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Million-dollar Lawsuit Rips Winstead Advice in NCPA Sex Scandal

In recent months, the National Center for Policy Analysis has worked hard to put a sex scandal involving its founder behind it. The free-market think tank fired the founder, John C. Goodman, hired a new leader (tea party star Allen B. West), and scheduled several high-profile speakers for its events. Now, however, the Dallas-based NCPA has filed a lawsuit against a prominent law firm and the firm’s chairman emeritus that revisits the sex scandal in detail. Among other things, the suit asserts that l’affaire Goodman caused the nonprofit organization to lose at least $2 million in fundraising—and nearly put it out of business.

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Leading Off (11/14/14)

Feds Auditing DA’s Use of Forfeiture Funds. Craig Watkins may be on his way out, after suffering a defeat in last week’s election, but he’s still facing a federal investigation. Authorities stopped sending forfeiture money to the DA’s office in August after an auditor had a call with Watkins. “It was a contentious phone call during election season in which Mr. Watkins believed the inquiry was being driven by his opponent,” said Dallas County prosecutor Lincoln Monroe. “Craig thought it was a setup. It was not a good conversation that Craig had.” He added that the federal audit was prompted by a mix-up that will soon be rectified.

Frisco Homeowners Want Power Lines Buried. Brazos Electric is proposing a 2- to 4-mile stretch of overhead lines to increase capacity in the fast-growing city, but neighborhood residents are concerned about the impact on their home values. They want the lines placed underground, which Brazos says would cost $31.5 million, compared to $3.5 million for putting them overhead. Brazos plans to apply to the Public Utility Commission for its expansion in December, and the city and a homeowners’ group plan to challenge it.

Felony Lane Gang Strikes Again. Coppell police are looking into whether an organized group of professional thieves is responsible for a series of smash-and-grab car break-ins. The gang is known for cashing victims’ checks in the outside teller lane at various banks — which I guess is the “felony lane?”

Clayton Kershaw Hogging Baseball Awards. After winning his third Cy Young Award as the National League’s best pitcher on Wednesday, the Highland Park High School graduate and Los Angeles Dodgers hurler received Most Valuable Player honors on Thursday. He’s the first NL pitcher to take the MVP since 1968.

Mavs Score Most Lopsided Win in Team History. Dallas got off to a 45-10 lead in the first 15 minutes against the Philadelphia 76ers and finished with a 123-70 win. It’s their largest margin of victory ever.

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Luxury Real Estate Experts Had a Lot On Their Minds This Morning

For example: Toyota execs don’t mind lengthy commutes here because they’re coming from California and New York, where the commutes make ours look short by comparison. Echo boomer and baby boomer luxury buyers aren’t nearly as unlike as you might think. There’s an evolution in upper-end home style occurring, with members of the “HGTV Generation” eschewing turrets and columns for a “clean-line aesthetic.” And, sales of new homes in DFW priced at $400K or more are up a whopping 56 percent, year over year. Those were just a few of the nuggets dropped by luxury market experts at this morning’s Residential Real Estate Breakfast Briefing, hosted by D CEO and D Real Estate Daily at the Warwick Melrose Hotel. While more details will follow on D Real Estate Daily, click here now to check out who showed up.

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Think Tank Names Outspoken Conservative Allen West As CEO

Less than six months after losing its founder over a sex scandal, the National Center for Policy Analysis has named Allen B. West, a conservative icon and former Florida congressman, as its CEO. The blunt-talking retired Army officer was elected to the House with the Tea Party wave of 2010, the first African-American Republican congressman from Florida since Reconstruction.

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Tower at UT Southwestern Medical Center To Be Named After Kern Wildenthal

You might call it yet another attempt to atone for past injustices. Today, word comes that Regents of The University of Texas System voted unanimously to name a major research tower at the UT Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas after Dr. Kern Wildenthal, the UTSW president from 1986-2008. Wildenthal, you might recall, was dragged by his heels through the mud in a series of Dallas Morning News stories about his expense accounting. Thursday’s action involving the new C. Kern Wildenthal Research Building on the north campus, the Regents said, was taken to recognize Wildenthal’s “extraordinary accomplishments” as both dean of the medical school and president of UT Southwestern. Last year, the Regents also appointed Wildenthal to the honorific title of President Emeritus of the institution. Now, cue the anonymous commenters sure to enjoy vilifying the guy one more time …

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Uber Is Much Cheaper in Dallas Than in New York

The Verge looked at the estimated costs of a 15-minute, 5-mile Uber trip in cities across the country:

What we found was surprising: fares vary drastically from city to city. A fifteen-minute, five-mile UberX trip in New York City will put you back $19.75. In Dallas, the same trip will cost you less than $10.

