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Attorney Brian Loncar’s Death Ruled Cocaine Overdose

| 1 hour ago

Known as “The Strong Arm,” lawyer Brian Loncar was found in the front seat of his Rolls-Royce Wraith in front of his downtown office on December 4. The Dallas County medical examiner’s office now says he died of an accidental cocaine overdose; heart disease was a contributing factor. The 56-year-old had struggled with addiction for years and the days after his daughter Grace took her own life had brought that battle back to the foreground. This story doesn’t get any less sad.

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Medicine

Fort Worth State Senator Takes On Surprise Medical Billing

| 2 hours ago

Figuring out what hospital your insurance company will actually pay for is tough enough. But determining ahead of time which of the physicians that practice at said hospital are in-network with your carrier is almost cruel. This is how balance billing happens—those surprise medical bills show up separate from your insurance statement after receiving care in a hospital or a surgery center and stick you with the difference.

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Leading Off

Leading Off (1/19/17)

| 6 hours ago

City Hall Proposes Not to Save the Dallas Police and Fire Pension System. CFO Elizabeth Reich came up with the idea of creating a new system called the Public Safety Employees Retirement Fund, wherein young active employees could transfer to the new system (among other stipulations). However, Reich said this is an alternative, and the city is still trying to save the current pension system. Clearly, there are lots of unresolved issues either way.

Delaying the Bond Election Means Lots of Streets Won’t See Repairs. Because the City Council is holding off on the bond package until November (because of the above pension system debacle), 105 miles of deteriorating roads won’t be fixed. That’s because the delay takes $27 million from the street budget. So the street mileage to be fixed will go from 568 miles to 463 miles. We’ll see if council members can come up with the elusive $27 million.

More on Target Theater Director Attack. Derek Whitener, who was beaten outside the Target on Haskell over the weekend, is still in critical condition. Now his attorney says it looks like Whitener was beaten because he reported suspicious behavior to store security. Apparently he reported these two men, who seemed to be searching for unlocked cars, and when he left the Target, the men ambushed him. His attorney wants answers from Target as to why he wasn’t escorted after making the complaint.

Jewish Community Center Evacuated Due to Bomb Threats. Among other such centers throughout the country recently, the Aaron Family Jewish Community Center in North Dallas was evacuated yesterday morning after a bomb threat was made. No bombs were found, and everyone was allowed back inside. The FBI said yesterday that it’s investigating “possible civil rights violations in connection with threats.”

“Pudge” Rodriguez Selected for Hall of Fame. Yesterday, Ivan “Pudge” Rodriguez became the second catcher in MLB history to earn Hall of Fame induction on the first attempt. He was always my mom’s favorite player during his 13 years with the Rangers. She’s going to be very happy about this.

Take Uber Today, Get Free Fitness Goodies. Today, starting at 11 a.m., you can get free products if you take Uber in certain city areas. Uber has partnered with Snap Kitchen and Outdoor Voices, among other health-centric companies, to create free Fit Kits with products and gift cards. Sounds like a pretty sweet deal to me.

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Arts & Entertainment

The Annual WELD Show Is Tomorrow

| 21 hours ago

If you don’t know what WELD is, it’s a creative community and workspace in the Design District where photographers, designers, filmmakers, and other creative types work and collaborate. The space is open and bright, just as you’d expect. And every year, WELD hosts a celebration that showcases the art created by the people who work there. I’ve attended for the past few years and seen some pretty incredible work. Disclaimer: my friend is a very talented photographer who also happens to put this event together. But I’d go regardless. The artistry speaks for itself.

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Business

The Pension Fund Crisis: How Should You Invest Your Money?

| 22 hours ago

Compare and contrast. Here’s a DMN personal finance column from last summer advocating investment in municipal bonds.

[I]nvestment grade municipal bonds are relatively safe because the cities, counties, school districts, hospital districts and airports that issue this debt have the financial wherewithal — mainly tax revenue — to pay it back. It is true that there have been some high-profile municipal bond defaults in recent years, such as in Stockton, California, and Detroit, but overall the default rate for munis is exceedingly low.

Now here’s a column from ValueWalk yesterday that argues the Dallas fire and cop pension fiasco is a canary in coal mine and that municipalities across the country — heck, even states — will in coming years have to file for bankruptcy:

The next substantial fall in asset prices will sharpen the focus on budget deficits and pension underfunding, with the most indebted and underfunded states likely to find they are unable to rollover their debts at any price. Remaining residents will be negatively impacted, pensioners will see their payments slashed, and bondholders will recover little, if any, of their debt. As there is virtually no political will to take action to avoid these problems, investors should position their portfolios in expectation that these events will happen.

