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Making Dallas Even Better

D Magazine HQ to Host American Conservative Talk on U.S. Foreign Policy

Former FrontBurner contributor Wick Allison, chairman of D Magazine Partners, is also chairman of the American Ideas Institute, a D.C.-based nonprofit that publishes The American Conservative magazine in print and online.

In that capacity, he’s asked that I let D Magazine readers know about an event being hosted here at our downtown office this Wednesday. Four editors from TAC will have a discussion about what impact the 2016 presidential campaign will have on U.S. foreign policy.

If that sounds like your jam, click right here to RSVP, space permitting.

How Well-Connected Is Your Home to Public Transit?

TransitCenter and the Center for Neighborhood Technology released a nifty little tool last week that allows you to gauge how well-connected any spot in the United States is by public transit. Plug in an address, and the All Transit database culls together information on access to jobs, number of commuters, workers near transit, and other curious factoids.

I haven’t dug into the data too deeply, but I did run the numbers on a few Texas cities just to see how Dallas’ public transit system stacks up. Leaving aside all the usual moaning and groaning over Dallas’ sub-par transit system, Dallas actually has the best performing public transit system in Texas according to the All Transit tool, with an overall performance score of 6.8. Houston comes in second with a 6.2, while Austin (5.5) and San Antonio (5.7) live up to their reputations as transit-challenged cities.

What does it all mean?

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Will Robot Worms Tunnel Under Downtown Dallas?

There are two questions that came to mind when I read this WSJ story about “massive robotic worms” that are being used to tunnel beneath cities all over the world. 1) Are our DART engineers aware of these worms? Because the tunneling option for D2, the second rail line through downtown, has always made more sense to me. Maybe the robot worms are cheaper than DART thinks. And 2) when did Michael Mooney get a gig at the Colorado School of Mines?

Let’s Not Learn the Wrong Lesson of Expanding State Highway 161

This morning Wired worries that transportation planners will take the wrong lesson from the traffic data the Texas Department of Transportation released last week that shows that traffic is “sailing” along a three-mile stretch of State Highway 161 ever since drivers were permitted to start using the shoulders of the road. It should not be used as evidence that widening highways is a tried-and-true method of relieving congestion:

Two things might explain why the Dallas project worked. The first is that the bottleneck on that highway was a very specific problem: a two-lane stretch connecting three-lane highways. Opening the shoulders eliminated the choke points of squeezing into a tighter space.

The second and more cynical explanation for the project’s success is that it wasn’t actually successful. The traffic numbers published this month include just a few days after the new lanes opened in September. Traffic has increased since then, though the TxDOT says traffic is still moving faster than before the project. It’s quite possible unbearable congestion will return, as more locals change their behavior to take advantage of what is suddenly a smooth ride—that’s the fundamental principle of induced demand.

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Why TV Networks Love the Dallas Cowboys

Here’s Ad Age on why your Dallas Cowboys — a team that finished a lousy 4-12 last season — are set to have 11 of their 16 games this fall broadcast nationally, including five in primetime:

“America’s Team” last season still managed to reach a massive TV audience. According to Nielsen live-plus-same-day data, Dallas over the course of its 11 national games averaged 24 million viewers and a 13.5 household rating, making it the No. 2 draw behind the Green Bay Packers. During their own 11-game stretch, Aaron Rodgers and Co. delivered 24.4 million viewers and a 13.8 household rating, offering further evidence that (in the NFL, at least) the size of one’s home market has no bearing on one’s national footprint. (With a reach of just 433,860 TV homes, 68th-ranked Green Bay-Appleton is the NFL’s smallest DMA.)

The meeting of the league’s two biggest ratings dynamos is obviously good for business, and securing a rare rematch of last year’s Cowboys-Packers game was a top priority for Fox.

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Leading Off (4/25/16)

Film Critic Dies In Hit-And-Run. Gary Murray, president of the North Texas Film Critics Association, was crossing the intersection at Mockingbird and Central, after doing some interviews as part of his Dallas International Film Festival coverage. A car made a right at Mockingbird without stopping, hit Murray, and kept going. Murray was taken to Baylor, where he died. He was 53.

