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Leading Off (9/3/15)

Tell the Mayor What You Think of the City Budget. Today at 5:30 you can tweet at the mayor about the budget in a “virtual town hall meeting.” Don’t expect the mayor to tweet back, though. He’ll respond via a live video broadcast that starts at 6. Sounds perfect. He wants to use social media—but not really. Enjoy yourselves.

DISD Problem Gets Blown Up. I am writing this item without having seen the printed newspaper. But I’m going to make a prediction about how this news gets played. There are questions about “academic misconduct” at a school that has about 390 total students. An investigation is underway. Right now, though, there are only questions. We don’t know what did or did not happen. Prediction: this story will run above the fold, on the front page. (It should be a Metro brief.)

Christian Taylor Had a Hallucinogen in His System. The 19-year-old had a drug called N-Bomb in his system when an Arlington cop shot and killed him in what was ruled a homicide. The autopsy also found that Taylor had recently used marijuana.

Woman Murdered in Uptown. Details are scant. But the killing happened in the parking garage of the Gables Park 17 high-rise, on Cedar Springs.

Orlando Scandrick Cried Yesterday. The Cowboys’ top cornerback had season-ending surgery to repair a torn anterior cruciate ligament and a torn medial collateral ligament. At the team’s annual kickoff luncheon yesterday, he was named last year’s co-defensive MVP (with Jeremy Mincey). This might give you an idea of how it can suck to be a professional athlete.

Leading Off (8/25/15)

More Questions About Susan Hawk. I like the way the News is playing this story. It appears that every day that DA Susan Hawk isn’t at work, the paper is going to run a “Where is Susan Hawk?” story. It’s pretty bad when the two people speaking for you are a) a campaign consultant who no longer works for you and b) your mom. (USA Today has picked up on the story, too.)

DART Looks To Build Second Line Through Downtown. Yesterday AIA Dallas wrote a letter to the head of DART in support of Alignment B4, and the Transportation Committee unanimously recommended that alignment, with a little adjustment along Jackson Street to avoid a church and some town homes. DART’s planning committee will meet today to discuss the matter. The City Council is expected to vote on it September 9. You are to be commended for keeping abreast of this important civic issue.

Huge Pot Bust in Oak Cliff. Looks like all you unicycle-riding, bearded hipsters are going to have a hard time scoring weed. Cops busted a drug deal in the works, snagging 74 bricks of marijuana and $54,000 in cash. (Does anyone actually “score” weed? I’m so old.)

Collin County Cuts Estimate for Paxton Prosecution. Initially the estimate for the cost of prosecuting AG Ken Paxton was $2 million. The county lowered that figure to $285,000. Highlight of the story comes courtesy of Brian Wice, one of the special prosecutors in the case. Wice said, “I’m not sure where that came from, but it’s comical that we would submit a bill that’s in the area code of $2 million. That’s just absurd.”

Leading Off (8/20/15)

New Parkland Hospital is Open Today. Bright and early at 6am, the Rees-Jones Trauma Center, Emergency Department, Urgent Care Emergency Department and Labor & Delivery services in the new Parkland Memorial Hospital opened at the new location, 5200 Harry Hines Blvd. Other sections of the new hospital, including intensive care units and a burn center, will gain operation over a three-day period. All inpatient services will be transferred by Saturday’s end. I, for one, would not wish to be a patient during this transition. Chaos. But the new 2.1 million-square-foot facility does look pretty.

Burn Bans Spread Across DFW like wildfire. Denton and Tarrant counties have already set up burn bans, and Dallas County will likely do so next Tuesday, which would be in effect for 90 days. Funny how the burn bans are coming on the heels of yesterday’s rain, the first since July 8. And to think, not long ago we were all hoping the downpours would desist.

Cannabis-based Smoothies Coming to a Suburb Near You. I mean, Frisco. Who would have thought? As it turns out, the AmeriCanna Cafe, a cannabis-based smoothie shop, is indeed set to open in Frisco within the year. If the hair starts to stand up on the back of your neck while reading this, don’t worry. It’s perfectly legal. Apparently, the ingredients are derived from hemp seeds, while are allowed for consumption in the U.S. Smoothies will have at most only negligible traces of THC, so you will not need to worry about failing a drug test (at least not because of this smoothie).

