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Making Dallas Even Better

City Council Renames Bridge For Ron Kirk

The Dallas City Council just voted to rename the Continental Avenue Pedestrian Bridge for former Mayor Ron Kirk.

Every council member expressed admiration for Kirk’s leadership in the city and acknowledged the appropriateness of renaming something to honor him. The disagreement was whether the bridge was fitting for that purpose, since Kirk is a supporter of building a toll road along the Trinity River that would require removing almost 10 percent of the very structure that will become his namesake.

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Leading Off (5/25/16)

ARLINGTON CITY COUNCIL SIGNS OFF ON A NEW BALLPARK. The council approved the $1 billion plan that would give the Texas Rangers a new stadium. However, the next step is to convince voters to spend $500 million to keep the team in Arlington. Opponents have asked why the current stadium, which opened in 1994, needs to be replaced.

POLICE FIND AN ALLIGATOR BEHIND A SOUTH DALLAS MIDDLE SCHOOL. The nearly 7-foot-long reptile was captured near Steam Middle School around 2 a.m. Wednesday morning. An officer, who was patrolling the area, stopped after spotting what he thought was a log. It’s possible the alligator came from one of the area’s nearby creeks.

THE BATHROOM SAGA CONTINUES. State Attorney General Ken Paxton may file a legal challenge to President Barack Obama’s directive that instructs schools to allow transgender students to use the bathrooms that match their gender identity. This could affect Fort Worth ISD’s newly established guidelines that would accommodate transgender students. Paxton has scheduled a 2 p.m. news conference in Austin.

STATE SCHOOL BOARD CANDIDATE WHO THINKS OBAMA IS A FORMER GAY PROSTITUTE LOSES. Thankfully, Mary Lou Bruner, a retired teacher who suggested Obama might have been a “gay prostitute” in his youth, lost the Republican nomination last night by more than 10,000 votes. Bruner drew national attention earlier this year for her Facebook commentary which included claims such as “Islam is not a religion” and that Noah’s ark carried baby dinosaurs. Lufkin school board President Keven Ellis won the nomination and will face Democratic candidate Amanda Rudolph in the fall.

DALLAS ZOO WELCOMES ELEPHANT CALF. The calf was born May 14 to one of the five Swaziland elephants that arrived in Dallas in March and is the first African elephant calf born in the United States in nearly two years. The 3-foot, 175-pound calf hasn’t been named yet but is bonding with his mother. In January, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service granted the zoo a permit allowing the zoo to bring over the elephants from Swaziland–a move that was contested by animal advocacy groups. It’ll be a few months before the public can meet the calf so–until then– this video will have to suffice.

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Leading Off (5/18/16)

Protesters crash Farmers Branch city council meeting. About 200 protestors gathered at the Farmers Branch city hall last night to calling for justice over the death of Jose Cruz, a teenager shot dead by an off-duty police officer in March. The protestors were asking that the city pay for Cruz’s funeral bills instead of putting money toward the officer’s defense as he faces a murder charge. Mayor Bob Phelps slipped past the crowd, later saying, “I don’t have anything to do with it.”

Dallas police can’t find enough new recruits. The department has had to cancel two academy classes due to low attendance. The lack of interest might have something to do with the city’s low salary, which is $10,000 to $15,000 under what is offered in surrounding departments.

Man (almost) cleared of murder after 19 years in prison. Tarrant inmate John Nolley was freed yesterday after nearly two decades behind bars. The Innocence Project has been investigating his conviction for ten years, finding that DNA evidence in the Bedford murder case did not come from Nolley. Nolley has yet to be fully exonerated, but his defense team expects to wrap up all legal issues within a few months.

Dallas County leaves first responders in the lurch. Dallas County sherriff’s deputies’ and firefighters’ county-issued credit cards were getting declined at the fuel pump in February due to nonpyament. The county’s first responders had to dig in their own pockets to fill up for a few days. NBC Investigates has the story.

Odor is going on time out for a while. Do we push people? Nooo. Do we punch people? Nooo. Do we make potentially-fibula-snapping slides into second to break up a double play? Noooooooooo. This is the convo I had with my kid when he caught coverage of the now-infamous Rangers brawl. And it’s essentially what MLB said to the coaches and players while handing out punishments yesterday. Bautista’s nasty slide earned him a one-game suspension. Rougned Odor got hit the hardest with an eight-game suspension, though the 22-year-old will continue playing as he appeals the decision. Rangers say they have Odor’s back 100-percent. The Frisco RoughRiders are showing their solidarity by selling Rougie’s Red PUNCH, an adult bevy made of fruit punch, an energy drink, and “a secret ingredient from Odor’s native Venezuela.”

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Leading Off (5/13/16)

Dallas ISD to Cut Jobs. A proposed budget for 2016-2017 would eliminate about 260 positions to offset a $24 million drop in revenue (most of that reduction is due to a decrease in state revenue.) DISD is aiming to have a balanced budget of about $1.42 billion developed by the end of June. The plan would also give stipends to high-performing teachers who haven’t had their pay increased for the current school year. Most district hourly workers would meanwhile receive 2-percent raises.

DISD Expands Magnet School Enrollment. The school district has added 107 students to the popular programs at William B. Travis Academy, cutting its wait list in half. The plan is to increase the number of available slots at other campuses with similarly high demand as well. Meanwhile, district trustees are still considering the elimination of the controversial sibling rule, which gives preferential placement at magnets to kids who meet minimum admission standards just because they already have a brother or sister enrolled at the same school.

