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Making Dallas Even Better

Ask John Neely Bryan: A Post-Modern Logo For the City of Dallas

Question: How do you feel about this new logo for your city? Sure, it looks a lot like Plano’s starry P, and Arlington has a star shoved up their A too. But, looking at some of the others, what do they say to people? Irving has horses, Desoto’s eagle is proof of their All-American-ness. Richardson, well, people all over Richardson are trying to figure theirs out. The winner in my book is Addison, which with its jaunty logo, really spells “Party!” What is your opinion on this move? Are we turning into a regional star like Plano and Arlington? Should we keep the branch of nature in our D? Do we need more marketing? And if you have a recipe of two from the 1800’s, I’d love to discuss. — Amy S.

If only the current municipal governance of Dallas had the same wisdom and fortitude of character that you have demonstrated with your query, dear reader, I might could have spared them the wasted time involved in consulting those ne’er-do-wells who prattle on around the old horseshoe each week as to the possibility and probability of replacing the current city logo (the one which comes garnished by a side of parsley) with the star-emblazoned iconography devised by the Convention & Visitors Politburo.

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Leading Off (8/27/15)

The Susan Hawk Saga Continues. You know by now that Dallas County District Attorney Susan Hawk is taking a four-week leave of absence to battle an episode of depression. And now we know that she will be staying at an in-state treatment facility, somewhere that is not in Dallas. It’s not certain when Hawk will be back in Dallas, but she will supposedly return to work late next month. Hawk’s neighbor, lawyer Bob Hinton, said he had observed stints of paranoia since Hawk became DA at the beginning of the year and that he is glad she’s finally seeking help.

SPCA Retrieves More Than 150 Mistreated Animals From Home. Yesterday, the SPCA of Texas removed quite a few neglected and dead animals from a home in Balch Springs. There had been multiple complaints of suspected animal cruelty. After animal control picked up several dead animals, the SPCA obtained a search warrant and, along with the police department’s animal services, “retrieved 107 cats, five of which were dead, 40 dogs, three doves, two chickens, one finch, one dead parakeet and one guinea pig.” As you can probably imagine, the conditions of the home and these animals were…not good. Thoroughly sickening. Let’s hope these furry friends find new loving homes soon.

No More Stop Signs For Now. The Dallas City Council voted yesterday to not make it easier for dense neighborhoods in Dallas to put up extra stop signs. Who cares about driving safety, anyway?

Are There Any Good Reasons Left for Susan Hawk Not to Resign?

UPDATE: Clearly as a result of reading my post, Susan Hawk did the sensible thing a couple of hours later and released a statement clearing up the whole DA goes AWOL situation. She is taking a four week leave of absence to battle a “serious episode of depression.”

I’m going to piggy back on Jason’s poll today and extend the question about Susan Hawk with a request for feedback in the comments. I’m really curious to hear what you think about this. I’ve been following the Susan Hawk regime like everyone else, and at this point, I’m left wondering if she has any reasons left not to resign her post as Dallas County District Attorney. Here’s the situation as I see it.

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Correction: Di Mambro Plan Did Not Come From Mayor’s Task Force

Got a really sweet e-mail yesterday from the mayor’s PR chief, Scott Goldstein, that called my attention to a mistake in my September column in D Magazine (not online yet). Helpfully, Goldstein cc’ed the mayor (because, duh, his boss) and Wick (because, duh, actually runs the city). The e-mail:

Good evening, Eric,

Your piece on Fair Park in the September magazine was brought to our attention today. You wrote: “Recently, Mayor Mike Rawlings commissioned a task force that came up with a radical new blueprint to fix the State Fair and reinvigorate Fair Park and its neighborhoods. In short, it would restrict the Fair’s footprint at the park. Unofficially it is called the Di Mambro Plan, named for its lead architect, Antonio Di Mambro….”

This is totally, unequivocally false.