In fact, the formula Uber uses to calculate estimated fares is carefully tweaked to the market it serves. In Miami, for example, the base fee for an UberX trip is $1.20, with a per mile rate of $1.25. Just up the coast in Jacksonville, the base rate jumps to $1.25, but the per mile rate drops to $1.20. In Chicago, the city slaps a Transit Tax & Accessibility fee of $.30 to your fare—Seattle adds $.20.

In fact, Dallas was the cheapest ride among all of the cities they surveyed. Does the Verge’s estimate seem right to those of you who’ve used Uber in Dallas?

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Poll: How Much Should We Invest in the Dallas Convention Center?

Wylie H. Dallas wrote yesterday about the numbers suggesting that the addition of a hotel hasn’t exactly generated a financial bonanza for the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center. Philip Jones, CEO of the Dallas Convention & Visitors Bureau, has argued that the place needs a $200 million-$300 million upgrade to remain competitive in the business of luring dentists and music teachers and coin collectors to meet there. What do you think?

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D Magazine’s 40 Greatest Stories: Carl’s Corner

As I’m sure many of you know, the drive along Interstate 35 between Dallas and Austin isn’t particularly scenic. It suffers from a serious dearth of character, which is why many a motorist in now long-past days looked forward to passing the small town of Carl’s Corner, with its truck stop unmistakably adorned by 10-foot-tall frogs.

The man behind the truck stop and the town was Carl Cornelius, who was memorably profiled by Mike Shropshire in the November 2006 issue of D Magazine. It’s one of the 40 greatest stories we’ve ever published.

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Leading Off (10/17/14)

The Latest on Ebola. Nurse Nina Pham was transferred to the National Institutes of Health in Maryland Thursday evening, with news copters following her trip every step of the way from Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital to Love Field, onto the plane and then off the plane to the NIH clinic. Just before she left Dallas, a video of her speaking with her physician was recorded and released to the public at her request. In it, she expresses her love for the Presby staff. Meanwhile, Dallas County leaders didn’t declare an emergency situation during their meeting yesterday, but they are requiring all health care workers exposed to Ebola to sign a document promising to avoid public transit and public places. If the workers don’t sign the “voluntary” agreements, orders will be issued restricting their movement. And, at the national level, President Obama called Gov. Rick Perry and vowed to offer Texas and Dallas all the help it needs in confronting the disease.

Superintendent Urged to Apologize to Trustee. At a meeting during which Mike Miles was seeking to explain his actions in response to what he termed a “crisis” at Dade Middle School, some in attendance pushed for the super to say he was sorry for having had district trustee Bernadette Nutall removed from the Dade campus on Monday. He did not.

Housing Prices Continue to Rise. The supply of available Dallas homes remains absurdly low, so the market values keep rising sharply, and now I’m feeling pretty screwed for not having jumped on the bottoming out a few years back.

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Fox 4 and Clarice Tinsley Show Us the Future of TV News. And Its End.

Last night, I watched the news. On my television. It feels odd to type those words. Maybe this post should end there. But I can’t help myself.

So the Ebola. It’s all Ebola all the time in Dallas, for good reasons and also for less than good reasons. On Fox 4 last night, they did some serious Ebola coverage (that I’d already digested on my phone hours earlier). And then they did their “Your Word” segment, during which the esteemed, long-serving, much-respected Clarice Tinsley was forced by producers to climb from behind the anchor desk and perambulate the studio, all casual like, while talking about the most serious of topics. Actually, she didn’t talk about Ebola. She said, “Social media is blowing up about that nurse getting on a commercial flight to Cleveland.” And then she started reading Facebook comments.

