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Three Questions About That Linda Septien Article in the Dallas Observer

I just read the Observer’s cover story this week. It’s a profile of Linda Septien, who is a voice coach and star maker responsible for a long list of pop performers you’ve heard on Radio Disney. Three things about that story jumped out at me:

1. Septien is 62 years old? Holy cow. She looks great for even 42.

2. Did the Observer not see Skip Hollandsworth’s 2006 profile of Septien in Texas Monthly?

3. Even if the Observer didn’t see that 2006 profile, did the paper not realize that Septien’s former husband, Rafael, a former placekicker for the Cowboys, was indicted on a charge of aggravated sexual abuse of a child and pleaded to a 10-year probated sentence? Because the Observer’s story mentions that she was married to him but doesn’t include that important detail. I bring this up because I know the person who was the child in that abuse case. And I don’t think Rafael Septien’s name should ever be printed without mentioning that he was indicted on a charge of aggravated sexual abuse of a child.

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Leading Off (11/25/15)

Parkland Workers Can’t Be Held Liable in Patient’s Death. In 2011, George Cornell died in restraints at the psych emergency room. It’s one of the incidents that brought about some of the recent changes at the hospital. A lower court initially ruled that the hospital executives and workers couldn’t claim immunity from a civil-rights lawsuit brought by his family. Now a federal appeals court decided otherwise, because it is almost impossible to hold government employees accountable when they screw up.

Attorney Owes Accident Victim $700,000. Diana Bernal was in a car accident in 2009 and won a settlement, but was never told about it. When she tried to contact her attorney, Richard Jaramillo, he didn’t respond. A judge recently ruled that Jaramillo owes Bernal $776,000. Bernal, still recovering from her injuries, says she doubts she’ll ever see the money.

North Texas Spends More on Christmas. We go out more, we shop more, we spend more on gifts. We also, according to this Deloitte survey, spend more on ourselves. Nearly half of the North Texans surveyed said they planned on buying themselves something.

Heavy Rain Expected on Thanksgiving. The weather psychics say we should expect a lot of bad weather over the holiday weekend. Please be safe.

Ahmed Mohamed’s Family Demands $15M From City of Irving and Irving ISD

The lawyers for the family of former Irving teenager Ahmed Mohamed sent a letter demanding $10 million from the city of Irving and $5 million from the Irving school district for how police and officials handled the clock controversy.

From the letter, via DMN:

He will continue for the rest of his days to experience pain and suffering. A large segment of potential employers will steer clear of Ahmed to avoid controversy, despite his many obvious talents. There is no other way to put it: his reputation in the global community is permanently scarred. One also that Ahmed, quite reasonably, will have a lifelong fear of the law enforcement and educational establishments that have let him down so terribly.

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Leading Off (11/20/15)

End-of-Course Exams Basically Meaningless. The class of 2015 was the first in the state public education system to be required to pass a battery of end-of-course exams in order to receive a high school diploma. However, the state legislature earlier this year provided an out. Students can apply to their districts for a waiver to be allowed to graduate anyway, and a new survey found that among Texas’ 100 largest ISDs, 71 percent of waivers are granted. In four districts in Dallas and Collin counties all applications were successful.

Oilman Gets Life For Killing Girlfriend’s Ex-Husband. Johnny Lloyd Patton Jr., 68, of Fort Worth, was sentenced on Thursday for shooting Richard Slatkin in October 2013. Slatkin was the former spouse of Patton’s live-in girlfriend, who had previously had an affair with — and been impregnated by — Patton’s son while she was married to Slatkin. Patton claimed self-defense in the incident, but the jury evidently didn’t buy his argument.

Denton Recall Petition Fails. Those looking to recall Joey Hawkins from his seat on the city council collected 125 signatures when they needed only 76 to force an election. Trouble is they filed their petition two days too early. The Denton city charter specifies that a council member must be allowed to serve his or her term for six months before such a petition can be submitted.

Freezing Temperatures Coming This Weekend. So says the National Weather Service.

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Ask John Neely Bryan: How Do I Get a New Street Light in Dallas?

Question: One portion of my street gets disconcertingly dark at night. How can I get a new street light installed? — Roberta H.

Let us first consider the double-edged sword that was Edison’s electric bulb. You know what we used to do when it got dark? We went to sleep, and we didn’t feel much inclined to arise until the sun peeked out again across the eastern horizon. Even a gentleman of my much-accomplished verbal dexterity is hard-pressed to communicate the fantastic mode of living this engendered.

Don’t misunderstand. Fire had been invented by the 19th century. We had access to torches and candles and lanterns, et cetera, and you would be amazed at how brightly the moon and the vast array of stars themselves can illuminate the landscape when their luminosity hasn’t been subsumed within the visual pollution cast skyward by your modern cities.

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Leading Off (11/19/15)

Yesterday was Homeless Youth Awareness Day in dallas. The mayor declared November 18 Homeless Youth Awareness Day. About 2,200 DISD students identify as homeless. The Communities Foundation of Texas highlighted these issues in an event yesterday. Promise House is organizing a Sleep Out tonight to raise money for its homeless youth shelter.

