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Denton Teacher Motivates Students With the ‘STAAR Test Funk’

Kelli Hauser, a sixth-grade reading teacher at McMath Middle School in Denton, produced this shot-for-shot video parody of Bruno Mars’ “Uptown Funk,” ostensibly to motivate students to get excited about the STAAR standardized testing this week. Hauser has previously produced parodies of Katy Perry’s “Dark Horse” called “STAAR Force” and Lady Gaga’s “Poker Face” called “TAKS Face,” so I suspect she may be doing it to live out a bit of her own American Idol-esque dreams too. Not that there’s anything wrong with that — she’s far from the only teacher to do so.

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Who Will Replace D.A. Susan Hawk?

Breaking news from the DMN: “Dallas County’s new district attorney Susan Hawk, blasted by former co-workers for acting erratically on the job, spent a month at a rehab center for prescription drug use during the campaign for that office in late 2013, friends and courthouse colleagues say. … ‘She definitely needs to get help,’ said a courthouse colleague who has talked to Hawk about her use of pain medication in the past.”

So how many convictions from her former courtroom will get thrown out? And whom will Greg Abbott appoint to take Hawk’s place after she steps down? Because surely that will happen, right? Leaders in the clubhouse have to be Bill Wirskye and Toby Shook.

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Poll: Would You Care if the State Fair of Texas Left Fair Park?

Yesterday Mitchell Glieber, the president of the State Fair of Texas, released a startling statement. Responding to a proposal put forward by Boston-based planner Antonio Di Mambro that completely rethinks the layout and use of Fair Park, the State Fair said that adopting such a plan would “effectively end the 129-year tradition of the State Fair of Texas in Dallas.”

Sound the alarms! Raise the flags! The State Fair could leave Fair Park! How did we get here?

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‘Legend of Chris Kyle’ Author Discusses the American Sniper on D Magazine Podcast

This week our program was fortunate enough to play host to the author of The Life and Legend of Chris Kyle: American Sniper, Navy SEAL, newly released in paperback. Michael J. Mooney stopped by the Old Monk to talk about his recent book signing at Barnes & Noble and to silently sit by and judge as Tim and Zac make light of the (admittedly awful and tragic) “booty shot” death in Deep Ellum.

Also, Steve Blow might unsubscribe from EarBurner after this episode, which is available on iTunes, Stitcher, or however you prefer to catch your pods. The lazier among you can stream it via the player below.

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Leading Off (3/27/15)

Dallas ISD Approves “Interim Bridge Plan.” At about 1 a.m., trustees voted for a measure that provides $129.5 million in funding for fast-tracked improvements at a number of schools, while expanding pre-kindergarten offerings and reopening several campuses. The final amount was less than the $134.7 million initially proposed after a number of amendments were made. Lakewood Elementary was among the big winners, as the school will get $12.6 million for an addition and renovations. All of this discussion is, of course, a prelude to voters later being asked to approve a comprehensive bond package totaling as much as $1.4 billion.

Bridge Collapse Kills Arlington Man. Yesterday’s accident in Central Texas along Interstate 35 in Salado, in which a tractor-trailer hit an overpass and caused a beam to fall onto the highway below, claimed the life of 32-year-old Clark Davis. I-35 was closed in both directions around the site until well into the night.

Rain May Ease Water Restrictions. The abundance of wet weather the last few months has resulted in some area lake levels rising dramatically and most of Dallas-Fort Worth shifting from darkest red to light red or orange on the U.S Drought Monitor map. Lake Lavon, one of the North Texas Municipal Water District’s reservoirs, has gone from 46.2 percent to 77.5 percent of capacity. If the trend continues this spring, the district may ease tough restrictions on watering that have been in place almost two years.

World War II Vet Recovers Empty Duffel Bag. Waymon Blundell, 94, certainly seemed tickled to be reunited with the bag, which he’d carelessly lost when he’d jumped onto the beach at Normandy as part of the D-Day invasion in 1944.

