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Making Dallas Even Better

The Real ‘Dallas Way’: Illogical, Absurdist Thinking

Here’s a pretty efficient summary of why the Trinity River Project is completely bonkers via DMN architecture critic Mark Lamster.

Only in Dallas would you design a highway in a park, and only in Dallas would you design a highway in a park before designing the park itself. Or even developing a general concept of that park, much less creating an authority that might actually be charged with building and paying for it.

No wonder, then, that we have a project that has been meandering along for the better part of two decades with no tangible result beyond an endless series of conflicting reports, studies, and briefing documents.

As I mentioned yesterday, other places don’t think like this. The Dallas Way of doing things has been alternatively described as bold thinking bolstered by a relentlessly entrepreneurial can-do spirit or — as Ambassador Ron Kirk recently put it — inefficiency brought on by endless bickering between  interest groups. But the reality is “the Dallas Way” describes a city so mired in the overreach of private interests and a city government set up to cater to those interests that it produces plainly and absurdly dysfunctional thinking.

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Poll: What Will Happen to the Trinity River Project?

Following yesterday’s presentation of the Trinity Parkway Advisory Committee to the Dallas City Council Transportation & Trinity River Project Committee, which way do you now think the wind is blowing on the proposal that we’re all so sick of talking about: wedging a toll road and a park along the river?

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As Mayor Seeks Public Input on Trinity Road, It Is Time for the Project to Truly Evolve

The Dallas City Council’s transportation committee just wound up its briefing on the now-vetted plans put forth by the mayor’s so-called “Dream Team” of urban designers to rethink the Trinity Toll Road. There’s much to sort through in the back-and-forth conversation that unfolded this morning between council members, city staff, and the members of an oversight committee that was appointed to review the early technical adaptations of the conceptual plans for the road. I won’t get into all of it in too much detail here, but here are the key takeaways from my perspective.

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Dallas’ Free-Housing Solution to Aiding the Chronically Homeless

Yesterday the Guardian wrote about the Cottages at Hickory Crossing, a development of 50 units of permanent supportive housing set to open in April. They’re being built by nonprofit CitySquare on a patch of land right about where interstates 30 and 45 meet.

The project is a housing-first approach to dealing with chronically homeless people who cost the county considerable money when they end up regularly at Parkland or in jail. By providing these people homes, as well as services to treat mental health issues, the hope is that both these residents and the county come out ahead:

The process of selecting tenants is under way. It began by identifying the 300 most expensive homeless people in the county, based on their cost to city services such as the health and prison systems.

“We will have 50 of the most expensive homeless persons. The average cost per person on this list of 300 to the county alone, not counting the city or nonprofit organisations, is over $40,000 a year to stay outside. We’re going to provide a gated community with security, seven day a week mental health services, really good housing – platinum LEED certified – every house has a bedroom scaled to queen-sized furniture, a living room, kitchen and a bath, a nice front porch. Less than $15,000 a year is what it costs to provide that kind of housing,” [Larry James, CitySquare CEO] says.

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Leading Off (3/18/16)

Van Cliburn Winner’s Daughters Killed. A 5-year-old girl and 1-year-old girl were found dead, and their mother found stabbed several times, at a home in Benbrook on Thursday. The children’s father is Vadym Kholodenko, who won the prestigious Van Cliburn International Piano Competition in 2013. As of late last night, police were still waiting to speak with the mother, who was taken to John Peter Smith Hospital in Fort Worth, where she underwent surgery. Kholodenko and wife Sofia Tsygankova were in the process of divorcing and had not lived together as a couple since August. Kholodenko was scheduled to perform three shows with the Fort Worth Symphony this weekend. Police said they have not yet determined a suspect and that there were no signs of forced entry to the home.

McKinney to Vote on 12,000-Seat Stadium. The McKinney ISD board approved a $220 million bond proposition that will appear on the ballot May 7. The big-ticket item ($50.3 million) is a new football venue and events center near Central Expressway and State Highway 121.

Phil Romano, Emmitt Smith Lose Money in Bankrupt Company. The Dallas restaurateur and Dallas Cowboys legend are reportedly among the investors holding soon-to-be worthless shares of medical device company Palmaz Scientific, which hasn’t commercialized any of its technology.

Hail Kills 8 Birds at Fort Worth Zoo. Thursday morning’s storms claimed the lives of five flamingos, a pelican, an ibis and a swan chick.

Leading Off (3/11/16)

Elephants Arrive in Dallas. Just 17 pachyderms will be coming to America from Swaziland. Dallas Zoo officials revealed that one of the original 18 died in December of an acute gastrointestinal condition. The death means that only five of the animals, which got to North Texas a little after midnight this morning, will stay in Dallas while the others are headed to Omaha, Nebraska, or Wichita, Kansas.

Trinity East Dispute in Court Today. Lawyers for Dallas will argue that the lawsuit filed by the energy company should be tossed because the city has immunity from the suit. For its part, Trinity East charges the city with breach of contract, negligent misrepresentation, and fraud in denying the company access to land near the Elm Fork Golf Course for which it had hoped to obtain gas leases.

