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Leading Off (1/19/2015)

Muslim Conference In Garland Draws Protesters. The conference, held at a facility operated by Garland ISD, was put on by Sound Vision, a Chicago-based Islamic organization. Per NBC, it was met by thousands of protesters and counter-protesters. The title of the conference was “Stand With the Prophet Against Terror and Hate.” Meanwhile, the prize for Most Predictable Use of Craft Supplies went to the white lady in the hideous sweater with the “Go Home and Take Obama With You” sign.

Dallas Safari Club Will No Longer Auction Off The Chance To Kill An African Elephant. The donor of the hunt withdrew the gift to the club, and therefore, murdering one of this planet’s largest animals for fun is off the table. However! You can still try for the chance to spend 14 expensive days in Mozambique attempting to kill an adult male leopard.

A Painful Cinematic Pun Happened In The Headline Of This Article. Also, the Lakewood Theater might become an Alamo Drafthouse. Alamo Drafthouses in Dallas are basically useless to me unless Rob Thomas promises to bring the cast of his next TV project, whatever that is, to one, so I have no opinion on this tidbit.

Another Earthquake in Irving. Speaking of places with an Alamo Drafthouse, there was one of those little earth wigglers on Saturday. A 2.2. How cute.

American Sniper Is Breaking MLK Weekend Box Office Records. The movie, which is based on Texas sniper Chris Kyle’s memoir and has inspired mostly ambivalent-to-blistering reviews, has made more than $90 million in its first weekend in wide release. That’s a lot for an R-rated drama, and a lot for a movie set in Iraq or Afghanistan. It’s also a lot for a Clint Eastwood film, believe it or not. I haven’t seen it, but I have read Michael Mooney’s story about the man. Anyway, happy Martin Luther King Jr. Day, everybody. I think I’ll go see Selma.

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Leading Off (1/16/15)

South Dallas Residents Don’t Want New Toll Lanes. Wait, I thought opposing the construction of new pay-to-play roads was classist and racist and that folks south of Interstate 30 are clamoring for the opportunity to pay to drive their cars to points north? Then why were those who showed up to a Tuesday meeting at Methodist Dallas Medical Center to discuss the proposed Southern Gateway project — redoing Interstate 35E south of Colorado Boulevard — so upset about the idea to include managed toll lanes in the plans? Listen to this:

“We don’t want this. We don’t want these tollways here. Not in Oak Cliff,” said Juanita Lozano, drawing an “amen” and applause from the crowd.

And this:

“You’re creating a system where people with means can zip from one end of this area to the other while they wave at the rest of us on the sidelines,” said Michael Amonett.

And how about this?

“Where will you get the additional land you need?” asked Alicia Quintans, who lives near I-35E and observes its daily traffic flow.

“There’s maybe two hours of the day when traffic is jumbled up on I-35,” she said, “and I don’t understand why we’re building these toll lanes for two hours of the day.”

Oil Boom Headed For Bust? We’re all still enjoying the cheap gasoline, but as prices have dropped, drilling budgets have been slashed and industry layoffs have begun. Concern of a sustained downturn is growing.

Hipster Wedding Chapel Denied by City. The owners of the Bows and Arrows floral shop were fixing up an East Dallas mansion to host weddings, but their request to rezone the home for that purpose was denied last week by the Plan Commission.

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Leading Off (1/15/15)

Embattled Prime Prep Academy Continues To Find Reasons To Stay Embattled. The latest? “Prime Prep Academy employees unknowingly lost their health insurance late last year after school administrators failed to pay premiums” and the “school didn’t make payments to the state teacher retirement system for months, issued its most recent paychecks late and was briefly locked out of the Fort Worth campus by its landlord during Christmas break.”

New DA Susan Hawk Expanding Animal Cruelty Unit. To highlight that, yesterday she visited the SPCA, allowing reporter Jenny Doren to double down: “The new ‘top dog’ in the Dallas County District Attorney’s Office has literally gone to the dogs.” Can’t say I would have played it any differently, though I feel there was room for “dog days” and “doggedly” somewhere in there.

