A Daily Conversation
About Dallas

Walkable Urbanism

If You Think Dallas is Dangerous for Pedestrians, Try Living in Florida

| 3 hours ago

Dallas is a difficult and often dangerous city in which to walk around. Its sidewalks are tiny; its streetscapes dominated by cars; corners are rounded, which allow cars to zoom through right turns; intersections tend to be gargantuan; and often walking from neighborhood to neighborhood requires traipsing across parking lots or underneath overpasses. Not surprisingly, Dallas’ “walk score” is about half the score of cities like Chicago and New York, and it even falls far behind Los Angeles.

But when it comes to pedestrian safety, Dallas is not nearly as dangerous as basically every city in Florida. That is according to Smart Growth America’s “Dangerous by Design” report that looked at which American cities experienced the most pedestrian deaths from 2005-2014. Who is at the top of the list?

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Local News

Leading Off (1/24/17)

| 9 hours ago

John Wiley Price Trial Begins. Sorta. Yesterday there was a pretrial hearing held in Judge Barbara Lynn’s court, and Jim Schutze showed that he is champing at the bit to cover this thing. See his description of the prosecution: “The government’s table was led by Assistant U.S. Attorney Walt M. Junker, a man who looms when he stands, broad-shouldered with a mop of black hair and a face not easily broken by levity.” Read his whole report. We’re lucky to have him the courtroom, not least because of the deep background knowledge he brings to the enterprise.

Mystery Artist Paints Graffiti in Keller. The city has decided it likes the work, saying: “This is the first time in the city’s history the Parks department has decided not to cover an artist’s work, and members of both the Parks and Public Arts boards have expressed support for additional pieces by this artist in the tunnel, further clarifying this situation as a unique one.” But don’t we all enjoy a little mystery in our lives?

North Texas Leads Nation in Warehouse Demand. Okay, look, I was desperate for a third item. Not much going on. Except a whole lot of demand for warehouse space. So. Yeah.

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This February ‘Dallas’ Soul’ Goes on Trial

| 1 day ago

Late last Friday afternoon, Jim Schutze published a run down of the witnesses both the prosecution and defense would like to call to testify at the John Wiley Price corruption trial, which is set to begin next month. In case you need a reminder, Price has been accused of taking bribes in the form of gifts and cash paid to his longtime political consultant Kathy Nealy in exchange for political favors. Central to the case against Price is the accusation that Ross Perot Jr. paid Nealy in order to sway Price to put up road blocks to a proposed southern Dallas “inland port” project so that the Perot family could eliminate competition for their own inland port, AllianceTexas, which is thriving north of Fort Worth.

The salaciousness of that accusation cannot be undersold. If substantiated it would mean that Price, perhaps the most prominent and certainly the most vocal champion of southern Dallas and economic opportunity for Dallas’ African-American population, was paid by the princes of the Dallas’ wealthy white establishment to kill a project that would have brought tens of thousands of solid jobs to southern Dallas. Schutze has called it, in no uncertain terms, a “betrayal.”

Given the backdrop, what the Dallas Observer columnist expects will unfold during the trial is a thorough examination not only of Price’s conduct, but of the entire “Dallas Way” of doing things. The list of witnesses appears to support the argument:

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Morning News Gives Short Shrift to Dallas Women’s March

| 1 day ago


Over the weekend, Mike Wilson, the editor of the Dallas Morning News, took to Twitter to defend his paper’s coverage of the march in Dallas. As Bradford Pearson, a former D staffer and a current editor at Southwest: The Magazine, had pointed out: “Largest march in Dallas in decades. Morning News gives it 300 words, two interviews, and a bunch of embedded tweets.” Seemed to me at the time that Brad was on to something. Then, this morning, I got to see for the first time how the paper handled the march in print, and I realized that Brad had no idea exactly how right he was. What you see here is Sunday’s front page. The story is datelined Washington and illustrated with a Getty image of the Capitol. A strange choice for the Dallas Morning News

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Local News

Leading Off (1/23/17)

| 1 day ago


Thousands Turn Out For Downtown Dallas’ Women’s March. A sizable (and from what I saw, diverse) group of women and men and kids and a number of very good dogs marched from City Hall to the Communication Workers of America building about two miles away Saturday morning, joining sister marches in Washington, D.C., and around the world, in support of women’s rights following the swearing in of President Donald Trump. Doyle Rader has a good recap of it here. There were also marches in Fort Worth and Denton.

New Twitter Account Created, Featuring St. Mark’s Grad Richard Spencer. I just report the news.

Free Pie at Norma’s. Like I said, just here to report.

Derek Whitener’s GoFundMe Almost at Goal. As of when I wrote this, the GoFundMe account set up to help pay for the theater director’s medical bills, following his attack at the Haskell Avenue Target last weekend, was just short of its $100,000 goal. Push it over the top. Some notable names have lent their support.

