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Podcast: The Future of DART Rail Through Downtown Dallas

The July issue of D Magazine (on newsstands now, but not yet available online) includes a story about the future of DART light-rail through downtown Dallas. This week’s podcast guest was our own Peter Simek, who typed that story. He chatted with Tim and Zac about the options for the future of the public transportation system, the lawsuit State Sen. Royce West filed against Dallas Cowboys player Dez Bryant, and Galveston, for some reason.

First a few notes and corrections before you dial up the show in your iTunes, Stitcher, or your favorite podcatcher:

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Leading Off (6/24/16)

GRAND JURY CLEARS MCKINNEY OFFICER INVOLVED IN POOL PARTY INCIDENT, TEEN PLANS TO SUE. A Collin County grand jury on Thursday cleared McKinney police officer Cpl. Eric Casebolt of criminal charges relating to his involvement in breaking up a pool party last June, which garnered national attention. The interaction was captured in a seven-minute video that shows Casebolt slamming a teenage girl to the ground and drawing his gun on two other teens who tried to help her. There was not enough evidence to bring criminal charges against Casebolt, a 10-year veteran of the department. Given the verdict, the 16-year-old girl and her family plan to file civil rights and personal injury suits Monday.

SUPREME COURT IMMIGRATION DEADLOCK LEAVES DALLAS FAMILIES IN LIMBO. The Supreme Court’s 4-4 split leaves the families of Texas’ 1.5 million undocumented immigrants with uncertainty. The plan would have shielded millions from deportation. Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton believes the ruling is a victory for those who believe in the separations of powers.

MAVS TAKE A.J. HAMMONS IN DRAFT. The Dallas Mavericks drafted Purdue’s A.J. Hammons on Thursday in the second round. The 7-foot center was the 46th overall pick in the 2016 NBA draft. The Mavs are hopeful for what Hammons, “a first-round talent,” could bring to the team.

7 MEN CHARGED WITH INDECENT EXPOSURE, PUBLIC LEWDNESS IN PUBLIC PARK. Between 11:30 a.m. and 2 p.m. Thursday, Fort Worth police arrested seven men on charges of indecent exposure and public lewdness. The arrests were made in Gateway Park, and police haven’t clarified if the offenses are related. The men range in age from 22 to 66. Maybe it was the result of an Old School-inspired rush challenge. I don’t know how these things work. In the meantime, here’s a peek at their mugshots.

SOUTHBOUND I-35E LANES THROUGH DOWNTOWN ARE CLOSING FOR 12 HOURS. As part of the Dallas Horseshoe Project, all southbound lanes of I-35E that pass through Downtown Dallas will be closed from 10 p.m. Friday through 10 a.m. Saturday. The exit to eastbound I-30 is part of the shutdown; however, the westbound exit will stay open. Only time will tell if we, as a city, can survive this shutdown.

Leading Off (6/15/16)

Tomorrow’s North Texas Trump Rally Has Yet to Find Venue. Grand Prairie turned down Donald Trump due to concerns that the Verizon Theatre couldn’t contain the crowds the Republican candidate draws. Then yesterday, the Irving spokesperson said 48 hours simply wasn’t enough time to organize the police necessary for such a high-profile event. Mark Cuban is happy to host Trump, and Hillary for that matter, but the AAC had not received any calls from the candidate’s camp. It’s unclear whether the last-minute nature of tomorrow’s rally is an attempt to throw off protestors or if the campaign organizers just aren’t that organized. I’d definitely stick to the former story if I worked for Trump.

North Texas Journalist Dies in Apparent Homicide. Jacinto Torres Hernandez, who used the byline Jay Torres as a freelance writer, was found in the backyard of a Garland house on Tuesday with a fatal gunshot wound to the chest. He contributed to the Star-Telegram‘s Spanish-language newspaper, La Estrella, and won an award for features from the Texas Associated Press Managing Editors in 2011. More details are expected today.

Dallas Zoo Gets a New Wallaby. Elephants and giraffes are usually the newsworthy additions to the Dallas Zoo. The reason this wallaby has been getting attention: Someone in Far North Dallas thought it was ok to leave the marsupial on his apartment balcony during the day. Not surprisingly, it isn’t. Dallas Animal Services has been caring for the year-old wallaby since the owner surrendered it last week. The zoo is happy to keep the animal for the long-term, though the DMN reports the owner is “working with the city on his options.”

Temperature to Reach the Triple Digits. North Texas meteorologists have issued a heat advisory for today. Though thermometers will most likely remain in the 90s, the humidity is expected to take the heat index up to 105 degrees. As the National Weather Service suggests, I will be drinking lots of water and staying inside this afternoon to avoid heat exhaustion and heat stroke. There is not, however, anything I can do about my hair.



Leading Off (6/13/16)

Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick Condemned For Gospel Verse Tweet: Dan Patrick’s campaign claims the Sunday morning quotation he shared on Twitter from Galatians 6:7 – “Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows.”– had been scheduled for several days, and was not a reaction to the horrible attack on a gay nightclub in Orlando early Sunday morning. That’s either extraordinarily bad timing or a complete lie. The tweet was deleted, though some are now calling for Patrick’s resignation. There will be a vigil held in Dallas for the Orlando victims.

