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Leading Off (7/3/15)

Hood County Threatened With Gay-Marriage Lawsuit. Two men in Granbury want to exercise the right to which the Supreme Court last week affirmed they are entitled, but the men so far have been denied. They’ve now moved towards taking legal action against the county government for not issuing them a license. Meanwhile dueling rallies converged upon the courthouse Thursday to express their support for, or opposition to, the county clerk’s refusal to comply with the law.

UNT, TCU to Partner on Medical School. It’d be only the second program in Dallas-Fort Worth to confer M.D. degrees. Though neither university has confirmed the news, sources told the Fort Worth Business Press that the board of trustees for the UNT Health Science Center in Fort Worth is expected to vote on the plan Monday. UNT already operates the Texas College of Osteopathic Medicine there, and the school’s previously announced intention to add a medical school has been opposed in the past by osteopaths. TCU would provide much of the funding that the state has so far declined to contribute to the effort.

Murder Rate Up in June. Dallas saw 20 homicides during the month — the most since August 2013 — and police don’t have a solid explanation for the uptick.

Interim DISD Chief Supports Teacher Evaluation System. Dallas teachers who had hoped the departure of district superintendent Mike Miles would spell the end of a controversial means of determining which classroom educators are getting the job done may be disappointed to hear Miles’ temporary replacement, Michael Hinojosa tell WFAA, “We need to support the teachers but also they need to realize these initiatives are going to move forward.”

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Leading Off (7/1/15)

John Wiley Price’s Co-defendant Will Plead Guilty. Christian Lloyd Campbell filed court papers saying he will plead guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit bribery, and he could testify against Price. In exchange, Campbell is looking at a recommended sentence of no more than three years in prison.

Another Controversial Video Involving the McKinney Police. Stop me if this sounds familiar: There’s a video of a police officer in McKinney drawing his gun and yelling at unarmed young black men. Some people think the officer was abusive, while other people (including his fellow officers) think he did a fine job.

Grapevine Volleyball Coach Charged With Drugging and Sexually Assaulting Teens. Damian Merrick owns the Grapevine Volleyball Club. He’s accused of giving teenage girls marijuana and assaults in a parking lot and a hotel room. It looks like Merrick has already been scrubbed from the club’s website.

Gay People Will Soon Be Able to Get Married in Granbury. Wonderful detail alert: The Hood County clerk who posted a statement explaining why she wouldn’t be issuing same-sex marriage certificates — and then another statement, later, explaining that yes, her office will actually issue them soon, even though she doesn’t like it — is named Katie Lang.

Rangers Activate Josh Hamilton. He joined the team in Baltimore for the first time since being sidelined with a strained hamstring and had two hits in last night’s win. The Rangers sent rookie sensation-turned-mortal Joey Gallo down to the minors, where he will likely distinguish himself like an eagle in a league of pelicans.

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Barrett Brown Has Gotten Himself Thrown in the Hole Again

As I told Barrett’s mom when I heard the news that Barrett had been put in solitary again, if you are going to poke the bear, as Barrett does as a columnist for this blog, you’ve got to keep your nose clean. Barrett recently failed on that front. Barrett’s side of the story: some inmates were making hooch. Those inmates, along with Barrett, were given breathalyzers; everyone passed. Subsequently, only Barrett’s locker was searched. Authorities found hooch in it. Dumb, dumb, dumb. Last week, he was taken from his cell and thrown in the hole (or SHU), where he has been unable to get his meds or even a pencil. He now only gets two phone calls per month. Sometimes his mom reads him things like this blog post. So I’ll offer this:

Barrett, it’s easier to pillory the Bureau of Prisons and its Kafkaesque operation when you are standing on firm and steady moral high ground, when you are doing your level best to follow the rules, especially the ones that make sense, like not drinking jailhouse hooch. It’s also easier to do that when you have a pencil. We want to read what you have to say. We can’t do that unless you behave yourself.

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Leading Off (6/24/15)

Police Call Missing Hurst Woman’s Disappearance “Suspicious.” Norma Shultz, 72, went missing on May 19. Her husband reported her absence to the police nearly a week later. Shultz’s daughter says her stepfather hasn’t been able to answer any of her questions. Police say they haven’t received any tips.

Lots of Thoughts of the Resignation of Mike Miles. A few places have timelines of the three years Miles has been in charge of DISD. Here’s an editorial lauding his accomplishments. And also, in the same publication, Steve Blow saying Miles was never a good fit in the first place.