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D/FW Airport’s ‘Welcome Mat’ for Uber and Lyft

The recent news that Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport is finally going to stop prohibiting arriving passengers from using Uber & Lyft was greeted with great fanfare by long-suffering victims of the taxicab cartel. As promised by D/FW Airport CEO Sean Donohue earlier this year, the new procedure was going to be simple: “1. book your ride; 2. take your ride.” As long as the driver held a sticker issued by either Dallas or Fort Worth (the two cities that own and theoretically control the $7.5 billion nation-state), he or she would be good to go.

Although I hoped it was really this simple, knowing the time-honored North Texas tradition of protecting incumbent transportation monopolists (Exhibit A: Wright Amendment, Exhibit B: City of Dallas’ vice cops issuing questionable citations to Uber drivers, Exhibit C: City Manager A.C. Gonzalez’ secret effort to kill Uber, Exhibit D: City of Dallas attempting to kick Delta out of Love Field), I was a bit skeptical.

Sure enough, a closer look reveals the “new procedure” is anything but simple.

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Visualizing Poverty Growth In Dallas

Before we head into the weekend, I thought I’d jump back into the fray after some time away from the office with a really depressing post about poverty growth in Dallas. Shall we?

I don’t have new information for you, just a new way of looking at it. The data comes from a report from 2014 put out by which looked at population change in the nation’s poorest urban neighborhoods and argued that the most pressing problem confronting our cities is not gentrification, but rather the concentration of poverty. This concentration of poverty is illustrated in a map I pointed to back in July that showed income inequality broken down by neighborhood. But now we have a new set of nifty maps by designer Justin Palmer that presents the issue in bleak, ominous tones.

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Leading Off (8/14/15)

Police and Fire Pension Fund Faces FBI Inquiry. More precisely, Brett Shipp of WFAA reported that G-Men have “made contact with” members of the organization’s board and staff, but he’s doesn’t know the nature of the investigation.

DART, Dallas Weigh 2nd Downtown Line. A decision is expected soon about the city’s and transit agency’s preferred second downtown light-rail route. Ten options remain under consideration, with all of those running to, or near, the existing Convention Center station. Cost of construction could run between $493 million and $1.1 billion, depending on which route it chosen. Recently, over on StreetSmart, Patrick Kennedy indicated his preference for Alternative 3C, though he’s also sympathetic to those who wish the city was ready to put a subway below Commerce Street.

Cowboys Drop Preseason Opener. The San Diego Chargers defeated Dallas in the first official practice game of the new season, by a score of 17-7. I’m sure the city’s call-in sports radio hosts and guests are being cautious and measured in their responses to the meaningless outcome.

Dallas Ranks High For Cop-INduced Fatalities. That’s according to a Chicago-based group that looked at data for the years 2010-2014 and concluded that only the cities of Phoenix and Philadelphia saw more deaths per capita at the hands of police during that period. Dallas officers shot and killed 34 people, which translates to 2.7 fatal shootings for every 100,000 people.

Family Erects SignS In Clash With Neighbor. A Farmers Branch family and the man who lives next door have clashed over barking dogs. So much so that the family is ready to get out. They’ve placed signs in their front and back yards announcing why:

Will their tactic work in this seller's market?  (still: CBS DFW) Will their tactic work in this seller’s market? (still: CBS DFW)

Day Care Leaves Boy at AT&T Stadium. The 5-year-old was found wandering alone on the field at the House That Jerry Built after a special “Kids Day” event. His mother retrieved him from Arlington Police hours after Jeanette’s Little Haven Christian Academy misplaced him.

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Adam McGough Proposes Trinity Parkway Compromise

UPDATE: After taking those hours to digest, the council approved the compromise in the afternoon. So officially their support is for the four-lane park road instead of the traffic reliever. However, since the bench is still being built, and since the amount of money they’re withholding from being spent on a larger tollway is but a pittance compared to the overall cost of that project anyway, it’s far from a guarantee that 3C will never get built.


Original post: This morning at the Dallas City Council meeting, freshman Councilman Adam McGough made a motion that the council declare that none of the remaining $47.7 million from the 1998 Trinity Lakes and Trinity Parkway bond be used to fund any road through the park of greater size than the four-lane meandering park-access road envisioned in the Beasley Plan.

