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Making Dallas Even Better

Leading Off (2/4/16)

Southwest pilots picket for higher pay. Yesterday, hundreds of Southwest Airlines pilots picketed outside of Love Field to address the fact that they still don’t have a new contract after negotiating for four years. They held signs with “It’s time for a contract” written on them. Negotiations for a new contract will begin again in March.

50 police officers could be added to force. For the coming fiscal year, city council members are informally in favor of adding 50 more cops than the usual 200 added annually. This would add $2.3 million to the budget for next year. Police Chief David Brown noted to the council that, since 2010, his department has lost 200 officers.

Plano man loses thousands in fraud scheme. 88-year-old Plano resident Bob Devinney, a former University of Kansas track star who set a national record in 1952, lost $250,000 in retirement savings due to a Jamaican fraud scheme. The suspects had talked to Devinney on the phone, told him he won the lottery, and over two years asked him to pay insurance and taxes on his “winnings.” Devinney had planned to use his savings to take care of his wife, Sarah, who has Alzheimer’s.

Leading Off (1/28/16)

Southwest airlines pilots to picket at Love Field. This is set to occur next Wednesday, and it will be the first informational picket ever to take place at this Dallas airport. The pilots are not happy that after four years of negotiations for a new contract, when profits have been high, they still don’t have one. First, both the pilot union and airline will meet with federal mediators on February 2 in hopes of reaching a compromise.

Charter school in southern dallas approved. Yesterday, Dallas City Council members approved a controversial new charter school, K-12 Uplift Education. There were protests by DISD folks who say the growing number of southern Dallas charter schools is taking both resources and kids away from the school district. The vote to approve was a narrow 7-6.

SNL‘s Lorne Michaels will speak at Bush Center. On February 27, Lorne Michaels, creator of Saturday Night Live, will be at the George W. Bush Presidential Center, along with the former president and first lady. The evening will center on the show’s longstanding comedic portrayal of the presidency, as it’s become famous for.

Road rage incident leads to fatal shooting of Fort Worth woman. This happened in Arlington. 26-year-old Brittany Daniel was fatally shot yesterday evening while driving east on I-30. A man who was sitting in the back of another car shot her, said a passenger to police, who are still looking for the suspect.

Leading Off (1/26/16)

Shenanigans at Dallas city hall. A city audit found that a bunch of past council members got deep discounts on their city-owned computers and furniture when they left office. As in: “Sheffie Kadane paid $1,080 for $2,895 worth of electronics, including a 2-year-old MacBook Pro and two iPads. Vonciel Jones Hill pocketed her BlackBerry for $25, while Jerry Allen left with an iPad 3; the city auditor doesn’t know much he paid for it, if anything.” Meanwhile, Fox Channel 4 fought for months to get some public records from City Hall and eventually found that several top-ranking city officials have been taking vacation time without accounting for it. This all falls at the feet of City Manager A.C. Gonzalez, who, if he can keep his job for one more year, will leave office with a pension tied to his $400,000-per-year salary.

Bill Brewer Sanctioned for Misconduct. A state judge in Lubbock found that the well-dressed Dallas trial lawyer broke the rules when he used push polling to influence jurors in a West Texas wrongful death case. The judge said what Brewer did was “unprofessional” and “unethical,” and he ordered him to pay $133,000 and take 10 hours of legal ethics courses. I wonder if there’s a comedy legal ethics course that you can take in Dallas. You know, where a moonlighting standup comic cracks wise about the pitfalls of push polling in West Texas wrongful death cases. I think I just came up with a great business idea.

Woman Uses Child as Pickpocket. Addison police posted video of a woman acting as a lookout while her child swiped stuff from a purse in a Snuffer’s. Let’s be careful out there.

Leading Off (1/21/16)

Ethan Couch to return to U.S. soon. Yesterday, his attorneys said they expect Couch to be present at his Tarrant County probation hearing on February 19. They also said Couch’s legal team in Mexico will not attempt to block his return to the U.S. anymore. We’ll find out soon enough if Couch’s case will be transferred from juvenile to adult court.

Gaylord Texan primed for $120 million expansion. The Grapevine hotel’s owner announced yesterday that the planned expansion for the Gaylord Texan will make it the second-largest hotel in Texas and one of the country’s biggest non-gaming convention hotels. 300 guest rooms will be added to the 1,511 rooms currently at the Gaylord.

