Suggestions for Home Rule Commission: Student Trustees, Board Accountability, and Impeachment

The first three of my posts offering suggestions for consideration by the Home Rule Commission debating whether to rework the DISD charter. Come get a taste:

1. Should we have a student trustee?
2. How can we instill board accountability?
3. Should the board be able to impeach one if its own?

More to come. As always, read with your eyeballs.

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About the Use of the Word ‘Portmanteau’ in Our July Issue

In the July issue of D Magazine, the word “portmanteau” appeared in two stories. You may well wonder how rare an occurrence this was, and I will tell you how rare it was. From what I can gather, in the 40 years that the magazine has been in business, the word “portmanteau” has appeared in our pages just four times — including the two examples from July.

Zac used the word in his profile of Councilman Dwaine Caraway, explaining that when a constituent called him “trill,” he was combining the words “true” and “real.” And I used the word in my profile of Matt Rutledge, whose former company Woot combined the words “wow” and “loot.” At least two readers noticed our “portmanteau”s:

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The Barrett Brown Review of Arts and Letters and Jail: We’ll Take the Hole SHU-bang

I was released back into the relative freedom of the jail unit the other day after spending a month and a half in the hole, or “SHU,” where I had been confined due to an accusation by a wacky guard that I had instigated a “semi-disturbance.” A lengthy investigation by the prison administration having eventually concluded that there was no evidence that I had instigated anything at all and thus ought not to be punished for such an offense, I was finally let out of the, er, punishment cell. But I did participate in the “semi-disturbance” in question, along with some 30 other inmates, and so I was charged with “Engaging in a Group Demonstration,” pleaded guilty, and had my family visits and phone call privileges taken away for three months. It’s probably worth mentioning that the semi-disturbance/group demonstration which it turns out I didn’t instigate was directed toward the same wacky guard mentioned above, whose wackiness we simply wanted to bring to wider attention. I’ll go into all the wacky details at some later date when I’m out of this wacky prison’s wacky clutches, but in the meantime I have another story from the SHU that I will be kind enough to relate to you now.

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Leading Off (8/19/14)

Body Found Hanging From Tree in Northwest Dallas. It is horrible to have to hope that suicide is the explanation. Any other story about this situation would be hard to handle.

Frisco Considers Changing Alcohol Law. My apologies. I live in Dallas. When I head to Frisco, it is usually to catch an FC Dallas match. So I had no idea that the city cuts off alcohol sales at midnight on weeknights. Now the city is considering changing that law. Why? Because the Cowboys will soon open their training facility there, which means that Jerry will be bending his elbow in Frisco. Just think how much more money the town will make with two additional hours to sell booze to him.

Susan Hawk Goes on the Offensive. The Republican challenger facing DA Craig Watkins in the November election was recently handed a gift: news that Watkins was involved in a car crash and used forfeiture funds to clean up the mess in a sketchy way. She’s making hay. (And a DMN editorial calls for an outside investigation of the matter.)

State Fair Aims To Kill Visitors By Feeding Them Insane Food. The Fair announced its eight finalists for the Big Tex Choice Awards. Are you ready to wash down fried Sriracha balls with funnel cake beer?

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Watch Miss Texas’ Wild-Ass First Pitch

Connoisseurs of horrible first pitches will perhaps argue that Mr. 50 Cent threw out the all-time worst first pitch. But as Deadspin put it, Monique Evans belongs in the conversation. If Evan Grant were inclined to go longform on this, write 3,000 words about how Evans did or did not prepare for the pitch, about the pitch itself (at least 1,000 words on that alone), about the aftermath of the pitch (what was the horse thinking?), then I’d read it. In fact, I may launch a Kickstarter to make that happen. Anyway, watch for yourself:

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About the Teenager Who Lived in Walmart: I Think That Was Art.

Last week, employees at a Walmart in Corsicana discovered that a 14-year-old boy had been living in makeshift campsites tucked behind baby products or stacks of paper products for two days. Police say the teenager was a runaway who has history of fleeing his home and holing up in creeks and abandoned houses. I have a different theory: the boy is Dallas’ best performance artist. Here’s why.

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Can Texas Support a Privately Funded Bullet Train?

The Texas Tribune today has a piece about the proposed bullet train from Dallas to Houston, which we’ve mentioned before. The big question, of course, is whether the money for the privately funded project will materialize:

Richard Arena, a transportation and infrastructure consultant who sits on the board of the U.S. High Speed Rail Association, said he believes Texas Central’s project could become the first truly high-speed rail system in the country, but he has concerns about the project’s financing. In particular, he’s not clear how the Dallas-Houston line will manage to earn enough revenue to pay off the interest on the billions of dollars’ worth of bonds that will likely have to be issued to fund the construction. Such financial challenges are why some public subsidies are the norm for public rail systems, he said.

“I still have skepticism of where the funding is going to come long-term,” Arena said.

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Leading Off (8/18/14)

Governor Perry Indicted. A Travis County grand jury indicted Rick Perry on two felony charges, abuse of official capacity and coercion of a public servant, late Friday. He vetoed $7.5 million in funds to the Public Integrity Unit after its leader, a prominent county Democrat, refused to resign after her arrest for drunk driving. Perry has a summons to appear, and may do so as early as today.

Two Killed in South Dallas. One other person was injured, in a shooting spree that happened very early this morning along Ledbetter Road. Police are searching for suspects.

Dallas Theater Center Does a Very Nice Thing. An Alaskan teenager sent the DTC a letter, thanking them for their modernized interpretation of Les Miserables. She hadn’t actually seen the show, of course, but she’d read about it and looked at pictures and watched a few short clips. She asked if there was a chance they’d videotape the whole thing, and the theater (along with the Fairmont Hotel) responded by bringing her to Dallas for closing night, which was Sunday. It was super sweet.

DART to DFW Starts Today. That’s the good news. The bad news: no express trains.

 

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Mapped: Where Texas Senators John Cornyn and Ted Cruz Spend Their Time on the Road

A couple weeks ago, the Sunlight Foundation did what can only be described as the Lord’s work. It took every U.S. Senate expenditure and transformed it from a worthless PDF to a searchable, sortable spreadsheet. It has everything. Staff retreats, photographer sessions, the salaries of the seven barbers who cut taxpayer-subsidized hair. Everything.

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Dallas Cop: ‘The Ideal Police Response to a Protest Is No Response at All’

The sad events in Ferguson, Missouri, are echoing all over Dallas today. The DMN offers an editorial criticizing the actions of the police there. Our own police chief has written an op-ed wherein he talks about how he handled a similar police shooting in 2012. You should read it. And then you should read this Washington Post story written by Radley Balko. Balko is the expert on the militarization of our nation’s police. Eric talked to Balko for a story he wrote for us in January about North Texas’ SWAT teams. Here’s the most interesting, most Dallas-centric part of Balko’s WaPo story:

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