In other words: let’s kill 3C, the high-speed toll road. (Though the “bench” that could accommodate something like 3C would still be constructed.)

Councilman Philip Kingston called it a great compromise. “I can’t wait to vote in favor of this motion,” he said.

Then Councilman Rick Callahan spoke up, asking that new members respect the ghosts of councils past, not discarding the “25 years of planning” that have gone towards developing 3C as a traffic reliever route.

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Poll: Do Uber and Lyft Belong at D/FW Airport?

As Tim mentioned in Leading Off this morning, Dallas taxi operators have sued to prevent Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport from allowing drivers for app-based services like Uber and Lyft from picking up passengers there. Cabbies argue that “the entire culture that has developed at the airport taxicab queue is one based on the American dream.” By implication, D/FW officials hate the American dream.

What do you think?

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Ask John Neely Bryan: How Dallas Police Reach Out to Kids

Question: Back in the day, Dallas police officers used to have trading cards with their names, stats, positions, etc. on them and featured photos of the officers, cool police cars, and K9 units. I remember them being like a super-prevalent thing at any Dallas event — parades, carnivals, and the State Fair. Living now in a time in history where police departments are trying to combat all the negative media and bridge the gap between police force and community, I wonder what happened to the program, if it’s still around, and if not, what the police department in Dallas is doing to facilitate that relationship with Dallas area youth? — Callie L.

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Poll: Should Dallas Consider Raising the Minimum Wage?

This week, as Rudolph Bush notes, the Dallas City Council will have a discussion about whether vendors on city contracts should be required to pay their employees a “living wage” of $10.25 per hour, rather than merely the federal minimum of $7.25 per hour.

Meanwhile, other big cities in the United States have already set their own wage standards higher for all workers — including $10 in Chicago and $15 in Seattle. Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders is pushing for a $15 minimum nationally. But cost of living varies widely depending on where a person resides, so a higher federal standard would be only a little help in some places while overkill (killing jobs) in others.

Even so, if the City Council decides that those paid on city projects need to be better paid to support themselves and their families, why shouldn’t that same concern (if state law allowed it) extend to everyone who works within the city’s limits?

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Uptown Sam’s Club Opponents Live to Fight Another Day

You probably saw the news yesterday that an appeals court judge ruled in favor of the Dallas residents group that is still trying to block the development of that Uptown Sam’s Club project. You can read more about the ruling here, but it basically boils down to this: a judge rejected the city of Dallas’ claim that the non-profit organization formed by residents to fight the Uptown Sam’s Club had no legal standing to fight the developer in court.

In short, Judge Phyllis Lister Brown said, “Um, yeah. Of course the citizens do have legal standing. Because, you know, duh.” Or in legal terms: “Protecting the quality of neighborhood living is a civic purpose. … Therefore, the Association has a nonprofit purpose and is a nonprofit association to which the Code applies.” Funny that the city of Dallas needed a judge to remind them this.

So, what does the court ruling mean?

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Ask John Neely Bryan: Why Can’t Businesses Place Signs on Downtown Sidewalks?

Question: Why aren’t businesses allowed to put signs on the street downtown? How are people supposed to know they exist if they cannot? (For example, Hospitality Sweet in 400 N. Ervay; Serj across the street from them.) — David H.

What luck! Just last night, during my habitual bedtime reading, I finished Article VII of Chapter 51A of the Dallas City Code, which governs signage and other signage-related activities. It was among the most riveting passages so far of my trip through the regulations of local municipal governance. I am continuously awed by the ability of lawyers to take the language of Shakespeare and Keats, Twain and Hemingway, and fashion it into the verbal equivalent of pouring out a medium-sized container of thumb tacks and jamming them one by one into the back of your hand. A taste:

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Poll: Should We Stop Honoring the Confederacy?

A memorial to Confederate soldiers was vandalized over the weekend in Denton, sparking another conversation about whether in 2015 we should continue to honor those who fought in open rebellion against the United States. What do you think?

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