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Leading Off (10/27/2014)

Two x Two Fundraiser Smashes Records. The annual black-tie fundraiser, Two by Two for AIDs and Art, broke its record this year when an anonymous collector bid $2.6 million for a Wade Guyton painting, bringing the total take to $7 million. Half the money goes to the Dallas Museum of Art, and the other half to the American Foundation for AIDS Research. CeeLo Greene performed.

After Hugging President Obama, Nurse Nina Pham Back in North Texas. But she can’t have Bentley, her dog, back just yet. The dog will be released from quarantine on Nov. 1.

Former Penneys CEO Raises $30 Million For New Start Up. Ron Johnson is back, with a secretive e-venture called “Enjoy.” It’s meant to humanize the online shopping experience when it comes to buying “things that matter.”

Standardized Test Scores Are Out. The Morning News put together this interactive, where you can see how schools’ STAAR results improved, stayed the same, or declined between 2012 and 2014.

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Susan Hawk Campaign Uses Photo Without Permission for Political Mailer

Sometime D Magazine contributor Allison V. Smith tweeted about an hour ago that the Susan Hawk campaign used one of her photos in a mailer without her permission. Definitely not cricket. Allyn Media president and CEO Mari Woodlief tells me it was a mistake and that her firm, the consultant for the campaign, is paying an invoice that Smith sent them. Just a guess, but I bet that invoice was steeper than Allyn Media would have preferred.

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Nina Pham Is Ebola-Free. Is She a Hero?

News this morning is that the first Dallas nurse to contract Ebola is now free of the virus and will be discharged from the National Institutes of Health Clinical Center today. This is, of course, great news.

Over on the Morning News site, Rudy Bush opines that Pham, along with the other Ebola nurse/patient, Amber Vinson, and sergeant-of-arms of the Canadian Parliament Kevin Vickers, who killed a terrorist gunman, should give us hope for western civilization:

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Leading Off (10/24/14)

Porsche at Center of New Allegations Against DA’s Office. The car was parked for months at the courthouse parking garage before Ace Parking (which manages the garage) asked United Tows to haul it away. Thing is it was a vehicle belonging to the county government and intended to be used in drug stings. The owners of United Tows says Craig Watkins’ staff accused them of car theft, even though it appears the company followed all the legal procedures required of it. The Morning News sought records detailing the process by which the DA’s office bought back the car from United Tows, but has had to file a lawsuit to get those details released.

It’s Going to be in the 90s This Weekend. Yes, we’re getting to the later part of October, when things would — you’d expect — be cooling down a bit. But instead the forecast calls for unusually high temperatures for the season. Meanwhile the continued drought is prompting more significant watering restrictions, and we have an unusually cold winter to look forward to.

SMU Makes Offer to Mack Brown. The school’s football team is looking for new leadership after former coach June Jones bolted after the second game of what’s been a dreadful season for the Mustangs. They’ve reportedly had “preliminary discussions” with Brown, the former University of Texas at Austin head coach who led the Longhorns to a national title for the 2005 season. The dollar figures they’ve discussed are $4 million a year for eight years.

Lawn Care Company Flying Too Many Flags. If you’ve ever trekked up to my hometown of Denton and exited onto Dallas Drive on your way to the Courthouse Square, after you descended the hill along which I received the first two speeding tickets of my life, you saw a fleet of orange trucks sitting along the right side of the road, usually adorned with letters spelling out some community announcement about a Knights of Columbus pancake breakfast or a VFW barbecue or somesuch.  And you saw a whole lot of American flags.  The orange trucks belong to Frenchy’s Lawn Care, which is owned by Vietnam vet Andre “Frenchy” Rheault. Well, after many years of displaying as many Old Glories as he likes, the city’s code enforcement department has told Rheault that the flags have to come down. Only one American flag, one Texas flag, and one miscellaneous flag are allowed on any one property. Rheault plans to fight.

Topless Cheerleaders Use Drugs. Photos of the Lamar High School students engaging in naughty behavior made the rounds of social media and have caused quite a ruckus in Arlington.

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Why Are There Painted Halloween Traffic Barrels Along LBJ Freeway?

Why am I obliging the nice fellow who sent me a press release this morning about traffic barrels painted with Halloween-themed art as a promotion for the LBJ Express project and Valley View Center and the redevelopment going on up there to re-dub the area Dallas Midtown?