Leading Off (8/13/15)

Dallas Love Field Vendors Win Right to Raise Prices by 10%. All you Love Field lovers, listen up. The airport is about to get pricier, and I don’t mean the cost of flights. Dallas City Council members signed off yesterday to let airport vendors — who agree to pay employees a minimum of $10.37/hour — raise prices by 10%. The issue was raised after certain vendors said they were struggling to make a profit. Other vendors, however, said there are many more passengers passing through Love Field as a result of the repeal of the Wright Amendment, and they’re doing just fine. Mayor Mike Rawlings was one of the opposing voters. Which side was more correct? We may never know.

7-Story Rolex Building Comes to Uptown. Harwood International broke ground Tuesday on a 136,857-square-foot building for Rolex at Moody Street and Harry Hines. This is not the first partnership for the two companies. Thirty years ago, Rolex and Harwood International built the first office in Uptown Dallas. The in-progress building brings something new to Uptown in that it will be architecturally unique and will feature gardens that has not yet been done elsewhere in the city. But, you’ll have to wait a while to see the project come to fruition as the building will open next year. This is a part of a continued Uptown resurgence, also evidenced by the opening of the new Whole Foods Market on Mckinney Avenue yesterday. All this boom in Uptown is great — but as more and more buildings shoot up, so will prices.

DFW’s First All-Recliner Movie Theater Opens. Today, Cinemark opens its first all-recliner movie theater in Roanoke; it will serve Southlake, Keller, Trophy Club, and Roanoke. Every single seat will recline and have adjustable foot rests, so go ahead and get comfortable because watching a movie just got even more relaxing.

Leading Off (8/11/15)

Cabbies Sue DFW Airport Board Over Uber Policy. A week after DFW Airport began to allow UberX and Lyft to pick up passengers, the Dallas-based Association of Taxicab Operators USA has sued the airport to stop the practice. Their argument: “This technology is good. People want to use it. But we like the old, inefficient way of doing things because that’s how we make money. Our outmoded way of doing business should be protected.” I am summarizing, of course.

FBI Declines To Investigate Fatal Shooting. Nineteen-year-old Christian Taylor was unarmed when he was shot and killed by an Arlington cop responding to a burglary call at a car dealership early Friday morning. Earlier reports indicated the FBI would help investigate the shooting, but now the feds say, “[T]he Dallas FBI has full confidence in the ability of the Arlington Police Department and Tarrant County District Attorney’s Office to conduct a thorough investigation of this matter.” There will be a “National Protest Day for Christian Taylor” at 7:30 tonight at Arlington Police Headquarters.

Deep Ellum Restaurateur Makes Ill-Advised Bill Cosby Joke. On a chalkboard surface outside Twenty Seven, chef David Anthony Temple wrote: “Only Mr. Bill Cosby knows how to knock out Ronda Rousey.” Some folks are not amused. Not only is it not funny, but it’s also not original. Temple needs to talk to the folks at Zoli’s about how to write jokes.

More Fun With the Trinity. Tomorrow the City Council will consider diverting $36.4 million earmarked for the Trinity toll road and $11.3 million for new lakes to flood control. Council members Philip Kingston, Scott Griggs, Adam Medrano, Mark Clayton, and Carolyn King Arnold requested the vote. Is this their sneaky, backdoor way of trying to kill the toll road? I’m not going to say it is. But I’m also not going to say it isn’t.

Leading Off (7/27/2015)

Popular Park Cities Personal Trainer Killed By Car. Michele Albanese was crossing the street at Travis and Armstrong, near the gym where she worked, around 12:30 pm Friday afternoon, when she was struck by a car going north on Travis Street. Police say Albanese was not at a crosswalk, failed to look both ways, and was talking on her phone when she was killed. The police have not released details about the driver of the vehicle. Very sad.

Dallas Makes Garth Brooks Feel Our Love. We’ve missed him in the two decades since the country singer last stopped by. It’s going to take seven shows at the American Airlines Center to accommodate the demand for tickets.

Boy Scouts End Ban On Gay Leaders Today. That’s the good news from the Irving-based organization, which will also ban discrimination based on sexual orientation for its paid positions. The bad news is that the new policy will still “allow church-run units to pick leaders who agree with their moral precepts,” according to the Morning News.

You Can All Officially Complain About The Heat Now. Dallas-Fort Worth achieved its first 100 degree day of the season over the weekend.

So Long. And thanks for all the fish. This is my last Leading Off, and after many years, my last day with D is this Friday. The September issue will be my last as the magazine’s managing editor. It’s been a fun and instructive ride, and I will remember you all with fondness. Mostly. It’s likely you’ll still see my byline here and there, so nobody worry too much.

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Leading Off (7/20/2015)

Jordan Spieth Enters Final Round of The Open. There are only three players ahead of him. Nancy’s brother, Bill Nichols at the Dallas Morning News, can explain his positioning much better than I can. So just read this. And make sure your TV is properly tuned in by 8:20 am, when Spieth tees off.

