Find a back issue

Making Dallas Even Better

Ahmed Mohamed’s Family Demands $15M From City of Irving and Irving ISD

The lawyers for the family of former Irving teenager Ahmed Mohamed sent a letter demanding $10 million from the city of Irving and $5 million from the Irving school district for how police and officials handled the clock controversy.

From the letter, via DMN:

He will continue for the rest of his days to experience pain and suffering. A large segment of potential employers will steer clear of Ahmed to avoid controversy, despite his many obvious talents. There is no other way to put it: his reputation in the global community is permanently scarred. One also that Ahmed, quite reasonably, will have a lifelong fear of the law enforcement and educational establishments that have let him down so terribly.

Read More

Leading Off (11/20/15)

End-of-Course Exams Basically Meaningless. The class of 2015 was the first in the state public education system to be required to pass a battery of end-of-course exams in order to receive a high school diploma. However, the state legislature earlier this year provided an out. Students can apply to their districts for a waiver to be allowed to graduate anyway, and a new survey found that among Texas’ 100 largest ISDs, 71 percent of waivers are granted. In four districts in Dallas and Collin counties all applications were successful.

Oilman Gets Life For Killing Girlfriend’s Ex-Husband. Johnny Lloyd Patton Jr., 68, of Fort Worth, was sentenced on Thursday for shooting Richard Slatkin in October 2013. Slatkin was the former spouse of Patton’s live-in girlfriend, who had previously had an affair with — and been impregnated by — Patton’s son while she was married to Slatkin. Patton claimed self-defense in the incident, but the jury evidently didn’t buy his argument.

Denton Recall Petition Fails. Those looking to recall Joey Hawkins from his seat on the city council collected 125 signatures when they needed only 76 to force an election. Trouble is they filed their petition two days too early. The Denton city charter specifies that a council member must be allowed to serve his or her term for six months before such a petition can be submitted.

Freezing Temperatures Coming This Weekend. So says the National Weather Service.

Read More

How Big is ‘Texas-Size’?

I just happened upon the Star-Telegram’s account of Hillary Clinton’s Tuesday visit to Dallas, which Staci wrote about for us. What caught my attention was the piece’s curious headline:

A “Texas-size crowd”? The article’s own estimate of the turnout was “more than 1,500” people, and Staci tells me the venue could have accommodated more. Does 1,500 people qualify as “Texas-size”?

Read More

How a Nonprofit Aims to Manage Fair Park

Right now the Dallas City Council is being briefed by Walt Humann, the former Hunt Oil executive who also played key roles in the development of DART and today’s Central Expressway, about a proposal to create a nonprofit Fair Park Texas Foundation to manage Fair Park on behalf of the city.

You can see the poorly copy-edited briefing documents for yourself. In addition to the signing over management to the foundation, the city would asked for $125 million-$175 million in the next several bond programs for improvements.

Read More

Hillary Clinton Criticizes Abbott During a Routine Campaign Stop in Dallas

Mountain View College’s limited gymnasium was filling up at a gradual pace Tuesday morning, two hours before Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton was set to speak. Students, and adults of varying ages, paced the royal blue floor, testing out the ideal position for a selfie in front of where Clinton was set to speak. Her heavily criticized campaign logo was prominently displayed on a banner that read “Fighting for us.”

Outside, chants of “Hill-a-ry! Hill-a-ry!” echoed throughout the line that wrapped around the building.

As 1:15 p.m. – Clinton’s scheduled appearance time – approached, Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins was left to entertain the crowd. Clinton was running behind.

Read More

Leading Off (11/18/15)

Hillary Clinton Comes to Dallas. She attended a $1,000-per-plate fundraiser before a rally where she gave a speech that took swipes at both Bernie Sanders (on healthcare) and Greg Abbott (on a lot of things). On Texas taking in Syrian refugees, she said: “We can’t act as though we’re shutting the doors to people in need without undermining who we are as Americans.”

Zoo Wants 18 Elephants from Swaziland. The Dallas Zoo says the animals face “certain death” in Africa, and has applied for permits to bring them to the U.S. They say moving the elephants is vital to the survival of the nearly extinct black rhino.

Aryan Brother Kingpin Gets Life in Solitary Confinement. Tarrant County prosecutors were pushing to get James Byrd moved to a state prison — as opposed to federal prison — where policy allows for prisoners to be held in solitary confinement on the basis of gang affiliation. Prosecutors also say Byrd once stabbed a man 37 times in the face, and that isn’t even close to the most disturbing thing he’s accused of doing.

Police Looking for Woman Suspected of Robbing Two Banks. Both robberies happened within a week or so in October, and both banks are in Oak Cliff. She apparently has a scar on the right side of her face that begins at her lip and ends at her hair line, which will probably factor into a nickname if she robs more banks.

