WFAA Frames DISD Home-Rule Debate as Race War. Mayor Mike Rawlings and Dallas ISD trustee Mike Morath are both supporting the effort to create a new charter to change how the school district is governed. They’re white, and they’ve implied that some elements of the school board are standing in the way of DISD making important changes. Those three board members are African-American, and they accuse home-rule proponents of trying to erode minority representation. Morath fans the flames by saying things like ”this is not to say that race is not a factor … But to say that race is a dominant factor is missing the forest for the trees.”
The Watchers Don’t Like Being Watched. Dallas Police staff are putting out a warning to the city’s cops about a dangerous new threat to their safety: citizens on patrol with video cameras. Concerns were raised recently after a woman affiliated with a group called
Cop Rock Cop Block was found to be following and taping an officer. Ron Pinkston, president of the Dallas Police Association says such behavior could be a threat because police “don’t know who it is pulling behind us. We don’t know they’re there to videotape, they might be part of… if that guy has has just done a kidnapping they could be part of the kidnapping. You don’t know.” I also don’t know what he’s talking about, even if, yeah, I’m sure some of the folks recording the cops are just being jerks.
Man Sues Perot Museum After Accident. According to the suit, 74-year-old Myung Oh of Carrollton was leaving the museum in June 2013 when he fell on the steps and was left a quadriplegic.Full Story
All through the 2013-2014 academic year, the Hockaday School in North Dallas has been celebrating its 100th anniversary. The prestigious institution for girls held its first classes on September 25, 1913. Some of the city’s leading citizens had summoned Miss Ela Hockaday to Dallas to establish a college preparatory school for young ladies.
Sixty-five years later, Prudence Mackintosh (who’d earlier taught at Hockaday) wrote about the history of the school, which opened first in a small house on Haskell Avenue, soon moved to a campus on Greenville Avenue at Belmont (then part of the Caruth farm on the outskirts of Dallas), and later to its current home on Welch Road along Forest Lane. Her story is one D Magazine’s 40 greatest ever.Full Story
Mayor Rawlings Apologizes for Handling of Home Rule. Mayor Mike Rawlings has stated the obvious: the rollout for the home-rule initiative in DISD was poorly executed. He asked people to create groups to offer ideas on how a home-rule district could operate saying the “blank page” idea was not a good one.
Plano ISD Employee Steals Millions. Last fall, someone noticed a suspicious invoice that former Plano ISD Kris Wilson Gentz submitted. The invoice was bogus, and it wasn’t the first one. Since 2004, Gentz had been creating invoices for work that was never done and equipment that was never purchased. He stole between $2.5 and $7 million. Though police are trying to recover the money, it looks like Gentz gambled most of it away.
Oak Cliff Gets Permanent Dog Park. This news happened on Monday, but it’s about dogs, so I’m posting it today. ElmWoof has been popping up monthly in Elmwood, giving pet owners a place to let their dogs run free. With a $9,000 grant from Rawlings’ GrowSouth program, the park will now become permanent.Full Story
What’s your “ah-ha” book? Mine was Watership Down by Richard Adams. Christine Allison’s was Franny and Zooey by J.D. Salinger. A lot of people have said theirs was Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451, which we honored with a month-long celebration last April. Starting today, we’re celebrating The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton.Full Story
Actually, we don’t know for sure why he’s doing it. He’s not talking. Jim Mitchell over at the Morning News asked for an interview about his financial backing for the Support Our Public Schools effort to make Dallas ISD a home-rule district, but he declined.
Arnold probably isn’t eager to be the public face of Support Our Public Schools or to see headlines about how a rich Houstonian is looking to overhaul education in Dallas. (He’s a Hillcrest High School grad, so his interest makes sense from that standpoint.)
But what does Google have to say about him?Full Story
As was mentioned in Leading Off this morning, last night the home-rule folks held a few community meetings across the city to make their case. From all accounts, things did not go, um, smoothly. This morning, Rep. Jason Villalba, who hosted one of the meetings, tried to answer some questions for Tim Ryan on Good Day. Villalba did not exactly, um, impress.Full Story
One of the many great things about working at D Magazine is that Wick closes the office on St. Patrick’s Day. So for us, today, Tuesday, feels like Monday. But make no mistake. Today is, in fact, Tuesday, which is the day that I do Leading Off. Clearly. Ahem. So let’s get to it.
University Park Grandmother Sentenced for Child Porn. You’ll likely recall the case of Erika Susan Perdue. The 43-year-old woman was married to a lawyer and living a seemingly enviable life in the Park Cities — until the feds busted her for trading in child porn, using the online handle “Classybitch.” Well, she got 14 years for her crime. (Side note: we talked about whether this crime would make a good magazine story. I don’t think it would. While there’s plenty of sensational material to work with, at its core, the story is uncomplicated, boring, and depressing. Mentally troubled woman gets hooked on meth and child porn. The end.)