What’s in your wallet?

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Media

KVIL Is Dead. Long Live Amp 103.7?

| 1 day ago

Amp

First we lost The Edge. Now KVIL is dead. God, 2017 is the worst year ever! Says Brian Purdy, CBS Radio market manager: “KVIL has a rich legacy in Dallas-Fort Worth, but it’s not your mother’s radio station anymore — unless, of course, your mom is super cool.” Here’s your new Amp 103.7. Expect to hear Ariana Grande, The Chainsmokers, Maroon 5, and Rihanna. Zac is going to love this.

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Media

Voice Media Group To Sell LA Weekly

| 1 day ago

Observer

Voice Media Group, the parent company of the Dallas Observer is selling one of its largest remaining assets, the LA Weekly. You can read the full press release below, from the M&A firm that was hired to do the deal. Since 2013, Voice Media Group has sold six of its papers; this would be the seventh. I can’t help but wonder when the Observer’s turn will come. 

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Sports & Leisure

Don’t Tell Wesley Matthews This Season Is Over

| 1 day ago
Wesley Matthews at Media Day, via mavs.com
Wesley Matthews at Media Day, via mavs.com

Two weeks ago, I wrote about the curious case of sort of rooting against the Mavericks. And I probably still should be hoping the team ends up with a lousy enough record to secure a top-three draft pick and another piece to build around after Dirk Nowitzki [drives to White Rock Lake; stares into the middle distance at some hazy point on the opposite shore for an hour before softly whispering, “I see you, Big German”; returns to office] retires.

But you know what? Forget that noise.

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Local News

Leading Off (1/18/17)

| 1 day ago

Mark Zuckerberg Helps Build a Garden in Oak Cliff and, Oh, BTW, Testifies in Federal Court. In yesterday’s Leading Off, Tim linked DMN story about Zuckerberg’s first visit to Texas and his PR-friendly MLK Day activities. What that story failed to mention, however, is that the Facebook founder would be spending his Tuesday on the stand in Dallas’ federal courthouse. Zuckerberg sat in court for five hours yesterday testifying in the $2 billion intellectual property case Oculus versus Zenimax, which Gizmodo calls “explosive.” In short, a Richardson-based virtual reality company claims the Facebook-owned Oculus stole trade secrets. I’m hoping we’ll at least see a Dallas skyline cameo in the Social Network sequel.

Little Elm Police Officer Dies in Standoff. Neighbors evacuated and nearby schools kept kids inside while police responded to an active shooter incident in a Little Elm home yesterday. Bullets flew during an hours-long standoff which resulted in the death of Detective Jerry Walker, the first North Texas officer to be fatally shot since the July 7 ambush. The suspect was later found dead in the home.

Crushing News on Trammell Crow Estate. Last week, Andy Beal put Tom Hicks’ former estate on the market, and this week we’re finding out that the billionaire banker is demolishing the home on his other 2016 acquisition, the $55 million Trammell Crow estate in Highland Park. How did CandysDirt.com break the story? A post appeared for a pre-demolition sale on the Highland Park Garage Sale Facebook page. Up for grabs: everything from Sub Zeros to landscaping stones.

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Media

People Newspapers Are up for Sale

| 2 days ago

Park_Cities

In July of 2003, Wick Allison bought People Newspapers. He quickly began to shake things up. As the paper’s publisher, he did crazy things like hire a professor, Glenn Arbery, to write arts coverage. He printed crime reports from the Park Cities, including incidents wherein parents were caught serving alcohol to minors, which ruffled feathers. As far as I know, Park Cities People is the only community newspaper ever to be used by Ross Perot to pull a prank (see item No. 4). Last year, for its coverage of a school bond vote, the paper won first place in its category for the National Newspaper Association’s Better Newspaper and Education Contest, and it has taken top honors some 16 times in the Texas Press Association’s Better Newspaper Contest. But after almost 14 years, it is time for someone else to take the baton.

Park Cities People has always been a consistent performer, and especially so the last three years,” Wicks says. “But in a company devoted to the D brand, it has also been a sort of stepchild. The Park Cities are a very important and tight-knit community, and it rightly expects the very best. We’ve come to believe that a new owner could better serve the community by giving the newspaper the energy and attention it deserves.”

The family of weekly papers once expanded to Oak Cliff and North Dallas. The papers now publish monthly and serve the Park Cities and Preston Hollow. Both papers have sites that report daily news (see Park Cities People and Preston Hollow People). They employ 11 people, three of whom started with the company before Wick bought it. 

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