Report on Dog Attack Details Just How Inept Dallas’ City Services Are: A report released Friday reveals the grisly details of the death of Antoinette Brown, who was attacked and killed by a pack of wild dogs in South Dallas on May 2. The details of the attack are difficult to read, even in summary. That it happened on a street in a major American city is just dumbfounding. As horrifying is the ineptitude demonstrated by police and city hall. Neighbors repeatedly reported the pack of dogs that killed Brown roaming the neighborhood for days after the attack and received no response.

Dallas, Meet Your Newest Political Football: As we mentioned Friday, TxDOT released its much-anticipated study of various reworkings of Dallas’ downtown highway system, an issue we here at D Magazine have been writing about for some time. Perhaps the best thing I’ve read about the report so far is Brandon Formby’s piece over the weekend about how the report will fit within Dallas’ political landscape, essentially becoming another Trinity, Fair Park-style splitter, breaking right down the middle of the plate:

But the report lands at City Hall at a time when the council struggles to keep up with subpar city streets and grapples a $19 million budget shortfall. At the same time, council members must replace their outgoing city manager and decide the fate of how Fair Park is managed.

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Leading Off (6/10/16)

Man Kidnapped by Carjackers, Murdered. Investigators say the 42-year-old victim was likely targeted, followed to a gas station at DFW Airport on Thursday afternoon, where he went inside while thieves tried to make off with his rental car. When the victim saw the theft in progress, he rushed out to stop it, jumping into the vehicle’s driver’s side passenger door. He was later found dead at an apartment complex a few miles away.

Muslim Says He Was Nearly Run Off Road Driving. A white pickup truck aggressively followed Omair Siddiqi after he stopped to put gas in his car on Wednesday afternoon. Siddiqi was listening to a recording of the Quran when the white, middle-aged driver of the truck pulled alongside, rolled down his window and started screaming at him, “Take your rag ass back to your country. I’m gonna [expletive] kill you.” The truck then allegedly tried to run Siddiqi’s vehicle off the road. Police traced the license plate number that Siddiqi provided to an address in Garland. Siddiqi works as an outreach coordinator for the Council on American-Islamic Relations’ Dallas Fort-Worth chapter

DISD Looks to Reduce Suspensions of Youngest Students. There’s disagreement among trustees about whether an all-out ban of imposing out-of-school suspensions on children in pre-kindergarten through second grade is the right move, but they want to do something at least to reduce the practice, which disproportionately affects black boys and can put them at a disadvantage for attaining future academic success. The board asked for more input in discussing alternatives.

Judge Forbids Slumlord From Evicting Tenants. The order is in place until the city’s lawsuit against Dennis Topletz is heard. Topletz is accused of renting 190 properties that violate many city codes to low-income residents. Topletz had sent a letter to his tenants threatening to evict them or raise their rent if they cooperate with the city’s action.

1 in 10 Dallas County Jail Inmates There Solely Because of Mental Illness. So says research of the Meadows Mental Health Policy Institute, which presented a plan Thursday aiming to keep the mentally ill who aren’t dangerous out of the jail. It would involve embedding social workers with police units responding to mental crises and be funded by $7 million in private grants.

Rangers Draft Pitcher. With their first pick of this year’s MLB first-year player draft, Texas took Cole Ragans, a high-school leftie from Tallahassee, Florida. Remember that in baseball the draft is pretty much a crap shoot, so even though he was the 30th overall player taken, who knows if he’ll ever make it to the Show.

What You Missed at D Magazine’s Happy Hour With an Agenda

Do you enjoy drinking drinks and listening to spirited discussions about some of the most significant issues facing Dallas today? You do? Then why weren’t you at Tuesday evening’s “Happy Hour With an Agenda” here at D Magazine World Headquarters?

You missed your chance to hear City Councilman Philip Kingston, CitySquare CEO Larry James, Metro Dallas Homeless Alliance president and CEO Cindy Crain, and Ikenna Mogbo of Metrocare Services talk about which top prospects the Texas Rangers should select in tonight’s MLB Draft — kidding, no, of course their conversation focused on the difficulties of humanely and effectively aiding the city’s homeless population.

Never fear: You can feel like you were there by viewing the Periscope video. You’ll have to provide your own beer, however.

If you’d like not to be left out of future opportunities to attend events like this, sign up for an email alert right this way.

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Leading Off (6/8/16)

DISD big pimping, Spending Cheese. Yes, I realize it’s “Gs,” not “cheese.” I was having issues with all-caps text. Doesn’t matter. It all leads to this: WFAA-TV aired an investigation on the DISD’s marketing department last October questioning a payment made to a consultant before the consulting was ever done. DISD fought back. Some may have lied. The school district’s internal audit proved the news team right yesterday and found that it wasn’t an isolated incident. Some DISD officials resigned, some remain.