Audio Surfaces of Mayor Mike Rawlings Walking Out of Meeting. Last week, Mayor Rawlings walked out of a meeting with Hispanic leaders about the DISD home-rule effort. Until now, Jim Schutze gave us the best account of what happened. Now the DMN has audio. As impressive as his recent speech was to the paper’s editorial board, this performance was disappointing. Yes, he was taking some fire from the audience. But it was pretty small caliber stuff. He should have been able to shrug it off. Instead, at about the 9:30 mark, you can hear how petulant he sounds as he decamps. I’ll say it again: Allyn Media is working the messaging on this effort. There is quite a bit of room for improvement.
Family Takes to Facebook To Spur Search for Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370. Philip Wood was a 50-year-old IBM employee who was on MH370. His family lives in Keller and thinks he and other passengers might still be alive. They set up a Facebook page last weekend that is called Finding Philip Wood. On it, they wrote: “The passengers of Flight MH370 are still out there. There has been no news to prove otherwise.” Hard to believe. But for their sake, I hope it’s true.Full Story
Unfair Park is reporting that when political consultant Anna Casey grilled Mike Rawlings regarding statistics he was citing on how poorly Dallas ISD is serving its students, the mayor walked out of a closed meeting with Hispanic leaders at an East Dallas church last night. Schutze calls it a “debacle”:
When she persisted, Rawlings stammered and then stalked out without saying a word, the sources said. The 25 to 30 attendees were apparently astounded. His behavior was denounced as thin-skinned and disrespectful, even by conservative Republican Latino leaders normally in the mayor’s camp.
Recently the case against a 30-year-old teacher in the Everman school district south of Fort Worth for exchanging sexually suggestive texts with a 13-year-old student was dropped by prosecutors. An appeals court in a similar case out of Houston had ruled that the statute with which the man had been charged was unconstitutional. The situation has led to calls from some corners for the legislature to craft a new law that would re-criminalize this behavior.
But Grits for Breakfasts writes that it’ll be difficult to do so without subverting that pesky First Amendment:
So if, as all nine members of the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals agreed, “everything” covered by the statute in question was “either already prohibited by other statutes … or is constitutionally protected,” I fail to see how the Lege can rewrite the law in a constitutional fashion. As the CCA noted, longstanding US Supreme Court precedents have held that “Sexual expression which is indecent but not obscene is protected by the First Amendment.”Full Story
The paper is coming around. On Wednesday, James Ragland wrote a column that clearly took aim at the home-rule movement, saying its backers wanted to “blow up the district.” An accompanying news story about the signature-gathering efforts painted a picture of confusion. Now this.
The DMN just put up an editorial endorsing the home-rule movement, saying, “It’s clear to this newspaper, as it has been for some time, that this is the conversation we must have to reform and improve public education. If it takes signing this petition, you should. It beats running to the suburbs.” Tod Robberson, too, posted an item a few minutes ago that supports the movement. You know who made that happen? Rawlings. As Robberson writes, “It’s wonderful when a politician throws caution to the wind, abandons political niceties and tells it like it is.”
It’s too early to say for certain, but we might be watching the defining moment of Rawlings’ tenure.Full Story
Today is D Academy’s education day. We’re holed up in a classroom at Barack Obama Male Leadership Academy. Students were telling me how they’re learning Chinese and might go to Japan. I would like to do both of those things, but no such luck. In any event, as part of the day, Eric Celeste was set to moderate a panel with Mike Morath, District 2 Dallas ISD board member; Rena Honea, Alliance AFT president; and Tarick Ward, who is literally a rocket scientist but now works at Commit! I’m sure this panel would have been perfectly interesting if it had occurred a few weeks ago. But holy hell, it got interesting in light of the current home-rule discussion. Video to come, but for now, here are some highlights.Full Story
While it may be difficult for many older Texas physicians to make the transition to a more collaborative, 21st-century approach, the establishment of the South Texas medical school and the Dell School of Medicine in Austin will train the future medical workforce with a foundation for interdisciplinary cooperation. Full StoryFull Story
Can Dallas ISD Turn Into a Home-Rule District? Technically, yes, because of a 1995 state law. And the group Support Our Public Schools is trying to do it. On Tuesday, petitioners will meet Dallasites at the primary polls, looking to collect nearly 25,000 signatures. With the necessary signatures, the proposal could get on the ballot as early as November. No specific changes are on the table yet beyond the home-rule proposal, which would allow DISD to largely operate separate of state control. It would be the first district in the state to do so.
