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Making Dallas Even Better

Dallas To Get WNBA Team

The AP is reporting that the Tulsa Shock are moving to Dallas. (Or as the US News & World Report headline read, “Tusla Shock Moving to Dallas.” Is that, like, the Oklahoma version of Elon Musk’s car?) Here is what you need to know about the Shock: they suck. Or they have sucked. This year they were doing much better, starting the season 8-1. Then their star, Skylar Diggins, blew out her ACL. She’s out for the season. I have been doing some serious research on Diggins. It is my conclusion that I should interview her for a story in D Magazine. More updates soon.

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Denton Confederate Memorial Vandalized

I moved to Denton from Illinois in second grade and did most of the rest of my growing up there. I remember during one of my earliest visits to the Courthouse Square, still a child, I noticed the monument to Confederate soldiers, which was vandalized last night. I remember thinking it was curious that a city in the United States would memorialize people who’d fought in open rebellion against the nation. No, I’m not sure I appreciated then how divided our country remained for many decades after the Civil War.

I also attended Robert E. Lee Elementary in Denton ISD,  and I never gave much thought to the curiosity that the leader of a rebel army would be honored in such a way. I knew who he was, but really his was just a name of a long-dead guy on the building where I went to class, as much thought as I ever gave it.

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Dallas Is a Flaming Pig

An alert FrontBurnervian sends along a chart from Marriott that tracks the “off season” in vacation spots around the world. Our FrontBurnervian notes: “It’s interesting to see the icons assigned to represent these destinations. Montreal: Maple Leaf. Portland: Bicycle. Australia: Kangaroo. Dallas: Flaming Pig.”

I hereby move that we take down the Pegasus from its spot high atop the Magnolia Hotel and replace it with the iconic Flaming Pig.

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Do Millennials Really Prefer the City Over the Suburbs?

An article in Gizmodo challenges some conventional thinking with regards to millennials’ preference for urban lifestyles. According to some new studies, the generation born after 1980 may not be shunning the suburbs after all. In fact, there is evidence that more millennials are moving to the suburbs than the city, only they just might be making the move a little later than prior generations.

FiveThirtyEight dug into this a few months back. According to the 2014 census, while the rate at which people between the age of 25 and 29 are moving to suburbs has slowed when compared to the mid-1990s, when you look at the 30-44-year-old range, the rate of suburban relocation has actually sped up.


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Will the Texas Rangers Be Buyers Ahead of the MLB Trade Deadline?

Casual Rangers fans, whose last familiarity with this year’s team was some vague notion that 2015 wasn’t going nearly as poorly as expected, I have some news.

Things are now going about as poorly as expected. And the MLB end-of-July trade deadline approaches. But that doesn’t mean there will be a fire sale in Arlington, as usually happens when a team isn’t winning and needs a bit of rebuilding.

In fact, it’s been reported that Texas is a serious suitor for the services of Cole Hamels, still one of the game’s better pitchers but playing for the awful Phillies. Says Grantland:

This might seem curious for a team that’s five games under .500, with just two wins in its past 11, sitting 7.5 games behind the front-running Angels and closer to last place than to first. Except, it’s also a potentially logical move for a team that might have a wider variety of options for 2016 than anyone else.

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Things To Do In Dallas Tonight: July 20

Another weekend is in the books, and you’re not ready to let go. I know the feeling. To keep the spirit of the weekend alive, you should probably do some things tonight. Ease your way into the grind of the week. Hold on loosely, as they say. Try a pay-what-you-can performance of Othello, an R&B show, or the Asian Film Festival of Dallas.

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Bernie Sanders’ Warning for Billionaires: ‘Your Greed is Destroying America, and We Are Going to End Your Greed!’

