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They’re Going to Frack Under Lewisville Lake?

An alert FrontBurnervian points us to this story in the Lewisville Texan Journal from a few days back about an upcoming auction for the right to drill for gas under Lewisville Lake. The Bureau of Land Management will sell a 10-year mineral rights lease in Santa Fe on April 20. If you think that some folks question the wisdom of drilling under a lake with a bad dam, a lake that Dallas uses for drinking water, then you’d be right. From the Lewisville Texan Journal:

Lewisville Lake has been the subject of recent news reports including the LTJ regarding dam deficiencies. [Wendy Park, staff attorney for the Center for Biological Diversity] is concerned that the fracking process for horizontal wells under the lake could cause increased seismic activity — a concern echoed by [Rita Beving, of the Clean Water Fund]. She worries that either fracking, or any possible wastewater disposal that might occur in the vicinity could weaken the dam and cause a breach.

The Sierra Club’s Lone Star Chapter echoed the concerns of the others. Cyrus Reed, the group’s conservation director, emphasized his concerns about water contamination. He thinks contamination could happen if a well’s cementing or casing were to fail or if a spill were to occur.

The public has until February 19 to file a protest with the Bureau of Land Management. That has to be done either by fax (!) or snail mail. Here’s how.

Poll: Does Dallas Need to Pay Down Debt Before Fixing Roads?

UPDATE: The City Council has reportedly agreed that there will be a 2017 bond program, because “deferred maintenance is not an option.” But it looks like it may well be a smaller bond, in the $200 million to $500 million range, than the $1 billion initially discussed.

We learned last week that several members of the Dallas City Council are pushing to delay what had been discussed as a possible $1 billion bond election in 2017. The argument for doing so is based upon concerns that the city has substantial debt obligations already, as well as uncertainty over how shortfalls in the police and fire pension fund might affect future operations.

But with so many roads across Dallas pockmarked with potholes, opponents of a postponement say there are too many vital infrastructure needs now that would prove even costlier if further delayed. What do you think?

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Leading Off (2/3/15)

Cyclist Finds Skull in Plano. Police are investigating what appears to be a skull and human bones found in a creek behind an elementary school yesterday afternoon. The family of at least one missing woman has been notified, though police say it’s too early to connect the remains to anyone.

Fight Over Phone Leads to Fatal Shooting. Police say a 21-year-old man confessed to shooting 30-year-old Jamal Deshaylen Berry in the chest after an argument over a phone. Berry was found shot in the street outside a rec center in East Oak Cliff yesterday morning.

Whataburger Robbers Sentenced to 115 Years. Two men who were convicted of robbing four different Whataburgers and three different Jack-in-Box locations in 2014 were sentenced to more than a century each — 1384 months, specifically — in prison for the crimes.

Local Man Returns Home After Son Wins Iowa Caucus. Rafael Cruz was spotted in an Iowa airport yesterday, heading back to Texas. He said he wouldn’t be spending as much time campaigning for his son in New Hampshire because “There are not as many evangelicals.”

Remembering June Mattingly, Intrepid Dallas Arts Supporter

If you’ve spent more than five or ten minutes in a Dallas gallery, you’re likely to have met June Mattingly. Mattingly was a stalwart supporter of the Dallas arts, the author of a book on Texas contemporary artists, and a former gallery owner who introduced a number of this city’s more notable artists. The Dallas Observer reports today that Mattingly has passed away.

Mattingly’s creative roots in Dallas ran deep – all the way to one of this city’s most iconic sculptures. The original Pegasus that sat on top of the Magnolia Building in downtown Dallas was created by her father H. Harold Wineburgh’s sign company, Texlite. Mattingly was a tireless advocate for her father’s Pegasus, and it was restored and reinstalled outside the downtown Dallas Omni last year. In this interview from 2011, Mattingly speaks about her father and the Pegasus. In 2012, Mattingly sat for an hour long interview to offer her insight into the history of Dallas culture.

