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North Texas Giving Day, Cont.

Tim has mentioned it. Chris has mentioned it. Now I’m going to mention it: North Texas Giving Day is happening right now. So far, 40,944 gifts have been made for more than $10 million. (Yes, I’m addicted to the leaderboard as well.) There are many wonderful and deserving organizations that you should put your dollars toward. I’m going to reiterate what Chris said and mention one of them, because it’s near and dear to D‘s heart: it’s Big D Reads.

The goal is simple: we want to make Dallas a city of readers. Therefore, we’re going to purchase 20,000 copies of Charles Portis’ True Grit and hand them out in April. We’ve got big plans this year: we’re developing curriculum for teachers to use to teach the book, we’re expanding to new neighborhoods, and we’re bringing in Matt Damon. (Actually, we’d like to bring in Matt Damon. His people haven’t called me back yet. If you have a connection to him—or Jeff Bridges or the Coen Brothers—let me know.) All we’re asking for is $5. That buys one book. Go here to give.

K. Pitch over. And, in the time it took me to write that, 285 more gifts were given. Way to give, Dallas.

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Jim Schutze Details the DMN’s Slanted Coverage of DISD

News comes today that DMN managing editor George Rodrigue is leaving the paper to work in some capacity at WFAA Channel 8 (we’ll post the memo to staff in a bit). The editor of the paper, Bob Mong, announced earlier that he will step down next year. Here is job No. 1 for whoever fills these top two spots: straighten out the paper’s coverage of DISD. What am I talking about? Please read this post by Jim Schutze. Then, for even more background, read Eric’s post on the same topic. What they’re doing over at the Morning News is irresponsible.

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Westlake Academy Is Early Leader in North Texas Giving Day

Today, as you are no doubt aware, is North Texas Giving Day, the Communities Foundation of Texas joint that uses a pool of money to match donations, thereby encouraging people to give to local nonprofits. Last year, the effort raised $25.2 million, making it the largest giving day in the country (by a wide margin). As of 10 o’clock, $6.2 million had been raised. Not to jinx anyone, but it looks like we are on pace to break last year’s record.

Two confessions: the first is that I’m addicted to watching the leader board, partly, I guess, because I am familiar with some of the organizations on it. Currently, Westlake Academy is destroying the competition, with donations totaling $161,565. Little ol’ Cistercian Prep is right near the top, with $92,785. But what about — oh, let’s just pick a school at random — St. Mark’s? Only $1,575? And Hockaday with a paltry $7,600? You folks need to step up your game. Go, Hawks!

The second confession: my wife does PR for North Texas Giving Day. Go, wife!

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Trinity Toll Road Named to Consumer Advocacy Nonprofit’s ‘Highway Boondoggle’ List

The Texas Public Interest Research Group, a consumer advocacy nonprofit, released a report today that names the Trinity toll road one of 11 road projects in America it considers a “highway boondoggle.” What does that mean? Well, in short, it’s a big, expensive project with little potential positive impact, as the lead in the DMN piece covering the report drives home:

By 2035, the $1.5 billion Trinity Parkway is expected to allow motorists on roads and highways in a 34-square-mile area to drive faster than they do today — by about 2 miles per hour. And 47 percent of lane miles in that area will be congested in 21 years regardless of whether the toll road is built or not.

Still, the road has its supporters, including Mayor Mike Rawlings, who seems to believe the project is critical. Not sure how adding 90,000 drivers to the downtown road network while only reducing vehicles on the Mixmaster sections of I-35 and I-30 by 8,000 to 29,000 is critical or worth the $1.5 billion price tag.

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Leading Off (9/18/14)

Vonciel Jones Hill Says Scott Griggs Is Wrong, Keeps Reasons Why To Herself. Griggs recently said screw-ups by the Trinity River and transportation departments are harming the city. Hill, who heads both the transportation and Trinity committees, understandably took it personally, calling his analysis “inaccurate, incomplete, and insulting to the work of more people than I can name — including myself.” But that was pretty much it as far as a defense of the departments and their work, which some might think is pretty weak. But not me, because it is also my strategy when involved in an argument. Just say “NOPE” over and over. It works.

WWII Vet Reunited With Old Friend. It’s a 1928 Thompson A-1 submachine gun.

Suspect Arrested In SMU Rape Case. Torey Jamal Harris, 23, was arrested in Corsicana where he allegedly attacked a Navarro College student. Investigators say he admitted to the University Park attack when questioned.

After 15 Years, Downtown Fort Worth May Lose Free Parking. And that smug, self-satisfied look on its face.

The Curious Case of Anthony Kim. “Anthony Kim has become golf’s yeti, an elusive figure who is the source of endless conjecture. What we know for sure is that Kim, 29, has not teed it up at a PGA Tour event in more than 28 months. Once considered the future of U.S. golf, he is now estranged from the game that brought him fame and fortune. His handlers at IMG rarely speak to him. In April, asked Kim’s agent, Clarke Jones, about his client’s whereabouts. The best Jones could come up with? ‘He’s not living under a bridge, he’s not living in a box.’ The players on Tour wonder if they will ever cross paths with Kim again.”

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How Will You Feel When Adrian Peterson Is Playing For The Cowboys Next Season?

1. Adrian Peterson won’t play another down for the Vikings this season, and most likely, because of his contract if nothing else, he won’t play another down for the team, period.

