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Making Dallas Even Better

Ask John Neely Bryan: Why Are There ‘Barrel Monsters’ Along Interstate 35E?

Question: I was driving up Interstate 35 over the weekend, and I spotted some strange statue. It looked like it was made of traffic barrels. This was when was I was headed north and just south of the lake in Lewisville. Any idea what that was? — Melissa H.

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Leading Off (2/5/16)

Johnny Manziel Allegedly Assaulted Ex-Girlfriend. WFAA broke the news late Thursday afternoon that Fort Worth Police are investigating a complaint that the former Texas A&M and soon-to-be-former Cleveland Browns quarterback beat up Colleen Crowley on Jan. 30 after arguing with her at his Hotel ZaZa room in Uptown. According to the report, he forced her into a car and drove her to her apartment in Fort Worth. Once there, Crowley says she became fearful for her life and banged on a neighbor’s door asking for help. However, after police arrived, Crowley was uncooperative and refused to make a report. Manziel has told TMZ the incident didn’t happen. Manziel is expected to be released by the Browns in March, and Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones has expressed interest in acquiring him as a backup for Tony Romo. It’s unknown whether this alleged incident will have an effect on that, or prompt disciplinary action by the NFL. However, as Dale Hansen noted when he went “unplugged” on the 10 p.m. newscast last night, the signing of Greg Hardy last year demonstrated the Cowboys are a team “that doesn’t care if you beat up women. It is a team that believes in as many chances as you need, as long as they think there’s a chance you can play.”

Students to Vote on Dropping Confederate Name. Dallas ISD’s John B. Hood Middle School in Pleasant Grove is named for a Southern general of the Civil War. Recently students raised concerns about honoring someone who fought to protect the institution of slavery, especially considering that Hood’s student body is majority Latino and African-American. So the principal is allowing the kids to cast ballots during lunch today. (It’s a non-binding referendum, since the school district’s board of trustees will have the ultimate say.)

Driver Pulls Gun on Biker. It happened outside of Las Vegas, Nevada, but a viral video of the road rage incident was all over North Texas newscasts because the fellow who was packing is from — you guessed it — Irving.

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Leading Off (2/4/16)

Southwest pilots picket for higher pay. Yesterday, hundreds of Southwest Airlines pilots picketed outside of Love Field to address the fact that they still don’t have a new contract after negotiating for four years. They held signs with “It’s time for a contract” written on them. Negotiations for a new contract will begin again in March.

50 police officers could be added to force. For the coming fiscal year, city council members are informally in favor of adding 50 more cops than the usual 200 added annually. This would add $2.3 million to the budget for next year. Police Chief David Brown noted to the council that, since 2010, his department has lost 200 officers.

Plano man loses thousands in fraud scheme. 88-year-old Plano resident Bob Devinney, a former University of Kansas track star who set a national record in 1952, lost $250,000 in retirement savings due to a Jamaican fraud scheme. The suspects had talked to Devinney on the phone, told him he won the lottery, and over two years asked him to pay insurance and taxes on his “winnings.” Devinney had planned to use his savings to take care of his wife, Sarah, who has Alzheimer’s.

Listen to the Newest Longform Podcast

The backstory for this is strange. I met Max Linsky, one of the hosts of the Longform Podcast, at a bar in Austin maybe two years ago. We’d emailed a few times before that, and he told me that I should do an episode of their podcast. Looking back, it was possibly just one of those things people say when they’re being polite–when you know they host a podcast with writers and they know you’re a writer–but I’m awkward.

At some point I knew I’d be in New York for a two days and figured I’d let him know. He said he’d put it on his calendar. Again, looking back, Max may have just been being polite. I’m honestly not sure. Either way, it happened.

We talked about, among other things, the bowling story I wrote, the Chris Kyle story, the JFK doctor story, Glenn Beck, “How Now to Get Away with Murder”, and the story I wrote in January’s Crime Issue.

I’m sure Tim will be along at some point with a whole series of his own notes and critiques about the episode, but in the meantime you can listen to it here.

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Leading Off (2/3/15)

Cyclist Finds Skull in Plano. Police are investigating what appears to be a skull and human bones found in a creek behind an elementary school yesterday afternoon. The family of at least one missing woman has been notified, though police say it’s too early to connect the remains to anyone.

Fight Over Phone Leads to Fatal Shooting. Police say a 21-year-old man confessed to shooting 30-year-old Jamal Deshaylen Berry in the chest after an argument over a phone. Berry was found shot in the street outside a rec center in East Oak Cliff yesterday morning.

Whataburger Robbers Sentenced to 115 Years. Two men who were convicted of robbing four different Whataburgers and three different Jack-in-Box locations in 2014 were sentenced to more than a century each — 1384 months, specifically — in prison for the crimes.

