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Leading Off (10/21/16)

| 2 hours ago

Police and Firefighters to Vote on Benefit Cuts. The board of the troubled Dallas Police and Fire Pension decided Thursday to officially ask its members to approve reductions in the money they’ll see from their retirement plan. The vote will take place next month, but even if the changes are approved, the city may still be asked for $1 billion to bail out the fund.

New Dallas ISD School Built on Contaminated Land. Fox 4 found that the school district has been monitoring air quality at Jose “Joe” May Elementary in Northwest Dallas for months due to concerns about chemicals left in the soil by a gas station and a dry cleaner that operated on the site from the 1960s until 2012. The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality has reportedly stepped in to oversee cleanup.

City Leaders Meet With West Dallas Landlord. On Thursday, Mayor Mike Rawlings and Mayor Pro Tem Monica Alonzo spoke with Khraish Khraish, co-owner of HMK Ltd. The company, which owns more than 300 rental properties, has claimed it’s pulling its houses from the market (and evicting tenants) because the city is trying to force it to have to sell its property to developers. Rawlings and other officials say they’re just trying to get HMK to get its substandard houses up to code.

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A Little Nintendo Story That Will Make You Cry

| 16 hours ago


For D Magazine’s October issue, I spoke with Stephen Holley, a former Navy SEAL and current owner of the new hunting apparel company SIXSITE. You can read the interview as it appeared in the magazine here. He told me one story, however, that hit me pretty hard but was unfortunately too long to run in the magazine.

To set the scene: Holley was a Navy SEAL at the time, around August or September 2005. Somewhere in the Sunni Triangle between Fallujah and Ramadi (“a pretty rough area, and obviously with what’s going on over there right now, still is”). He said this was “in the midst of a very interesting deployment, just a very personal pivotal moment for me that really gave it another human element that I had not experienced before.”

Holley’s story, as told to me:

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Politics & Government

A Few Quick Questions About ‘Sleaze’ for Mayor Mike Rawlings

| 17 hours ago

By now you’ve seen the story in today’s paper about that surreptitious recording that a low-rent landlord made last year during a meeting with Mayor Mike Rawlings. There’s something I can’t shake about this deal. When the Observer (aka “a news website”) published the recording, the mayor said he felt “kind of sleazy” about the recording. If you were just doing your job as mayor, looking out for the citizens of Dallas who live in low-rent houses, if you weren’t trying to jawbone the owner of those houses into selling his property at depressed prices to make way for developers, renters be damned — if that’s what was happening in that meeting, and if you then learned the meeting had been secretly recorded, wouldn’t you say, “I feel cheated”? Or wouldn’t you say, “I feel like I was taken advantage of”? Or wouldn’t you say, “I feel angry”? Or wouldn’t you say, “I feel kind of violated”?

You feel sleazy when you’ve done something dirty that you regret. One last question, then: why does the mayor feel sleazy?

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Health & Medicine

Back Braces and Bad Attitudes

| 18 hours ago
Via Texas Scottish Rite Hospital for Children
Via Texas Scottish Rite Hospital for Children

Texas Scottish Rite Hospital for Children was founded in 1921 in Dallas to primarily treat pediatric orthopedic conditions. Now, construction has begun on its new five-story, 345,000-square-foot campus in Frisco at the Dallas North Tollway and Lebanon Road. The new campus, which is slated to open in fall 2018, is important because about a fourth of Scottish Rite’s patients live in the north suburbs. This will make its healthcare more accessible to all children in Dallas-Fort Worth.

Flash back a decade and a half. I was about to start my freshman year of high school and was very excited about it. My mom drove me to my annual doctor’s appointment, which I didn’t think much of, until my pediatrician told me she noticed a definite curve in my spine and that I should set up an appointment at Scottish Rite—which focuses on orthopedics, among other things—to be evaluated for scoliosis.

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Deep Ellum

Foundation 45 Offers Deep Ellum Musicians a Lifeline

| 19 hours ago
Spector 45
Spector 45

She had blue hair. She loved to wear Mickey Mouse t-shirts, tulle skirts, and Pippi Longstocking striped knee socks. She obsessed over the Beatles and was the only other person I knew who was a Kingston Trio fan. I was a nerd, undersized and antagonistic, and she was something else—a punk, an emo, a hippie, a poet. A renegade.

We were friends.

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Nature & Environment

The Trinity Project: Characteristics of a River

| 23 hours ago
Confluence of the West Fork and Elm Fork located 6 miles west of downtown Dallas, 2016 (Photo: Laray Polk)
Confluence of the West Fork and Elm Fork located 6 miles west of downtown Dallas, 2016 (Photo: Laray Polk)

Though it often appears narrow and sluggish, the Trinity River is a workhorse. It is a complete ecosystem that needs little from people other than not getting in its way as it works to deliver water to the sea, 710 miles away. But people have gotten in its way, and a modern city has grown up around its shores and ancient floodplains. Levees have been built, rebuilt, and, from 1928 to 1931, the city removed the river’s natural meanders in advance of the promise of a barge canal. The river was not only straightened, it was moved a half a mile or more to the west.

Moving the channel from its natural course, it was positioned farther from downtown and closer to communities of color. Jim Schermbeck, a community organizer who played an instrumental role in pushing for lead cleanup in West Dallas, says those areas west and south of the river are “where all the lead smelters were located; it’s where all the landfills are; and it’s where all the metal shops, junkyards, and chemical depots went.”

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Leading Off

Leading Off (10/20/16)

| 1 day ago

Shootings in Southern Dallas Occur Near Anti-Violence Rally. Yesterday afternoon, a Dallas County sheriff’s deputy shot and wounded a man after they were trying to serve him a warrant. The man fled in a vehicle, and when the deputies caught up to the vehicle and told him to get out, the man ran over a deputy’s foot. That deputy shot the man several times, who started off on foot but collapsed and was taken to the hospital. This happened in southern Dallas a mile away from a Next Generation Action Network anti-violence rally protesting two other shootings. Earlier yesterday, 25-year-old Darrius Neal was fatally shot a few blocks away. And yesterday morning, a Dallas police officer in plainclothes fatally shot 24-year-old Anthony Garcia in west Oak Cliff after Garcia approached him with a gun.

2015 Meeting with Mike Rawlings and West Dallas Landlords Recorded, Posted. Yesterday, the Observer published the recording of a meeting last year between the mayor and landlords who are attempting to kick tenants out of their homes. This made Rawlings feel “kind of sleazy.” The city of Dallas is in a legal fight with HMK over the handling of their properties and residents.

Inmate Escaped from Dallas County Jail. 24-year-old Edgar Jaquez-Moreno escaped from the Dallas County Jail last night, and officials are looking for him. He was with other inmates who were putting trash in a compactor outside the jail when he made a run for it. He was being held on burglary of a vehicle and failure to identify, as well as being detained on an immigration hold.

You Can Now Scan While Shopping at Sam’s Club. The company, owned by Walmart, said yesterday that the scanning program tested this summer has now been expanded to all U.S. Sam’s Clubs. Customers can download an app and scan items as they shop so they can skip the checkout line. They then show a digital receipt to an employee at the exit. Products like jewelry and alcohol will still have to be checked out at the register however.

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