Johnny Manziel Expected to Be Indicted Today. The charge — stemming from an incident with his then-girlfriend, who claimed Manziel hit her, dragged her by the hair, and forced her into a car — will be misdemeanor assault with bodily injury.

Assault Allegation Against John Wiley Price Heads to Grand Jury. George Nash, a staffer for Dwaine Caraway, says the county commissioner choked him during the infamous scuffle between Caraway and Price as the Democratic primary neared. And, of course, at some point later this year, Price will face corruption charges in federal court.

Vehicle Found in Haltom City With Two Passed-Out Parents and Two Young Kids. Police are investigating what caused the parents to be unconscious; the kids, ages 2 and 4, are with their grandparents. Don’t want to go too far out on a limb but I think Occam’s razor plays here.

Stars Move On To Second Round. Somehow the Stars were able to outlast a team and a city playing for Prince and won a wild one against the … Wild to advance, and your boy is dangerously close to watching some hockey.

Mavs On Brink of Elimination. Dirk gave it everything he had, but the Mavs just didn’t have the horses on Saturday night against a deeply unpleasant OKC squad. They play Game 5 tonight, but it’s probably going to take some sort of miracle to even bring the series back to Dallas, given their injury sitch. If nothing else, I have built a garage apartment in my heart for Ray Felton and Salah Mejri.

FC Dallas Loses Its Second. Like the 5-0 blowout to Houston earlier, the 3-0 loss to the struggling Vancouver Whitecaps was another head-scratcher. But Mauro Diaz played for the first time in five games, so that’s one positive. I’d tell you more but I was having chicken parm at Gordo’s and so I wasn’t able to watch.

Ben Sandifer Fights To Protect Dallas’ Nature So That You Don’t Have To

Robert Wilonsky has a great story in today’s paper that you should take the time to read. It’s about a private citizen named Ben Sandifer who is dealing with the city’s shit — literally. In this case, a city worker drove a massive excavator onto sensitive parkland so that he could take a dump. The excavator got stuck in the mud, and a front-end loader had to go in after it to pull it out. A whole bunch of Norbuck Park, off Buckner Boulevard, got torn up in the process. Sandifer saw it happen. He took video. He asked questions. If it weren’t for him, people who use the park would have wondered why it had been torn up, and the crappy city worker would never have been held accountable. (A city official told Wilonsky Wednesday that he wasn’t sure if the city employee would be punished, which is difficult to understand. Here’s how it should be handled. Supervisor: “Did you drive your excavator into a park so that you could take a shit?” Worker: “Yes.” Supervisor: “You’re fired.”)

Anyway, that’s all a preamble for what I really want to tell you. Hopefully you know about Big Spring and the effort to give it a historic designation. The Dallas City Council is scheduled to vote on the matter April 27.

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Things To Do In Dallas This Weekend: April 22-24

Earth Day Texas kicks off today and runs through the weekend at Fair Park. Considering the existential crisis we face from climate change, now may be a good time to get hip with environmental causes. (Or you can wait until Miami is underwater to start panicking.) True heads know the deal: Reduce, reuse, recycle, and agitate for a radical public policy overhaul that calls for steep carbon taxes and increased government investment in renewable energy sources. And vote for politicians who side with 97 percent of the scientific community on the issue of human activity dooming our planet.

Fortunately for us, the world is not ending this weekend, because we’ve got comedy, opera, film, and music to experience all throughout Dallas.

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Leading Off (4/22/16)

Ex-DISD Executive Sues District. Tonya Sadler Grayson, who was fired last July, claims in a lawsuit filed Thursday in federal court that she was wrongfully terminated, sexually harassed by trustee Lew Blackburn, and discriminated against because of her race. Grayson’s dismissal from her job came after an internal DISD audit determined she had taken part in a deception, lied about her criminal history, and bullied another employee.

Johnny Manziel Likely Indicted. The Dallas County district attorney’s office will announce indictments by the grand jury that was hearing the domestic violence charges against the former Texas A&M and Cleveland Browns quarterback on Monday. Prosecutors had previously said a decision not to indict Manziel would be announced on Thursday but a formal indictment would come Monday. So it’s not looking good for Johnny Football. (Are we still calling him that?)