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Why Yesterday Was Such an Important Day for Dallas History

As Tim mentions in Leading Off, the Dallas Landmark Commission voted in favor of pursuing protection for a number of important historic sites and structures yesterday, choosing preservation over lazy private interests in each case. The decision to move a 19th century home in the Cedars, rather than bulldoze it for a parking lot, and to move towards designating the Meadows Building on Central Expressway as a historic landmark, thus protecting it from its current owner’s planned demolition of a wing, demonstrates a rare and welcomed willingness from a city board to stand up to private developers in the name of the public’s interest. And the move to protect Big Spring also showed that the commission is willing to step in on behalf of Dallas’ dwindling natural resource, even in a case where the chief threat to the preservation of that natural resource is the city itself.

Mark Lamster runs through all of this in a column, and I don’t have much to add to his thoughts, though it is worth highlighting a few of them:

If the Meadows isn’t a landmark, than nothing is. The commission’s unanimous vote in favor of designation was a heartening indication of this reality, and a welcome validation of its own responsibility. A landmarks commission that cannot protect a building like the Meadows is not worth its name, and serves no purpose.

Yesterday, Dallas demonstrated that it has a Landmark Commission with a purpose. That should be an encouraging source of optimism. Perhaps we are transitioning into a new kind of Dallas, a city that bucks the character cliches of its ensconced business-first civic mentality that has historically devalued not just history and nature, but the public oversight of municipal government to boot.

Zika Virus Confirmed in Dallas County

Dallas County Health and Human Services has confirmed a local case of the mosquito-borne Zika virus:

“The patient was infected with the virus after having sexual contact with an ill individual who returned from a country where Zika virus is present. For medical confidentiality and personal privacy reasons, DCHHS does not provide additional identifying information,” the county said in a news release Tuesday. “There are currently no reports of Zika virus being locally-transmitted by mosquitoes in Dallas County. However, imported cases make local spread by mosquitoes possible because the mosquitoes that can transmit the virus are found locally. DCHHS advises recent travelers with Zika virus symptoms as well as individuals diagnosed with Zika virus protect themselves from further mosquito bites.”

“Now that we know Zika virus can be transmitted through sex, this increases our awareness campaign in educating the public about protecting themselves and others,” said Zachary Thompson, DCHHS director. “Next to abstinence, condoms are the best prevention method against any sexually-transmitted infections.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 1 in 5 people infected with the Zika virus become ill. Symptoms are usually mild, including fever, rash, joint pain, or conjunctivitis. Most people are fine after a week, though there is greater concern for the disease’s effect on pregnant women and their babies. Severe illness and deaths are rare.

I’m sure local TV stations will take a measured, not-at-all-alarmist approach to their reporting of this news.

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What Dallas Can Learn From Houston About Folly of Bigger Highways

Last week Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner spoke to the Texas Transportation Commission about the need for a “paradigm shift” away from addressing traffic woes by building ever-more and ever-wider highways:

To help his case, Turner pointed to the Katy Freeway in Houston, or Interstate 10. A few years ago it was expanded to 26 lanes in some segments at a cost of $2.8 billion—good enough to earn the title of the “world’s widest freeway.” Despite all that new road capacity, rush-hour travel times increased between 2011 and 2014; in 2015, Turner pointed out, one segment of the Katy was ranked among the most congested roads in Texas.

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Subsidy For Alamo Manhattan’s Oak Cliff Project Heads to Council

The Oak Cliff Advocate reports that the Dallas City Council’s economic development committee has approved a $11.25 million subsidy of the divisive Alamo Manhattan project that plans to bring an Uptown-style mixed-use development to the Zang Boulevard-Davis Street intersection:

The money comes via a tax-increment financing reimbursement. The committee approved it on 5-1 vote, though City Councilman Lee Kleinman (not a member of the committee) was on hand to question why property in as hot a slice of real estate as is North Oak Cliff should need government money to succeed:

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Sheila Farrington Released Early From Federal Prison

In 2010, Farrington was sentenced to nine years for bribery, extortion, and money laundering in a case that was the biggest public corruption case in Dallas history. Her husband, former mayor pro tem Don Hill, received an 18-year sentence. Farrington wasn’t scheduled to get out until February 2018, but this morning she left the Fort Worth facility where she’d been serving her sentence, on “compassionate release.” She has multiple sclerosis, and is moving in with her sister in Illinois.

