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Leading Off (7/24/15)

We Still Haven’t Officially Hit 100 Degrees. Plenty of local weather stations have registered a triple-digit temperature in 2015, but where the records for all of North Texas are decided — near Runway 17C at Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport — 99 is as high as it’s gotten this year. That’s unusual for these parts and could change today.

Lawyers Criticize Addison Police. Luz Granados-Reyes was arrested Monday after paramedics found her in a bathroom at the Hotel InterContinental, where she works as a maid, sitting on a toilet in which her newborn child (still attached to her via umbilical cord, as she’d just given birth) was submerged in the water. After the medical examiner’s report was made, the capital murder charges were dropped. Local defense attorneys who reviewed the arrest affidavit claim the police lacked cause for the arrest in the first place.

NAACP Comes to Defense of Grand Prairie Worker. Demoyas Baker was arrested for allegedly showing two teenage boys surveillance video of two 12-year-old boys engaging in a sex act at Dalworth Recreational Center. The civil rights organization is arguing that Baker, who is a black man, is being unfairly punished while a white co-worker is not being held accountable for his involvement in the same incident.

Richland High Debates Mascot Name. They’re the Rebels. The Birdville ISD school also has “Johnny Reb” and “Dixie Belle” student groups, in apparent celebration of the Civil War-era South. Some say it’s time to move on from such icons.

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Ask John Neely Bryan: Why Can’t Businesses Place Signs on Downtown Sidewalks?

Question: Why aren’t businesses allowed to put signs on the street downtown? How are people supposed to know they exist if they cannot? (For example, Hospitality Sweet in 400 N. Ervay; Serj across the street from them.) — David H.

What luck! Just last night, during my habitual bedtime reading, I finished Article VII of Chapter 51A of the Dallas City Code, which governs signage and other signage-related activities. It was among the most riveting passages so far of my trip through the regulations of local municipal governance. I am continuously awed by the ability of lawyers to take the language of Shakespeare and Keats, Twain and Hemingway, and fashion it into the verbal equivalent of pouring out a medium-sized container of thumb tacks and jamming them one by one into the back of your hand. A taste:

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Leading Off (7/22/15)

Dallas Police Officer Fired After Sexual Assault Arrest. Chief David Brown fired Senior Corporal Ryan Ramirez yesterday after Ramirez was charged in Kaufman County with aggravated sexual assault of an 8 year old.

Armed Civilians Guard Military Recruiters in Cleburne. Most of the men and women carrying guns, gear, and flags identify themselves as veterans. They say they are there to protect the active service members from an incident like last week’s shooting in Chattanooga. Apparently there are 15 to 20 groups like this organized around the country.

Addison Woman Arrested for Killing Newborn. Police in Addison arrested Luz Aurora Granadosreyes, 25, and charged with capital murder of child under the age of 6.

Jordan Spieth Flew Home with Zach Johnson, Drank from Cup. Really though, everything he does is great. Look at these pictures. Say you don’t love him.

Tony Romo Sues NFL. He’s part owner of “The Fan Expo,” which organized a fantasy football event at the Venetian in Las Vegas. Players scheduled to attend included: Dez Bryant, DeMarco Murray, Odell Beckham Jr., and Rob Gronkowski, The NFL somehow canceled the event, and Romo’s group wants more than a million dollars.

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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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Leading Off (7/20/2015)

Jordan Spieth Enters Final Round of The Open. There are only three players ahead of him. Nancy’s brother, Bill Nichols at the Dallas Morning News, can explain his positioning much better than I can. So just read this. And make sure your TV is properly tuned in by 8:20 am, when Spieth tees off.

Bernie Sanders Talks Progressive Issues In Dallas. Sanders, a Vermont independent running for president as a Democrat, brought out an estimated crowd of 7,000 for a rally on Sunday around topics like a $15 minimum wage and tax increases for the wealthy. According to the Texas Tribune, “the event appeared to be the largest held by any presidential candidate in Texas so far this election cycle.” Sanders also did some damage control, speaking out against police brutality after he stumbled in response to the “Black Lives Matter” protesters who overtook his Netroots Nation event with the former governor of Maryland on Saturday.

To Catch A Puppy Thief. A Siberian Husky puppy worth $2,850 (this is nuts) was stolen from a pet shop in North Dallas. A man walked out with the adorable little puppy Saturday night and jumped in a getaway car, but was caught fairly quickly.  The puppy was returned to the store. Stealing and reselling a puppy? Terrible. That puppy stuck in a pet shop? Also not a great feeling.