Local News Outlet Finds Local Store Selling Confederate Flags. Even after Walmart and Amazon announced that they will stop selling Confederate merchandise, and Sears announced both that it still exists and that it will stop selling Confederate stuff, WFAA found a Dallas store that is still selling the Confederate flag. The place that has the nerve to sell this incredibly controversial flag is — get this — a flag store.

Rain Brings Out Alligators and Snakes. There are also more nutria and turtles. Deer too, apparently. Most of the sightings have been in Lewisville or in Tarrant County.

Mavericks Might Trade Monta Ellis. The incredibly dynamic shooting guard is owed $8.7 million for the one year remaining on his contract. It’s also possible that Ellis will opt out and test the free market. The Mavs have made it clear they have big plans for the off-season.

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Leading Off (6/19/15)

Lake Grapevine Flooding May Force Evacuations. Leaders in Grapevine, Flower Mound, and Coppell have warned some residents they may need to leave their homes as the overflowing lake is expected to crest at more than 563 feet tonight. Part of FM 2499 was shut down yesterday as water had spilled over into Denton Creek, which rose to cover portions of the road near Grapevine Mills Mall.

TCU Advances in College World Series. The Horned Frogs topped LSU for the second time, by a score of 8-4, on Thursday. But they’ll have to beat defending champ Vanderbilt — a team they lost to earlier in the double-elimination tournament — twice to advance to the best-of-3 finals. They play tonight at 7 p.m. in Omaha.

Lake Dallas Ousts Muckraking Councilwoman. Some shady goings-on in the small town north of Lewisville Lake this week. Julie Matthews had won election to the Lake Dallas City Council with 69 percent of the vote and only took her seat on June 11. Previously she’d operated a Facebook page on which she’d posted documents about Mayor Anthony Marino’s firing from Lewisville ISD for having been involved in the harassment of a gay student, images of him using city dumpsters to get rid of his own commercial waste, and a video of him drunkenly wielding a weapon at a banquet. Matthews had also complained that Nick Ristagno is in violation of state law by serving as both the city manager and police chief. So, based on what sounds like transparently thin charges, Marino and the three other members of the council voted to remove Matthews from her position.

Tennell Atkins Guilty of Assault. The soon-to-be former Dallas city councilman must pay a $166 fine for what he did to a city employee who wouldn’t let him into City Hall through a secured door last December.

Former UNT-Dallas President Owes Child Support. John Ellis Price quit as the head of the school in summer 2013 after reports of inappropriate relationships with employees. But he had still been teaching accounting classes at the school — at a salary of $191,000 a year — since then. On Thursday he resigned from that post as well, following news of a lawsuit against him by a 33-year-old former UNT student. Price is 63 and the father of a son the woman gave birth to in 2008.

Don’t Go to Oklahoma City. Maybe good advice at any time <rimshot>, but especially today as a 4-mile stretch of northbound Interstate 35 between Ardmore and Davis in Oklahoma has been shut down while officials try to figure out what to do about boulders that collapsed off a hillside onto the highway following the heavy rains of Tropical Storm Bill.

Rangers Lose on Balk-Off. Is the balk the lamest rule in sports? Discuss.

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Ask John Neely Bryan: Is Dallas a Midwest City?

Question: Is Texas in the Midwest? And what’s the Midwest? — Ryan C.

The gentleman who risked suffering the repercussions of my wrath for having dared to submit this staggeringly insulting question provided — so as to justify the depths of his own ignorance, no doubt — a hyper text transfer protocol address of an article posted by some execrable cyberpunk publication.

On that unfortunate page — which I urge my own thoughtful readers never to peruse, lest they risk the lowering of their intelligence quotients — a parade of ignoramuses compete to demonstrate which of them is least deserving of being considered homo sapiens.

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Leading Off (6/12/15)

Dallas High School to be Redeveloped. Jack Matthews, the developer behind the Omni Convention Center Hotel and active in the South Side neighborhood, has announced plans to purchase and convert to other uses the 6-acre school complex on the east side of downtown that’s been empty since 1995. The first phase is expected to create office space.

Big Shots Sign the McBridge. Margaret McDermott, the 103-year-old widow of the founder of Texas Instruments, was among those on hand Thursday for a ceremonial placing of signatures onto pieces of steel that will be used in the arches of her namesake bridge. The structure, which will replace the existing Interstate 30 bridge when it’s completed in 2017, is the second so-called “signature bridge” for Dallas designed by Santiago Calatrava. Which is why they held a signing ceremony, I guess?

