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Making Dallas Even Better

Larry Wilmore Gives Ahmed Mohamed an Apple Watch

The Ahmed Mohamed story is right in the wheelhouse of the sort of stories Larry Wilmore prefers to cover on his Comedy Central show. It’s no surprise then that Wilmore had Ahmed on for an interview last night. You can watch the clip above.

I didn’t notice any awkwardness from Ahmed in talking about what happened, which Mark Cuban had spoken about. Ahmed already seems pretty media savvy, for a scientifically-inclined 14-year-old. And he keeps raking in the gifts.

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Larry Wilmore on the Arrest of Clockmaker Ahmed Mohamed

Last night on his Comedy Central show, Larry Wilmore addressed the controversy over the arrest of 14-year-old Irving high school student Ahmed Mohamed for having brought a clock to school. His opener included a crack about how it’s another step in the ongoing effort to get education out of Texas schools.

Later he acknowledged that he could understand how a teacher might be a little suspicious of the mess of wires and boards that was Ahmed’s clock, but still: “Once they determined it wasn’t the kind of clock that counts down, how does he end up in handcuffs?”

He also ridiculed the Irving police chief’s comment that Mohamed was taken into custody because he “wasn’t forthcoming with other details” besides the fact that it was a clock.

“That’s because there were no other details!” Wilmore said. “It’s a clock!”

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What Hinojosa Will Have to Do to Succeed This Time

The paper’s story today about the expected naming of Michael Hinojosa as the sole superintendent candidate has a telling quote right at that top from a longtime Skyline parent:

“I’m not excited about it, but at this time that’s the best we can do. He’s a great guy. He seems to want to do the right thing. But don’t tell me; show me.”

Behind the scenes, that’s the prevailing sentiment on Hinojosa.

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Leading Off (9/11/15)

Hinojosa to Get Dallas ISD Super’s Job. To the surprise of no one, interim district superintendent Michael Hinojosa is likely to be named the lone finalist to keep the gig permanently. DISD board president Eric Cowan said last night that’s what he expects to happen at a meeting on Tuesday afternoon. Hinojosa, who was previously superintendent from 2005 to 2011 before jumping ship to take a job in Georgia, has been back in the saddle for the last two months following the resignation of Mike Miles.

Jerry Jones Gets Second Hip Replaced. Indications are the Dallas Cowboys owner is recovering well after surgery last Friday, about six weeks after having his other hip overhauled. There’s no indication that Arlington voters were required to kick in half the cost.

Hall Arts Brings New Light Show to Downtown. Add the Arts District building to the growing list of structures that are Las Vegas-fying the Dallas skyline.

WARNING: Mid-Life Crisis Man in Uptown. The neighborhood’s walkable live-work-play environment is attracting a “new generation of renters.” Twenty-somethings are advised to be on the look out for older fellows who dress and style their hair like John Tesh, boast about how many people they can crowd onto their apartment balconies, and are known to be afflicted by goose bumps whenever seeing all that’s on display at Whole Foods. While unconfirmed, the scent of patchouli and the frequent playing of the trendiest world music are other possible warning signs.

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Leading Off (9/4/15)

Dallas Police Seek Sugar Daddies. The department announced Thursday, in conjunction with private group Safer Dallas, that it has launched a $2 million fundraising campaign to build a “reality-based training center.” Which has me wondering whether all current police training is conducted in a fantasy realm, like D&D. How do you suppose Chief Brown rates as a Dungeon Master?

Police Also Seek Jeep Cherokee. The vehicle is of interest in relation to Wednesday’s Uptown murder, in which 35-year-old dentist Kendra Hatcher was killed in the garage of her apartment building on Cedar Springs Road.

Booker T. Teacher Charged With Improper Relationship. Alexander Simon, 26, was arrested for doing something he shouldn’t have been doing with a 17-year-old female student at his Carrollton home in May.

Horned Frogs Top Gophers. TCU’s footballers beat Minnesota, 23-17, in their season opener, but the fact that the game was a tight one late had some questioning whether they deserve their No. 2 ranking.

Cowboys Win Final Dress Rehearsal. The score was 21-14 over the Houston Texans. Dallas’ first real game is Sept. 13 against the New York Giants.

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The DMN Screws DISD Yet Again

As I mentioned in Leading Off, there’s a story in the paper today about DISD. Two administrators at a school with 390 students were put on leave while the district investigates possible academic misconduct. Were the administrators cheating? Maybe. Maybe not. We don’t know. The Morning News doesn’t know. The paper doesn’t even know what the possible “academic misconduct” might have entailed. All it could report was that two administrators were on leave. It’s a pretty thin story. Yet it ran above the fold today on the front page. It’s such a non-story at this point that the reporter, Tawnell Hobbs, had to write one graph about all the people who wouldn’t comment and another two graphs about how the school in question got its name and how it partners with a local college.

This is a screw job.

Meanwhile, as Louisa Meyer pointed out in the comments to my earlier post, some very good news is coming out of the district.

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Long Day for United Way, Fluor, Dallas Afterschool Puts STEM Education in the Spotlight

Inside the Santa Clara Regional Community Center Education Building in West Dallas, more than 100 local elementary students were quietly interacting yesterday afternoon with 30 volunteers from Fluor Corp., the Irving-based global engineering and construction giant. The purpose of the unusual gathering: to pique the students’ interest in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) education […]

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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.

How Much Money is DISD Missing Out On by Not Fully Funding Pre-K?

At this past week’s board briefing, trustee Nancy Bingham said something that thoroughly irritated me. Now, I feel bad calling her out, because she is, for the most part, a fantastic trustee. She understands proper governance, and she doesn’t allow herself to get dragged into the mud with trolling status-quo types. I also like her because she tends to zone out and play Candy Crush Saga when status quo trustees start filibustering. Last week, though, she said something I’ve heard often from other trustees, too, and it was way off base.

Bingham, in an off-hand comment, said that she believes the district should move forward with putting the $1.6 billion bond issue on the ballot in November. Nothing wrong with that. As I said last week, it’s the right thing to do.

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Good News out of DISD

Sharon Grigsby over at the DMN’s editorial board got to wondering how DISD is doing in the face of a national teacher shortage. School starts next week. So she called the district and asked how things are going. A spokesman says there are only 50 vacancies, and the number is falling. Related question: when Matthew Haag leaves for the New York Times, will he change his Twitter background, the one that reveals the adversarial lens through which he sees DISD? Asking for a friend.

Ask John Neely Bryan: How Dallas Police Reach Out to Kids

Question: Back in the day, Dallas police officers used to have trading cards with their names, stats, positions, etc. on them and featured photos of the officers, cool police cars, and K9 units. I remember them being like a super-prevalent thing at any Dallas event — parades, carnivals, and the State Fair. Living now in a time in history where police departments are trying to combat all the negative media and bridge the gap between police force and community, I wonder what happened to the program, if it’s still around, and if not, what the police department in Dallas is doing to facilitate that relationship with Dallas area youth? — Callie L.

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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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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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