Local Man Returns Home After Son Wins Iowa Caucus. Rafael Cruz was spotted in an Iowa airport yesterday, heading back to Texas. He said he wouldn’t be spending as much time campaigning for his son in New Hampshire because “There are not as many evangelicals.”

Leading Off (1/28/16)

Southwest airlines pilots to picket at Love Field. This is set to occur next Wednesday, and it will be the first informational picket ever to take place at this Dallas airport. The pilots are not happy that after four years of negotiations for a new contract, when profits have been high, they still don’t have one. First, both the pilot union and airline will meet with federal mediators on February 2 in hopes of reaching a compromise.

Charter school in southern dallas approved. Yesterday, Dallas City Council members approved a controversial new charter school, K-12 Uplift Education. There were protests by DISD folks who say the growing number of southern Dallas charter schools is taking both resources and kids away from the school district. The vote to approve was a narrow 7-6.

SNL‘s Lorne Michaels will speak at Bush Center. On February 27, Lorne Michaels, creator of Saturday Night Live, will be at the George W. Bush Presidential Center, along with the former president and first lady. The evening will center on the show’s longstanding comedic portrayal of the presidency, as it’s become famous for.

Road rage incident leads to fatal shooting of Fort Worth woman. This happened in Arlington. 26-year-old Brittany Daniel was fatally shot yesterday evening while driving east on I-30. A man who was sitting in the back of another car shot her, said a passenger to police, who are still looking for the suspect.

Leading Off (1/27/16)

72-Year-Old Blind Woman Escapes Fire. Caroline Ware says she was asleep on the couch when fire alarms woke her up just after midnight. Ware, who is usually confined to a wheelchair, made it her electric scooter and drove out onto the front porch before calling for help. Ware’s daughter says she was gone from the house for only a few minutes when the fire started.

Video of Highland Park Chanel Store Robbery. Highland Park police released video from last Monday’s robbery. It shows a van crashing through the store window. Then a group of mask-wearing thieves gets out and starts collecting purses. The entire thing is over in seconds. (Seven people were arrested.)

Father Arrested for Taking Daughter’s Phone Found Not Guilty. It started when Ronald Jackson says he found a rude text message on his daughter’s phone in 2013, when is daughter was 12. Jackson confiscated the phone. Jackson’s ex-wife called the police to get it back. Jackson refused. He was charged with misdemeanor theft. He says he’d prefer police not tell him how to parent, and says justice has been served.

Report Says Texas Schools Are Worst in Nation. But it’s really hard to measure these things. By some standards, Texas is actually doing better than most states. Which is kind of the point of this story.

Mavs Beat Lakers. Dirk Nowitzki hit a beautiful jumper with two seconds left to help propel the 92-90 win in Los Angeles. Kobe Bryant didn’t play, but he and Dirk shared a nice moment in what is almost certainly their final matchup.

Dallas Police Issue APB For Gumball Thief

The Dallas Police Department just posted the above video of a man making off with a gumball machine from the Spincycle Washateria at Oak Cliff‘s Wynnewood Village shopping center.

What’s a gumball go for these days? A quarter? So what’s he pulling from this job? $10? At most? I really hope the machine was a last-minute birthday present for his kid or something.

My favorite part of the video is how the woman seen sorting her laundry doesn’t so much as glance in the guy’s direction as he totes it away.

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Ron Corning’s Photos Used to Catfish Kansas Woman

Someone calling himself “Robert Williams” befriended a Kansas woman on Facebook, leading her to believe that they were developing a romantic relationship. When he asked her for $1,000 to buy a plane to ticket to come visit, her daughter was thankfully smart enough to run a Google reverse-image search.

That’s when they learned the man’s profile was fake. All the images on it were those of WFAA anchor Ron Corning.

Unfortunately another victim of the same man was scammed out of $1,500, according to what Corning reported on this morning’s newscast:

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Leading Off (1/22/16)

HOA, Developer Fight Over Falling Slope. The Woodward family of Frisco has watched as the empty land behind their house has continued to erode away ever since the heavy rains last May. No one disputes that repairs to the collapsed land are necessary, but the homeowners association says it has been unable to do anything because the empty lot is still owned by Shaddock Developers. Meanwhile Shaddock says the Lone Star Ranch HOA has maintained the property for years, making the fix the HOA’s responsibility. The two sides of the dispute have pledged to resolve the matter before someone falls into what’s becoming a gaping pit, but it may be time to call in Leslie Knope.

Garland Tornado Victims Sue Over Looting. Residents of the Landmark at Lake Village West apartments were forced out following a deadly Dec. 26 tornado. But many of them say that when they returned to their homes days after the storm, they’d been burglarized. About a dozen tenants have joined a lawsuit against the property management company and the security company that was hired to protect the complex after the storm.

Mavs Center Almost Voted an All-Star Starter. Zaza Pachulia, who is having a career year after Dallas traded for him following the DeAndre Jordan debacle, fell just 14,000 votes short of the final starting spot on this year’s Western Conference team for the NBA All-Star Game.

