Rudolph Bush of the Morning News says failed city council candidate Richard Sheridan, whose work you’re no doubt familiar with, was down at City Hall today passing out an anti-gay flier:
I’m not going to post the flier. But I’ll describe it. It was a distortion of a recent Dallas Voice front page showing the faces of three openly gay council candidates, Vernon Franko, Leland Burk and Herschel Weisfeld.
Sheridan had X’d through each of their faces and scrawled 6s on their foreheads.
“God’s voice was heard in Dallas Saturday. No openly gay LGBT City Councilmember!!” he wrote, in reference to the fact that all three lost their races. (Franko and Weisfeld ran against Adam Medrano in District 2)
Sheridan failed to write that his own bid for council came up a little short too. In fact, he managed to get 28 votes in District 13. That’s 28 votes out of 10,350 votes cast in the district. Burk lost to Jennifer Staubach Gates, but he got 3,584 votes for his effort. Or, to put it another way, Burk got 128 times the votes that Sheridan did.
Former city councilman Craig Holcomb was on hand and received one of the fliers. He addressed the council, saying that he felt obligated to speak so that Sheridan would know that the thoughts he was expressing, were “not acceptable.”
Somehow that became a discussion about limiting the rights of anyone to address the council, perhaps permitting a person to speak only once a month during the open microphone portion of the meeting. I’m not sure why they decided to consider that measure, since (from Bush’s account) it doesn’t seem that Sheridan himself spoke at the meeting.
As ugly as are the ideas that Sheridan wrote on that flier, and left in his voicemail to Dan, I get nervous whenever officials begin to decide what thoughts are and aren’t acceptable in an open public forum.
Where Do Saturday’s Elections Leave Hispanic Dallas City Council Representation? The answer, in short, is not in a good way. In a newly drawn district that is 74 percent Hispanic, incumbent Scott Griggs defeated Hispanic incumbent Delia Jasso. In another new district drawn to give Pleasant Grove single representation at the horseshoe (the neighborhood was previously split between multiple districts), candidate Jesse Diaz is headed to a runoff with white candidate Rick Callahan. If Callahan wins, then there will be one less Hispanic representative on the council than previously, whereas the redistricting was seemingly designed to add one Hispanic representative. In other news, Farmers Branch got its first Hispanic City Council member.
Arlington Man Throws Homemade Bomb at Neighbors: Michael Alex Johnson, 32, allegedly lit an eight-gallon bucket of gasoline on fire and threw it at two vehicles in a neighbor’s driveway. Luckily, another neighbor saw the incident and immediately called police. No one was hurt. Other bomb making materials were found in Johnson’s home, and Johnson’s mother described her son as “mentally ill.”
State Rep Wants to Build Bullion Depository: I don’t know why storing gold that belongs to the University of Texas Investment Management Co. out of state is a big deal, but apparently Giovanni Capriglione of Southlake is afraid the Yankee state may seize it when Texas declares its independence, or something like that. That’s why he wants the state to fund the construction of a Texas depository for the roughly $1 billion in gold bars. Rick Perry is, of course, on board: ““If we own it,” Perry said, “I will suggest to you that that’s not someone else’s determination whether we can take possession of it back or not.”
Worst Son In the World: Gonzalo Lopez: The night before Mother’s Day, Lopez killed his mother.
Will Changing Politics of North Dallas Affect Makeup of City Council? On paper, the Dallas City Council is non-partisan, but you don’t have to sit through too many council meetings to guess who voted Mitt and who voted Barack during the last election. As it turns out, more residents in historically conservative North Dallas voted Barack last time around, so Gromers Jeffers wonders if that will mean inroads for Democrats at the local level (paywall).
Did University Park Fire Firefighter to Avoid Paying Medical Bills? A 31-year-old former University Park firefighter says that five months after he threw-out his back on the job, UP stopped paying for workers compensation benefits. Then he was fired. So now he is suing the wealthy enclave. University Park is self-insured.
Tarrant County Water District Election Borrows From Chinatown Plot: Why would the wealthy Dallas investor who bought the estate of Bernie Madoff drop big bucks on a candidate for the Tarrant Regional Water District board — a candidate who doesn’t even live in the district? Why would that candidate need to start Political Action Committee when his opponents last month raised contributions of only around $3,500? What if I told you there was a pipeline project involved, and said pipeline is set to run through a few East Texas ranches owned by some wealthy Ewing-types. Starts to come into focus, no?
