As Liz mentioned, we’re hosting a party tonight to celebrate the big reveal of our 100 Best Restaurants in Dallas in the June issue.
Dining editor Nancy Nichols went on D: The Broadcast this morning to promote the event and the list. This posed a problem, since we try to keep Nancy’s face out of the public eye so that she can dine anonymously in the city’s restaurants while preparing her reviews.
And that’s why she went on TV dressed as a pig.
Today J.C. Penney Corporation finalized a five-year, $2.25 billion loan that will be used to as working capital for the struggling Plano-based retailer. The company is guaranteeing the loan via its vast real estate holdings — stores, distribution centers, and corporate headquarters.
The Wall Street Journal wrote that the move encourages the view of J.C. Penney as a real estate play.
It also raises questions as to whether the company ultimately will move to further tap the property portfolio through sales or other scenarios. “The entire value of this company is in its real estate,” said Cathy Hershcopf, a partner in the bankruptcy and restructuring practice at Cooley LLP in New York. “There is no doubt in my mind that it is in the forefront of every decision the board is making.”
An appraisal pegged the value of Penney’s owned and ground-leased stores, as well as its owned distribution centers and headquarters, at about $4.1 billion. That is a little more than the company’s market capitalization, which stands at about $3.9 billion.
After watching this look at the design of the face of the new Big Tex, best of luck sleeping through the night without waking suddenly from the nightmares it will induce.
Standoff At Ross. Did you run into some unexpected traffic this morning at Ross and Central? Here’s why.
Boy Scouts Discuss Allowing Openly Gay Scouts. Tomorrow in Grapevine, 1,400 leaders of the Boy Scouts of America will officially decide whether or not to allow openly gay scouts be a part of the organization.
Dallas Continues to Help Out in Oklahoma. Growing up in Oklahoma, I’ve watched countless hours of tornado coverage. In fact, I’ve watched so much that I’ve become desensitized to tornado coverage and, honestly, tornado warnings. I’d rather run to the roof of my building to see what’s coming than hide in a shelter. As an Okie, tornadoes are just part of life. But there are certain tornadoes that bring even the most hardened Okie to her knees. When you say May 3rd in Oklahoma, everyone knows what you’re talking about. So when I was watching the coverage of the tornado in Moore and heard the reporter say it could be worse than May 3rd, I knew the town was in trouble. Again. Over the past two days, I’ve watched the coverage with a new set of eyes. I’m not sure what it is—the sheer magnitude of the tornado, the schools that were hit, the young lives that were lost, all the animals that were killed, or just the photos of the flattened neighborhoods—but this tornado is different. I know Moore will rebuild. They’ll come back. They’ve done it before. But I’m proud of Dallas and how it’s stepping up to help out. Just this morning, the Texas Baptist Men headed out to Shawnee to relieve some volunteers there. Last night, Jay Jerrier of Cane Rosso donated all the night’s proceeds to the Red Cross (he raised $7,500). Justin Terveen, local photographer and storm chaser, has told me that if a town is ever hit by a tornado he’s chasing, he’ll turn around to help. True to his word, he’s found a unique way to help Moore. He sold 24×16 prints for $100 with all the proceeds going to tornado recovery. (Other local photographers/storm chasers, such as James Langford, have followed his lead and are doing the same.) And at 10 a.m. Saturday, a truck and trailer are parking in front of City Tavern to load up with supplies and drive them to Oklahoma. Moore is going to need even more help in the next few weeks. Dallas is off to a great start. Let’s keep helping our neighbors.
Today the NFL award the honor of hosting Super Bowl L, in 2016, to the San Francisco 49ers new stadium in Santa Clara, California. But of more importance to us is the fact that the owners also voted to give Super Bowl LI to Houston. As the Morning News notes, that likely spoils North Texas’ hopes for 2018.
The Dallas area is competing for the 2018 game, or Super Bowl LII but will now be considered a long shot with the 2017 edition also in the state of Texas. With Denver, Indianapolis, New Orleans and Miami also in the running for the 52nd Super Bowl, the NFL has options to choose from outside of the Lone Star State.
I get it. This is the internet. Disasters and cute pets reign supreme. But this is also Dallas, and plenty of us have friends and family in Oklahoma. So you tell me, is this Culture Map headline appropriate:
“Terrifying Oklahoma tornado videos and sink-sleeping French bulldog top links we love.”
I can see this CM post two ways. One is drawing from Mike’s “hug someone” sentiment in Leading Off. As Stephen Stills-Hobbes once sang, “Life is nasty, brutish, and short / so love you’re the one you’re with.” Or, to update it to the 21st century, numb your pain with internet pictures of cute pets and banal, user-generated comedic memes. But the CM post isn’t presented as an invitation to diversion. After the links to the tornadoes, we get a link to “great moments in pizza.” Then, the cute bulldog, followed by a comedy clip spoofing catty compliments, and photos of people pretending to feed food to inanimate objects. In other words, we get what the headline promises: links Culture Map loves. And so, we assume, Culture Map loves tornadoes.
