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Making Dallas Even Better

Ask John Neely Bryan: Finding Money to Fix Dallas Streets

Question: Firstly, thank you profusely for settling upon an inspired new logo for Dallas. You’ve saved the council hours of back-breaking sitting in chairs and taking turns talking in circles. Now, can you help with the city budget? Starting to think we’re in over our heads. — Mike R. et al

Sir, you know that I love this city with the sort of passion which men generally reserve for their wives and their Barcaloungers. It would be my pleasure — nay, it is my duty — to guide you through these troubled times. The very fact that the mayor of the world’s greatest city has been reduced to the indignity of hosting a Twitter town hall meeting on budget matters beginning this evening at 6 p.m. — how ghastly!

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Leading Off (9/2/15)

“Frontier Disney” Fraudster Sentenced to 17 Years. You’ll recall the story of Thomas W. Lucas Jr., the Plano man convicted of fraud after he forged documents and misled investors — who thought they were getting insider tips about plans for a Walt Disney theme park in North Texas. (Zac once compared Lucas to Uncle Buck.) Well, yesterday Lucas, 35, was sentenced for his crimes: 17 years.

Another City Honors Santos Rodriguez. In 1973, a Dallas police officer investigating the theft of coins from a vending machine forced a 12-year-old boy named Santos Rodriguez to play Russian roulette — until the boy lost. The city has had a hard time addressing this terrible injustice over the years. Now, from the DMN, this fiery burn:

“Just this week, we learned of Santos Rodriguez Memorial Park, so named ‘to remind us all of the importance to respect, love, care for, and protect all of the children of the world.’ About $350,000 in city parks funding helped redevelop it into a welcoming open space next to El Centro de la Raza.

Please stop by the next time you’re in Seattle.”

City Worker Does Terrible Thing to Dallas Children. From our local CBS affiliate: “Ripped apart and tossed into a nearby creek, kids in an East Dallas youth soccer league are unable to play their matches after a city worker was seen destroying the goalposts the league owns.” It’s no wonder those East Dallas kids weren’t able to play, after being ripped apart and tossed into a creek. Hope everyone recovers quickly.

No More Betting at Lonestar Park. Races were suspended yesterday, as the legislature debates the future of the Texas Racing Commission. Looks like racing will resume soon, though.

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UT Dallas Prof Finds that NFL Players Get Arrested for Violent Crimes

A recent study out of UT Dallas finds that NFL players don’t get arrested all that often, when compared to their civilian peers. “There’s a perception that the NFL has this huge crime problem and that it’s longstanding. That’s what everybody believes,” Alex Piquero, the UT Dallas prof, said in a release. “The data show that it’s not true.” Aha! But the data do show that NFL players get arrested for violent crimes more than their civilian peers. Which led the Huffington Post to go with the clickbait headline “Why Aren’t We Talking About What This Study Discovered About NFL Violence?” We haven’t been talking about NFL players committing violent crimes? Kinda feels like we have.

The FIFA Scandal and Its Connection to Dallas

An alert FrontBurnervian has brought Aaron Davidson to my attention, and now I bring him to yours. The Miami New Times published a story today about Davidson, who has described himself as a “Tex-Mex-Costa Rican Jew.” He grew up in Dallas, went to Greenhill, got his law degree from SMU. Now he’s caught up in the FIFA corruption scandal. Here’s how New Times put it:

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Why Are Murders Up in Dallas And Nationwide?

Earlier in the year, we noted that violent crime in the city of Dallas was outpacing last year’s totals even as the number of homicides was down. Well, during the summer murders began to trend in the same direction as assaults and robberies, with an increase of 16.9 percent.

That’s compared to the same period last year, which, it’s important to remember, saw a historically low murder rate. Consider that along with the stats that murders are down almost 30 percent compared to five years ago and 48 percent compared to 11 years ago, and concern about these numbers represent a larger trend is likely premature.

Except that the same uptick in violence, representing a bit of a reversal of decades of crime rates dropping, is being seen in the countries, other big cities. As the New York Times notes:

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Leading Off (8/28/15)

Dallas Police Chief Defends Use of Deadly Force. DPD officers fatally shot a man suspected in a robbery near Fair Park on Thursday afternoon. Top cop David Brown says the measure was a “last resort” after attempts to subdue him with Tasers failed. The suspect had a box cutter, though witnesses differed in their accounts of whether he was holding any weapons as he struggled with police.