GOP Leaders Grandstand on Bathroom Debate. Because there’s no more pressing issue to deal with than deciding who can use which toilets? Gov. Greg Abbott and Lt. Gov. Greg Abbott appeared at the Republican Party of Texas Convention in Dallas on Thursday, and both decried what they perceive to be outrageous federal government overreach that dares to suggest that transgender people ought to be able to use the bathroom consistent with their own gender identities. The convention continues through Saturday, when Sen. Ted Cruz will deliver his first formal remarks since he suspended his presidential campaign.

Frisco Hospice Overmedicated Patients. According to a Texas Department of Aging and Disability Services report, Novus Health Services gave excessive doses of morphine and other drugs to those in its care. In addition, the FBI is investigating whether the company ordered nurses to end the lives of some. Novus says it treated patients properly and committed no violations.

House-Broken Bison For Sale. If you’re interested in purchasing Bullet, a 1,000-pound bison that routinely walks around inside the Schoeve family’s home in Argyle, the Craigslist ad is right here. She’ll cost you a little less than $6,000, and she won’t poop in your house.

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All Clichés Are Bigger in Texas Award Nominee: Friday Night Lights Edition

Last weekend, voters in McKinney approved a bond that will fund a nearly $63 million high school football stadium, and national press outlets have taken note. At that price, it would be the most expensive in the country, supplanting the troubled Allen ISD ball yard.

Today’s nomination goes to a Forbes contributor, Maury Brown. He writes:

This all gets back to keeping up with the Jones’. McKinney may be the biggest Taj Mahal high school football stadium now, but only a fool would think that there isn’t already boosters from other areas trying to mount a charge to get theirs built. Everything is bigger in Texas… including stadium envy.

Pray this newfound trend doesn’t gain a foothold outside the state. Imagine what the response from the state that prides itself on saying, “don’t mess with Texas” might be.

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Dallas City Council Approves $3 Million to Lure Costco

After a long debate during which nearly every member of the Dallas City Council expressed a desire to do more to help underdeveloped southern Dallas, a 10-5 vote granted $3 million to multi-billion-dollar big-box retailer Costco to bring a new store to North Dallas.

The discussion centered on whether the city’s finite economic development resources should be spent on recruiting Costco to its proposed site along Coit Road near the High Five interchange, which is hardly in the sort of “food deserts” found in other parts of the city.

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Is Dallas Sliding Towards Chaos?

The mayor believes his Grow South initiative is going swell. He and Dallas Police Chief David Brown announced a new plan to deal with the spike in violent crime. Regardless, in a city in which residents who are unlucky enough to live in the part of town where you can be attacked and killed by packs of dogs, in the past 5 days, 7 people have died in shootings, all in southern Dallas. That brings the number of people murdered in Dallas this year to 57, a 42 percent increase over last year.

Clearly this city has leadership problems. But will anyone ever be held accountable for anything?

Dallas City Manager A.C. Gonzalez Statement on Deadly Dog Attack (Revised)

Last night Dallas City Manager A.C. Gonzalez issued an official statement about the death of Antoinette Brown, who was mauled by a pack of loose dogs last week. Gonzalez’s 463-word statement was drafted in bureaucratese, a language in which he is fluent.

I’ve taken the liberty of revising the text. He is free to adopt any of my suggested changes as his own, royalty free:

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Leading Off (5/11/16)

Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick brings potty talk to Fort Worth schools. Patrick visited the FWISD Board of Education complex yesterday to call for superintendent Kent Scribner’s resignation. He says Scribner violated parents’ right to know what’s happening with their schoolchildren by implementing a policy that allows transgender students to use the bathroom and locker room of their choice. Patrick also said Scribner “is putting the privacy and rights of 78,000 or 79,000 students in the back seat for a few.” However, Scribner says he simply tweaked a 2011 policy and called Patrick a “bully.” Patrick didn’t have a solution for transgender students, but I’m thinking maybe there’s an extra empty naval base lying around Grand Prairie. Stick a few porta-potties on that. All good.

Local man’s son back in the Senate saddle. Ted Cruz returned to his Washington Senate office yesterday, receiving a tepid welcome back from colleagues.

Murdered Midlothian fitness instructor case weird enough for national tabloids. Flirtatious messages pointing toward infidelity, financial and marital problems, a solid chance the hammer-wielding killer caught on surveillance video might actually be a woman, and a mother-in-law who blames Camp Gladiator for taking her daughter-in-law’s life — People has all the strange details.

Watch the bovine go. Yesterday’s local news broadcasts brought us two loose livestock videos. A bull trotted through Arlington and Dalworthington Gardens with police in tow for nearly four hours before a rancher was able to wrangle him. This incident totally showed up the guy who said “only in Stephenville” after a calf booked it through town on Sunday.

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Poll: Should Dallas Pay Costco For a Store?

Tomorrow the Dallas City Council will consider giving $3 million to Costco in exchange for the store setting up shop — and bringing about 175 jobs — to a tract of land along Coit Road near the interchange between LBJ Freeway and Central Expressway.

The Economic Development Committee last week signed off on the payments to be made from the city’s Public/Private Partnership Funds. Some on the council question whether a multibillion-dollar company really needs this sort of government handout in order to make its business in the city viable.

What do you think?

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Why It Is Not Enough for Fair Park Leadership to Merely ‘Cheer’ for South Dallas

Amidst all the hubbub over homelessness that has erupted over the past few days, I feel like an important article by Robert Wilonsky about Fair Park hasn’t received the attention it deserves. On Tuesday, Wilonsky wrote about the many parcels of land that the State Fair of Texas owns outside the boundaries of Fair Park. These lots are dispersed through the community of South Dallas. Some are unkempt, others vacant, and others used to enforce arbitrary parking restrictions. Like the moats of parking around Fair Park, these lots remain a real, active agent of disinvestment in a community that has been the victim of a bully neighbor for decades:

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