Bank robbery suspect who led police chase arrested. The suspect led a high-speed chase from Colleyville to Arlington yesterday before being arrested. At the Bank of America on Colleyville Blvd., he’d given a note to the clerk saying he was armed, although he did not show a gun before leaving in a black GMC Denali. Police eventually spiked the car’s tires in Arlington, where he was arrested.

Dallas’ top office real estate: McKinney Ave. in Uptown. At $43.81 per square foot, two times the overall average for North Texas, McKinney Ave. takes the cake as Dallas’ most expensive business address. But that’s nothing compared to New York’s Fifth Ave. at $119.27 per square foot. It’s all relative.

Leading Off (11/18/15)

Hillary Clinton Comes to Dallas. She attended a $1,000-per-plate fundraiser before a rally where she gave a speech that took swipes at both Bernie Sanders (on healthcare) and Greg Abbott (on a lot of things). On Texas taking in Syrian refugees, she said: “We can’t act as though we’re shutting the doors to people in need without undermining who we are as Americans.”

Zoo Wants 18 Elephants from Swaziland. The Dallas Zoo says the animals face “certain death” in Africa, and has applied for permits to bring them to the U.S. They say moving the elephants is vital to the survival of the nearly extinct black rhino.

Aryan Brother Kingpin Gets Life in Solitary Confinement. Tarrant County prosecutors were pushing to get James Byrd moved to a state prison — as opposed to federal prison — where policy allows for prisoners to be held in solitary confinement on the basis of gang affiliation. Prosecutors also say Byrd once stabbed a man 37 times in the face, and that isn’t even close to the most disturbing thing he’s accused of doing.

Police Looking for Woman Suspected of Robbing Two Banks. Both robberies happened within a week or so in October, and both banks are in Oak Cliff. She apparently has a scar on the right side of her face that begins at her lip and ends at her hair line, which will probably factor into a nickname if she robs more banks.

Jeff Banister is the AL Manager of the Year. It went down pretty much exactly as Jason predicted a week ago, for mostly the same reasons.

Leading Off (11/13/15)

Dez Bryant Blasts the Media. The Dallas Cowboys receiver’s locker-room tirade on Thursday took issue with recent coverage by reporters, which led to a heated exchange with ESPN Dallas’ Jean-Jacques Taylor over a column Taylor had written. During the incident, Bryant claims that Taylor used the n-word in reference to him, while other reporters present say that Taylor didn’t. Cowboys spokesman Rich Dalrymple and head coach Jason Garrett had to step in to calm their player down. Bryant tweeted after the brouhaha:

Denton Voters File Recall Petition. Residents upset with Denton Councilman Joey Hawkins’ vote in June to repeal the city’s fracking ban — a step the city council took after the Texas Legislature nullified the ban — turned in 125 signatures calling for Hawkins’ removal from office. Because Hawkins was re-elected in May with only about 300 votes, petitioners need to certify only 76 signatures to force a recall election. A similar effort is also under way to remove another council member who voted to repeal the ban, Kevin Roden (aka the would-be Savior of Sriracha).

Planes Report Laser Strikes. For the second straight evening, three pilots reported that some jerk southeast of Love Field was pointing a laser at their aircraft. A Dallas Police helicopter was dispatched to try to find the offender, but that effort was unsuccessful.

First-Grader Brings Guns to School. Don’t worry, the Little Elm boy did it accidentally. See, he’d picked up his dad’s backpack in the morning instead of his own. Apparently the kid’s backpack is identical to his dad’s. And his dad’s backpack contained the guns in preparation for a hunting trip. And the dad’s backpack with guns was in a place readily accessible to his son. Yeah, so forget what I just said: You should worry. We all should.

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Ask John Neely Bryan: There’s No App Superior to a Night Out in Dallas

Question: Camden decided a few months ago to stop accepting all resident parcels. Is it not our god-given right to compulsively shop on Amazon? What if other Dallas business/residential properties follow suit? Where would all of the city’s packages go? Local FedEx and UPS locations certainly don’t have the bandwidth for all incoming items to just stop at their local drops. Right? — Chelsey P.

I am continually astonished, confounded, damn near bewildered to encounter once again a prime example of just how lazy you 21st-century folks have become. You have the high privilege of living, working, and playing in the greatest city God ever gave man, and you’d rather just stay inside ordering footwear from Zappos? Instead of taking advantage of the loveliest of evenings while nestled within the bosom of the fraternity of your fellow man, you prefer the life of an agoraphobic?

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Leading Off (11/12/15)

Five finalists announced for Dallas Foundation’s good works under 40 award. These five finalists were picked from 75 people nominated for their volunteer work. The winner, along with a $10,000 grant for the nonprofit of his or her choosing, will be announced today. The finalists are Stephen Capuyan, a Habitat for Humanity volunteer; OJ DeSouza, who fund-raised for the Wilkinson Center; John Dickey, president of the Hope Cottage board of directors; Yat Yee “Eve” Fong, a volunteer with Equest Therapeutic Horsemanship; and Jenny Reynolds, president of Dallas CASA’s Children’s Council.

