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Yet Another Earthquake in Irving (UPDATE: Actually, Dallas)

The United States Geological Survey reports a magnitude 2.7 earthquake was centered around Irving at 9:36 a.m. this morning.

You know what questions I have about this.

UPDATE: Zoomed in on the epicenter on the USGS map and it’s actually near the intersection of Northwest Highway, Interstate 35E, and Loop 12, which is within Dallas limits. So it would appear we’ve got our fair share of sinners in the big city too.

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Poll: Can Texas Cities Ban Fracking?

Denton’s ban on hydraulic fracturing, the first such measure in the state, goes into effect today. A legal battle challenging it is already under way, even as other Texas cities are looking to follow suit. It’s a fight over the rights of property and mineral rights owners vs. public health concerns about the potential environmental damage caused by natural gas drilling operations.

So whose rights matter more?

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What Caused That Earthquake Over the Weekend

Longtime readers of the magazine know who Laray Polk is. The author, artist, and environmental activist sends a few word this morning about our shaking ground:

After the magnitude-3.3 earthquake on Saturday — the sixth one in two month’s time — I revisited notes from an interview from years ago with one of the top seismologists in Texas, Dr. Cliff Frohlich. The occasion was this story. Prior to 2010, I knew very little about seismic activity in Texas. I purchased one of Frohlich’s books, learned a little more, then called him. Here are a few excerpts:

How earthquake prone is Texas? “The biggest earthquakes are in West Texas. The Panhandle has the second highest risk. The four earthquake zones in Texas, in order according to most prone areas, are: West Texas/Panhandle, North Central, North East, and Gulf Coast.

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The Guardian Argues Denton’s Future Hangs on Today’s Ballot

Today my hometown, Denton, is voting on a measure to ban hydraulic fracturing, the controversial technique used by the natural gas industry to pull energy from rocks. Even if it is approved by voters, the resulting ordinance likely will face legal challenges.

The Guardian took note of the fight today, in a piece that trots out the usual symbols of Denton as “slacker capital of the American southwest” — namely the picturesque, yet funky square and the city’s fondness for live music and music festivals. They even bring up Frenchy and his orange trucks.

But the paper goes a bit far in the final paragraphs of the piece, implying that today’s vote will determine whether Denton will one day inspire a mildly funny IFC sketch comedy show or instantly convert into an endless sea of McMansions, corporate campuses, and shopping centers:

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Leading Off (10/24/14)

Porsche at Center of New Allegations Against DA’s Office. The car was parked for months at the courthouse parking garage before Ace Parking (which manages the garage) asked United Tows to haul it away. Thing is it was a vehicle belonging to the county government and intended to be used in drug stings. The owners of United Tows says Craig Watkins’ staff accused them of car theft, even though it appears the company followed all the legal procedures required of it. The Morning News sought records detailing the process by which the DA’s office bought back the car from United Tows, but has had to file a lawsuit to get those details released.

It’s Going to be in the 90s This Weekend. Yes, we’re getting to the later part of October, when things would — you’d expect — be cooling down a bit. But instead the forecast calls for unusually high temperatures for the season. Meanwhile the continued drought is prompting more significant watering restrictions, and we have an unusually cold winter to look forward to.

SMU Makes Offer to Mack Brown. The school’s football team is looking for new leadership after former coach June Jones bolted after the second game of what’s been a dreadful season for the Mustangs. They’ve reportedly had “preliminary discussions” with Brown, the former University of Texas at Austin head coach who led the Longhorns to a national title for the 2005 season. The dollar figures they’ve discussed are $4 million a year for eight years.

Lawn Care Company Flying Too Many Flags. If you’ve ever trekked up to my hometown of Denton and exited onto Dallas Drive on your way to the Courthouse Square, after you descended the hill along which I received the first two speeding tickets of my life, you saw a fleet of orange trucks sitting along the right side of the road, usually adorned with letters spelling out some community announcement about a Knights of Columbus pancake breakfast or a VFW barbecue or somesuch.  And you saw a whole lot of American flags.  The orange trucks belong to Frenchy’s Lawn Care, which is owned by Vietnam vet Andre “Frenchy” Rheault. Well, after many years of displaying as many Old Glories as he likes, the city’s code enforcement department has told Rheault that the flags have to come down. Only one American flag, one Texas flag, and one miscellaneous flag are allowed on any one property. Rheault plans to fight.

Topless Cheerleaders Use Drugs. Photos of the Lamar High School students engaging in naughty behavior made the rounds of social media and have caused quite a ruckus in Arlington.

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Questions About Jill Jordan’s Bewildering ‘Trinity Lakes’ Briefing

On Friday afternoon, a Facebook post by Robert “Fingers of Fury” Wilonsky captured my attention. Said Wilonsky: “If you read one Dallas City Council briefing all weekend, make it this one: the surreal Trinity Lakes Amenities Design Plan.” How could I resist? To the extent I had any lingering doubts, he helpfully provided two illustrations: one of an alarming number of people crowded under a freeway overpass, evidently engaging in some sort of hyper merry-making; and another of a small tree-lined four-lane boulevard. Hmm … I had the sense this would prove enlightening.