Scott Linehan Reportedly Agrees To New Contract. The Cowboys’ de facto offensive coordinator was a key reason the team surpassed expectations. Next up for the team: bringing back Dez Bryant and Demarco Murray, and get Stephen Jones to start working on his core.

Another Earthquake Hits Irving. This one was a 2.3. Feels like there is going to be a bigger one at some point, no?

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Where Should We Build a Giant Tire Fire? Probably Sunnyvale

I hate this — being forced to play the sensible adult, I mean.

You know: Rotate your tires, fund your 401(k), and, speaking of tires, build the biggest tire fire the world has ever seen in the middle of Sunnyvale.

Listen, I’m sick of the whole subject and bet you are, too. This thing has dragged on way too long.

The opponents conjure up all sorts of conspiracy theories to explain why it hasn’t gone away — the evil tire-burning lobby, tire-burning fat cats, selfish Sunnyvalians like Steve Blow.

But one other possibility is that it survives because it’s the smartest answer to a serious need: burning a stack of old tires higher than Larry “Doc” Sportello.

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Pickens: Oil to Hit $90 Again, But Not Before Some Pain in Texas

Here’s an explanation by T. Boone Pickens of the current crude-oil market, in four sentences: Prices are down from their $100-plus highs not because of OPEC but because, thanks to advances in fracking and horizontal drilling, the U.S. has oversupplied the market. However, the price will bounce back from below $50 per barrel into the $90-$100 range again in 12 to 18 months. The reason: excess oil inventories will hit all-time highs in 2015’s first quarter, leading many of the country’s 1,500 oil-drilling rigs to shut down. That in turn will crimp production, spurring the price turnaround by the third quarter.

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Ask John Neely Bryan: Let’s All Give Steve Blow a Wide Berth, Shall We?

Lee Kleinman is the most courageous member of the Dallas City Council. I am pleased to announce that he is the first — thus far the only — member of that quasi-august body to accept my challenge. He has agreed to face off against me, mano e mano, over heaping bowls of dal makhani at Mughlai. I’ve asked my people to reach out to his people to work out the details. I shall keep you informed as to the progress of this endeavor.

Now, to today’s business.

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Leading Off (1/14/15)

Jason Garrett to Sign Contract Extension Vegas had him as the most likely coach to be fired during the 2014 season, and now look at him. Top of the world. Or at least top of a world, one that will most likely crumble before five years is up because how many vertebrae does Tony Romo have left exactly? Just one big one fused together? And I’m sure Jerry Jones won’t second-guess the coaching staff’s decision to run DeMarco Murray into the stiffer mantle below Arlington this year, and Jason Witten is getting younger by the day. On the other hand, I’m sure Dez Bryant will be fine. But maybe don’t let this domain lapse.

State to Name Board of Managers to Oversee Prime Prep Who could’ve possibly seen this coming? Whoa. Totally blindsided.

Mother and Daughter Found Dead in Fort Worth This is awful, yes, but this sentence gave me pause: “It does look like there was an accident,” said Natosha Tucker with Fort Worth Police. “Our investigators think that that car may have crashed through the barbed wire fence that you see behind us, but, again, it is unknown if that car is related to the two bodies that were found in the field.”

More Hotel Rooms Coming to Downtown Dallas Westin will climb into some floors of One Main Place during its upcoming renovation; a renovation of the building’s ill-conceived Rube Goldberg experiment of a courtyard will also take place. That leads me to one final point, for building owner KFK Group: if you lay one hand on Chef Wang’s delicious, reasonably-priced head, I will hunt you down, find you, and give you the sternest talking to about Americanized Chinese food you’ve ever heard. Demands will be made! Threats will be levied. And fried rice will be consumed.

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Texas’ Goat Population Is Doing Awesome

If anyone was worried, the Washington Post is here to help. My new favorite person, Christopher Ingraham, has mapped every goat in the United States, as per the USDA’s 2012 Agricultural Census. This map—one dot equals 500 goats—is fantastic.

For one thing, total goat population, if all the goats were stuffed into one united goat state under “Please Don’t Eat Us,” would outnumber the people population of Wyoming, Vermont, D.C., and North Dakota. People are, somehow, googling “goat recipes” enough that it returns 19.3 million results. There are 3.2 million YouTube videos that, again, somehow involve goats. But where are the Pinterest stats? Come on.