Because I couldn’t help but wonder about the wisdom of encouraging drivers to take a gander at traffic barrels as they drive by, even if it’s just along the frontage road. The release:

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Glenn Beck on Mike Mooney: ‘He Is an Excellent Writer.’

For our November issue, Mike Mooney profiled Glenn Beck. He worked about two years to get an interview with Beck, who doesn’t do much of this sort of thing. Mike spent an afternoon with Beck in his Las Colinas studio and came away with an impression of a kinder, gentler man than the one many will remember from his broadcasts on Fox. Yesterday, Beck talked about the article on his show. For the most part, he liked it. He thought it was fair. He called Mike an excellent writer, which was certainly kind. But Beck and his sidekicks did take issue with one paragraph in the story that they said showed our liberal bias. Here’s the video.

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Leading Off (10/23/14)

Amber Vinson No Longer Has Ebola, According to Her Family. Still no official word from the CDC or Emory University Hospital in Atlanta, but her family says she’s been approved for transfer out of the isolation unit, and she looks happy and healthy in the photos that have been released. So hopefully she is out of danger. Vinson’s coworkers at Presbyterian got a call from President Obama yesterday, offering his support. What Presbyterian really needs is more patients.

Dallas Police Begin Testing More Than 4,000 Old Rape Kits. Some date back to 1996 and could lead to hundreds of new rape investigations.

Woman Accused Of Beating Her 12-Year-Old Daughter With a Belt Outside Bishop Dunne. Shannetta Robinson, 37, remains in Dallas County jail.

Irving Council Member Quits Committee After Dispute With Mayor. Dennis Webb used to chair the public safety committee. But he apparently felt Mayor Beth Van Duyne was being too political with the committees, so he quit during a public meeting. “Me and Allan [Meagher, chair of community services committee] find ourselves on committees that are meaningless … so your influence can be done,” Webb said. “To save myself and the citizens the grief … you can just find yourself another chair.” I assume he then dropped the mic.

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Tony Romo Walks Into a Bar in Brussels

[Editor's note: Having been honored with a Marshall Memorial Fellowship, our Brad Pearson is off wandering around Europe, ostensibly to develop his leadership skills. Periodically he will check in, as he is doing today with the following post.]

The Cowboys wouldn’t play for another three hours, but there was Joey, fully decked in his Tony Romo jersey. We were at Fat Boy’s Bar and Grill, a most American-sounding bar, except we were in Brussels, so it was likely rather a statement about Americans, via tavern title.

“Where you from?” I asked.

“New Jersey!”

So Joey and I stood there, watching a grainy stream of a Dolphins game pulled from an old laptop, pretending that he wasn’t just a front-running jerk who grew up when the Giants sucked.

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Leading Off(ish) (10/22/14)

Was the ball dropped? Yes. Were mistakes made? Certainly. We can assess blame blame later. Now is not the time. Now is the time, while seated in the waiting room of my son’s dentist, to hurriedly put up today’s Leading Off.

Nina Pham Is Kicking Ebola’s Butt. The nurse’s condition has improved. She has been upgraded from “fair” to “good.”

Shooting by a Police Officer. Few details at this point, but a cop shot someone this morning in Northeast Dallas.

Highland Park ISD Looks To Expand. The district is in talks with Northway Christian Church to buy 4.6 acres off Northwest Highway, where the district would build its fifth elementary school.

Nelson Bunker Hunt, R.I.P. The man lived one hell of a life.

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D Magazine’s 40 Greatest Stories: Carl’s Corner

As I’m sure many of you know, the drive along Interstate 35 between Dallas and Austin isn’t particularly scenic. It suffers from a serious dearth of character, which is why many a motorist in now long-past days looked forward to passing the small town of Carl’s Corner, with its truck stop unmistakably adorned by 10-foot-tall frogs.

The man behind the truck stop and the town was Carl Cornelius, who was memorably profiled by Mike Shropshire in the November 2006 issue of D Magazine. It’s one of the 40 greatest stories we’ve ever published.

