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Zac Crain is a senior editor at D Magazine. He moved to Dallas in 1997, and since then, he's worked as an editor at the Dallas Observer and American Way, written for Esquire and Spin, ran for Dallas mayor, written a book, and served as "glue guy" for a handful of rec-league basketball squads. Scouting report: can't go right, but he's a creative passer, and semi-accurate set shooter.

Leading Off (2/26/15)

Council Essentially Closes Officeholder Account Loophole. City code limits how much an individual donor can give to a candidate for office — $1,000 for council elections, $5,000 if you’re running for mayor. But incumbents have access to an officeholder account which 1) has no limit and 2) could basically be used for anything, including their re-election campaigns. After mayoral candidate Marcos Ronquillo pointed out how unfair this is, the council decided to take a look at it, and yesterday voted that only $100 of officeholder account funds could be used on a campaign. You know what that means? PIZZA PARTY.

Shorthanded Mavs Lose to Atlanta. Playing the Eastern Conference-leading Hawks would be tough under normal conditions. The Mavs had to do it on the road, on the second game of a back-to-back, after weird weather-related travel conditions, and with only 11 players, since the law firm is injured, Amar’e Stoudemire doesn’t really play back-to-backs, and Rajon Rondo was suspended for one game after his dust-up with Rick Carlisle. So, even after a hot start, it wasn’t terribly surprising that the Mavs lost by 17. The only winner in all this: ESPN Dallas’ Tim McMahon, who everyone in the country now knows.

FBI Looking For The “Cookie Bandits.” That’s what they’re calling the group of robbers suspected of holding up as many as 30 businesses across North Texas. Not bad, as a far as names go, but I’m wondering why we always have to be tied to the word “bandit” in these monikers. It’s always the Yellow Hat Bandit or the Flip-Flop Bandit or the Body Odor Bandit or something. I mean, that’s fine, but it’s also limiting. “FBI Looking For the Cookie Monsters.” I’m checking out that story every single time.

“Dez Bryant Appears to Respond to Speculation Over Alleged Video.” Come on, now. One more hedge word and we all fall into an infinite dreamscape of nothingness.

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Leading Off (2/19/15)

NTTA Won’t Push For Toll Road If Dallas Doesn’t Want To Do It. Or, to put it another way: “Please, please, please give us any reason not to have to do this. Guys. Come on.” The May council elections are looking prettay, prettay, prettay important.

Irving City Council Will Vote On a New Smoking Ordinance Today. It bans smoking in most places, except for smoke shops and restaurants with ventilated smoking sections until those restaurants change ownership. Which seems like an odd, unwieldy compromise. But it sounds like they’re lucky to get that far: “The council has been wrestling with its smoking laws since 2013, when the city health board recommended a total ban. That prompted protests from restaurateurs, bingo players and hundreds of smokers.” You don’t want to be on the wrong side of bingo players.

Amar’e Stoudemire Is Officially a Dallas Maverick. He cleared waivers and signed with the team late yesterday, after the Mavs released Ricky Ledo to make room. “To play alongside Dirk Nowitzki, Tyson Chandler and other great players, I think it’s a tremendous opportunity for me to compete for a championship,” Stoudemire said in a statement. He should make his debut tonight against the OKC Thunder.

Steve Blow and His Wife Had the Flu Recently.Romantic? Let’s just say you have never heard such moaning coming from our bedroom. And whimpering, crying, coughing, hacking, sniffling, sneezing, snorting … This was Fifty Shades of Flu. And we were both in full submission.” Powerful take on an important issue.

Uh, What? “I have a lot of friends that don’t want to come on this side of 75,” says Rob Wilson of Times Ten Cellars in Lakewood. “Anything that brings awareness and brings more people over to East Dallas and lets them discover what we’ve known for years, I think is awesome.” White people are weird.

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Leading Off (2/18/15)

Testimony Resumes At ‘American Sniper’ Trial. Like, right at this moment.

Fly to Austin for $39. Virgin America today announced that come April, it will fly five daily nonstop flights from Dallas to Austin. Buy a ticket today or tomorrow, and it will cost you just $39 each way. A Southwest representative, reached for comment, said, “Oh crap.”

Paul Quinn College Announces New, More Affordable Tuition Plan. President Michael Sorrell says the new initiatives — one includes moving to a work-college system — will cut tuition by as much as $10,000.

Dez Bryant Not Super Happy About Cowboys Potentially Using the Franchise Tag On Him. He’d prefer a long-term deal, but he knows it’s #BUSINESS.

Maltese Co-Owned By Dallas Lawyer Wins Best In Breed At Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show. Her name is Princess and she’s a good dog, yes she is!

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Dirk Nowitzki Is an All-Star (Again)

Anthony Davis will sit out this weekend’s NBA All-Star Game in New York thanks to a bum shoulder, meaning Dirk Nowitzki will make his 13th ASG appearance. Dirk is just the 12th player in NBA history to play in that many. And it’s not just a lifetime achievement award. He is having a solid season, averaging more than 18 points and still doing all sorts of Dirk things. So, congratulatI SEE YOU, BIG GERMAN.

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Leading Off (2/12/15)

Trinity “Dream Team” Suggesting Meandering, Four-Lane Road. “Great,” you think, maybe adding a little fist pump, because you get emotional sometimes and you’re not going to apologize for it. “Yeah, I still would prefer no road at all, but this doesn’t sound too bad: ‘meandering, four-lane road pocketed with parking lots providing park access.’ And Larry Beasley says, ‘It would very fundamentally open up the consciousness of the people of Dallas about this magnificent park.’ Nice.”