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Leading Off (7/17/15)

Immigrants Claim Discrimination in North Dallas. Tenants of apartments near Royal Lane and Central Expressway have been asked for U.S. identification cards when renewing their leases. Obtaining these is only possible for those who are citizens or who immigrated legally. Managers of the complex say their policy has always been to require a government-issued ID to meet their rental criteria.

Spend This Weekend With Bernie. Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders will host a town hall meeting at the Sheraton downtown at 1 p.m. Sunday.

Driver Hits Bicyclist, Keeps Driving. The victim was stuck in the windshield of the car for about a half-mile before, police say, 19-year-old Silverio Alaniz dumped his body in an alley and drove away. Jimmie Sines was later found and taken to a hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

Who Wants to Play Footgolf? You’ll never be as good as Jordan Spieth at the conventional variety, so you might as well get in on the ground floor of this new sport.

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Leading Off (7/15/15)

Farmersville Residents Do Not Want a Muslim Cemetery. This story basically sounds like a Daily Show bit waiting to happen. A choice quote: “We used to grow onions here. We sure enough don’t want to be growing bodies.” And this, from the same story: “Some are threatening to dump pigs blood and put pigs heads on a post so Muslims won’t buy the land.”

Australian Man Accused of Stalking, Raping Woman He Met in Uptown. The details of this case are pretty nightmarish. A woman says a man she met in an Uptown bar “started making unwanted advances,” then jumped into her Lyft ride before assaulting her. Police found him “unconscious” in her bed.

Local Parents Lose Custody After Waco Biker Incident. After he was arrested at Twin Peaks, Rob Bucy and his wife, Marilyn, lost custody of the 5-year-old girl they were in the process of adopting. Marilyn was ordered to pack the girl’s bags and toys and stuffed animals and deliver her to a stranger at the airport — and they are forbidden from contacting the girl. All because he was a member of a biker club that was involved in a massive shootout that left nine people dead.

Deron Williams Signs with the Mavs. No, he’s not a giant center that led the league in rebounding. But he’s from here, and he was really good not long ago, and he isn’t costing the team much. So there’s that.

Dez Bryant Says He’ll Hold Out If There’s No Deal Today. The reported offer is more than $12.8 million per year. Bryant is reportedly asking for a long-term deal worth closer to $16 million per year. He says that if a deal isn’t done by this afternoon, he could miss training camp and possibly regular season games, and the player’s association might file collusion charges. Apparently the Cowboys are skeptical.

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Poll: What Is Dallas’ Biggest Problem Right Now?

This morning’s “Leading Off” was a bit of a buzzkill, what with its news of air polluted by fracking, a rise in violent crime, and the arrival of true Texas summer heat, not to mention a tirade against Craig Holcomb. Take this along with Peter’s post yesterday about potholes, and this city just about seems on the edge of collapse.

Anyway, which issue most urgently needs to be addressed?

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Leading Off (7/14/2015)

The Barnett Shale is Off-Gassing More Greenhouse Gasses Than Previous Thought: The EPA botched its initial estimates, and as it turns out, fracking in the Barnett Shale is responsible for 64 percent of all methane in our local atmosphere. The good news: most of those emissions are the result of human errors and mechanical failures.

Let’s Put Those Increased Violent Crime Numbers in Perspective: The Dallas Morning News breaks down the much-reported 10 percent increase in violent crime. The takeaway? Glass half-full, glass half-empty. You could argue the increase reflects a return to a historical norm. And if violent crime continues at pace through the end of the year, murders will be at the same level they were 2013 and 2012, while aggravated assaults would only see a 0.4 percent increase over last year.

When Will We Finally Run Craig Holcomb Out of Town? Read Eric Nicholson’s look into the laughable bike share program in Fair Park. I mean, it couldn’t be more stupidly designed, so it will come as no surprise that the usage numbers are equally laughable. But here’s the important bit: when Nicholson tried to get the usage numbers through an open records request, he was stonewalled by the Friends of Fair Park, which operates the program. That decision to not to release the bike share numbers was then upheld in a ruling by the Texas AG.

I mean, seriously? Bike share numbers? We’re keeping those under lock-and-key? Why? Because Friends of Fair Park – which is run by Craig Holcomb, who also heads the Trinity Commons Foundation – doesn’t want more mud on his face for a program that anyone who has any idea about anything looks at for two seconds and thinks, “Good God, that is the sorriest excuse for a bike share program I have ever seen in my entire life.” I mean, seriously? How long are we going to let Holcomb meddle in the city’s business? How long are we going to let him lord over his two little fiefdoms, which happen to involve two of Dallas’ greatest civic assets – Dallas and Fair Park – both of which have languished for decades under the weight of curiously stupid ideas? For the love of all things good, Criag Holcomb, will you please just drift off into a quiet retirement and leave Dallas alone? Please. Thank you for your service. Now go away.

