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Making Dallas Even Better

Would a Downtown Dallas Rangers Stadium Just Be Another Boondoggle?

Here’s one thing we learned yesterday: mixing sports with urban planning sure gets people’s attention. There was a huge response to my post that argued that slagging attendance at Globe Life Park in Arlington should push Dallas city officials to woo the team to a new downtown Dallas. Why? Well, because that’s the way baseball go.

The conversation in the comments and on Facebook and Twitter brought up a number of interesting points and counterpoints, and I wanted to touch on a few of them.

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A Police Officer Explains Why Many Are Frustrated with DPD Management

My column for the November issue of D Magazine (on your newsstands in four short weeks) deals with the concerns of Dallas police officers. In said story, I say that the largest police organization, the Dallas Police Association, is wrong to buy into the silly narrative that there is a “war on cops.” I say they are absolutely right, however, to blame the administration for poor police response times. For days, I’ve been sent pictures of 3rd-shift details at large police substations that show only five or six officers available to handle calls from 3 p.m. to midnight.

This, I argue, is the issue that people care about. This is the concern supported by the data. This is why cops aren’t showing up for hours. And this is the concern that at least partially led to the behind-the-scenes meeting at City Hall last week, where Chief David Brown’s tenure was discussed.

In the column, I quote from a letter written by police officer Louis Mills.

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Leading Off (9/24/15)

Ahmed’s family hires attorneys to investigate police treatment of the teen. The Irving story continues, with lawyers—Thomas Bowers and Reggie London—representing Ahmed. Says Bowers: “He may be smiling on the outside, but he’s having some issues.” Bowers’ previous clients include a former stripper who sued Jerry Jones. “I take the cases no one else will take,” Bowers says. Irving city officials did not comment on whether they would also be talking to attorneys.

McKinney police officer shoots and kills man who opened fire on officers. Last night at the Cliffs of Eldorado Apartment Homes, a McKinney police officer fatally shot a man who shot at officers. The man had apparently been holding a woman and child against their will. No officers were injured.

Rangers win, have largest division lead in two years. With a 10-3 win over Oakland last night, the Rangers now have a three-game lead over Houston, in second place in the American League West. This marks the Rangers biggest lead in the West since 2013. But unlike the 2013 season, which did not end well, this season will be different, the team vows. Don’t let us down, Andrus.

Dallas zoo surpasses 1 million visitors this year. Yesterday, the Dallas Zoo hit a major milestone: 1 million visitors in a fiscal year. This is the first time in the zoo’s 127 years that this has happened. What about the family who pushed the zoo past this marker? They got to feed the elephants, of course.

Ask John Neely Bryan: Decluttering Mockingbird, the Ugliest Street in Dallas

Question: What the holy heck happened with those pendant lights on Mockingbird? A few years ago, Patrick Kennedy wrote about the eyesores. A few months later, most of the broken lights were fixed. But then they started going out again. And now most of the poles have been removed — but not all of them. So did the city just give up or what? — Joe C.

Whoa there, boy. I can read the barely disguised resentment hidden between the lines of your message. You’re right to feel angry, embarrassed, even a little ashamed, about how deeply hurt you were that last week I didn’t see fit to communicate with my public in this space as per usual.

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Historic Buildings Are Now a Little Safer in Dallas (Sort of)

Dallas has a brand spanking new ordinance designed to help prevent the midnight demolition of the city’s historic buildings. The Dallas City Council passed a demolition delay ordinance which will force a mandatory review period after a developer files for a demolition permit that will allow the city to double check to make sure that the building is not, well, historic. Here’s how it will work, via the Dallas Wilonsky News report:

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Podcast: Dallas City Councilman Mark Clayton Wins at iPhone Roulette

Mark Clayton, who represents District 9 on the Dallas City Council, stopped by the Old Monk to talk about how municipal power has changed him, his past work helping professional athletes market themselves, and which North Texas suburb he really, really, really doesn’t like.

But the reason you’ve got to listen to this episode is because of the epic round of iPhone roulette in the third segment. I’ve never seen anyone so enthusiastic to tell acquaintances on the phone that he loves them, and I’ve never seen Tim so anxious and embarrassed. Enjoy.

