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Poll: How Long Should Dogs Be Allowed to Bark?

Right now Dallas pet owners risk a citation if they allow their dogs to bark continuously for as long as 15 minutes. Yesterday the City Council’s Quality of Life Committee discussed lowering that limit to only 5 minutes, though and assistant city attorney warned that could result in a spike of complaints that code enforcers could have difficulty keeping up with. Councilman Rick Callahan suggested making it 10 minutes, and Councilwoman Sandy Greyson agreed that might be the “magic number.” What do you think?

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Trinity Toll Road Backers Launch Misinformation Campaign

This morning the Dallas Business Journal ran a commentary piece by Alice Murray, President of the Dallas Citizens Council, and I couldn’t help but wonder that if this had been 2006, the article would have appeared in the Dallas Morning News. Regardless, in the DBJ, Murray argues that we should build the Trinity Toll Road. Why? Well, because Dallas:

Quick: What do DFW Airport, DART, Victory Park and Klyde Warren Park have in common?

Give up?

Answer: All began as major public improvement projects that Dallas leaders were wise enough to support, and all have paid off big time in providing massive economic, social and cultural benefits to Dallas and the surrounding region.

And here’s another thing that they all have in common: All had vocal opponents who predicted all sorts of doom and gloom if these projects went forward.

Okay, so, you get that? Here we go.

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Leading Off (2/6/15)

Don’t Drive Interstate 35E to Denton This Weekend. At least not after 8 p.m. Saturday night, or all-day Sunday. The highway’s main lanes will be shut down in Corinth to take out a bridge as part of a major expansion project.

‘Frontier Disney’ Fraud Trial Starts Monday. Thomas W. Lucas Jr. is accused by federal authorities of having told investors he had inside information about plans the Walt Disney company had to build a theme park and resort near Celina. He allegedly tricked them into spending millions to buy land near the purported site, from which he pocketed sales commissions. Though it’s hard to imagine investing even $5 with this guy.

The Beetles Invade D/FW Airport. The U.S. Customs and Border Protection agency there announced Thursday that they’ve intercepted destructive Khapra beetles in passengers’ luggage five times in recent months and have stopped more than 70 of the creatures from entering the homeland since 2013. The insect can reportedly destroy supplies of grain, which makes me think they’re like a less cuddly version of tribbles. Lock up the quadrotriticale. (That joke would kill at Dallas Comic Con Fan Days this weekend.)

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SAGA Pod: Jim Schutze on DISD, DMN, and Mayor Mike’s Money

Jim Schutze stops by the World SAGA Pod Headquarters to discuss all things DISD: the current HR scandal, a huge DISD effort not covered by the local media (warning: I say bad words), and how Mike Miles has survived every attempt to run him out of town. Then we segue to talk about the squishy accounting system used by Mayor Mike Rawlings and endorsed by City Hall: where sitting officeholders can take as much money as they want from rich people, but the folks running against him are limited on how much they can take. Nice gig if you can get it!

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How Should the City Respond to the Uptown Sam’s Club? Establish a Parking Levy to Fund Public Transit

This morning Tim pointed out that the new Richards Group building includes 10 stories of parking. That building is located across Central Expressway from the planned Sam’s Club that those lazy, unethical developers at Trammell Crow, enabled by their less-than admirable financial backers, MetLife, are shoving down our throats. Together, just these two developments are providing space for a lot of cars in what is supposed to be the growing cluster of Dallas’ most dense and urban environment. They are going to attract more cars to the area, and those cars are going to make traffic problems on Central Expressway even worse. That’s going to make the imaginary number counters at the NCTCOG claim that we need more lanes and roads and the sky is falling and toll roads and blah, blah, blah. It all fits together.

Meanwhile, last week the DMN reported that during DART’s board retreat, in which the heads of our public transit agency stepped back to take a look at long range ideas to make public transit in Dallas better, these transit geniuses came up with “toll road.” I know. I know. Insanity. More that tomorrow.

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Marcos Ronquillo Questions Mayor Rawlings’ Campaign Contributions

Mayoral candidate Marcos Ronquillo is claiming that Mayor Mike Rawlings violated Chapter 15A-2 of city election law (which, as you all know, pertains to the campaign contribution limit). Because of this, he wants the mayor to return almost $100,000 in donations from a list of folks that reads like the Dallas Social Directory: Ray Hunt, Robert Rowling, Erle Nye, Ruth Altshuler, Bobby Lyle, John Scovell, Rusty Rose, Marguerite Hoffman, Brint Ryan, Boone Pickens, and Barry Andrews, to name a few.

Here is a full list: Rawlings Contributions

A release from the Ronquillo campaign says that Dallas elections manager Brylon Franklin “has suggested … that a loophole may exist that would allow Mayor Rawlings to accept unlimited campaign contributions since he is now an ‘officeholder’ and not a ‘candidate.'”

This brings up two things:

1) Marcos Ronquillo might be more willing to attack the mayor than he has previously suggested, and

2) We now have to update our Mike Rawlings Venn diagram

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DMN Editorial on Omni Hotel Just a Bit Off-Base

Today the paper brings us a sunshiney, happy editorial about the city-owned Omni convention center hotel. It says, in part:

Now, more than three years after the Omni opened, the hotel is proving its detractors wrong and showing that the risk we took to build it was a wise investment.

Not only is it exceeding profit forecasts, it is boosting the land around it and helping attract new life to downtown.