New Designer Drug in Town: It’s called Flakka, and it doesn’t sound like too much fun. Effects include “murderous rage, paranoia, ultra-violence, and running around screaming.” Or basically what it feels like to read about Craig Holcomb’s meddling in Dallas affairs.

It’s Finally Texas Hot: After cool temps and so much rain, we can’t really complain about DFW finally flirting with 100 degrees (heat index popped up to 109 in some places yesterday). Well, unless the AC goes out in your entire apartment complex. Then you can complain.

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Leading Off (7/13/2015)

New Criminal History Monitoring Program Introduced at DFW Airport. The TSA has chosen DFW and Logan Airport in Boston to test an FBI pilot program called “Rap Back,” which is part of the Bureau’s massive biometric identification database. Rather than relying on just a one-time background check, the Rap Back program will use the fingerprints provided when an employee starts a job to continuously scan for future “felony-level” offenses. Per the Morning News, “other types of employees, such as teachers, doctors, nurses and even Little League coaches, may eventually be scrutinized by the program.”

Standoff At Omni Hotel Ends Peacefully. A man staying at the downtown hotel barricaded himself in a room Saturday afternoon, and allegedly told a friend who brought him a drink that it would be the last time that friend saw the man alive. The friend had noticed a gun in the hotel room, and alerted hotel security. SWAT was called, and streets surrounding the hotel blocked off. Happily, the man was taken into custody without incident.

Jordan Spieth Wins Again. He beat Tom Gillis at the John Deere Classic to go in to The Open in Scotland on an even higher note.

Greg Hardy’s Suspension Reduced To Four Games. The Cowboys’ defensive end had originally been suspended 10 games after the NFL found that choking and smacking his girlfriend was against the league’s personal conduct policy. But now his 10-game sentence has been reduced to four games, equal to the punishment of Tom Brady, who is suspended for deflating some footballs.

Jac Alder’s Memorial Is Tonight. Celebrate the life and work of the late founder of Theatre Three at Dallas City Performance Hall. The parking lot under the building with be free for the event. Doors open at 5:15, and the memorial starts at 6 pm.

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Leading Off (7/10/15)

Violent Crime Up in Dallas. Through the first half of 2015, the total number of murders, rapes, aggravated assaults, and robberies is up 10 percent. No one has a firm explanation for the spike, but police say they are flooding high-crime zones with more manpower to try to stem the tide.

Bush and Clinton Play Nice. Though former presidents George W. and Bill each have a family member vying to win the White House in 2016, they shared the stage last evening to celebrate the graduation of the first class of Presidential Leadership Scholars at the Bush Presidential Center:

“Last night my granddaughter spoke to me in Mandarin,” Bush said, before the crowd, and Clinton, erupted in laughter.

Sounds like it was an easy room.

Former Morning News Editor Takes UNT Gig. Bob Mong, who retired from our local daily newspaper in May, is apparently already sick of spending more time with his family. He’s been named the lone finalist for the presidency of the Dallas campus of the University of North Texas. The current president, Ronald Brown, is being promoted to run the university system’s health care programs, including the newly announced medical school in Fort Worth. I’ll always remember how Mong took the time to write me a short note of praise for a column I’d written for the group of community news sections I once ran at the DMN. He understood that it means a lot to know the guy in the big office on the other side of the building is actually reading your stuff, especially when it’s not the stuff on the front page. He was extremely kind and supportive of our team’s work — not to mention a surprisingly good softball player. Big congrats to him.

Blind Alligator Removed From the Trinity in Fort Worth. “Nuisance Alligator Hunter” is not a new Animal Planet series. It’s something someone can be licensed to do, someone like Chris Stevens, who was called in to catch a 10-foot-2-inch reptile that showed up in the river near the city’s downtown after heavy rains in June. The animal was safely moved to a nature preserve.

Lake Dallas Mayor Resigns Without Explanation. Tony Marino stepped down as the top elected official in the small Denton County city last night, just a few weeks after the shady shenanigans in which he and the city manager/police chief seemed to have engineered the ouster of a newly elected city council member who’d been critical of them. Marino’s replacement, Mike McCaleb, vowed to bring the “wounded” city back together, descending from the dais to address those in attendance:

McCaleb began to cry. “I’m a big baby, too,” he said. “My sister used to accuse me of having a bladder behind my eyes.”

