Leading Off (7/24/14)

A.C. Gonzalez Explains Why City Repaid More Than $810,000 To HUD, Kind Of. I don’t know, does this make any sense? “He stressed that the funds are not lost, but rather put back into the city’s line of credit for other HUD projects. Though general fund dollars were used to pay back the Project Reconnect money, the groups that ultimately use the funds are typically on the hook for the expenses, he said.”

Chandler Parsons to Bro Out Like Crazy Once He Gets To Dallas. According to this.

Steve Blow Has a Strong Take On Border Situation. Maybe? I mean, I really can’t tell. He’s sort of all over the road. But I can relay the following: there are a lot of paragraphs.

Rangers Trade Joakim Soria. Haven’t really been paying attention, but I gather Soria was the team’s closer. Anyway, since there’s no hope for the team this year, I think they should start having fun with it. Give Evan Grant a few at-bats. Bring back some legends and let them play a little. Raffle off an appearance in the pitching rotation. Whatever.

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Leading Off (7/23/2014)

Brad had tickets to the Jay Z-Beyonce show last night. So he asked me to fill in for him this morning.

Plano Man Arrested for $56,000 In Unpaid Tolls. What’s 50 grand to Robert Walter Dupree? Can you please remind me? According to the NTTA, it’s more than 2,110 passes through a toll station without paying. First they had to find him. He was arrested for failing to use his signal in The Colony. No word on how hard he may have bawled.

Migrant Children Not Showing Up to Immigration Hearings. If you grew up with holes in your Zapatos, you’d be celebrating the minute you thought those days were behind you. Which might explain why 18 of the 20 children whose cases were scheduled yesterday in federal court missed their hearings. It’s also possible the children never received proper notice. What kinds of facts are those?

Plano Thanks Residents for Conserving Water…with Water. Calling it a “water holiday” is kind of a beautiful lie. Apparently it was mostly “stale” water the city needed to get rid of anyway. And only lawns with odd-numbered addresses got the extra watering. The other residents are finding that keeping all that green grass pretty hurts. But, as someone once said, perfection is a disease of a nation.

Cowboys Legend Dies. Robert Newhouse, Jr. played 12 seasons with the Cowboys, all in the Landry era. He was irreplaceable as a blocker for Tony Dorsett, but he was also the first running back to throw a touchdown in a Super Bowl. He died yesterday, after a long battle with heart disease. He was 64.

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Why Is the Air We Breathe Getting Worse?

The Texas Tribune yesterday published a story that you should read — but only if you live in North Texas and if you breathe air. It only matters to that group of people. Here’s the top-line summary: though we are still way above where the federal government wants us on ozone, for years our levels had been dropping. In 2008, as you can see from the above chart generated from research done at UNT, that trend reversed itself. And the rise in ozone levels has accelerated fastest in parts of North Texas where the most drilling is done. It’s an important story. It’s not that long. Please read it — again, though, only if you live here and breathe air.

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D Magazine’s 40 Greatest Stories: Clayton Williams Runs For Governor

I sort of remember Bill Clements vs. Mark White in 1986, but the first Texas gubernatorial election to which I paid any measurable attention was state treasurer Ann Richards’ victory over West Texas oilman Clayton Williams in 1990. The GOP wasn’t yet the wholly dominant party in our state, but neither did the Democrats still hold the iron grip they’d maintained politically since Reconstruction.

My memory of the election centers on Williams’ TV ad in which he explained his plan to put drug offenders to work busting rocks in hard-labor boot camps rather than lounging around in luxurious prison cells. Behind him is shown a group of college students who were dressed up as convicts, swinging pick axes and shovels. I was in junior high school and not terribly political at the time, but I remember thinking that this guy was laying on the tough-on-crime schtick a little thick.

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Dallas Confirms Season’s First Positive West Nile Test

Not in a person — in a mosquito pool near the 6600 block of Brookshire Drive in North Dallas. The city is planning to spray insecticide tonight and tomorrow between 9 p.m. and 5 a.m. in the area bounded by Azalea Lane on the north, Tulane Boulevard on the west, Airline Road on the east, and Walnut Hill Lane on the south. From the city’s release:

While the insecticide is approved by the Environmental Protection Agency for treatment, residents in the above areas should avoid contact with the spray by staying indoors. Persons inside a vehicle while trucks are actively spraying should remain in their vehicles with the windows up and the air conditioner on until the trucks pass and the spray is no longer visible. Persons out during the scheduled spraying time should be alert for trucks and should not follow them. Residents who come in contact with the spray are advised to wash the affected area thoroughly with soap and water. The spray breaks down quickly in the presence of sunlight and has no residual effect.

Zac’s mosquito source could not be reached for comment.

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Leading Off (7/14/14)

Clay Jenkins Standing By Obama. Again. The Dallas County Judge has a long history of working with the Obama Administration. In 2007, he donated $1,000 to the then-senator’s presidential campaign. He also contributed pro bono legal work to the campaign, has worked with the administration to keep a mail processing plant in Dallas open, has helped challenge the voter ID law in Texas, and has joined Obama’s push for a “living wage.” Now there’s the plan to house 2,000 migrant children in Dallas, which Jenkins presented a week after meeting with four White House officials during the U.S. Conference of Mayors. However, reports say Jenkins asked the officials what Dallas could do to help with the children detained in South Texas. More than 57,000 have been detained, though most have been transferred out of those facilities, since October. In other news, experts say there’s little risk of a public health problem emerging related to these children.

