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Making Dallas Even Better

Leading Off (9/9/15)

Second Woman Questioned in Murder of Uptown Dentist. An ex-girlfriend of Dr. Kendra Hatcher’s boyfriend apparently tracked the dentist using an iPhone, then paid a man $500 to bring her Hatcher’s drivers license. Most of this comes from Crystal Cortes, who claims to have driven this unnamed man to the crime scene.

Authorities Looking for Drivers Involved in Highway Newlywed Video. A couple from Irving got married last weekend, then had their first dance on I-30. Video from the event shows traffic completely halted as members of a local Camaro club circled the couple, burning rubber. Now police are looking for the drivers who shut down the freeway. Ah, romance.

Business Leaders Argue Over New Downtown Light-rail Route. The City Council’s transportation committee unanimously voted on where to put a proposed new light-rail route. Now downtown businesses are asking the council to keep its options open, proposing a resolution that would prevent the city and DART from taking any private property. The problem with that: it would potentially kill the entire project.

Argentina Draws Mexico in Arlington. Lionel Messi, perhaps the most famous athlete on the planet, scored late in last night’s international friendly, hosted at Jerry World, to cap a two-goal comeback and salvage a draw. Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez scored for Mexico on a penalty kick in the first half. Final score: 2-2.

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Rick Carlisle Believes He Can Fly

Rick Carlisle, the coach of the Dallas Mavericks, apparently owns a pretty sweet 26-foot-long Cirrus SR22 turbo plane, which generally starts at about $360,000. And the coach has been learning how to fly. According to this ESPN story, from Tim MacMahon, Carlisle has logged around 180 hours of flying time — all in the offseason and during breaks. He’s preparing for his next ratings test.

Most of the ESPN story is about all the safety precautions the coach takes, from his pre-takeoff checklist to the people he hired to train him to the rocket-propelled parachute attached to the entire plane (it has reportedly saved over 100 lives already). One other precaution he takes: he won’t fly with his wife and daughter.

“In due time, they’ll come up,” Carlisle says, “but I’m going to make sure I do all the work and have the appropriate ratings. It’ll happen when it happens. Donna and Abby are looking forward to doing it at the right time. I haven’t determined that it’s the right time yet.”

Dinesh D’Souza Goes to His First NFL Game

Dinesh D’Souza, a Mumbai-reared author and public intellectual who’s been called one of America’s most influential conservative thinkers by The New York Times, had never attended an NFL game—until last night’s pre-season scrap between the Cowboys and the Houston Texans. D’Souza and his fiancee, Debbie Fancher of Houston, were guests in T. Boone Pickens’ Owners Club suite at AT&T Stadium. The energy magnate wasn’t there, but his right-hand man, Jay Rosser, showed the pair all the sights, from the “runway” where the ‘Boys retreat to their locker room at halftime to Jerry Jones’ suite (alas, the door was closed).

So, what was D’Souza’s reaction? “It’s very eye-opening for me,” he said. “I’m looking at it as a spectacle, from the point of view of Americana and American culture. … George Will keeps telling us that baseball is America’s game, but I don’t agree. I think football is America’s game. It embodies steel and masculinity and aggressiveness and speed. To me, baseball is like a poor man’s cricket.” D’Souza, whose film 2016: Obama’s America is the second highest-grossing political documentary ever, added that he’s planning to shoot much of a new doc about the progressive movement and Hillary Clinton in Dallas. Not because DFW is a progressive hotbed, but because “there’s a lot of [moviemaking] talent here.”

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Morning News Names New Managing Editor

Her name is Robyn Tomlin. If you’d like to know all about her and about how excited she is to come to Dallas, you can read this Romenesko post. But here’s all you really need to know: her dog, a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, is named Boo Radley.

The paper’s editor, Mike Wilson, has a dog named Story. As Zac has noted (repeatedly), Story is a horrible name for a dog. Me, I think Boo Radley ain’t too bad, especially when shortened to Boo. I’d be curious to hear what Zac thinks.

UPDATE: Jason may have been first, but my dog point brought needed perspective and context to this story. So I’m leaving this post up.

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Morning News Hires New Managing Editor

The selection of Robyn Tomlin of Pew Research Center, to fill the post vacated by George Rodrigue almost a year ago, was announced in a memo this afternoon:

“This is a great opportunity for me,” Tomlin, 44, said in a telephone interview from Washington, D.C. “It’s one of the most exciting and challenging times in modern history to be a journalist.”

While most of Tomlin’s experience has been in newspapers, she has spent the last few years working in digital news.

Mike Wilson, editor of The News, said Tomlin’s blend of skills makes her “the ideal person to help us maintain the high quality of our newspaper and extend the reach of our digital work.” Although Tomlin describes herself as a community journalist, he noted that she has national reputation as a digital journalist.

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The DMN Screws DISD Yet Again

As I mentioned in Leading Off, there’s a story in the paper today about DISD. Two administrators at a school with 390 students were put on leave while the district investigates possible academic misconduct. Were the administrators cheating? Maybe. Maybe not. We don’t know. The Morning News doesn’t know. The paper doesn’t even know what the possible “academic misconduct” might have entailed. All it could report was that two administrators were on leave. It’s a pretty thin story. Yet it ran above the fold today on the front page. It’s such a non-story at this point that the reporter, Tawnell Hobbs, had to write one graph about all the people who wouldn’t comment and another two graphs about how the school in question got its name and how it partners with a local college.