Football Players Quit After Coach Makes Son QB. Nine members of the Mineral Wells High School team complained to the school board Tuesday that head coach Gerald Perry tapped his son Tristan to be quarterback without allowing another student a shot at earning the role. The next day the coaching staff reversed the decision, and the students agreed to put their pads back on, though they’d maybe be better off clinging to their outrage until after two-a-days.

Creepy Letters From “Jesus” Spook East Dallas Residents. The hand-scrawled notes, which use Bible references to preach that the end of the world is near, were left at several homes.

Black Bear Wanders Around Corinth. Some bright guy thought it was a good idea to bring the young wild animal home with him from Oklahoma. After it was spotted running about his neighborhood, the cub is being transferred to a ranch in Pilot Point.

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Leading Off (6/10/15)

Eric Casebolt Resigns From McKinney Police Department. The entire resignation consisted of two words: “I resign.” The 10-year veteran of the department will keep his pension and benefits, but could still face criminal charges. McKinney Police Chief Greg Conley said yesterday that Casebolt was “out of control” on Friday night. Charges against the only person arrested at the party have been dropped. Plenty of people are pleased. Others are disappointed the officer didn’t apologize. And some, who think of Casebolt as a hero, are disappointed he resigned at all. (If you haven’t seen this yet, here is a former police officer explaining what Casebolt did wrong, and the difference between “warriors” and “guardians.”)

Four Dallas Officers on Leave After Suspect Dies. On Monday, four officers responded to calls that 25-year-old Ross Anthony was banging on car windows and running through traffic. One officer used a Taser. Police say paramedics at the scene provided Anthony immediate medical attention. He was eventually taken to a hospital and pronounced dead. Probably not the last we’ll hear about this.

An Adoption Decades in the Making. This is a nice story. A 92-year-old Dallas mom officially adopted the 76-year-old woman she’s thought of as her daughter for more than 60 years. “I wanted her to be mine,” said Muriel Clayton. “And she is!”

The Texas Rangers Are Good. Yesterday the Rangers visited former manager Ron Washington in Oakland and won 2-1, moving their record to 31-27. The team is in second place in the AL West, two games behind the Astros. Also, Juan Gonzalez and Jeff Russell are headed to the club’s Hall of Fame.

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Poll: What’s to Blame For the McKinney Pool Incident?

Now that the country’s media elite have seen fit to pay attention to what went down at that Craig Ranch pool party, you’ve doubtless come across a host of articles and columns and on-air hot takes offering various explanations/defenses/hand-wringing.

Is it yet more evidence that white cops unfairly treat black citizens? Is it that the residents of this upscale neighborhood pushed the police to do what they did because interlopers from “other parts of town” had invaded their concrete oasis? Or are the kids at primary fault?

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The Daily Show Introduces the World to the ‘McKinney Bikini’

Last night on the Daily Show, after Jon Stewart recounted last Friday’s incident, correspondent Jessica Williams showed up dressed in a swimsuit with full body armor beneath: “a McKinney bikini.”

She joked that what happened at Craig Ranch actually represents progress since no black people ended up shot.

Afterward, on the Nightly Show, Larry Wilmore took aim at some of the “awkward media coverage,” including responding to a lame defense of the cop’s behavior by one neighborhood resident, who said that the officer had just done what anyone else would have done.

“No, anybody else would be like, ‘calm down teenagers while I arrest the crazy racist lady who started this s**t,'” Wilmore said. He followed that up by noting that Fox News’ morning show un-ironically broadcast a segment on summer pool safety just after reporting on what happened in McKinney. This prompted Wilmore to offer his own safety advice, first for white kids (“don’t run by the pool,” “don’t dive in the shallow end”) and then for black kids (“don’t go to the pool.”)

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Murders Are Down But Violent Crime Is Up in Dallas

At this morning’s Dallas City Council Public Safety Committee meeting, Chief David Brown presented the city’s crime statistics for 2015 (through May 31). See the chart above.

The headlines are that the murder rate is down, but violent crime as a whole is about 10.79 percent. Overall crime is down 2.15 percent due to a 4.37 percent decrease in property crimes compared to the same period last year.

The chief said the department “will utilize specialized units & officers on overtime to address violent crime concerns.”

