at a hospital in Las Vegas.

Read More