Listen, I too love videos of tornadoes. I’ve probably watched every category four or five tornado video on YouTube. I threaten my wife with my secret dream of becoming a storm chaser all the time. But today, today I don’t love tornadoes or tornado videos. Not when a third grade class is missing. Not with so many people dead. Not now.
Barrett A. Stern, the attorney representing Carolyn Compton and Page Price, sent out a statement about the case yesterday afternoon.
Read the entire thing after the jump. (more…)
Devastating Tornado in Oklahoma: Another horrific tragedy. There are dozens dead, a lot of them children who were taking cover in the hallway of an elementary school. Thousands more are left homeless, their possessions in shambles. And while the death and destruction will eventually be quantified and ranked historically, the grief and suffering is immeasurable. In Dallas, we all know people from that part of Oklahoma, people in that part of Oklahoma. They are strong, proud people. They will rebuild. There will be places for you to volunteer, places to donate money, places to give blood. There will be stories of victims, stories of survivors, and stories of heroes. There will be more terrifying images–and likely some superb journalism. Our thoughts are with the people affected by the destruction. For now, for the rest of us: find a moment to hold someone you love.
Dallas Firefighter Dies in Six-Alarm Blaze: Here are some remarkable photos by Sonya Hebert-Schwartz, from the giant condo fire in northeast Dallas that killed Stanley Wilson, a 28-year fire department veteran, and the large impromptu farewell salute afterward.
DISD Poised for Fast-Track Pilot Program: Yesterday the State Senate approved a bill that would allow some Dallas students to graduate high school in three years (paywall), with the savings earmarked for a pre-kindergarten program. The bill now heads back to the House.
D Magazine Wins Big Industry Award: Last night at the City Regional Magazine Association awards banquet in Atlanta, D Magazine won General Excellence in our circulation category for the second year in a row. Tim and Zac are there, almost certainly celebrating in true gentlemanly fashion, refraining from all forms of debauchery, inebriation, coarse language, and sarcasm. I assume from the lack of national headlines that Tim did not give a speech. (Really though, if I can be earnest for a second: This entire staff is stacked from top to bottom with incredible, smart, talented people who work ridiculously hard every month to put out a magazine that truly serves Dallas and makes the city a better, more interesting place to live.) I expect a detailed recap of their trip soon.
Every so often a divorce proceeding involves something called a “morality clause.” They are meant to keep a divorcing parent’s children away from new girlfriends or boyfriends, and a potentially unstable or unsafe environment. Earlier this month, Judge John Roach Jr., who presides over the 296th District Court in Collin County (his re-election site says Roach is a “Proven Judge. Proven Conservative.”), ruled that such a clause should be enforced in the divorce of Carolyn Compton. It effectively means that Compton’s lesbian partner, Page Price, must move out of the home they’ve shared for nearly three years, according to the Dallas Voice.
Neither Compton nor Price have spoken in public since the ruling, but Page posted about the ruling on Facebook. “Our children are all happy and well adjusted. By his enforcement, being that we cannot marry in this state, I have been ordered to move out of my home,” Price wrote.
In the same post, Price mentions that Compton’s ex-husband rarely sees the two children and that he was once charged with stalking Compton. (He later pleaded to a misdemeanor charge of criminal trespassing.)
Ken Upton Jr., a senior attorney with Lambda Legal, told the Voice that this case could set the precedent for how Texas courts interpret the morality clause for gay couples. “What the clause has become is an extra burden on gay people because they’re no more likely to violate it than straight people,” he said. “It’s a problem that continues with homophobia.”
UPDATE: I just got off the phone with the attorneys involved in the suit. Paul Key represents Joshua Compton, Carolyn’s ex-husband. He told me that morality clauses are included in divorces “all the time…There’s nothing exceptional about that at all. The only thing different about this is that Ms. Compton now dates women.”
The Dallas Morning News has portrayed him relentlessly as a greedy, high-living, double-dealing fraudster. (Right after conceding he did lots of admirable work.) But for some reason a number of Dallasites haven’t bought into The News’ characterization of former UT Southwestern Medical Center president Dr. Kern Wildenthal. Among them, it seems: Children’s Medical Center. The country’s fifth-largest pediatric hospital has just appointed Wildenthal president of its foundation and executive vice president of Children’s Medical Center.
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“We Could Hear it Coming. It Was Like Thunder That Wouldn’t Stop:” The stories out of Granbury are horrifying and heartbreaking, awful reminders that we live in a strange, unforgiving world in which, on rare occasion, the sky can just come down and rip you right out of your closet:
The closet door flew open, and the tornado yanked her oldest son, Brandon, into the air.