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On the De Facto Segregation of McKinney Pools

The Atlantic puts what happened on Friday in McKinney (mentioned by Liz in “Leading Off”) — a police officer waving a gun at teenagers, forcing one girl to the ground for the alleged crime of trespassing at a private pool — in the context of the segregation, desegregation, and resegregation of America’s cement ponds:

The public pools of mid-century—with their sandy beaches, manicured lawns, and well-tended facilities—are vanishingly rare. Those sorts of amenities are now generally found behind closed gates, funded by club fees or homeowners’ dues, and not by tax dollars. And they are open to those who can afford to live in such subdivisions, but not to their neighbors just down the road.

Whatever took place in McKinney on Friday, it occurred against this backdrop of the privatization of once-public facilities, giving residents the expectation of control over who sunbathes or doggie-paddles alongside them. Even if some of the teens were residents, and others possessed valid guest passes, as some insisted they did, the presence of “multiple juveniles…who do not live in the area” clearly triggered alarm. Several adults at the pool reportedly placed calls to the police. And none of the adult residents shown in the video appeared to manifest concern that the police response had gone too far, nor that its violence was disproportionate to the alleged offense.

To the contrary. Someone placed a sign by the pool on Sunday afternoon. It read, simply: “Thank you McKinney Police for keeping us safe.”

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Leading Off (6/8/2015)

McKinney Police Officer On Leave After Video Of Pool Incident Surfaces. Friday evening, McKinney Police responded to calls from residents and a private security guard about a disturbance at a community pool within the Craig Ranch residential subdivision. A total of 12 officers eventually arrived on the scene, and a video that surfaced later shows officers seemingly targeting only the black teenagers who were at the pool. Corporal Eric Casebolt, the officer in the video who manhandles a 14-year-old girl, shoving her face in to the grass, pulling her hair, and finally sitting on her back to hold her down, is the one of administrative leave. (This is also the same officer who pulls a gun on two black teenage boys, but two other officers stop him, so he goes back to attacking the girl.) Special shout out to the white adult male in the jean shorts who hovers by the cop for the entire thing and says and does absolutely nothing.

Three Pedestrians Killed Early Sunday. The incidents were all unrelated. One was in Northwest Dallas, and Dallas Police have charged  36-year-old Alejandro Hernandez-Vazquez with intoxication manslaughter. Another was in east Oak Cliff, where a woman was found dead after being struck by a car traveling westbound on McVey Avenue. The driver did not stop. Finally, the third was a man who was attempting to stop his car from being towed around 3:50 am. He fell, and was run over by the tow truck.

Bikers Protest in Waco. Nearly 1,000 attended the All For 1 Rally and protest against the Waco Police Department and judges, three weeks after the deadly shootout between rival gangs at Twin Peaks. Of the some 170 bikers arrested, more than 100 are still incarcerated. Supporters and protesters, who remained peaceful, say that most of the bikers behind bars are innocent.

DART Shooter Remains at Large. A gunman shot two fellow passengers late Friday night after one of these people made eye contact with him. Luckily, the two survived.

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Leading Off (6/3/15)

Frisco High School Students Walk Out to Support Principal. When students heard last week that principal Sylvia Palacios would be reassigned to the district’s alternative school, they took to Twitter with the hashtag #savesylvia. Yesterday, a few hundred took to the street, all in an effort to convince the superintendent to keep Palacios in her current position. Sounds like something straight out of Lean on Me.

Police Chase Ends with Two Dead in Italy. It started around 8:30 p.m. yesterday. That’s when, according to a DPS spokesperson, “the suspects assaulted the Italy officer, injuring him, and stole the Italy Police Department Chevrolet Tahoe.” Then there was a spike strip, a negotiation over the police radio, and an apparent suicide inside the Tahoe, before the second suspect was shot and killed by police. An investigation is underway.

Incredibly Awful News Involving Two 14-Year-Old Girls. A lawsuit alleges that a local attorney raped a 14-year-old sex trafficking victim — after promising to take her to a shelter. The details in this story are horrific. Same for this story, about a 14-year-old in Pleasant Grove who was impregnated by a family member, then beaten by other family members in an effort to abort the baby. I’m not even going to write what police say happened next.

Joey Gallo Makes Impressive Big League Debut. Last year Grantland called Texas Rangers prospect Joey Gallo “The Most Interesting Man in the Minors.” Last night, in his Major League debut, Gallo had a home run, four RBIs, and ended up a triple short of the cycle, immediately making him one of the most interesting men in the majors.

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