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Leading Off (8/24/16)

| 2 hours ago

DART Officials Perk Up When Hundreds Crash Committee Meeting. There was standing room only at the DART committee meeting Tuesday evening when more than 200 people—many wearing green shirts that read “Can you dig it?”—filled the board room in an effort to promote an all-underground downtown rail expansion. The show of support caught the attention of at least one DART board member, Michelle Wong Krause, who asked for information on cutting back the Cotton Belt line to save for the D-2 subway. If you would like to read more about why a light rail expansion above ground is terrible for downtown Dallas, click here.

Special Ed Students Miss School Because Bus Never Showed. A bus meant to transport students to Multiple Careers Magnet Center in East Dallas, a school for special needs teens, has yet to pick up students this school year. A Dallas County Schools spokesperson blamed “paperwork and administration issues” for the kerfuffle, which caused a dozen students to miss the first two days of school. Just, three words for Dallas County transportation services: Get. It. Together.

North Texas Teach Gets Cred for Chucking Homework. Brandy Young, a teacher in Godley, Texas, sent a note home to parents saying their children wouldn’t have homework this year. Young said research does not show that homework equals successful student performance. She suggested that parents instead “eat dinner as a family, read together, play outside, and get your child to bed early.” The letter has made the rounds on the internet, earning articles in USA Today and the New York Times, not to mention a heck of a lot of kudos from exhausted parents.

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More Reasons to Question DART’s Planning For Downtown’s Future

| 21 hours ago

Yesterday Peter asked an excellent question: Why is DART looking to decide the alignment of its $80 million downtown streetcar when the route of its possibly $1 billion second downtown light-rail line is yet to be determined? His piece included this burn:

Here’s what’s most troubling to me about this whole thing. Dallas has been handed the opportunity to plan two huge major public investments in downtown transit together, and yet DART seems content to roll along on each project, considering them independently of each other, seemingly with little concern for context and mobility, while hoping the whole thing snaps together nicely in the end. How come DART’s planners aren’t running ridership scenarios for the streetcar and D2 together? Wouldn’t it be useful for policy makers to know that if D2 is built in one way it will affect streetcar ridership differently depending on the various alignments? Even a 6-year-old playing with an erector set has a better appreciation for the way systems operate than to ignore the fact that D2 and the streetcar will affect the success of one another.

A 6-year-old? Ouch. When I first saw this, I thought Peter was being a tad harsh. But then I read about what went down at Monday’s DART briefing of a Dallas City Council committee:

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Leading Off (8/23/16)

| 1 day ago

Violent Crime Is Up. Through August 17, violent crime in Dallas is up 10 percent, and murders are up almost 25 percent over last year. At a public safety committee meeting yesterday, cops explained what they’re doing to handle the problem. But for a long-term fix, they say they need better pay.

Big Gas Leak in Grapevine. Dozen of homes had to be evacuated last night when a leak was detected. One can only imagine how crazy things got on Nextdoor.

TWU Student-Athletes Fall Ill. Eight Texas Woman’s University student-athletes, some of them volleyball players, were hospitalized with a rare syndrome called rhabdomyolysis. It’s a serious condition wherein muscle tissue breaks down and releases its contents into the bloodstream, which can lead to renal failure. One of the main causes of rhabdomyolysis is drug use. Just saying.

Check Out the ‘Dez Rules’ That Kept the Cowboy Out of Trouble. Thank goodness for the lawsuit between Royce West and Dez Bryant because it continues to bring us all sorts of TMZ-type reading material

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The One Mile Super-Grid: Dallas’ Hidden Asset

| 2 days ago

Ignore what this map is about but pay attention to the N-S and E-W grids and diagonals.

One of the stories about how D.C. was originally designed has stuck with me since I first read about it. Pierre L’Enfant was hired by the fledgling U.S. government to design a city worthy of being the seat of government for the ambitious young country. L’Enfant, being a Frenchman, looked to the Baroque diagonal boulevards of Paris as a model. However, the D.C. we know today is different than his original plan.

