How Badly Does TxDOT Want the North Texas Vote?

The controversy over I-345 — and how TxDOT and its local partner, Michael Morris have handled it — could not come at a worse time for the highway agency. On the ballot in November is a constitutional amendment to increase the agency’s funding by $1.25 billion a year by drawing down on the state’s Rainy Day Fund.

The Legislature only granted this small amount after considerable wrangling. The agency by its own account needs an additional $4.5 billion a year just to keep up with the state’s population growth. But legislators are just as wary of the agency’s obfuscations, wild estimates, changing stories, alarmist traffic simulations, and bungling public relations as Dallas leaders in the last two months have learned to be.

Yet those same Dallas leaders say the agency needs every dollar it can get. Texas is exploding in population, roads are already inadequate, and cutbacks to maintenance could have severe economic consequences. So why is TxDOT — like a lumbering elephant — walking all over Dallas right when it needs our votes?

Now might be a good time for the Texas Transportation Commission, whose five members are probably more politically astute than highway engineers, to get that elephant under control. TxDOT seems to have a talent for alienating legislators. If it alienates North Texas, it could lose its only chance for new funding. That would be tragedy not just for the agency but for Texas.

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Leading Off (4/10/14)

Michael Morris Apologizes To Wick Allison And Other Dallas Leaders. In advance of today’s meeting of the Regional Transportation Council, the (deep breath) North Central Texas Regional (almost there) Council of Governments transportation director apologized for throwing down the race card last week regarding the efforts to tear down I-345.

Dallas ISD Trustees Consider Hiring Education Lawyer To Advise Them On Home-Rule Push. I’m sure that will make this whole thing go so much smoother.

Dwaine Caraway Asks City Staff To Begin Process of Renaming Lancaster Road After Nelson Mandela. Specifically, the portion between I-20 and Corinth and Illinois. This seems like a fine idea, though, as usual with Caraway, a little bit out of nowhere. I’d love to sit in on a brainstorming session with him sometime.

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First Look at the Proposed Boy Scout Hill Restaurant Overlooking White Rock Lake

Jim Schutze has written something that you should read. It’s about the proposed restaurant at White Rock Lake. The hopeful developers are Lyle Burgin and Rick Kopf. I’ve had lunch with these guys, and I like them. Kopf rides his bike at the lake, and he seems to appreciate the beauty of the place, which is why, he told me, he wants to build a restaurant there. But I’m afraid Kopf and his friend are a bit like Lennie in Of Mice and Men. They don’t know their own strength. They just might crush the thing they love. And Schutze is right. Opposition seems to be building steadily in the neighborhoods around the lake (I live in one of them).

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What Does South Dallas Think About Highways? Let’s Ask a ‘Militant’ Black Leader.

In the discussion about possibly tearing down I-345, the Dallas Morning News editorial board and its partner, Michael Morris of the North Central Texas Council of Governments, have come to the defense of the working poor in South Dallas. At the paper, Rodger Jones writes about “economic justice,” and Tod Robberson tells us that lowering I-345 would throw the lives of South Dallas commuters into “upheaval.” Morris says only rich white people are interested in tearing down the elevated freeway. Let’s see about that.

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D Magazine’s 40 Greatest Stories: Happy 100th Birthday, Hockaday

All through the 2013-2014 academic year, the Hockaday School in North Dallas has been celebrating its 100th anniversary. The prestigious institution for girls held its first classes on September 25, 1913. Some of the city’s leading citizens had summoned Miss Ela Hockaday to Dallas to establish a college preparatory school for young ladies.

Sixty-five years later, Prudence Mackintosh (who’d earlier taught at Hockaday) wrote about the history of the school, which opened first in a small house on Haskell Avenue, soon moved to a campus on Greenville Avenue at Belmont (then part of the Caruth farm on the outskirts of Dallas), and later to its current home on Welch Road along Forest Lane. Her story is one D Magazine’s 40 greatest ever.

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Leading Off (4/9/14)

Garland ISD Corruption Scandal Leaves Teachers In The Lurch: An internal investigation revealed that a former human resources manager recruited hundreds of teachers from overseas by promising them green cards, then allegedly funneled them to residences owned by his stepson and required them to seek legal advice at a firm where his stepdaughter works. On overseas teacher recruiting trips, Victor Leos allegedly spent none of his own money, and sometimes hired up to 30 teachers during a trip. The teachers came in on H1-B visas, some of which are set to expire soon. Astounding statistic alert: over a decade, Garland ISD filed 642 H1-B applications on behalf of prospective teachers. Peer districts Grand Prairie ISD and Mesquite ISD filed 17 and 23, respectively.

25 Arrested in Dallas Child Prostitution Sting: Kindly show yourselves to hell.

Hutchins Mayor, Nine Others Indicted: The charges allege that Mayor Artis Johnson and eight former and current city public works employees cooked up a scheme where they stole scrap from the city, then sold it to recyclers. The $25,000 scam—yes, that’s all—was topped off when one of the employees went to pick up payment from the recycler in his city uniform. You read that entire sentence correctly. That ninth city employee? She was indicted because she used city credit cards to buy “various food items” for herself.

Dirk Joins NBA All-Time Scoring Top Ten: With a midrange jumper over Jazz forward Jeremy Evans, Nowitzki passed Oscar Robertson for tenth all-time on the NBA’s scoring list. He’s now 250 points away from ninth-place Hakeem Olajuwon, the only foreign-born player to have a greater career—so far–than Dirk. Barring anything crazy in the next couple seasons, he’ll probably finish his career sixth on that list, between Wilt Chamberlain and Shaquille O’Neal. Also last night, former Mav Steve Nash (you should click that link) passed Mark Jackson for third on the all-time assists list. This all makes for a pretty decent “What If?” conversation.

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Why Is Arlington, Texas, Sports Capital of the U.S.?

Grantland writer Bryan Curtis spent a few days in A-Town, over Final Four Weekend, to learn more about this strange place that’s hosted the Super Bowl, two World Series, the NBA All-Star Game, among other major sports events, in the last few years, and which next year will host the college football national championship:

Yet no one raised outside “North Texas” knows much of Arlington — nor do they seem eager to find out. The NCAA’s parties during March Madness took place 20 miles east of Arlington, in Dallas. ESPN built its open-air set in Fort Worth, 15 miles west. These slights activated Arlington’s inferiority complex, as if the city were a puny referee throwing a tipoff between two all-conference centers. A former Arlington mayor once declared, “We’re nobody’s damn suburb.”

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