Allie Beth Allman & Associates Realtors bought by Warren Buffett. The investor is adding to his real estate empire with Allie Beth Allman & Associates, a top Dallas real estate firm founded in 2003. The firm was acquired by HomeServices of America Inc., an affiliate of Berkshire Hathaway. Allman said it was a “great honor” to be approached by Buffett’s company. The Dallas firm will retain its brand name and current management.

Woman in North richland hills stabbed by son’s girlfriend. 36 times, that is. 59-year-old Kathleen Olson was found dead in her apartment bathtub last week after being stabbed three dozen times by her son’s girlfriend, 37-year-old Julie Marie Peterson. Peterson was arrested and charged with capital murder soon after when detectives found Olson’s belongings in her purse. According to an affidavit, Peterson had moved in with Olson to escape verbal abuse from Olson’s son, James. But Peterson and Kathleen Olson had been arguing for several days. Police traced Peterson to a Haltom City hotel.

Greg Hardy’s Lawyer: ‘Nicole Holder Tripped and Fell’

Deadspin just published the 126-page transcript of Greg Hardy’s NFL meeting that reinstated the player. Deadspin’s summary of how that meeting went: “At the hearing, Hardy’s private defense attorney was given license to present his version of events in an essentially non-adversarial process. He used the sex lives of Holder and Kristina Laurence, the principal witness for the state, to attack them and their credibility; claimed that Holder merely slipped and fell; and suggested that the judge at Hardy’s bench trial was uniquely biased against Hardy.” Just bananas.

Leading Off (11/11/15)

Anachronistic Bandit Terrorizes Fort Worth Horse Riders. Fort Worth police are looking for a man who has been hiding along riding paths, then jumping out and sticking up riders at gunpoint. Police say the suspect has struck at least four times in the last two months. Two men have been shot during the robberies. “It sounds like he has no care for anybody,” said one of the victims.

Arlington Says No to New Fracking. The city council there voted last night to deny a new oil and gas lease to Vantage Energy, the company responsible for a spill in April that involved tens of thousands of gallons of fracking water leaked into local creeks and sewers. Council members were apparently most bothered by the fact that it took the company two hours to call 911 after the spill.

Charles Barkley Thinks You Should Give Greg Hardy a Chance. “I believe that there are way too many black men we’ve just thrown away,” the basketball legend wrote for Bleacher Report. “Shouldn’t we get him some help, instead of kicking him out of the NFL? Shouldn’t we do everything possible to prevent it from happening again?”

U.S. Soccer Association Wants to Ban Headers for Kids. Citing concussion risks, the Frisco-based organization wants to ban headers for kids 10 and under, and limit them through age 13. Experts say it’s not the heading, per se, that causes the danger, but rather the risk of two heads colliding. (Disclosure: I had two diagnosed concussions playing soccer as a teenager. I wouldn’t recommend it.)

Stars and Mavericks Both Lose to Terrible Teams. A late third-period goal gave the last-place Toronto Maple Leafs the win over the first-place Stars. The middling Mavericks were never really in the game against the previously winless New Orleans Pelicans. Not a great showing.

City of Irving May Need a New PR Crisis Consultant

Documents related to the l’affaire Ahmed Mohamedthe Irving “clock kid” — are filtering out. The Morning News has acquired interesting texts that document the way that city leaders in Irving jumped into crisis management mode as the story went viral:

Consultant said we were on the right track, continue to emphasize strong public safety, safety and security,” City Manager Chris Hillman texted the mayor at one point. “No more interviews, let the fire die down and don’t provide more oxygen.”

But when [Mayor Beth] Van Duyne asked about appearing on Glenn Beck’s internet show, the consultant gave the mayor the green light.

“He agreed with that because Beck will be a friendly,” the city manager texted Van Duyne.

Beck was friendly to Van Duyne, but her appearance sparked another wave of news stories after she shrugged off the host’s speculation that Ahmed might be involved in a jihadist plot to embarrass the city.

Not the best call by the consultant. Obviously Irving doesn’t have Olivia Pope on retainer.

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Can DA Susan Hawk Try a Case Fairly?

You might have seen that Susan Hawk will personally try a murder case this week. Given how seldom this happens, I have a question. How can the trial be fair? If I’m on the jury, my thinking goes like this: Hawk isn’t going to take a case that needs much work. She’s going to pick a slam dunk. No way she’d risk the headline “DA Loses Murder Case.” So this guy must be triple guilty. Like, we can just skip to the closing arguments. Let’s wrap this up. I don’t need to see any evidence. Now, where do I get my parking ticket validated? Who wants to join me at Topgolf? Because I’ve got the afternoon off. No way am I going in to work.

Is it just me? Shouldn’t the defense start by moving for a mistrial?

(Full disclosure: I didn’t go to law school.)

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