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Leading Off (6/1/16)

Flash floods possible through tomorrow night. My commute time was doubled last night due to high water surrounding my East Dallas neighborhood. That was just a couple hours worth of rain. And now this morning, the National Weather Service issued a flash flood watch for all of North and Central Texas which is in effect until Thursday evening. Yesterday’s thunderstorms also caused power outages in McKinney and at least three house fires in North Texas sparked by lightning.

Family returns to Dallas after year-long switched-at-birth screw-up. Mercy Casanalles gave birth in her home country of El Salvador last May and swore the baby she was given on her way out of the private hospital wasn’t actually hers. Once back in Dallas, Casanalles and her husband Rich Cushworth had the child DNA tested. Their suspicions were confirmed. The couple were reunited with their biological son in September, but it’s taken them this long to get their now 1-year-old back on Texas soil. The boy has a three-week visa and their attorney is working on a permanent solution.

Glenn Beck suspended by SiriusXM over controversial comments. Beck’s Las Colinas studio crew is getting the week off after the program’s guest, author Brad Thor, made comments regarding Donald Trump that, according to SiriusXM, “may reasonably be construed by some to have been advocating harm against an individual currently running for office.” In last week’s interview, Thor worried Trump might overstep his constitutional authority if winning the presidency and said, “I think it will be a terrible, terrible position the American people will be in to get Trump out of office because you won’t be able to do it through Congress.” The entirety of the transcript is here. The more interesting thing, however, is that Beck already had a vacation scheduled this week. So what difference does a suspension make? Well, it did get Beck and SiriusXM plenty of headlines. Hmmmm….

The Real Housewives of Dallas Episode 6 Recap

Before we begin, if I may: at a dinner party last week, a friend of mine was telling me how much she enjoys my Real Housewives of Dallas recaps. Always nice to hear. And painful. “You know,” she said, “those recaps could lead to a writing job.” Yes, I suppose that is possible. Maybe one day I will have a writing job. Perhaps this recap of Episode 6, titled “Locken Loaded,” will impress someone enough to give me a job that entails writing.

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Leading Off (5/11/16)

Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick brings potty talk to Fort Worth schools. Patrick visited the FWISD Board of Education complex yesterday to call for superintendent Kent Scribner’s resignation. He says Scribner violated parents’ right to know what’s happening with their schoolchildren by implementing a policy that allows transgender students to use the bathroom and locker room of their choice. Patrick also said Scribner “is putting the privacy and rights of 78,000 or 79,000 students in the back seat for a few.” However, Scribner says he simply tweaked a 2011 policy and called Patrick a “bully.” Patrick didn’t have a solution for transgender students, but I’m thinking maybe there’s an extra empty naval base lying around Grand Prairie. Stick a few porta-potties on that. All good.

Local man’s son back in the Senate saddle. Ted Cruz returned to his Washington Senate office yesterday, receiving a tepid welcome back from colleagues.

Murdered Midlothian fitness instructor case weird enough for national tabloids. Flirtatious messages pointing toward infidelity, financial and marital problems, a solid chance the hammer-wielding killer caught on surveillance video might actually be a woman, and a mother-in-law who blames Camp Gladiator for taking her daughter-in-law’s life — People has all the strange details.

Watch the bovine go. Yesterday’s local news broadcasts brought us two loose livestock videos. A bull trotted through Arlington and Dalworthington Gardens with police in tow for nearly four hours before a rancher was able to wrangle him. This incident totally showed up the guy who said “only in Stephenville” after a calf booked it through town on Sunday.

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An Open Letter to My Anonymous Tipster

Yesterday I received in the mail a padded manila envelope containing nothing but an unlabeled CD. So I took it back to our I.T. guy and said, “Here, please infect your computer with this mysterious disc, because my MacBook Air doesn’t have a CD drive.” The disc turned out to be harmless — at least to the computer. I’d like to address the person who sent it to me.