Thomas Jefferson saw his plan and saw an over-reliance on hierarchy. It looked like class segregation by streets. The main boulevards were too dominant. Jefferson insisted on a plan that more closely resembled the organization of government as outlaid by the founding fathers, a representative democracy. The grand boulevards represented the “elected leaders,” so to speak, and pointed to the institutions of government, holding the pride of place. A hierarchy did exist by democratic process, but this hierarchy existed within a democratic framework as embodied by a very rigid orthogonal grid.

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Nature & Environment

By 2100, Dallas Will See 98 100-Degree Days Each Year

| 2 days ago

The New York Times ran a few depressing maps over the weekend that show how summer temperatures will be affected across the United States if nothing is done to slow or reverse the effects of climate change.

Between 1991 and 2010, Dallas saw an average of 44 days with high temperatures of 95 degrees or more. By 85 years from now, we’ll get about 133 a year. That’s more than one-third of the year.

And most of those days — 98 — will reach triple-digit heat.

If the projections hold, hot summers will extend much farther north in the U.S. than they do now. Even places like Minneapolis and Chicago, which get zero 100-degrees days now will have dozens each year by 2100.

Another reason to enjoy this unusually mild August in North Texas.

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Politics & Government

Trump Pal Andy Beal: ‘Current U.S. Government Is The Problem’

| 2 days ago
Andy Beal (at right) with fellow billionaire Tim Headington (left) and Beal's son Ryan.
Andy Beal (at right) with fellow billionaire Tim Headington (left) and Beal’s son Ryan.

If Donald Trump’s “pivot” holds and he winds up somehow in the White House, a Dallas businessman could play an influential role in shaping the new president’s policies. Billionaire Andy Beal, who showed up at the New York mogul’s first Dallas campaign rally last September, recently was named to Trump’s council of economic advisers. When we asked to talk about all this with the Beal Bank founder, a spokesman for Beal Service Corp. politely declined, but sent this statement:

“Andy Beal reaffirms his belief that Donald Trump will do much more to help America than Hillary Clinton could ever imagine doing. Mr. Beal has known Mr. Trump for many years and knows him to be a highly intelligent man who makes excellent reasoned decisions. Mr. Beal agrees that American trade policies are shifting jobs overseas, decreasing the US standard of living, and increasing the standard of living for many foreign countries. Mr. Beal believes that current US government is the problem, and that more of the same simply perpetuates the problems.”

Beal, who’s said to be the richest man in Dallas, recently snapped up the Tom Hicks estate as well as the historic Trammell Crow residence here. So, there should be plenty of opulent room to spread out the old briefing papers and charts, should The Donald ever get back to Dallas and want to plot policy with his longtime pal.

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What Will It Cost To Buy Texas Monthly?

| 2 days ago

Texas_MonthlyLate last week, we learned that the venerable Texas Monthly might soon come up for sale. Texas Monthly is owned by Indianapolis-based Emmis Communications, and the CEO of that public company wants to take it private. If he does, he’d sell all “non-core assets.” That would include Texas Monthly. Now, bear in mind that this is by no means a done deal. This CEO has tried and failed before to take Emmis private. His offer will expire September 16. But if this deal does happen, one wonders what it might take to buy Texas Monthly. The answer: who really knows? The name Texas Monthly means something beyond revenue and EBITDA. Maybe Michael Dell has always wanted to own it. But here are a few data points to consider as you play this parlor game. 

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Nature & Environment

EPA Links North Texas Earthquakes to Oil and Gas Drilling

| 2 days ago

I was a little surprised to read that it’s considered significant news that the federal Environmental Protection Agency is linking all the extra shaking, rattling, and rolling that North Texas has undergone the last few years to oil and gas drilling activity. But the Texas Tribune reports:

Jim Bradbury, a Fort Worth-based oil and gas attorney who has closely followed the earthquake saga, said he could not recall the EPA explicitly tying Texas earthquakes to industry activity.

“It’s a big deal they said that,” he said.

Texas, home to thousands of such wells, is the third-most at-risk state for man-made earthquakes, according to the U.S. Geological Survey — behind only Oklahoma and Kansas.

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