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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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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Leading Off (5/4/2015)

Two Dead After Shots Fired At Anti-Muslim Event In Garland. Every word in that sentence is rotten. The American Freedom Defense Initiative, essentially an anti-Muslim hate group, held a cartoon contest for drawings of the prophet Mohammad, which culminated in the event Sunday. According to CNN, “The group said it specifically picked the venue, a public school-owned facility, because it was host to a event denouncing Islamophobia in January.” Of course. Two men opened fire outside the venue, which is owned by the Garland school district, injuring a Garland ISD officer. Police shot the two gunmen dead. Their names haven’t been released, and because of the shooting, high school students won’t get to take their AP exams as scheduled today.

That Earthquake Sunday Morning Definitely Woke Me Up. I can exclusively report that this one was strong enough to disturb both me and my dishes. The magnitude was 3.2. I love the “guess where the epicenter was” game, so we’ll play that again.

Former Dallas Assistant Police Chief Killed in Corpus Christi. Floyd Simpson, a 25 year Dallas Police Department veteran who worked alongside then-chief David Kunkle before becoming Corpus Christie’s chief of police in 2012, died in a motorcycle accident Sunday evening.

City Councilman Scott Griggs Under Investigation For Coercion of a Public Servant. The case seems a bit dodgy, starting with the dump of this news at the end of the day Friday. City secretary Bilirae Johnson filed a complaint with the Dallas Police Department eight days after the alleged incident occurred. Griggs, allegedly upset about the way a posting about the April 16 Trinity River toll road meeting was or wasn’t handled, is accused of attempting to “stop Complainant Johnson from performing her duties by his use of profanity and threats.” I say “was or wasn’t,” since the agenda for the meeting was posted, per City Hall, before the alleged incident between Johnson and Griggs occurred. Supporters of Griggs say that the investigation is a scare tactic, because Griggs has been such a vocal opponent of the toll road.

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Leading Off (4/13/2015)

Jordan Spieth Wins Masters. The 21-year-old Dallas native finished ahead of Phil Mickelson, Tiger Woods, and Rory McIlroy to nab the green jacket.

Thousands of People Watched Katie The Giraffe Give Birth. It’s a girl. And already six feet tall. Here are some photos of the as-yet-unnamed baby giraffe.

Gas Well Leak Prompts Evacuations in Arlington. Residents were displaced Saturday night while Halliburton-owned Boots & Co. attempted to seal the leak, which had something to do with the “flow back of pressurized fracking water” well into Sunday afternoon.

Major Crash On I-30 Kills Five Early Sunday Morning. It started as a minor accident in Fort Worth. Then an 18-wheeler carrying the Sunday edition of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram wrecked and caught fire. Nine cars and 17 people were involved. Be careful out there.

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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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