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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Leading Off (7/10/14)

President Obama Meets With Governor Perry, Local Officials. County Commissioner Elba Garcia called the meeting an “exchange of ideas.” President Obama said “Dallas has been incredibly compassionate.” This outstanding photo was taken.

Texas Rangers Now Dead Last In All Of MLB. The team is 38-53, they have lost 18 of their last 21 games, and they’re sitting on a .418 winning percentage. That’s a brutal way for the Rangers’ best stretch in franchise history to end. Let’s just hope it’s an injury-fueled aberration and they’re not on the verge of becoming the 1990s Dallas Mavericks.

DART’s Orange Line to DFW Airport Opens August 18. Awesome. Also would be great if there was a stop on any of the lines near my house, but whatever.

Fort Worth Woman Inadvertently Kills Coyote Pup. That’s what this story should say in the headline, or at least the first paragraph. But, no. You see the photo of the coyote pup. “Ah, that’s pretty cute. I’ll keep reading.” It says a woman found the little coyote behind a restaurant on the way to work and thought it was a dog, whom she named Taco. “Oh, ‘Taco’ — adorable. Let’s see what happens next.” After she took Taco to the animal hospital, two things were learned: 1) Taco was, in fact, a coyote. “Delightful misunderstanding. Could happen to anyone.” And 2) Taco had all the signs of having rabies. “Oh, but — oh, no. No. The only way to test for rabies is — dammit, not Taco!” The story ends, “The only way to test for rabies is to sample the brain tissue, so the coyote was euthanized and will be tested.” THANKS FOR NOTHING, FOX 4.

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Yu Darvish’s Translator Explains Baseball in 3 Languages

There’s a nice profile on Grantland today about Kenji Nimura, the man who translates for Texas Rangers pitcher Yu Darvish. He’s trilingual, so he speaks Spanish with the team’s Latin American players as well. A little about his background:

The rise of so many non-English-speaking players has led to a growing roster of professional interpreters, none of whom can marshal quite as many resources as Nimura. A cultural chameleon who moved from Japan to the U.S. at age 11, he can translate the profane slang of former Dodgers manager Tommy Lasorda into the rough-hewn dialect of Nimura’s hometown of Nagoya, joke around with Latin American stars so naturally that they call him paisano, and propose fan-outreach ideas in business vernacular to the team’s front office. Nimura is also a scholar. The right question can send him into reveries about the complex relationship between cultural identity, language, and geography — a result of his own peripatetic life and education. And while hardly anyone grows up dreaming of becoming a professional baseball interpreter, Nimura, because of his biography and passions, seems uncannily suited to the job.

The article also mentions Nimura’s MLB Japanese-language blog, Speaking Baseball, which explains common English slang used by baseball players, like “you bent but didn’t snap” and “ducks on the pond.” Check it out if for no other reason than to see Rangers pitcher Colby Lewis with two handfuls of dead ducks. Then ask Google to translate the blog for you:

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Why It Matters That the Morning News Failed at Paid Content

When I read this morning that the Dallas Morning News is giving up on its “premium content” experience  (which it launched last fall), my first reaction was to think “they’re still offering a premium content experience?” I have a subscriber’s log-in that I could use to access the site, but many months ago I stopped bothering to do so because the time it took to type in the email address and password wasn’t worth the payoff.

I wouldn’t do as the Morning News’ own story today has done and categorize this experience as a failed attempt at premium content. I’d instead think of it as an “incomplete,” given that there wasn’t anything terribly “premium” about the Morning News experience.

We have to get readers to pay for the content they want. We’re going to have to. I doubt greatly that the Morning News, in ending this experiment, has completely abandoned that fact. They’re just going to look for another means of doing it. In which case, I have a proposal.

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D Magazine’s 40 Greatest Stories: The Backyard Yacht of Highland Park

The 4000 block of Miramar Avenue looks pretty normal — if “normal” can ever appropriately be used to describe a row of homes in Highland Park. It sits just off Lakeside Drive, with easy access to sickeningly picturesque Lakeside Park and Exall Lake. It’s a block away from Beverly Drive and Dallas Country Club as well.

The homes are a mix of traditional and modern designs, most valued in the $3 million-$4 million range. On the corner, technically on Lakeside, sits the 60th most expensive home in Dallas. At 4004 Miramar, you’ll find one of D Home‘s 10 Most Beautiful Homes in Dallas for 2014. Across from that, at 4005, is a fairly unremarkable (by Highland Park standards) that’s valued at more than $3.1 million, with $2.5 million of that assessed for the land alone.

That lot looked very different 50 years ago.

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Leading Off (7/9/2014)

President Obama to Visit Dallas Today: According to the White House release I got last night: In the evening, the president will attend a Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee event at a private residence. During the day, he’ll “meet with local elected officials and faith leaders to discuss the urgent humanitarian situation at the Southwest border.” This will take place at DalFort Fueling, out at Love Field. Get your pitchforks or welcome mats, depending on your preference.