As for her husband, he’s sick, too: last summer, Hill was moved to a prison facility in North Carolina, where his stage-4 prostate cancer could be better attended to.

Leading Off (2/1/16)

DART Bus Driver Dies In Accident. Zulita Walker made news in October when she saw a man on the High Five who looked like he was getting ready to jump from the overpass. She pulled over and invited the man to sit with her on the bus and talked with him until police arrived. She died late Friday night when her bus hit a concrete pillar.

Police Arrest Suspect in Davis Building Carjacking. Ira Booker, 17, was arrested at the West End DART Station. He gave himself up after he saw cops on horseback, which is not the kind of arrest you see every day here, but I imagine people outside of Texas think it definitely is.

Deaths of Two Plano East Students Being Investigated as Suicides. The bodies of Ritu Sachdeva and Hillary Kate Kuizon were found in Murphy hours apart. Police are not sure if they are linked in any way.

Another Earthquake In Irving Sunday Morning. Remember when this didn’t happen every week? I don’t. I have what’s called anterograde amnesia. Yes, like Memento. It has also affected my ability to make timely references.

Rusty Rose, R.I.P. The philanthropist, art collector, and investor who once co-owned the Texas Rangers died Friday night. He was 74.

Mavs Roll Over Suns. Just taking care of business. Also of note: Dirk, who did not play, got a haircut.

Sorry This Was a Heavy One. Here are a bunch of very short, very great celebrity impersonations, such as “Jason Statham gets a charlie horse.”

Dallas May Wait Even Longer to Repair Its Streets

As the DMN notes, at a retreat next week the Dallas City Council will discuss the possibility of postponing until 2018 a $1 billion bond program initially planned to go before voters in 2017. The reason is that Mayor Mike Rawlings and some other council members want the city to pay down some of its outstanding debt before taking on any more:

As things stand, $235 million out of Dallas’ $3 billion budget will go toward debt service this fiscal year alone .

“That’s money that could be going toward other services,” said council member Lee Kleinman, who has advocated that the city pay for repairs only when it can afford to do so. “That’s money that could go toward streets.”

“We’re trying as a council to bring our credit card spending down,” Rawlings said.

Any delay could be a disappointment to residents eager to get repaired many streets that are now in a near-post-apocalyptic state. Councilman Philip Kingston sounds ready to serve as their champion on the horseshoe:

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Leading Off (1/29/16)

Dallas Schoolchildren Required to Play. The DISD board voted Thursday that all district elementary schools must give students 20 minutes of recess each day for the rest of this school year, increasing that to at least 30 minutes daily next year. Recess also can’t be withheld as a form of punishment in disciplinary matters. Trustee Dan Micciche, who brought the proposal to the board, cited studies indicating recess improves social and emotional health. Considering the gorgeous weather we’re expected to have today, I plan to make the same argument to Wick this afternoon.

Arlington Woman Awarded Millions For Awful Book. I haven’t read Fifty Shades of Grey, unless you count Buzzfeed’s abridged, illustrated version. But millions have bought author E.L. James’ book that began as fan fiction published through a website co-founded by Arlington woman Jennifer Pedroza. A jury last year found that Pedroza’s partner had cheated her out of her rightful share of royalties from the work, and on Thursday a judge awarded the Fort Worth schoolteacher $10.4 million in royalties plus $888,643 in pre-judgment interest, as well as $1.7 million in attorney’s fees. So Fifty Shades has made so much money that a woman who didn’t even write the thing, and is splitting her royalty share with the other partners who worked to publish it, still looks to make $11.5 million? Jeez, you people like your S&M.

