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Leading Off (3/25/15)

Investigation Alleges “Reverse Robin Hood” Scheme at DISD: An investigation has revealed large discrepancies in per-student spending within DISD, suggesting that the district is reallocating funds — upwards of $70 million — intended for underprivileged students and spending them on pet projects and magnet schools. Expect a formal complaint filed with the U.S. Department of Education as soon as today. DISD has released an official response: “hogwash.”

Mother of Slain Basketball Star Sues DISD: Not a great day for the district. The mother of Troy Causey, the 18-year-old South Oak Cliff High basketball star who was beaten to death by teammates a year ago, has filed a wrongful death suit against DISD Superintendent Mike Miles and Terry Smith, head of Dallas County’s Juvenile Department. The suit accuses DISD officials of questionable athletic recruitment practices, including recruiting Causey out of juvenile detention and placing him in a special residence within South Oak Cliff’s attendance zone.

Is Dallas DA “Unstable” and “Overly Suspicious”?: We played a quick game in the office yesterday: power rank all the district attorneys in Dallas history. The department doesn’t exactly have a stellar history, and Susan Hawk looks more and more to fit the profile.

Highland Park High’s Racist Chant Leader Unveils Strategy Aimed at Salvaging His Ruined Name, Reputation: Levi Pettit, the Highland Park High School graduate who was captured in video leading racist fraternity chants in Oklahoma, will now attempt to become “a lifelong advocate for the African American community.”

AT&T Continues to Make Dallas’ Job Growth Look Great: The corporation looks to add 500 new positions throughout the region.

Texas Leg Silly Bill of the Day: Guns! We need to be able to carry them everywhere!

Paranoid Irving Mayor Follows Flapping Mouth to Promised Land of the Blow Hards: Beth Van Duyne has some hot sports opinions about religious communities in her city, and so, of course, Fox News comes calling.

Social Media Threats Responsible for More Public Dollars Spent Protecting Against Filter-less Crazies: It used to be that people would sit at a bar and say stupid things to their friends about stuff they didn’t like. Now they put it on Facebook, and as a result, security earns overtime for running extra details protecting people like Dallas Rep. Jason Villalba, the state legislature who introduced a bill that would make filming police all-but illegal.

Three North Texas Military Members on Creepy ISIS “Hit List”: Names, photos, and addresses of three North Texas members of the military personal surfaced on a website that asks sympathizers to target and kill 100 enemies of the so-called Islamic State.

Dallas Potholes Now So Big They Can Swallow Cars: Dear Dallas City Council: Quit talking toll roads, and fix our freaking streets already.

If You Like the Weather in Texas: Wait ten minutes.

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Leading Off (3/23/2015)

Ted Cruz Is Officially Running For President. After majorly spoiler alert-ing this announcement on every single news organization and social media platform known to man, including Yahoo Groups, Sen. Ted Cruz will make the actual announcement today, though not from Texas. He’ll do it from Liberty University in Virginia. He’s the first GOP candidate to jump in.

Yoga Does Not Work For Everyone. As Nancy Duarte evidently found when she misplaced her zen and tried to burn down Sunstone Yoga on Mockingbird Lane Saturday night.  The studio suffered minimal damage.  Per the Morning News, “a witness, Phineas Bennett-Lovari, said the woman was lighting matches and pieces of paper and throwing them into the air, yelling, ‘I’m going to burn this [expletive] down. I don’t care if I go to jail.'” Duarte was arrested and charged with arson.

Arlington Might Get An MGM Grand Hotel. The city would not confirm, but sources told the Star-Telegram that a “convention-class” hotel with at least 750 rooms was in the works for a site near Globe Life Park.

Uptown Definitely Getting A Dream Hotel. Dallas is one a few cities with Dream Hotels in the works, as the boutique brand is adding six new properties. It will be on McKinney Ave. near Bowen Street. The plans were delayed while developers worked with residents to address parking and noise concerns.

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Leading Off (3/16/2015)

Ponies Headed to NCAA Tournament. SMU beat UConn to clinch a spot. Thanks, Larry Brown. Yay, sports.

Pedestrian Killed In Hit-And-Run in Lake Highlands. David Benton, 55, was killed crossing the street at Skillman and Walnut Hill Lane Sunday morning when he was struck by a vehicle. The driver, identified as Angel Lopez-Gil, kept going, dragging Benton’s body, and then parked his damaged vehicle and fled on foot. A witness to the accident followed him, and police were able to make the arrest a few blocks away.

