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Leading Off (5/27/16)

Family Sues City for $5M Over Dog Mauling. An attorney for the family of Antoinette Brown, the woman mauled by a pack of loose dogs in southern Dallas, sent a letter to the Office of Risk Management earlier this week asking the city for a $5 million settlement due to Animal Control’s “negligent administration and policies.” The letter was made public a day after the city announced plans to hire Boston Consulting Group to study Dallas’ dog problem.

Body Found Near Farmersville Identified As Missing Richardson Woman. The Collin County medical examiner confirmed the body found last week near Lavon Lake is that of Jessie Bardwell, the 27-year-old Richardson woman missing for several weeks. Bardwell’s boyfriend, Jason Lowe, has already been charged with her murder. A year ago May, Lowe was charged with aggravated assault for beating his then-girlfriend unconscious.

Someone Made a Fake Facebook Page for Murdered Midlothian Woman. And then they sent friend requests to her friends and family. The story of Missy Bevers’ death only gets weirder while police are still searching for her killer.

Coppell Eighth-Grader Takes Fifth Place in National Spelling Bee. Thirteen-year-old Smrithi Upadhyayula correctly spelled the words epistaxis (nosebleed), chalazion (an eyelid cyst), and levirate (a type of marriage 13-year-old American girls don’t need to worry about), but floundered on theriaca (a poison antidote made of drugs and honey). She’s returning to North Texas $5,000 richer and hopes to work on her second novel about lost alien princesses.

 

Leading Off (5/20/16)

Arlington to Build New Rangers Stadium. At 22 years old, Globe Life Park is already the 11th-oldest stadium in Major League Baseball, and it appears it may not survive to celebrate its 30th birthday. The city of Arlington and the Texas Rangers have reportedly agreed to go halfsies on a new $900 million ballyard with a retractable roof. The deal is expected to be officially announced at a press conference this afternoon. The new digs could open even before the team’s current lease expires in 2023. Arlington taxpayers would have to approve dedicating tax funds to the project, a possibility that only exists because the city anticipates paying off its debt the Dallas Cowboys’ AT&T Stadium early, as soon as 2021. Guess downtown Dallas missed its chance to lure Major League Baseball east.

Missing Woman’s Body May Have Been Found. Richardson Police have confirmed that they’ve discovered a body in a field off State Highway 78 near Farmersville while investigating the disappearance and alleged murder of 27-year-old Jessie Bardwell. Bardwell’s boyfriend, Jason Lowe, has already been arrested and charged with her murder. The county medical examiner is working to identify the remains.

People Who Bought Homes Near a Landfill Surprised to Smell Garbage. One resident of the River Glen neighborhood of Carrollton describes the odor wafting into her home from nearby DFW Landfill as “rotten eggs mixed with stale milk.” Residents have asked the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality to investigate. A spokesman for the city of Lewisville, where the dump is located, said recent rains have stirred up the scents. “We noticed it in the past only if we stepped outside,” said one resident whose real estate investment choices I find confounding.

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Leading Off (5/18/16)

Protesters crash Farmers Branch city council meeting. About 200 protestors gathered at the Farmers Branch city hall last night to calling for justice over the death of Jose Cruz, a teenager shot dead by an off-duty police officer in March. The protestors were asking that the city pay for Cruz’s funeral bills instead of putting money toward the officer’s defense as he faces a murder charge. Mayor Bob Phelps slipped past the crowd, later saying, “I don’t have anything to do with it.”

Dallas police can’t find enough new recruits. The department has had to cancel two academy classes due to low attendance. The lack of interest might have something to do with the city’s low salary, which is $10,000 to $15,000 under what is offered in surrounding departments.

Man (almost) cleared of murder after 19 years in prison. Tarrant inmate John Nolley was freed yesterday after nearly two decades behind bars. The Innocence Project has been investigating his conviction for ten years, finding that DNA evidence in the Bedford murder case did not come from Nolley. Nolley has yet to be fully exonerated, but his defense team expects to wrap up all legal issues within a few months.

Dallas County leaves first responders in the lurch. Dallas County sherriff’s deputies’ and firefighters’ county-issued credit cards were getting declined at the fuel pump in February due to nonpyament. The county’s first responders had to dig in their own pockets to fill up for a few days. NBC Investigates has the story.

