Find a back issue

Making Dallas Even Better

‘There Is a 100 Percent Chance Mark Cuban Becomes President’

That’s what Silicon Valley investor Chris Sacca, a former Google employee and sometimes co-star of Cuban’s on ABC’s Shark Tank, told CNBC this week:

Sacca noted that Cuban could be at least as successful as Trump were he were to campaign for leader of the free world.

“The minute you’re coined a billionaire in this country, everyone just takes everything you say as gospel. You can say no wrong,” Sacca said. “And that’s why we see Trump skating in. He says asinine things and everyone says ‘well, he’s a successful business guy.’ Cuban has all of that, but is not an idiot.”

So if we factor in a massive Trump flop this fall, and the Republican Party still trying to stitch itself together in the aftermath come 2020, then we’ll get two terms of Hillary Clinton.

Cuban 2024?

Read More

Leading Off (4/29/16)

Cowboys Select Ezekiel Elliott. With the fourth pick in this year’s NFL draft, Dallas took the Ohio State running back. Reviews of the decision are mixed, with some suggesting they should have gone with Florida State cornerback Jalen Ramsey instead. The Cowboys also tried — and failed — to trade up to get another first-round pick with which to select Memphis quarterback Paxton Lynch as Tony Romo’s heir.

Dallas ISD Votes to Buy New Headquarters. The $46.5 million purchase was approved by board trustees in the earliest hour of Friday morning. The building, at 9400 N. Central Expressway, will consolidate the district’s headquarters and 15 other offices in one place. DISD anticipates the change will produce tens of millions of dollars in savings by 2021. Trustees were divided on the matter, which got the go-ahead on a 5-3 vote. Trustees Bernadette Nutall, Joyce Foreman, and Lew Blackburn opposed the purchase, expressing concerns about how it’s being funded and about the district headquarters moving six miles north of its current relatively central location. Some employees could be relocated to what’s being called the Dallas ISD Education by the end of the year, with the entire moving process taking about four years.

Blackie Sherrod, RIP. Sherrod, who died of natural causes at age 96 on Thursday afternoon, is being remembered as “the greatest Texas sportswriter of his generation.”

Read More

The Oak Cliff DISD Trustee Race Has Turned Ugly

Early voting has begun for the May 7 joint elections, which feature many ISD races. As I wrote about in my May column in D Magazine, this is an especially crucial vote for Dallas ISD, with four seats up for grabs. I point out that, contrary to popular opinion, the school board has overcome status quo efforts to maintain the status quo, putting in place important reforms that will help poor kids throughout the district. (Which, in turn, will help the city at large.)

Since I wrote that column about six weeks ago, one race has become awash in nastiness. Which happens, right? It’s local politics.

Except this time, that nastiness includes not just political operatives but also City Council members. In fact, the council members have become political operatives in these ISD races in ways that make me very queasy, in part because the folks doing this include people I admire and consider friends. Which means this is not going to be fun. Let’s do a little FAQ to get you caught up:

Read More

Let’s Talk About How to Fix Dallas Schools

Next Tuesday evening here at D Magazine World Headquarters, we’re hosting a happy hour/panel discussion on education in North Texas: More specifically, the question of how schools can find, reward, and retain the best teachers. Eric Celeste will moderate a talk among Dallas ISD trustee Miguel Solis, Stacy Hodge of education advocacy nonprofit Stand For Children, and Todd Williams of overly-punctuated education nonprofit Commit!

If you’re interested in attending, mosey on over this way.

As for myself, I was too excited about the issues to wait all the way until next week. So I asked John Hill, who writes and podcasts about education in Dallas on his blog Turn and Talks, to have a little chat with me (via instant messages) to further whet my appetite. Hill is a former DISD teacher and is now teaching 10th-grade world history at his alma mater, Jesuit Dallas.

Read More

City Council Gives Zale Corp. $450K to Sort-of Move to Dallas

The Dallas City Council just voted this morning to grant Zale Corporation up to $450,000 to move out of Irving. Luring a corporate headquarters to town is generally considered an accomplishment worth crowing about, but take a look (above) at where the company plans to build its new $45 million complex.

