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Leading Off (6/6/14)

Tests Prove Fracking Contaminated Parker County Water. The Texas Railroad Commission’s findings earlier this year concluded that the amount of methane in one man’s well was under the federally allowed limit, but a UT-Arlington scientist ran his own test and found the methane levels dangerously high. Not only that, but the evidence indicates the methane almost certainly came from gas in the Barnett Shale. The Railroad Commission stands by its report.

Synthetic Marijuana Bust Involves Ridglea Theater. The feds have busted the owners of the Gas Pipe chain of head shops for the manufacture and distribution of K2, or “spice.” DEA agents seized cars, a house, businesses, and nearly $3 million in the operation. Caught up in the mess is the historic Fort Worth theater, which documents claim was purchased with money from the sale of the illegal substance.

County Vows to Take Guns From Domestic Abusers. On the Sunday the Morning News reported on how officials haven’t been enforcing state and federal laws that should keep guns out of the hands of those convicted of domestic abuse or subjects of protective orders. On Thursday, officials vowed to institute ways to impose the law as they should. Score one for the fourth estate.

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I Paddled the Trinity River Rapids and Lived To Tell This Story

You are hereby invited to read a story, if you haven’t already, that I wrote for the June issue. The online headline is the SEO’ed (I guess) “How I Survived the Trinity Rapids,” but the print version headline, which I prefer, is “Here Be Dragons.” In ye olden tymes, that’s what mapmakers would write when they didn’t know the lay of the land (or ocean). Those were parts unknown. Places to be feared. That’s how I read Jim Schutze’s reporting on the Dallas Wave.

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Catch Laray Polk at CentralTrak on Thursday

You might recall Laray Polk’s name from the 2010 story she wrote for us about Harold Simmons and he stood to make millions by storing nuclear waste in questionable way. It was titled “Harold Simmons Is Dallas’ Most Evil Genius.” Well, Laray co-authored a book last year with Noam Chomsky (yes, that Noam Chomsky) called Nuclear War and Environmental Catastrophe. She’ll talk about the book Thursday at CentralTrak. Here’s how the evening is billed:

Topics in the book will be explored in relation to Texas as it has over time become a dumping ground for the country’s radioactive waste. The state has also become a convergent point for environmental activism over the controversial proposed Keystone XL pipeline. The discussion will include images of West Texas’ “Nuclear Alley” and acts of recent nonviolent protest in East Texas, followed by a Q&A.

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Leading Off (5/9/14)

Dallas Cowboys Pass on Johnny Manziel. The former Texas A&M quarterback and Heisman Trophy winner was still available when the team made its first-round pick — No. 16 overall. But despite the marketing bonanza that could’ve come from pairing Manziel with Jerry Jones in a Papa John’s commercial, the Cowboys selected Zack Martin, an offensive lineman out of Notre Dame. Johnny Football is taking his talents to Cleveland.

City to Award Love Field Gates to Virgin. According to WFAA’s sources, an announcement will be made today. City Manager A.C. Gonzalez made the call, which comes as no surprise, given the Justice Department’s stance on which carrier should get the gates the American Airlines is being forced to divest in order to have its merger with U.S. Airways approved.

Storms Flooded Streets, Downed Trees, Cut Power. Late Thursday, thousands of homes were still waiting for electricity to be restored. Though some places saw several inches of rain, officially (at D/FW Airport) the area got only a half-inch, leaving us still 8 inches below normal for precipitation this year.

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Inside the May 2014 Issue of D Magazine

I’ve never seen a debate grow quite like this. When we started brainstorming our May cover package, “The Next Dallas Boom,” we were under the impression that tearing down Interstate 345 would still be a fairly foreign concept to many. After all, how many people really dive into a transportation story with vigor? It’s not necessarily a page-turner, unless, of course, you can explain the possibilities. Because, at the end of the day, the whole conversation is really about the possibilities. We’ve got the potential for $4 billion in development opportunity at stake, for starters. There’s a 94 percent occupancy rate downtown, which demonstrates a pretty solid demand for new development. Oh, and then there’s the chance to reunite neighborhoods and reinvigorate neglected parts of the city. And the best part of the whole situation? Other cities have already laid the groundwork. So, we thought, if we can show how successful other cities have been, we could provoke conversation and interest in the topic at home.

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Leading Off (4/25/14)

Some Still Want to Build Trinity Parkway. The Morning News characterizes the crowd at last night’s final public hearing on building a $1.4 billion road in a floodway as “divided.”

