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Virgin America’s Straight Talk About Balance Sheets

It’s true that Virgin America has lost a total of $400 million since its founding. But it’s also true that the California-based airline made $10.1 million on $1.4 billion in operating revenue last year—and that revenue has been growing for the last five years at least. So when an incredibly downbeat AP story about the airline’s planned initial public offering appeared in the Dallas Morning News yesterday—the same day Virgin began flights out of Dallas Love Field—was Virgin America’s CEO upset? Not really, David Cush said last night at Virgin’s celebration party at the House of Blues: “I saw a lot of opinion in there, and I’ve seen lots of stories like that.” While the airline has moved in the past and is continuing to move to retool its balance sheet, Cush said, “The important thing is that when you’re a private-equity-owned firm, you don’t give a s*** about your balance sheet or your P&L” [profit and loss statement]. The key is keeping the investor-owners happy, the chief executive added. Virgin’s investors include a hedge fund called Cyrus Capital Partners, Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Group, and Don Carty, former chairman and CEO of AMR Corp.

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Is It Time To Bring Back the Wright Amendment?

Short answer: obviously.

Long answer: a smart man — much smarter than me, if you can believe that — once said, and I quote, “Dallasites — and when I say ‘Dallasites,’ I’m actually referring rather broadly to North Texas and North Texans as a whole, and my use of ‘Dallasites’ in that instance is kind of a shorthand for that, if you will — were not meant to fly non-stop to Los Angeles from Love Field. Probably not San Francisco either, now that I think about it.” I think these last 36 hours or so have proven that quote to be hauntingly prescient.

I mean, just because you have the ability to do something does not mean you should have the freedom to do so. Could I wake up from a coma and adroitly perform any rap song released between 1991 and 1994? Yes. Should I be allowed to? Actually, maybe. Probably. Bad example. How about this: can I whistle in public? Yes. Should I? Never, under any circumstances.

For decades, we wondered what would happen if the Wright Amendment went away. And now we can see, very clearly, the ill effects of that disastrous decision: Richard Branson is hanging around town like Wooderson in Dazed and Confused, the comment section on our blogs is mildly confusing, and the Cowboys are good again.

Bring back the Wright Amendment, and make it stronger this time. For example: a flight from Love Field to Waco should be forced to stop in either Wilmer or Hutchins and also Corsicana. You know it’s the Wright thing to do.

(NAILED IT.)

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How A. Maceo Smith High School Develops a Different Kind of Student

Two years ago, during D’s literacy program, Big D Reads, we tricked the students at A. Maceo Smith New Tech High School into thinking that their history books were being removed from their school—and burned. At an assembly, we explained that the initiative was being launched at their school first because they’re into technology and would understand why books are no longer needed. The longer we discussed the initiative, the more the students grew concerned. Finally, they started voicing their opinions. They said that not everything on the internet is true. That we need books to learn about mistakes we’ve made in the past. That reading was important to their education.

Finally, a student in the front row got up and stormed out. As she ran past me, I saw she was crying. At this point, we decided to tell the students that it was all a trick, and in reality, we were giving the students a copy of Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451, provoking a discussion about a world without books.

The great part about this whole thing: it was the librarian’s idea—and the principal, Lisa DeVeaux, supported it.

I’ve been a fan of A. Maceo since then, but today was the first time I spent significant time with Principal DeVeaux as part of Dallas ISD and the Chamber’s Principal for a Day program. Today, 160 people from the community spent time at Dallas ISD schools eating cafeteria food, performing spot observations, and making announcements.

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How Many New Ebola Cases Can We Handle Until We All Lose Our Junk?

So, Ebola is no longer a West African thing. We have the first U.S. transmission of the disease right here in Dallas. Officials are urging everyone to keep calm, but that’s probably difficult if you’re a neighbor of Nina Pham, the nurse who contracted Ebola from Thomas Eric Duncan, and police officers are knocking on the door at 5 a.m. with the message, “Good morning, Ebola’s on your block.” Then, I just saw some wacky, unreliable outlet reporting in my Facebook feed that Pham has a boyfriend who was admitted into the hospital. I can’t find any serious outlets reporting that news, but it was enough to get me thinking. It is probably likely that Pham is not the last case of Ebola in Dallas. We’re still waiting out the incubation period for Duncan’s family, and Pham’s infection starts a new cycle of friends and associates who may have had contact with infectious fluids. I could see this growing to 4 or 5 cases pretty quickly. So my question to you: at what point do we all lose our junk? How many cases of Ebola can we handle before everyone goes into panic mode? Five? Seven? Seventeen? Thirty-eight?

