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Politics

This February ‘Dallas’ Soul’ Goes on Trial

| 5 hours 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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Media

Morning News Gives Short Shrift to Dallas Women’s March

| 7 hours ago

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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)

| 13 hours ago

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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

| 2 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

| 3 days ago
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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!

| 3 days ago

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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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Local News

Here is the Sermon Robert Jeffress Delivered to Trump and Pence

| 3 days ago

It’s probably not surprising that Robert Jeffress, downtown Dallas’ loudest pastor, chose to zero in on the Book of Nehemiah for now-President Donald Trump’s pre-inauguration sermon this morning. The book is written in first person, essentially a memoir describing how this builder, chosen by God, would go about erecting a wall to protect Jerusalem from its enemies.

Jeffress, the First Baptist Church senior pastor who has tossed off Trump’s recorded comments about sexually assaulting women, also peppers that sermon with digs at the press (Nehemiah’s “chief antagonists” were “the mainstream media of their day” who “continued to hound and heckle Nehemiah and spread false rumors” during the building of said wall) and links the book’s namesake’s ability to shrug off criticism to his new president’s: “I’m doing a great work,” he quotes Nehemiah as saying while Building That Wall, “why should I stop the work and come down to you?”

The Washington Post published the full sermon Friday afternoon, which includes references to Wendy’s hamburgers, jet trips above Iowa, Chicago Bears running back Walter Payton, and Ronald Reagan. Major takeaway is in the story’s headline: “God is not against building walls!” It should be noted that Jeffress is a member of Trump’s faith advisory council, has laid hands on the man in Trump Tower more than a year ago, has titled a sermon “Why Gay is Not OK,” and has declared Islam and Mormon teachings as heresies coming “from the pit of hell.”

And if you’re wondering, the marquee outside of First Baptist on Friday reads “Finishing Well.”

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Local News

Leading Off (1/20/17)

| 4 days ago

Rick Perry’s Confirmation Hearing. Still gunning for energy secretary, the former Texas governor appeared before the U.S. Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources on Thursday. In addition to an awkward exchange with Sen. Al Franken, Perry vowed to “protect all of the science” from budget cuts.  Zac had an efficient recap, too.

Planned Parenthood Will Remain Part of Medicaid For Now. U.S. District Judge Sam Sparks paused the move to oust Planned Parenthood from the program. Had Sparks not intervened, the organization would have lost funding Saturday. Sparks postponed the decision until Feb. 21, giving him more time to consider the issue. If Planned Parenthood were to be removed, the impact would reach more than two dozen clinics that serve about 11,000 low-income women.

The Man Accused of Killing a Little Elm Officer Had a History of Mental Health Issues. Rudy Garcia, who fatally shot Little Elm Police Det. Jerry Walker earlier this week, was taking medication for his Schizophrenia, family members say.

Controversial Landlord May Sell 130 Lots to Habitat for Humanity. The lots, owned by Khraish Khraish of HMK, Ltd., are located in South Dallas and West Dallas. Through this agreement, Habitat for Humanity can purchase properties HMK deems are no longer useful as rental properties. Khraish is known for his public clash with city leaders, alleging they are attempting to force him out of business in an effort to gentrify West Dallas.

It’s Inauguration Day. You can listen live through KERA. If you don’t care to watch, Keller ISD won’t force you. But if you do, maybe you’ll spot Tony Romo somewhere in the crowd.

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Politics & Government

City Council Report: What Does the Word ‘Citywide’ Actually Mean?

| 4 days ago

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As expected, this week’s City Council meeting was jam-packed with actual city business and policy discussion both broad and nuanced — too much so for the liking of Councilman Lee Kleinman, who started off yesterday’s scheduled afternoon briefing on the crucial capital bond program by moving to postpone the presentation until “after recess,” meaning after the Council’s July vacation. The staffer who had been brought in to provide the bulk of the report explained why this wasn’t a particularly sound idea. “A November election requires that we call the election in August, right when you come back from the July break,” the staffer said. “That means that we’re really going to need to get the citywide projects selected in May. This briefing could wait until maybe after your spring break, but waiting until August is going to be really problematic.”

Councilman Philip Kingston added that the people of Dallas might prefer that the Council begin discussing the material to be presented then rather than right before the election so that, for instance, there would be sufficient time for public debate and input.

Councilwoman Sandy Greyson asked Kleinman to explain why he felt the need to postpone a presentation that had already been scheduled for yesterday.

“Because I’m exhausted from the bond stuff,” Kleinman actually replied.

His motion to delay was defeated 13 to 2.

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