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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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Job Opening: Editorial Researcher

Would you like to work in beautiful downtown Dallas, just a short walk from Klyde Warren Park? Would you like to work for one of the last great family-owned media empires in America? Do you like free coffee? Are you okay with a certain amount of profanity? Then consider this job listing:

The business media group of D Magazine Partners, which includes D CEO magazine, D Real Estate Daily, and D Healthcare Daily, is seeking a detail-oriented researcher to join its editorial team. Ideal candidates will have exceptional Excel skills, written and verbal communication skills, and knowledge of AP style. He or she must also be able to juggle multiple tasks and meet deadlines. Knowledge of InCopy/InDesign is a plus. Launched eight years ago, D CEO was named the nation’s best regional business magazine in 2013 and again in 2014. The person in this role will play a key part in our continued growth.

To apply, please send a cover letter and resume to No phone calls please.

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Pop-Up Store Called Unbranded To Open in Deep Ellum

We’ve written in the magazine about Matt Alexander, founder of Need, and Bryan DeLuca, founder of Foot Cardigan. The two are joining forces to launch something called Unbranded in November. You’ll be able to buy pants there. And socks. And maybe a photograph. Plus, you’ll be able to hang out and drink beer and get some work done on your laptop. There might be mimes or jugglers. Folks need only apply to practice their art or sell their craft in the space. I am thinking of applying to be the in-house sword swallower. Just need to learn how to swallow swords. Anyway, here’s the full release:

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Leading Off (9/26/14)

Wylys Must Pay More than $300M in SEC Case. In May, a jury found that brothers Sam and Charles Wyly, founders of Irving-based Michaels Stores Inc., were guilty of fraud. They were found to have hidden their holdings in offshore trusts and to have engaged in illegal trading. On Thursday, a federal judge ruled that Sam and the estate of Charles (who died in 2011) must pay $187.7 plus interest, which could bring their total obligation to between $300 million and $400 million. The Wylys had argued their total net worth is only $119 million and that any punishment greater than that amount would bankrupt them. Tough, said the judge.

Need to Borrow Millions? Gov. Perry Can Help. You don’t even need to ask. The Texas Enterprise Fund, which the governor’s office oversees, even awarded $170 million to recipients who never officially applied for it. That’s just one of a number of troubling findings in a state audit report released Thursday.

UT Dallas Repaid State $4.3 Million. The university’s calculation error related to employee benefits is similar to the same one recently discovered at UNT, which has to repay almost $76 million. Maybe the Texas Enterprise Fund can help them out?

Enterovirus-D68 Cases Confirmed in Dallas County. Ten cases of the respiratory illness have been detected in children, which has symptoms much like those of the flu or a cold. Wash your hands regularly. Hand sanitizer is powerless against it, apparently.

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Headington Companies Pursue Odd PR Strategy While Tearing Down Buildings

Tim Headington — oilman, movie financier, real estate mogul — is a very private man. He doesn’t do press — at all. Here and there, he has been written about. But to my knowledge, he has never given an interview for a magazine or newspaper profile (please correct me if I’m wrong). We’ve asked for time with him. In fact, a couple years back, we killed an innocuous story about a very small part of his empire after his people told us that the timing was bad (it was) and that a look at the bigger picture would serve Dallas better (they were right). We were told that it would be possible to get time with Headington to tell the larger story. That never happened.

His penchant for secrecy is well and fine, when it comes to most of his operations. Check out the website for Headington Companies, for example. In how little it reveals about the organization, it feels like a repudiation of our selfie society. It is brilliant. But this secrecy fails him when it comes to demolishing old buildings.

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The Dallas Morning News Is Watching You Online

An internet savvy FrontBurnervian told me about a browser add-on called Ghostery. It looks for trackers — cookies, tags, web bugs, pixels, beacons — and shows you how the sites you visit are monitoring your online behavior. The reason this FrontBurnervian told me about Ghostery was because he was aghast at what the Morning News was doing. So I installed the software and took it for a spin. Here’s what I found:

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1611 Main Street, R.I.P.

Sunday afternoon, while the Cowboys were losing to the Rams, I heard a loud bang and went to investigate. It was the sound of a wrecking ball hitting the 129-year-old building next door to ours. I walked out to Main Street and saw people standing in front of Neiman’s, their phones pointed toward 1611 Main Street. I had missed the first few swings of the crane, but I got there just in time to see the top portion of the building crumble to the ground.

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Starbucks Giving Up on Seattle’s Best Coffee Stores Here

Sixteen months after plunging into the North Texas market with 10 drive-through Seattle’s Best Coffee locations, Starbucks Corp. has decided to shutter most of the stores. Eight of the drive-throughs should be closed by next month, the company says, while two locations—in Rockwall and Fort Worth—were converted this summer to Starbucks outlets.

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Tod Robberson Puts Pressure on District Attorney To Do His Job

Editorial writer Tod Robberson has a bylined op-ed in today’s paper that you should read. Essentially it says: “What the heck, people? I did a bunch of really solid reporting on a slumlord in southern Dallas who has been breaking the law for years and bragging about it. DA Craig Watkins? U.S. Attorney Sarah Saldaña? Are you guys paying attention?”

Here’s the first story Robberson did, a serious bit of reporting into the operations of Douglas T. “Chase” Fonteno, a self-described “real estate cat burglar” who takes poor people’s houses and then resells them. I know, right? It sounds insane. It sounds like something that authorities should put a stop to. Robberson wrote a series of stories about Fonteno back in May. Then he brought his findings to the authorities. But as Mayor Mike Rawlings told Robberson, there isn’t much the city can do besides slap Fonteno on his wrist. So:

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Former Parkland CEO Ron Anderson, RIP

The longtime Parkland CEO died yesterday of cancer at age 68. Read much more on D Healthcare Daily. The hospital system’s release about the man who ran the place for almost 30 years is below:

Ron J. Anderson, MD, a national spokesperson for public health issues and a champion for the poor and medically underserved, died Sept. 11, 2014 of cancer. He was 68 years old. Services are pending.

A native of Chickasha, OK, Dr. Anderson was President and CEO of Parkland Health & Hospital System for 29 years, a job he assumed in 1982 at the age of 35 after serving for two years as Medical Director of Parkland’s Emergency Room and Outpatient Clinic and Head of The University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center’s Division of Internal Medicine. He retired in 2011. In his final years at Parkland he led the successful bond campaign that secured public financing for the new $1.3 billion Parkland hospital due to open in mid-2015.

On Sept. 10, the Parkland Board of Managers unanimously endorsed a plan led by Parkland Foundation to place a commemorative statue in the new hospital and to name Parkland’s new medical/surgical outpatient clinic after Dr. Anderson. In the 1980s, Dr. Anderson suggested setting up health clinics in Dallas’ poorest neighborhoods, convincing skeptical Board members and local officials of the need. Parkland now operates a dozen Community Oriented Primary Care clinics throughout the county, making primary and preventive health care more accessible.

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RadioShack On the Verge of Bankruptcy

Despite trying to rebrand itself as The Shack and hiring a bunch of has-beens to be in its ads and whatever else, the formerly useful electronics store now says it can’t stay afloat “beyond the very near term.” (As of August 2, it had $30.5 million in cash, or $6,800 for each of its 4,485 stores.) Yeesh. If it goes under, I don’t know where I’m going to get my, uh, hmm, my, let’s see here, my, um, uh — yeah.

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