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What a Squabble Over a Piece of Public Art Says About How Dallas Values Culture

Over on FrontRow today, I have a little ditty about the White Rock Water Theater (pictured), which the Cultural Affairs Commission voted last night to remove from White Rock Lake. I know some of you think the piece is an ugly piece of junk. It certainly was in need of some TLC (to the tune of $200,000, in fact, an amount equal to about half of all of what the city has to spend on public art). So, fair enough, get rid of it. Only what does it say about the city that we have a public art program that can’t be maintained, and how is that indicative of so much else that goes on in Dallas?

Peel away all of the rhetoric about Dallas’ supposed cultural ambition and desire to be considered a major art center, and the history of the Water Theater shows us that Dallas actually places very little value in nurturing and supporting art, artists, and artistic activity.

Here’s the full piece.

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How the Mayor Should Handle Ethics Complaints About His Well-Stocked ‘Officeholder Account’

Mayor Rawlings pinky swears he won’t touch money in his officerholder account that came in before he announced his re-election bid in December. He also said that he became aware of the loophole that allows incumbents to receive unlimited contributions back in 2011, and believes we “gotta change that,” but, you know, hasn’t gotten around to it. Now he will, at some point in the next six months, which sounds like after the election.

I don’t know about you, but I didn’t find that response terribly satisfying. Here’s a better idea.

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Downtown and the Homeless: Is It Time to Consider Relocating The Bridge?

Last week I was invited by the Dallas Homeowners League to moderate a panel which included representatives from four central Dallas neighborhoods: The Farmers Market, Deep Ellum, The Cedars, and downtown. There was plenty to talk about, from connectivity, to public safety, to development, to schools, to highways, to greenspace, and on and on. We probably could have jabbered on for hours and hours, but the DHL folks run a tight ship and the pug was pulled promptly at 8 p.m.

The last topic we discussed was probably the one most residents in those four areas were most concerned about: homelessness.

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D Magazine Contest Winner Memorializes Young Wylie Soccer Player

Throughout 2014, D Magazine held a series of giveaways for some pretty great prizes. In December the contest was centered around the “Season of Giving.” The winner would get to choose a charity to which a $2,000 donation would be made via the Communities Foundation of Texas.

The folks at CFT — who work with the people raising money for many worthy causes — were so moved by the story of the winner of our contest that they suggested we tell you a little bit more about her and her family. So that’s what I’m going to do.

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Million-dollar Lawsuit Rips Winstead Advice in NCPA Sex Scandal

In recent months, the National Center for Policy Analysis has worked hard to put a sex scandal involving its founder behind it. The free-market think tank fired the founder, John C. Goodman, hired a new leader (tea party star Allen B. West), and scheduled several high-profile speakers for its events. Now, however, the Dallas-based NCPA has filed a lawsuit against a prominent law firm and the firm’s chairman emeritus that revisits the sex scandal in detail. Among other things, the suit asserts that l’affaire Goodman caused the nonprofit organization to lose at least $2 million in fundraising—and nearly put it out of business.

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Deep-Pocketed Black Rhino Killer May Not Get to Kill Endangered Rhino After All

You remember this story, right? The one that inspired a Colbert Word segment? The one about the guy who laid out a cool $350K at a Dallas Safari Club auction for a rare opportunity to shoot an endangered black Rhino and haul it back to the United States, stuff it, stick it somewhere in their home, and then brag to his friends about what a massive, Hemingway-esque trigger finger he has? That guy.

Well, that guy was Corey Knowlton, a international hunting consultant whose resume boasts of a Super Slam of wild sheep and the big five in Africa. And while, thanks to his success at the Dallas Safari Club auction, Mr. Knowlton does possess a permit to shoot and kill an endangered black rhinoceros, his little hunting expedition may not go off as planned after all. That’s because he needs another permit to haul the massive rhino carcass back to the United States.

Last spring, he applied for a permit from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service that would enable him to import the rhino’s body following the hunt in Namibia. But he’s still waiting to hear back.