Hinojosa Appears on Track to Get Super’s Job. Dallas ISD board members say they are pleased with the work of once-and-interim district superintendent Michael Hinojosa. Though they won’t indicate whether he’s the lead candidate to win back the job that was once his on a permanent basis, it’s looking like that might well be the case.

Ken Paxton Needs a New Lawyer. The Texas attorney general pled not guilty yesterday in a Fort Worth courtroom to the securities fraud charges that he’s facing. Afterward, his lawyer quit on him, with some wondering if the change in representation is part of a legal strategy.

Man Who Committed Suicide at D/FW Hyatt Faced Theft Charges. Eugene Dickey, who jumped to his death from a ninth-floor balcony at the airport hotel on Tuesday night allegedly had stolen $1.6 million from the Texas Educational Theater Association, of which he was treasurer.

Ask John Neely Bryan: A Post-Modern Logo For the City of Dallas

Question: How do you feel about this new logo for your city? Sure, it looks a lot like Plano’s starry P, and Arlington has a star shoved up their A too. But, looking at some of the others, what do they say to people? Irving has horses, Desoto’s eagle is proof of their All-American-ness. Richardson, well, people all over Richardson are trying to figure theirs out. The winner in my book is Addison, which with its jaunty logo, really spells “Party!” What is your opinion on this move? Are we turning into a regional star like Plano and Arlington? Should we keep the branch of nature in our D? Do we need more marketing? And if you have a recipe of two from the 1800’s, I’d love to discuss. — Amy S.

If only the current municipal governance of Dallas had the same wisdom and fortitude of character that you have demonstrated with your query, dear reader, I might could have spared them the wasted time involved in consulting those ne’er-do-wells who prattle on around the old horseshoe each week as to the possibility and probability of replacing the current city logo (the one which comes garnished by a side of parsley) with the star-emblazoned iconography devised by the Convention & Visitors Politburo.

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Leading Off (8/27/15)

The Susan Hawk Saga Continues. You know by now that Dallas County District Attorney Susan Hawk is taking a four-week leave of absence to battle an episode of depression. And now we know that she will be staying at an in-state treatment facility, somewhere that is not in Dallas. It’s not certain when Hawk will be back in Dallas, but she will supposedly return to work late next month. Hawk’s neighbor, lawyer Bob Hinton, said he had observed stints of paranoia since Hawk became DA at the beginning of the year and that he is glad she’s finally seeking help.

SPCA Retrieves More Than 150 Mistreated Animals From Home. Yesterday, the SPCA of Texas removed quite a few neglected and dead animals from a home in Balch Springs. There had been multiple complaints of suspected animal cruelty. After animal control picked up several dead animals, the SPCA obtained a search warrant and, along with the police department’s animal services, “retrieved 107 cats, five of which were dead, 40 dogs, three doves, two chickens, one finch, one dead parakeet and one guinea pig.” As you can probably imagine, the conditions of the home and these animals were…not good. Thoroughly sickening. Let’s hope these furry friends find new loving homes soon.

No More Stop Signs For Now. The Dallas City Council voted yesterday to not make it easier for dense neighborhoods in Dallas to put up extra stop signs. Who cares about driving safety, anyway?

Leading Off (8/26/15)

Why Hasn’t the Sheriff’s Department Released Tape of Jail Death?
It never ever looks good when someone dies in police custody, and the moment is captured on camera, and the police don’t swiftly release the video. It always looks like a cover-up. A combination of sympathetic strangers and Joseph Hutchinson’s family are asking Dallas Sheriff Lupe Valdez why they still haven’t seen video of Hutchinson’s death — after he ran into the jail asking officers for help — despite the fact that it was reportedly caught on seven cameras.

Home Prices Went Up, Again. This time it was 8.2 percent in June. Only Denver and San Francisco had bigger numbers. Luckily, all markets are always stable all the time.

Orlando Scandrick Might Be Out for the Season. He’s been the best defensive back the Cowboys have had over the last few seasons. Yesterday in practice he planted, heard a pop, then fell to the ground screaming that he’d torn his ACL. Not good. Let’s hope he feels better soon, too.