Dallas seeking new fire-rescue chief. The city will pay search firm Affion Public $24,000 to help Dallas Fire-Rescue continue to search for a new fire chief as Chief Louie Bright III will retire in March. The job will be posted for 30 days.

city streets still bad, says Rawlings. Dallas City Council during a meeting said that 37,656 potholes had been patched on Dallas streets over the past year or so. But Mayor Rawlings didn’t seem to be as content with that as the city council was. Although it was contended that the streets did not get any worse than they had been, Rawlings said that keeping streets in bad condition is not the goal. At least spending on streets will be up in 2016.

Leading Off (1/19/16)

Mavs Beat Celtics in OT. From the Boston Globe: “Celtics forward Jae Crowder stepped to the foul line with 6.7 seconds left in regulation Monday and calmly drained three free throws, improbably sending this game against the Mavericks to overtime. Crowder said he’d had dreams about such a situation. It was his first game here as an opponent, his first since being traded away from a Mavericks team that had used him as little more than a bit player for 2½ seasons. But then the power of Crowder’s Predator-style dreadlocks ponytail failed him in OT, and the Mavs pulled it out 118-113.” I made up one of those sentences.

School Kids in Richardson Possibly Exposed to Measles. From the Morning News: “Collin County Health Care Services sent a letter to parents at Schell Elementary School in Richardson last week, notifying them that the agency was reviewing who might have been exposed. … Jawaid Asghar, the agency’s chief epidemiologist, told the Dallas Morning News on Monday that the child had not been vaccinated. Asghar added, ‘You people in Collin County who rely on prayer instead of vaccines confuse me.’” I’m sorry. I made up one of those sentences, too.

Ethan Couch’s Probation Hearing Is Today. From Fox Channel 4: “Affluenza teen Ethan Couch remains in a holding facility in Mexico fighting deportation. Whether part of a strategy or not, he will miss a court hearing during which the Tarrant County district attorney will ask to have his case moved from the juvenile system to the adult courts. The district attorney will also ask that Couch be forced to shave that ridiculous goatee.” Now the gag has worn thin. I know. The laws of comedy suggest that it would get funny again if I posted four more items. But right now I have to go walk my dog. Have a good Tuesday.

Leading Off (1/14/16)

Powerball winners in California, Florida, and Tennessee. Sad news for everyone who bought tickets—for the biggest jackpot in world lottery history—in Texas. The winning ticket in California was sold at a 7-Eleven in Chino Hills. Better luck next time, Dallas.

Charter school vote delayed. Yesterday, Dallas City Council members decided to wait another two weeks before voting on whether to approve a new charter school in southern Dallas. Some are concerned that it would take funding and students away from DISD.

$2.4 million granted to redevelop Southwest Center Mall. The City Council did make a decision yesterday, however, and that is to give $2.4 million to aid in the revamping of Southwest Center Mall in the city’s Red Bird neighborhood. Mall owner Peter Brodsky will need to spend $15 million on the mall’s facelift by 2019.

CEO of North Texas Commission moving to H-E-B and Central Market. Mabrie Jackson, president and CEO of the North Texas Commission, will make the switch to North Texas public affairs and community outreach for H-E-B and Central Market on March 1. Perhaps H-E-B is ready to open stores in the Dallas area.

Leading Off (1/7/16)

State trooper indicted for perjury regarding arrest of Sandra Bland. Sandra Bland was arrested in July of last year during a traffic stop in Prairie View and was later found hanged in her Waller County jail cell. Brian Encinia, the Texas state trooper who arrested her, was indicted yesterday for perjury and will be fired. The grand jury believed Encinia issued a false statement as to why he made Bland get out of her car during the stop.

City Council considers pilot program for giving tickets for marijuana possession. Pretty soon, people in Dallas who are caught with four ounces or less of marijuana could be ticketed instead of arrested. Council members see the potential policy change as time-saving, as it would allow police to concentrate more on violent crimes. They also said it would be more in line with the national movement to legalize marijuana. The ticket would still include a court date, where a judge would ultimately make a decision. City council members will vote on the pilot program at an upcoming meeting.

Ethan Couch’s dog missing in Mexico. “Affluenza” teen Ethan Couch and his mother, Tonya Couch, may have been caught by police, but their dog, Virgil, is still missing in action. The Puerto Vallarta SPCA posted a missing-dog notice. Hopefully Virgil is found safe and sound.

Three hospitalized after Lewisville Starbucks crash. A car crashed into a Starbucks in Lewisville yesterday, and three people were taken to hospitals. A Subaru ran a red light, crashed into two other cars, and went through a window of the coffee shop, injuring three patrons.