I assume these TV producers have kidnapped Clarice’s loved ones and threatened to kill them unless she follows their instructions. Only reasonable assumption. Last night, she was holding a fancy tablet that operated a large monitor behind her, but at one point, she stood there reading Facebook comments from her iPhone (as pictured above). One of the comments that she didn’t read but which was displayed for viewers was a photo of Homer Simpson. One can only pray for the safe return of Clarice’s husband. Well, one can pray, and one can also put up a blog post.

Imagine if, when television began to supplant radio as the dominant medium, the radio programs had begun to broadcast a live account of what television stations were broadcasting. THAT’S what Clarice was doing last night, best I can figure. It’s goofy. It’s self-defeating. It’s bad business. It’s acknowledging that the entire world is upside down and that you haven’t figured out how to survive in that world.

A quick postscript: I think we sometimes do the same thing in the pages of D Magazine.

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Virgin America’s Straight Talk About Balance Sheets

It’s true that Virgin America has lost a total of $400 million since its founding. But it’s also true that the California-based airline made $10.1 million on $1.4 billion in operating revenue last year—and that revenue has been growing for the last five years at least. So when an incredibly downbeat AP story about the airline’s planned initial public offering appeared in the Dallas Morning News yesterday—the same day Virgin began flights out of Dallas Love Field—was Virgin America’s CEO upset? Not really, David Cush said last night at Virgin’s celebration party at the House of Blues: “I saw a lot of opinion in there, and I’ve seen lots of stories like that.” While the airline has moved in the past and is continuing to move to retool its balance sheet, Cush said, “The important thing is that when you’re a private-equity-owned firm, you don’t give a s*** about your balance sheet or your P&L” [profit and loss statement]. The key is keeping the investor-owners happy, the chief executive added. Virgin’s investors include a hedge fund called Cyrus Capital Partners, Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Group, and Don Carty, former chairman and CEO of AMR Corp.

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Leading Off (10/13/14)

More About the Second Ebola Case: There’s more info about the Dallas healthcare worker diagnosed with Ebola here, here, and here. And you should be following the reporting of our Matt Goodman here. Among other things, we know that, unlike in the recent case in Spain, this Ebola patient’s dog will not be euthanized.

Wright Amendment Is No More: The 1980 law restricting flights to and from Love Field becomes history today. Southwest, Virgin, and Delta will have dozens of new direct routes heading to nine new airports. It’s been a long time coming, and under other circumstances, this would probably be the biggest news of the week. But these are strange days in Dallas.

Cowboys Win Big Game: Dallas defeated the defending Super Bowl champion Seattle Seahawks in Seattle yesterday, marking only the second time the Seahawks have lost at home in the last three years. DeMarco Murray is almost certainly the leading candidate for league MVP at the moment, and he just tied a 56-year-old record held by Jim Brown. The win puts the Cowboys’ record at 5-1 and gives all Cowboys fans the sick agony of expectation.

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The Selling of Al Jazeera America

You’d think that a fledgling cable TV news channel owned by the Qatar-royal family’s Al Jazeera Media Network would be a tough sell in a deep-red state like Texas. But there was Al Jazeera America anchorman John Seigenthaler at a luncheon meeting of the World Affairs Council of Dallas/Fort Worth the other day, showing the audience a clip from The Colbert Report in which the host was jokingly calling Seigenthaler and his employer part of the al-Qaeda Network. “That looks terrifying,” Stephen Colbert said to the veteran newsman, referring to the Al Jazeera logo. “That is not only Arabic; it looks like Arabic on fire! … It means, ‘The bombing starts at midnight!’ ”

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Comer Cottrell Jr., R.I.P.

An editorial in today’s Dallas Morning News lauds the life and legacy of Comer Cottrell Jr., the pioneering African-American businessman who died last week at the age of 82. Cottrell, who founded Pro-Line, a black-focused hair-products company that he sold for $80 million in 2000, broke down a number of racial barriers in North Texas over the years. In this cover story/book excerpt in D CEO magazine (then called Dallas CEO) back in 2008, Cottrell told how he did it in a gritty, no-holds-barred style. The excerpt recalls Cottrell’s multiple encounters with discrimination when he moved in 1980 to Dallas from Los Angeles. The fascinating thing is that the prejudice came not just from Dallas’ white establishment but from the local African-American community, too.

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