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Making Dallas Even Better

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 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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How We Can Still Save the Half-Built Trinity River Project

That photo above is a Google maps shot of a house that sits on the corner of Marlborough Ave. and Davis St. in Oak Cliff. It has more or less looked like that for the better part of five years. The house is the ultimate DIY project. As Rachel Stone reported in the Oak Cliff Advocate earlier this year, Ricardo Torres bought the house in 2008 and set about building his dream home. Torres is a crafty guy. He started from scratch with a plan for a two story home. Then he realized that if he added a third story, he could have a downtown view. You know what would also be cool? A game room. So he tacked on one of those, and the house grew like a drawing in a Dr. Seuss book.

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Parsing the Aldredge House Controversy

I keep trying to ignore the Aldredge House controversy, because I guess I keep thinking it will just go away. In addition, people whose opinions I like and respect have come down on opposing sides of the issue.

As I understand it, the deal is that the Dallas County Medical Society Alliance, a fairly well-heeled group of individuals, owns a fantastic, well-preserved old house on Swiss Avenue. To support its mission, the Society has turned day-to-day management of the space over to a special events company, which makes it available for weddings, parties, etc., much to the chagrin of surrounding neighbors.

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Arlington Is Mad About the Texas Rangers’ AL West Champions T-Shirts

I mentioned it this morning. The team, sportswriters, Arlingtonians (Arlingtonites? Arlingtony Toni Tone?) are mad because the shirt features a Dallas skyline. I guess there won’t be any more of those available, so maybe there is some sort of eBay reseller scam happening. I don’t know. I was able to track down this video showing what happened when the shirts were unveiled. Watch out. There might be some language. It got pretty heated.

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First Trailer For Truth, Movie About Dallas-Based Producer’s Role in ‘Rathergate’

Last month, longtime CBS News anchor Dan Rather stopped by the Old Monk on Henderson Avenue to record a delightful podcast with us. Among the subjects we touched on was the upcoming, Oscar-baiting film starring Cate Blanchett and Robert Redford that dramatizes the story of why Rather no longer works for CBS.

It’s the tale of Dallas-based TV news producer Mary Mapes and documents that purported to prove that George W. Bush didn’t fulfill his National Guard commitment during the Vietnam War.

Pretty standard trailer stuff — including the TV-journalism-film trope of handing off a tape from person-to-person at the last possible minute to be broadcast and ending with Blanchett emphasizing the title of the movie, hard.

Truth opens in New York and Los Angeles on October 16. It won’t get to Dallas until Oct. 30.

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Did Texas Monthly Go Too Soft on the New Texas Textbooks’ Treatment of Slavery?

The September issue of Texas Monthly reports on the Texas school book controversy that has been simmering since 2010. That’s when the Texas State Board of Education adopted new curriculum standards that, it was argued at the time, attempted to coax publishers into producing student textbooks that downplayed the historical realities of slavery, segregation, and discrimination. Well, now those textbooks have been published, and while they are not yet available to the general public, TexMo’s Tom Bartlett reports that those who have perused them don’t believe they are as bad as many feared.

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Are There Any Good Reasons Left for Susan Hawk Not to Resign?

UPDATE: Clearly as a result of reading my post, Susan Hawk did the sensible thing a couple of hours later and released a statement clearing up the whole DA goes AWOL situation. She is taking a four week leave of absence to battle a “serious episode of depression.”

I’m going to piggy back on Jason’s poll today and extend the question about Susan Hawk with a request for feedback in the comments. I’m really curious to hear what you think about this. I’ve been following the Susan Hawk regime like everyone else, and at this point, I’m left wondering if she has any reasons left not to resign her post as Dallas County District Attorney. Here’s the situation as I see it.

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Uptown Sam’s Club Opponents Live to Fight Another Day

You probably saw the news yesterday that an appeals court judge ruled in favor of the Dallas residents group that is still trying to block the development of that Uptown Sam’s Club project. You can read more about the ruling here, but it basically boils down to this: a judge rejected the city of Dallas’ claim that the non-profit organization formed by residents to fight the Uptown Sam’s Club had no legal standing to fight the developer in court.