They started letting people into the big Sheraton Dallas Hotel ballroom at 11:30 a.m. yesterday, 90 minutes before Bernie Sanders, the independent Vermont senator and Democratic presidential candidate, was scheduled to show up for a campaign rally. Neil Young’s “Rockin’ in the Free World” blared from the sound system as they poured in: a young white guy wearing an Obama t-shirt, a 50ish Hispanic woman in a pink cowboy hat, older Anglo men with long gray ponytails, a middle-aged black woman in a business suit. Among the early-arriving crowd near the makeshift stage was Denton-born Roy Holcomb, a 57-year-old real estate investor who’d come with his daughter Jessie Pike and her husband, David Pike, both 26-year-old Lewisville schoolteachers.

“I’ve been reading Bernie pretty hard for five years,” Holcomb said. “What got me stirred up was Citizens United. Money has just taken over, and he’s the only one calling out the banks, the Koch brothers, the corporations. The corporations do one thing: make money and eat everything in their wake. I’m the cowboy, and the Indians—the Republicans—are all around me, everywhere. My wife is a nut Fox News-hound, and I started watching Fox and thought, ‘This is propaganda.’ ” Holcomb, who said Sanders’ chief rival Hillary Clinton is “bought and paid for by the corporations—just like Jeb Bush,” added with a laugh that he had to talk his daughter and her husband into accompanying him today. Said David, choosing his words carefully: “We’re still trying to figure it out.”

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Leading Off (7/20/2015)

Jordan Spieth Enters Final Round of The Open. There are only three players ahead of him. Nancy’s brother, Bill Nichols at the Dallas Morning News, can explain his positioning much better than I can. So just read this. And make sure your TV is properly tuned in by 8:20 am, when Spieth tees off.

Bernie Sanders Talks Progressive Issues In Dallas. Sanders, a Vermont independent running for president as a Democrat, brought out an estimated crowd of 7,000 for a rally on Sunday around topics like a $15 minimum wage and tax increases for the wealthy. According to the Texas Tribune, “the event appeared to be the largest held by any presidential candidate in Texas so far this election cycle.” Sanders also did some damage control, speaking out against police brutality after he stumbled in response to the “Black Lives Matter” protesters who overtook his Netroots Nation event with the former governor of Maryland on Saturday.

To Catch A Puppy Thief. A Siberian Husky puppy worth $2,850 (this is nuts) was stolen from a pet shop in North Dallas. A man walked out with the adorable little puppy Saturday night and jumped in a getaway car, but was caught fairly quickly.  The puppy was returned to the store. Stealing and reselling a puppy? Terrible. That puppy stuck in a pet shop? Also not a great feeling.

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D Magazine Hits the Old Course

They just finished up at St. Andrews. A check of the leaderboard shows that Dustin Johnson lead at 10 under. Not a fan. Our guy, Jordan Spieth, had a tough time with the wind and rain. He shot even par today and is tied for 15, at 5 under. Luckily Johnson has shown he’s a choker, and we all know that Spieth is made of Kevlar and military grade titanium.

In other news, our Nancy Nichols is in St. Andrews (as you know, if you’ve been following along). That’s her in the pic above, at the 700-year-old Swilcan Bridge, on the 18th fairway. She reports that she is right now trying to talk her way into the Royal and Ancient Golf Club to get a drink. If she’s successful, I wouldn’t be surprised.

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Hazing and Homophobia at a UNT Fraternity

Think Progress dove into a 2013 incident when a University of North Texas student named Derek Elrod rushed fraternity Sigma Phi Epsilon. Elrod speaks of a hazing incident which involved drinking straight vodka and being forced to do “complete countless push-ups”:

At that point, Elrod, who had been diagnosed in 2005 with a permanent medical condition involving abnormal nervous system functions, began to panic.

“I don’t even know how to explain the amount of mental anguish I was in,” he told ThinkProgress. “I felt like I was trapped…The lights were off, the blinds were closed…the door was closed, and there were guys in front of it…I had gotten to the point where I couldn’t even lift my own body up. It was the first moment in my life that I could not lift my own body up from the ground…I felt like I was not free to leave.”