Keller Student Denied “Promposal.” Sixteen-year-old Casey Akers says her school wouldn’t let her stage a public invitation to the prom because she and her chosen date are gay. The school district issued a statement saying that it doesn’t allow any students to plan such elaborate invites, as they are disruptive. Anyway, when did it become an expectation for kids to treat a prom invite like a marriage proposal? Sounds like an excruciating burden for both straight and gay kids.

Derelict 1955 BelAir Wagon For Sale. It’s up for auction on eBay. You have until 10 a.m. today to make a bid. JFK assassination historian Farris Rookstool III (!) says the car is unique because a fellow named Lee Harvey Oswald once rode in it with his rifle.

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Dallas-Fort Worth Continues to Bulk Up Its Population

The U.S. Census Bureau today released new estimates on population growth between July 2013 and July 2014 in the nation’s metropolitan areas and counties, and the part you’re bound to hear local leaders crowing about is Dallas-Fort Worth’s place here:

  1. Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar Land, Texas, 156,371
  2. Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington, Texas, 131,217
  3. New York-Newark-Jersey City, N.Y.-N.J.-Pa., 90,797
  4. Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Roswell, Ga., 88,891
  5. Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim, Calif., 86,371
  6. Phoenix-Mesa-Scottsdale, Ariz., 84,980
  7. Washington-Arlington-Alexandria, D.C.-Va.-Md.-W.Va., 66,561
  8. Miami-Fort Lauderdale-West Palm Beach, Fla., 66,361
  9. San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, Calif., 64,406
  10. Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue, Wash., 57,857

That’s the metros with the 10 largest numeric increases in population. Of course, DFW has the fourth-largest population in the country, so adding a mere 131,217 people isn’t good enough to rank it in the top 20 in terms of percentage increase. (Note that only Houston appears on both lists.)

And let’s also remember that growth of the metro and growth of the city of Dallas itself are far from the same thing.

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What’s Really Happening With That Complaint Filed Against DISD

Yesterday, a guy named Bill Betzen filed a complaint with the Department of Education against DISD. If you read the DMN’s story about it, you probably went, “Whoa. That doesn’t look good. Seems like the district is screwing poor kids.” Nothing could be further from the truth. It’s okay. Don’t go too hard on yourself. It’s a complicated issue. Eric explains the whole matter on LearningCurve. You should read his post. After you do, you’ll understand the truth, that Betzen is just trying to undermine Superintendent Mike Miles and foul up a very important vote tonight by the board of trustees. Take a minute and educate yourself. Do it for the kids.

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A Modest Proposal for Dirk Nowitzki

First, I’d like to congratulate Dirk on snagging his 10,000th rebound. Also, high-five on the birth of his son (and winning the argument with his wife, apparently, to pick the kid’s name). On to business: The Musers this morning were talking about how there are only about two kids in the entire NCAA tourney who play with their backs to the basket. Further, they observed, no one, even at the pro level, shoots the hook anymore. As Kareem showed us, it is the most unstoppable shot ever invented. Now, I know that Dirk already has a signature shot, the wrong-way turnaround knee-kick fade-away jumper. I’m not suggesting he replace it. But I am proposing that he and Holger Geschwindner spend the next few weeks getting the hook ready. Last year, Dirk told Tim MacMahon that he’s been working on the hook for a decade. It is time. It looks like the Mavs might have to play Memphis in the first round. The key to beating them: Dirk’s hook.

Thank you for your time.

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Leading Off (3/26/15)

Levi Pettit Apologizes For Taking Part In Racist Chant. The Highland Park High graduate and — until recently — member of the SAE fraternity at the University of Oklahoma read from a prepared statement at Oklahoma City’s Fairview Baptist Church, while surrounded by some of the city’s black leaders. Apologizing for his appearance in the video where he and his fraternity brothers gleefully used racial epithets and chanted about lynching, Pettit, 20, said, “Some have wondered why I hadn’t spoken out publicly. The truth is I have had a mix of pain, shame, sorrow, and fear over the consequences of my actions.” I still don’t have much in the way of pity for him or anyone else involved, but it’s a start.

