Ranking the City Manager Candidates By Who Is Vetting Them

Interim city manager A.C. Gonzalez, Oakland city administrator Deanna Santana, and Wake County (North Carolina) manager David Cooke have all interviewed for the gig here, and now various city council members have been dispatched to find out more about the candidates in their hometowns. For Gonzalez, this amounts to, I don’t know, talking to the counter people at the Jimmy John’s in downtown where he gets a J.J. Gargantuan on Mondays and Wednesdays and always takes advantage of their free smells policy.

As for the other two: “Big Game” Dwaine Caraway has been dispatched to Oakland to check up on Santana, and Sheffie “K.Dot” Kadane and Tenell Atkins went to North Carolina to look into Cooke. This setup tells a little about where everyone stands.

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A D Magazine Guess-tigation: Will Mayor Rawlings Use Our Own Peter Simek In His Re-Election Campaign?

Will Mayor Mike Rawlings run for re-election? Maybe. Will he once again use our arts editor Peter Simek and his delightful family in his campaign ads? I hope so.

I wonder if Peter even knows about this. ALSO: Glorious shot of Mayor Mike picking up sticks at the beginning. Just getting a quick workout in.

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Dwaine Caraway Is Always Dwaine Caraway, And That’s Great

Dwaine Caraway is headed to Oakland today to check out city manager candidate Deanna Santana on her home turf. I guess he’s a nervous flier, because this is what he said about his trip:

“God is in control … that’s not to say I’m not going to have a couple of cocktails. If the lord wanted me to fly, he would have made me a bird.”

ALWAYS DO YOU, DWAINE.

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Too Late to Find Another Architect For the Margaret McDermott Bridge?

We’re probably too far along in the process of the creation of the new Interstate 30 bridge over the Trinity River (aka Large Marge‘s little sister, the McBridge) to back out of this deal now. Especially since parts of it are already being manufactured in Tampa. So the bridge, slated to open in 2016, is pretty much a sunk cost at this point.

But the bad news about architect Santiago Calatrava keeps coming.

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Leading Off (1/10/14)

Dallas ISD Tops TEA’s Worst Schools List. On Thursday, the Texas Education Agency released its annual list of low-performing public schools, and DISD had the most below-standard campuses of any district in the state. That’s 57 Dallas schools from which students now have the right to transfer, of 892 statewide. By comparison, Houston (the state’s largest district) had 53 on the list. Because of the switch to a new testing system the last two years, schools didn’t make the grade if their passing rates were less than 50% in any two of the previous three years, or if they were rated academically unacceptable on the old TAKS tests in 2011. Superintendent Mike Miles points out that 12 of the 57 subpar DISD schools, including Woodrow Wilson High School, actually met state passing standards in 2013.

Flu Deaths Spur Rush on Vaccinations. Hard to blame folks for being anxious to get their flu shots after many news reports of 19 deaths from the virus, plus a newly reported case in Wise County in which a man died from the H1N1 strain. The family of 41-year-old Christopher Waskom says he didn’t even known that he had the flu when he passed away on New Year’s Eve. Everybody be careful out there.

Avoid Interstate 30 Across Lake Ray Hubbard. That’s generally good advice during any normal rush hour, but this morning especially. A multi-vehicle wreck before dawn has resulted in the highway being shut down in both directions around Dalrock Road for hours, possibly until midday.

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Leading Off (1/6/14)

It’s Cold. Very cold. Despite that, Plano parents lined up Sunday night to request school transfers. Stay safe out there.

FBI Still Investigating Dallas County DA Craig Watkins. Yes, this is still going on. To recap: Al Hill III, H.L. Hunt’s great-grandson, was charged with mortgage fraud after he acquired a $500,000 loan using a home he claimed to own as collateral. In truth, he only owned 20 percent of the home. That charge was eventually dismissed, but in the process, Hill alleged that Watkins indicted him as a favor to Lisa Blue, a Watkins benefactor. Watkins was held in contempt of court. Blue was investigated by the FBI and cleared. But the Watkins inquiries continue.

Pregnant Woman Being Kept on Life Support Despite Family’s Requests. On November 26, Marlise Machado Muñoz, 33, collapsed on her kitchen floor. Today, she is in a vegetative state, and despite her previously documented wishes and the wishes of her family, she’s on life support because of the 1999 Texas Advance Directives Act, which requires a brain-dead pregnant woman be kept alive until the baby can be delivered. Muñoz was 14 weeks pregnant when she collapsed. Her husband, Erick Muñoz, is claiming her doctors didn’t even know about the law. They’re saying there’s nothing they can do. And as expected, it’s turned into a nationwide debate.

Fort Worth Tattoo Artist Tattoos Man For 36 Hours, Misses the World Record. That record is 50 hours, 10 minutes, and Robert “Tat2 Bobby” Doran had planned to beat it with a 55-hour session. He stopped at hour 36 because the client, Darren Curry, fell asleep. Talk about pain tolerance.

Senator Ted Cruz Promises to Renounce Canadian Citizenship. Apparently, it’s a process.

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Leading Off (12/23/13)

Judge Jean Boyd Sentenced Previous Teen Drunk Driver to 20 Years. Plus, More Angry Op-Eds in the New York Times. Twenty years is quite a bit different than the 10 years of probation that Ethan Couch received. In 2004, Eric Bradlee Miller, then 16, stole a truck and crashed it into a car, killing a 19-year-old man. His BAC was .11. He was sentenced to 20 years. Couch, also 16, with a BAC of .24, crashed his pickup into an accident scene, killing four people. He received 10 years probation. Of course, there are differences between the stories of Miller and Couch, mainly the felony charge for stealing the pickup. But it’s an interesting, and devastating, comparison nonetheless. Also, James McAuley, who brought us that lovely JFK op-ed in the New York Times back in November, is back with some more venom for DFW on the Couch matter, specifically the “affluenza” diagnosis.