Bernie Sanders Talks Progressive Issues In Dallas. Sanders, a Vermont independent running for president as a Democrat, brought out an estimated crowd of 7,000 for a rally on Sunday around topics like a $15 minimum wage and tax increases for the wealthy. According to the Texas Tribune, “the event appeared to be the largest held by any presidential candidate in Texas so far this election cycle.” Sanders also did some damage control, speaking out against police brutality after he stumbled in response to the “Black Lives Matter” protesters who overtook his Netroots Nation event with the former governor of Maryland on Saturday.

To Catch A Puppy Thief. A Siberian Husky puppy worth $2,850 (this is nuts) was stolen from a pet shop in North Dallas. A man walked out with the adorable little puppy Saturday night and jumped in a getaway car, but was caught fairly quickly.  The puppy was returned to the store. Stealing and reselling a puppy? Terrible. That puppy stuck in a pet shop? Also not a great feeling.

Leading Off (7/14/2015)

The Barnett Shale is Off-Gassing More Greenhouse Gasses Than Previous Thought: The EPA botched its initial estimates, and as it turns out, fracking in the Barnett Shale is responsible for 64 percent of all methane in our local atmosphere. The good news: most of those emissions are the result of human errors and mechanical failures.

Let’s Put Those Increased Violent Crime Numbers in Perspective: The Dallas Morning News breaks down the much-reported 10 percent increase in violent crime. The takeaway? Glass half-full, glass half-empty. You could argue the increase reflects a return to a historical norm. And if violent crime continues at pace through the end of the year, murders will be at the same level they were 2013 and 2012, while aggravated assaults would only see a 0.4 percent increase over last year.

When Will We Finally Run Craig Holcomb Out of Town? Read Eric Nicholson’s look into the laughable bike share program in Fair Park. I mean, it couldn’t be more stupidly designed, so it will come as no surprise that the usage numbers are equally laughable. But here’s the important bit: when Nicholson tried to get the usage numbers through an open records request, he was stonewalled by the Friends of Fair Park, which operates the program. That decision to not to release the bike share numbers was then upheld in a ruling by the Texas AG.

I mean, seriously? Bike share numbers? We’re keeping those under lock-and-key? Why? Because Friends of Fair Park – which is run by Craig Holcomb, who also heads the Trinity Commons Foundation – doesn’t want more mud on his face for a program that anyone who has any idea about anything looks at for two seconds and thinks, “Good God, that is the sorriest excuse for a bike share program I have ever seen in my entire life.” I mean, seriously? How long are we going to let Holcomb meddle in the city’s business? How long are we going to let him lord over his two little fiefdoms, which happen to involve two of Dallas’ greatest civic assets – Dallas and Fair Park – both of which have languished for decades under the weight of curiously stupid ideas? For the love of all things good, Criag Holcomb, will you please just drift off into a quiet retirement and leave Dallas alone? Please. Thank you for your service. Now go away.

New Designer Drug in Town: It’s called Flakka, and it doesn’t sound like too much fun. Effects include “murderous rage, paranoia, ultra-violence, and running around screaming.” Or basically what it feels like to read about Craig Holcomb’s meddling in Dallas affairs.

It’s Finally Texas Hot: After cool temps and so much rain, we can’t really complain about DFW finally flirting with 100 degrees (heat index popped up to 109 in some places yesterday). Well, unless the AC goes out in your entire apartment complex. Then you can complain.

Leading Off (7/13/2015)

New Criminal History Monitoring Program Introduced at DFW Airport. The TSA has chosen DFW and Logan Airport in Boston to test an FBI pilot program called “Rap Back,” which is part of the Bureau’s massive biometric identification database. Rather than relying on just a one-time background check, the Rap Back program will use the fingerprints provided when an employee starts a job to continuously scan for future “felony-level” offenses. Per the Morning News, “other types of employees, such as teachers, doctors, nurses and even Little League coaches, may eventually be scrutinized by the program.”

Standoff At Omni Hotel Ends Peacefully. A man staying at the downtown hotel barricaded himself in a room Saturday afternoon, and allegedly told a friend who brought him a drink that it would be the last time that friend saw the man alive. The friend had noticed a gun in the hotel room, and alerted hotel security. SWAT was called, and streets surrounding the hotel blocked off. Happily, the man was taken into custody without incident.

Jordan Spieth Wins Again. He beat Tom Gillis at the John Deere Classic to go in to The Open in Scotland on an even higher note.