Dear tipster, thank you for thinking of D Magazine. I spent about an hour yesterday reading through the hundreds of personal emails, going back several years, you were kind enough to send. I didn’t read every single one. After the first 50 or so, I think I got a pretty good idea of what you wanted me to understand. I skimmed from that point.

D Magazine is not inclined to publish information about a couple’s messy divorce, even if that couple is a high-profile one. If there were a larger issue at stake, something in the public’s interest, that would be a different matter. From what I gathered, this divorce doesn’t come anywhere near meeting that standard. It’s just a sad, ugly, very personal situation. I deleted the emails from the computer I used to read them. And I’ve thrown the CD in the trash.

But there is something — or some things — you sent that I will make use of. The eight Forever stamps on the envelope weren’t canceled. Those I will reuse. Cheers.

Leading Off (4/20/16)

Rain. And lots of it. Keep an eye on weather reports, folks, and avoid those flood waters.

Video released of Midlothian fitness instructor’s killer. Police released surveillance video of the person suspected of murdering Terri “Missy” Bevers in a Midlothian church. Students arriving for Bevers’ Camp Gladiator class discovered her body early Monday morning. The videos show the suspect walking through the halls of the church wearing a head-to-toe, SWAT-like getup. Reports say the suspect vandalized the property for a half-hour before Bevers arrived, but nothing appeared to be stolen. The suspect’s distinctive gait will hopefully lead to a quick capture.

Manziel had a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad yesterday. It all started when Johnny Football got word that a Dallas county grand jury will hear his domestic violence case on Thursday. Then his second agent of the year—who, granted, gave Manziel an ultimatum that wasn’t met—officially dropped the 2012 Heisman winner. Sponsorships from Nike and a sports trading card company quickly followed, leaving the Cowboys reject with zero endorsement deals. Manziel must have seen this coming because reports reveal the Tyler native was laying low and getting some alone time over the weekend. Ooooh, he was laying low…alone…in a Coachella ball pit? Gotcha. Ok. Hmm. So, this is what rock bottom looks like.

Local man’s son loses big time in New York. Even John Kasich got more delegates than Ted Cruz in Tuesday’s New York primary. Trump and Clinton won the state by landslides.

Rangers beat Astros. But the real winner was Beltre’s Andrus-directed stink eye.

Would-be gun thieves foiled by pillar. Surveillance video shows three men attempting the ol’ smash‘n’grab at a Garland gun store. The truck momentarily gets stuck on a waist-high pillar. The best part of this news segment, however, is at the 20-second mark when a man walks out of the shop at just the right time. It’s slightly entertaining. Definitely eat that bagel first, though. Then the news segment. And coffee. I mean, start with coffee. You know what, do coffee, bagel, the Beltre thing, theeennn this video.

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Leading Off (4/13/16)

Funeral held for food reporter Stacey Fawcett and her two sons. More than 2,000 people filled Prestonwood Baptist Church yesterday to pay their respects to popular WFAA food reporter Fawcett and her sons. News broke Friday morning that Fawcett’s eldest son, 19-year old McCann Utu, Jr., murdered the reporter and her younger son, 17-year-old Josiah Utu, before turning the knife on himself. Friends and family say McCann’s mental health suffered after two concussions. His brain was donated for research.

Two dead in Southlake murder-suicide. Police found Anil and Neeta Kharabanda dead in a bedroom. Authorities believe the man shot the woman before killing himself, however they could not confirm how the two were related. This marks the city’s first murder since Mexican lawyer, and possible cartel leader, Juan Jesus Guerrero Chapa was gunned down in the Southlake Town Square.

Ethan Couch to appear in adult court. The “affluenza” teen who killed four people while driving under the influence, who then cost taxpayers a hefty $200K in rehab bills, who then skipped out on his cush probation sentence, is scheduled to appear in adult court for the first time today. He celebrated his 19th birthday in solitary confinement on Monday. Today’s hearing could keep Couch in jail for another four months. Fingers crossed.