Jeff Banister is the AL Manager of the Year. It went down pretty much exactly as Jason predicted a week ago, for mostly the same reasons.

Study Says 100,000+ Texas Women Have Attempted Their Own Abortions

Those were the findings released today by the University of Texas at Austin’s Texas Policy Evaluation Project, which used an online survey to conclude that between 100,000 and 240,000 woman in the state have attempted to induce their own abortions.

The study was attempting to assess the effects of the 2013 restrictions — which required clinic performing the procedure to be ambulatory surgical centers — passed by the state legislature that resulted in the number of legal abortion clinics falling from 41 in 2012 to 17 now.

Most of those are in the major cities — including two in Dallas and one in Fort Worth — which means women in counties hundreds of miles from the nearest clinic sometimes feel that they have no choice but to take matters into their own hands. From the study:

Read More

There Are 102 Syrian Refugees in Dallas-Fort Worth

That’s according to a count provided by the DFW International Community Alliance, a network of internationally-focused organizations in North Texas. From their press release today:

Total number of Syrian refugees:  102.

Number of refugee families (including single men):  24.

All but 6 of those who were resettled by volags (resettlement agencies under contract with the State Dept) live in Dallas.  5 families live in Fort Worth.  One single man lives in Arlington.  Three of the families originally resettled in Dallas have moved to Richardson.

8 of the 24 arrived by ‘other visas’ and applied for TPS, and subsequently for political asylum.  Three of the 8 political asylee Syrians are families.  Four are single men and one is a married man who is waiting for the arrival of his wife and children.  One of the single men was studying here on a prestigious Fulbright scholarship.  Most of these men were brutally tortured and their homes / businesses burned during their captivity and subsequently fled to Lebanon and from there to the US.

Homeland Security’s intensive investigations of each refugee family has caused an unprecedented delay in arrivals.  No families have arrived from Turkey (where the largest number of Syrian refugees currently resides) in the past 9 months.  One family reached Dallas from Uzbekastan last week.  They are a Kurdish Syrian family from the NE of the country.  Two months ago the large family of a disabled Syian reached Fort Worth.

Two families, brothers of a Syrian who lives in Richardson, are scheduled to arrive on Dec. 4.  We are uncertain at this moment if they will be permitted to join their relatives on that date.

Sorry, Gov. Abbott, they’re already here.

Dead Dogs Left Outside Dallas Animal Services

Yesterday, after her 311 report about a dead dog near Interstate 20 and St. Augustine Drive was closed within 20 minutes without the animal having been picked up, Marina Tarashevska decided to vent her frustration by dropping two dead animals right outside the entrance to Dallas Animal Services.

While not a move that we should necessarily encourage our fellow citizens to emulate, it garnered a new round of media attention about the city’s stray dog problem, which has become as pernicious an ongoing issue as potholes.

Read More

Gov. Abbott Isn’t Racist. In the Aftermath of Paris, He’s Scared

Greg Abbott wants to lock the doors. Liberals are wrong to think that Governor Abbott is posturing. When Abbott, a good, Christian man, announced that Texas is closed to Syrian refugees, he wasn’t just out to score political points, although the sentiment will obviously be popular here. He wasn’t just trying to get attention or exploit a tragedy. Abbott is trying his best to protect the people who already live in Texas. This doesn’t prove that he’s a racist. It proves that he’s scared.

And he should be. The stories coming out of Egypt and Lebanon and Paris—where terrified concert goers ran and had to take shelter in the apartments of strangers—are utterly horrific. If he takes the terrorists at their word—and he should—they will strike again, and again after that, and after that, too, and the targets could be anyone or anything: concerts, stadiums, crowded markets. Innocent couples out to dinner. Children in the streets. People who just want to enjoy a Friday night with their friends. There will be more death, and Abbott, a devoted man, doesn’t want that for the people of Texas. That’s not wrong.

Read More

Leading Off (11/13/15)

Dez Bryant Blasts the Media. The Dallas Cowboys receiver’s locker-room tirade on Thursday took issue with recent coverage by reporters, which led to a heated exchange with ESPN Dallas’ Jean-Jacques Taylor over a column Taylor had written. During the incident, Bryant claims that Taylor used the n-word in reference to him, while other reporters present say that Taylor didn’t. Cowboys spokesman Rich Dalrymple and head coach Jason Garrett had to step in to calm their player down. Bryant tweeted after the brouhaha:

Denton Voters File Recall Petition. Residents upset with Denton Councilman Joey Hawkins’ vote in June to repeal the city’s fracking ban — a step the city council took after the Texas Legislature nullified the ban — turned in 125 signatures calling for Hawkins’ removal from office. Because Hawkins was re-elected in May with only about 300 votes, petitioners need to certify only 76 signatures to force a recall election. A similar effort is also under way to remove another council member who voted to repeal the ban, Kevin Roden (aka the would-be Savior of Sriracha).