Pedestrian Killed By TRE In Irving. This was not a good weekend, you guys. Apparently, a woman ventured on to the tracks Saturday afternoon while the crossing gate arms were still down and was waiting for a westbound freight train to pass while walking south on Nursery Road. She did not see the TRE coming from the east.

Teenager Arrested In Death Of Iraqi Immigrant. Nykerion Nealon, 17, was arrested Friday in connection with the death of Ahmed Al-Jumaili, the Iraqi immigrant who was murdered while he was taking pictures of the snow. Police say that it was not a hate crime—Nealon was allegedly looking for a person who he claimed shot at his girlfriend’s apartment 30 minutes before when he randomly came across Al-Jumaili and his family while carrying an assault rifle. Why does a 17-year-old even have access to an assault rifle? This is insane.

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Leading Off (3/2/2015)

Nina Pham Is Suing Texas Health Resources. As if you could forget, Pham is the Presby nurse who was among those who treated Ebola patient Thomas Eric Duncan, and then contracted Ebola herself. She announced her intent to file a suit today against Presby’s parent company, Texas Health Resources, on Saturday in a Dallas Morning News story complete with lots of photos of Pham and her adorable Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, Bentley. The suit alleges negligence on the part of the hospital—a failure to develop policies, train staff, and provide proper protective equipment—as well as invasions of privacy.

This Weather Is Unpleasant. On Saturday, two people were killed and a third injured when their SUV slid off an icy I-30 overpass in Fort Worth and into a creek. Despite one nearly 70-degree day, there will be more danger-making sleet and storms this week, so do be careful.

Lucky Dog Books Will Vacate Davis Street Storefront. Another one bites the dust, ish. Owner John Tilton, who was unable to keep up with his rent and had been partially paying for months, mentions that he is looking at other possibilities in Oak Cliff. He and his wife have another Lucky Dog in East Dallas. A new Common Desk, the co-working space, will move into the space.

Toyota Is Polling Its Employees To See How They Feel About Moving To North Texas. The process will last a year, and “the surveys won’t specifically ask employees in California, Kentucky and New York to commit to the move.” The first one to respond with this should get a raise, probably.

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Leading Off (2/23/2015)

North Texas Braced For A Taste Of East Coast Misery. Dallas ISD and many others are closed. DFW Airport has preemptively cancelled flights. Road crews have been out since 6 pm last night. Sleet forecasts have increased. Everybody stay safe.

DISD Over-Hires General Education Teachers, Causes Internal Panic. DISD started the school year off back in August with just 16 vacancies, something superintendent Mike Miles hailed as a triumph. Then, in October, executives, in a move that sounds just a tad like a usually trustworthy teenager asking to spend the night at a friend’s house in order to go to a party when they know it’s against the rules even though nothing bad will happen, asked the board to approve another $6.4 million to pay for 165 more school positions that included 137 more teachers. The reason they gave was unexpected student enrollment. Turns out, according to a pile of instant messages obtained by the News from September, DISD had actually hired too many teachers with general education certificates who couldn’t teach subjects like math, science, or a foreign language. Now the question is, was the board misled? My prediction is locked in Neil Patrick Harris’ briefcase.

New Maverick Amar’e Stoudemire Makes Impressive Debut. He scored 14 points in 11 minutes during Sunday night’s game. And the Mavs won, 92-81.

American Sniper Wins One Oscar. It was for sound editing. Taya Kyle was in attendance.

PSA: There’s A Chuck Jones Exhibit At The Fort Worth Museum Of Science And History. I caught this fantastic traveling exhibit when it was at the Museum of the Moving Image in Astoria. I only just realized that it had traveled here. If ever in your life you derived joy from Bugs Bunny or Daffy or Roadrunner or Elmer Fudd, you must go. It’s a really wonderful look into Jones’ mind and talent.

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Leading Off (2/16/2015)

Fatal Shooting On Lower Greenville. Orlando Pulido, 26, was shot multiple times early Sunday morning in the parking lot behind OT Tavern. The suspect is still at large.

Dirk Dunks. During the All-Star Game. It is adorable.

