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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 www.bobbyfordallas.com. 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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The Organization That Benefited From Bobby Abtahi’s Missed Virgin Airlines Flight

Bobby Abtahi is trending. As Tim mentioned in Leading Off — and as you have surely read in either the New York Times, Jezebel, New York Daily News, Gothamist, or any of the dozens of media outlets covering the story — the lawyer, one-time city council candidate, and Dallas City Plan Commissioner didn’t board his flight from New York to Dallas with Virgin America Airlines. The Iranian-American, scruffy faced after a week on the beach, wasn’t allowed to board when the captain and crew of a flight allegedly stated that they didn’t feel comfortable with him on the plane.

Maybe it was racial profiling. Maybe it was a bizarre misunderstanding. Maybe it was a sprinkle of both. I’ll let other outlets hash that one out. I just wanted to call attention to the classy gesture Abtahi made in the heat of the moment.

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88-Year-Old Building in Bishop Arts Demolished Because, Well, Dallas

I’m going to try to restrain my anger in this post as best as I can, but my blood is boiling. This morning on Facebook rumors started to spread that a 1927 brick building on Davis. St. in the Bishop Arts was set to be demolished today. I was a bit baffled and reached out to a few people in the know. There hadn’t been any coverage of a proposed demolition and none of Oak Cliff’s characteristically combative neighborhood advocates had sounded the alarm that a historic building in the community was about to be bulldozed. I put a call into the owner of the building in question, but hadn’t heard back before Rachel Stone broke the news over on the Oak Cliff Advocate. Yes, it’s true. A building in the Bishop Arts is being demolished.

Why?

Why do you think? This is Dallas. The answer is always the same: mother ducking parking.

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City of Irving May Need a New PR Crisis Consultant

Documents related to the l’affaire Ahmed Mohamedthe Irving “clock kid” — are filtering out. The Morning News has acquired interesting texts that document the way that city leaders in Irving jumped into crisis management mode as the story went viral:

Consultant said we were on the right track, continue to emphasize strong public safety, safety and security,” City Manager Chris Hillman texted the mayor at one point. “No more interviews, let the fire die down and don’t provide more oxygen.”

But when [Mayor Beth] Van Duyne asked about appearing on Glenn Beck’s internet show, the consultant gave the mayor the green light.

“He agreed with that because Beck will be a friendly,” the city manager texted Van Duyne.

Beck was friendly to Van Duyne, but her appearance sparked another wave of news stories after she shrugged off the host’s speculation that Ahmed might be involved in a jihadist plot to embarrass the city.

Not the best call by the consultant. Obviously Irving doesn’t have Olivia Pope on retainer.

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