Planes Report Laser Strikes. For the second straight evening, three pilots reported that some jerk southeast of Love Field was pointing a laser at their aircraft. A Dallas Police helicopter was dispatched to try to find the offender, but that effort was unsuccessful.

First-Grader Brings Guns to School. Don’t worry, the Little Elm boy did it accidentally. See, he’d picked up his dad’s backpack in the morning instead of his own. Apparently the kid’s backpack is identical to his dad’s. And his dad’s backpack contained the guns in preparation for a hunting trip. And the dad’s backpack with guns was in a place readily accessible to his son. Yeah, so forget what I just said: You should worry. We all should.

Read More

Donald Trump Likes To Hire Women From Dallas

First he hired SMU alum Hope Hicks. The Washington Post post described her job as “media handler, corporate aide, and the figure responsible for executing the details of the most surprising and divisive political rise in recent memory.” Now comes news that he has hired Katrina Pierson, founder of the Garland Tea Party, to be his national spokesperson. When we did a Q&A with her last year, Pierson said she was thinking about starting a production company in Hollywood so that she could funnel movie profits into “the conservative side of the culture.” I guess Trump pays better. As his spokesperson, Pierson will need to study this major, super-classy list of Donald Trump’s favorite words and phrases, for everyone who is not a loser.

Leading Off (11/11/15)

Anachronistic Bandit Terrorizes Fort Worth Horse Riders. Fort Worth police are looking for a man who has been hiding along riding paths, then jumping out and sticking up riders at gunpoint. Police say the suspect has struck at least four times in the last two months. Two men have been shot during the robberies. “It sounds like he has no care for anybody,” said one of the victims.

Arlington Says No to New Fracking. The city council there voted last night to deny a new oil and gas lease to Vantage Energy, the company responsible for a spill in April that involved tens of thousands of gallons of fracking water leaked into local creeks and sewers. Council members were apparently most bothered by the fact that it took the company two hours to call 911 after the spill.

Charles Barkley Thinks You Should Give Greg Hardy a Chance. “I believe that there are way too many black men we’ve just thrown away,” the basketball legend wrote for Bleacher Report. “Shouldn’t we get him some help, instead of kicking him out of the NFL? Shouldn’t we do everything possible to prevent it from happening again?”

U.S. Soccer Association Wants to Ban Headers for Kids. Citing concussion risks, the Frisco-based organization wants to ban headers for kids 10 and under, and limit them through age 13. Experts say it’s not the heading, per se, that causes the danger, but rather the risk of two heads colliding. (Disclosure: I had two diagnosed concussions playing soccer as a teenager. I wouldn’t recommend it.)

Stars and Mavericks Both Lose to Terrible Teams. A late third-period goal gave the last-place Toronto Maple Leafs the win over the first-place Stars. The middling Mavericks were never really in the game against the previously winless New Orleans Pelicans. Not a great showing.

City of Irving May Need a New PR Crisis Consultant

Documents related to the l’affaire Ahmed Mohamedthe Irving “clock kid” — are filtering out. The Morning News has acquired interesting texts that document the way that city leaders in Irving jumped into crisis management mode as the story went viral:

Consultant said we were on the right track, continue to emphasize strong public safety, safety and security,” City Manager Chris Hillman texted the mayor at one point. “No more interviews, let the fire die down and don’t provide more oxygen.”

But when [Mayor Beth] Van Duyne asked about appearing on Glenn Beck’s internet show, the consultant gave the mayor the green light.

“He agreed with that because Beck will be a friendly,” the city manager texted Van Duyne.

Beck was friendly to Van Duyne, but her appearance sparked another wave of news stories after she shrugged off the host’s speculation that Ahmed might be involved in a jihadist plot to embarrass the city.

Not the best call by the consultant. Obviously Irving doesn’t have Olivia Pope on retainer.

Read More

Dallas City Council Approves ‘Living Wage’ For Contractors

Jennifer Staubach Gates was the only member of the Dallas City Council to vote today against approving a $10.37 per hour “wage floor” (minimum wage) for employees of all city contractors and subcontractors. Her objection, understandably enough, was that the city shouldn’t set this standard without knowing how much it was going to cost. City staff only had rough estimates to consider, because it’s unknown how much many contractors pay their workers: somewhere between $3 million and $12 million.

But considering the council just this past summer didn’t have a problem writing a blank check to TXU worth up to hundreds of millions of dollars, and Gates voted for that deal, her concern rings a little hollow.

$10.37 is the “living wage” figure determined by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Living Wage Calculator for a single adult in Dallas County. It may not be enough to “live like a human” while also supporting a family, but it’s a considerable step above the federal mandate of only $7.25 an hour.

Read More