Find a back issue

Making Dallas Even Better

Leading Off (2/11/16)

Third Zika virus case confirmed in Dallas. This was announced yesterday. The sample in this case was tested and confirmed positive by a local laboratory. The hope is that local testing for the Zika virus will help contain the disease. The Dallas woman who was confirmed to have Zika had shown symptoms after coming home from Honduras, where the outbreak is far worse. Four other Dallas County residents have had potential symptoms of Zika, and the CDC is currently testing samples. Symptoms include fever, rash, joint pain, and red eyes. Health experts say the major Zika outbreak in South America is not likely to happen in the U.S. but that Texas is one of the states more susceptible to minor Zika outbreaks because we’re, uh, well-acquainted with mosquitoes. Time to stock up on insect repellent.

Grass fire near Celina and McKinney destroys 50 Acres. Yesterday a grass fire was responsible for burning 50 acres of land north near the two Dallas suburbs. Several fire departments responded to the incident, which might have threatened a few homes. The fire was put out, and no injuries were sustained. The cause of the fire is not known yet.

Woman with cognitive impairment missing in Plano. 75-year-old Annamarie Doyle has been missing since yesterday afternoon. Because she has a cognitive impairment, her safety could be in jeopardy. Police say she was last seen driving a 2003 gold Jeep Liberty in Plano.

Dallas City Council Bans Exxxotica From Using Convention Center

Today’s title fight at the horseshoe — over the mayor’s proposal to ban the Exxxotica sex show from returning to the city-owned Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center — unsurprisingly centered on the rights guaranteed by the First Amendment vs. the desire not to contribute to the exploitation of women and girls.

The measure was approved, by a vote of 8-7. Those in favor were Adam McGough, Carolyn Arnold, Casey Thomas, Erik Wilson, Jennifer Staubach Gates, Mayor Mike Rawlings, Rickey Callahan, and Tiffinni Young. Against it were Adam Medrano, Lee Kleinman, Mark Clayton, Monica Alonzo, Philip Kingston, Sandy Greyson, and Scott Griggs.

Rawlings began the council’s debate by explaining that he proposed the resolution as part of his (self-described) duties as “chief brand officer” and said that he doesn’t believe the event is good for Dallas’ reputation.

He drew parallels between this potential legal fight and past fights the city has accepted even when it knew it was likely to be sued, as with denying gas drilling in a park or the (short-lived) plastic-bag ban. (Though, it should be noted, neither of those disputes centered on constitutional matters.)

Rawlings’ case was essentially that denying Exxxotica the use of the convention center is no different than restrictions the city is allowed to put on such things as the size and placement of billboards. There are many such decisions where the city has a right to determine to what length the freedom of speech extends.

“I read online that there’s a place [in the Exxxotica event] called the Dungeon, where women are tied up and whipped,” Rawlings said, his voice breaking with emotion. “There’s where it crossed the line for me.”

Read More

The City of Dallas Doesn’t Have Permission To Screw Up the Trinity

The city of Dallas has a permit problem. Standing Wave (aka the Dallas Wave), the AT&T Trail, and the Joppa Connector Trail are all under scrutiny for compliance problems with permits issued by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. But I recently discovered that there’s a much larger problem with all this work being done in the Trinity floodplain. The USACE isn’t just looking askance at the individual projects; it has yet to approve the city’s whole damn Balanced Vision Plan, filed back in 2014.

Read More

Mayor Says Plano Is No Longer a Suburb

Last night Plano Mayor Harry LaRosiliere delivered his annual state of the city address at the Cinemark West Plano theater. His theme was that Plano has entered a new phase in its development: “Plano 3.0”:

“In the ’80’s we were a bedroom community, and in the ’90’s we were known as a big suburb. Today we are our own city, and we compete on a global stage for businesses, and individuals or families looking for a home.”

LaRosiliere called Plano an “economic engine for employment” citing the moves of major companies, like JPMorgan Chase and Toyota, who are moving to Plano.

And with new businesses come new jobs. LaRosiliere said 18,000 new jobs were coming to Legacy West in the next three years.

“We’ve become a true employment center,” he said. “You can fill up AT&T Stadium twice with the number of people coming to work in Plano.”

According to the U.S. Census, the average commute time for Plano residents is 25.7 minutes. For Dallas residents it’s 25.6 minutes. For the Pleasant Grove neighborhood of Southeast Dallas, it’s 34.75 minutes.

These numbers suggest that the people of Plano don’t have to drive into Dallas for jobs. They’ve got employment there, along with much higher median incomes ($82,944 vs. $43,359), which feed better-performing schools, which raise property values, attracting more of the upper-middle class to choose Collin County over the bigger city. Then corporations looking to relocate decide to set up shop closer to where their employees want to live, and this economic cycle feeds on itself all over again.

