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Making Dallas Even Better

How a Nonprofit Aims to Manage Fair Park

Right now the Dallas City Council is being briefed by Walt Humann, the former Hunt Oil executive who also played key roles in the development of DART and today’s Central Expressway, about a proposal to create a nonprofit Fair Park Texas Foundation to manage Fair Park on behalf of the city.

You can see the poorly copy-edited briefing documents for yourself. In addition to the signing over management to the foundation, the city would asked for $125 million-$175 million in the next several bond programs for improvements.

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Hillary Clinton Criticizes Abbott During a Routine Campaign Stop in Dallas

Mountain View College’s limited gymnasium was filling up at a gradual pace Tuesday morning, two hours before Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton was set to speak. Students, and adults of varying ages, paced the royal blue floor, testing out the ideal position for a selfie in front of where Clinton was set to speak. Her heavily criticized campaign logo was prominently displayed on a banner that read “Fighting for us.”

Outside, chants of “Hill-a-ry! Hill-a-ry!” echoed throughout the line that wrapped around the building.

As 1:15 p.m. – Clinton’s scheduled appearance time – approached, Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins was left to entertain the crowd. Clinton was running behind.

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Leading Off (11/18/15)

Hillary Clinton Comes to Dallas. She attended a $1,000-per-plate fundraiser before a rally where she gave a speech that took swipes at both Bernie Sanders (on healthcare) and Greg Abbott (on a lot of things). On Texas taking in Syrian refugees, she said: “We can’t act as though we’re shutting the doors to people in need without undermining who we are as Americans.”

Zoo Wants 18 Elephants from Swaziland. The Dallas Zoo says the animals face “certain death” in Africa, and has applied for permits to bring them to the U.S. They say moving the elephants is vital to the survival of the nearly extinct black rhino.

Aryan Brother Kingpin Gets Life in Solitary Confinement. Tarrant County prosecutors were pushing to get James Byrd moved to a state prison — as opposed to federal prison — where policy allows for prisoners to be held in solitary confinement on the basis of gang affiliation. Prosecutors also say Byrd once stabbed a man 37 times in the face, and that isn’t even close to the most disturbing thing he’s accused of doing.

Police Looking for Woman Suspected of Robbing Two Banks. Both robberies happened within a week or so in October, and both banks are in Oak Cliff. She apparently has a scar on the right side of her face that begins at her lip and ends at her hair line, which will probably factor into a nickname if she robs more banks.

Jeff Banister is the AL Manager of the Year. It went down pretty much exactly as Jason predicted a week ago, for mostly the same reasons.

Hip-Hop, Snakebit, Janitor Work: New Dallas 500 Illuminates the City’s Most Powerful Businesspeople

The Mavs’ Mark Cuban is afraid of heights. Karen Katz of Neiman Marcus Group loves hip-hop music. Investor Kenny Troutt, who owns a Kentucky Derby-winning horse farm, is allergic to horse hair. Exxon Mobil’s Rex Tillerson worked in Oklahoma as a janitor. BBVA Compass bank’s Key Coker was bitten by a five-foot-long rattlesnake. (Which later became a rattlesnake belt.) And Mike Boone of the Haynes & Boone law firm once found himself standing buck naked on the deck of a coed swimming pool in a downtown gym.

Those are just a few of the insider tidbits to be found in a new publication called Dallas 500, which puts a spotlight on the 500 most powerful business leaders in North Texas. Compiled by the editors of D CEO magazine after months of research, including hundreds of interviews, the inaugural standalone edition features the top influencers in more than 60 categories, from aviation and banking to restaurants and technology. Someone said Dallas 500 is destined to become the area’s “business bible”—okay, it was Wick who said that—and our choices are sure to generate some controversy. Unless you’re a D CEO subscriber, you’ll have to buy a copy to see what we’re talking about. Purchase details can be found here.

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Tony Romo Looks to Major League to Motivate Dallas Cowboys

When I read the headline a little while ago that “Cowboys’ Tony Romo tweets video from Major League” to spur his 2-7 teammates to a stunning comeback, I hoped to discover that the clip in question was this one, so that I’d have an excuse to create the image above.

That wasn’t it. It was this one:

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Would This Have Been A Worse Season For the Cowboys?

In May, I predicted that the Cowboys would go 1-13-2. If you’re not used to reading sports standings, that is one win against 13 losses and two ties. Given what a cannonball into a pool filled with broken glass the 2015 campaign has been thus far, as I asked in the headline, would 1-13-2 have been a worse season for the Cowboys?

Pros: According to this, no team has ever tied twice in a season since overtime was instituted in 1974, which was also the year I and this magazine were born — a pretty good year, all told. Since I don’t think anyone is ever beating that, the Cowboys would have a permanent place in the NFL record book, alongside the mark it set in 1996 — most players to wear a full-length mink to a grand jury hearing. Plus, all those forfeits! So, still terrible but you’re getting something memorable in the exchange.

Cons: No one wants to forfeit that many games in a season, no matter what. I don’t even know why we’re discussing it. This is dumb. Who brought this up, anyway? Jeez.

Study Says 100,000+ Texas Women Have Attempted Their Own Abortions

Those were the findings released today by the University of Texas at Austin’s Texas Policy Evaluation Project, which used an online survey to conclude that between 100,000 and 240,000 woman in the state have attempted to induce their own abortions.

The study was attempting to assess the effects of the 2013 restrictions — which required clinic performing the procedure to be ambulatory surgical centers — passed by the state legislature that resulted in the number of legal abortion clinics falling from 41 in 2012 to 17 now.

