There are four candidates on the ballot for Dallas City Council District 13, but everyone knows that this is really a two-horse race.
Either real estate/oil and gas investor Leland Burk or registered nurse Jennifer Staubach Gates will win on Saturday. The other candidates are Jacob King, a senior at Bishop Lynch High School who’s been old enough to vote for less than a year, and Richard Sheridan, who’s best known for being physically removed from public meetings after exceeding the time limit for speaking.
So what issues separate Burk and Gates in the contest to represent a district that includes the wealthiest portions of North Dallas?
As you’re no doubt aware, at least one Dallas City Council member is going to lose a re-election bid on Saturday. That was determined the moment that District 1 was redrawn last year with both Scott Griggs and Delia Jasso living within its borders.
Griggs, a patent attorney, has represented District 3 since 2011; Jasso, a full-time council member after having put her language school housed in Oak Cliff United Methodist Church on hiatus, has represented District 1 since 2009.
So how are the voters to choose between them?
Duncanville Teacher Placed on Administrative Leave. Julie Phung, the teacher at whom student Jeff Bliss directed his rant that went viral online, has been temporarily removed from the classroom with pay. Duncanville ISD said this step is standard procedure when there is an investigation of employee misconduct.
Arlington Mayor Criticized For Using Rangers, Cowboys Logos on Campaign Mailer. The city’s logo was also used, which could be a ordinance violation. Mayor Robert Cluck admitted that permission to use the logos hadn’t been obtained by his campaign. “Can’t you Cluckers manage one Cluckin’ mailer?” I really, really want to believe he yelled at his advisers. “How the Cluck did this happen?”
French Government to Honor Richardson Veteran. Jack Bennett, a retired dairy-products sales rep, is 89. He’ll be honored at his home today as a Knight of the French Legion of Honor for his military service during World War II. “It’s about Clucking time,” said Arlington Mayor Robert Cluck.
Ahead of Saturday’s local elections, which include several competitive Dallas City Council races, we’d like to hear from the FrontBurner community about your expectations.
Just answer the survey below, and feel free to add your own yes/no question (click on that “Ask” tab) to hear feedback from the community.
Will Changing Politics of North Dallas Affect Makeup of City Council? On paper, the Dallas City Council is non-partisan, but you don’t have to sit through too many council meetings to guess who voted Mitt and who voted Barack during the last election. As it turns out, more residents in historically conservative North Dallas voted Barack last time around, so Gromers Jeffers wonders if that will mean inroads for Democrats at the local level (paywall).
Did University Park Fire Firefighter to Avoid Paying Medical Bills? A 31-year-old former University Park firefighter says that five months after he threw-out his back on the job, UP stopped paying for workers compensation benefits. Then he was fired. So now he is suing the wealthy enclave. University Park is self-insured.
Tarrant County Water District Election Borrows From Chinatown Plot: Why would the wealthy Dallas investor who bought the estate of Bernie Madoff drop big bucks on a candidate for the Tarrant Regional Water District board — a candidate who doesn’t even live in the district? Why would that candidate need to start Political Action Committee when his opponents last month raised contributions of only around $3,500? What if I told you there was a pipeline project involved, and said pipeline is set to run through a few East Texas ranches owned by some wealthy Ewing-types. Starts to come into focus, no?
West Fertilizer Plant Was Plagued by Theft, Tampering. While investigators are continuing to try to sort out the cause of the April 17 explosion, this Reuters report details some troubling information about the plant’s recent history of lax security. The perimeter wasn’t fenced, and there were no burglar alarms or security guards. “It was a hometown-like situation. Everybody trusts everybody,” said McLennan County Chief Deputy Sheriff Matt Cawthon. Police received reports of 11 burglaries and five ammonia leaks there during the last 12 years. Some of these leaks were attributed to thieves siphoning off gallons of anhydrous ammonia, a liquid gas that can be used to cook methamphetamine. However, anhydrous ammonia has been ruled out as the cause of the blast, so Heisenberg can probably be ruled out as a suspect.
Victory Park to Get a Reboot. The owners of the still-troubled development around the American Airlines Center know that they need to make some big changes if they hope to see its largely empty retail space filled. Their solution involves building even more retail and office space, rejiggering some of the streets, and changing the look of the storefronts, signs, and landscaping. “Some of what is there now is very cold and monochromatic and doesn’t add energy,” said one of the planners of the redo. “We want that street to feel like a linear park and look more inviting.” Reminds me of something Patrick Kennedy wrote in D about the fixes needed at Victory: “Real places don’t have hard edges.”