Maybe it is time they come off our Best Suburbs list.

Read More

Leading Off (2/10/16)

Son of Local Man Finishes Third in New Hampshire Primary. As of late last night, Carrollton resident Rafael Cruz’s son Ted was just behind John Kasich, good enough for third place. Trump and Sanders both won by big margins.

Rams Owner Buys Waggoner Ranch. The famous, massive ranch was on the market for $725 million, though it’s not clear how much L.A. Rams owner Stan Kroenke actually paid. In addition to a football team that will playing in a nice, new stadium in Southern California, Kroenke owns 11 other ranches in North America.

Man Pleads Guilty to Killing Teenager Who Was Battling Cancer. Yep. Tyler Wiley, 20, from Desoto, admitted shooting 15-year-old Ryan Lara in 2014 outside the boy’s Duncanville home in what police believe was an attempted robbery. Lara had been fighting Lymphoma. Three others are charged with murder and awaiting trial.

Dance Teacher Accused of Molesting Students. Vann Gilbert, who calls himself “the Doctor of Dance,” was arrested yesterday after a 90-minute standoff with the Dallas SWAT team. He’s charged with two cases of indecency with a child, stemming from an accusations that go back nearly 20 years.

Read Some Michael Brick. Earlier this week I posted about the death of a friend of mine, an incredible writer who graduated from R.L. Turner. I miss him. Yesterday, the New York Times posted a collection of some of Brick’s work. You should really take the time to read a few stories.

Laughter, Good Works Mix at Tocqueville Event

Besides announcing good works and bringing together some of the heaviest-hitting business people in North Texas, the monthly Second Tuesday luncheons of the local United Way’s Tocqueville Society are, in contrast to some nonprofit gatherings, as entertaining as they are informative. And today’s, held at the AT&T headquarters building in downtown Dallas, was no exception. […]

Read More

The Lesson South Oak Cliff High Just Taught All DISD Students

Yes, there’s a story about it on the front page of today’s metro section. Sure, the incident was widely covered on local TV stations. But I’m not quite sure it has sunk in yet just what a potentially city-changing event has been unfolding over the past couple of months in South Oak Cliff.

It began with the sad fact that South Oak Cliff High School is in terrible shape. Students describe falling ceiling tiles, leaky classrooms, malfunctioning HVAC, decrepit locker rooms, and empty library shelves. The district set aside $13 million to address some of these issues in the upcoming $1.6 billion bond program, but that’s a drop in the bucket when compared with the $40 million it is estimated to take to make South Oak Cliff High School look like, you know, a real school. So the students walked out. Last December, 250 of them demonstrated in front of their school demanding that the district figure out how to provide a place where they can learn that doesn’t communicate to them on a daily basis that they have already been written-off by the world.

And the district responded.

Now trustees plan to double the amount of money they will spend on fixing South Oak Cliff High School to $25 million. It’s still short of the $40 million the school needs, but that’s a huge concession. Students staged a collective action, and they forced the hand of the district, which will now double the amount of money it will spend on fixing South Oak Cliff High School.

I believe that’s major, and here’s why.

Read More

Ben Bernanke, A Bush Economics Adviser … Again

If you didn’t recognize Ben Bernanke from his days in the spotlight, orchestrating the Federal Reserve response to the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression, you might have assumed he was just another number-cruncher in the little crowd gathered at the Dallas Fed building last night. Affable enough but shy, the former chief economic adviser to President George W. Bush (2005-2006) and two-term chairman of the Federal Reserve (2006-2014) maneuvered tentatively through the small-talking throng, evincing the most enthusiasm, it seemed, for the excellent hors d’oeuvres.

Read More

Poll: Should Dallas Ban a Porn Convention?

I’ll be surprised if this isn’t a landslide result. On one side of the issue that the Dallas City Council will consider at Wednesday’s meeting are Mayor Mike Rawlings and billionaire Ray Hunt, who believe there’s an opportunity to block the return of the Exxxotica sex show to the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center.

On the other, there’s city councilmen Philip Kingston and Lee Kleinman (who often disagree on other decisions), as well as future buddy-comedy co-stars Mike Hashimoto and Zac Crain, plus (probably) the United States Supreme Court and most of the Founding Fathers (not John Adams, who was a bit of a prude, but definitely Ben “Early to Bed, Early to Rise” Franklin.)

What do you think?

Read More

Dallas Dating Guide Launches Today

Dallas consistently ranks alongside other major cities (many within the state) as one of the top destinations for young professionals and singles. With this in mind, we’ve created an expansive guide to how to navigate Dallas’ dating landscape.

