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Leading Off (12/8/2014)

Jordan Spieth Wins at Isleworth. Spieth, who is 21, dominated the Tiger Woods-hosted Hero World Challenge. He won by a record-setting 10 strokes. 9:37 Update: Look, if there’s a sport I know less about than football, it’s golf.

How is the US Airways/American Airlines Merger Going? Very well, according to CEO Doug Parker, one year later. However, milestones for 2015 include the pesky merger of frequent flier programs, as well as booking systems.

Three Families Robbed at Gunpoint in One Night. This all happened on Saturday evening in Allen, within a little over an hour. Police are also investigating a fourth home invasion Friday night in Coppell that played out similarly. The families were tied up and held at gun point by one of the robbers, while others searched the house for money and valuables.

No College Football Playoffs For TCU. Or Baylor. The two schools end regular season play as the Big 12 co-champions. I am gathering that people are upset about a few things here.

Two Charged With Murder of Fort Worth Woman. I mentioned this story last week. Ashlea Harris was found dead in her burning Fort Worth apartment building after working a late shift at Hulen Mall on Black Friday. Two men have been arrested for her murder. These two men were also arrested in connection with an $18,000 theft from the American Eagle store where Harris worked.

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Laura Miller Opposes Trinity Toll Road

The ranks of former Trinity Parkway proponents who have turned against the project are growing. Former Dallas Mayor Laura Miller tells the Morning News that it shouldn’t be built:

In an email sent to to Dallas City Council member (and toll road opponent) Scott Griggs, and in a follow-up interview with The Dallas Morning News Friday morning, Miller says she wishes the city had built the low-speed, four-lane parkway envisioned by planners responsible for the Balanced Vision Plan adopted by the Dallas City Council in the fall of 2003. But that proposal has been parked by the city’s beloved Alternative 3C, a nearly nine-mile-long, six-lane-wide, $1.5-billion high-speed toll road along the east levee of the Trinity.

Says Miller in her letter to Griggs, “if the road cannot be built as originally envisioned by those of us who fought for a landscaped, low-impact, four-lane solution, the road should not be built at all. Over these past 11 years, the lakes have gotten much smaller, and the road has become much bigger. The result is not a good one.”

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Leading Off (12/5/14)

Protesters Can’t Get on Interstate 35. For the second straight week, following the second straight week in which the non-indictment of a white police officer for the death of a black man made national headlines, demonstrators took to the streets of downtown Dallas to voice their displeasure. Five people were arrested. The protesters were demanding justice for Eric Garner, who was choked to death by a cop in Staten Island, New York, last summer. Unlike last week, they were unsuccessful in making their way onto Interstate 35E to block traffic. They are reportedly planning another demonstration tonight at 8 p.m.

Cowboys Beat the Bears. Dallas topped Chicago 41-28 at Soldier Field. The win comes a year too late to spare downtown Dallas the sight (and sound) of Tim busking.

Baylor and TCU to Make Final Bids For Playoff Spot. The Horned Frogs have the better shot of finishing ranked among the top four teams in college football and therefore to make the playoffs. That’s because they’ve got a higher ranking than the Bears at this moment and are facing a weaker opponent for their final game of the season on Saturday. However, Baylor beat TCU in the team’s head-to-head matchup earlier this year, and both teams are likely to finish with identical records, which gives the Bears a decent counterargument to the Frogs’ overall stronger strength of schedule. FiveThirtyEight says TCU has a 96.3 percent playoff chance while Baylor’s odds are only 18.2 percent.

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Who’s Ready to Talk Some Trinity Toll Road?

What would we do in Dallas if we didn’t have the Trinity Toll Road to talk about? The “zombie road,” which is back from the dead and suddenly, once again, topic du jour in our fair burg will get a roll-em-out, sock-em, rock-em, run-em-dry, spitfire, conversational whooping this evening at the Charles Semos Campus of Rosemont Elementary in Oak Cliff. The public event in Scott Griggs’ council district promises to be the debate that the Stemmons Corridor Business Association luncheon wasn’t. In the pro-road corner: Michael Morris, director of transportation for the North Central Texas Council of Governments; Mary Suhm, former city manager of the city of Dallas; and Craig Holcomb, former city councilman and current executive director of the Trinity Commons Foundation. In the no-road corner, Griggs, urban planner and designer and StreetSmart‘s Patrick Kennedy, and architect and Trinity Trust member Bob Meckfessel. I’m hoping State Representative Rafael Anchia, who is hosting the event, wears a referee uniform. A drop down mic would be fun. Double Dare-style post-Q&A round would be ideal.