In short, Judge Phyllis Lister Brown said, “Um, yeah. Of course the citizens do have legal standing. Because, you know, duh.” Or in legal terms: “Protecting the quality of neighborhood living is a civic purpose. … Therefore, the Association has a nonprofit purpose and is a nonprofit association to which the Code applies.” Funny that the city of Dallas needed a judge to remind them this.

So, what does the court ruling mean?

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Poll: Should We Stop Honoring the Confederacy?

A memorial to Confederate soldiers was vandalized over the weekend in Denton, sparking another conversation about whether in 2015 we should continue to honor those who fought in open rebellion against the United States. What do you think?

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Denton Confederate Memorial Vandalized

I moved to Denton from Illinois in second grade and did most of the rest of my growing up there. I remember during one of my earliest visits to the Courthouse Square, still a child, I noticed the monument to Confederate soldiers, which was vandalized last night. I remember thinking it was curious that a city in the United States would memorialize people who’d fought in open rebellion against the nation. No, I’m not sure I appreciated then how divided our country remained for many decades after the Civil War.

I also attended Robert E. Lee Elementary in Denton ISD,  and I never gave much thought to the curiosity that the leader of a rebel army would be honored in such a way. I knew who he was, but really his was just a name of a long-dead guy on the building where I went to class, as much thought as I ever gave it.

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Hazing and Homophobia at a UNT Fraternity

Think Progress dove into a 2013 incident when a University of North Texas student named Derek Elrod rushed fraternity Sigma Phi Epsilon. Elrod speaks of a hazing incident which involved drinking straight vodka and being forced to do “complete countless push-ups”:

At that point, Elrod, who had been diagnosed in 2005 with a permanent medical condition involving abnormal nervous system functions, began to panic.

“I don’t even know how to explain the amount of mental anguish I was in,” he told ThinkProgress. “I felt like I was trapped…The lights were off, the blinds were closed…the door was closed, and there were guys in front of it…I had gotten to the point where I couldn’t even lift my own body up. It was the first moment in my life that I could not lift my own body up from the ground…I felt like I was not free to leave.”

Elrod eventually did get himself up, raced down the stairs, and dialed 911. According to video footage obtained by ThinkProgress, Randall denied Elrod’s allegations when the police officer arrived at the fraternity house, telling him: “We just kinda didn’t want him here because we thought he was on the homosexual side.”

“For our pledges, we just get like, ‘hey, you know man, he’s kind of on the weird side of heterosexual,’” Randall remarked. “I honestly thought he was homosexual. Hey guys, we shouldn’t invite him over to our house. It’s kind of weird that he is here.”

When the officer pressed: “You don’t like him because you think he is a homosexual?” Randall responded: “Honestly, yes…I mean, you get where I’m coming from?”

View the video above for more. Elrod was afterward told by the fraternity chapter to have no further contact with its membership. Read the whole thing to learn how the fraternity’s national organization has reacted (or, actually, not reacted).

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Ask John Neely Bryan: Should Texas Fear Jade Helm?

Question: I just read on the AM radio that the Fedral Gumint is going to invade and annex Texas and make it a State. Now I don’t have any real prolem with that, but the name of this invasion is “Jade Helm,” and that was a stripper that broke my heart years ago. What’s going on here? —Luke “Possum” Hogbreath

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Houston Socialite in Hot Water Resigns From UT Southwestern

Yesterday I passed along a story from the Houston Press about a high-profile couple who’d decamped the Bayou City, leaving in their wake a bunch of questions about their personal finances and those of a cancer-fighting nonprofit they ran. The wife, Beth Sanders Moore, landed a gig as director of development for cancer programs at UT Southwestern. Well, our Matt Goodman breaks the news on D Healthcare Daily that Moore has resigned.