Green’s body twisted and bent, and she began to pray.
“Please let this be over. I can’t take this anymore,” she remembers thinking. “I asked God, ‘Is this really the way I’m going to die?’”
The Legacy of Mary Suhm vs. the Legacy of Dallas’ Super Donors: Two features in the local daily frame two perspective on the shaping of the city. Sure, as Mayor Ron Kirk puts it in this profile of outgoing City Manager Mary Suhm, “Her fingerprints are all over the city.” But what is the legacy of any powerful member of city government versus the “thousand families,” the philanthropists whose Texas-sized generosity (sorry) make Dallas one of the nation’s most charitable cities:
The city’s wealthiest philanthropists are also sometimes called the new Medicis, and there’s something to the comparison: Not a single major cultural institution in Dallas would exist in its current form — or exist at all, in many cases — without their help. . . . The philanthropists’ generosity extends beyond cultural organizations.
Fort Worth Figures Out Trinity Project: And speaking of big ticket city items, while Suhm’s legacy contains the unrealized Trinity River Project, Fort Worth seems to have figured out how to have simple fun down on the river with a much more modest, accessible investment. This, ahem. Not this.
So much for accountability in corporate governance. According to the DMN‘s Maria Halkas, every member of the J.C. Penney board that presided over the company’s spectacular recent meltdown has been re-elected to his or her cushy post. This apparently includes New York hedge-fund mogul William Ackman, who pushed to hire the failed ex-CEO Ron Johnson, as well as several board members from North Texas. All of the members have been compensated handsomely for their, er, leadership qualities at the Plano-based retail chain. Among the locals are ex-TI CEO Tom Engibous, the board chair, whose 2012 compensation was $328,702; Colleen Barrett, president emeritus of Southwest Airlines ($225,012); and R. Gerald Turner, president of Southern Methodist University ($235,012).
As Jason mentioned in Leading Off this morning, plans have been hatched to build an $80 million maritime museum on the banks of the Trinity River. The big attraction would be the USS Dallas, the soon-to-be-decommissioned submarine used to film Hunt for Red October. Three things about this plan and its announcement have me scratching my head.
1. Can we tie in the museum with the canal that Dwaine Caraway wants to build on Main Street? Because if I could ride a nuclear attack sub from, say, City Tavern to Wild Salsa, that would be awesome. I’m in on that plan 110 percent.
2. The Morning News, you might be aware, was started by a fellow named George Bannerman Dealey. George had a nephew named Samuel David Dealey, who sits at fifth on the list of World War II submarine commanders, in terms of tonnage sunk. How do you write a story in the Morning News about a Dallas maritime museum featuring a submarine without mentioning Sam Dealey, aka “The Destroyer Killer“? (Hat tip to Richard Ross, the commenter who pointed this out on the News story.)
3. Finally, will city leaders please stop talking to us like children? Here’s what Phillip Jones, president and CEO of the Dallas CVB said about the museum: “Dallas is a city of big ideas, and this is just one more example.” Stop it! When someone proposes building a museum around a submarine in Dallas, don’t feed us that B.S. line about thinking big. Just say it. “This idea is insane. It’s nuts. But you know what? Dallas is crazy town. We’re gonna get Sean Connery up in here to cut the ribbon, and then he’s gonna pull a Crazy Ivan in the middle of Main Street. Just watch us.”
West Explosion Still Possibly the Result of a Criminal Act. Authorities believe the deadly incident at West Fertilizer Co. occurred when a fire inside the seed building caused 28 to 34 tons of stored ammonium nitrate to explode. What they haven’t determined is what started that fire, though they’ve narrowed the list of possibilities: “a problem with one of the plant’s electrical systems, a battery-powered golf cart, and a criminal act. They ruled out a wide number of others, from a rail car on site loaded with fertilizer to someone smoking.”
Help Pouring Into Cleburne and Granbury, Even From West. The National Weather Service now says that 16 tornadoes touched down in North Texas on Wednesday night. Volunteers and rescue workers have poured into the hardest-hit communities. Some of that help has come from West, even as that town continues to deal with its own disaster recovery: “The Church of Christ in West, which has been feeding volunteers and victims since the April 17 fertilizer plant explosion, bagged up 200 lunches — pulled pork sandwiches, chips and cake — and sent them to storm-struck Cleburne in Johnson County.”
Dallas to Get a Maritime Museum. No, our city isn’t any closer to the ocean today than it was the last time you checked (about 250 miles away). And yet an $80 million maritime museum, with the soon-to-be decommissioned nuclear submarine USS Dallas as its headlining attraction, is being planned for a 3.5 acre site near the Trinity River, along Riverfront Boulevard in the Rock Island area. I suppose the proposal is no stranger than the fact that the town of Fredericksburg is home to the National Museum of the Pacific War.