City Councilman Scott Griggs has gotten a resolution supporting marriage equality on an upcoming council agenda. Mayor Mike Rawlings tells the Morning News today that the issue is a waste of the council’s time:
This afternoon, Rawlings stressed that he is “an unequivocal supporter of marriage equality.”
But the Dallas City Council should not spend its meetings debating political questions that it has no power over, he said.
“I don’t want to be talking about late-term abortions, or gun control, or GITMO,” he said.
What Happened in West: The Dallas Morning News tackles the West, Texas explosion in detail, reconstructing the event and aftermath in this piece:
At that moment, West joined Aurora, Newtown, Katrina and other one-word symbols of tragedy. Tornadoes. Hurricanes. Bombings. Shootings. For now, the word “West” equals the word “explosion.”
As ‘Burbs Run Short on Water, They Turn to Dallas For Help: The North Texas Municipal Water District, which serves many of the northern Dallas suburbs, is already bracing for water use restrictions come June 1. Easing those restrictions is a new deal with Dallas Water Utilities that will direct upwards of 60 million gallons a day from the city’s reserves to the ‘burbs. That diverted usage won’t affect Dallas residents, DWU officials say. And the city is still fighting to create new reservoirs.
Cowboys Draft Was a Disaster: Actually, I have no idea if it was a disaster or not. Sports radio tells me that the Cowboys needed three or four starters out of this year’s draft, and it sounds like they picked up a bunch of projects.
There’s a bill, House Bill 5, approved by the Texas House of Representatives and under consideration by the Senate, that would significantly reduce the number of exams a student must pass in order to graduate from a public high school. It would also lessen strict course requirements in English, math, and science that were designed to get students prepared for college enrollment. Instead, they’d have the option of taking more technical or business courses, if that’s where their interests lie.
Last night, Dallas ISD trustees voted, in a 5-4 split, to urge the Texas Legislature to amend the bill to “ensure all students are enrolled by default in rigorous, college-ready graduation pathways.” The board further said it would adopt local policies along these lines if the state does not.
House Bill 5 was sponsored by House Public Education Committee chairman Jimmie Don Aycock, of Killeen. His purpose behind the measure, he told the Texas Tribune last month, was to allow for better preparation for students who plan to go straight into the workforce, rather than into college after graduation:
Debate over the proposal, he said, centered on two questions.
“One, does everyone need to [earn] a four-year degree?” he said. “And two, does every kid need to take algebra II?”
His bill embraced the response of “not everyone, but a lot of them,” he said, adding that he was not convinced that algebra II was as strong predictor of college success as the legislation’s opponents suggested.
The rigidity of the current system forces a “one-size-fits-all” approach that can prevent students from exploring their interests, leaving them less engaged in school, Aycock said. And a lack of options for career training, he said, leaves a gap in the state’s workforce.
12 West Firefighters Laid to Rest. The memorial service happened yesterday afternoon, and I’m sorry that we got so caught up in coverage of the Bush Center dedication that we didn’t take a moment to acknowledge the ceremony here on FrontBurner. Thousands gathered at Baylor University to honor the emergency workers who lost their lives in last week’s fertilizer plant explosion. President Obama was there, having flown down to Waco from Dallas on Marine One after attending the library opening in the morning. As the Star-Telegram reports, he said ”To the families and neighbors grappling with unbearable loss, we are here to say, ‘You are not alone. You are not forgotten. We may not all live here in Texas, but we’re neighbors, too. We’re Americans, too.” Senator John Cornyn, speaking on behalf of the Texas congressional delegation, praised the men’s bravery: “How does one find such love to be willing to lay down your life so that others may live? This will forever be the legacy of those who ran toward the fire last week.” Meanwhile, the Insurance Council of Texas estimates that the incident resulted in more than $100 million in damage. Let’s not forget that the residents of West are going to need our help to rebuild.
Lake Levels Prompt Tighter Water Restrictions. The North Texas Municipal Water District, which serves much of Collin County, Rockwall County, Kaufman County, Hunt County, and northeastern Dallas County, has announced it’s already imposing Stage 3 of its drought plan, effective June 1. Stage 3 limits lawn watering to once per week. Because we’ve had relatively little rain this year, the district’s primary reservoirs have seen their levels drop dangerously low. These problems are exacerbated by the fact that the district still can’t draw water from Lake Texoma, which normally would account for 28% of its raw water supply, because of the presence of zebra mussels. NTMWD had to implement Stage 3 in 2011 as well (you’ll remember sweating through that awful-hot summer), but didn’t need to do it that year until Sept. 28. Is it time for another gubernatorial proclamation of Days of Prayer For Rain?