Dallas Police Chief Doesn’t Need Your Resume. Testifying as part of a civil suit filed against the city, David Brown explained the process by which he decided whom to promote to the rank of major within the department. His “intricate vetting process” has “little need for resumes, job interviews, detailed personnel histories or opinions outside of his command staff.”

Kennedale Smells Like Old Rotted Fish. Parts of Arlington too. Residents there are blaming recent changes at a landfill run by the city of Fort Worth. If I were better acquainted with Kennedale, I’d insert a cutting punchline here. But for all I know it was previously a veritable Garden of Eden, redolent of lilac and baby powder.

Leading Off (1/28/16)

Southwest airlines pilots to picket at Love Field. This is set to occur next Wednesday, and it will be the first informational picket ever to take place at this Dallas airport. The pilots are not happy that after four years of negotiations for a new contract, when profits have been high, they still don’t have one. First, both the pilot union and airline will meet with federal mediators on February 2 in hopes of reaching a compromise.

Charter school in southern dallas approved. Yesterday, Dallas City Council members approved a controversial new charter school, K-12 Uplift Education. There were protests by DISD folks who say the growing number of southern Dallas charter schools is taking both resources and kids away from the school district. The vote to approve was a narrow 7-6.

SNL‘s Lorne Michaels will speak at Bush Center. On February 27, Lorne Michaels, creator of Saturday Night Live, will be at the George W. Bush Presidential Center, along with the former president and first lady. The evening will center on the show’s longstanding comedic portrayal of the presidency, as it’s become famous for.

Road rage incident leads to fatal shooting of Fort Worth woman. This happened in Arlington. 26-year-old Brittany Daniel was fatally shot yesterday evening while driving east on I-30. A man who was sitting in the back of another car shot her, said a passenger to police, who are still looking for the suspect.

Law Man Walking: Nature Treks With Bill Holston

Now all them things that seemed so important
Well mister they vanished right into the air

— Bruce Springsteen, The River

Last Saturday morning was a beautiful, cold morning. Ben Sandifer and I decided to head down to the Trinity to see if there was dry land. I had been out of town the previous weekend, hiking in New Mexico’s Organ Mountains, so I was happy to hike with Ben again. There is something about our easy companionship that makes a walk in the woods even better. We barely need conversation to pick our way down a trail or decide when to take a break, to be quiet, slow down or speed up. I like the effortlessness of walking with a steady, familiar companion, especially one as knowledgeable and amiable as Ben. My buddy Scott usually is with us, and Scott and I have been hiking together for about 35 years.

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Leading Off (1/27/16)

72-Year-Old Blind Woman Escapes Fire. Caroline Ware says she was asleep on the couch when fire alarms woke her up just after midnight. Ware, who is usually confined to a wheelchair, made it her electric scooter and drove out onto the front porch before calling for help. Ware’s daughter says she was gone from the house for only a few minutes when the fire started.

Video of Highland Park Chanel Store Robbery. Highland Park police released video from last Monday’s robbery. It shows a van crashing through the store window. Then a group of mask-wearing thieves gets out and starts collecting purses. The entire thing is over in seconds. (Seven people were arrested.)

Father Arrested for Taking Daughter’s Phone Found Not Guilty. It started when Ronald Jackson says he found a rude text message on his daughter’s phone in 2013, when is daughter was 12. Jackson confiscated the phone. Jackson’s ex-wife called the police to get it back. Jackson refused. He was charged with misdemeanor theft. He says he’d prefer police not tell him how to parent, and says justice has been served.

Report Says Texas Schools Are Worst in Nation. But it’s really hard to measure these things. By some standards, Texas is actually doing better than most states. Which is kind of the point of this story.

Mavs Beat Lakers. Dirk Nowitzki hit a beautiful jumper with two seconds left to help propel the 92-90 win in Los Angeles. Kobe Bryant didn’t play, but he and Dirk shared a nice moment in what is almost certainly their final matchup.