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Laura Miller on the Failings of Jennifer Gates and the Battle To Save Preston Hollow

If you haven’t yet, take a second to check out our new neighborhood guide. It’s a pretty robust tool that our little web team built. If you know someone who is moving to Dallas or thinking of moving, point him to this resource. One thing that makes it great is a series of essays about various Dallas neighborhoods. For example, here’s what Adam McGill has to say about his neighborhood, Lake Highlands. We asked people all over town to tell us why they live where they do and what they love most about their hood.

One of those people was Laura Miller, former D Magazine and Dallas Observer columnist, former mayor of Dallas, current Preston Hollow resident. The essay she turned in — well, it wasn’t like the other essays. It was more of a polemic than it was a love letter to Preston Hollow. In her sights this time: Councilwoman Jennifer Gates; Gates’ appointee to the Plan Commission, Margot Murphy; and Mark Cuban. Laura isn’t real pleased with what they’re doing to her neighborhood.

The piece clearly didn’t work for our neighborhood guide. But it also couldn’t just go to waste. “Put it on FrontBurner,” Laura told me, “or I will come over there and punch you in the throat.” I made up that quote. But I stand behind my reporting.

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Adam McGough Returned Citizens Council Cash After Changing Positions on Trinity Toll Road

Over on the Lake Highlands Advocate, Sam Gillespie deep dives newly sworn-in Lake Highlands council member Adam McGough’s road to victory in the run-off earlier this month. His election day began at 5:30 a.m., Gillespie reports, with McGough planting signs at voting locations because during the general election signs placed the night before disappeared by morning. The day ended with a victory party that featured quite the local political motley crew, including Jerry Allen, Bill Blaydes, Angela Hunt, James White and Mayor Mike Rawlings. Here’s the most interesting bit. When McGough swapped positions on the Trinity, he had to give back some skrilla:

How did it happen? The current conventional wisdom is that James White’s endorsement made the difference. Yes, McGough got White’s endorsement but he got some shoe leather to go along with it. “James’ people organized walks on my behalf in their neighborhoods, “ said McGough, “ His work for me wasn’t expected but it was very much appreciated.”

White’s endorsement came from McGough’s reconsideration of a toll road inside the Trinity levee. McGough accepted White’s endorsement but sent back the contribution from the Dallas Citizen’s Council they demanded be returned after he changed positions.

 

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Leading Off (6/19/15)

Lake Grapevine Flooding May Force Evacuations. Leaders in Grapevine, Flower Mound, and Coppell have warned some residents they may need to leave their homes as the overflowing lake is expected to crest at more than 563 feet tonight. Part of FM 2499 was shut down yesterday as water had spilled over into Denton Creek, which rose to cover portions of the road near Grapevine Mills Mall.

TCU Advances in College World Series. The Horned Frogs topped LSU for the second time, by a score of 8-4, on Thursday. But they’ll have to beat defending champ Vanderbilt — a team they lost to earlier in the double-elimination tournament — twice to advance to the best-of-3 finals. They play tonight at 7 p.m. in Omaha.

Lake Dallas Ousts Muckraking Councilwoman. Some shady goings-on in the small town north of Lewisville Lake this week. Julie Matthews had won election to the Lake Dallas City Council with 69 percent of the vote and only took her seat on June 11. Previously she’d operated a Facebook page on which she’d posted documents about Mayor Anthony Marino’s firing from Lewisville ISD for having been involved in the harassment of a gay student, images of him using city dumpsters to get rid of his own commercial waste, and a video of him drunkenly wielding a weapon at a banquet. Matthews had also complained that Nick Ristagno is in violation of state law by serving as both the city manager and police chief. So, based on what sounds like transparently thin charges, Marino and the three other members of the council voted to remove Matthews from her position.

Tennell Atkins Guilty of Assault. The soon-to-be former Dallas city councilman must pay a $166 fine for what he did to a city employee who wouldn’t let him into City Hall through a secured door last December.