If you want to brush up on your Toll Road facts, check out Brendon Formby’s run down of the ten things to know about the zombie road. If you’re looking for some pregame analysis, check out Schutze’s thoughts on why this event is unlike anything that happened in the lead up to the 2007 referendum. Here’s some more info about tonight’s event.

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Dallas Named to 100 Resilient Cities List

It was announced today that Dallas is one of 35 new cities invited to join the Rockefeller Foundation’s Resilient Cities network. More than 350 municipalities worldwide applied to be part of the second group to join what will eventually be 100 Resilient Cities. The first group of 32 was chosen in December of last year. The stated mission of the organization is to help cities “become more resilient to the physical, social and economic challenges that are a growing part of the 21st century.”

Yeah, but what exactly does Dallas get out of it?

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Ask John Neely Bryan: Can You Park at Broken Meters?

I trust you are all sufficiently recovered from last week’s federally-mandated feasting to pay heed to what I am about to say because I am going to say this but once: D Magazine’s 10 Most Eligible Men in Dallas list is a joke. This ordinarily upstanding periodical purports to present a collection of gentlemen who exemplify the finest specimens of masculinity in our corner of northern Texas, and yet there’s not a single farmer or rancher among them? The only manual laborer in the bunch is a damn Canuck paid to play-act at some form of figure-skating combat. And what the hell is an “events and cultural coordinator?” I’ll bet not a one of these fellows has so much as wrestled a bear in his life. It’s no wonder no women have been willing to have any of this lot for husbands.

I’ve already volunteered to take charge of next year’s search, so as to spare the careless editors at D further opprobrium. I was known as quite the man’s man in my day.

Now, to address your needs, as filed at ask@dmagazine.com.

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Poll: Can Texas Cities Ban Fracking?

Denton’s ban on hydraulic fracturing, the first such measure in the state, goes into effect today. A legal battle challenging it is already under way, even as other Texas cities are looking to follow suit. It’s a fight over the rights of property and mineral rights owners vs. public health concerns about the potential environmental damage caused by natural gas drilling operations.

So whose rights matter more?

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How Government Subsidies Are Hiding the Omni Convention Center Hotel’s Losses

A couple of weeks ago, I took a look at the financials of the Dallas Convention Center, prompted by Philip Jones’ announcement that he planned to borrow a quarter billion dollars in public money to expand the facility. To summarize, I discovered:

  • The city of Dallas is currently subsidizing the facility to the tune of roughly $53 million per annum; and
  • Three years and $500 million later, the construction of the adjacent convention center hotel hasn’t had any discernable impact on the convention center’s bottom line.

Today, I’m taking a look at the financial performance of the convention center hotel itself.

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Leading Off (11/24/2015)

Governor-Elect Promises Lawsuit Over Immigration Action. On behalf of all Texans, Greg Abbott will probably sue the Obama administration for his executive order lifting the threat of deportation for millions of immigrants living in the United States illegally. This is not new territory for Abbott, since he’s sued President Obama some 30 times in his previous life as Texas attorney general.

Two Earthquakes in Two Days. On Saturday, a 3.3 magnitude earthquake registered near the site of the old Texas Stadium. On Sunday, a 2.5 magnitude earthquake occurred south of Highway 183 beneath Loop 12. It’s too bad we don’t have any idea what might be causing these quakes, since there have been seven in the last two months.

After Crash Kills Five Family Members, Terrell Teen’s Ticket Dismissed. This sad story, first mentioned in this forum last week, does not get too much better. However, the teenage driver, a 16-year-old boy who apparently fell asleep at wheel of the family’s SUV while en route to Florida for a vacation, was originally ticketed for careless driving. The crash killed five of his relatives. The judge dismissed the misdemeanor charge, saying that the boy had been punished enough, and there was no need to add to his pain.

Cowboys Coach and Governor Chris Christie Make Friends. This photo of New Jersey governor Chris Christie and Cowboys coach Jason Garrett is great. Garrett might be smiling, or laughing—I can only tell so much from the crinkled eyes. Could this be Christie’s “lose or I’ll engineer a monster traffic jam and trap you here forever” face? The world may never know. Anyway, the Cowboys beat the Giants. I am pleased.