Dallas woman caught riding dirty. Real dirty. Like, $1.6-million-worth-of-meth-hidden-inside-custom-tires-on-a-Chevy-Trailblazer kind of dirty. Eat her dust, Chamillionaire.

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A Look at the Curious Board of the State Fair of Texas

The State Fair is a ways off, but it’s never too early to start thinking about the three-week event that dominates the city’s largest and most underutilized asset. Today, I have two thoughts. I’m happy to share them.

First, you may have heard about the hubbub at the Wounded Warrior Project. The nonprofit fired its two top executives for overspending. In 2013, the Wounded Warrior Project had revenues of $342 million, and its CEO was paid $496,415 (.14 percent of revenue). The State Fair is also a nonprofit. In 2013 (the most recent year that Guidestar has its 990 form), it had revenues of $47 million, and its head honcho, the now-retired Errol McKoy, made $880,805 (1.87 percent of revenue). Two different nonprofits in two different industries. But still. It’s something to think about.

Second, I plotted the home addresses of the State Fair’s board members on a Google map. Have a look. Click around. I couldn’t help but notice that none of the folks live near Fair Park. Not that living in, say, Preston Hollow should preclude you from overseeing the three-week event that dominates the city’s largest and most underutilized asset, which happens to be in South Dallas. But, again, still. It’s something else to think about.

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How Dallas Won the Right to Tell Its Own History

There was an item missing from yesterday’s City of Dallas Parks and Recreation Board agenda. It was briefing about a gift two philanthropic foundations, the Boone Family Foundation and the Rainwater Charitable Foundation, planned to give to the city. The gift seemed admirable enough.  The foundations wanted to install markers in seven city parks that would acknowledge their history as historically segregated African-American parks. Sparked both by the redo of Uptown’s once black-only Griggs Park in 2013 and the Facing Race conference held in Dallas in 2014, the intent was to do just that: face up to this city’s racial history, acknowledge the ignominy of the past and celebrate the role these parks played in shaping this city’s African-American community.

But while the board tabled the briefing on February 4, resetting it for February 18, the briefing didn’t happen. Instead, the two artists who were commissioned by the two foundations to prepare the text for the historical markers addressed the board. They spoke of manipulation, cooption, explicit and implicit censorship on the part of the two foundations. They outlined a research process that degraded into prolonged silences, stop orders, and backroom character attacks that led to standoff between the artists and the foundations.

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Dallas City Council Bans Exxxotica From Using Convention Center, Ctd.

Jason, that was an excellent recap of the City Council meeting today. This reminds me of the city’s erstwhile war on topless clubs under Mayor Laura Miller. Read this great essay titled “The New Puritanism,” by Joe Bob Briggs, that D Magazine published in 2004. (It entered our archives via OCR scanning, so be patient with the many typos. It’s worth it.)

Leading Off (1/29/16)

Dallas Schoolchildren Required to Play. The DISD board voted Thursday that all district elementary schools must give students 20 minutes of recess each day for the rest of this school year, increasing that to at least 30 minutes daily next year. Recess also can’t be withheld as a form of punishment in disciplinary matters. Trustee Dan Micciche, who brought the proposal to the board, cited studies indicating recess improves social and emotional health. Considering the gorgeous weather we’re expected to have today, I plan to make the same argument to Wick this afternoon.

Arlington Woman Awarded Millions For Awful Book. I haven’t read Fifty Shades of Grey, unless you count Buzzfeed’s abridged, illustrated version. But millions have bought author E.L. James’ book that began as fan fiction published through a website co-founded by Arlington woman Jennifer Pedroza. A jury last year found that Pedroza’s partner had cheated her out of her rightful share of royalties from the work, and on Thursday a judge awarded the Fort Worth schoolteacher $10.4 million in royalties plus $888,643 in pre-judgment interest, as well as $1.7 million in attorney’s fees. So Fifty Shades has made so much money that a woman who didn’t even write the thing, and is splitting her royalty share with the other partners who worked to publish it, still looks to make $11.5 million? Jeez, you people like your S&M.