So-Called “Evening Burglar” Caught. Remember that rash of burglaries, committed by a particularly speedy thief (or thieves) that spread from Plano to Allen to Dallas? Police caught two suspects in the act Friday, you guessed it, evening. Now that the important news has been dispensed with, I would like to point out that this criminal nickname lacks panache. That said, good inter-agency police work!

Dallas Stars’ Tyler Seguin Injured. The team’s leading scorer will be out three to six weeks after taking a hit to the knee during Friday’s game against Florida. This is not great news for the Stars’ playoff hopes. Meanwhile, two other players, Ales Hemsky and Patrick Eaves, were also injured. Eaves got hit in the cheek with a puck. Yee-ouch.

The News Creates Open Records Request Website. This is interesting. The DMN‘s latest project is aimed at helping the public make and track open records requests to state agencies subject to the Texas Public Information Act.

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Leading Off (2/9/2015)

DPD Officer Dies In Apparent Murder-Suicide. The officer’s name was Larry Tuttle. A police statement indicates that a woman, who is still unnamed, shot him, then herself. A six-year-old child was seen exiting the apartment where the bodies were found, making this story entirely tragic.

St. Vincent Wins a Grammy. Since y’all don’t live under rocks, you know that St. Vincent, aka Annie Clark, is a musician who grew up in Dallas. She was once a member of the Polyphonic Spree. And Sunday night, she won the Grammy for Best Alternative Music Album  for her self-titled album, produced and recorded here by John Congleton. Could not be happier about this.

Prime Prep No Longer Exists, But Problems Persist. After the Jan. 30 closing of its campuses, parents have scrambled to enroll their children elsewhere. But thanks to Prime Prep’s lousy record keeping, many students are showing up at other schools with incomplete or outdated files. This means more testing for these affected students in order to determine where they should be placed. Plus, there’s the whole mystery of the missing computers, massive debt, several lawsuits, and a TEA investigation.

Klyde Warren Park Mega-Fundraisers Honored. Sheila and Jody Grant, who were a driving force behind the park over Woodall Rodgers from the beginning, will receive the Linz Award in April. Now in its 86th year, the award is “given annually to a Dallas County resident in honor of civic service or humanitarian efforts.”

 

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Leading Off (1/26/2015)

Twitter Bomb Threats: Textbook Definition Of Not Awesome. This weekend, some monster (or monsters) decided to make air travel even more of a nightmare by tweeting a bomb threat at an airline carrier. This caused Delta flight 1061 from Los Angeles to Orlando to be diverted to DFW Airport Sunday afternoon, where it was grounded and evacuated. Two other planes, a JetBlue and a SkyWest, were evacuated in Seattle.

Filing For Local Elections Starts Wednesday. Three board seats are up for election in DISD, including the one held by Elizabeth Jones, the subject of a bi-weekly “what in the world is this lady talking about” series over on Learning Curve.

Money For Earthquake Research? The Lege is considering it, per the Texas Tribune. It’s an item in Speaker Joe Straus’ budget proposal—$2.5 million for a seismic monitoring program.

A Significant Play For Dallas Theater Center Opens Friday. Yes, I am using this space to plug a thing I did for the January issue. But I have a couple good reasons. The official opening of Stagger Lee, written by SMU Meadows Prize recipient and DTC playwright-in-residence Will Power, is the Center’s first fully self-produced premiere of a new musical. It’s also huge—an 18 person cast. Overall, it’s a big investment for the DTC, and it redoubles a commitment to new work, to diversity, and to an ongoing conversation about race in this country. I sat in on a rehearsal, and some of the music I heard gave me chills. I interviewed Power, who is fascinating and talks a mile a minute. And check out KERA’s big interactive piece on the making of the show. Impressive stuff.

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Leading Off (1/19/2015)

Muslim Conference In Garland Draws Protesters. The conference, held at a facility operated by Garland ISD, was put on by Sound Vision, a Chicago-based Islamic organization. Per NBC, it was met by thousands of protesters and counter-protesters. The title of the conference was “Stand With the Prophet Against Terror and Hate.” Meanwhile, the prize for Most Predictable Use of Craft Supplies went to the white lady in the hideous sweater with the “Go Home and Take Obama With You” sign.