Dallas Stars Deliver Alternative Facts. The Stars’ game presentation team wins again. On Saturday night, the video board displayed the above image, making light of President Trump and his team’s insistence that Friday featured “the largest audience to ever witness an inauguration, period.” To top it off, Stars’ DJ Michael Gruber played “Kryptonite” by inauguration performers 3 Doors Down. Always worth the trip to the AAC, even if the Stars’ aren’t doing as well as last season.

Mavs Rout Lakers. It was literally the worst loss in the Lakers’ storied history. Forty-nine points!

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Local News

Dallas Women’s March Attracts Thousands in Show of Solidarity

| 3 days ago

You’d have thought it was State Fair season—the DART trains on Saturday departing from Mockingbird Station grew sardine-packed with people as they zoomed closer to City Hall. At 10 a.m., thousands met at 1500 Marilla to walk in solidarity with 2.5 million others across the country in honor of women’s rights in the age of President Donald J. Trump.

It’s not clear how many attended the Dallas rally, but, for scale, it was possible to stand at an intersection for half an hour and not see the end of the line of people. The march attracted men, women, and children, who grouped together and trotted 1.7 miles from City Hall into East Dallas, coming to a stop outside the Communications Workers of America building at the intersection of Bryan Street and Washington Avenue. The crowd grew so large that it was virtually impossible to hear the un-amplified speech from the organizer, freshman state Rep. Victoria Neave, a Democrat of Dallas.

Neave, like fellow organizers in Austin and Fort Worth and Denton, sought to align Dallas with the national Women’s March in Washington D.C., which attracted more than 500,000 Americans to the nation’s capital about 24 hours after Trump’s inauguration. Their message was clear: Women’s rights matter, and they won’t be forgotten.

“I think some folks were disappointed in the political process,” says Neave. “We don’t want anyone to be discouraged. There is power in numbers, and that’s what we’re going to show. Not everyone may agree with that we have to say, but we’re trying to keep this positive.”

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Local News

Meditations on a March

| 4 days ago
Self-Portrait With Pussyhat

My first job out of law school was as a Legal Aid attorney in rural Ohio. My girlfriend Melissa (now wife) and I had bought a house in Columbus after she first got a job with a big fancy pants law firm. But my proletarian union job had a residency requirement, which meant that I had to get an apartment in Hillsboro. So I rented out the upstairs of an old home across the street from the Legal Aid office. It was beautifully redone, with a big fireplace and giant windows. But all I had to furnish it with was a futon, a dresser, and a folding table and chairs.

There wasn’t much to do in the evenings. There was a movie theater that I would frequent on hot nights as an escape from my air-conditionless apartment. Sometimes I would rent videos. And by rent videos I mean, walk down the street to the video rental store, peruse the racks, and pick out a VHS tape that I would watch, rewind, and return. Or, I could watch the teenagers cruise the downtown square every night around 7 p.m. And by cruise I mean, pile into pickup trucks and drive around and around and around the same block while hooting and hollering at each other and tossing beer cans out the tailgate. If Melissa came to visit, we would make a big night of it and go get surf and turf at the sole steakhouse. It was Melissa’s favorite place because, somehow, they had scored the last stash of Teem in the country, which Pepsi-Co had stopped making more than a decade earlier in 1984.

I needed a hobby if I was going to survive my two years of a long-distance relationship. One afternoon I saw Paulette, the office manager, knitting over the lunch hour. “Would you teach me?” I asked. “Sure,” she said.

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Politics & Government

City Council Report: It’s Open Mic Time!

| 4 days ago


Dallas City Council sessions generally begin and end with “Open Microphone Speakers,” with these being comprised of any citizens who’ve signed up by the deadline of 5 p.m. on the previous day. Each speaker is given three minutes, and though these sessions begin with a quick admonition by a staffer to follow certain vague rules of propriety, in practice there’s no clear mechanism by which to enforce them. A police officer stands off to the side, behind the speaker’s podium, ready to move them along if he gets the signal from the mayor pro tem or some other responsible party, but so long as the speaker remains below a certain threshold of potentially violent derangement, the Council is reluctant to interrupt. The result is a rather intriguing ongoing spectacle in which the city’s highest officials routinely start off their working day by being admonished in harsh and often mysterious terms by an ever-shifting medley of odd locals, ranging from homeless people suffering from chronic mental illness to basically functional political cranks and religious zealots.

Wednesday morning’s speaker session, for instance, began with a monologue by an abrasive Yankee who gave his name as Robert Chicarelli. He said: “Please! Let me have your attention! I was very ticked off last week when I saw in the paper that — I already knew about how you don’t pay attention to the regulars. Please, pay attention, very much, right now. Please. Value Options. I’m with Value Options.”

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