Dallas Police Chief Doesn’t Need Your Resume. Testifying as part of a civil suit filed against the city, David Brown explained the process by which he decided whom to promote to the rank of major within the department. His “intricate vetting process” has “little need for resumes, job interviews, detailed personnel histories or opinions outside of his command staff.”

Kennedale Smells Like Old Rotted Fish. Parts of Arlington too. Residents there are blaming recent changes at a landfill run by the city of Fort Worth. If I were better acquainted with Kennedale, I’d insert a cutting punchline here. But for all I know it was previously a veritable Garden of Eden, redolent of lilac and baby powder.

How Have There Been More Than 200 K2 Overdoses In Downtown Since the Beginning Of December?

According to this, Dallas Fire-Rescue has responded to more than 200 K2 overdoses since the beginning of December. (There is a bit more from an earlier report here.) K2 — also known as Spice and Black Mamba and probably a bunch of other things — is a synthetic cannabinoid that is gaining in popularity, probably because it is relatively easy to get and doesn’t show up on most drug tests yet. Still, though: more than 200 overdoses in 53 days in one concentrated area? That’s almost four a day. (If we’re focusing on the small number of bars and clubs, we’re mostly talking weekends, and the number is more like 20 a night.) I’m not an expert, but that feels like A LOT. And this reasoning doesn’t make a ton of sense to me:

Collin County Juvenile Probation Officer and Substance Abuse Counselor Grace Raulston said, “Downtown Dallas area probably there’s high population of people on probation probably for possession of marijuana and they’re probably trying to beat out the drug test.”

Whatever the reason, if there is one, watch out. Something is happening.

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Podcast: Bobby Abtahi on How He Got Kicked Off a Virgin America Flight

Let’s make this crystal clear right from the start: Prominent Dallas lawyer Robert Abtahi, who goes by “Bobby,” no longer owns the URL That much we know. And yet questions remain.

Primarily those questions center on the national-news-making incident in which Abtahi, an American of Persian descent, was denied his seat on a Virgin America flight from New York to Dallas last week. During our conversation at the Old Monk, Abtahi shared never-before-revealed details about what went down that day. #seaturtles

After that segment, stick around and behold Zac Crain unplugged. Listen to the full show below, or subscribe via iTunes or Stitcher.

But first, please note:

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Leading Off (12/4/15)

Grapevine Erects Massive Bronze Unicorn. The statue, unveiled last night, sits atop the Grapevine Convention & Visitors Bureau. It’s a winged unicorn as well, a sure sign that this piece of public art is intended as a challenge to the supremacy of Dallas’ iconic Pegasus. Obviously Phillip Jones and the Dallas CVB must prepare a counterstrike. Perhaps an armada of demonic Pegasi perched on every building in the central business district?

Board Discusses Pre-K For All DISD Students. Dallas ISD trustees generally agree that it’d be nice to provide classes for all 3- and 4-year-olds in the district, but uncertainty exists about how the proposal, which would be phased in through 2025, would be funded.

Petition Calls For Mandatory Recess. DISD trustees discussed the notion of requiring elementary schools to give a recess period to students each day. Though the whole matter kind of seemed like an excuse for trustee Miguel Solis to brag about his days as top dog on the playground. “It raised my ego because I was the best kid at playing tag,” he said. “I got my first kiss.”

Signatures Forged to Allow Aldredge House Weddings. Neighbors of the popular (and somewhat contentious) Swiss Avenue venue are claiming that their names were forged on city documents granting permission for large tents to be erected on the property. Dallas requires that anytime someone wants to put up a tent bigger than 400 square feet, every property owner within 100 feet has to agree to it. It’s unclear who’s responsible for the forgeries.

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