Dallas Safari Club Will No Longer Auction Off The Chance To Kill An African Elephant. The donor of the hunt withdrew the gift to the club, and therefore, murdering one of this planet’s largest animals for fun is off the table. However! You can still try for the chance to spend 14 expensive days in Mozambique attempting to kill an adult male leopard.

A Painful Cinematic Pun Happened In The Headline Of This Article. Also, the Lakewood Theater might become an Alamo Drafthouse. Alamo Drafthouses in Dallas are basically useless to me unless Rob Thomas promises to bring the cast of his next TV project, whatever that is, to one, so I have no opinion on this tidbit.

Another Earthquake in Irving. Speaking of places with an Alamo Drafthouse, there was one of those little earth wigglers on Saturday. A 2.2. How cute.

American Sniper Is Breaking MLK Weekend Box Office Records. The movie, which is based on Texas sniper Chris Kyle’s memoir and has inspired mostly ambivalent-to-blistering reviews, has made more than $90 million in its first weekend in wide release. That’s a lot for an R-rated drama, and a lot for a movie set in Iraq or Afghanistan. It’s also a lot for a Clint Eastwood film, believe it or not. I haven’t seen it, but I have read Michael Mooney’s story about the man. Anyway, happy Martin Luther King Jr. Day, everybody. I think I’ll go see Selma.

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Leading Off (1/12/2015)

I Am Really Super Sorry, Cowboys Fans. This catch-not-a-catch thing is…infuriating. Until next season.

Former Mavericks Center Roy Tarpley Dies. He was 50. No cause of death was listed by the medical examiner, according to reports.

Everyone Wants To Make Sure Their Homeowners Insurance Covers Earthquakes. Not a terrible idea, I guess, since while I was very busy tuning in to the Golden Globes, I felt yet another one. It registered a 2.5. Probably the ghost of Texas Stadium is just extra-mad about the Cowboys loss.

Boy Injured in 2009 DWI Case Dies. This one was already a sad case. Abdallah Khader, 8, was in a near vegetative state for almost six years. The driver of the vehicle that struck the car Khadar was riding in, Stewart Richardson, is a repeat offender and, per WFAA, holds the  distinction of waiting for trial in a Tarrant County jail longer than any other currently-incarcerated inmate.

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Leading Off (12/15/2014)

Female Marathon Winner Doesn’t Get to Break Her Own Tape. Shitaye Gemechu of Ethiopia lead the whole 26.2 miles, and then she got passed up by a relay runner who mistakenly crossed the finish line meant for Gemechu. Gemechu’s time was 2:46:46—20 minutes under her personal best. The female runner-up was 22-year-old Jessica Harper from Southlake, and Sunday marked her first marathon.  The overall winner was Kimutai Cheruiyot, with a time of 2:17:10.

4-Year-Old Boy Missing After Mother Killed. Maria Isabel Romero Medina, 27, was found dead in the Denton insurance office where she worked Saturday night. An Amber Alert was issued for her son, and police are looking for the boy’s father, Ricardo Lara Martinez, in connection with his abduction as well as her death.

Tyson Chandler Rejects a Shoe. I’m going to attempt to write something else sports-related without royally screwing it up. Golden State Warrior Marreese Speights lost his shoe near the end of the third quarter. Teammate Stephen Curry tried to toss it to him. Tyson Chandler whacked the shoe out of bounds. 

Man Last Seen With Christina Morris Arrested. If you remember, Christina Morris is the young woman who disappeared from the Shops at Legacy on August 30. She was last seen walking in the parking lot with a man in the wee hours of the morning. That man was later identified as Enrique Arochi, who was arrested by Plano police Friday and charged with aggravated kidnapping, in part due to DNA samples collected earlier in the investigation. Previously, he has maintained he did not know where Morris went after they parted ways. There is still no sign of Morris.

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Leading Off (12/8/2014)

Jordan Spieth Wins at Isleworth. Spieth, who is 21, dominated the Tiger Woods-hosted Hero World Challenge. He won by a record-setting 10 strokes. 9:37 Update: Look, if there’s a sport I know less about than football, it’s golf.

How is the US Airways/American Airlines Merger Going? Very well, according to CEO Doug Parker, one year later. However, milestones for 2015 include the pesky merger of frequent flier programs, as well as booking systems.