The agency is applying extra scrutiny to Knowlton’s request because of the rise in poaching, said spokesman Gavin Shire.

If the permit is denied, the safari club plans to refund Knowlton’s money that was pledged to a rhino conservation fund in the southwestern African country.

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Westlake Academy Is Early Leader in North Texas Giving Day

Today, as you are no doubt aware, is North Texas Giving Day, the Communities Foundation of Texas joint that uses a pool of money to match donations, thereby encouraging people to give to local nonprofits. Last year, the effort raised $25.2 million, making it the largest giving day in the country (by a wide margin). As of 10 o’clock, $6.2 million had been raised. Not to jinx anyone, but it looks like we are on pace to break last year’s record.

Two confessions: the first is that I’m addicted to watching the leader board, partly, I guess, because I am familiar with some of the organizations on it. Currently, Westlake Academy is destroying the competition, with donations totaling $161,565. Little ol’ Cistercian Prep is right near the top, with $92,785. But what about — oh, let’s just pick a school at random — St. Mark’s? Only $1,575? And Hockaday with a paltry $7,600? You folks need to step up your game. Go, Hawks!

The second confession: my wife does PR for North Texas Giving Day. Go, wife!

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Billionaire Bites Back: Judge All But Tosses Dallas Art Collector’s Lawsuit

The tawdry tale of a multimillion dollar work of art, a widowed patroness, a powerful Mexican billionaire, and the little, red faced museum stuck in the middle of all of it took yet another turn in its four-year-long court battle. Dallas mega-collector Marguerite Hoffman’s lawyers convinced a jury late last year that debt baron David Martinez broke a confidential agreement when he sold at public auction a painting by Marc Rothko, which was sold to him by Hoffman in a hush-hush deal. Now, a judge ruled Friday that Martinez did not violate any agreement.

To recap:

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Former Dallas City Councilman Dave Neumann Did Not Get a Parking Ticket Today, and Likely Never Will

In May 2011, Scott Griggs unseated Dave Neumann for the District 3 slot on the Dallas City Council. Today, Dave Neumann left a downtown event, hopped into a car on Lamar Street, pulled a quick U-turn, and headed off.

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Why Houston Billionaire John Arnold Is Funding the Dallas ISD Home-Rule Push

Actually, we don’t know for sure why he’s doing it. He’s not talking. Jim Mitchell over at the Morning News asked for an interview about his financial backing for the Support Our Public Schools effort to make Dallas ISD a home-rule district, but he declined.

Arnold probably isn’t eager to be the public face of Support Our Public Schools or to see headlines about how a rich Houstonian is looking to overhaul education in Dallas. (He’s a Hillcrest High School grad, so his interest makes sense from that standpoint.)

But what does Google have to say about him?

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Wendy Davis, About to Enter Gubernatorial Race, Speaks of Challenges She Faced as a Teenage Mom

While multiple sources today are reporting that Wendy Davis will next week launch her campaign to be elected governor of Texas, the Democratic state senator spoke this afternoon in Dallas about the challenges of her past rather than her plans for the the future. Davis was the keynote speaker at the 2013 Creating New Futures Luncheon […]

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Leading Off (9/20/13)

Dallas School Trustees Discuss Mike Miles’ Future For 4 Hours. Since they reached no decision about what disciplinary action to take against the superintendent, we can’t know for sure that the Dallas ISD board spent the entirety of its closed session last night on the findings of its investigation into Miles. Maybe they were discussing Breaking Bad, and […]

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Better than Cowboys-Vikings? North Texas Charities Chief Aiming to Outshine Minnesota

Brent Christopher, president and CEO of the Communities Foundation of Texas, says momentum is building for the 2013 North Texas Giving Day, set for Sept. 19. And the soft-spoken, bow-tied exec is hoping that momentum will help Dallas-Fort Worth shatter a national record Thursday for community-wide fundraising. To do it, DFW—whose population is about 6.7 […]

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