Odor is going on time out for a while. Do we push people? Nooo. Do we punch people? Nooo. Do we make potentially-fibula-snapping slides into second to break up a double play? Noooooooooo. This is the convo I had with my kid when he caught coverage of the now-infamous Rangers brawl. And it’s essentially what MLB said to the coaches and players while handing out punishments yesterday. Bautista’s nasty slide earned him a one-game suspension. Rougned Odor got hit the hardest with an eight-game suspension, though the 22-year-old will continue playing as he appeals the decision. Rangers say they have Odor’s back 100-percent. The Frisco RoughRiders are showing their solidarity by selling Rougie’s Red PUNCH, an adult bevy made of fruit punch, an energy drink, and “a secret ingredient from Odor’s native Venezuela.”

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Leading Off (5/17/16)

Urban farm coming to downtown. There’s a vacant lot located between Deep Ellum and the Dallas Farmers Market that will likely become an urban farm by next year. Yesterday, the City Council’s Economic Development Committee concurred that this is a good idea. The urban farm will help returning veterans learn how to work the land and will provide fresh produce that people can purchase.

Wrong apartment set on fire, woman dies. 58-year-old Debra Williams died at Parkland from fire-related burns at her southeast Dallas apartment. The fire was set as revenge for a gang-related shooting, except it was meant for someone else. The gunman in the shooting was Christopher Deon Shaw, and police sources believe that someone set the fire thinking one of Shaw’s friends lived at the apartment.

I-30 Cedars exit to be closed for months. Eastbound I-30’s exit for Lamar Street, which takes drivers to downtown and The Cedars neighborhood, will close this Friday evening and will be closed until the fall. This closure is part of the Horseshoe Project, which aims to revamp where I-30 and I-35E meet.

Hail expected today. It’s been a hail-heavy rainy season. Today’s storms could bring quarter-sized hail to North Texas. And of course, a whole lot of rain.

Podcast: Skip Hollandsworth, Author of The Midnight Assassin, Talks Serial Killers and Costco Jewelry

You can make an argument that Skip Hollandsworth is the all-time champ among D Magazine writers. He’s the only staffer, current or former, to have placed three bylines in our list of our 40 greatest stories ever, which we put together a couple years ago. (If you haven’t read “The Black Widow,” “Max’s Last Hurrah,” or “The Fall of the House of Von Erich,” you should.)

Hollandsworth defected to Texas Monthly in 1989 and is now one of five (!) executive editors on that magazine’s masthead. He still lives in Dallas and is the author of a well-reviewed new book called The Midnight Assassin, about the unsolved mystery of a serial killer in 19th-century Austin.

He was good enough to sit down with us at the Old Monk for a chat that spent far more time focused on the merits of Costco than I would’ve expected.

You can have a listen via the player below, or find EarBurner on iTunes, Stitcher, or through your favorite podcatcher. But first, please note:

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Leading Off (5/13/16)

Dallas ISD to Cut Jobs. A proposed budget for 2016-2017 would eliminate about 260 positions to offset a $24 million drop in revenue (most of that reduction is due to a decrease in state revenue.) DISD is aiming to have a balanced budget of about $1.42 billion developed by the end of June. The plan would also give stipends to high-performing teachers who haven’t had their pay increased for the current school year. Most district hourly workers would meanwhile receive 2-percent raises.

DISD Expands Magnet School Enrollment. The school district has added 107 students to the popular programs at William B. Travis Academy, cutting its wait list in half. The plan is to increase the number of available slots at other campuses with similarly high demand as well. Meanwhile, district trustees are still considering the elimination of the controversial sibling rule, which gives preferential placement at magnets to kids who meet minimum admission standards just because they already have a brother or sister enrolled at the same school.

GOP Leaders Grandstand on Bathroom Debate. Because there’s no more pressing issue to deal with than deciding who can use which toilets? Gov. Greg Abbott and Lt. Gov. Greg Abbott appeared at the Republican Party of Texas Convention in Dallas on Thursday, and both decried what they perceive to be outrageous federal government overreach that dares to suggest that transgender people ought to be able to use the bathroom consistent with their own gender identities. The convention continues through Saturday, when Sen. Ted Cruz will deliver his first formal remarks since he suspended his presidential campaign.