Former UNT-Dallas President Owes Child Support. John Ellis Price quit as the head of the school in summer 2013 after reports of inappropriate relationships with employees. But he had still been teaching accounting classes at the school — at a salary of $191,000 a year — since then. On Thursday he resigned from that post as well, following news of a lawsuit against him by a 33-year-old former UNT student. Price is 63 and the father of a son the woman gave birth to in 2008.

Don’t Go to Oklahoma City. Maybe good advice at any time <rimshot>, but especially today as a 4-mile stretch of northbound Interstate 35 between Ardmore and Davis in Oklahoma has been shut down while officials try to figure out what to do about boulders that collapsed off a hillside onto the highway following the heavy rains of Tropical Storm Bill.

Rangers Lose on Balk-Off. Is the balk the lamest rule in sports? Discuss.

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Who Should Star In Dallas Ebola Movie?

Apparently, Bryan Burrough’s Vanity Fair piece on the Dallas Ebola crisis has been optioned for a movie. Naturally, it’s time to speculate on casting. I haven’t had a lot of time to think about this, so this is off the top of my head, but probably insanely insightful and spot-on, as usual. For county commissioner Clay Jenkins, I’d say this photo of the original Alfafa from the Little Rascals gang; we’ll find a voice soon.

Rawlings is actually pretty easy: a Travolta-esque comeback role for the autopilot from Airplane!

Airplane-autopilot

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How Will the City Council Settle the Preston Center Skybridge Battle?

In case you haven’t noticed, Preston Center basically sucks. If you want to know why, read this piece by the Dallas Observer‘s Eric Nicholson. Long story short, the decrepit parking garage in the middle of the development is owned by the city of Dallas, and all of the 70-odd property owners in the vicinity have usage rights. This highly fragmented ownership also impedes the area’s redevelopment.

Enter Harlan Crow.

Earlier this year, Crow proposed building a skybridge at Preston Center West to connect a new Tom Thumb grocery store to the adjacent parking garage. Even better, Crow proposed spending more than $1 million to renovate the garage and make it handicap accessible. As with every other new development proposed in the vicinity within the last year, however, it quickly became mired in controversy, with former mayor Laura Miller leading the charge, stating that a new grocery store “would only add to congestion,” and that “the oversized sky bridge … will cast a big shadow over an area that will now have obstructions in the sidewalk…”

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Why’s Dallas City Hall Sneaking Through a $450 Million Blank Check For TXU?

Wednesday, June 17, (the date of the next City Council meeting) is a special day. Why? Because it is the last meeting of the current council, and six of the 14 members are lame ducks, term-limited out. The Regular Agenda for the June 17 meeting, posted on June 5, was 1,071 pages long, and contained 101 items. But, as discussed previously, it is really the Addendum to the Agenda which contains most of the “fun” stuff.

Friday night I checked the Dallas City Hall website at 5:44 p.m., searching in vain for the Addendum (5 p.m. is the deadline for posting it). Oh, well, I had things to do and gave up. Finally, on Saturday afternoon (how many City Hall reporters work Saturdays?), I went searching again, and the 629-page document had finally posted, revealing 41 additional items. According to the time stamp, it had been received by the City Secretary at 4:26 p.m. Friday (June 12).

So,I started my treasure hunt. Most of the stuff was pretty typical, (e.g. $305,000 for veterinary services for police & fire dogs and horses), but then, WHOA… what the heck is this?

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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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Ask John Neely Bryan: How Exciting Is the Texas Rangers’ Joey Gallo?

Question: How excited should I be about Joey Gallo? — Tim R.

When the histories of this period are written — and I have it on the highest possible authority that the Dallas Citizens Council has already composed a rip-roaring page-turner of a first draft — you may come to regret the enthusiasm with which you’ve greeted the arrival of the newest slugger for the Texas Rangers Bases Ball Club.