But first, a few notes:

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Leading Off (9/17/15)

Memorial service for Ebby Halliday held today. Dallas real estate legend Ebby Halliday Acers will be celebrated and remembered today at the memorial service, taking place at 3p.m. at Park Cities Baptist Church, 3933 Northwest Parkway, Dallas, TX 75225.

Irving freshman going to the White House. Ahmed Mohamed, the Irving kid who was arrested for bringing a homemade clock to school, has accepted an invitation to go to the White House after Obama tweeted to him. Clearly, a lot can change in a few days.

North Texas Giving Day sets fundraising goal of $26 million. Today is the seventh annual North Texas Giving Day, which aims to raise money for local nonprofit organizations. $26.3 million was raised last year. The Communities Foundation, which spawned the program, hopes to raise even more this year. There are more than 2,100 nonprofits to donate to, and locations for the event are spread throughout North Texas. Not a bad way to spend (pun intended) a Thursday.

Dallas police department has more surveillance cameras than ever. 90 new surveillance cameras will be installed at Dallas crime hotspots soon. This means that electronic surveillance of Dallas—there are 347 total cameras now—will be twice as extensive as it was just three years ago.

Donald Trump Supporters Eat Up the Red Meat at Dallas Campaign Rally

By 4 p.m. Monday, two hours before the Donald Trump rally was scheduled to start, long lines of fans of the unconventional GOP presidential candidate already were stretching around Dallas’ American Airlines Center. Old-fashioned martial music was blaring from loudspeakers on the building’s north side, not far from a group of Latino protesters and a long-haired Anglo man holding a homemade sign that read, “The KKK and Nazis Support Trump. Do You?!” Two 20-something, frat-looking guys — Daniel Jensen and his pal “AP” — made a beeline for the man with the sign, but they were quickly intercepted by a couple of uniformed cops. “Get off the sidewalk,” one of the policemen snapped. And the frat-looking guys did.

Inside the big sports arena, meantime, the atmosphere was anything but contentious.

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What Happened to Citizen Oversight of the Trinity River Project?

After reading late last week about Mayor Rawlings’ plan to make more plans for the city’s largest park (without the involvement of the Parks Department or the citizens of Dallas), I thought it was time to check in on the status of the Trinity Citizens’ Oversight Committee. As you may recall, the Trinity Dream Team’s leader, Larry Beasly, stated their proposal needed “public input and confirmation,” and that the design process “needs a conscience that is ‘of the people.'”

Their “suggestion (was) a carefully arranged monitoring of implementation, (then) and on an ongoing basis into the distant future, but an oversight panel of independent professional and citizen monitors who can make sure the concept does not get distorted through the detailed design process.” Peter Simek reported Beasly as stating that the multi-disciplinary team of experts should actually report to the citizens group. In that same piece, Council Member Lee Kleinman was quoted as stating his desire for more public input. The Dallas Chapter of the American Institute of Architects also publicly endorsed such an approach, stating they “strongly advocat(e) for an oversight body comprised of Dream Team members, local design organizations (including AIA Dallas) and private citizens to ensure that the vision of the Dream Team is faithfully reflected in the design and execution of a Great Trinity Park Parkway.”

So where do we stand on the formation of such an independent oversight body?

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Leading Off (9/11/15)

Hinojosa to Get Dallas ISD Super’s Job. To the surprise of no one, interim district superintendent Michael Hinojosa is likely to be named the lone finalist to keep the gig permanently. DISD board president Eric Cowan said last night that’s what he expects to happen at a meeting on Tuesday afternoon. Hinojosa, who was previously superintendent from 2005 to 2011 before jumping ship to take a job in Georgia, has been back in the saddle for the last two months following the resignation of Mike Miles.

Jerry Jones Gets Second Hip Replaced. Indications are the Dallas Cowboys owner is recovering well after surgery last Friday, about six weeks after having his other hip overhauled. There’s no indication that Arlington voters were required to kick in half the cost.

Hall Arts Brings New Light Show to Downtown. Add the Arts District building to the growing list of structures that are Las Vegas-fying the Dallas skyline.

WARNING: Mid-Life Crisis Man in Uptown. The neighborhood’s walkable live-work-play environment is attracting a “new generation of renters.” Twenty-somethings are advised to be on the look out for older fellows who dress and style their hair like John Tesh, boast about how many people they can crowd onto their apartment balconies, and are known to be afflicted by goose bumps whenever seeing all that’s on display at Whole Foods. While unconfirmed, the scent of patchouli and the frequent playing of the trendiest world music are other possible warning signs.