Brint Ryan Shows How To Handle a Crisis

Sean Weaver is a young guy who until not long ago worked for the Dallas firm Ryan, which handles corporate tax matters. Weaver worked out of a Fairfax, Virginia, office, where he ran a $20 million scam that got him in trouble. Here’s the FBI’s press release from last week. Late last night, Ryan chairman and CEO Brint Ryan sent out his own release explaining what happened and assuring everyone that Weaver acted alone and that Ryan (the firm and the man) cooperated with authorities to bust the guy. That’s just solid damage control, right there. Kudos to Ryan (the firm and the man). I especially like that he ends his note thusly: “I sincerely thank you for your business and your continued trust and confidence in Ryan. If you have any questions at all, please call me at 972.725.0481.” I called the number, just to see if it actually rang Ryan’s office (the man). It does. Fran answered the phone. I asked my question: “How many folks have called with questions?” Fran’s answer: “You’re the first one.”

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Barrett Brown’s Latest Dispatch From Prison

I know, I know. You are still upset that Barrett Brown is no longer writing his prison diaries for FrontBurner. You consider him a total sellout for leaving to write for Glenn Greenwald’s Intercept. Please, I urge you, let the anger go. Be happy for Barrett. Well, except for the fact that he’s still in the hole and was recently given another 30 days there, in addition to the 30 he’s already done, plus three months of phone, commissary, visiting, and email restriction. You’ll learn all that and more if you read his column that just went up on The Intercept. My favorite part, though, was the following description of his new cellmate. I’m sure Greenwald will forgive the length of this excerpt:

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Leading Off (8/21/15)

Parkland’s Moving Day Goes Smoothly. Hundreds of patients were taken into the new $1.3 billion complex on Thursday, as the county hospital’s operations officially began to transition away from the old building. Over on D Healthcare Daily, Matt Goodman wrote about the “slew of firsts” that racked up in short order: “The first two trauma patients at the new hospital were men in their 30s who were in a car accident. The first CareFlite helicopter landed on the helipad atop the hospital at 7:35 a.m., carrying a man in his 30s who was also hurt in a car accident. The first baby, a boy, was born via C-section at 9:40 a.m.”

Dallas Police Assistant Chief Demotes Himself. Tom Lawrence has asked Chief David Brown to reduce his rank to lieutenant. Brown says the request came after he confronted Lawrence about an inappropriate comment he’d allegedly made about a female commander. Lawrence says he’s been considering the change for six months and that the recent incident had nothing to do with it. The president of the Dallas Police Association says the unusual request — which comes with a significant pay cut — is a sign of major dissatisfaction with the department’s management.

Autistic Girl Kidnapped, Raped in Rowlett. Imagine the horror of the mother who became concerned when her daughter’s GPS tracker indicated she was in an unusual place, so she turned on the device’s microphone and could hear that the 15-year-old was being sexually assaulted at a nearby park.

Woman Stole Nearly $1 Million, Bought Roller Rink. Aurelia Anna Campbell was arrested for having embezzled $940,000 over the past seven years while working as a payroll clerk for a Bedford company. Some of the pilfered money was allegedly used to purchase the House of Quad roller derby rink in Denton, which is home to the North Texas Derby Revolution league. A body builder, investigators are also apparently looking into whether Campbell was using steroids.

Gainesville Man Indicted For 18-Year-Old Murder. Christopher Ax, 38, is charged with having killed his former girlfriend in 1997. The arrest was made after Texas Rangers took a new look at the case.

Ask John Neely Bryan: Nutria, the Furry Menace in Our Dallas Waterways

Question: The other night, we were standing on the Continental Bridge, taking in the glorious river, when we saw something swimming upstream. We were at first concerned it was a dog, but it was moving with such ease, and going underwater and coming back out, that we decided it must be something else. Our final guess is a nutria. What the hell is a nutria? Are there many in Dallas? Will we have more now, and if we were to jump in to try to rescue it, would it kill us? (Sure, all these questions could be answered on Google, but I’d prefer to hear Mr. Bryan’s take.) — David H.

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Jim Dent Gets Three More Years In the Joint

Dent, the author of Junction Boys and semi-professional mugshot model, was already sentenced to 10 years for felony DWI in Collin County. Now the well-known writer and serial drunk driver will stack three more on top of that, thanks to a plea deal in Williamson County for another DWI. So he’ll have plenty of time to work on his memoirs and not drink too many drinks then try to drive an automobile.

For more on Dent, read this very good story by Michael J. “Mike” Mooney.

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