Captain America Robs Beauty Store. Plano Police say a man in a superhero sweatshirt — and his partner in an unimaginative black hoodie — may be connected to the burglaries of several ULTA cosmetics stores in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.

Dallas Police to Investigate Racist Facebook Post. Lt. Thomas Glover said the Black Police Association asked the DPD  to investigate after at least two officers made comments indicating their support of the posting of a picture reportedly snapped at an office party in Russia.

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Poll: How to Pick Dallas’ Next City Manager

In the March issue of D Magazine, Eric Celeste lays out the case for why A.C. Gonzalez, Dallas’ city manager, should resign. Or be gently pushed out the door. Or not-so-gently pushed out the door. Something.

Even if Gonzalez hangs on to his post another couple of years to guarantee himself a significantly larger pension, isn’t it likely that the Dallas City Council will then do what it did the last time it had the opportunity to hire a professional to run the place? Tap a career bureaucrat with long-time ties to, and investment in, the way that things have always run at 1500 Marilla?

Or do you believe they’d pick a true outsider for the gig? Or take even more drastic steps? More to the point of this post, what do you think they should do?

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First Exxxotica Lawsuit Against Dallas Has Been Dropped

Last week the legal actions began against the city of Dallas for the decision to ban the Exxxotica pornography expo from returning to the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center. The first lawsuit to be filed surprisingly didn’t come from the organizers of Exxxotica but instead was brought by a vendor who said his interest was just in being able to attend the event himself.

However, it was reported today, his suit was officially dropped last Thursday, after the organizers of Exxxotica finally took the city to court. The DMN asked the man’s attorney, Gary Krupkin, why he even bothered filing the case at all, given that it was a foregone conclusion the other suit was coming:

Krupkin responded by saying “defending the 1st Amendment is never a bother to me,” then offered this anecdote.

“My father, a wonderful physician that still made house calls at age 87, used to leave a light burning in a downstairs window. One day, I asked him the reason. He said, ‘Gary, that light burns for anybody that needs help. They know they can get it in this house.’ I said, “Dad, I don’t get it. You go the the office everyday to help people.’ He looked at me, and said, ‘Someday, you’ll understand.’ That same light has burned ever since I received my law degree in both my home and my office.”

This explanation is more high-minded than I would have expected from the same lawyer who last week seemed to have his eyes on representing a class-action, speculating that a host of suits from other Exxxotica vendors and patrons might be coming. “What Exxxotica would file would be a suit particular to them,” he said then. Guess Krupkin’s client saw things differently.

The council is going to discuss the ongoing suit and “others who want to lease a city facility for an adult entertainment event” during an executive session Wednesday. On Friday’s Exxotica’s attorney filed for an injunction, asking a judge to prevent the city from banning the event so that it could take place on the desired May dates even as court hearings continue.

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New Trinity Toll Road Plans Delayed. Are We Waiting For Godot?

At this afternoon’s Trinity Commons Foundation luncheon at the Fairmont Hotel, Mayor Mike Rawlings emphasized the importance he places on the creation of a park between the Trinity River levees, even as he continued to underline his support for the construction of the Trinity Parkway toll road:

Rawlings cited myriad inspirations, among them from Buffalo Bayou in Houston, The High Line in New York and Park Presidio in San Francisco. He said the park, whatever it looks like, will be “connected to” to the adjacent properties.

“The timing is such that the work is starting to take place,” Rawlings said. “Initial conversations have been had. Once we finalize the Trinity Parkway plans, right on the heels of that we will begin our discussion in a serious manner about this park, making sure we have the water features that are important, that we feel a part of nature when we’re there as well.”

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Leading Off (2/26/16)

Marco Rubio to Rally at Klyde Warren. Following a “fiery” debate performance last night in Houston, the candidate that “GOP elites” have finally decided to back as the best chance of stopping outsider Donald Trump from winning the party’s presidential nomination will address supporters in the downtown deck park starting at 9 a.m. today. Doors open at 8 a.m. You can register your RSVP over here.

Trump to Visit Cowtown. The Republican Party frontrunner will stage an event of his own at noon today at the Fort Worth Convention Center. Doors open at 9 a.m., and the Star-T says between 7,000 and 8,000 people are expected to attend. If you want to be there, register via this link. Soak up the attention from the politicos while you can, folks. Now until Tuesday’s primaries likely marks the high point for Texas’ influence on the 2016 election — aside from the money generated by Park Cities fundraisers, of course.

SMU Raises $1.15 Billion. The Hilltop is flush with cash thanks to an effort that ended in December and will fund scholarships, faculty positions, and buildings. Launched in 2006, the initial goal of the Second Century Campaign was $750 million. The super-sized final tally is the largest amount ever raised by a private university in Texas.

Mystery of the Oak Cliff Corpse Solved. Dallas Police say that Christopher Brian Colbert posed as Ronald Shumway, the North Oak Cliff man whose body was found buried in the side yard of his Winnetka Avenue home in September. An arrest warrant was issued for Colbert on Monday, for two charges related to pretending to be Shumway in order to sell the house. Shumway’s death is being investigated as a homicide.