Frisco Hospice Overmedicated Patients. According to a Texas Department of Aging and Disability Services report, Novus Health Services gave excessive doses of morphine and other drugs to those in its care. In addition, the FBI is investigating whether the company ordered nurses to end the lives of some. Novus says it treated patients properly and committed no violations.

House-Broken Bison For Sale. If you’re interested in purchasing Bullet, a 1,000-pound bison that routinely walks around inside the Schoeve family’s home in Argyle, the Craigslist ad is right here. She’ll cost you a little less than $6,000, and she won’t poop in your house.

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I, Tim Rogers, Am a Former Football Player

I was reading this story in the DMN about a guy who was charged with murder. Here’s the online headline: “Ex-Euless Trinity Football Player, Now 27, Accused of Fatally Shooting Woman at Hurst Apartment.” So a decade ago, this guy played football in high school. When I finally go insane from writing Real Housewives of Dallas recaps and I come to work and bludgeon Zac to death with a spud wrench (it’s so specific that it almost makes you think I’ve given it a lot of thought, right?), I want the same sort of headline. I played football for the Cistercian Preparatory School For Wayward Boys, in Irving. Even caught a few touchdown passes in 1988. So something like “Ex-Cistercian Football Standout, Now 46, Accused of Honor Killing.” That would work. Thank you for your time.

Is Dallas Sliding Towards Chaos?

The mayor believes his Grow South initiative is going swell. He and Dallas Police Chief David Brown announced a new plan to deal with the spike in violent crime. Regardless, in a city in which residents who are unlucky enough to live in the part of town where you can be attacked and killed by packs of dogs, in the past 5 days, 7 people have died in shootings, all in southern Dallas. That brings the number of people murdered in Dallas this year to 57, a 42 percent increase over last year.

Clearly this city has leadership problems. But will anyone ever be held accountable for anything?

Sam Wyly Committed Tax Fraud, May Owe IRS $1.4 Billion

A bankruptcy-court judge yesterday found that Dallas former-billionaire Sam Wyly and his late brother Charles committed tax fraud by putting more than $1 billion in trusts in the Isle of Man in the 1990s.

Wyly filed for bankruptcy protection in 2014, after he and Charles were found liable for $299 million in damages for federal securities violations involving the same trusts. Joseph Guinto wrote in D Magazine about the potential problems for the Wylys ahead of the SEC trial in 2013.

In the October 2015 issue of D CEO, John Browning described what was unusual about the Wylys’ bankruptcy strategy:

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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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Leading Off (5/10/16)

Southern Dallas woman who was mauled by dogs has died. 52-year-old Antoinette Brown was mauled on Rutledge Street by a pack of dogs on May 2 and was bitten more than 100 times. She died last night after being removed from life support. This truly horrific attack is yet another indicator that Dallas needs to get its loose-dog problem under control.

Continental avenue bridge might actually be renamed for ron kirk. The proposal to name the Continental Avenue bridge for former mayor Ron Kirk is getting closer to fruition. Yesterday, the City Council’s Transportation and Trinity River Project Committee voted (unanimously, no less) to bring the proposal to the entire council May 25.

Frisco woman has zika virus. She traveled outside the United States and has tested positive for the virus, which is spread by infected mosquitoes. This is the first confirmed case for Collin County, while Dallas County has had six confirmed cases this year. Zika’s most common symptoms include fever, joint pain, rash, and conjunctivitis.

Stars win to force game 7. They pulled out a 3-2 win against the Blues, which means Game 7 will actually happen. It will be the first Game 7 here at home since 2000 and the first overall Game 7 since 2007.

Queen Bey is flawless at Arlington show. I didn’t even attend, but that’s just a given. Seems like the Formation Tour is her best one yet.

Leading Off (5/6/16)

Stars Even Playoff Series. After an overtime goal by Cody Eakin secured a 3-2 win, Dallas and the St. Louis Blues each have claimed two games in their best-of-seven contest. The Stars’ comeback victory is doubly impressive considering they were rebounding from a blowout loss the last time the teams took to the ice. Game 5 is scheduled for noon Saturday at the American Airlines Center.