Many residents laughed at his joke.

Sounds like it was an easy room.

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Ask John Neely Bryan: How to Fix Dysfunctional Dallas City Hall?

Question: It seems like many of our city council members have a hard time getting along. Office harmony at 1500 Marilla has to be near an all-time low. We have to fix this — city governance is too important to be bogged down by petty strife. Based on your history, how should we best resolve this? Mediation? Arbitration? Reconciliation? Duels? — Freddie M.

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Leading Off (7/7/2015)

Rangers designated hitter Prince Fielder is the only Ranger going to the 2015 All-Star Game. A few weeks ago I had to run 14 miles on the treadmill. During that time, I watched parts of The Fab Five and I Hate Christian Laettner, so I’m pretty much all about sports now. Anyway, back to baseball—Fielder will head to Cincinnati for the game which will happen on July 14. And he will go alone. Actually, I don’t know that. Maybe he will bring a loved one. But apparently, this is the first time the Rangers haven’t sent a pitcher to an All-Star game since 2009.

Construction on a super huge Facebook data center begins today in North Fort Worth. Everyone was very secretive about the whole project until Governor Abbott’s office finally confirmed what it was on Monday afternoon. The building will start out at 250,000 square feet and eventually triple in size. Tell your mom to take a break from posting all the inspirational slogans for a minute and freak her out with various theories about the need for all the data centers Facebook is building around the country.

Garden of Eden owners sue the City of Arlington and the Arlington Police. In 2013, a SWAT team executed a search warrant on a Kennedale commune in search of guns and drugs. Guess what they didn’t find? Guns or drugs. But eight people were handcuffed and detained, and they didn’t like it one bit. They say there was no probable cause, and five of them are seeking damages for mental anguish.

Former basketball star pleads guilty to manslaughter; gets probation. Jonathan Turner killed his friend and basketball rival, Troy Causey Jr., in a street fight over a video game. The whole thing is just sad and depressing. Anyway, if Turner stays out of trouble for the next seven years, he will avoid any formal conviction. His attorney says that he would like to go to school and maybe play basketball. Causey’s mother is understandably very unhappy about all of this.

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VIDEO: BYU Football Recruit Charles West Shot Outside Coppell Middle School

Yesterday Charles West, a former Coppell High School student who has signed to play football at Brigham Young University, was shot while playing basketball at Coppell Middle School East. He suffered a wound in his upper arm, was taken to Parkland Hospital, and released.

A FrontBurnervian passed along a video of the shooting, which you can see above. Didn’t know Coppell was such a dangerous place to be. In the footage, you can see West running from the assailant. Police arrested a suspect at about 1:30 p.m. today.

It’s the second time this year that West has gotten his name in the papers for activities unfortunately unrelated to sports. In January he was arrested and charged with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and possession of marijuana during an incident in which he also allegedly solicited sex from a prostitute specializing in foot fetishism and S&M.

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Leading Off (7/6/2015)

North Texas Residents Were Really Determined To Blow Stuff Up Saturday. Dallas Fire-Rescue confiscated more than 1,000 pounds of illegal fireworks and put out 45 firework-related fires on July 4th. Meanwhile, a firefighter in Azle was injured in a blaze possibly started fireworks, as well. Luckily, no one here strapped a mortar to his or her head. That would just be completely nuts.

Rick Perry Went On an Independence Day Charm Offensive in New Hampshire. “The candidate had an almost theatrical, hyperactive zeal as he marched with two dozen or so supporters through the streets of Merrimack. He began the parade pantomiming drumming motions, in time with a local marching band several floats ahead. ‘Happy birthday, y’all,’ was his refrain along the parade route. In Perry-speak, women he’s never met before were greeted with a “Hey, girl.’ Men are ‘Hey, man’ and any plurality of voters was ‘Hey, gang!’ He greeted children with fist bumps and an exclamation of ‘Bam!'”

Mavs Sign Free-Agent Center DeAndre Jordan. Apparently, Chandler Parsons attached himself to Jordan’s hip to convince him to pick Dallas. Thanks, Chandler Parsons.

Fort Worth Teen Charged With Making Terroristic Threats. Nineteen-year-old Nicholas Amrine has been in custody since June, after a pastor at Convergence Church in Fort Worth notified police of posts on Amrine’s Facebook page, which apparently warned people not to attend an upcoming church event and shows him posing with a rifle. He threatened a mass shooting “like Columbine.” Amrine was placed in state hospital, but was formally arrested and charged last week.

 

 

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