Manziel Assault Charges Head to Grand Jury. Former Texas A&M star Johnny Football could be in significant legal trouble for allegedly assaulting his ex-girlfriend at Hotel ZaZa in Uptown in January.

Love Field Noise Complaints Way Up. Yes, it’s great that we can now catch direct flights from the center of Dallas to far-flung destinations like New York and Seattle, but the lifting of the Wright Amendment has left airport neighbors to contend with the effects of increased air traffic. NBC 5 says thousands of flights during the last year have violated guidelines to only use the west runway (which keeps planes away from the highest concentration of homes) at night. Between 2014 and 2015 there’s been a 171 percent increase in noise complaints.

City Council Votes to Seek Fix For the Dallas Wave

At today’s meeting, the Dallas City Council came within a vote of killing the Trinity River whitewater feature that closed pretty much as soon as it opened in 2011 because of its dangerous bypass channel, though intrepid souls like Tim Rogers have since risked life and limb navigating its troubled waters anyway.

Instead, the council gave the OK to city staff to seek out prospective fixes (none of which could be undertaken until mid-2017). Mayor Mike Rawlings made clear that any fix will have to prove to be a cheaper solution than the $3 million the council was told would be necessary to pull the thing out of the river entirely. Otherwise, he’s voting for removal.

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First Exxxotica Lawsuit Has Been Filed

As expected, the city of Dallas has been hit with lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the council’s decision to forbid the Exxxotica porn expo from returning to the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center.

Only this first legal shot hasn’t come from the organizers of the Exxxotica event. Instead it originates with a vendor who attended and worked the expo last year. Richardson attorney Gary Krupkin filed the suit and has raised the specter of this becoming a class-action:

“There’s a possibility — and I am not saying it’s gong to happen — but a possibility this might turn into a class action suit where the city could be prosecuted by everybody who would like to attend Exxotica,” he said. “And joining them would be commercial vendors too. To that extent, what Exxxotica would file would be a suit particular to them. My suit offers the possibility of having other class members join at some point in the future.”

Dallas: Big Things Happen Here.

Price v. Caraway: Fight Breaks Out During Dallas County Commissioner Radio Appearance

WFAA is reporting that a fight broke out between Dallas County Commissioner candidates John Wiley Price and Dwayne Caraway during an appearance on radio station KHVN:

The candidates, including Micah B. Phillips, were at the station to talk about their campaigns. According to news director Robert Ashley, the altercation broke out during a commercial break and police were called to the scene.

In video filmed by Phillips and obtained by News 8, several people can be seen holding Caraway back as he yells out at Price.

UPDATE: The Dallas Morning News posted the video and has more details on what caused the fight to break out:

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Leading Off (2/19/16)

CITY OF DALLAS TO DISMANTLE ‘TENT CITY.’ Days after a homeless man was stabbed to death, city officials have made plans to break up the homeless encampment near Interstate 45 near Downtown Dallas. The makeshift area will come down in early May. Initially, the community was a temporary measure to house around 70 people but has swelled to more than 350 people.

RECYCLABLES DUMPED IN LANDFILL. Nearly one-fifth of recycling from 13 area cities ended up in landfills throughout a 21-month period, according to an audit by Waste Management. Flower Mound was the first city to come forward as an affected area. The company declined to release a list of the remaining cities, as representatives are still personally notifying officials with each city. Five Waste Management managers were fired in connection with the mishap.

JUDGE TO DECIDE PLACEMENT OF ETHAN COUCH’S CASE. A judge will decide today whether or not to transfer the “affluenza” teen’s case from juvenile to adult court after Couch turns 19 on April 11.

MEDICAL RECORDS OBTAINED IN JOHNNY MANZIEL CASE. Dallas police have retrieved medical records for the Cleveland Browns quarterback’s ex-girlfriend, who accused Manziel of hitting her after an argument at Hotel Zaza earlier this month. The records could verify the woman’s injury. Additionally, they could affect any future charges.

LEWISVILLE DOG FOUND 1,000 MILES AWAY FROM HOME. Snow White, a miniature Schnauzer, will be reunited with her family this week after she was found wandering the streets of Bristol, Tennessee. A microchip scan at the vet determined the distance between Snow White and her Lewisville home. The dog’s family has been searching for her since December.

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Parking Is Not an Actual Problem at Preston Center

Over on Candy’s Dirt, Jon Anderson has a nice recap over yesterday’s Preston Center Task Force meeting. The group, which includes former Dallas Mayor Laura Miller, is charged with considering the potential for development in and around that southwest corner of the intersection of Northwest Highway and Preston Road.

Among the topics discussed at the Walnut Hill Recreation Center was parking. The task force had asked consultants to study the situation, as there existed a belief among some members that parking is often too difficult to find at the shopping center, despite a free, two-story, public garage that sits at its center. Here’s what they found:

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