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Morning News Perpetuates Myth That Dallas Is a Quickly Growing City

The headline from the Biz Beats Blog: “Behind Just Houston and Austin, America’s Third Fastest-Growing City Is Dallas.” Simply put, that headline is a lie. Or it’s a mistake. The Forbes ranking that the DMN is referring to doesn’t peg our city as the third-fastest-growing. Our region is growing that quickly. As Wylie H. Dallas recently pointed out, our city is nowhere near the top of the list. Wylie wrote: “Over the most recent year for which data is available (July 1, 2012 to July 1, 2013), the city of Dallas grew by 1.29 percent, placing us No. 27 out of 77, just barely ahead of Omaha.” Too often, city leaders seize on these sorts of reports to paint a rosy picture of how the city is faring. It needs to stop.

UPDATE (4:45): They changed the headline. Now it refers to the region. Thanks, guys.

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Japan Meets Texas at Toyota Groundbreaking

At Toyota’s unconventional groundbreaking for its new HQ in Plano yesterday, six so-called “wish trees” were placed behind CEO Jim Lentz inside a big white installation spelling out the word “TOYOTA.” Each tree in the display—they were actually native Texan Yaupon Holly trees—was festooned with little red tags on which students from Plano ISD Academy High School had written their wishes, hopes and dreams. The tags, apparently part of a Japanese cultural tradition, said things like “I hope to be a better artist,” “I want to go to a good college,” and “My dream would be a cure for cancer.” Lentz said the notes would be placed in a time capsule and the holly trees would be planted permanently once the HQ opens in late 2016 or early ’17. “It’s clear,” he said, “that this is the right place to begin the next chapter in Toyota’s history.”

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Freed’s Furniture Alters Downtown Dallas in TV Ad

Freed’s Furniture, as anyone who has lived here for any length of time knows, is where you can afford your dreams. The family-owned company has been selling furniture in Dallas since 1938. They boast of this longevity in a TV spot that caught the attention of a longtime FrontBurnervian. The reason it caught his attention: Freed’s used a historical photograph of downtown, digitally removing the name of another furniture store, Winn, and replacing it with Freed’s. Have a look.

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Friday Afternoon Time Kill: Interactive Urban Decay

If you’re looking for a way to squander the next couple hours or so of late Friday productivity, I have an idea for you. Head over to the University of Oklahoma’s Institute for Quality Communities’ blog where they have put together a tool to help visualize 60 years of urban decay in Texas and Oklahoma. An interactive image slider graphic, not unlike the one we use in our “Ghosts of Dallas” series, allows you to toggle back and forth between aerial photographs taken 60 or so years apart of the city centers of Houston, Fort Worth, Dallas, Austin, San Antonio, Tulsa, and Oklahoma City. You can see in an instant how an era driven by new highways, new parking codes and lots, new building styles like the skyscraper, housing projects, and public facilities like convention centers dramatically — and rather quickly — transformed the American urban landscape. It’s interesting, but a bit depressing — another reason to look forward to happy hour.

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Leading Off (1/16/15)

South Dallas Residents Don’t Want New Toll Lanes. Wait, I thought opposing the construction of new pay-to-play roads was classist and racist and that folks south of Interstate 30 are clamoring for the opportunity to pay to drive their cars to points north? Then why were those who showed up to a Tuesday meeting at Methodist Dallas Medical Center to discuss the proposed Southern Gateway project — redoing Interstate 35E south of Colorado Boulevard — so upset about the idea to include managed toll lanes in the plans? Listen to this:

“We don’t want this. We don’t want these tollways here. Not in Oak Cliff,” said Juanita Lozano, drawing an “amen” and applause from the crowd.

And this:

“You’re creating a system where people with means can zip from one end of this area to the other while they wave at the rest of us on the sidelines,” said Michael Amonett.

And how about this?

“Where will you get the additional land you need?” asked Alicia Quintans, who lives near I-35E and observes its daily traffic flow.

“There’s maybe two hours of the day when traffic is jumbled up on I-35,” she said, “and I don’t understand why we’re building these toll lanes for two hours of the day.”

Oil Boom Headed For Bust? We’re all still enjoying the cheap gasoline, but as prices have dropped, drilling budgets have been slashed and industry layoffs have begun. Concern of a sustained downturn is growing.

Hipster Wedding Chapel Denied by City. The owners of the Bows and Arrows floral shop were fixing up an East Dallas mansion to host weddings, but their request to rezone the home for that purpose was denied last week by the Plan Commission.

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Pickens: Oil to Hit $90 Again, But Not Before Some Pain in Texas

Here’s an explanation by T. Boone Pickens of the current crude-oil market, in four sentences: Prices are down from their $100-plus highs not because of OPEC but because, thanks to advances in fracking and horizontal drilling, the U.S. has oversupplied the market. However, the price will bounce back from below $50 per barrel into the $90-$100 range again in 12 to 18 months. The reason: excess oil inventories will hit all-time highs in 2015’s first quarter, leading many of the country’s 1,500 oil-drilling rigs to shut down. That in turn will crimp production, spurring the price turnaround by the third quarter.

