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Leading Off

Leading Off (10/27/16)

| 2 hours ago

West Dallas Residents Fill City Hall. Dozens of West Dallas tenants came to City Hall yesterday to ask the council to help them stay in their homes. This is in light of the ongoing saga with Khraish Khraish of HMK Ltd. trying to leave the rental property business and questions about Mayor Rawlings’ intentions for the land. The city is trying to stop the mass eviction of these tenants who labeled the landlords as slumlords.

Armed Robbery Suspect Shot near Fair Park. Yesterday afternoon, police were looking for a man in South Dallas who already had an aggravated robbery warrant. When they approached the suspect, he took off on foot but then ran back toward officers and pulled out a gun. An officer fired his gun and hit the suspect in the leg. The suspect was taken to the hospital with non-life-threatening injuries.

DFW Airport Gets Grant for Upgrades. $40 million, to be exact. The FAA gave the grant to the airport so that it can make upgrades to its infrastructure, including improving one of its major runways and a taxiway. While they’re at it, Terminal C could use a major facelift.

You Can Have a Little Free Library without Regulation. The Dallas City Council ruled against regulating Little Free Libraries after Councilman Griggs proposed that they be allowed by right and treated as ornaments. Read away, people.

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Fair Park

Is the State Fair of Texas Killing Fair Park?

| 17 hours ago

Don Williams, the former Trammell Crow executive and current chairman of the Foundation for Community Empowerment, has been fighting the private takeover of Fair Park all year. His outspoken opposition to the so-called Humann Plan, named after former-Hunt Oil CEO Walt Humann, who headed up the privatization effort, played a role in the process that eventually led to a city attorney decision to put Fair Park’s privatized future out to a bid. Now that the takeover has been delayed, Williams has leveled his verbal shotgun at the big dog at the center of the whole debate: The State Fair of Texas.

Throughout much of the conversation over the attempt to turn Fair Park over to a private entity, the State Fair, which just wrapped up over the weekend, ostensibly kept to the role of quiet, backseat passenger. Humann told the Dallas City Council that the State Fair was generally in favor of the terms of his deal. Mayor Mike Rawlings reminded the council that the city was locked into the terms of their 2003 contract with the State Fair and so any new plans for Fair Park would have to operate in and around that agreement.

Well, Williams has different ideas. In a 13-page open letter to State Fair Chairman Richard Knight, he lays out a scathing rebuke of the State Fair, its operations, its impact on the surrounding neighborhoods, and potential mismanagement, corruption, and violation of its non-profit status. 

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The Unaffordable Care Act

| 19 hours ago

Are people really surprised that benchmark health plans under the Affordable Care Act exchanges will increase by an average of 25 percent next year? If so, they probably also didn’t get the joke when Captain Renault in Casablanca said he was “shocked, shocked” that gambling was occurring at Rick’s Café … just before he was handed a fistful of his winnings.

From the get-go, economists like those at Dallas’ National Center for Policy Analysis, warned that, despite assurances by the Obama Administration to the contrary, Obamacare was bound to increase healthcare costs, not curb them. Shortly after the law was passed in 2009 and 2010 — without a single Republican vote — the NCPA’s then-CEO, John Goodman, predicted that ACA costs would explode. Three years later, the think tank’s Peter Ferrara confirmed Goodman’s analysis, citing the obvious result of new taxes, less supply, and more demand.

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Doesn’t Anyone at DART Realize How Terrible Riding DART Actually Is?

| 20 hours ago

Yesterday afternoon, I drove up Cockrell Hill Road near Davis Street and saw about a dozen or so people sitting in the grass by the side of the road. There was no clear reason for them to be there. There were no benches or chairs, no source of shade. There wasn’t a pocket park or any other sort of urban amenity that might draw people to this random spot of grass bordered by a parking lot and a six-lane divided boulevard. They also weren’t vagrants or homeless, though at a glance you might wonder. The only indication of why so many people would have taken up residence on this perfectly manicured strip of lawn was a small rectangular yellow sign with the number 549 printed on its face. It took me a second to spot it. The bus stop sign was attached to a steel pole that had sunk so deeply into the relatively newly laid sod so that the sign stood barely four feet off the ground.