Police Release Footage of the 666 Bandit: Good luck IDing him (I’m assuming it’s a him) from this, but take a shot at it. Your clues: rides a bike, looks pretty lanky, was downtown. Judging by these hints, I’d say it’s Eric Nicholson.

Fort Worth Man Added to Most Wanted Sex Offender List: ”He has several tattoos, including a biohazard emblem on the right side of his chest and a picture of a little girl on the left side of his chest.” Did I mention that he’s wanted on parole and probation violations stemming from three counts of aggravated sexual assault of a child?

Father of Murdered Toddler Says Mother Is Innocent: OK, maybe not innocent, but he says she feared for her life when she buried her 19-month-old daughter. What is clear, since burying your daughter under a bridge in a rural Texas town is not, evidently: the alleged murderer, Joshua Beard, will not fair well in prison.

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Things To Do In Dallas Tonight: July 8

Your usual guide to the comings and goings of Dallas fun is frolicking in the “City of the Big Shoulders” this week — or at least until tonight — that is, unless Second City can convince him to toss his Plano love to wind and double down with some of his We Shot Jr compatriots who decamped Dallas years ago for the capital of the Midwest (highly doubtful). So that leaves me, I suppose, to step in and offer an evening tour of our fair burg. We should be able to find a few titillations and stimulations for a run-of-the-mill Tuesday in July. Let’s see.

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How Syracuse Is Dealing With Its Inner-City Highway Problem

Govering.com has an interesting article about the movement to teardown a section of Interstate 81 in Syracuse, NY. If you’ve been following the conversation about the similar effort in Dallas, many aspects of this story will sound familiar. A road goes up in the 1960s that cuts through a predominately African-American neighborhood. Downtown business owners supported the road because they believed it would bring in customers. However, the opposite occurred, and downtown suffered. Now that there is a slow-moving revival of downtown, and developers, city organizations, and Syracuse politicians want to remove the road, which has reached the end of its useful life and requires expensive repairs, and stitch back the city’s urban grid. State agencies and suburban business leaders and politicians want to rebuild or bury the road.

The article offers a comprehensive and balanced overview of the debate that very much mirrors our own. And it reiterates something we wrote in the May issue: no matter what, reversing the effects of 20th century interstate building is a political nightmare.

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Obama May Discuss Border Crisis in Dallas, But Is This His ‘Katrina Moment?’

A “Katrina Moment.” It’s a phrase that, for whatever reason, immediately brings the image of Kanye West crying on TV to my mind. It’s the phrase Laredo Democratic Rep. Henry Cuellar used to describe President Obama’s refusal to break from his Texas itinerary, which will see him swing through Dallas and Austin and attend three fund-raisers in two days, in order to visit the detention centers on the Texas-Mexico border that are home to an increasing number of child refugees from Latin America. While in Dallas, however, Obama has invited Gov. Rick Perry to discuss the situation along with local faith leaders and elected officials. Expect Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins to be there; the judge has offered to find housing for 2,000 child migrants.

But Katrina Moment?

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Poll: Is Mike Miles Underpaid?

Over on Learning Curve, Eric Celeste yesterday ran through some of the numbers relevant to a discussion about whether Mike Miles, superintendent of Dallas ISD, is being paid what he’s worth for the job he’s required to do.

Miles makes $306,000 a year. Eric, after comparing that base salary to other Texas school superintendents and to CEOs of similarly sized companies and nonprofits, reaches the conclusion that it’s perfectly reasonable for Miles to be seeking more money.

What do you think?

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Leading Off (7/8/14)

GOP Convention Decision Comes Today. The decision should come at 11 today. We’re guessing. Cleveland is guessing. You heard it here first: Dallas will land the thing. I am citing unnamed sources. (If we don’t get the thing, then never mind. Just forget you ever read this post. And know that you heard this here first: USA Volleyball Junior National Championships. 2016. Got ’em.)

Ruling on NFL Damages for Concussions Provides Nothing But More Uncertainty. Fans of the magazine have no doubt read Zac’s fine story about Tony Dorsett and the damage that football did to his brain. News came yesterday that the NFL’s liability for damages for those concussions won’t be limited to $675 million, thought it appears that news won’t really change players’ lives. Sad quote from the DMN story about the development: “Dorsett, in telephone interviews with The News last August, November, and Monday, seems to have deteriorated, at least in ability to hold train of thought. He said he continues to get periodic treatment at UCLA, including stem-cell.”

Home Rule Board Meets, I Go Insane. Sorry. Stuff been going on. Family summer vacation. Stuff. Other stuff. But the DISD home-rule commission met for the first time yesterday. And I’m just now cluing in to the fact that the commission — the body charged with taking a fresh, independent look at how the district does its business — includes among its members Marcus Ranger, husband of DISD trustee Carla Ranger; and Lew Blackburn Jr., who is so much like his father, who sits on the board, that he has the same name. This should work great. Thanks, guys.

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