Leading Off (12/31/15)

Tonya couch returned to U.S. without Ethan. Tonya Couch, the mother of “Affluenza” teen Ethan Couch, is back in the U.S. after being deported from Mexico, without her son, who remains in holding in Guadalajara. Meanwhile, Ethan’s attorneys submitted paperwork to block his deportation, and that process could take weeks or months to resolve. Even so, fleeing to Mexico probably won’t earn Ethan more than 120 days in jail.

This year was wettest on record for Texas. Average statewide rainfall for 2015 has amounted to 41.39 inches. Dallas-Fort Worth alone, however, has received 62.61 inches this year. And drought isn’t predicted until 2017.

North texas tornadoes totaled 12. The National Weather Service increased the number of tornadoes that touched down last weekend to 12. This brings the total to 76 tornadoes for 2015 in D-FW, a record for North Texas since tornado records began in 1950.

Happy new year’s eve! Get ready for 2016!

Leading Off (12/28/15)

Storm Rips Through North Texas. All hell broke loose over the weekend, and the DMN has done a great job covering it. The National Weather Service says 11 tornadoes touched down in the area. The one in Garland was an EF4, with winds up to 200 mph. Read these harrowing tales from survivors, including one couple who saw a riding lawn mower fly past them before their pickup was lifted off the road by a tornado. Read this heartbreaking story about a man who was talking to his wife on the phone when her Yukon was blown off an overpass, killing her. Then check out this interactive map that shows the path of destruction. Here’s how you can help some of the people whose lives have been upended.

Cowboys Lose to Bills. From the Buffalo News’ Jay Skurski: “The Buffalo Bills owe the Dallas Cowboys’ coach a belated Christmas gift for his painfully conservative coaching Sunday at Ralph Wilson Stadium. Three times — count ’em, three — Garrett punted inside Buffalo territory. In a game that was meaningless to both teams. Those decisions played a huge part in costing Dallas the game.”

Leading Off (12/17/15)

DART discusses new downtown line today. Two public meetings today will be held to talk about the second downtown Dallas light-rail route. Which path the route will take is still up in the air: Dallas City Council and the DART board prefer one along Jackson Street as opposed to another proposed route along Young Street. Wood Street is a third option. May the best light-rail route win.

Former Oak Cliff teacher accused of assaulting 7-year-old girl. 65-year-old John Graham Leddy, a former Oak Cliff charter school teacher, was arrested by DPD on the charge of sexually assaulting a girl, 7 at the time, earlier this year. Leddy, who taught bilingual classes at Life School, confessed to the abuse. He met the girl while tutoring her 10-year-old brother after school and assaulted her in different classrooms after bribing her with candy bars. Absolutely vile.

New arts district tower in the works. Lincoln Property is breaking ground on an office high-rise, 25 stories tall, at the corner of Woodall Rogers and Pearl, right next to the Meyerson. It will be 260,000 square feet of metal and glass and is set to open in 18 months. The building will include restaurants, retail areas, and a whole lot of office space—another ironic addition to the Arts District.

Salvation Army receives 95 silver dollars, or $1,400. A Salvation Army red kettle outside a Mansfield Kroger got a larger-than-usual donation this week. Between two trips, a woman gave 95 silver dollars, the equivalent of $1,400, to the outpost. She told the bell ringer that the dollars were part of her husband’s estate. When compared to the Salvation Army’s average net of $300 a day per red kettle, this was a particularly generous gift that will go toward giving Christmas items to those in need.

Leading Off (12/15/15)

City of Lewisville Responds to Dam Story. Having read the dam story, Lewisville says, “According to information provided to the city, there is no immediate threat of failure … .” This is in response to what the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers says, which is that the dam is “almost certain to fail under normal operations … within a few years without intervention.” Got that? Clear? Feel safe?

Allen Eagles’ Loss Helps Needy. The football team from Allen had won 57 games straight. Austin Westlake ended that streak Friday. To commemorate all those wins, folks in Allen are now donating $57 to Allen Community Outreach. Solid.

Hat-Wearing Man Robs Garland Starbucks. I otherwise would not bring this story to your attention. A dude robs a Garland Starbucks. So what? Except that the story comes with this note: “Updated to reflect the proper name of the hat.” Apparently the hat was originally referred to as a fedora, then updated to trilby. According to this site: “Know the difference. Stop lumping in the hat of awesome (IE private detectives and Indiana Jones) with the hat of douchebaggery (IE Men’s Rights Activists).” I’m sure the robber agrees.