I sat in my air-conditioned car waiting for the red light to turn and watched the scene. I felt like a prince of capitalism, mounted in my oil-guzzling, carbon-emitting, foreign-made, bank-financed chariot of privilege which had managed to speed me from my office downtown to my afternoon appointment near this location out here on the fringes of Oak Cliff in a few minutes. Meanwhile, there was no telling how long these people — men and women, some who looked as young as 20 and others who were looked to be in their 50s or older, mostly black or Hispanic — had been waiting, or, more importantly, how much more time they would spend waiting at intersections like this one before they got to their destinations.

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Sports & Leisure

One Question About the Byron Nelson Moving to the Trinity Forest Golf Club

| 21 hours ago


It’s official. Today it was announced that the AT&T Byron Nelson will move in 2018 from the Four Seasons to the new Trinity Forest Golf Club, which formally opens this weekend. Nearly every year, I get to play in a Nelson media tournament with a bunch of guys in red pants. I’m seriously looking forward to 2018. Meantime, though, I have just one little question: when it comes time for the tournament, where is everyone going to park? Here’s an earlier satellite view of the course under construction, so that you might understand why I’d ask this question.

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Here Are the DART Board Members That Need to Go

| 24 hours ago
The scene from last night's vote. "Who wants to be kicked off the board? Raise your hand."
The scene from last night’s vote. “Who wants to be kicked off the board? Raise your hand.”

Julie Fancher has a good report in the DMN on last night’s disappointing turn of events at DART headquarters. The board voted 12-3 to fund the northern Cotton Belt Line and the subway version of the second downtown Dallas line. This despite the very real possibility that the debt burden generated by building the Cotton Belt could hurt DART’s application for federal funds necessary to build the subway. More important for our discussion here, though, the vote went down the way it did despite the Dallas City Council unanimously telling its DART board members to prioritize the downtown subway.

I have a hard time wrapping my head around this. Our Council appoints eight members to the DART board (we share one board appointment with Cockrell Hill). Our Council tells those eight people: “Dallas doesn’t want the Cotton Belt to screw the subway. Don’t vote for anything that jeopardizes the subway.” Then five of the eight Dallas-appointed DART board members go ahead and do exactly that. So let’s break it down.

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Which November Cover Should We Have Picked for ‘Dr. Death’ Story?

| 1 day ago


There’s nothing we fret over more each month, as a staff, than the cover of the magazine. It’s the thing that Wick gets the most involved with, sometimes killing designs at the very latest stage of the production cycle. To gather something resembling objective data, we have printed multiple preliminary cover designs and accosted downtown passersby to ask which version they found most appealing. I could tell you it’s an inexact science, but, really, it’s less than inexact, and it’s way more liberal arts than science.

I’m curious to hear what you think of these two iterations of our November cover, a story about Dr. Christopher Duntsch, a Plano spine surgeon whose patients too often wound up dead or disfigured. It’s possible you don’t know which one we chose, so I won’t bias you by saying which we picked. Cast your vote. Which cover would more likely have enticed you to buy a copy while waiting in line at the grocery store?

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Politics & Government

Why Dallas Needs an Outsider as Its Next City Manager

| 1 day ago

In the March issue of D Magazine, I wrote about why A.C. Gonzalez, the city manager of Dallas, needed to go. The piece eloquently noted that Gonzalez needed to be fired because he never should have been hired in the first place and because he didn’t follow through on his promise to create a new culture at City Hall.

Gonzalez was not fired. But two months after my powerful, earth-shaking column, he resigned, effective in January. That’s sort of like being fired, right? Bottom line is that the person who failed to change the culture—a bureaucracy that protects its pensions and caters to the establishment—is leaving. Citizens should rejoice that he has one foot out the door, yes? There are three answers to this question:

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