Leading Off (7/22/14)

Mike Miles Gets Contract Extension. DISD trustees met for more than nine hours before deciding early this morning to give their superintendent a two-year extension. Miles won’t get a raise, but he could earn $200,000 if he meets certain goals. Also, he’ll get to do eight days of outside consulting, but he’ll have to take vacation to do it. All in all, seems like a fair deal. But nine hours? That’s the biggest indication of what’s broken with the system.

Architects Come Out Against Trinity Toll Road. Huge op-ed in the paper today against the Trinity toll road. HUGE. It is signed by Betsy del Monte, Tip Housewright, and Bryce Weigand, all fellows of the American Institute of Architects. It carries the support of Myriam E. Camargo, Duncan Fulton III, Larry Good, Robert Meckfessel, Marcel Quimby, Craig Reynolds, and Dennis Stacy. They suggest we do two things: “First, abandon the Trinity Tollway as a poorly located, inappropriate measure from earlier times. Second, move ahead with the repairs necessary to keep I-345 safe and usable for the next few years, and no more.”

Will Lancaster Road Be Renamed for Nelson Mandela? That’s what Councilman Dwaine Caraway wants to do. Great idea. It has my full support. One minor tweak, though: instead of Nelson Mandela, let’s call it Riverview Road.

Cops Need Your Help. Early on the morning of July 16, several men dropped 16-year-old Eric Romero at Baylor. He had a gunshot wound to the head and did not survive. See if you can help.

Full Story

Dallas Morning News Adds Another ‘Subject Matter Expert’

Poynter reports on Dr. Seema Yasmin, a doctor-turned-journalist who is the third of the Dallas Morning News’ so-called “subject matter experts.” That’s the term the paper is using to describe their joint hires with area universities, a funding scheme that has helped the paper hire an architecture critic (Mark Lamster) and art critic (Richard Brettell). The experiment has worked pretty well in those cases. We’ve just named Lamster “best critic” in the August issue, and Brettell has added welcomed depth to the paper’s art coverage, even if it is a little odd that the art critic at a city’s daily newspaper was once the director of the city’s museum.

So what does Yasmin bring? Well, for example, after the crash of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17, Yasmin discovered that she knew one of the HIV/AIDS researchers on board, Dr. Joep Lange, and she wrote a column about the doctor and his work.

And Yasmin isn’t the first doctor to jump careers into journalism. Attendees of the Mayborn Conference this past weekend heard Pulitzer Prize winner Sheri Fink speak.

Full Story

Morning News Says Mike Rawlings Should Run Again Because Mary Suhm

The DMN ran an editorial over the weekend that said Mike Rawlings should run for another term. My take: Sure, why not? He can’t build a coalition on the council, but he is onboard with school reform. I’m for the latter more than the former.

The paper’s reasons Mayor Mike should run again? (Other than because he’s “a salesman with a soul,” of course.)

Full Story

The Good Guys: A Look Back

Four years ago around this time, you could have tuned into Fox on a Monday night and watched an hour-long action-comedy called The Good Guys, shot in Dallas and set in a semi-accurate but definitely made-for-TV version of Dallas. Prior to its debut in June 2010, I spent some time on the set and wrote several thousand words about the show. Some of those words were dedicated to what The Good Guys could do for our city, both economically and culturally. It could give the city’s rank-and-file members of the TV and film production community steady work and maybe (maybe!) change people’s perception of Dallas, the ideas formed by J.R. Ewing’s various machinations and Chuck Norris doing spinning axe kicks in a cowboy hat.

Well, it didn’t.

Full Story

Wired Looks at Ladar Levison’s Secure Email Project

In case you missed it (I did), on Friday Wired published a story about our favorite alliterative email service provider, Ladar Levison. Ladar is currently holed up in a house in North Texas, cranking away on his next project, a super-secure email system called Dark Mail. The Wired story goes into how this new email system will work, but more interesting is Ladar’s collaborator Stephen Watt:

Full Story

Dallas Was Trying To Save Children All the Way Back in 1940

Paula Bosse has an interesting piece on her blog, Flashback: Dallas. You’ll notice certain parallels between current events and what was going on 75 years ago. Here’s how Bosse’s story begins:

In the summer of 1940, a group called The Children’s Evacuation Committee of Texas was organized to bring child refugees to Dallas, even if it meant sending a ship across the Atlantic Ocean to get them. Its chairman was local businessman George Edgley, a transplanted Briton who owned a music shop and performed around town as an actor and musician.

The group was formed in response to the heavily publicized plight of English children living under the constant threat of attack during World War II. The situation was of great international concern, and plans were drawn up to evacuate the children to safety.

Full Story

Leading Off (7/21/14)

Dallas Bike Czar Originally Moved to Dallas to Work for TxDOT. Ashley Haire calls it the “ultimate irony” in this Dallas Morning News piece. The 36-year-old engineer relocated from Portland to work as a project manager on the reconstruction of I-30 and I-35E. Now, with her new position that she started in May, she’s planning new bike lanes, is pro bike-sharing programs, and supports the City Council’s decision repealing the helmet requirement. More biking news: Dallas may start counting the number of bikers on the streets with the help of the North Central Texas Council of Governments. And Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price hopped on her bike to lead the Tour de Fort Worth, an event the 64-year-old mayor created three years ago.

What’s Going on With these Civilian Police Officers? Ten are headed to the jail to wait with suspects before they’re booked. This is part of Chief David Brown’s effort to save money by hiring fewer officers in advance of a projected $14 million budget shortfall. But the president of the Dallas Fraternal Order of Police, Richard Todd, is saying this is really just a swap of manpower. Now the clerical work they were doing back at police headquarters, for instance, will have to be done by someone else. Also on the civilian public safety front, Steve Blow offers this take on the new inductees into the reserve police force.

Flower Mound Teen Dies in Go-Kart Accident. 14-year-old Kierstin Eaddy was participating in a racing event outside Texas Motor Speedway Sunday when her kart failed to stop after crossing the finish line. She crashed through a fence, and her helmet came off. Eaddy was airlifted to Texas Health Harris Methodist Hospital, where she was later pronounced dead. An investigation is underway.

Rangers 20 Games Below .500. The Rangers lost 9-6 to the Toronto Blue Jays Sunday, dropping the struggling team to 20 below .500 for the first time since 2003. It’s only the sixth time in the history of the team that they’ve fallen 20 below in the first 100 games. Sunday’s game was No. 98. Next up: Yankees. Choice quote: “Texas has been really, really bad.”

Full Story

The Barrett Brown Review of Arts and Letters and Jail: There Was a Bad Mutha Who Lived in an SHU

In the last edition of this column, I noted that the powers that be here at the Seagoville Correctional Institution had seen fit to place me in the SHU, also known as “the hole,” without actually accusing me of any particular infraction punishable by time in the hole. Three weeks later, I’m still sitting in what I like to think of as jail-jail, waiting for the internal prison security agency known as SIS to charge me with something or let me go or beat me with a stick or whatever it is that they do here. Incidentally, I’m unclear as to what “SIS” stands for, but I do feel obligated to point out, just for the record, that it’s just one letter shy of ISIS. I’m just saying, is all.

Full Story

Things To Do In Dallas This Weekend: July 18—20

If you aren’t one of the lucky ones to attend the programming portion of the Mayborn, I hear that the hotel bar at the Hilton DFW Executive Conference Center is the most happening place to be this weekend, and not a glorified teacher’s lounge like you might suspect.

Full Story