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C.J. Wilson Picks Up a Fancy Car in Dallas

Over on the site Jalopnik, former Texas Rangers (and current Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim) pitcher C.J. Wilson has authored a post in which he discusses his recent trip to Dallas to pick up some sort of high-performance automobile from Park Place McLaren. He described the vehicle as a “Hyperblurprle McLaren P1.” I assume that will mean something to some of you. He ordered it a few years ago, which seems like an awful long time to wait for a car. He opted to drive it from Dallas to California rather than have it shipped:

I drove over to DFW to pick up my wife, who just started laughing and walking circles around the car with her iPhone. We squeezed into the carbon fiber and alcantara seats and headed towards Albuquerque. Each fuel stop was full of questions, photos and smiles.

Sure, you can take photos. Yep, it’s a McLaren. No, the F1 has the seat in the middle. 903. Yep.Yes it is fast. No I haven’t gone 200 yet. She is a car nut like me and loves the noise and was blown away by the accelerating despite going for rides in fast cars and her prior Porsche Driving School seat time.

Here’s a picture of the car. Here’s a picture of his wife.

Reminder: Wilson bombed badly in this year’s American League playoffs against the Kansas City Royals.

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L.M. Kit Carson Has Died

Comes word today that the North Texas filmmaker, whose career included co-writing the Wim Wenders movie Paris, Texas and co-founding Dallas’ own USA Film Festival, has died.

In 2011, D Magazine ran an article penned by Carson that was ostensibly about his work making a series of short documentaries about Africa on his cellphone, but it really reads more like a fever dream than a magazine story. Tim called it “uneditable,” yet “quite charming.” You should too.

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Leading Off (10/21/14)

51 People Released From Monitoring for Ebola. This is excellent news. Now we’ve got the two sick nurses being treated elsewhere and 116 people here in town who are still being monitored. The magic date is now November 7. If no one else develops symptoms by then, we can declare Dallas free of Ebola. Note to the mayor: don’t start planning the parade yet. Let’s all remember that lesson we learned in 2006.

Stricter Lawn Watering Rules in the Offing. The board of the North Texas Municipal Water District will today consider a return to once-every-two-week sprinkler use. Area lakes are still low, and we’re still in a serious drought. Heed the board. Heed it. (A Scott from Scott’s joke? A little love? No?)

Thousands of Diapers Stolen From North Texas Charity. Captain Hope’s Kids helps out homeless children. Its mission was made more difficult when thieves recently stole 160,000 diapers from the group. Stealing from homeless children? I guess if you wanted to ruin your karma faster, you could torture kittens, but that’s pretty low.

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Leading Off (10/20/2014)

Ebola Update. Texas Health’s CEO took out a full page ad in the Dallas Morning News and the Fort Worth Star-Telegram to apologize for the hospital’s initial response to Thomas Eric Duncan. Meanwhile, the 21-day monitoring period for the first group of people exposed, including Duncan’s fiancée, Louise Troh, ends today. Finally, the lady on the cruise ship who is a lab supervisor at Texas Health was cleared, and allowed to disembark in Galveston. D Healthcare Daily’s Matt Goodman has all the latest here.

Sports-Related Update. Listen, I know you’ve missed these. I hate to wear a good joke thin. But I really don’t like the Giants, so believe me when I say that I actually cared about this outcome: a 31-21 win, making this six-game streak the Cowboys’ longest in 7 years. In other important news, Joseph Randle, now notorious for his attempt to score a five-fingered discount on underwear and Gucci Guilty, will endorse underwear for a website called MeUndies.com in a deal that will, reportedly, more than help him repay whatever fine he got slapped with for shoplifting, in addition to the however many multiple thousands of dollars he’s going to make playing football this year. And, like magic, I have gone from being vaguely invested to utterly annoyed with the way things work in this world.

Early Voting Starts Today. I hope you guys are all already registered. If not, you’re out of luck for this election. The voter ID law is in effect even while it’s being challenged in court, so keep that in mind, too, and while you’re at it, Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s dissent is worth your time. Early voting will continue through Oct. 31, with the election on Nov. 4.

Change of Venue Request Denied in Kaufman County Murder Trial. Eric Williams, who faces the death penalty for killing Kaufman County District Attorney Mike McLelland, his wife Cynthia, and Assistant District Attorney Mark Hasse, and his defense attorneys requested a change of venue for the trial, arguing that he wouldn’t get a fair one in Rockwall. His request was denied. Jury selection continues, and the trial date is set for Dec. 1.

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