Greg Hardy’s Suspension Reduced To Four Games. The Cowboys’ defensive end had originally been suspended 10 games after the NFL found that choking and smacking his girlfriend was against the league’s personal conduct policy. But now his 10-game sentence has been reduced to four games, equal to the punishment of Tom Brady, who is suspended for deflating some footballs.

Jac Alder’s Memorial Is Tonight. Celebrate the life and work of the late founder of Theatre Three at Dallas City Performance Hall. The parking lot under the building with be free for the event. Doors open at 5:15, and the memorial starts at 6 pm.

Leading Off (7/6/2015)

North Texas Residents Were Really Determined To Blow Stuff Up Saturday. Dallas Fire-Rescue confiscated more than 1,000 pounds of illegal fireworks and put out 45 firework-related fires on July 4th. Meanwhile, a firefighter in Azle was injured in a blaze possibly started fireworks, as well. Luckily, no one here strapped a mortar to his or her head. That would just be completely nuts.

Rick Perry Went On an Independence Day Charm Offensive in New Hampshire. “The candidate had an almost theatrical, hyperactive zeal as he marched with two dozen or so supporters through the streets of Merrimack. He began the parade pantomiming drumming motions, in time with a local marching band several floats ahead. ‘Happy birthday, y’all,’ was his refrain along the parade route. In Perry-speak, women he’s never met before were greeted with a “Hey, girl.’ Men are ‘Hey, man’ and any plurality of voters was ‘Hey, gang!’ He greeted children with fist bumps and an exclamation of ‘Bam!'”

Mavs Sign Free-Agent Center DeAndre Jordan. Apparently, Chandler Parsons attached himself to Jordan’s hip to convince him to pick Dallas. Thanks, Chandler Parsons.

Fort Worth Teen Charged With Making Terroristic Threats. Nineteen-year-old Nicholas Amrine has been in custody since June, after a pastor at Convergence Church in Fort Worth notified police of posts on Amrine’s Facebook page, which apparently warned people not to attend an upcoming church event and shows him posing with a rifle. He threatened a mass shooting “like Columbine.” Amrine was placed in state hospital, but was formally arrested and charged last week.



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Leading Off (6/29/2015)

Two Small Earthquakes In Irving This Weekend. They were tiny (a 2.3 early Saturday morning, a 2.1 early Sunday morning), so you will be forgiven if you did not feel them. In case you were wondering, I could not be more thrilled that my hometown has been officially dubbed “earthquake country.”

Texas AG Ken Paxton Says State County Clerks Who Have “Religious Objections” Can Refuse To Issue Marriage Licenses To Same-Sex Couples. S-i-g-h.

Lewisville’s Deputy Mayor Pro Tem Racks Up Second DWI. Greg Tierney was arrested after driving eastbound on I-35.

Jogger Finds Body in Oak Cliff Alley. The body appears to be of a teenage boy, dead of an apparent gunshot wound. A jogger found him on West Brooklyn Avenue around 7:30 am. He has not yet been identified.

Cowboys May Have Used Drones Illegally. Whoops. Apparently, the team might not have gotten the correct FAA waiver to film practices via drone. It’s cool, though. The Cowboys probably won’t have to pay a fine.

Leading Off: 6/22/2015

Jordan Spieth Wins U.S. Open. That green Masters jacket was not enough for him. He wanted a gigantic trophy, too. Congrats to Dallas’ own.

Thousands Show Up For Surprise $1 Concert at House of Blues. The concert, part of J. Cole’s “Dollar and a Dream” tour, was announced on Twitter around 4 pm, HOB staff announced a sellout around 5:30 pm. The Dallas Police Department shut down the streets around the venue to contain the very determined 2,000+ crowd. So, if, like me, you got stuck in traffic around downtown this evening, now we know who to blame.

Science Continues To Prove Recent Earthquake Activity Is Caused By Fracking. So pesky. Remember the recent SMU study that already reached this conclusion? A new paper from researchers with the University of Colorado and the U.S. Geological Survey was just published in the journal Science (what a coincidence) that further supports SMU’s finding, concluding “that the entire increase in earthquake rates in Texas and nearby states was associated with fluid injection wells.”

Flooded Grapevine Lake Causes Problems. Coppell, Lewisville, Grapevine, and Flower Mound all have plans in place for the evacuation of low-lying areas, as runoff from the lake caused road closures.

