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Leading Off (11/21/14)

Obama Announces Immigration Reform. It could mean thousands of people in Texas who otherwise might have been deported won’t be. Depending on whom you ask, this is either a great, humane thing for countless families or a tyrant seizing power to subvert democracy.

Local Family Moves to Oregon to Get Medical Marijuana for Infant. “Sure, we may have questioned the cannabis oil at first,” admits Chris Blanchett, whose 14-month-old daughter Ellanor has a rare seizure disorder called Aicardi Syndrome. “But that’s what we want to try now. And until you’re in our seat, you don’t understand what that decision means.”

The Story of Kent Brantley’s Survival. GQ’s Sean Flynn has a short oral history about the heroic Fort Worth doctor’s recovery from Ebola, from the perspective of the physicians who treated him. Worth checking out.

Glenn Beck: The Media Raped Bill Cosby. “Journalism is the most dishonorable, dishonest, callous, cynical, mean, stupid, stupid people and industry I’ve ever seen,” says Beck. Which reminds me: You can read my profile of Glenn Beck here.

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How Should Gainesville Memorialize Killing 42 Men?

The Texas Observer has a piece about the recent unveiling of a memorial in Gainesville — in Cooke County, on Interstate 35, just south of the Red River — to the deaths of 42 men killed by the town for alleged treasonous activities in the midst of the Civil War. What duty does the city have to recognize this horrific act of mob violence?

The Medal of Honor program helped Gainesville get nominated—and then win—Rand McNally’s 2012 competition for “Most Patriotic Small Town in America,” a designation the town’s mayor, Jim Goldsworthy, loves to mention.

Around the time the town won the Rand McNally award, the Morton Museum of Cooke County leased a billboard to advertise a 150th anniversary: “October’s Reign of Terror, Commemorating the Great Hanging of 1862.” Within days, the city’s mayor pro tem, Ray Nichols, had voiced his disapproval. “Gainesville was voted most patriotic city in America this year, and we are very excited about it and our Medal of Honor Host City program. I think those are important. That other thing? I don’t think that’s important to anybody,” Nichols told the Austin American-Statesman at the time.

Though no explicit demands were made, the Cooke County Heritage Society pulled its sponsorship of the anniversary event, according to former Heritage Society President Steve Gordon, for fear that city officials’ anger might mean funding cuts to the town’s history museum. Gordon, an Oklahoma native and engineer who retired to Gainesville, was livid. “This story’s got to come up,” he says. “A lot of these people’s [families] weren’t even here in 1862. Why are they so upset?”

“These are good people,” McCaslin says. “They want their town to look good. You want to live in a town you’re proud of. That’s not a bad thing. Where does the Great Hanging fit into that? The town killed 42 people. It’s kind of a clunker.”

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Leading Off (11/14/14)

Feds Auditing DA’s Use of Forfeiture Funds. Craig Watkins may be on his way out, after suffering a defeat in last week’s election, but he’s still facing a federal investigation. Authorities stopped sending forfeiture money to the DA’s office in August after an auditor had a call with Watkins. “It was a contentious phone call during election season in which Mr. Watkins believed the inquiry was being driven by his opponent,” said Dallas County prosecutor Lincoln Monroe. “Craig thought it was a setup. It was not a good conversation that Craig had.” He added that the federal audit was prompted by a mix-up that will soon be rectified.

Frisco Homeowners Want Power Lines Buried. Brazos Electric is proposing a 2- to 4-mile stretch of overhead lines to increase capacity in the fast-growing city, but neighborhood residents are concerned about the impact on their home values. They want the lines placed underground, which Brazos says would cost $31.5 million, compared to $3.5 million for putting them overhead. Brazos plans to apply to the Public Utility Commission for its expansion in December, and the city and a homeowners’ group plan to challenge it.

Felony Lane Gang Strikes Again. Coppell police are looking into whether an organized group of professional thieves is responsible for a series of smash-and-grab car break-ins. The gang is known for cashing victims’ checks in the outside teller lane at various banks — which I guess is the “felony lane?”

