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Leading Off (10/28/16)

| 3 hours ago

Dallas ISD Board Agrees to Training. School district trustees have consented to two 12-hour leadership training sessions in November or December, a requirement imposed upon them by Texas commissioner of education (and former DISD trustee) Mike Morath as part of the district’s turnaround plan. The board is still waiting to learn details of what that training will entail.

Former Chief David Brown Celebrated. At a retirement party last night at the Meyerson Symphony Center, Brown remained cagey about his future plans, but he did offer up that he’s in negotiations to use a “media platform” to become a “social entrepreneur” who uses love to “heal us in this country.” So, what do you think that means? A Facebook Live talk show? Hosting a Loveline reboot on YouTube? Performing trick basketball shots on Snapchat?

RIP, Beverly Field. The flamboyant and celebrated interior designer died in her sleep on Wednesday at age 88.

Early Voting Is Hot. The number of ballots cast in Texas since polls opened on Monday has been far outpacing the 2012 election cycle. Today is the last chance for absentee voters to request mail-in ballots.


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Politics & Government

The Founder of the Alt-Right Is From Dallas

| 20 hours ago
Richard Spencer

The “white nationalist” responsible for coining the phrase “alt-right” is, unfortunately, from Dallas. Mother Jones has a profile of him today:

Growing up in a wealthy part of Dallas in the 1990s, Richard Bertrand Spencer attended St. Mark’s School of Texas, an elite, all-boys prep school long associated with blue-blooded conservatism. (I was also a student there around the same time.) George W. Bush lived in the same neighborhood and sent his daughters to St. Mark’s sister school, Hockaday. Spencer’s father, an ophthalmologist, did not care much about politics but voted Republican out of habit. Spencer played varsity football and baseball and hung out with the popular crowd.

Every Thursday after school, Spencer, his mom, and his sister would order pizza from Domino’s and watch Family Ties and The Cosby Show. Spencer was friends with the only African American student in his class, John Lewis, and once invited him for a sleepover. Lewis says he never thought of Spencer as racist, but another classmate who asked not to be identified recalls Spencer making “a bunch of conservative, racially laced comments” that were objectionable even in high school. Spencer says he has no memory of this and attributes the recollection to “backward projection,” noting that he did not think much about race back then.

After graduating high school in 1997, Spencer went to the University of Virginia, where he double-majored in music and English and became deeply involved in avant-garde theater, trying out and discarding various radical ideologies like costume changes. The writings of Friedrich Nietzsche made a lasting impression; Spencer found his critiques of equality and democracy darkly compelling. He identified with the German philosopher’s unapologetically elitist embrace of “great men” such as Napoleon Bonaparte and the composer Richard Wagner. Yet Spencer found little in Nietzsche about the organization of the state; it was only after entering the humanities master’s program at the University of Chicago that he discovered Jared Taylor, a self-proclaimed “race realist” who argues that blacks and Hispanics are a genetic drag on Western society.

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Walkable Urbanism

Jonathan Rose on Think with Krys Boyd

| 23 hours ago

I’ve been following Jonathan Rose for a long time.  He’s a developer from New York, but has development just about everywhere.  I started following his work in the early oughts when he seemed to be the only person operating at a large-scale while working within a triple bottom line strategy.  His buildings and neighborhoods should be profitable not only financially, but also socially and environmentally.  That, of course, struck a chord.  If he could do it, couldn’t more?

So I was happy to hear that Mr. Rose is keynoting the Urban Land Institute’s fall meeting held this week in Dallas.  He was also on local treasure Krys Boyd’s THINK program on Tuesday.  You should give a listen, perhaps on your drive home whilst stuck in traffic, and imagine a world where you aren’t held captive by this soulless glass and steel cage enveloping you (and the transportation investments we’ve made and continue to make entrenching that Stockholm Syndrome).

Here is the link to the show and here is a link to his new book, which I snapped up on kindle this morning (so I cannot yet vouch for its content).

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Leading Off

Leading Off (10/27/16)

| 1 day 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?

| 2 days 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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