Through the first six games of his major-league career (which began last week), Joseph Nicholas Gallo has tallied 2 home runs and 5 RBI, posted a .583 slugging percentage and a .370 on-base percentage, good for an OPS+ of 164. I hope I don’t have to tell you what an impressive spectacle of manhood this makes. Seriously, I hope I don’t have to tell you because I have never been much of a bases ball fancier. Leisure time is better spent in observation of the sport of kings: water polo.

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Murders Are Down But Violent Crime Is Up in Dallas

At this morning’s Dallas City Council Public Safety Committee meeting, Chief David Brown presented the city’s crime statistics for 2015 (through May 31). See the chart above.

The headlines are that the murder rate is down, but violent crime as a whole is about 10.79 percent. Overall crime is down 2.15 percent due to a 4.37 percent decrease in property crimes compared to the same period last year.

The chief said the department “will utilize specialized units & officers on overtime to address violent crime concerns.”

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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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New Podcast: A Meaty Discussion With Chef Brian Luscher of the Grape and Luscher’s Red Hots

This week’s EarBurner guest is chef Brian Luscher of the Grape and Luscher’s Red Hots. At the Old Monk on Thursday he talked about his Deep Ellum hot dog joint (which also boasts one of the 20 best burgers in Dallas) and why the city’s business-friendliness doesn’t necessarily extend to small-scale operators. There’s also Chicago-accented talk of Joey Gallo’s recent heroics for the Texas Rangers and the end of the 5-cent bag fee.

Now to some corrections and notes to help you better enjoy the listening experience:

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Leading Off (6/5/15)

McKinney School Forbids Message of Tolerance. About 15 students at Faubion Middle School on Wednesday wore shirts sporting the phrase “Gay O.K” — in support of a seventh-grader who was being bullied — and were asked to change clothes. The district spokesman said administrators’ concerns had nothing to do with the specific content of the students’ message, but instead were regarding the potential for disruptions.

Flood Damages Cost Millions. Sewage has spilled into Lake Carolyn in Irving, and it can’t be cleaned up until the water recedes. Restoring Dallas parks and golf courses will likely cost more than $2.6 million, and the city has no insurance to cover it. On the other hand, marinas and other businesses on Lake Bridgeport are happy that water levels there have risen 27 feet in the last month.

Police Union Criticizes Department For Disciplining Officers. Fort Worth Police had reassigned one officer and placed another on leave as a result of their actions at the end of last week’s slow-speed chase. Their lawyer called these measures a “knee-jerk reaction.”

State Highway 360 Buckles. The southbound ramp to the road coming from the south exit of Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport has raised 8 to 10 inches above the surrounding pavement in one section, creating a speed bump that sent cars airborne as they drove over it. It’s been closed until repairs can be made Friday.

Mark Cuban as the President of the United States: (see below.)

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Waitin’ Around For the Trinity Toll Road to Die

Over the next month or so, the City of Dallas will host numerous public meetings to present the Dream Team’s vision for the Trinity River Toll Road and receive community feedback about those plans.

I attended the second meeting, which was held in an area of Dallas about as far from the river as you can get and still technically be in the city of Dallas. Parkhill Junior High School is in the middle of a neighborhood of low slung 1970s ranch houses not too far from the Prestonwood Country Club and the city of Addison. It’s a staggeringly bucolic setting. Walking from the car to the school, the air was still and quiet — nearly silent — and the only sound was the chirping of birds and the muffled chattering of a few students far off by the sports fields.

Despite the distance between this part of Dallas and the center of the city, more than 60 people showed up to the meeting and many brought with them strong opinions about what should — or should not — happen in the floodway.

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Leading Off (5/29/15): Floods Submerge Dallas-Fort Worth

Dallas Under Water. Over night a huge, slow-moving storm dumped heavy rain across DFW, officially making this the wettest May on record in these parts. The previous high mark was 13.66 inches, and we’re likely still not done for the month. Don’t try to drive through flooded roads.

Much more, and other news, after the jump…

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