Clayton Kershaw Hogging Baseball Awards. After winning his third Cy Young Award as the National League’s best pitcher on Wednesday, the Highland Park High School graduate and Los Angeles Dodgers hurler received Most Valuable Player honors on Thursday. He’s the first NL pitcher to take the MVP since 1968.

Mavs Score Most Lopsided Win in Team History. Dallas got off to a 45-10 lead in the first 15 minutes against the Philadelphia 76ers and finished with a 123-70 win. It’s their largest margin of victory ever.

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D Magazine Staffers on Councilman Philip Kingston’s Toll Road ‘Nice’ List

Rudy Bush has posted City Councilman Philip Kingston’s Trinity Toll Road “Naughty and Nice” list, identifying those he considers on the wrong (pro-) and right (anti-) side of the debate over building a highway between the levees.

Among those on the “nice” side of the ledger are our own Tim Rogers and contributors Eric Celeste and Patrick Kennedy. Plus, Wick Allison, who even charts a pull quote:

“I learned from the Trinity mistake. Maybe the biggest prejudice of all human beings is presentism. That is to say, what is has always been and will always be.”

Top of the naughty list: Mayor Mike Rawlings and former city manager Mary Suhm. So, yeah, no surprises. For whatever it’s worth, via the DMN:

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Dallas Rates Well on LGBT Inclusion. The Suburbs Not So Much.

The Human Rights Campaign, a nonprofit organization working on behalf of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender rights, issued a report today called the Municipal Equality Index in which 353 American cities were rated on their inclusion of, and support for, LGBT residents.

Dallas scored well, 91 out of a possible 100, credited especially with having enacted nondiscrimination laws and for city leadership’s support of the LGBT community. Among the state’s biggest cities only Austin did better (a perfect 100.) Fort Worth got an 83.

But, according to HRC’s standards, Dallas’ suburbs have a ways to go. Irving and Mesquite scored perfect zeroes. Plano got a 22. McKinney a 12, Arlington 11, and Garland a 10.

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Ask John Neely Bryan Anything You Ever Were Too Lazy to Google

Greetings, friends, enemies, frenemies, trolls and troublemakers, hoodlums and saints, the blessed and the damned alike.

My name is John Neely Bryan. You may remember me from such things as having operated a ferry across the Trinity River ages before any of those new-fangled bridges were built, for being a log-cabin enthusiast, and also for having founded what is now the ninth-largest city in the United States of America. So, yeah, I’m kind of a big deal.

Though I have long since passed into the ether, I’ve kept a watchful eye on my beloved Dallas. The good folks at D Magazine, in their estimable wisdom, therefore knew I was best qualified to helm this new effort on their web log. In this space today and in the weeks to come, I shall address all manner of your questions and concerns. Need personal advice? Curious about some aspect of life in this city? Want a dispute adjudicated? Too lazy to Google something? and ye shall receive. (Space and my patience permitting.)

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Poll: Why Don’t You Ride DART?

Last week over on StreetSmart, Bobby Abtahi wrote about the reasons he doesn’t ride DART regularly. Mostly he pointed to the infrequency of service — a 26-minute ride to the Apple Store from his house isn’t so bad, but the bus only swings by every hour. If he just happens to miss the bus on the way there and back, it’s potentially a three-hour trip.

Yesterday the Dallas City Council transportation committee voiced its support for a $983.4 million expansion of public transportation downtown, which would include another light-rail line and streetcar connections.

If you’re not already a regular rider, will moves like that win your business?

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George W. Bush Wants Brother Jeb to Run For President

Ahead of the release of his new memoir about his father, George W. Bush gave an interview to USA Today, at the George W. Bush Presidential Center at SMU, in which he commented on his desire to see his brother Jeb, the former governor of Florida, seek the presidency in 2016:

“I think he’d be a superb president and I think he’d be a very good candidate and I think he could heal wounds,” Bush told USA TODAY in an interview Friday about 41: A Portrait of My Father, being published Tuesday by Crown Publishers. “Dad very much wants him to run,” though he acknowledges, “Mother, of course, has had a different point of view.”