The dark gray line represents the city limits. You can see on the map that Zale’s plan is to move just a couple miles away to the little island territory of Dallas around North Lake, as part of the Cypress Waters development. It’s an area even farther from the center of Dallas than is Zale’s existing headquarters. Some of you may not even have realized that land was part of the city. It was annexed back in the 1950s when Dallas Power and Light (which became TXU) needed a cooling reservoir for a new electric plant.

In return for the city’s largesse, staff members estimate the economic impact to the city of $11.3 million over 10 years. Outlaying $450,000 for a return of $11.3 million obviously seems like a no-brainer.

However, when Councilman Mark Clayton probed for more information about the estimate during the council’s discussion period, it was disclosed that only about $800,00 would come back to the city as direct tax revenue. The vast majority of that $11.3 million is based on estimating the impact of the hundreds of new employees that will, according to the underlying logic, come to live, work, and play in Dallas (spending money all along the way).

Read More

An Absurd $4.6 Million Bridge Is Going Up Over Harry Hines

The DMN takes a look at why the city, county, state, and federal governments are pitching in to build a pedestrian path over Harry Hines Boulevard at Walnut Hill Lane, an area of town known for its strip clubs and other adult-oriented establishments:

Even the guy whose business is a few steps from the base of the bridge has no idea what the heck the thing’s doing there.

“I thought it was for the DART station,” said Song Kim, owner of Just for Play, the lingerie shop in Ravi’s Wholesale Plaza. Kim said Monday that he’d been in this spot for two years, and never once has anyone explained the point of this bridge.

The DART station’s a good guess. Dallas Area Rapid Transit has the Walnut Hill Green Line station on the other side of Harry Hines. But the bridge doesn’t connect to it. Denton Drive separates the light-rail station from the bridge.

The bridge’s backstory hides in plain sight: The fall 2014 issue of Utility Newsletter, the must-read published by the Dallas County Department of Public Works, tells us the bridge “will allow safer pedestrian and bicycle traffic along Harry Hines Boulevard and serve as an example of the modern transportation principles of sustainable and multimodal infrastructure.” There’s also a 2014 map from the North Central Texas Council of Governments that shows the pedestrian bridge as part of a much larger “Northwest Dallas Multimodal Connectivity” project built for the Asian Trade District.

Wishful thinking? Bureaucratic planning run amok?

D Magazine HQ to Host American Conservative Talk on U.S. Foreign Policy

Former FrontBurner contributor Wick Allison, chairman of D Magazine Partners, is also chairman of the American Ideas Institute, a D.C.-based nonprofit that publishes The American Conservative magazine in print and online.

In that capacity, he’s asked that I let D Magazine readers know about an event being hosted here at our downtown office this Wednesday. Four editors from TAC will have a discussion about what impact the 2016 presidential campaign will have on U.S. foreign policy.

If that sounds like your jam, click right here to RSVP, space permitting.

Judge Says Dallas Can Ban Exxxotica From Convention Center

The ruling over the city’s decision to bar porn convention Exxxotica came down late this morning. From the DMN:

U.S. District Judge Sidney Fitzwater denied Exxxotica’s request for a preliminary injunction, which was filed in February after seven members of the Dallas City Council sided with Mayor Mike Rawlings’ resolution banning the porn expo from returning to the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center.

Exxxotica had hoped to return next month, following last August’s Dallas debut. Today’s ruling means that will not happen.

Roger Albright, one of Exxxotica’s attorneys, said he and his client are “surprised and disappointed” by the opinion and weighing their options, which include the possibility of an appeal to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, refiling a motion for a preliminary injunction or merely waiting for trial.

The judge’s decision bought into the the city’s argument that the Kay Bailey Hutchison isn’t so much a “public forum” in which free speech must remain unhampered but is instead just a building that the city happens to own that it rents out for commercial purposes:

Read More

Texas Now Has as Many Immigrants as New York

The Pew Research Center has studied the latest U.S. Census Bureau data and determined that Texas now has roughly as many immigrants as New York — which was home to the nation’s largest immigrant population from 1850 until 1970.

Both states, of course, have far smaller immigrant populations (about 4.5 million) than California (10.5 million). And Texas’ immigrant population is significantly less diverse than New York’s: About 56% of Texas immigrants are from Mexico.