Suspect In Illegal Buttocks Injection Death Surrenders. Denise “Wewe” Ross was arrested for practicing medicine without a license following the death of Wykesha Reid. Ross’ alleged accomplice, Alicia “Jimmy Joe” Clarke, is still at large, I believe.

Your Weekly Steve Blow Facepalm Moment. “Can you stand one more word about Greg Hardy? More important, can you stand a positive word? Yeah, I know I’m late to the party. But I never dreamed the bash would go on this long. Or the bashing.” [Sighs so long that when it stops it is a century later and I now live in a place called New Texahoma where professional sports are played by sentient robots known as jerichos.] OK, look, Steve. I know you dig wordplay. That is your lane, and I get it. But maybe avoid using “bash” and “bashing” when you’re writing about giving a second chance to someone who has the stench of domestic violence coming off him so strong his jersey has Pigpen-like stink lines. And don’t compare Hardy to Josh Hamilton. Because that’s not even close to the same thing. It is like comparing apples to allegedly throwing a woman onto a futon full of automatic weapons. I mean, come on, my dude. I could go on and on about the smarmy glibness of the tone you strike in that column, but I’ve already given it way more thought than you did. Just stop trying to have a take on anything that remotely matters and write about some hokey thing that happened in Sunnyvale the other day that speaks to a larger point about no one cares.

Teacher At J.L. Long Middle School Somehow Showed Her Class a Nude Photo of Herself. Other than the fact it happened Monday, there isn’t a ton of other details here. I assume most of the kids are now preoccupied with Zayn Malik leaving One Direction, but that’s still pretty messed up.

Ted Cruz Already Missing Senate Votes Because Of His Presidential Run. Hello, bright side. I didn’t expect to see you so soon. Please, don’t hesitate to tell me what I can do to make your stay as long and as comfortable as possible.

Is H-E-B Preparing For Full-Blown Expansion Into North Texas? Maybe! For more on that story, I direct you to the fine staff at Shrug Monthly, who, frankly, own the guess-tigation beat.

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Things To Do In Dallas Tonight: March 25

Controversial doesn’t always equal good, but if something gets the right people riled up, I’m usually interested. Wednesday seems a little early in the week to take on anything too spicy, though, so it’s also worth considering some of the safer entertainment options available to you in Dallas tonight. Here are our picks for things to do, in descending order from most controversial to least.

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Leading Off (3/25/15)

Investigation Alleges “Reverse Robin Hood” Scheme at DISD: An investigation has revealed large discrepancies in per-student spending within DISD, suggesting that the district is reallocating funds — upwards of $70 million — intended for underprivileged students and spending them on pet projects and magnet schools. Expect a formal complaint filed with the U.S. Department of Education as soon as today. DISD has released an official response: “hogwash.”

Mother of Slain Basketball Star Sues DISD: Not a great day for the district. The mother of Troy Causey, the 18-year-old South Oak Cliff High basketball star who was beaten to death by teammates a year ago, has filed a wrongful death suit against DISD Superintendent Mike Miles and Terry Smith, head of Dallas County’s Juvenile Department. The suit accuses DISD officials of questionable athletic recruitment practices, including recruiting Causey out of juvenile detention and placing him in a special residence within South Oak Cliff’s attendance zone.

Is Dallas DA “Unstable” and “Overly Suspicious”?: We played a quick game in the office yesterday: power rank all the district attorneys in Dallas history. The department doesn’t exactly have a stellar history, and Susan Hawk looks more and more to fit the profile.

Highland Park High’s Racist Chant Leader Unveils Strategy Aimed at Salvaging His Ruined Name, Reputation: Levi Pettit, the Highland Park High School graduate who was captured in video leading racist fraternity chants in Oklahoma, will now attempt to become “a lifelong advocate for the African American community.”