Stars Stop Skid. A 3-2 victory over the Edmonton Oilers last night ended the team’s four-game losing streak.

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Ask John Neely Bryan: What’s the High Five?

Question: What exactly is the “High-five” or “Hi-5” or whatever? — Pedro A.

I must assume from this inquiry that you are either newly transplanted to Dallas or you have been asleep for the past 15 years. It’s difficult to fathom any reasonable alternative explanation for how one could remain unfamiliar with the nickname for the monstrosity that lurks at the meeting of two massive concrete thoroughfares: Interstate 635 and U.S. Hellway 75.

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Leading Off (1/21/16)

Ethan Couch to return to U.S. soon. Yesterday, his attorneys said they expect Couch to be present at his Tarrant County probation hearing on February 19. They also said Couch’s legal team in Mexico will not attempt to block his return to the U.S. anymore. We’ll find out soon enough if Couch’s case will be transferred from juvenile to adult court.

Gaylord Texan primed for $120 million expansion. The Grapevine hotel’s owner announced yesterday that the planned expansion for the Gaylord Texan will make it the second-largest hotel in Texas and one of the country’s biggest non-gaming convention hotels. 300 guest rooms will be added to the 1,511 rooms currently at the Gaylord.

Dallas seeking new fire-rescue chief. The city will pay search firm Affion Public $24,000 to help Dallas Fire-Rescue continue to search for a new fire chief as Chief Louie Bright III will retire in March. The job will be posted for 30 days.

city streets still bad, says Rawlings. Dallas City Council during a meeting said that 37,656 potholes had been patched on Dallas streets over the past year or so. But Mayor Rawlings didn’t seem to be as content with that as the city council was. Although it was contended that the streets did not get any worse than they had been, Rawlings said that keeping streets in bad condition is not the goal. At least spending on streets will be up in 2016.

Leading Off (1/20/16)

Police Find Underground Pot Farm in Arlington. Apparently DPS officers were looking for stolen cargo equipment when they discovered 100 pot plants growing under a backyard deck. Here’s what should probably happen: because weed is legal in most states and really shouldn’t be illegal here either, the two people arrested should possibly get their plants back and talk to the police about this stolen cargo stuff. Also, someone should possibly give them jobs, because this set up sounds pretty ingenious. Here’s what probably will happen: felony charges and prison.

The Latest on Ethan Couch. His probation hearing was delayed, and his lawyers say he may have been “forced” to go to Mexico. No word whether he was also forced to dye his facial hair or go to that strip club with the sign “Boobies and Booties Galore!”

Mother Snaps Photo of Sleeping Day Care Worker. The mother is described here as “outraged.” The day care worker in the photo, who was the only adult in charge of a half dozen or so kids, is described as “asleep, curled up on a table.” Seems like accurate reporting.

Investigation Into Yu Darvish After Brother’s Arrest. Yu’s brother, Sho Darvish, was arrested in October, charged with running an illegal gambling ring in Osaka, Japan. There’s no evidence Yu had anything to do with it, but the league is investigating just to be safe. My friend John Blake, Texas Rangers’ spokesman, says this is “standard operating procedure.”

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Leading Off (1/19/16)

Mavs Beat Celtics in OT. From the Boston Globe: “Celtics forward Jae Crowder stepped to the foul line with 6.7 seconds left in regulation Monday and calmly drained three free throws, improbably sending this game against the Mavericks to overtime. Crowder said he’d had dreams about such a situation. It was his first game here as an opponent, his first since being traded away from a Mavericks team that had used him as little more than a bit player for 2½ seasons. But then the power of Crowder’s Predator-style dreadlocks ponytail failed him in OT, and the Mavs pulled it out 118-113.” I made up one of those sentences.

School Kids in Richardson Possibly Exposed to Measles. From the Morning News: “Collin County Health Care Services sent a letter to parents at Schell Elementary School in Richardson last week, notifying them that the agency was reviewing who might have been exposed. … Jawaid Asghar, the agency’s chief epidemiologist, told the Dallas Morning News on Monday that the child had not been vaccinated. Asghar added, ‘You people in Collin County who rely on prayer instead of vaccines confuse me.’” I’m sorry. I made up one of those sentences, too.

Ethan Couch’s Probation Hearing Is Today. From Fox Channel 4: “Affluenza teen Ethan Couch remains in a holding facility in Mexico fighting deportation. Whether part of a strategy or not, he will miss a court hearing during which the Tarrant County district attorney will ask to have his case moved from the juvenile system to the adult courts. The district attorney will also ask that Couch be forced to shave that ridiculous goatee.” Now the gag has worn thin. I know. The laws of comedy suggest that it would get funny again if I posted four more items. But right now I have to go walk my dog. Have a good Tuesday.