From suggestions on where to spend a first date to what to say during that outing, our Dallas Dating Guide is a look inside the city’s most romantic spots. Moving forward, the guide will expand with new propositions and pieces of advice offered weekly. Whether you’re new to love or a one half of a long-married couple, there’s something for everyone. Use this guide to inspire your love story. Or, at least, a story. (Either way, I want to know.)

Get started with the Dallas Dating Guide here.

Michael Brick, R.I.P.

We’ve lost someone great. A great writer. A great friend. A great person.

Michael Brick was 41. He is survived by a wife and three kids, including a 5-year-old daughter, and an almost-8-year-old son. I met him at the Mayborn in 2010 and wrote about him and his book a few years ago. He was infinitely supportive of other writers, and he always felt like the wisest person in the room. I’m lucky to have known him.

The Houston Chronicle has a really good story about his life here. The New York Times, where he wrote so many incredible stories, has a remembrance here.

You should read his work, a sampling of which is available here. The way he put words together was wonderful and inspiring. An anthology is in the works. He was also a great songwriter and musician, and you can listen to some of his songs here and here.

And if you’re so inclined, have a thought, say a prayer, or tip a glass for a great one gone too soon.

Once You Decide You Want to Be In the Convention Business, You Have to Be In the Convention Business

As I mentioned this morning, Mayor Rawlings said over the weekend that he wants to ban EXXXOTICA, a three-day adult expo, from returning to the convention center this year. The city council will vote on a resolution drafted at Rawlings’ request on Wednesday. It’s probably not constitutional, and, what’s more, it goes against what the city has decided to do, which is be in the convention business.

The city unnecessarily paid for a new convention center hotel on its own for a few hundred million, when there were plenty of offers to build it for them. So the city needs any convention that will come and put bodies in beds. Dentists, doctors, proctors, furries, jugglers, muggers, muggles — whatever. Even a sex expo that I’m sure was actually pretty tame and boring when it came to town last year. I mean, obviously, you draw the line at hate groups, of course, and St. Louis Cardinals fans.

But anything that is legal — DPD sent undercover vice cops there, and it was basically paid time off — is fair. That’s a decision that is pre-made when you put that much dough into one place even though you have better options. Sorry, Mayor Mike.

Help Wanted at D CEO

D CEO magazine has an immediate opening for a managing editor. In addition to being a first-rate writer and editor, the affable, super-organized person who takes this job will oversee day-to-day operations, making sure deadlines are met for a title named the country’s best regional business magazine for the last three years. Duties include assigning front-of-the-book stories, managing budgets, and supervising the fact-checking process. And, oh yeah—he or she also will have to put up with me. Journalism experience and familiarity with business required. Send a résumé to

Leading Off (2/8/16)

Mayor Rawlings Wants to Ban Adult Expo From Returning to Convention Center. Ray Hunt is against it, also. EXXXOTICA, “the largest adult event in the USA dedicated to love and sex,” held its three-day shindig last August. I’ll just say this is what happens when you build Philip Jones a convention center hotel. If I had to pick a side, I guess I’d say I’m against it, too, just because the protesters were — and this is a technical term — super lame.

Jimmie Vaughan Rides In Oak Cliff Mardi Gras Parade. I couldn’t make it out. Did he do any Fabulous Thunderbirds songs?

Fort Worth Stock Show Sets Attendance Record. I didn’t make it out there, either. Did anyone do any Fabulous Thunderbirds songs?

More Than 100 Arrests In Crackdown On Aggressive Panhandlers. I wonder if the guy who’s been using the same bus ticket to try to scare up some scratch was one of them. I sort of hope so, if only to shake up his hustle. As any good rapper knows, you gotta switch up your flow every now and again.

K2 May Be Regulated Soon In Dallas. The city’s public safety committee is looking at it after a spate of overdoses of the synthetic cannabinoid. It’s pretty dangerous, if you haven’t heard.

What Do David Foster Wallace and Barrett Brown Have in Common?

Barrett Brown, as you might know, won a National Magazine Award earlier this week for a jailhouse column that began right here on FrontBurner and then migrated to Glenn Greenwald’s Intercept. Well, he won for three installments published by The Intercept. We’re happy to have been part of the process and aren’t looking for any credit (we totally deserve all the credit).

And, as you might also know, I won a National Magazine Award for a profile I wrote of Barrett. Which has led me this past week to remark to several people that Barrett must be the only subject of an NMA-winning story to have won an NMA himself. Right? I mean, because how could that have happened twice? So I asked the kind folks at the American Society of Magazine Editors, which bestows the awards, to confirm that it had never happened before.

Well, it has.

Read More