Most of those are in the major cities — including two in Dallas and one in Fort Worth — which means women in counties hundreds of miles from the nearest clinic sometimes feel that they have no choice but to take matters into their own hands. From the study:

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Things To Do In Dallas Tonight: Nov. 17

I often learn a lot of fun facts while writing about things to do in Dallas. For example: Plain White T’s did not, contrary to what I had believed for years, fall into a volcano and disappear some time after “Hey There Delilah” became the biggest, most obnoxious song in the world circa 2007. They’re at Trees tonight. Elsewhere, legendary conductor Zubin Mehta and the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra stop in, and a drag show raises money for charity.

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There Are 102 Syrian Refugees in Dallas-Fort Worth

That’s according to a count provided by the DFW International Community Alliance, a network of internationally-focused organizations in North Texas. From their press release today:

Total number of Syrian refugees:  102.

Number of refugee families (including single men):  24.

All but 6 of those who were resettled by volags (resettlement agencies under contract with the State Dept) live in Dallas.  5 families live in Fort Worth.  One single man lives in Arlington.  Three of the families originally resettled in Dallas have moved to Richardson.

8 of the 24 arrived by ‘other visas’ and applied for TPS, and subsequently for political asylum.  Three of the 8 political asylee Syrians are families.  Four are single men and one is a married man who is waiting for the arrival of his wife and children.  One of the single men was studying here on a prestigious Fulbright scholarship.  Most of these men were brutally tortured and their homes / businesses burned during their captivity and subsequently fled to Lebanon and from there to the US.

Homeland Security’s intensive investigations of each refugee family has caused an unprecedented delay in arrivals.  No families have arrived from Turkey (where the largest number of Syrian refugees currently resides) in the past 9 months.  One family reached Dallas from Uzbekastan last week.  They are a Kurdish Syrian family from the NE of the country.  Two months ago the large family of a disabled Syian reached Fort Worth.

Two families, brothers of a Syrian who lives in Richardson, are scheduled to arrive on Dec. 4.  We are uncertain at this moment if they will be permitted to join their relatives on that date.

Sorry, Gov. Abbott, they’re already here.

Dead Dogs Left Outside Dallas Animal Services

Yesterday, after her 311 report about a dead dog near Interstate 20 and St. Augustine Drive was closed within 20 minutes without the animal having been picked up, Marina Tarashevska decided to vent her frustration by dropping two dead animals right outside the entrance to Dallas Animal Services.

While not a move that we should necessarily encourage our fellow citizens to emulate, it garnered a new round of media attention about the city’s stray dog problem, which has become as pernicious an ongoing issue as potholes.

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Lessons From DISD’s Merit Pay: Finding Great Teachers Takes More Than a Calendar

Over the weekend, I had beers with a Dallas ISD middle school teacher. Longtime teacher, moved here from another state just this year. Good guy, smart guy, has a master’s degree, etc. We finally got around to talking about DISD’s merit pay system, which I wrote about a little last week. (And which Jim Schutze wrote about yesterday, covering some of that ground and some of the ground I’m about to cover. You should read it.)

“So, are you a fan of TEI, or do you hate it?”

“Hate it?” he asked.

“You know, hate the evaluations, and all the work that goes into the standardized lesson plans, hate getting evaluated by students – all the complaints I hear in the comment sections.”

He looked at me like I was an idiot. “TEI is why I came here.”

This teacher’s point:

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Leading Off (11/17/15)

Local Man’s 10-year-old Daughter Wakes in Middle of Night, Takes His Spot in Bed. A pretty intense storm rolled through North Texas last night. In one East Dallas house, a little girl got scared by the wind, scurried to her parents’ bedroom, and booted her father to the couch. As of 6 a.m., Dallas County had 19,000 reported power outages.

Norm Hitzges Doesn’t Think Highly of Jerry Jones. If you missed it on The Ticket yesterday, Hitzges delivered a jeremiad (look it up) about the Dallas Cowboys and their owner. It crescendoed with Hitzges asking, “Where the hell is your soul Jerry?” You can listen to it here, embedded in a Morning News story about the rant. A newspaper story about a radio host saying the football team isn’t good? Yes, the News is a dutiful media partner. You can tell someone wasn’t proud of his or her work. The story carries an anonymous “staff” byline.

Midlothian Couple Killed in Mass Murder. Details are still a bit sketchy, but six people were killed while camping in Anderson County, about 100 miles from Dallas. Three of the dead — Thomas Kamp, Hannah Johnson, and her young son Kade — lived in Midlothian. Johnson’s parents were also along for the trip. Her father, Carl, was killed, but her mother, Cynthia, was able to call police and hide in the woods until they arrived. A man who lives next to the property, William Hudson, was arrested and charged with one of the murders. No word yet on a motive.

Dr. Louise Cowan, R.I.P.

The announcement was made today by the Dallas Institute:

To the Dallas Institute family,

With great sadness but with hearts filled with gratitude for the work that she leaves in our charge, we want to inform our Dallas Institute community of the passing of Dr. Louise S. Cowan, at 2:27 a.m., Monday, November 16, 2015, at the age of 98. A renowned teacher of literature and poetry, she was a Founding Fellow of the Dallas Institute.

After a weeks-long struggle with her failing systems, she “died softly” according to her family who surrounded her — son, Dr. Bainard Cowan; his wife Christine; and their eldest daughter, Claire.

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