This is a screw job.

Meanwhile, as Louisa Meyer pointed out in the comments to my earlier post, some very good news is coming out of the district.

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Can a Parody News Website Work in City Where Real News Is Already a Parody?

Well, that didn’t take long — just eight days, by my count. That’s how long it took the newly launched, Onion-style Dallas parody news site Dallas Brisket to go from making up funny fake headlines about local events to just printing stuff that actually happens in Dallas.

If you missed it, Dallas Brisket launched on August 25 with a few laudable headline zings. “After Three Weeks, District Attorney Susan Hawk Found at Her Desk,” read the inaugural headline, quickly followed up with “Wylie H. Dallas Stops Giving a Sh*t After Reading Facebook Comments.” Not bad. They made me laugh.

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Is Dallas a Self-Loathing City?

In a fun TexMo post painting the big cities of Texas as a dysfunctional family, John Nova Lomax writes of the one-sided rivalry between Houston and Dallas:

When Houston insists that the rivalry does exist, and that Dallas’s constant denial of that existence is proof. And then Dallas sticks the dagger in: “Five Super Bowls, Houston. Five.” And then Dallas drops the mic and exits stage left.

But underneath all of its feigned obliviousness to other Texas cities, there does seem to lurk a current of self-loathing. As East Dallas resident Mamie Joseph puts it, “Dallas is too busy hating itself to notice anybody else.”

That observation was borne out four years back when I wrote a piece for the Houston Press and Dallas Observer about how those two cities were getting cooler while Austin was becoming more business-like and big city. The piece was met with near-universal praise in Houston, but about half of the feedback I got from Dallas was that I was a lunatic to think that way, and that only their jobs were keeping them from escaping to Austin ASAP.

I don’t think it’s the people of Dallas as a whole who are self-loathing. Probably just habitual Dallas Observer readers. /rimshot

Leading Off (9/2/15)

“Frontier Disney” Fraudster Sentenced to 17 Years. You’ll recall the story of Thomas W. Lucas Jr., the Plano man convicted of fraud after he forged documents and misled investors — who thought they were getting insider tips about plans for a Walt Disney theme park in North Texas. (Zac once compared Lucas to Uncle Buck.) Well, yesterday Lucas, 35, was sentenced for his crimes: 17 years.

Another City Honors Santos Rodriguez. In 1973, a Dallas police officer investigating the theft of coins from a vending machine forced a 12-year-old boy named Santos Rodriguez to play Russian roulette — until the boy lost. The city has had a hard time addressing this terrible injustice over the years. Now, from the DMN, this fiery burn:

“Just this week, we learned of Santos Rodriguez Memorial Park, so named ‘to remind us all of the importance to respect, love, care for, and protect all of the children of the world.’ About $350,000 in city parks funding helped redevelop it into a welcoming open space next to El Centro de la Raza.

Please stop by the next time you’re in Seattle.”

City Worker Does Terrible Thing to Dallas Children. From our local CBS affiliate: “Ripped apart and tossed into a nearby creek, kids in an East Dallas youth soccer league are unable to play their matches after a city worker was seen destroying the goalposts the league owns.” It’s no wonder those East Dallas kids weren’t able to play, after being ripped apart and tossed into a creek. Hope everyone recovers quickly.

No More Betting at Lonestar Park. Races were suspended yesterday, as the legislature debates the future of the Texas Racing Commission. Looks like racing will resume soon, though.

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The Convention Center That Ate Dallas

A couple of weeks ago, after reading that the taxpayer-funded Dallas Convention & Visitors Bureau apparently wanted to lend us the letter “D” from their “DALLAS” logo to replace the City of Dallas’ existing letter “D” logo, I got to thinking once again about the outsized influence the DCVB wields over municipal affairs.

Late last year, after Philip Jones, the DCVB’s president, tossed out a plan to have taxpayers pay for a $300 million addition to the convention center, I took a look into the finances and found that it lost $37 million per year before debt service and $54 million after interest expense — amounts that were virtually identical to its losses prior to the opening of the half-billion-dollar city-owned Omni Convention Center Hotel in 2010 (one of the primary justifications for building the hotel was that it would drive more business to the convention center and stop its losses). Some of the most interesting observations, however, came from reader comments to my post. Former city council member and the executive director of the Dallas Arts District, Veletta Lill, made the following observations:

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An Object Lesson on Jumping to Conclusions During a Breaking News Story

Here is a hypothetical: a man shoots and kills a reporter and a cameraman on live morning television. You are an editorial writer for a major metropolitan daily newspaper. You wonder if Donald Trump’s antipathy toward the press led to the shooting. Should you A) go get a cup of coffee and wait a bit to see what develops, or B) put up a blog post wondering if Donald Trump is partly to blame for the two deaths? Tod Robberson at the DMN went with option B. Let’s see how that turned out.

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