This Is a Story About an Apology. Dallas Police Department second-in-command Charlie Cato is sorry. He messed up (and by messed up he means never investigated) a shady account about a drug bust. The officers have since been fired, two others were disciplined, and Cato was put into the role of interim assistant city manager. Yes, that makes sense. But, according to the Morning News, he’s returning to his previous post next year.

Fort Worth Battling Drillers for Royalties. And it’s not alone. Arlington, Arlington ISD, and Fort Worth investor Ed Bass are all suing as well.  They claim that drillers, including Chesapeake Energy, have been using the money to cover post-drilling costs. Fort Worth alone alleges it’s been short-changed millions.

A “New” Trolley Car Will Hit the Streets This Week. The McKinney Avenue trolley system is adding Betty, an 80-year-old car that hasn’t been used since the 1950s, to its ranks. Betty will be out for tests this week and, hopefully, fully operational by February.

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Leading Off (12/20/13)

Mary Suhm Has Strange Definition of ‘Retirement.’ The former Dallas city manager retired six months ago, but even then it was known that she’d stay on the city payroll through January 7. Mayor Mike Rawlings had requested that Suhm stay around to help finish up business like the next budget, a police and firefighters contract, and the planning for the JFK 50th assassination extravaganza. But even after next month Suhm will remain a presence at City Hall. Rawlings asked her to help plan the U.S. Conference of Mayors meeting next summer. She’ll be paid with private money for that event. The News article notes that Suhm’s still-active role has put interim city manager A.C. Gonzalez in an “awkward position,” as he’s vying to have the term “interim” removed from his title but the constant presence of his former boss makes it more difficult to prove he can fly on his own. He should maybe give our own Cristina Daglas a call for tips on how to handle the situation. She’s had to live with former D Magazine editor Tim Rogers sitting standing right behind her for the last several months, and you should see how well she’s brought him to heel.

Wylie Teacher Arrested for Improper Relationship. Kristin Sims, a 33-year-old English teacher, allegedly had sex with one of her students in her classroom three or four times. Once on a Sunday, other times during her lunch period “on blankets and pillows that she kept at the school.” Sims has already resigned.

Lockheed Martin Ends Donations to Boy Scouts. The aerospace and defense company, which has plants in Fort Worth and Grand Prairie, won’t be giving any more money to the Irving-based organization. The announcement is more fallout from the Scouts’ decision to ban gay adults from serving as leaders. “We believe engaging with and funding an organization that openly discriminates is in conflict with our policies,” a Lockheed spokesman said. The company joins UPS, Merck, and Intel as major corporations that have withdrawn support for the Scouts because of its anti-gay policies.

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The Guardian Investigates Fracking in Ponder

The United Kingdom is having its own debate about the costs and benefits of allowing natural gas drilling via hydraulic fracturing (aka fracking), so the Guardian newspaper came to the tiny Denton County community of Ponder to see what life next to gas wells is like.

Their story, and the accompanying video, paints a nightmare scenario:

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Leading Off (12/13/13)

Icepocalypse Costs Homeowners More Than $30 Million.  That’s the estimate of the cost to fallen carports, tree branches hitting roofs, broken water pipes, and all manner of other residential damage from last week’s storm. Dallas County spent as much as $400,000 sanding and salting roads. Tarrant County spent about $500,000. In Denton County, which got as much as 4 inches of ice, they don’t yet have a full rundown of their costs, though they didn’t have to spend as much on overtime on county employees as they might have, since many of those workers were trapped in their homes.

Judge Harder on Black Teen Killer Than on Rich, White Teen Killer. Outrage over Tarrant County Judge Jean Boyd’s decision to let 16-year-old Ethan Couch off with a year of rehab, rather than any jail time, after he killed four people with his truck has made national headlines. Now WFAA reports that the same judge sent a 14-year-old black boy to prison for killing someone with a punch that knocked the victim to the ground, where he hit his head on the pavement and died two days later. In the judge’s sort-of defense, the victim’s mother says Boyd tried to give the boy in that case rehab as well but couldn’t find a treatment center to take him.

Courtney Kerr Takes Another Shower on National TV. This time with her best friend, on last night’s second episode of Courtney Loves Dallas. The installment was a marked improvement over the premiere, though I am perhaps biased by the prominent role D Magazine and our 10 Most Beautiful Women in Dallas photo shoot played.

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Leading Off (12/6/13): The Ice-pocalypse Cometh

Attack of Snow Miser.  Freezing rain and sleet have coated North Texas in a sheet of ice, and conditions aren’t expected to thaw much over the weekend. Grocery stores were overrun last night, with customers stocking up in anticipation of being trapped in their homes for several days. Roads have gotten messySchools are closed. Many flights are canceled. Saturday’s parade has been called off. So far it looks like runners will still show up Saturday morning to run 26 miles in the cold. Best of luck to them. I’ll be sleeping in until Heat Miser returns.

Rangers Outfielder Victim of Extortion Ring. According to the U.S. attorney’s office in Miami, three people conspired to extort Leonys Martin out of millions of dollars. Martin claims that, after he first defected from Cuba, a Mexican management company held him against his will and held his family hostage until he paid a “ransom” by agreeing to pay 30% of his future baseball earnings.

 City Hall Tree-Huggers Go to Court. In a lawsuit filed last week, the city of Dallas is asking that developer Mario Davey pay a fine of up to $500,000 for illegally clearing an East Dallas lot of 29 trees in order to build homes. Davey just calls it “dirty politics.” It’s the first time the city has sued over a violation of the tree ordinance.

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