Richardson Political Group Sends Controversial Mailer Bashing Mayoral Candidate. The candidate is Amir Omar, whose clashing with the city’s established powers was written about in our April issue. The mailer funded by the Richardson Coalition accuses Omar of being behind on paying his child support, and of having declared bankruptcy to get out of his student loans. Omar denies the allegations. His ex-wife backs up his story. The Morning News had the pertinent documents looked at by a divorce attorney, and the truth seems to depend on the meaning of the word “arrears.”
Dallas Cowboys Draft Wisconsin Center With First Pick. I’m not sure why (and neither are some experts), but the team gave up the No. 18 pick in yesterday’s first round of the NFL Draft in exchange for the 31st pick and a third-round selection. With that 31st pick, they took center Travis Frederick of the University of Wisconsin. They made Uncle Barky happy, at least.
In the Sunday Dallas Morning News, Gromer Jeffers opined that the Dallas City Council campaign of Jennifer Staubach Gates is being aided by the famous name and wealthy friends of her father, former Dallas Cowboys quarterback and commercial real estate bigwig Roger Staubach.
Staubach has long been expected to become a political candidate himself, though he never has, Jeffers wrote:
But the game’s not over. Staubach is handing off any dreams of public office to his daughter, Jennifer Staubach Gates.
When I interviewed Staubach this morning, Jeffers’ column was one of the first matters he brought up. He didn’t like the implication that his daughter is running for office in his stead and that he harbors political ambitions of his own.
“I didn’t really want her to be in politics,” Staubach said. “The reason I mention that is my dream was never, never even indicated, never even tried, never any contemplation of going into politics.”
Much like Pope John Paul II put Mother Teresa on the fast-track to becoming a saint, the Dallas City Council is moving quickly to rename the Dallas Convention Center after former Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison, who just retired in January. The council will consider the measure at its April 24 meeting. (It’s a “consent” item, which means it may not be voted on individually, often an indication that it’s expected to be approved easily.)
What are the three miracles that city council members credit to Hutchison, making her worthy of such beatification?
1) Helped secure over $225 million for the Trinity Corridor Project, including the Dallas Floodway Extension, Margaret McDermott Bridge, Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge, and the I35-E Bridge. But then why not name that last bridge after her instead? Unless a third wealthy lady named Marge has dibs on it already?
2) Led the effort to rescind the Wright Amendment and ensure federal support for the Love Field Modernization Program. Maybe they should have named the remade terminal for her, or even just a kiosk inside the new D Magazine News shop?
3) Worked continuously with DART to help create the nation’s largest light-rail system. We’re obviously bypassing the intriguing option of renaming the Red, Blue, and Green lines as the Kay, Bailey, and Hutchison lines. The Orange line could be named for her husband, Ray.
Former Kaufman County Justice of the Peace Arrested for DA Killings, Linked to Threatening Email: Eric Williams was arrested Saturday and charged with “terroristic threats,” after police searched his home and storage unit, found around 20 weapons, and connected him a threatening email sent to county officials. A charge of capital murder is expected to be filed this week. Williams is a former justice of the peace who was convicted of stealing computer equipment from a county building in March 2012.
Man Shoots Himself at NRA 500: A 42-year-old Saginaw man shot himself in the head in the infield campground Saturday night during the race that was renamed this year after the firearm advocacy group.
George W. Bush Is a Grandpa: Jenna Bush gave birth to a baby girl yesterday.
Dirk Shaves Beard: The Mavs finally reached .500. Whoopee do! At least you can watch Dirk shave, and shave, and shave, and . . .
“Love Evolution” sounds like it could’ve been the title of Justin Timberlake’s latest album. Or a command emblazoned in bold black letters on the bumper of Richard Dawkins’ sedan. Or the airy mantra chanted by a new-age, sheep-romancing cult. But instead we’re talking about Dallas Love Field’s shorthand and official brand for its five-year modernization project.
Today we got a sneak peek of the airport’s newly done-up segment of Terminal 2. It’s the first major milestone for Love Evolution, and it will open to the ticket-purchasing public next Tuesday, April 16. The modernization program, which began in 2009 through a strategic partnership between the city of Dallas and Southwest Airlines, seeks to give a facelift to the nearly six-decade-old airport in order to meet the demands (and indulge the fancies) of the 21st-century air traveler.
The construction project will conclude in 2014—synchronized with the full repeal of the Wright Amendment restrictions—and will equip the airport with the technology, amenities, and “post-9/11” design to accommodate the current 4 million yearly passengers, as well as the estimated 2 million extra passengers who will flock to Love once its carriers are free to fly the country.