Three Families Robbed at Gunpoint in One Night. This all happened on Saturday evening in Allen, within a little over an hour. Police are also investigating a fourth home invasion Friday night in Coppell that played out similarly. The families were tied up and held at gun point by one of the robbers, while others searched the house for money and valuables.

No College Football Playoffs For TCU. Or Baylor. The two schools end regular season play as the Big 12 co-champions. I am gathering that people are upset about a few things here.

Two Charged With Murder of Fort Worth Woman. I mentioned this story last week. Ashlea Harris was found dead in her burning Fort Worth apartment building after working a late shift at Hulen Mall on Black Friday. Two men have been arrested for her murder. These two men were also arrested in connection with an $18,000 theft from the American Eagle store where Harris worked.

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Leading Off (12/1/2014)

Dallas Police Officer Arrested in Highland Park. For allegedly driving drunk and then attempting to flee on foot.

Man Shot By Dallas Police Officer Suing for $10 Million. In other, not-so-flattering news for the DPD, Kelvion Walker, the unarmed man shot by then Senior Corporal Amy Wilburn late last year, has amended his lawsuit against the city to ask for at least $10 million. His lawyers say that depositions from high-ranking officials, including Chief David Brown, support their claim that Wilburn, who has since been fired and indicted on a felony charge, acted wrongly.

Woman Found Dead in North Dallas Apartment. The 20-year-old woman, Erika Mong, did not show up for Thanksgiving dinner with her family, and was later found dead of an apparent gunshot wound. The police have not yet released a description of a suspect.

Woman Found Dead in Fort Worth Apartment. Sorry for the repetition, but this was a sad holiday weekend, especially for these women and their families. In this instance, police were alerted to the apartment because it was on fire, a fire that was kept small by a sprinkler system. Fort Worth Police have said that she did “not die of natural causes.” The victim, Ashlea Harris, had worked until 3 am at Hulen Mall for Black Friday before returning home.

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Leading Off (11/24/2015)

Governor-Elect Promises Lawsuit Over Immigration Action. On behalf of all Texans, Greg Abbott will probably sue the Obama administration for his executive order lifting the threat of deportation for millions of immigrants living in the United States illegally. This is not new territory for Abbott, since he’s sued President Obama some 30 times in his previous life as Texas attorney general.

Two Earthquakes in Two Days. On Saturday, a 3.3 magnitude earthquake registered near the site of the old Texas Stadium. On Sunday, a 2.5 magnitude earthquake occurred south of Highway 183 beneath Loop 12. It’s too bad we don’t have any idea what might be causing these quakes, since there have been seven in the last two months.

After Crash Kills Five Family Members, Terrell Teen’s Ticket Dismissed. This sad story, first mentioned in this forum last week, does not get too much better. However, the teenage driver, a 16-year-old boy who apparently fell asleep at wheel of the family’s SUV while en route to Florida for a vacation, was originally ticketed for careless driving. The crash killed five of his relatives. The judge dismissed the misdemeanor charge, saying that the boy had been punished enough, and there was no need to add to his pain.

Cowboys Coach and Governor Chris Christie Make Friends. This photo of New Jersey governor Chris Christie and Cowboys coach Jason Garrett is great. Garrett might be smiling, or laughing—I can only tell so much from the crinkled eyes. Could this be Christie’s “lose or I’ll engineer a monster traffic jam and trap you here forever” face? The world may never know. Anyway, the Cowboys beat the Giants. I am pleased.

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Leading Off (11/17/2014)

What Was That White Stuff, It’s Not Even Thanksgiving. It snowed, as per a particularly on-the-ball weather report, but it did not stick. More important, here is a photo of Delkus, conducting the flurries.

Temperature Drop Means More Rescued Cats. Aw. Even though my recent brush with cat ownership was like tugging impatiently at the devil’s coattails, this absolutely does not mean that these kitties are not deserving of warm homes. $15 adoptions will hopefully help.

Top Perry Advisor Has Three Alcohol-Related Offenses. Governor Perry’s office says it knew about Wayne Roberts’ record, which includes DWIs in 1990 and 2006, as well as a public intoxication charge in 2000. This is all the more relevant, however, since Perry is facing charges after attempting to force Travis County District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg to resign after her 2013 DWI arrest.

Memorial Held For Thomas Eric Duncan. The service, held Saturday evening, was private, and took place more than a month after Duncan died of Ebola at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital.

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