Elrod eventually did get himself up, raced down the stairs, and dialed 911. According to video footage obtained by ThinkProgress, Randall denied Elrod’s allegations when the police officer arrived at the fraternity house, telling him: “We just kinda didn’t want him here because we thought he was on the homosexual side.”

“For our pledges, we just get like, ‘hey, you know man, he’s kind of on the weird side of heterosexual,’” Randall remarked. “I honestly thought he was homosexual. Hey guys, we shouldn’t invite him over to our house. It’s kind of weird that he is here.”

When the officer pressed: “You don’t like him because you think he is a homosexual?” Randall responded: “Honestly, yes…I mean, you get where I’m coming from?”

View the video above for more. Elrod was afterward told by the fraternity chapter to have no further contact with its membership. Read the whole thing to learn how the fraternity’s national organization has reacted (or, actually, not reacted).

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Dallas Police and Fire Pension Fund Could Run Out of Money by 2038

That’s according to credit rating agency Moody’s, as the Observer reported earlier today:

On July 9, a revised audit of the system revealed it had about $3 billion in assets, 6 percent less than was reported to the pension fund’s board in May, according to Moody’s. The asset revision was the second for the plan in 2015, which highlights the risk the fund poses to the city’s credit. As the pension system’s unfunded liabilities grow, so does the weight on the city, which is on the hook for its police and firefighters pensions.

Because of the audit revision, earlier this month the pension’s board reduced how much it expects to earn from investments in the future from from 8.5 percent to 7.25 percent. At a rate of 7 percent, Moody’s projects the pension system could be out of money by 2038.

Remember that the city is on the hook for the unfunded liability. Says Wylie H. Dallas:

The good news is that all the dirty laundry is now being aired… the bad news is that the problem is so huge that the City’s financial stability is now at risk (something else I also predicted).

We are very, very fortunate to have Lee Kleinman for Dallas, Scott Griggs and Philip Kingston working hard to address the issues. If it weren’t for their continued pressure, we would likely still be in the dark about the magnitude of the problems.

D CEO noted back in April that the city is fortunate that its other public pension fund — the Employees Retirement Fund of the City of Dallas — seems well run, favoring traditional stocks and bonds over flashy real estate:

Connecticut-born [Cheryl] Alston, who’s 49, has been executive director and chief investment officer for the fund, which covers the city’s civilian employees, since 2004. During those 10 or so years the fund has posted average returns of 8 percent a year, putting it in the top 13th percentile of 408 U.S. public pension funds, according to data compiled by research firm Wilshire Associates.

Alston says credit for that should go to her board, whose seven members all have financial expertise and support an investment approach that she describes as conservative and opportunistic. “We look at risk, return, and liquidity,” Alston explains. “A lot of investors like illiquid investments and in [the financial crisis of] ’08, that hurt them. They had to sell assets to make their payout.”

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Things To Do In Dallas This Weekend: July 17–19

I’ll be brief. It’s Friday, and we’ve all got things to do. A lot of things to do, in fact. Danzig, Steely Dan, Elvis Costello, and Nicki Minaj are all performing — Not on the same bill, sadly. The Asian Film Festival picks up steam, a sneaker convention kicks off at The Bomb Factory, and Moon Day sets up a direct line to the International Space Station.

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Where Are the Jobs in Dallas?

An alert FrontBurnervian (as they all are) points us to a cool, time-sucking interactive map that lets you look at every single job in the United States with a color code (you’ll have to navigate your way to Dallas). A guy named Robert Manduca, a Harvard Ph.D. student and mapmaker, put it together. Each dot that you see represents one job in Dallas. Blue dots are professional services. Green is healthcare, education, and government. Yellow is retail, hospitality, and other services. Go here to read a little about how you can interpret the data. One obvious conclusion is that downtowns are where the jobs are, not the suburbs. Here in North Texas, southern Dallas looks as barren as Prosper.

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