Park Board Members Don’t Want You to Email Them. A new website for the Dallas Park and Recreation Board is scheduled to go live today. It was to have a feature providing the public the ability to contact any of the members. But some board members pushed back, fearing that they’d receive as many as 50 additional emails each month. So the site is launching without it.

Virgin America Lands a Plane at Love Field. And the air carrier has announced a news conference for today. The speculation is that it has something to do with Virgin’s desire to take over the two gates at the airport that American Airlines has to give up as part of the deal that led the Justice Department to approve its merger with U.S. Airways. But the city of Dallas, which has to approve which airline gets the gates, said that no decision has been made.

Nobody Let Krista Read This Story. It’s about a deputy sheriff getting fired, and it involves a dog and a gun.

The Pollen Vortex Is Trying to Kill Me. Today’s pollen count. I hate spring.

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Plastic Landscape Project Seeking New Home

In response to a comment made at a Dallas City Council meeting that went something like, “I don’t see any problem with plastic bags,” Michael Thomas of 1814 MAGAZINE launched the Plastic Landscape project. Twelve photographers were invited to participate by illustrating the impact of plastic shopping bags on the environment. With assignment in hand, our very own Elizabeth Lavin along with Jocelyn Meinster came up with photo No. 12. Prior to the 8-6 City Council vote today, in which a partial ban on plastic bags was passed, the photos hung briefly in City Hall. Now, Thomas is looking for a new home for the project. “This is a great way for people to actually see the problem and be able to share it with other people,” he says. “It’s an easy, simple way to be able to educate people, whether the ban had passed today or not.”

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ExxonMobil CEO Sues to Stop Fracking-Related Project Near His House

I’m not sure if this is a full-blown hypocrisy alert, but the Wall Street Journal reported late last week on a lawsuit in which Rex Tillerson, the CEO of ExxonMobil, has joined some fellow Denton County homeowners in attempting to block a fracking-related project.

Cross Timbers Water Supply Corporation wants to build a 160-foot water tower to supply natural gas drilling sites in the area. Neighboring property owners, including Tillerson, are concerned about the impact on their property values of heavy trucks frequently visiting the tower, creating additional noise and traffic.

The Raw Story cites some of Tillerson’s past critical statements about those who oppose hydraulic fracturing in the drilling process to imply his participation in the suit is a pot-kettle-black situation.

But Tillerson says this is about the devaluing of his property from the presence of the water tower, not fracking itself.

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Trinity East Sues Dallas Over $19M Paid For Drilling Leases

Wilonsky scoops the Dallas city attorney’s office in finding out about the lawsuit filed this morning by Trinity East Energy, which paid the city $19 million for mineral rights on public land in northwest Dallas only to have the council change the rules on drilling:

The Dallas City Attorney’s Office was unaware of the suit until contacted by The Dallas Morning Newsthis morning. We expect a reply later today.

The suit maintains that when it signed its deals with the city on August 15, 2008, it received a letter from then-Dallas City Manager Mary Suhm saying she was “reasonably confident” Trinity East would be able to drill on the 22-acre tract of land on the west side of Luna Vista.

In a statement issued this morning, Trinity East Energy President Stephen Fort says, “This is about a deal, plain and simple. We had a deal with the City of Dallas, and they went back on it. The city made promises to us and took our money. They sold us minerals but then denied us the ability to extract them.”

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How Pleasant is Dallas Weather?

Via Wired, I learn of a designer and engineer in Atlanta who got wondering which places in the United States offer the greatest number of “pleasant” weather days each year. He crunched government weather data for the last 23 years and came up with this interactive map.

His definition of “pleasant” is a day with average temperatures between 55 and 75 degrees F, with a minimum temperature of 45 and a maximum of 85. Using those criteria North Texas has between 59 and 65 pleasant days a year, depending on where exactly you live.

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We’re at Ice Force 2, People

Road conditions are getting worse, so the city has downgraded (or escalated) matters to Ice Force Level 2. At first, I found this news confusing, since I was under the impression that Ice Force operated much the same as DEFCON, where 1 means nuclear war is imminent.

As evidenced by the NBC 5 chopper video shot this morning around 635 and Royal Lane, you’ve got to be careful out there.

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The Guardian Investigates Fracking in Ponder

The United Kingdom is having its own debate about the costs and benefits of allowing natural gas drilling via hydraulic fracturing (aka fracking), so the Guardian newspaper came to the tiny Denton County community of Ponder to see what life next to gas wells is like.

Their story, and the accompanying video, paints a nightmare scenario:

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