Suspected Child Predator Arrested. Tyler Anthony Gale was a sanitation worker for the City of Mesquite. Police say he exposed himself to school-aged girls on at least four occasions between May and December. He’s also facing a kidnapping charge for trying to grab a girl. Good work, DPD.

Leading Off (12/10/15)

Lawsuit to remove Susan Hawk will move forward. Ellis County’s county and district attorney, Patrick Wilson, will continue to pursue the suit to remove Dallas DA Susan Hawk. Instead of deciding to drop the case, Wilson says he will file paperwork this week asking a judge to serve Hawk with the lawsuit. Hawk also said this week that she would like to be re-elected in 2018.

20 million-gallon reservoir in Preston Hollow to be replaced. The 60-year-old Walcrest pump station and 20 million-gallon reservoir at the northeast corner of Walnut Hill and Hillcrest, next to Hillcrest High School, will be replaced by Dallas Water Utilities. It’s a $36 million project that will hopefully be completed in 2019. Until then, expect lane closures and more traffic.

Almost 1,000 immigrant children from Central America will be housed in Rockwall and Ellis counties. This will begin today. A retreat center in Rockwall County will house 300 children, while a church camp in Ellis County will take in 200-500 or more kids, ages 12 to 18. There has been a surge of children housed close to the U.S.-Mexico border, so this will help alleviate that. The children will be staying here from three weeks to two months.

Wonder why Dallas trees are so colorful this fall? You can thank the recent weather trend of chilly nights and warm, sunny days. But this may not last much longer if temperatures dip lower this weekend, so go enjoy it while you can.

Leading Off (12/8/15)

Dallas beats Washington. It was a boring game for the first 55 minutes. Defensive coordinator Rodney Marinelli, using his transition lens glasses and a stout defense, led his guys to hold the team from D.C. to just three field goals. The team from D.C. did the same to the Cowboys. Then DeSean Jackson gave the game away to Dallas. Then he took it back, tying it with just 44 seconds remaining. A whole bunch of stuff happened really quickly. (Side note: with 21 seconds remaining and the game tied, and with Dallas driving for the game-winning field goal, my wife walked into the room and asked my son and me: “Are you guys going stay up awhile?”) Anyway, Dan Baily kicked a 54-yarder to win the thing. It turned out to be what Washington Post columnist Jerry Brewer called the “weirdest, wackiest bad game turned good turned devastating.” Our hope is kept alive, surely to be crushed in due time, just like Romo’s clavicle.

Man Dies After Falling Through Ceiling While Getting Holiday Decorations. Think Chevy Chase in Christmas Vacation, only there’s no bunk bed to catch you. This accident in Highland Village is sad. Ladders, lights, trees, roofs — let’s be careful with all of it, people.

South Oak Cliff Students Protest Disrepair of Their School. About 250 students walked out of school in an effort to draw attention to the sad state of the building where they attend class. Good for them. Now that the $1.6 billion bond has passed, it’s the perfect time to put pressure on the administration to get repairs under way.

The Syrians Are Coming! Despite Governor Greg Abbott’s goofy xenophobia, it looks like a Syrian family of six has moved into a Northeast Dallas apartment complex. I think I speak for not nearly everyone when I say, “Welcome to North Texas, y’all.”

Leading Off (12/3/15)

Ahmad family’s home burglarized soon after moving to Dallas. Having moved here from Afghanistan weeks ago, the Ahmad family finally felt safe from the Taliban. Their sense of safety was short-lived, however, as their northeast Dallas apartment was broken into Tuesday and their savings stolen, among other things. The father, Mukhtar Ahmad, had worked in Afghanistan as a security guard and translator for the U.S. Army. It took them two years to get a special visa to move to the U.S. DFW International Community Alliance is asking for donations to help the Ahmad family.

Middle School student held over social media threat wanted to expand follower base. Earlier this week, a girl posted a photo of a gun-toting man on Instagram because she wanted more followers. The photo was accompanied by a threat against T.W. Browne Middle School, where the girl went to school. She faces a third-degree felony charge of a terror threat and, if convicted, could face up to 10 years in prison. Is it just me, or does this not seem like the best way to gain Insta-fame.

Woman arrested in Oak Cliff bank robberies. Remember the four Oak Cliff bank robberies that happened in October and November? 48-year-old Glenda Hendrix was arrested Tuesday by police and the FBI for the robberies. She is now waiting for federal authorities to take her to her arraignment. I think that does it as far as crime for today.