Furthermore, the editorial says, without the hotel, “the convention business surely would be weaker.” Really? It would?

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Who Really Loses When the Uptown Sam’s Club Construction Starts on Sunday?

This Sunday, the Trammell Crow Company, on behalf of its clients Sam’s Club and the Metropolitan Life Corporation, the primary investor in the project, will blow up old Xerox building just off Central Expressway in order to make way for a big box store right in the heart of the fastest growing, highest tax base, densest area of Dallas.

It is utter madness.

And while I know you have heard the story in some form or fashion, on the eve of destruction, I believe it is worth recounting. There are many  lessons in the sorry tale of Uptown Sam’s, and the story should enrage you—not provoking the kind of idle anger where you throw up your hands and go, “Ah, there’s Dallas, yet again,” but rather provoking the kind of rage that makes you want to run down to city hall with pitchforks in your hands. Let’s get to it.

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Poll: Will You Vote in Local Elections?

In the February issue of D Magazine, Wick writes that this May’s Dallas council elections could revolutionize the city:

Because of term limits, six seats are open, the largest number in one election in memory. The ones giving up their seats are among the worst council members in the city’s history (Dwaine Caraway excepted). Luckily, the remaining council members are among the brightest and most thoughtful ever to serve. It would take only a few new members of the same caliber to tip the balance.

So this time the candidates do matter. Beware the guy who promises to fix the pothole on your street. That’s another go-along, get-along sort who will be easily co-opted by the city staff. Embrace instead the candidate who talks about growing the tax base as a whole so we can fix all the potholes and reduce your tax burden at the same time.

Is that enough to get you fired up about voting?

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What a ‘Lost’ 1967 Film Can Teach Us About How To Build Dallas’ Future

Yesterday evening the Dallas Chapter of the American Institute of Architects screened a lost film about Dallas entitled “The Walls Are Rising.” Originally produced in 1967 by the AIA, the film attempts to diagnose the city’s urban ills and suggests solutions. At the time of its production, it was screened all over Dallas to community groups and other organizations, and covered extensively in the Dallas Morning News. Nearly 50 years later, interest in the unearthed film is still strong. The event drew a crowd that approached 200 people to the seventh floor of the Sixth Floor Museum, an oddly appropriate setting for a film intimately tied to the civic reaction to the aftermath of the JFK assassination.

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Poll: Should Dallas Put Fluoride in Its Water?

It’s tough sometimes to know which “experts” we’re supposed to believe, especially when scientific consensus also has a way of changing its collective mind as researchers learn more. It can be confusing to mere lay-folk like you (most of you, anyway) and me.

For years we’ve heard that fluoride in our drinking water is an absolute good and has promoted dental health for decades. But now, as Tim noted last week, scientists have concerns about the chemical’s neurotoxic effects. These concerns have been raised to the Dallas City Council, which will vote Jan. 28 on a contract to continue fluoridating the city’s water supply. Should they continue the practice?

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Does Mike Rawlings Know He’s the Mayor of Dallas, Not Dallas-Fort Worth?

As Mike Rawlings told the Dallas Morning News editorial board recently, he’s “a numbers guy.” So anchoring all the puffery in his new mayor’s letter was one solid factoid: “According to a recent Forbes study, Dallas is now the fourth fastest-growing city in the country.” Wait, what? I mean, without even checking, I instinctively knew that wasn’t true, not by a long shot. What was this claim doing here? I had to get to the bottom of this.

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Leading Off (1/16/15)

South Dallas Residents Don’t Want New Toll Lanes. Wait, I thought opposing the construction of new pay-to-play roads was classist and racist and that folks south of Interstate 30 are clamoring for the opportunity to pay to drive their cars to points north? Then why were those who showed up to a Tuesday meeting at Methodist Dallas Medical Center to discuss the proposed Southern Gateway project — redoing Interstate 35E south of Colorado Boulevard — so upset about the idea to include managed toll lanes in the plans? Listen to this:

“We don’t want this. We don’t want these tollways here. Not in Oak Cliff,” said Juanita Lozano, drawing an “amen” and applause from the crowd.

And this:

“You’re creating a system where people with means can zip from one end of this area to the other while they wave at the rest of us on the sidelines,” said Michael Amonett.

And how about this?

“Where will you get the additional land you need?” asked Alicia Quintans, who lives near I-35E and observes its daily traffic flow.

“There’s maybe two hours of the day when traffic is jumbled up on I-35,” she said, “and I don’t understand why we’re building these toll lanes for two hours of the day.”

Oil Boom Headed For Bust? We’re all still enjoying the cheap gasoline, but as prices have dropped, drilling budgets have been slashed and industry layoffs have begun. Concern of a sustained downturn is growing.

Hipster Wedding Chapel Denied by City. The owners of the Bows and Arrows floral shop were fixing up an East Dallas mansion to host weddings, but their request to rezone the home for that purpose was denied last week by the Plan Commission.

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Mayor Mike Rawlings Says It’s ‘Classist’ Not To Give Poor People the Option To Pay Tolls

We run a leadership program called D Academy that is designed to educate our employees (and anyone else who would like to apply) about all matters related to the functions of our city. Yesterday, in a City Hall auditorium, Mayor Mike Rawlings was kind enough to field questions for the current class of fellows, and he said some things about the Trinity toll road and Adrian Peterson that give me pause. Such as:

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