On Friday, Dallas City Council members Angela Hunt and Scott Griggs sent a memo to Mayor Mike Rawlings and city manager Mary Suhm, asking that the vote on whether to allow Trinity East to drill for natural gas on city parkland take place within the next 30 days. The Plan Commission has rejected the plan, and Trinity East has appealed that decision to the council.
Hunt (who’s term-limited out of office after the upcoming election) and Griggs (whose newly drawn district is forcing him to compete against fellow incumbent Delia Jasso for re-election) could both be off the council after next month. So if the vote doesn’t take place in the next 30 days, then they may not get to be part of it.
Griggs tells the Morning News this is about more than just raising an issue he can hammer his opponent about leading up to the election, that the current council has acquired a knowledge base about the matter that will be lost if the vote doesn’t take place until the next council is seated.
The blog of the anti-drilling group Dallas Area Residents for Responsible Drilling says Griggs and Hunt have “Political Ballz“:
If three more members sign on, the Dallas City Charter say that the vote will happen despite any who disagree. But with elections looming, only the brave will sign on, while those who may feel obligated to wait until after the election, will not sign on.
Jump to read the memo.
By all accounts, the Texas House last night approved a state budget relatively easily, on a vote of 135 to 12. The $193.8 billion measure now goes to a conference committee to fix the differences between it and the Senate’s version.
Highlights of the bill, according to the Texas Tribune account:
Who Killed the Kaufman County DA? The Morning News details the possibilities of who’s responsible for the murder of Kaufman County District Attorney Mike McLelland and his wife over the weekend. It’s been speculated that the same killer (or killers) may have killed Mark Hasse, an assistant district attorney under McLelland, in January. Was it the Aryan Brotherhood? Mexican Drug Cartels? Or a “Wild Card”? The article ends with a warning against speculation that might lead investigators down a false trail.
Shorter Waits For Licenses at New DPS Offices NBC 5 Investigated and NBC 5 Investigators discovered somewhat shorter wait times at two new Department of Public Safety license mega-centers that opened over the winter in Garland and Fort Worth.“My experience was excellent,” John Jackson, a Dallas attorney who recently got in and out of the Garland Mega Center in 30 minutes, told NBC 5 Investigators. This was a stark change from the situation NBC 5 Investigators had Investigated last summer, and from what Wick has mentioned several times before. But NBC 5 Investigated that you still don’t want to visit some of the older driver license offices:
George Martinez waited two hours at the Dallas Northwest Highway location. And at the office on Red Bird Lane, Marckus Scott said he waited about 1 hour and 25 minutes.
NBC 5 also sent staff members needing to apply for a Texas license, or renew an old one, into both traditional and DPS Mega Center license offices to see firsthand how long the waits were.
At the Fort Worth Mega Center it took one staffer only about 20 minutes.
Two Inmates on the Loose They escaped from jail this morning at 8:30 a.m. in Hopkins County. Quick, without consulting a map, where’s Hopkins County? NBC 5 Investigators should Investigate.
Kaufman County DA and Wife Gunned Down: We’re only beginning to scratch the surface on this one. But some, such as Forney Mayor Darren Rozell, are already drawing connections between the killing of Kaufman County District Attorney Mike McLelland and his wife, Cynthia, and the murder of Assistant District Attorney Mark Hasse two months ago on the day the U.S. Department of Justice released a statement saying Hasse was involved in a racketeering case against the Aryan Brotherhood.
DMN Lauds Don Williams’ Speech, Still Mum of Golf Course: Late last week, Glenn was quick to point out that Rudy Bush’s piece (paywall) on former Trammel Crow CEO Don Williams’ chiding of the Dallas elite at the Dallas Country Club was missing some choice words about plans to build a golf club in South Dallas (namely, that Williams at first thought the course was the “worst use of $12 million that the city could possibly spend” before taking a step back and saying that a golf course doesn’t equal jobs or development). Well, over the weekend, this Dallas Morning News editorial offered formal support to Williams’ tough talk, but still nothing about the golf course, which this DMN editorial endorsed back in November, saying that:
We know there will be naysayers and cynics. But when a corporation of AT&T’s size recognizes that it’s time to focus on southern Dallas — and then uses its substantial leadership powers to rally major backing — that’s a marker worth applauding. This golf course plan is a game changer.
So, DMN, tell us: Is Williams a naysayer or a cynic?
First Baptist Opens New $130 Million Campus For Easter: Those chewy, sugary gummy ducks in your kids’ Easter baskets? They weren’t the only tacky treats to arrive in Dallas yesterday morning.