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Leading Off (6/15/2015)

Shoot Out At Dallas Police Headquarters. Since it was all over local and national news, I feel like it’s safe to assume you heard about the situation that developed very early Saturday morning. But just in case: Shots were first fired outside the DPD’s headquarters, across from the Southside on Lamar residences, around 12:30 am, which led to a chase and stand off between the suspect and police down the highway in Hutchins. The suspect, James Boulware, was driving an armored vehicle, and police say he appears to have acted alone. Luckily, no officers were injured or killed; Boulware was killed sometime after negotiations for his surrender were cut off. However, Boulware had rigged several explosives near DPD headquarters, which led the evacuation of Southside on Lamar, and police say that Boulware’s van was also rigged. From beginning to end, the confirmed death of the shooter, the ordeal lasted 12 hours. The DPD posted on update on their blog on Sunday regarding the officers involved as well as ongoing issues, like clean up and crime scene processing.

City Council Runoff Race Decides Open Seats. WFAA reports that Casey Thomas won in District 3, beating Joe Tave. In District 7, Tiffinni Young won, beating Kevin Felder. In District 10, Adam McGough beat Paul Reyes. In District 8, Erik Wilson beat Dianne Gibson.

Dallas Could Get A New TV Show. Well, sorta! Some folks down in Austin decided recently that providing incentives for the film and television industry in our state wasn’t a priority, which is insane. However, Dallas is pretty close to enticing a USA show called Queen of the South, based on a hit Telemundo show, to film the show where it’s set: right here. However, the City Council does need to approve a $150,000 “economic incentive,” which would be worth it, since local spending is an estimated $18 million for the first season alone.

Brace Yourselves For More Bad Weather. And for everyone you know to post more annoyed screenshots of the bleakness staring back at them from their phone’s weather app. Storms are brewing.

Leading Off (6/8/2015)

McKinney Police Officer On Leave After Video Of Pool Incident Surfaces. Friday evening, McKinney Police responded to calls from residents and a private security guard about a disturbance at a community pool within the Craig Ranch residential subdivision. A total of 12 officers eventually arrived on the scene, and a video that surfaced later shows officers seemingly targeting only the black teenagers who were at the pool. Corporal Eric Casebolt, the officer in the video who manhandles a 14-year-old girl, shoving her face in to the grass, pulling her hair, and finally sitting on her back to hold her down, is the one of administrative leave. (This is also the same officer who pulls a gun on two black teenage boys, but two other officers stop him, so he goes back to attacking the girl.) Special shout out to the white adult male in the jean shorts who hovers by the cop for the entire thing and says and does absolutely nothing.

Three Pedestrians Killed Early Sunday. The incidents were all unrelated. One was in Northwest Dallas, and Dallas Police have charged  36-year-old Alejandro Hernandez-Vazquez with intoxication manslaughter. Another was in east Oak Cliff, where a woman was found dead after being struck by a car traveling westbound on McVey Avenue. The driver did not stop. Finally, the third was a man who was attempting to stop his car from being towed around 3:50 am. He fell, and was run over by the tow truck.

Bikers Protest in Waco. Nearly 1,000 attended the All For 1 Rally and protest against the Waco Police Department and judges, three weeks after the deadly shootout between rival gangs at Twin Peaks. Of the some 170 bikers arrested, more than 100 are still incarcerated. Supporters and protesters, who remained peaceful, say that most of the bikers behind bars are innocent.

DART Shooter Remains at Large. A gunman shot two fellow passengers late Friday night after one of these people made eye contact with him. Luckily, the two survived.

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Leading Off (5/18/2015)

Trinity River Levels Approach Moderate Flood Stage. The river is expected to rise to 39 feet, thanks to all the drought-mitigating rain we’ve had. Dallas County’s drought officially began five years ago, so this beautiful fullness is something we haven’t seen in awhile. It’s pretty all right.

Biker Brawl In Waco Leaves Nine Dead. The Twin Peaks where Sunday’s deadly altercation went down was known to police as a hangout for rival gangs. As many as 100 weapons were recovered from the scene, and at least five different biker gangs were involved. In addition to the casualties, another 18 people were injured.

George W. Bush Speaks At SMU Commencement. And he made a funny about the presidential prospects of “C” students. But seriously, congrats to all the graduates.

Wrong-Way Crash On I-635 Kills Mother, Injures Two Children. Crystal Nuncio, a 28-year-old mother of two who had worked as a dispatcher for the Garland Police Department for nine years, was driving her kids to a caretaker before her shift Sunday morning when a Tahoe going the wrong way on I-635 slammed into her SUV. She died at the scene; both children, a 10-year-old and a 9-month-old, were taken to the hospital with injuries. The driver of the Tahoe is believed to have been intoxicated.

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