2. The Cowboys are still owned by Jerry Jones. He’s only ever shied away from a player for moral reasons once (Randy Moss) and regretted it ever since. Also, from Don Van Natta Jr.’s celebrated profile:

Then a man taps Jones on the shoulder, says Adrian Peterson wants to say hello and hands over an iPhone. Jones says hi to the Minnesota Vikings’ star running back and listens, nodding but not smiling. “Well, I understand, Adrian,” he says into the phone. The slanted smile returns. “I’d like that, too. … Well, I love your story. I love your daddy’s story. I’ve always respected what you’ve been about. I’ve always been a fan of yours.”

Listening to half the conversation, it is obvious Peterson is telling Jones he wants to play for the Cowboys. Peterson, 29, is in the fourth year of a seven-year, $100 million contract that will pay him $11.75 million this autumn to play for the Vikings.

“Well, we’ll see what we can do, if we can make that happen,” Jones is now saying. “Hmm-hmm. … I’d like that, too. … Well, we’re talking pig Latin here, but let’s see if we can do that.” Jones listens, nods and says again, “We’re talking pig Latin here, but let’s see what we can do about that. OK, Adrian, thanks.”

3. The Cowboys will be coming off another 8-8 season and will need to stay in the headlines.

So, again, how will you feel when Adrian Peterson is playing for the Cowboys next season?

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Things To Do In Dallas Tonight: Sept. 17

Eric Nadel is best known as the voice of the Texas Rangers, and that’s a bit of an understatement as his inclusion in the Baseball Hall of Fame late last year cemented his status as a national figure. But Nadel somehow finds the time to squeeze another job that’s quite demanding: the music director for Lower Greenville’s Vagabond restaurant.

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D Magazine’s 40 Greatest Stories: Tom Landry’s Dallas Cowboys

I had an ulterior motive for yesterday’s poll asking who deserves to be the most beloved coach in Dallas sports history. I figured that Tom Landry, longtime coach of your Dallas Cowboys, would win easily. I left him in, and didn’t just make it a contest to find the second-most beloved coach, because I wanted to gauge just how easily. (Answer: extremely)

I knew I’d be announcing this morning that the latest selection in our 40 Greatest Stories series is Peter Gent’s October 1981 article about Landry and his teams of the 1960s and ’70s. Gent, as many of you know, played for the Cowboys for five seasons and went on to a career as a novelist. His first was a semi-autobiographical effort about his pro football career, called North Dallas Forty, and he penned the screenplay for the 1979 film adaptation as well. He died of complications of a pulmonary disease in 2011, at age 69.

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Leading Off (9/17/14)

State Fair to Host American Idol Auditions: I’ve heard Zac’s version of Bell Biv DeVoe’s “Poison,” and Mooney’s version of, um, some David Allan Coe song? I think that’s what it was? I don’t remember, it was after a Christmas party and we were at The Goat. Anyway, American Idol auditions will come to the State Fair September 26, 27, and 28. 

Arlington Woman to Be Executed Tonight: Lisa Ann Coleman is expected to be the first Tarrant County woman executed in more than 30 years. A: Afghanistan, China, Cuba, Egypt, Iran, Iraq, North Korea, Pakistan, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, United Arab Emirates, United States, Yemen. Q: What is a list countries that still use the death penalty?

Following Cruel Prank, Grand Prairie Kids Make Right: Just read this.

Atheists Protest Rowlett Council Meeting: They’re upset that they’re not in the mix to perform the invocation before council meetings. “We believe we have a solid policy in place and we’re sticking to the policy,” said Mayor Todd Gottell. Only one person knows the right answer. (It’s God. Or G*d. No no-god. Okay, maybe this is pretty complicated.)

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Why Was John Wiley Price Trying To Get a Court-Appointed Attorney?

Yesterday, Judge Renée Harris Toliver denied the county commissioner’s request to have court-appointed counsel represent him on public corruption charges. But why did he request such a thing in the first place? He’s been represented by Billy Ravkind forever. Can Price really not afford him now? Or is this a gambit to start laying the groundwork for a future appeal and/or forcing the government to pay for his defense? Or some other thing I’m just not smart enough to see? I’ll hang up and take your answers in the comments.

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Tod Robberson Puts Pressure on District Attorney To Do His Job

Editorial writer Tod Robberson has a bylined op-ed in today’s paper that you should read. Essentially it says: “What the heck, people? I did a bunch of really solid reporting on a slumlord in southern Dallas who has been breaking the law for years and bragging about it. DA Craig Watkins? U.S. Attorney Sarah Saldaña? Are you guys paying attention?”

Here’s the first story Robberson did, a serious bit of reporting into the operations of Douglas T. “Chase” Fonteno, a self-described “real estate cat burglar” who takes poor people’s houses and then resells them. I know, right? It sounds insane. It sounds like something that authorities should put a stop to. Robberson wrote a series of stories about Fonteno back in May. Then he brought his findings to the authorities. But as Mayor Mike Rawlings told Robberson, there isn’t much the city can do besides slap Fonteno on his wrist. So:

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The Paris Review Has a Few Words With Merritt Tierce

My apologies to those of you who are tired of posts from me about Merritt Tierce’s debut novel, Love Me Back. It’s a great book, and I want to see a local writer get the attention (and sales) she deserves. The book is out today. Tierce will appear at The Wild Detectives September 25 to talk about it. To whet your appetite, here’s a Q&A with Tierce that The Paris Review published today. (Side note: the woman who conducted that Q&A is named Thessaly La Force, one of those names that only exists in real life, because if you gave it to a character in a novel, it would just sound dumb.)

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