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Why Does Desoto Need a $733,000 Mine-Resistant Vehicle? And Duncanville, and Mansfield, and Bedford, and…

The town of Edgewood sits 60 miles due east of downtown Dallas, off US-80. It’s got about 1,400 residents and a busy Dairy Queen. The total size of the town is barely one square mile. And over the past 20 years the U.S. Department of Defense has provided the town’s police department with $1,585,908 worth of rifles, trucks, trailers, barbed wire, and dozens of other items.

The transfer is known as the 1033 Program, launched in October 1995 by the Pentagon as a way to distribute weapons, vehicles, and other supplies to police departments nationwide, with little or no oversight as to their need or use. This week, for the first time, the Pentagon released the names of those departments and the supplies they received. The Marshall Project broke them down, and found that the program has given out $5 billion worth of equipment since its inception, including tactical military equipment worth more than $1.4 billion. Close to 7,500 agencies nationwide have been a part of the program.
Below you’ll find a breakdown of every North Texas municipality that received items in the past 20 years. Thirty-four different departments have received supplies, to the tune of nearly $8.6 million. (Overall, Texas has received at least $191 million in equipment; the highest total for a single department is the Harris County Sheriff Department, with a whopping $26.8 million.)

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A Simple Proposal: Tear Down the Convention Center

1. Dallas Convention and Visitors Bureau president Philip Jones said we needed a hotel to make the convention center work. We gave him one. Now he says we need we need bigger ballrooms and more flexible multipurpose meeting space, because “he has a list of large convention groups that either have canceled plans to come to Dallas or may cancel because ‘they no longer fit.'” You know what I would love? I would love to see that list.

2. OK, so we spend $300 million or whatever it ends up being so the United American Consortium of Briefcase Salesmen of America will keep coming to Dallas. Super. Do you want me to tell you what happens next, or are you the kind of person that doesn’t want to see the movie until they’ve read the book? You know what? I’m going anyway. OK, OK, next Philip Jones is going to say that the hotel needs some upgrades — let’s say $200 million — because it’s no longer suitable, and the North American Confederation of Pet Accessories Dealers Worldwide is for sure going to cancel because of it. Then the convention center will need something. Maybe a heliport and a series of underground canals, because the Universal Order of Scuba Suppliers likes to be near water. I’d price that out at around $400 million, but that is only if Jones serves as his own general contractor.

3. We’ve spent $500 million, and we’re on a path that will see us spend God knows how much more to do what? Save Philip Jones’ $600,000 job? No thanks. We’re getting pushed around by groups of heating and air conditioning professionals. Is everyone excited that we’re turning into St. Louis?

4. The convention center doesn’t make money. It makes us spend money to construct more and more ornate crutches to prop it up, but it doesn’t make money.

5. Tearing it down gets us off Jones’ handout treadmill. But also: how much would that amount of prime downtown property be worth on the open market? And how much property tax would a new development in that location generate every year? Maybe I’m ridiculously, hilariously wrong here. Maybe I just like blowing stuff up.

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Josh Malone, Super Genius, Invents Way To Make 100 Water Balloons in a Minute

Josh Malone is a 41-year-old dude who lives in Plano and has eight kids. So he’s clearly insane. Speaking from experience, a vasectomy is a pretty simple procedure. But Malone is also a super genius. Any parent who has ever made a mess of water balloons will appreciate Malone’s invention, which is called Bunch o Balloons. Check out the video. It’s amazing. He launched a Kickstarter on July 22, with a $10,000 goal. The campaign goes till August 21, but he’s already got $635,000 pledged. Probably didn’t hurt that he was on the Today show this morning.

Josh Malone, you are my hero.

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There’s a Funeral This Weekend for the Trinity Toll Road

ICYMI, the ghost of the Trinity toll road brought us some more entertainment yesterday. It started with an op-ed by the architect Larry Good, who, after a decade, has withdrawn his support of the dead project. Rudy Bush was pretty impressed with Good’s piece and piled on: “A few days ago, Wick Allison and I traded some tweets. I warned against declaring the toll road dead. Powerful people want this road. He agreed and said we need to drive a stake through its heart. Okay, here’s the stake.” That drove Rodger Jones nuts, so he apologized for Bush’s blog post. Maybe Jones and Bush really like each other. Maybe they eat lunch together in the cafeteria at the Morning News. But I prefer to think their relationship is hostile, that when they happen to ride the elevator together, they do it in silence.

If the two guys are friend, though, here’s something they can do together this weekend. On Sunday, an old-school New Orleans jazz funeral procession will leave Oddfellows at 5 p.m. From the Facebook invite:

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State Rep. Jason Villalba, to Lt. Gov. Candidates: ‘Illegals Are People’

“Friends, these ‘illegals’ are people. They are human beings who love their little ones just as much as you and I love our little ones. They want a better life for their families and they want their children to have a better life than they have had.”

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