Here’s the part that has to do with Texas:

You’ll find commercial goat farms operating in 2,996 of the country’s 3,143 counties. Of the top ten goat-producing counties, 8 are in Texas and two are in Arizona. In Sutton County, Texas, goats outnumber people 14-to-1. In Edwards County, also in Texas, the ratio is 22-to-1. All in all, goats outnumber people in 21 U.S. counties, all but one of which are in Texas.

In light of all this, and if, indeed, goats are everywhere, Apple should probably set about fixing a massive, recently-noted injustice. There are two camel emojis and only one goat emoji. Equal emojis for all.

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Leading Off (1/13/15)

Bucks Beat Ducks. In the first College Football Playoff National Championship (which really does need a snappier name), Ohio State won 42-20 — and then got showered with Oregon-yellow confetti. Seems the Death Star was fully functional. “If you’re in my shoes, it’s a great feeling,” Jerry Jones said. Ohio State president Michael V. Drake called it “the best football stadium in the world.”

Mesquite ISD Superintendent To Step Down. Linda Henrie, who has led the district since 2005, announced last night that she will step down this summer to focus attention on her husband, two children, and six gran — hang on a second. You’re telling me that she has been the superintendent for 10 years? A decade? Mesquite ISD has had the same superintendent since Wedding Crashers was released? That’s impossible. You’re supposed to replace your superintendent every three years, right?

First Meeting of Earthquake Task Force. Doesn’t sound like much got accomplished yesterday. But Councilwoman Jennifer Staubach Gates did offer the following: “If somebody told me, my first year [on Council] we’d be dealing with earthquakes and Ebola, I’d be a little surprised that would be Dallas and District 13.”

High-Speed Rail Station Could Displace Morning News, WFAA. This is very preliminary, but it looks like the paper’s reporters might have to do their work in cubicles erected inside a train station. It will be a bullet train station, but still.

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Things To Do In Dallas Tonight: Jan. 12

Cowboys fans are mourning the end of another season, but there’s still football to be played in North Texas. Oregon will meet Ohio State at Jerry World tonight for the college football national championship, with the game itself accompanied by an onslaught of concerts, watch parties and ESPN talking heads. Here are a few ways to forget the pain of Dez Bryant’s catch-not-catch.

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Leading Off (1/12/2015)

I Am Really Super Sorry, Cowboys Fans. This catch-not-a-catch thing is…infuriating. Until next season.

Former Mavericks Center Roy Tarpley Dies. He was 50. No cause of death was listed by the medical examiner, according to reports.

Everyone Wants To Make Sure Their Homeowners Insurance Covers Earthquakes. Not a terrible idea, I guess, since while I was very busy tuning in to the Golden Globes, I felt yet another one. It registered a 2.5. Probably the ghost of Texas Stadium is just extra-mad about the Cowboys loss.

Boy Injured in 2009 DWI Case Dies. This one was already a sad case. Abdallah Khader, 8, was in a near vegetative state for almost six years. The driver of the vehicle that struck the car Khadar was riding in, Stewart Richardson, is a repeat offender and, per WFAA, holds the  distinction of waiting for trial in a Tarrant County jail longer than any other currently-incarcerated inmate.

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The Stewpot Resurrects a Ghost of Dallas at 508 Park

Back in October, we posted an item in our Ghosts of Dallas series featuring the restoration of 508 Park by the Stewpot of First Presbyterian Church. Today, as you can see above, the project unveiled the re-creation of the mural that originally appeared on the building, which was a Warner Bros. film vault and recording studio way back when.

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Mayor Mike Rawlings Says It’s ‘Classist’ Not To Give Poor People the Option To Pay Tolls

We run a leadership program called D Academy that is designed to educate our employees (and anyone else who would like to apply) about all matters related to the functions of our city. Yesterday, in a City Hall auditorium, Mayor Mike Rawlings was kind enough to field questions for the current class of fellows, and he said some things about the Trinity toll road and Adrian Peterson that give me pause. Such as:

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