Frisco Mother’s Death Ruled Suicide. Christine Woo was found dead — and her three young children alive — in an SUV in a Target parking lot earlier this month. She and her kids had apparently been in the vehicle a few days. Yesterday the medical examiner revealed that Woo had killed herself via a drug overdose. Furthermore, Frisco Police say their investigation determined that Woo had “no deliberate plan” to harm her own children with what she did. Deliberate or not, let’s hope there are no long-term repercussions for these kids.

Mavs Lose Game 3. A contingent of D Magazine staffers was on hand to witness the Mavericks’ 131-102 loss to Oklahoma City, which gave the Thunder a 2-1 lead in the first-round NBA playoff series. It was my first time attending a Mavs game in about 25 years. If they had to lose, I’m glad it was in a blowout because that led Tim (my ride) to leave the game early, which got me back to D Magazine World Headquarters in time to watch the bottom of the ninth as former Plano East Senior High School and TCU baseball player Jake Arrieta (now the ace of the Chicago Cubs) finished a no-hitter against the Cincinnati Reds. My apologies to the poor maintenance guy I frightened when I hooted and hollered in what he had assumed was an empty office.

The Texas Rangers saluted musical artist Prince, who died Thursday, on the video board at Globe Life Park as the team completed a sweep of the Houston Astros.

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Judge Says Dallas Can Ban Exxxotica From Convention Center

The ruling over the city’s decision to bar porn convention Exxxotica came down late this morning. From the DMN:

U.S. District Judge Sidney Fitzwater denied Exxxotica’s request for a preliminary injunction, which was filed in February after seven members of the Dallas City Council sided with Mayor Mike Rawlings’ resolution banning the porn expo from returning to the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center.

Exxxotica had hoped to return next month, following last August’s Dallas debut. Today’s ruling means that will not happen.

Roger Albright, one of Exxxotica’s attorneys, said he and his client are “surprised and disappointed” by the opinion and weighing their options, which include the possibility of an appeal to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, refiling a motion for a preliminary injunction or merely waiting for trial.

The judge’s decision bought into the the city’s argument that the Kay Bailey Hutchison isn’t so much a “public forum” in which free speech must remain unhampered but is instead just a building that the city happens to own that it rents out for commercial purposes:

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Kinky Friedman Brings His Irreverent Satire to The Lodge

It was an eclectic group that gathered at The Lodge last night to mark the establishment’s 20th anniversary with a special appearance by Kinky Friedman, the iconic, irreverent Jewish Texan singer/songwriter/novelist and sometime political candidate. There in a private back room at the “classy gentlemen’s” club were people like the Lodge founder and CEO Dawn Rizos, Robert Wilonsky and Gromer Jeffers Jr. from The Dallas Morning News, The Ticket’s Mike Rhyner, and Ruth Buzzi. Ruth Buzzi, the Laugh-In lady who’d whack the old man with her purse? Yep; turns out she and her husband Kent Perkins are old friends of Friedman’s, and often put him up at their ranch near Stephenville. It’s a good thing all these people in the private room understood and appreciated Kinky’s offbeat brand of satirical humor, because some people at the upscale strip club didn’t.

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Things To Do In Dallas Tonight: April 21

What’s in the Texas Theatre’s safe? Can the Mavericks repeat the magic of Monday’s win over the Thunder? Which Dallas film festival is more deserving of your eyeballs? Who shot J.R.? What is the air-speed velocity of an unladen swallow? After doing these things tonight, we’ll have some answers.

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Fed Says Oil Decline Won’t Create Another Dallas Banking Bust

The Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas has released a collection of essays — called “After the Boom” — that look at the effects of the oil price decline of the last year on various segments of the economy, including housing and banking.

Bottom line for Dallas is that with Texas’ more diverse economy, and with Dallas less energy-industry dependent than other cities like Houston, today’s relatively low oil prices will likely slow things down a bit but shouldn’t blow up into a full-on bust. Yes, we’ve talked about this before.

Furthermore, much as D CEO argued last year, structural changes that occurred following the painful, oil-collapse-driven banking crisis of the 1980s will prevent that the local financial industry from falling apart:

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