Let me break it down like a fraction for you, jack. That meandering, gentle little country lane that, well, heavens, you’d barely call it a road much less a highway — that’s not what you’re gonna get. Oh, sure. Maybe in some sort of magic land where they can build a different road than is detailed in the plans already submitted (they can’t, but let’s just go with it for a moment) you’d get that road only for a moment. You’d get a fleeting glimpse, something you begin to forget before you start to remember. That road would be there just long enough to say they did it, before they went ahead with what they wanted to do in the first place.

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A Guide To North Texas NBA Players

After tripping and falling down a rabbit hole of my own creation, I ended up making this: a (near as I can tell) comprehensive guide to NBA players from North Texas, past and present. It’s not the prettiest thing in the world, but if you click on each player you will be sent to their respective Basketball Reference sites. (UPDATE: I added the handful of ABA players to the map as well.)

I learned a few things — for instance, I did not realize Highland Park had produced an NBA player. What’s good, Bill Henry? Anyway, enjoy.

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Read Jon Bois’ Eulogy For RadioShack

If you didn’t read this — SBNation’s Jon Bois writing about his days working for RadioShack — when it ran last year, now is a good time to do it. A taste:

This is a consumer technology business that is built to work perfectly in the year 1975. The Internet comes around, and this, being a technology company, is expected to move on it aggressively and know what it’s doing, except basically nobody really understood the Internet for a very long time. So they whiffed big a few times. Then the iPhone came around and rendered half the stuff RadioShack sold completely redundant. This company needed to become something radically different a decade ago. I just don’t think it knows how to be anything else.

It’s like retracing the steps and doings of a drunk person: okay, here’s where he keyed the cop car. Wait, why’d he do that? I don’t know, but his pants are lying here, so this is before he stripped naked and tried to rob the library.

ALSO: the CueCat makes a cameo.

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Bullet Train Developer Partners With Matthews Southwest, Names Potential Terminal Sites

I’ve taken most of the Dallas-Houston bullet train talk with a grain of salt and maybe a dash of pepper, waiting for it to sound less like talk and more like reality. This Brandon Formby piece detailing the latest bullet-train happenings sounds more like reality.

• Mainly, Texas Central Railway partnering with Jack Matthews and Matthews Southwest (they’ve formed a new concern, Texas Central Partners) is great news — if you want the train to happen — because Matthews is a dude who gets things done.

• Both locations they’ve identified for the potential terminal are perfect for the future of the city. One is closer to Matthews’ South Side on Lamar complex. The other straddles I-30. Both encourage southern growth. The latter would better connect downtown to South Dallas.

• When Matthews was trying to land the convention center hotel deal — which he ultimately did — he had a different plan for what he would do. The hotel would have been on the opposite side from where it is now, almost reorienting downtown south. And the hotel he had designed was, and this is a technical term, 1000-percent more awesome than what the Omni became. So, I think he could do great things with a terminal building.

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One Tree Noticeably Absent From State of the Urban Forest Presentation

This morning I and the rest of a packed house at Arlington Hall heard a fascinating presentation largely based on an i-Tree Eco Assessment completed in 2014 by Matt Grubisich at the Texas Trees Foundation. We heard about the city’s average tree canopy (28.7 percent — the U.S. Forest Service recommends at least 40 percent), the 14.7 million trees and 1.8 million potential tree-planting sites, how the Trinity Forest accounts for almost 20 percent of all tree benefits, and much more, including how they hope to add 3 million more trees by 2022. All great stuff, and you’ll be hearing more about it as we dig in to the study.

In addition to Grubisich’s findings, Mayor Mike Rawlings, Parks & Rec president Willis Winters, Bobby Lyle, Texas Trees Foundation president & CEO Janette Monear, and Ken Klaveness from Earth Day Texas all spoke. I expected one of them — probably Winters — to make at least a cursory mention of the 170-year-old tree the city accidentally destroyed, especially since the timing was so recent. “In addition to planting new trees, we need to put protocols in place to make sure this sort of thing never happens again.” Something in that vein. But no dice. The mayor gave a speech about a tree he remembers from when he was a 10-year-old (sweet, but mostly a repeat of a speech I heard him make two weeks ago), and Winters spoke of partnerships helping achieve the tree-planting goals, referencing Tenzing Norgay, the sherpa who helped Edmund Hillary summit Everest. True and necessary, but there was still room for an aside, given the topic and the audience and timing and so on.

Anyway. Thought that was a little strange.

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Leading Off (2/5/15)

Jury Selection Begins Today In Chris Kyle Murder Trial. Eddie Routh is accused of killing Kyle and his friend, Chad Littlefield. The fact that the trial is happening while American Sniper, the film based on Kyle’s life, is still No. 1 at the box office complicates things a bit.

Mavs Get Steamrolled By Steph Curry. The Mavericks decided to trade for Rajon Rondo earlier this season after a home blowout against the Warriors; they needed a point guard who could defend Stephen Curry. At the moment, however, Rondo is out with a broken face. But the team got off to a hot start, going up by as many as 22. Then the third quarter happened. Curry finished with 51 points, 26 in the third, and an opponent record 10 threes. That’s NBA 2K15 business.

DA’s Office To Auction Off Infamous Porsche. It was obtained by Craig Watkins’ administration using forfeiture funds, then was left to gather dust in the parking garage. Now it can be yours. Susan Hawk should send Watkins a thank-you note, because she looks good just by cleaning up some of the messes he left behind.

Solar Panels Still Getting Push Back From Some Cities and Homeowners Associations. Why? Aesthetic reasons. I could have ended that headline after the sixth word and you could have probably guessed the last two would be “homeowners associations.” Semi-related: if you want to hear about a homeowners’ association losing, there is this.

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