Assistant City Manager Jill Jordan’s cover memo to the briefing document helpfully closed with the statement “Please feel free to contact me if you need additional information.” After reading through the 99-page attachment, I actually had quite a few questions, so I prepared to contact her. Upon closer reading, however, I noticed that: 1) she didn’t provide her contact details; and 2) even if she had done so, the memo was addressed exclusively to “The Honorable Members of the Transportation and Trinity River Project Committee,” and I’m not a member.

Therefore, lacking such access, I am posting my questions here, in the hopes that they might reach Ms. Jordan and Judge Vonciel Jones Hill (the Committee chair) prior to the meeting:

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Yes, We Are Still in the Midst of a Drought, and It Is Still Exceptional

Gosh, we had all that rain last night. The storms last week. So we should be doing a lot better with the wet stuff, right? Not so fast. The Texas Water Development Board releases a drought report every week. The new one is just out. It says:

For the first time since late 2010, less than half the state is under drought conditions. We saw improvements in south Texas and the southern High Plains over the past week, but drought worsened in North Texas. One patch of exceptional drought includes Dallas, Fort Worth, Weatherford, and Mineral Wells, and another patch includes the Wichita Falls area.

So let’s continue to conserve, people. Which is totally different than if I’d written “let’s continue to conserve people,” which is what I almost did. The comma makes a big difference. Because if we wasted some people, we’d actually do better with conserving water. Anyway, I got distracted a bit there. So: water. Let’s watch it.

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Leading Off (8/1/14)

City and Klyde Warren Park Talk of Closing Olive. And they didn’t tell their neighbors yet. They swear they were going to. Why wasn’t that stretch of the street closed when they built the park?

Fort Worth Doctor With Ebola Returns to the U.S. Kent Brantly was in West Africa offering humanitarian aid when he contracted the deadly virus. CNN has used the pandemic as an opportunity to scare the bejesus out of its viewers by pointing out that Ebola is “only a plane ride away.”

Immigrant Kids Won’t be Housed in Dallas County. County Judge Clay Jenkins announced as much after the federal government said that the tide of refugee children from Central America has slowed significantly.

Dallas ISD Won’t Tell Investigator Why He’s Being Investigated. Jeremy Liebbe was placed on paid leave and escorted from his office two weeks ago, but his lawyer says he still doesn’t know why. Sources told the Morning News it’s because of the way he went about conducting an investigation of his own supervisor.

Toddler Falls Over Railing at the AAC. The 2-year-old was watching the Ringling Brothers Barnum and Bailey Circus with her family when she tumbled from the 200 level to the Plaza level below. She was hospitalized in critical condition.

Another Day With a High in the 80s. Yes, you still live in North Texas.

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Big Fire Near Trinity Forest Continues To Burn

On Wednesday, a large fire consumed a good portion of the land near Big Spring, not far from where the new horse park and golf course will be built near the Trinity Forest. According to the Save Pemberton’s Big Spring Facebook page, nine fire trucks were called to the scene — and the fire has sparked up again today. Speculation is that it was arson. You’ll find some pictures of the damage on that page, too.

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Why Is the Air We Breathe Getting Worse?

The Texas Tribune yesterday published a story that you should read — but only if you live in North Texas and if you breathe air. It only matters to that group of people. Here’s the top-line summary: though we are still way above where the federal government wants us on ozone, for years our levels had been dropping. In 2008, as you can see from the above chart generated from research done at UNT, that trend reversed itself. And the rise in ozone levels has accelerated fastest in parts of North Texas where the most drilling is done. It’s an important story. It’s not that long. Please read it — again, though, only if you live here and breathe air.

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Dallas Weather Forecast: DUCK!

Nothing much happening in downtown Dallas right now, except for a bunch of clouds. But — holy hell — up north in Denton and Cooke counties today’s heavy rains have already arrived and it sounds like chaos, with highways shut down and roads flooded.

WFAA says we’re going to several rounds of rain through tomorrow. So a downpour is coming your way later today, if it hasn’t reached you already.

Be careful out there.

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Dallas Confirms Season’s First Positive West Nile Test

Not in a person — in a mosquito pool near the 6600 block of Brookshire Drive in North Dallas. The city is planning to spray insecticide tonight and tomorrow between 9 p.m. and 5 a.m. in the area bounded by Azalea Lane on the north, Tulane Boulevard on the west, Airline Road on the east, and Walnut Hill Lane on the south. From the city’s release:

While the insecticide is approved by the Environmental Protection Agency for treatment, residents in the above areas should avoid contact with the spray by staying indoors. Persons inside a vehicle while trucks are actively spraying should remain in their vehicles with the windows up and the air conditioner on until the trucks pass and the spray is no longer visible. Persons out during the scheduled spraying time should be alert for trucks and should not follow them. Residents who come in contact with the spray are advised to wash the affected area thoroughly with soap and water. The spray breaks down quickly in the presence of sunlight and has no residual effect.

Zac’s mosquito source could not be reached for comment.

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