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SOPS Presents Draft of a Charter to Home Rule Commission

Last night, Support Our Public Schools, the organization that began this home rule movement early this year, presented its proposed charter to the Home Rule Commission. It contains several things I’ve been talking about on Learning Curve, including moving trustee elections to November, adding a student trustee, and starting the school year earlier. I’ll have a dissection of it on Learning Curve in the next few days, but here it is for your perusal.

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Anchia Announces Town Hall Meeting on Tollway

In the release announcing this, State Rep. Rafael Anchia says 93 percent of respondents to his poll were against the tollway. We’re aghast. The release is below, the release with pictures and sample quotes from respondents is here:

(Update note: I’ve been gone, so catching up on a lot, including that the town hall debate is not a surprise, as I learned from this Unfair Park post.)

(Dallas, TX) State Representative Rafael Anchia will host a town hall meeting on the Trinity Tollroad Project on Wednesday, December 3, 2014 at 6:30 p.m. The meeting will be held at the Chris Semos campus of Rosemont Elementary School. The town hall meeting is open to the public and does not require a pre-registration.

The town hall will feature a panel of supporters, as well as representation from the opposition. Among the panelists are Michael Morris from NCTCOG and Councilman Scott Griggs from the City of Dallas, District 1. Additional panelists will be announced prior to the meeting.

Mr. Anchia represents Texas House District 103, in which a large portion of the Trinity Tollroad would lie. “In talking with constituents about the Trinity Tollroad Project, I was hearing a constant message of dissatisfaction with the proposed road. I conducted a survey to gauge the climate in and around Dallas, and the respondents were startlingly opposed to the project,” Representative Anchia said. The results of the online survey, along with a sample of public comments, are attached for review.

In the interest of efficiency, the public is encouraged to submit questions for the panel in advance by email to info@rafaelanchia.com.

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Speaking of the Mayor and the Toll Road, Let’s All Hear Him Talk About It

The below email went out yesterday. I’m out of town, so I haven’t been able to determine if Mayor Mike typed “Citizens List: All of Dallas” into the “cc” field. But since this issue is “critical to the future of our city,” I’m going to assume everyone is invited. See you there!

Friend,

If the schedule goes as planned, work on the Trinity Parkway will begin in early 2015. The Environmental Impact Study (EIS) is in its final stages and is set to be completed soon, the Record of Decision will be signed soon after the study is finalized. We have teams in place that are working to complete the design on the Parkway in preparation for the construction phase. Currently, about 30% of the design work is done. This project is critical to the future of our city, and how the design is finalized is one of the most important things we can do. I believe this project should be studied and reviewed by recognized experts using the best urban design principles that exist as we move to our next phase.

I invite you to join me for breakfast at Babb Bros BBQ & Blues in Trinity Groves on November 19 at 8:15 a.m. to hear my thoughts on how we can accomplish this goal.

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Leading Off (11/14/14)

Feds Auditing DA’s Use of Forfeiture Funds. Craig Watkins may be on his way out, after suffering a defeat in last week’s election, but he’s still facing a federal investigation. Authorities stopped sending forfeiture money to the DA’s office in August after an auditor had a call with Watkins. “It was a contentious phone call during election season in which Mr. Watkins believed the inquiry was being driven by his opponent,” said Dallas County prosecutor Lincoln Monroe. “Craig thought it was a setup. It was not a good conversation that Craig had.” He added that the federal audit was prompted by a mix-up that will soon be rectified.

Frisco Homeowners Want Power Lines Buried. Brazos Electric is proposing a 2- to 4-mile stretch of overhead lines to increase capacity in the fast-growing city, but neighborhood residents are concerned about the impact on their home values. They want the lines placed underground, which Brazos says would cost $31.5 million, compared to $3.5 million for putting them overhead. Brazos plans to apply to the Public Utility Commission for its expansion in December, and the city and a homeowners’ group plan to challenge it.

Felony Lane Gang Strikes Again. Coppell police are looking into whether an organized group of professional thieves is responsible for a series of smash-and-grab car break-ins. The gang is known for cashing victims’ checks in the outside teller lane at various banks — which I guess is the “felony lane?”

Clayton Kershaw Hogging Baseball Awards. After winning his third Cy Young Award as the National League’s best pitcher on Wednesday, the Highland Park High School graduate and Los Angeles Dodgers hurler received Most Valuable Player honors on Thursday. He’s the first NL pitcher to take the MVP since 1968.

Mavs Score Most Lopsided Win in Team History. Dallas got off to a 45-10 lead in the first 15 minutes against the Philadelphia 76ers and finished with a 123-70 win. It’s their largest margin of victory ever.

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