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Making Dallas Even Better

The Convention Center That Ate Dallas

A couple of weeks ago, after reading that the taxpayer-funded Dallas Convention & Visitors Bureau apparently wanted to lend us the letter “D” from their “DALLAS” logo to replace the City of Dallas’ existing letter “D” logo, I got to thinking once again about the outsized influence the DCVB wields over municipal affairs.

Late last year, after Philip Jones, the DCVB’s president, tossed out a plan to have taxpayers pay for a $300 million addition to the convention center, I took a look into the finances and found that it lost $37 million per year before debt service and $54 million after interest expense — amounts that were virtually identical to its losses prior to the opening of the half-billion-dollar city-owned Omni Convention Center Hotel in 2010 (one of the primary justifications for building the hotel was that it would drive more business to the convention center and stop its losses). Some of the most interesting observations, however, came from reader comments to my post. Former city council member and the executive director of the Dallas Arts District, Veletta Lill, made the following observations:

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The Mysterious Plan for a Mayoral Compound

The Dallas Morning News’ Rudy Bush brought us surprising news yesterday that a new $180,000, by-invitation-only compound is being constructed for the Mayor and his staff. I use the word “surprising,” because I don’t recall the City Council ever having been briefed on this matter, much less approving the expenditure. Based on a review of the plan that Mr. Bush somehow dug up, it appears the Mayor Pro Tem, Deputy Mayor Pro Tem and their four assistants are being kicked out for parts unknown, their offices to be taken over by the Office of the Mayor.

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Why’s Dallas City Hall Sneaking Through a $450 Million Blank Check For TXU?

Wednesday, June 17, (the date of the next City Council meeting) is a special day. Why? Because it is the last meeting of the current council, and six of the 14 members are lame ducks, term-limited out. The Regular Agenda for the June 17 meeting, posted on June 5, was 1,071 pages long, and contained 101 items. But, as discussed previously, it is really the Addendum to the Agenda which contains most of the “fun” stuff.

Friday night I checked the Dallas City Hall website at 5:44 p.m., searching in vain for the Addendum (5 p.m. is the deadline for posting it). Oh, well, I had things to do and gave up. Finally, on Saturday afternoon (how many City Hall reporters work Saturdays?), I went searching again, and the 629-page document had finally posted, revealing 41 additional items. According to the time stamp, it had been received by the City Secretary at 4:26 p.m. Friday (June 12).

So,I started my treasure hunt. Most of the stuff was pretty typical, (e.g. $305,000 for veterinary services for police & fire dogs and horses), but then, WHOA… what the heck is this?

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Ladar Levison Weighs in on Barrett Brown Case

An interesting loop is nearing completion. I’ve profiled Barrett Brown and Ladar Levison. Barrett has written about me. Now Ladar is writing about Barrett. We only need Barrett to write about Ladar and Ladar to write about me. Come on, guys! We can do it.

Okay, Ladar has a piece in the Guardian today that you should read. As of 9:49 a.m. Central Standard, the piece appears to link to the same cache of hacked Stratfor information that Barrett got busted for linking to. (!) But that’s not really the most interesting part of Ladar’s story.

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D Magazine’s 40 Greatest Stories: Love and Loss in West, Texas

I doubt there are many — if any — of our regular FrontBurner readers who aren’t familiar with what occurred in West, Texas, in April 2013. The fire and subsequent explosion of West Fertilizer Co. left physical and emotional scars on the tiny community that most of us know only as a highway rest stop at which we pick up kolaches while driving between Dallas and Austin.

For our own Zac Crain, what happened there was far more personal because West is his hometown. In writing about the aftermath of the tragedy in the July 2013 issue of D Magazine — one of the 40 greatest stories we’ve ever published — Zac painted a portrait of a town that refused to dwell on its losses. I asked Zac for his take on what’s happened since his article was published:

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The Barrett Brown Review of Arts and Letters and Jail: A Visit to the Hole

I’m afraid I’m now being kept in the Seagoville federal prison Special Housing Unit, or SHU, known more informally as “segregation” and even more informally as “the hole.” Several of my fellow jail unit inmates and I were brought here in the wake of a June 17 incident that the Department of Justice is billing as a “semi-disturbance” for which we are to be investigated and perhaps punished — though not necessarily in that order. One awaits one’s disciplinary hearing in the hole, and if one if found guilty, one is sentenced to … the hole. More than a week after being confined, I’ve yet to even be charged with an infraction.

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Last Night, Sir Richard Branson Joined The Love Field Debate, Drank Tequila, and Talked to Us

On Monday night, Sir Richard Branson dropped into town to address the latest front on the airline war, Virgin America vs. EveryoneElseThatWantsThoseGatesAtLoveField. The airline hosted a party at The Rustic in Uptown Three of us—me, Cristina Daglas, and Glenn Hunter—attended. Each of our individual thoughts follow. One common thread between all of our thoughts: tequila. There was a lot of tequila.

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Former Dallas City Councilman Dave Neumann Did Not Get a Parking Ticket Today, and Likely Never Will

In May 2011, Scott Griggs unseated Dave Neumann for the District 3 slot on the Dallas City Council. Today, Dave Neumann left a downtown event, hopped into a car on Lamar Street, pulled a quick U-turn, and headed off.

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State Rep. Jason Villalba, to Lt. Gov. Candidates: ‘Illegals Are People’

“Friends, these ‘illegals’ are people. They are human beings who love their little ones just as much as you and I love our little ones. They want a better life for their families and they want their children to have a better life than they have had.”

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Attention: Do Not Go Bare-Assed to the Dallas Pride Parade

The Dallas Pride parade is Sunday. As the Huffington Post notes, there is some controversy brewing as we head into this year’s celebration. I’ll let Daniel Cates, the North Texas coordinator for GetEQUAL TX, explain. Here’s what he wrote on his Facebook page: So the Dallas Tavern Guild has instituted NEW rules for parade participants […]

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