Sen. Ted Cruz Denies Presidential Aspirations, Sort of. There have been reports that our freshman senator is prepping a 2016 White House run. Here’s what he told the media before a dinner for the Institute For Policy Innovation last night in Dallas: ”My focus is entirely on the U.S. Senate. That’s where the battlefield is. I can’t help what the media choose to write about or don’t write about.” Seems that leaves plenty of wiggle room for entering the race.
Last Night Ridiculously Cold For May. Don’t worry. Should be warmer today and this weekend. You might need the A/C again by Tuesday.
The former senator was on with Jon Stewart last night. When asked about her replacement — U.S. Senator Ted Cruz — she said he is a bright man who’s committed to fighting for his cause. “The same thing could have been said about Lex Luthor,” Stewart replied.
They also discussed the Senate’s recent failure to approve gun control legislation, and Hutchison noted that that vote was quite against the wishes of the American people, according to polls.
A lot of Republicans are in high anxiety these days, looking to “re-brand” the party and rejigger its message after losing the White House and failing to make gains in the Senate last year. But U.S. Rep. Pete Sessions of North Texas doesn’t appear to be among them. The chairman of the influential House rules committee says the only thing wrong with the GOP is its candidates. “We are winning when we have good candidates,” Sessions said in Dallas this morning at a “congressional briefing” hosted by the National Center for Policy Analysis. “We lose when we have bad candidates.”
Some recent Republican hopefuls, he added, have been “lazy, undisciplined, didn’t know what they were talking about, and shot their mouth off.” For example, he said, Missouri’s U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill “should have been beaten.” (But she wasn’t, after opponent Todd Akin made his comment about “legitimate rape.”)
The congressman’s prime example of a bad Republican candidate, though, seemed to be the party’s 2012 presidential nominee, Mitt Romney. “Mitt Romney appeared like a kid who showed up for his science project and the teacher said, ‘Explain it,’ and Mitt couldn’t do it,” Sessions said. “His ‘dad,’ Paul Ryan, explained it to him, but Mitt didn’t get it. … That’s why we lost the last election.”
City Councilman Scott Griggs has gotten a resolution supporting marriage equality on an upcoming council agenda. Mayor Mike Rawlings tells the Morning News today that the issue is a waste of the council’s time:
This afternoon, Rawlings stressed that he is “an unequivocal supporter of marriage equality.”
But the Dallas City Council should not spend its meetings debating political questions that it has no power over, he said.
“I don’t want to be talking about late-term abortions, or gun control, or GITMO,” he said.
Don’t laugh. Morgan Meis knows more about art than you do. No? Well, he has founded more New York-based arts collectives than you have. And Meis sees some similarities between the paintings of W and Degas.
Comparing the paintings of George W. Bush and Edgar Degas is an absurd undertaking if we are talking about quality. We would be comparing a hobbyist with one of the great masters. But I am not suggesting that we compare in terms of quality. I am suggesting that we can learn something about the Realist mind when we look at the art of George W. Bush as well as that of Degas. The Realist is often forced to the side, to the oblique angle, to the unusual vantage point precisely in his attempt to get at the truth. The truth of a scene doesn’t always reveal itself right away. The Realist must hunt for the right spin with great confidence. The Realist believes in his or her capacity to see rightly. The Realist cares nothing for multiple points of view. The Realist cares only for the correct point of view, the view that reveals the most truth. That is to say, Realists in painting (or in anything else) have an in-built arrogance. It is an arrogance born of the idea that Realists are uniquely able to see things the right way.
Read the rest of Meis’ essay. Good stuff.
12 West Firefighters Laid to Rest. The memorial service happened yesterday afternoon, and I’m sorry that we got so caught up in coverage of the Bush Center dedication that we didn’t take a moment to acknowledge the ceremony here on FrontBurner. Thousands gathered at Baylor University to honor the emergency workers who lost their lives in last week’s fertilizer plant explosion. President Obama was there, having flown down to Waco from Dallas on Marine One after attending the library opening in the morning. As the Star-Telegram reports, he said ”To the families and neighbors grappling with unbearable loss, we are here to say, ‘You are not alone. You are not forgotten. We may not all live here in Texas, but we’re neighbors, too. We’re Americans, too.” Senator John Cornyn, speaking on behalf of the Texas congressional delegation, praised the men’s bravery: “How does one find such love to be willing to lay down your life so that others may live? This will forever be the legacy of those who ran toward the fire last week.” Meanwhile, the Insurance Council of Texas estimates that the incident resulted in more than $100 million in damage. Let’s not forget that the residents of West are going to need our help to rebuild.