911 Calls for Dog-Mauling Victim Released. Neighbors weren’t able to save Antoinette Brown from the pack of loose dogs that bit her more than 100 times, but a couple of them called 911. Recordings were released yesterday. The timeline of the calls show that the city may have fudged its story on officers’ response time.

Animals in Peril. Oh, gosh. So many more horrible animal-related stories in the news. Where do I begin? There’s the story out of Farmers Branch about the boyfriend beating his girlfriend’s Terrier mix to the point that it had to be euthanized. Speaking of euthanization, a woman went to pick up her dog from Mesquite’s animal shelter too late. That’s awful. Also, a cat was stabbed and burned in Fort Worth. Good news is that it’s on the mend and people care. Another silver-lining story: A dog missing after surviving the car crash that killed its owner in Collin County has now been found.

Bedford Mom Makes A Very Mom Mistake. A 16-year-old Bedford girl has gone viral after tweeting a text exchange with her mother. In the texts, Lisa Banks gets furious with the teenager for having, what she assumes, a baggie of illegal drugs in her nightstand. Turns out the narcotics were actually capsules that expand into dinosaur sponges when placed in water. I can’t honestly say I will never do this.

UTA Draws Up New-ish Plan For Fair Park

Via the Morning News, we see a new design for what the future of Fair Park could look like: much more green space and far less acreage devoted to parking, for one.

The plan, grandly dubbed “Fair Park :The Reinvigoration of a National Treasure,” comes from the University of Texas at Arlington’s Institute of Urban Studies and was financially supported by the Foundation for Community Empowerment. That organization’s chief backer, former Trammell Crow chairman Don Williams, was also the force behind last year’s Di Mambro Plan, which also sought to put more “park” into Fair Park by limiting the space used by the State Fair of Texas.

The key recommendations from the UTA plan are:

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Mark Lamster on Fair Park at 80: ‘A Very Dallas Story’

To honor the 80th anniversary of the Texas Centennial Exhibition, Dallas Morning News architecture critic Mark Lamster penned a piece worth highlighting about the complicated, paradoxical history of Fair Park, our city’s favorite neglected stepchild. Even from its inception, Lamster writes, Fair Park was shaped by confounding political forces which muddled the commissioning process for its now beloved art deco structures:

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Leading Off (6/3/16)

The Rains Keep Coming. Thursday brought inches more of precipitation to an already wet week. Areas to the west of Fort Worth, along the Brazos River, saw some of the worst flooding, prompting the need for evacuations in Granbury and flooded roads that some drivers unwisely attempted to cross. Five soldiers at Fort Hood died and four others (and their truck) were missing after the vehicle was swept away by fast-moving water. A highway in Eastland County (out towards Abilene) was washed out. In Dallas itself, rescue workers looked for someone reportedly swept away into Bachman Creek, but the search was called off after several hours when nothing was found. Rain is expected to continue to fall in North Texas on Friday and into Saturday, but come Sunday the forecast looks to be sunny throughout the week to come.

Texas Built Case Against Donald Trump. When Gov. Greg Abbott was still attorney general, the state’s consumer protection division, which he oversaw, in 2010 gathered evidence for a possible lawsuit against the New York billionaire who’s now the presumptive Republican Party presidential nominee. The claim would have been filed on behalf of $2.6 million allegedly bilked from Texas taxpayers by Trump’s Trump University programs. The former deputy director of the consumer protection division tells the Morning News that the decision not to move forward with the lawsuit was politically motivated and came from the top level of the AG’s office. A spokesman for Abbott contends that reading of what happened is “absurd” and that the legal action was no longer necessary after Trump University agreed to cease operations in Texas. State investigators had determined that hundreds of Texans had paid millions of dollars to Trump University for useless information, some of which didn’t even apply in Texas.

Gay Detention Officer Claims Discrimination. Derek Boyd is seeking money and a court order to stop further discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people by employees of the Collin County sheriff’s office. He’s also asking to be reassigned to a new position within the department, “deputy LGBT liaison.” Boyd, who started working for the sheriff in January, claims he has been harassed and intimidated because of his sexual orientation.

Fiancé Paid Men to Kill Rowlett Woman. A Dallas County grand jury indicted Ioannis “John” Makris on Thursday, along with one of the men he allegedly hired to kill Laura Grillo last November, just a week before she was scheduled to marry Makris.

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What Do You Think of the New Plan for the Trinity River?

A few weeks ago, the mayor hosted an event that unveiled a new, $250 million vision for the Trinity River Project. Before offering some reservations, Mark Lamster practically swooned over the initial designs, which, on the surface, seem to internalize some of the criticisms of previous incarnations of the plan. Like Lamster, when I looked at the latest Trinity River Project watercolors, I recognized what looks like a gesture towards compromise. The floodplain is depicted as a more dynamic, natural setting, designed to participate in — and not resist — the regular flooding events that are the heartbeat of the ecology of the river.

Now a website has been set up by the two nonprofits that have long been pushing forward the Trinity River Project, The Trinity Trust and the Trinity Commons Foundation. Reading the brief description of the new park on that site, I found the kind of language that should surround any attempt at re-imagining the Trinity River. I also saw some questionable assertions.

First, here’s the good:

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