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Clay and Mike: Bryan Burrough’s Tale of Two Dallas Leaders

As Tim alluded to yesterday, Dallas’ handling of the Ebola crisis has just been put into perspective for a national audience, thanks to Bryan Burrough’s thoroughly reported piece in the new Vanity Fair. Burrough’s lengthy story puts a generally heroic shine on the response by local officials. And it offers a refreshingly frank, behind-the-scenes look at the actions of two powerful local politicians, both Democrats, who someday may aspire to higher office. My initial impression was that the piece portrays County Judge Clay Jenkins as some sort of steely Superman, while Mayor Mike Rawlings comes off as, well, considerably less effective.

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New Task Force Will Study City’s Teardown Policy

There’s a new mayoral task force in town. Yes, we all know about the so-called “Dream Team” task force that is studying the Trinity River Toll Way. Today the mayor and City Councilmember Philip Kingston announced the creation of another task force to look at the city’s current historic preservation policy. The task force is being created in response to the recent demolition of a 19th century Romanesque Revival building on Main St. in Downtown Dallas. The Headington Company demolished 1611 Main Street back in September to make way for the construction of a new building that will house a Forty Five Ten boutique. At the time, there was much gnashing of teeth and confusion over the destruction of one of the oldest buildings in Dallas (even if those surprised by the event missed the long lead up). The Headington Company has said they tried to avoid demolition but couldn’t make the building work.

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Meet Elise, Our Receptionist: What’s Up With the Bird?

Elise is our receptionist. If you were to call D Magazine (214-939-3636), whether you were wanting to buy an ad or lodge a complaint with an editor, Elise is the person you’d talk to first. Let’s say you are a stranger who just shows up uninvited at 9 o’clock on a Monday morning after a holiday break and asks to meet with me, Tim Rogers, then, when informed I am in a meeting, responds, “I’ll wait,” and takes a seat in our lobby until I, at length, come out and greet you, at which point you tell me you’ve come to D Magazine because, in your words, you “want to know what’s going on” — again, that process would begin with Elise.

She’s an interesting person, Elise. So we thought we’d launch a semi-regular FrontBurner feature designed to help you to get to know her better. We’re calling it “Meet Elise, Our Receptionist.” In this installment, she talks about her pet. She has a bird.

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It’s a New Year, And We Still Don’t Know How to Pay for the Trinity Toll Road

If you have been a little tuned out over the last few weeks like we have, then what better way to kick-off the New Year than brushing up on some Trinity Toll Road news? Let’s start with Wick’s masterful take down of Mayor Mike Rawlings’ latest position on the road. Then brief yourself on the all star mega-meeting Sen. Royce West is hosting this week to try to hash out just where he stands on the road (attendees are slightly skewed pro-toll road by my reading of the list, but let’s hope our man Patrick Kennedy gets time to speak his mind).

Of course the elephant in the room—after we’ve yammered on and on about planning and cities and economics and transportation equality—is that we still don’t know how to fund the blasted road. Brandon Formby brings us up to date on that ever elusive question by peeking into Michael Morris’ magical cabinet of financial wonders to see how the COG man is fudging the numbers of late. In short, the plan is still essentially the same: find enough cash in the couch cushions to get cement in the floodway, then bully taxpayer-funded government agencies to scale it up later.

Happy New Year.

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Museum Tower Designer Insists Nasher Needs to Yield in Reflectivity Dispute

In a piece earlier this month for the Architect’s Newspaper, Scott Johnson of Fain Johnson, the principal designer of Museum Tower, says the only possible solution to the Nasher Sculpture Center’s demands to be free of the light reflected upon its building and garden lies in the proposed alterations to its roof — changes which the museum has refused to make:

In the meantime, the Dallas Police & Fire Pension Fund, after exhaustive technical studies, has recommended recalibrating the clerestory cells in the ceiling without touching any other elements of the Nasher’s architecture. It is my understanding that they will turn their engineering research over to the Nasher design team to vet, design, and install the recalibration, and they will pay for it. The Nasher, I understand, has declined this solution, however, the original charge to “eliminate all reflection and do it all on Museum Tower,” given what we know, seems frankly unachievable.

I remain hopeful that new participants in the process will look beyond entrenched positions and a consensual and effective solution will be agreed upon. Dallas is a beautiful city and I hope that a resolution for this difficult issue between Museum Tower and the Nasher can be found soon.

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Yawn, Another Earthquake in Irving

A 2.7-magnitude earthquake shook Irving at about 6 a.m. this morning. These minor events, none of which have caused significant damage or injuries, have been so common in the area (it’s the 12th since the beginning of October) that I’ve begun to feel downright Californian in my lack of excitement in hearing news of another.

The Morning News has a map showing the close proximity of the epicenters of each of these quakes to a natural gas well. Fracking, and more specifically the injection of wastewater from fracking being injected into the ground, has been found in some studies to be correlated with greater seismic activity.

A FrontBurnervian in the oil and gas business sent me a note with a map from a drilling industry information site showing the horizontal track of the well’s drilling bores was in the opposite direction from where the quakes are clustered. He argued that because of this, and because the well hasn’t been active since 2012, it’s likely not responsible for the tremors.

I ran this claim by Brian Stump, a seismologist at SMU.

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