Chandler Parsons Headed to the Mavericks. The Houston Rockets had until 11 p.m. last night to match the Mavs’ three-year $46 million offer, but no dice. Around 6 p.m., the Rockets said they wouldn’t make the move. Favorite part of this story: Mark Cuban commenting via his Cyber Dust messaging app, which sounds like Snapchat, no? Are the kids still using these things? Anyway. Welcome to Dallas, Parsons!

Police Chief David Brown Pushing for Unions to Desegregate. There are four – Dallas Latino Peace Officers Association, the Dallas Police Association, the Dallas Fraternal Order of Police, and the Black Police Association of Greater Dallas — and two of them are fighting over a police training academy and claims that black recruits are failing out at a greater rate than their white counterparts. Brown says the fight has proven to be a distraction and has made him play referee. Only problem is that a) the grievances were statistically true and b) some believe Brown favors the BPA, of which he is a member.

$2.7 Million in “Technology” Purchased, Unnecessary in Fort Worth School District. What does this even mean? Someone purchased “technology,” then ordered up maintenance for said “technology,” now the bill is $2.7 million, only discovered through an audit? Sounds like they were trying to manage payroll and grades and attendance records and vendor payments out of the same system. And that system didn’t work. But then there are double payments and maintenance on services not even being used in the mix? Goodness.

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Leading Off (7/11/14)

How Soon Until Every Dallas Highway Is Tolled? Tomorrow new express lanes will open on Interstate 35E, allowing drivers to pay to bypass the usually congested interchange from I-35E to Interstate 635. Meanwhile some Collin County leaders are pushing back against a Texas Department of Transportation proposal to make the HOV lane on U.S. Highway 75 a managed toll lane. Their counterproposal is to get rid of the HOV lane entirely, opening it up for all traffic.

ACE Cash Express to Pay $10 Million For Illegal Tactics. The federal Consumer Financial Protection Bureau found that the payday lender used false threats, intimidation, and harassing calls to bully borrowers. ACE also took on new loans to pay off old loans, purposefully driving customers even further into debt. The company’s training manual even had a graphic depicting how to keep the vicious cycle going.

Abducted Boy Reunited With Father.  At age 2, Drew Drees was taken by his mother, who didn’t have custodial rights after she and his father had divorced, to India. Eight years later, she returned with Drew and was promptly arrested at DFW Airport after arriving yesterday.

It’s July 11. Free slurpees, everybody.

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What Does Google Think of Dallas’ Best Suburbs?

By now you’ve surely been up and down and up again our ranking of the Best Dallas Suburbs. Our sortable chart allows you to reorder the 64 North Texas towns (Dallas is included for comparison’s sake) on the list by factors such as population, crime, education, or just the overall ambiance of the place.

So you know what our numbers say. But what does the all-knowing, all-seeing Google machine think of our cities? How does Google Maps present us to the world? To find out, I asked for directions from Dallas, Texas (unspecified address) to each of the suburbs (unspecified address). Wherever Google dropped its pin representing each, I took a look around via the magic of Street View.

That gives us the spot to which Google will direct travelers who don’t know exactly where they want to go in these towns, just that they want to get there. To my mind, that makes these locations the virtual entryway to each, the online face of these cities. I leave it to you to interpret whether there’s any deeper significance to where Google’s directions would take you and what it says about our suburbs.  (By the way, in Dallas, the location is Main Street downtown, right next to Plush nightclub)

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Wallace Hall Won’t Back Down in the Fight Over UT

With UT president William Powers announcing yesterday that he will step down in 2015, the folks at Texas Monthly have put up a story about the deal early. Skip Hollandsworth wrote the story for the August issue, which won’t be available till July 24. It focuses on Powers’ biggest enemy, UT regent Wallace Hall, who has been fighting to expose shenanigans at the university. You should read the whole thing. But one section in particular caught my eye. Hall, of course, lives in Dallas, just four doors down from Dan Branch. The two were once friends, but this mess has driven them apart. Even though they used to play roller hockey together, they no longer even speak. I know someone who was familiar with the play of that particular roller hockey team. Here’s how that person described it:

Hall and Branch both played defense. Same line. Same gritted teeth. The league did not allow checking, which abbreviated Hall and Branch’s time in the penalty box. Hall did the better job staying put. Branch followed the puck like a 6-year-old. Invariably, he ended up at the other end of the rink, trying to stuff a rebound into the net. “Branch,” we’d yell, “get your ass back down there.”

If you think that my having that description in any way suggests that we were ever entertaining writing a super-awesome profile of Hall in the context of this fight — then you’re deeply mistaken. Horribly, painfully, hopelessly mistaken. Good job on the story, Skip. Big jerk.

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The Economist on Downtown Dallas’ Rejuvenation

A correspondent for one of the Economist’s blogs was recently in Dallas for the New Cities Summit, and writes about how downtown has transformed in the last 30 years:

It is clear that the old Dallas is fading into a distant memory. Today the downtown of America’s ninth-most populous city has thriving museums, performing-arts spaces, a green market, restaurants and innovative retailers that are bringing people back to its pavements. Detroit, Kansas City and Cleveland may be struggling to reinvent themselves, but Dallas has prospered, not only because of its oil wealth and low taxes, but also because the city and private-sector developers and investors have combined their efforts.

The author gives the Joule Hotel an awful lot of credit for rejuvenating downtown, more than maybe it alone deserves, and things aren’t maybe quite so active throughout downtown as they’re painted, but there is no denying that Dallas has made progress.

Anyway, here’s my favorite bit, in the conclusion:

Thanks to this attitude, the atrophied downtown area from three decades ago that Mrs Forsythe-Lill remembered is being wiped from the memory faster than Sue Ellen Ewing could get to the bottom of a bottle of vodka.

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