Lake Levels Prompt Tighter Water Restrictions. The North Texas Municipal Water District, which serves much of Collin County, Rockwall County, Kaufman County, Hunt County, and northeastern Dallas County, has announced it’s already imposing Stage 3 of its drought plan, effective June 1. Stage 3 limits lawn watering to once per week. Because we’ve had relatively little rain this year, the district’s primary reservoirs have seen their levels drop dangerously low. These problems are exacerbated by the fact that the district still can’t draw water from Lake Texoma, which normally would account for 28% of its raw water supply, because of the presence of zebra mussels. NTMWD had to implement Stage 3 in 2011 as well (you’ll remember sweating through that awful-hot summer), but didn’t need to do it that year until Sept. 28. Is it time for another gubernatorial proclamation of Days of Prayer For Rain?
Richardson Political Group Sends Controversial Mailer Bashing Mayoral Candidate. The candidate is Amir Omar, whose clashing with the city’s established powers was written about in our April issue. The mailer funded by the Richardson Coalition accuses Omar of being behind on paying his child support, and of having declared bankruptcy to get out of his student loans. Omar denies the allegations. His ex-wife backs up his story. The Morning News had the pertinent documents looked at by a divorce attorney, and the truth seems to depend on the meaning of the word “arrears.”
Dallas Cowboys Draft Wisconsin Center With First Pick. I’m not sure why (and neither are some experts), but the team gave up the No. 18 pick in yesterday’s first round of the NFL Draft in exchange for the 31st pick and a third-round selection. With that 31st pick, they took center Travis Frederick of the University of Wisconsin. They made Uncle Barky happy, at least.
Photographer Chris McGathey of our sister People Newspapers trekked to the east side of Central Expressway across from SMU this morning, to where Dallas Police were keeping protestors at a distance from the ceremony dedicating the George W. Bush Presidential Center.
Here’s what he saw:
A sampling of what’s being written about the exhibits you’ll find in the George W. Bush Presidential Center’s museum:
Not surprisingly, Bush media adviser Mark McKinnon gives the place high marks, calling it an “impressive return” to the national stage for the former president. His words for the Daily Beast:
I suppose the best one could ask of a presidential library and museum is that it accurately reflects the work of the administration and personality of its namesake. On this count, score a 10. The library is bold, honest, gracious, respectful and humble. Those were all strong characteristics of George W. Bush.
McKinnon praises the much-discussed “Decision Points Theater,” in which visitors are challenged to consider what they would have done in Bush’s shoes:
The bottom line is that even if you don’t like Bush, if you are willing to put yourself in his position with the facts that he had at the time, you will likely come away with a much greater appreciation and understanding for how and why the decision were made. The museum does a magnificent job of making that point—no matter how much you might disagree with the outcome of the decisions.
Now that he’s been out of the Oval Office for awhile, and he’s become like our wacky old uncle who spends his days painting pictures of himself in the bathtub, or dogs, former President George W. Bush is more popular with the American people than he’s been in more than seven years. That’s according to a new Washington Post/ABC poll:
Almost as many people (47 percent) approve of how Bush handled his eight years in office as disapprove (50 percent), according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll. That’s the highest approval rating for Bush since December 2005. Bush’s approval dipped all the way to 23 percent in Post-ABC polling in October 2008 and was just 33 percent in January 2009 when he left office. (His approval rating was below 40 percent for 26 consecutive months before his term ended, the longest streak of sub-40 presidential ratings since polling began in the 1930s.)
And, what’s fascinating is that it’s not just Bush’s overall job approval numbers but the intensity measures. In the new Post-ABC poll, 34 percent say they “strongly” disapprove of the job he did while in office; that’s the lowest strong disapprove number for Bush since January 2005.
There are a number of things that stood out about the new George W. Bush Presidential Center, which will be formally dedicated tomorrow morning: a replica of the President’s Oval Office, W’s baseball collection, Laura Bush’s ball gowns, and Decision Points, an interactive theater that lets visitors second-guess significant Bush decisions.
And then there’s the beam: a massive, crumpled reminder of the most significant event during Bush’s presidency, the terrorist attacks of 9/11.
Visitors encounter the beam after walking past some biographic galleries and “all the things we thought we’d be working on all four years,” Laura Bush explained to the media this morning. Things like No Child Left Behind, the tax cuts, and community- and faith-based initiatives. ”Then you turn the corner and see the big beam from the World Trade Center. Even in the way we tried to lay out the museum, you can see the way our lives changed and the way the lives of everyone in our country changed.”
The former First Lady said the gallery is the most meaningful part of the museum for her personally; her favorite “happy” part is the Oval Office, which has the same orientation as the real deal: “The south sun pours into the big bay window, just like it does in Washington.”