In the May 2012 edition of D Magazine, I wrote a column about the political scene in North Oak Cliff. The column was inspired by how shocked I was to see that City Councilman Scott Griggs had endorsed Domingo Garcia’s bid for Congress, as opposed to the bid of Griggs’ pal Jason Roberts. I wrote that Garcia had shown me who was truly running things in North Oak Cliff, and I closed with a prediction: Griggs would lose his May 2013 showdown with fellow incumbent Delia Jasso.
Well, we all found out Saturday how wrong I was. Not only did Griggs cruise to victory, but so did incumbent DISD Trustee Eric Cowan, who faced two opponents, including one who was hand-picked and financially backed by Garcia. So I’m getting out of the predictions business … in about 30 seconds. I have one more to make.
Given that the URL for Griggs’ website is “scottgriggsdallas” and his Twitter handle is “scottgriggsdal,” I have a sneaking suspicion that a run for the mayor’s office is in his future. You heard it here first, folks. But I’ll hang on to that crow, just in case I’m wrong.
Kaufman County DA and Wife Gunned Down: We’re only beginning to scratch the surface on this one. But some, such as Forney Mayor Darren Rozell, are already drawing connections between the killing of Kaufman County District Attorney Mike McLelland and his wife, Cynthia, and the murder of Assistant District Attorney Mark Hasse two months ago on the day the U.S. Department of Justice released a statement saying Hasse was involved in a racketeering case against the Aryan Brotherhood.
DMN Lauds Don Williams’ Speech, Still Mum of Golf Course: Late last week, Glenn was quick to point out that Rudy Bush’s piece (paywall) on former Trammel Crow CEO Don Williams’ chiding of the Dallas elite at the Dallas Country Club was missing some choice words about plans to build a golf club in South Dallas (namely, that Williams at first thought the course was the “worst use of $12 million that the city could possibly spend” before taking a step back and saying that a golf course doesn’t equal jobs or development). Well, over the weekend, this Dallas Morning News editorial offered formal support to Williams’ tough talk, but still nothing about the golf course, which this DMN editorial endorsed back in November, saying that:
We know there will be naysayers and cynics. But when a corporation of AT&T’s size recognizes that it’s time to focus on southern Dallas — and then uses its substantial leadership powers to rally major backing — that’s a marker worth applauding. This golf course plan is a game changer.
So, DMN, tell us: Is Williams a naysayer or a cynic?
First Baptist Opens New $130 Million Campus For Easter: Those chewy, sugary gummy ducks in your kids’ Easter baskets? They weren’t the only tacky treats to arrive in Dallas yesterday morning.
Earlier in the week, I asked if anyone was going to the Sweet Sixteen, out in Arlington. The response, mostly: I wish it was in downtown.
Well, if you listen to KERA, it can be. During BJ Austin’s report this morning on Dallas’s new slogan — “Big Things Happen Here” — she interviewed a gentleman, asking him what BIG things happen in Dallas:
So what big things are happening here? The first thing that came to James Eitzen’s mind was sports.
“We’ve got the Sweet Sixteen coming this weekend to American Airlines Center,” Eitzen said, also mentioning the Dallas Cowboys.
A boy can dream.
From our friends at Oak Cliff People:
Michael Amonnet, past president of the Old Oak Cliff Conservation League, is none too pleased about Sylvan Thirty developers’ new call for public input on the historic Alamo Plaza Hotel Courts sign. He was under the impression it would stay put, Amonnet tells me, adding that such signage “reflects a certain part of our history — the motor-court era.” Preservation Dallas director David Preziosi echoed his words.
Sylvan Thirty spokesman Cooper Smith Koch has a different take. The sign was never guaranteed to stay in its present location, he said, and some well-known locals (who he didn’t name) have already had some creative suggestions for its use. “Our intention was do to a very good thing — to give our neighbors and friends a role in what happens to that sign,” Koch said, “and to give it a new life.”
I drive by the sign — at the corner of Fort Worth and Sylvan avenues, in West Dallas — every day. It’s beautiful. It would be a shame to see it go, even if it’s preserved elsewhere. Why not keep it there and use it as a message board for Sylvan Thirty?
There’s a new clarification on Sylvan Thirty’s site — “To be clear, we have plans in development for using the sign on our site, which was our original intention. However, community members have come forward suggesting that we allow it to be used as public art to represent West Dallas and the Fort Worth Avenue corridor. As we’ve said before, we’re open to all ideas.” — so we’ll see where this all goes. Developers are accepting suggestions until Monday.
Pick up this week’s Oak Cliff People for more details.
Kicking around on Facebook this weekend was a security video from Deep Ellum Urban Gardens, showing a few young gentlemen trying to shatter a security camera at the community garden. Know this fool?
Contact Kelly Cromwell Clemons at email@example.com. And watch the video, because there are a couple other clowns who make an appearance as well.
The New York Times today has an interesting postcard of a story about DISH, Texas, the small Denton County community that changed its name to DISH either years ago in exchange for some free satellite service. Thing is, people might want to switch the name back to Clark when the deal expires in 2015.
But the renaming of Dish — its official name became DISH, to match the company’s all-caps style — did not turn the town into a household name, like Truth or Consequences, N.M., which named itself after the radio quiz show in 1950. Some residents have wondered how they have benefited from the 10-year arrangement.
“It’s not a very publicized item,” said Wester Draper, 34, who is one of the town council’s two members. “You tell people you live in Dish, Texas, and they’re like, ‘Where’s Dish, Texas?’ Initially trying to get the service turned on, if you call them up and tell them you live in Dish and you get free TV, they don’t believe you, the customer service agents.”