AT&T Continues to Make Dallas’ Job Growth Look Great: The corporation looks to add 500 new positions throughout the region.

Texas Leg Silly Bill of the Day: Guns! We need to be able to carry them everywhere!

Paranoid Irving Mayor Follows Flapping Mouth to Promised Land of the Blow Hards: Beth Van Duyne has some hot sports opinions about religious communities in her city, and so, of course, Fox News comes calling.

Social Media Threats Responsible for More Public Dollars Spent Protecting Against Filter-less Crazies: It used to be that people would sit at a bar and say stupid things to their friends about stuff they didn’t like. Now they put it on Facebook, and as a result, security earns overtime for running extra details protecting people like Dallas Rep. Jason Villalba, the state legislature who introduced a bill that would make filming police all-but illegal.

Three North Texas Military Members on Creepy ISIS “Hit List”: Names, photos, and addresses of three North Texas members of the military personal surfaced on a website that asks sympathizers to target and kill 100 enemies of the so-called Islamic State.

Dallas Potholes Now So Big They Can Swallow Cars: Dear Dallas City Council: Quit talking toll roads, and fix our freaking streets already.

If You Like the Weather in Texas: Wait ten minutes.

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How Mike Ullman is Trying to Fix the ‘Stupid Mistakes’ That Were Made at JCPenney

By most accounts, Myron “Mike” Ullman has done a good job stopping the bleeding since returning to the CEO’s office at JCPenney in 2013, following the disastrous, short-lived tenure of former chief executive Ron Johnson. How exactly has he done it, though? That’s what we wanted to know during a recent interview and audience Q&A with Ullman at the Dallas Friday Group, a luncheon forum for businesspeople. Although Ullman graciously avoided mentioning Johnson by name during our conversation, he wasn’t shy about assessing the problems caused by the one-time Apple savant. Ullman, who led Plano-based Penney from 2004 to 2012 before making way for Johnson in 2012, was asked whether coming back to the company wasn’t hard and stressful. “No! Hard and stressful is when you’re building something that people don’t like,” he replied. “Satisfying is when you’re fixing some stupid mistakes that somebody else made. So that’s what we’re doing.”

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Leading Off (3/24/15)

Dallas D.A. Fires Top Assistant. Susan Hawk has been our district attorney for about three months. Her tenure has not so far gone smoothly. Yesterday she fired her first assistant, Bill Wirskye, whose hiring had been seen as a solid move on Hawk’s part. Good luck filling that spot with a qualified candidate.

Jason Garrett Speaks About Greg Hardy. For the first time, the Cowboys coach spoke to reporters about why the team would sign a guy who beat up his girlfriend. “First off, we understand the seriousness of domestic violence,’’ he said. “We obviously aren’t for domestic violence, so let’s get that out at the start.” Blah, blah, blah.

Low Oil Prices Won’t Hit Dallas Too Hard. You probably should read Mitchell Schnurman’s column today. Unless you live in Houston.

DART Unveils New Oak Cliff Streetcar. Councilwoman Vonciel Jones Hill likes the new streetcars, which will begin operation April 13, going between Union Station and the intersection of Colorado Boulevard and Beckley. She said the people behind the project are “just hyena happy, peacock proud, and baboon-beside-ourselves to be able to present the Dallas streetcar.” I’d like to add that I am dik-dik delighted about the whole thing.

Bird Forces Dallas Police Helicopter To Make Emergency Landing. This is what happens when you fly into an American coot. Which reminds me. I’m also coot crazy for the Oak Cliff streetcar.

Dead Dogs and Roosters Get Dumped in Dallas Park. Cockfighting. Dog fighting. That’s probably what led to this. (Side note — and not to make light of this situation — but I can’t help but imagine what a cootfighting operation might look like. You throw these mud hens into a ring, everyone gets all excited, places their bets, and then the birds go pecking around for bugs, just fly away, whatever. Maybe it’s just me.)

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