Because what American democracy needs to heal wounds of the past is to go retro? A choice between a Bush and a Clinton (Hillary, who’s the Democratic Party frontrunner at this early stage)?

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What Americans Can Learn From Basque Protestors

[Editor’s note: Having been honored with a Marshall Memorial Fellowship, our Brad Pearson is off wandering around Europe, ostensibly to develop his leadership skills. Periodically he will check in, as he is doing today with the following post.]

It sounded like a machine gun, but no one flinched. Then the second one went off, silencing the crowd and the drums and horns and I ducked again, and looked around and no one flinched. Again, in rapid succession: rat-a-tat, pop-pop, rat-a-tat, pop-pop.

Basque protests: where the explosion of dozens of fireworks means literally smoke but no fire.

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Think Tank Names Outspoken Conservative Allen West As CEO

Less than six months after losing its founder over a sex scandal, the National Center for Policy Analysis has named Allen B. West, a conservative icon and former Florida congressman, as its CEO. The blunt-talking retired Army officer was elected to the House with the Tea Party wave of 2010, the first African-American Republican congressman from Florida since Reconstruction.

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Leading Off (11/7/14)

Ebola Watch 2014 Ends Today. Friday marks the finish of the 21-day period during which the last of those locally who may have come into contact with the virus — an unidentified hospital worker who handled medical waste on Oct. 17 — is being monitored. So we’re in the clear, Dallas.

Dallas to Consider a Ban on Smoking in Parks. The Dallas Park and Recreation Board has directed city staff to draft a proposed ordinance. Dallas and Phoenix are the only two of the nation’s 10 largest cities not to have some form of similar prohibition.

McKinney Man Accused of Bitcoin Ponzi Scheme. Wait, I thought all bitcoin were a Ponzi scheme. Trendon Shavers, 32, was charged with fraud by federal authorities. At one point, Shavers allegedly possessed 7 percent of all the virtual currency in public circulation.

74-Year-Old Man Shoots, Kill Robber. Thomas Lopez opened fire on two crooks who forced their way into his Dallas apartment. One of them was fatally wounded. “I don’t care if you’re 10, 15, 20 years old, you got no business being in my apartment, stealing from me,” Lopez told WFAA (Channel 8). “I’ll end your criminal career in a minute, if I can.”

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Rafael Anchia Is Asking Folks If They Support the Trinity Tollroad

The state representative has a survey up and running on his site, and it’s pretty straightforward. Anchia hasn’t said yet what he plans to do with the information. Meantime, Brandon Formby has a good summation of where the road stands at this moment.

My two cents: we don’t need the road. I’m not exactly alone in saying that. But after running inside the levees a few weeks ago — that’s right: I run now, and I come up with smarmy, backdoor ways to mention it — I am of the opinion that we don’t really need anything there. Amenities, schmamenities. Finish the trails, maybe throw in a few places to hang out and throw around a frisbee, a playground — nothing serious, just the kind of thing you’d find at an elementary school. The Trinity project could be finished by summer, and we can get contentious with each other over something else. Like 345 — have you guys heard anything about that?

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Here Is Something That Craig Watkins Probably Regrets Having Said

Here is something that Craig Watkins said to the Associated Press in January:

“To be realistic, this may be a 30-, 40-year career for me here as Dallas County DA. I thoroughly enjoy what I do, and I think once we get through this election cycle, then the politics of it all will settle down.”

Here is the joke I wrote in January about that statement: Mind you, that’s just being realistic. If you want to get optimistic, let your imagination take you where it may, then we’re talking an 80- or 90-year career as Dallas County D.A. Also, if Watkins had a month to train, really get himself in shape, cut back on the sauce, he could start at tight end for the Seahawks. Okay, maybe not start. But a solid backup for sure. He’d contribute.

Here is another joke that I offer you today, free of charge: Watkins has access to those forfeiture funds for two more months. After that, he’ll have to pay for his own car wrecks.

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