Others complained that the signs trumpeting free satellite TV need an asterisk: While basic service is free, residents have to pay for HBO and other premium channels, as well as any additional equipment they might want. Joe Ratliff, 83, said his bill is about $36 per month. Mr. Draper pays $25. Some residents have not bothered to sign up, because they were not interested or were customers of DirecTV.
Some town commissioners have already expressed support for changing the name back to Clark, but one resident has another idea. “I wished Jack Daniel’s would have looked us up,” said Buddy Kinney.
My man Zac has become quite the surreptitious snapper of eye-catching perambulators. If you’re out and about and throwing down a look, keep your head on a swivel.
Tucked inside this Corpus Christi Caller-Times drought editorial by Texas A&M ecology professor Kirk Winemiller is some jarring information about the amount of water we use here in Dallas-Fort Worth:
The most effective and by far the cheapest ways to secure water during drought are better reuse technologies, efficiencies, and conservation. There is plenty of scope to achieve water savings. El Paso residents use an average of
just over 100134 gallons per person per day (down from 167 gallons/person/day 20 years ago) and San Antonio residents have reduced their water use to 130 gallons/person/day. By comparison, D-FW residents use more than 200 gallons/person/day. Some simple math would allow us to secure water for ourselves as well as nature, and with a cheaper price tag.
According to this DMN breakdown from last summer, the average Dallas resident uses 110 gallons a day; the average Highland Park user, 364. So Dallas users: bravo! Everyone else that’s driving the number up to 200 gallons/day: get it together.
UPDATE: According to Martin Bartlett from El Paso Water Utilities, the El Paso number is actually 134 gallons/day.
From the Texas Tribune:
Minnie Wengert does not have a washing machine or a dishwasher. The 94-year-old conserves water by hand-washing dishes, using her shower sparingly and not watering the lawn. Despite these efforts, she says, her monthly water bill averages about $125 for 5,000 gallons.
“I have had to cut back on everything just to pay for that water bill,” Wengert said.
In this small North Texas town, the water infrastructure and billing are owned by Monarch Utilities, a private corporation. Residents say this privatized structure, which is duplicated in a number of other rural communities around Texas, results in painful rate hikes. Monarch and other private water companies say their rates reflect the high costs of providing water to far-flung areas. The Legislature is weighing changes to make it easier for communities to challenge rate increases.
Monarch officials say they’ve raised rates only twice since 2005, but those hikes have driven prices up 62 percent. State Rep. Charlie Geren, R-Fort Worth, recently filed House Bill 1160, which would make it easier for communities like the northwest Tarrant County community of Blue Mound to own the rights to run its own water system. The bill would aid towns with less than 2,500 residents whose water bills are 50 percent higher than neighboring towns.
The Texas Tribune has the scoop this morning:
The video announcing Bush’s run for Texas Land Commissioner on Wednesday was set to a familiar tune: the back-track to Beyoncé’s hit 2009 single “Halo.” The campaign’s decision to use music from a prominent supporter of President Obama’s, someone who sang at his inauguration, attracted media attention from around the country.
As of Thursday morning, that video was no longer publicly available on YouTube; it’s now “private.” And on Bush’s campaign web site, the video was swapped out overnight with one featuring similar, but markedly different, music.
The Tribune quotes campaign spokesman Juan Roberto Hernandez as saying that the singer did not complain, and that the switch has made for “consistency” reasons. “Consistency” in this case meaning “Beyonce was probably going to say something at some point because she’s clearly not a fan of the Bush family.”
At 1:30 p.m., on an admittedly Spring Break-skewed day:
- lines of 20+ customers at every food truck
- children literally hanging from trees
- not a single table available
- trolleys full of vistors
But by all means let’s abandon this natural, organic explosion of community and replace it with a skating rink that will take up much of the space.
One of the few (only?) positive side effects of the Houston Street viaduct closure is the installation of segregated, bike-specific lanes for cyclists heading to and from downtown from Oak Cliff. Jonathan Braddick of Bike Friendly Oak Cliff took the new lanes for a spin Monday. He hits them at about the 1:35 mark, if you’re impatient.
Dallas’ Coombs Creek and SoPac trails may soon get a welcome boost to their coffers, provided the North Central Texas Council of Governments takes its own advice. The two trails are the highest-ranked Dallas-area projects that applied for funding from the council last fall, outshining similar projects in Frisco, Lancaster, Terrell, and other area cities.
Back in September, the Texas Department of Transportation issued a $70 million call for projects, utilizing remaining Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient, Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users funds; the Dallas-Fort Worth region was awarded about $13 million to divvy out. Applications were due to TxDOT in November, and staff members have been running the projects through their evaluation and scoring methodologies since. Additional funding for seven Dallas-area projects (and six Fort Worth-area projects) has been recommended; NCTCOG received 37 applications totaling $47 million in requested funding. In order of their NCTCOG rankings:
On a windy Thursday, on the eve of International Women’s Day, a small group of activists from across the state gathered outside of Dawson State Jail. One woman waved a sign that read “CCA Profits in Human Misery & Suffering.” Passing cars honked in approval. A bullhorn was passed for activists to voice their message to the community and those in the facility.
“They’re not providing adequate care,” said Michelle Smith, civil rights fellow at the Texas Civil Rights Project. “It violates everyone’s civil rights and it’s unconstitutional.”
Dawson is a low-security facility in downtown Dallas for individuals convicted of non-violent crimes, such as drug possession, drunk driving or writing bad checks. Corrections Corporation of America, a for-profit private prison company based in Tennessee, operates the jail. Tuesday’s vigil was held in honor of the women who have died at the prison, and served as a call to close the jail. For good.
If the Arts District really is the crown jewel of downtown, shouldn’t we at least have someone clean up the trash that’s piling up in it?