Also notable, for Democrats hoping that the growing percentage of the state’s population that is Hispanic will soon flip the state’s political leanings from red to blue, is another key difference between the immigrants in Texas, California, and New York:

Read More

Ross Avenue Mechanic Who Fought For Property Rights Can’t Sell Shop

Tristan Hallman at the Dallas Morning News followed up on the case Hinga Mbogo, who fought for (and lost) the right to keep his auto shop in business on Ross Avenue in violation of zoning that was changed 11 years ago:

But in his latest crusade to borrow more time, Mbogo withheld a key piece of information about his suddenly illegal 30-year-old auto repair shop.

Even if he wanted to sell his shop, he couldn’t.

“Somebody is crowding the title,” he said.

That somebody is Mbogo’s former business partner, who claims he still has an ownership stake in the business. Mbogo, whose plight has been nationally showcased as a government infringement on property rights, has spent the last year trying to secure the full rights to his property, according to Dallas County civil court filings.

Mbogo’s long-ago partner Mohamed Ahmed contributed $30,000 toward the down payment and never sold his share. The two went into business together in 1990.

Mbogo and Ahmed disagree about what their deal was when Ahmed left the day-to-day business of the shop in 1997.

This helps explain why Mbogo claimed her couldn’t get a good offer for his shop, despite 30 years of appreciation for his property values. But why didn’t he mention it before the council? All he told Hallman was “That’s not their business. That’s my business.”

Mbogo says he’s not shutting down until the city comes to forcibly close his doors, which would presumably happen next month.

Read More

Poll: What Should We Rename the Continental Avenue Bridge?

Christiana mentioned in “Leading Off” the proposal to change the name of the Continental Avenue Bridge to honor former Dallas mayor Ron Kirk. The suggestion came from Mary McDermott Cook, who was slated to become the bridge’s namesake after a $10 million donation was made on her behalf in 2009.

Choosing Kirk instead strikes some critics as ironic, given his support for a toll road project that would necessitate the removal of about 9 percent of the bridge.

But what do you think we should call it?

Read More

Dallas Denies Ross Avenue Mechanic Permit to Keep Shop in Business

Despite a DC-based libertarian nonprofit drumming up national media attention for his cause, Ross Avenue mechanic Hinga Mbogo was denied a special-use permit to stay in business two more years at that location despite his 30-year-old auto shop operating outside zoning guidelines for the neighborhood that were set nearly 11 years ago.

A parade of neighbors, mostly residents of Bryan Place and mostly in opposition to Mbogo’s request, addressed the Dallas City Council before the vote this afternoon. Speaking on behalf of Mbogo were representatives of the Institute For Justice, who claimed to have collected 80,000 signatures in support of him. They also declared that the decision today was being watched by observers across the country, including the Wall Street Journal editorial board, which wrote today that Dallas is driving out long-time businesses to “make way for hipsters.”

Read More

Leading Off (4/8/16)

Mayor Blames Himself For Crime Wave. At a joint press conference with Dallas Police Chief David Brown, Mayor Mike Rawlings declared his support for Brown’s (significantly revised) plans to fight the disturbing uptick in violent crime in the city since the beginning of the year. “This is on my watch,” Rawlings said, striking his finest buck-stopping pose. The mayor said it’s time for the city council to consider hiring 50 more officers. Last week, Brown had to back off his initial plans to reassign hundreds of officers to new shifts and task forces, due to strong objections by the police unions (including calls for Brown’s resignation). Then Gov. Greg Abbott offered to have state troopers made available to assist the DPD. The chief said state and county law enforcers will help serve domestic violence and drug warrants that had piled up as cops were deployed elsewhere to address the surge. Dallas Police Association president Ron Pinkston was not impressed by what he heard at the press conference, which he referred to as a “dog-and-pony show.”

Stars Play For Conference No. 1 Seed Saturday. Both Dallas and the St. Louis Blues have 107 points on the season with one game left to play this weekend before the NHL playoffs begin. The Stars hold the tiebreaker, so either a Stars win against Nashville (7 p.m. tomorrow at the AAC) or a Blues loss will secure home-ice advantage throughout the conference playoffs for Dallas. I’d gladly jump on the bandwagon/zamboni if I could ever follow the damn puck whenever I try to watch a game on TV.

Jordan Spieth Leads at Masters. After the first round at this year’s tournament in Augusta, the impossibly good young Dallas golfer is at the top of the leaderboard, at 6-under with a two-stroke lead, as play resumes today. Spieth is aiming for his second straight green jacket.

Read More