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Things To Do In Dallas Tonight: Oct. 14

Vasquez compiled nine hours of footage on a trip to Washington DC over two days in early July, on the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act. The filmmaker was provided with unfettered access to the freedom riders, and he’s edited down that extensive footage to 25 minutes. The film, 50 Years, will play tonight at the South Dallas Cultural Center.

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New Movie Called The Triple D Is About To Get Real at the Magnolia

Come Thursday, the Magnolia will host the world premiere of a film shot in Dallas called The Triple Threat. It’s a gangster movie starring real-life Dallas rappers including, among others, Mr. Lucci, Pooca Leeroy, Hollywood Bay Bay, and T Cash, the guy in the above photo who is about to kill a cameraman, from the looks of it. I learned about all this from Central Track. I’m a little out of my element here. The closest Pandora station I have to this stuff is A Tribe Called Quest. But so here’s my question about this movie:

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Leading Off (10/14/14)

Nina Pham Gets Blood Transfusion. The Presby nurse who contracted Ebola got help from Dr. Kent Brantly, a health worker who survived the disease. Brantly traveled to Dallas Sunday to donate plasma to Pham, an experimental treatment. Dude isn’t afraid to bleed. This is the third time Brantly has donated plasma since recovering from Ebola. We’ll see how this plays out, but Brantly deserves way more than a high-five. (Also, if County Judge Clay Jenkins has anything to do with it, Pham’s adorable Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, Bentley, will not be destroyed.)

Tommy Lewis, R.I.P. If you don’t know the name, then you need to read this story about the Alabama player who jumped off the bench at the Cotton Bowl — “I was just so full of Alabama,” he later explained — to tackle a Rice player who would have scored a touchdown (and was awarded one anyway). I’m going to use that excuse sometime in the future. “I was just so full of East Dallas.”

Rogue Bull Injures Three at State Fair. “Farm Day at the Fair” didn’t go well yesterday. Two were treated on the scene, and a child was transported to a hospital. Question: how do you write that story without mentioning that this is the second time a murderous animal has wreaked havoc on the Midway this year? Wick was right without even realizing how right he was.

Michael Morris Needs Another Excuse for Trinity Toll Road. His most recent excuse for the toll road — after all the traffic numbers didn’t add up — was that it’ll spur economic development along the Interstate 35E corridor south of downtown Dallas. Except there’s no planned connection between the two roads and TxDOT would have to cough up $165 million to create one. The DMN’s Brandon Formby has been turning in some solid work lately.

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It’s Only a Matter of Time Before Mark Lamster’s Head Is Too Big for Him To Navigate the Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge

First we named him the best critic in the city. Then the Observer named him the best architecture critic in the city. Now comes this fawning story from The Atlantic’s CityLab. You know who I feel sorry for? Lamster’s wife. He must be impossible around the house. (All kidding aside, you should read the CityLab story. It puts into perspective the great work he has done in his short time here, and it should make you realize how fortunate Dallas is to have him.)

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Jim Moroney Will Look Everywhere for New Revenue, Even Other Papers

I have a column coming out in a few weeks in which I argue that Dallas Morning News publisher Jim Moroney must get right the enormous task before him: finding a new editor to lead his paper for the next decade. I give voice to those who express concerns about Moroney’s track record, but I ultimately believe he’s doing the best job he can in such a turbulent industry. (I like the guy. SUE ME!)

Another example of his innovation (or his deck-chair rearranging, if you believe his critics): His efforts to partner with other top newspapers across the nation. If you’re a news junkie [...]

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Dallas Needs to Stop Looking for Silver Bullets

Last Thursday, Mayor Mike Rawlings was the keynote speaker at the annual Downtown Dallas Inc. membership luncheon. The mayor has a lot on his mind these days. The talk opened with a recap of the Ebola situation before Rawlings made a stump speech for the proposition on the November ballot that will raise the salaries of city council members. But the Mayor reserved the majority of his talk for boosting downtown, running through recent successes – Main Street, the Farmers Market, residential development, and plenty of commercial real estate activity – before focusing on two big ticket projects.

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