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Ask John Neely Bryan: Advice For Donald Trump Ahead of His Dallas Visit

ATTN: Mr. Donald John Trump Sr.:

It was with the greatest interest that I received word of your impending plans to escape that coastal hellhole you call home for a visit to the greatest city God ever gave man in the history of the world: Dallas, Texas.

As you know, a not-inconsiderable time has passed since you queried me — asking that I keep the matter out of this public forum — in search of an outline as to the most strategic means by which you might launch a bid for the second-greatest office to which a personage might be elected by the common rabble.

While I was as pleased as Punch you heeded my advice that no thing beats the modern marvel that is a de-escalating staircase when it comes to making a dramatic entrance, I was perturbed not to have received so much as a memorandum of gratitude ahead of your campaign’s initiation.

We need to have a few words.

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Developer Pays Steve Salazar, Gets Monica Alonzo Swing Vote on Braniff Deal

There are already a couple of stories coming out of today’s council meeting that are suggestive of how to get things done down at city hall. One involves the Dallas Convention Center, which got a sweet renewal of a commitment of hotel tax revenue for their marketing budget. Clearly the council hasn’t been reading its Wylie H., though they certainly saw former Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchinson sitting in the front row for the vote.

Then there’s the Braniff Airlines’ Operations and Maintenance Base redo. You may remember the council just voted to shelve a proposal to turn the facility into a car dealership because a) there was a lot of opposition from the nearby neighborhoods, and b) the proposal hadn’t gone through the usual public bidding process.

Well, two weeks later, the contract with Randall Reed was back on the agenda today and, low and behold, it passed. How did it happen?

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Could Mark Cuban Get You to Vote for Donald Trump?

This is a fun thing that happens when elections are far away and nebulous. People like to mix and match ideas, putting together candidates and potential candidates and well, just famous people really — like they’re wine and dinner pairings. This Biden vintage no good by itself? How about we pair it with an Elizabeth Warren?

That’s what is happening right now with Donald Trump. While he’s doing well in utterly useless polls, clearly some people do not have a taste for the man. (He can be a bit strong and bitter at times.) So now political types are seeing who he pairs well with. Trump and Cruz? Trump and Carson? How about Jeb Bush, or John Kasich, or Marco Rubio? Or Oprah?

Well the newest suggested pairing is a local name: Mark Cuban. Matt Lattimer, a speechwriter for George W. Bush, suggests Cuban would be the perfect running mate for Trump. Politco mentioned it too. The DMN has a datelined story about the possibility.

Despite a relatively tumultuous history with each other — see Cuban’s comments on “torching” Trump from 2013 — they’ve been playing nice recently. Both men are brash public figures with pretty much zero political experience. Both men have owned sports franchises. And oh yeah, both men are in the three comma club. (A party of billionaires would have seemed like a parody just a few years ago.)

Of course Cuban would soften Trump’s image a bit. Though Cuban is no stranger to controversial statements, most of the time he’s nuanced and sensitive — not words anyone would use to describe Trump at the moment. Cuban’s fortune is also considerably more self-made than Trump’s. But of course none of it matters, because there is no chance Cuban would jump in the race. But thinking about things is fun.

City Convention Spending Hasn’t Boosted Dallas Hotel Business

Earlier this week, I wrote about the increasingly dismal state of financial affairs at the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center, and, as always, I enjoyed learning even more from the comments.

Mavdog suggested I needed to look beyond the center’s declining revenues and increasingly staggering losses and analyze hotel trends throughout the entire city of Dallas, under the theory that the Kay Bailey could be driving significant economic growth in the city’s overall hospitality industry that would more than offset its massive taxpayer subsidies. Amy S. also suggested a comparative analysis with other markets. Both comments were on point. What we needed to do was compare the growth of the hotel market in Dallas with the growth of the hotel market in the nation as a whole. Then, we could charitably attribute some or all of Dallas’ out-performance to a Dallas Convention & Visitors Bureau strategy of using the convention center as an “economic engine,” following its DCVB-advocated $130 million expansion in 2003, which then triggered the need to construct a DCVB-advocated $500-million convention center hotel shortly thereafter.

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