Deadly Crash on Woodall Rodgers. At least one person died as a result of the accident, which took place just before 10 p.m. Thursday between the tunnel under Klyde Warren Park and the exits to Interstate 35E.

Construction Worker Freed From Trench. While helping to dig a sewer line in Irving, a 34-year-old man got buried when the pit around him caved in. His co-workers cleared enough dirt to uncover his upper body, and after an hours-long rescue effort, firefighters managed to get him out without further collapsing the trench onto him or others. He was taken to Parkland by helicopter for treatment.

Ex-Fort Worth Cop Freed For Another Trial. Brian Franklin was convicted 21 years ago of having raped a 13-year-old girl. On Thursday he walked out of the Tarrant County probation office, having been released from prison after the victim in the case admitted to having lied in some of her testimony. (Though she still insists she was sexually assaulted.) Franklin is awaiting a new trial and hopes for a full exoneration.

Perry Endorses Trump. Is that enough of an excuse, Zac?

Leading Off (5/4/16)

Ciao, Ted Cruz. Your senator, the man whose father, a Carrollton preacher, believed that God himself ordained his son’s White House bid, lost the Indiana primary to Donald Trump yesterday, prompting Cruz to withdraw from the race for the Republican nomination. Cruz’s announcement came in the form of an insult-laden speech (Update: this particular speech came earlier in the day. H/T: the comments) in which Cruz called Trump a “pathological liar” and “utterly amoral.” That kind of language feels tame in an election year that has also seen Cruz compared to “Lucifer” and Trump accusing Cruz’s dad of involvement in the JFK assassination. Meanwhile, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, one of the many intellectual luminaries who occupy positions of power in state government, suggested Trump nominate Cruz to the Supreme Court. At this point, you could follow the rest of the 2016 election year, or you could just watch Robert Altman’s Nashville on repeat. Your choice.

The Mayor Thinks He’s Helping Dallas Grow South. During a Grow South update, regional marketer-in-chief Mike Rawlings gave his southern Dallas development initiative straight A’s, but also admitted that he wished Grow South could happen faster, better, and cheaper. I read about his perceived accomplishments, thought about the people who actually helped realize many of them, and wondered if what makes Mike Rawlings a poor mayor is the precisely the fact that he thinks of mayoring in terms of “faster,” better,” and “cheaper.” Does our mayor have the patience, vision, or political seriousness to actual plant seeds of substantial change in the impoverished, historically segregated city south of I-30? Or, as a developer rather acutely commented to me recently, is he merely “a quarterly returns guy?”

Susan Hawk Back in the Hot Seat. The DA’s department is under fire once again after an innocent man accused of heinous crimes and sent to prison for two years may have been convicted because prosecutors deliberately withheld evidence.

Suspect in Gruesome Church Murder Still At Large. Police in Midlothian are looking for help identifying a man caught on surveillance camera at Creekside Church of Christ on April 18. He was wearing a black helmet, balaclava, and vest with the word “police” on it, and he is seen brandishing a hammer and breaking windows while going through an office. Moments after the footage was taken, a fitness instructor arriving for an early morning class was bludgeoned to death.

Southlake Murder-For-Hire Trial Continues to Shed Light on Drug Cartel’s Inner Workings. The murder was cold, methodical, and it wasn’t supposed to happen in Southlake.

Time to Pine for Seguin. It’s not just that the Blues are up 2-1, it’s that after a gutsy comeback in a game 2 they eventually lost, the Stars fell to pieces in a 6-1 rout in St. Louis last night. Prediction: the Stars somehow scrape together a few wins and force a game seven. Then, a still half-injured Tyler Seguin enters the game in overtime and scores a goal that is likened to the hockey version of Kirk Gibson’s walk-off.

Burger Baron Jack Keller Dead at 88. “The secret of this business,” Keller told the Dallas Morning News last year, “is a good, consistent product, year in and year out, at a reasonable price.” Keller delivered that product at his classic, throw-back burger joint on Northwest Highway for 50-plus years. R.I.P.

Don’t Worry, There is Hope and Goodness in the World. Watch a motorcycle cop rescue a stray dog caught in traffic on I-30, and read about the dogs that were rescued from a Korean dog-meat farm that are now safe in a Dallas shelter.

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