Part of Sylvan Thirty Burns Down. The West Dallas project was engulfed in flames (video) Saturday afternoon, setting off a two-alarm fire allegedly started by someone welding inside. The two-story building, the remnants of which will now be torn down, was going to house a yoga studio and a restaurant as one part of the $50 million project.
Steve Blow: Stop It. Just Stop It. It looks like he’s talking to us, all of you in the comments section, and certainly Patrick Kennedy. We all need to stop talking about tearing down I-345 because, “It’s never, ever, not-in-a-million-years going to happen.” Okay then.
Today Could Be the Coldest Day of the Season. That’s according to meteorologist Jesse Moore. Schools are closed, there’s a wind chill advisory until 8 a.m., and it’s cold. Very cold. Stay safe out there. More updates here.Full Story
Over on Unfair Park, Jim Schutze reports that he has heard the home-rule effort is having trouble gathering its needed 25,000 signatures and that the group will soon announce that it is shutting down its operation — only he expects that will be a lie, that they’ll only pretend to shut down the operation so that they can continue to gather signatures in secret. I am reporting that Schutze is right. That’s exactly what will happen. The reason I know this is because D Magazine has obtained a script that the secret signature-gatherers will use to gather signatures in secret. Here’s a transcription:Full Story
Coalition Against Home Rule Forms. The coalition, made up of trustees Carla Ranger and Bernadette Nutall and representatives for blacks, Hispanics, administrators, and teachers, believes that the home-rule initiative for DISD would take away teachers’ and voters’ rights and turn the district over to charter operators.
Teen’s Body Found in Creek. On Monday, two students skipped class and went to play along Five Mile Creek. One, 14-year-old Javar Smith, got in the water where he started struggling. His friend couldn’t swim, so he ran to get help at school. He told a family member what had happened, but that person didn’t believe him. On Tuesday, the kid told a school official. Later in the day, Smith’s body was found.
Bacon Reunited With Owner. Sany Jimenez, 17, lost her potbellied pig on Friday. It was a fretful weekend for the teenager, but finally, yesterday, she was reunited with Bacon. The pig found his way to the home of a man who had to take a picture of him when he saw him because he feared people would think he was drunk if he didn’t. He also had thoughts of putting Bacon on the grill, but instead, turned him over to Arlington police. If you don’t like cute pets being reunited with owners, at least watch this for all the puns the reporter was able to work in (yes, bringing home the Bacon was used).Full Story
When Zac Crain set out to profile Dallas ISD Superintendent Mike Miles, the goal was to humanize the man with what could be the hardest job in Dallas. We’d seen his very public flops and read about the troubled district over and over and, yes, over again. But Miles was a bit of a mystery. Who is he? And why is he here while his family is back in Colorado? Oh, and does he have a shot at doing anything productive with DISD? Frankly, a cursory glance of local media, including D Magazine, would have you believe Miles was a lost cause. That disdain, in fact, has already surfaced in the comments of “Who’s Out to Get Mike Miles?”Full Story
Dallas ISD Home-Rule Effort Continues Communication Struggles. Support Our Public Schools hosted three town hall meetings last night to address concerns and to gather petition signatures in support of DISD wresting control of its own affairs from the state. Our own Dan “Killer” Koller was at the Preston Royal library, where state Rep. Jason Villalba and City Councilwoman Jennifer Staubach Gates were among those presenting to an audience “packed in like sardines.” Dan says the event organizers deserve a failing grade for not allowing enough time to take questions or to have a true two-way discussion with those present.
Grand Jury Subpoenas Issued in John Wiley Price Case. A number of associates of the Dallas County commissioner have reportedly been summoned to testify in the FBI’s long-running corruption investigation. It was way back in June 2011 when agents seized $229,000 from Price’s home. This latest news is the first sign of activity in the case since last year.
Kennedale Coach Arrested For Filming Teachers Undressing. Jason Tomlinson allegedly installed a camera under sinks in two faculty bathrooms and captured footage of male and female colleagues using the bathroom, exposing their buttocks and genitals. The camera’s drive contained folders of videos categorized by teachers’ names and with ratings of “fine” or “good.”
Couple Gives Birth to Quintuplets at Baylor. It’s a record delivery for the Dallas hospital — five newborn babies. I already feel sorry for the one boy who’ll have to share his birthday with four sisters.Full Story
Stars and Mavs Complicate GOP Convention Bid. In 2016, Republicans are hoping to host their national convention earlier than in recent election cycles — in the first half of July — and they want exclusive access to the convention venue (in Dallas’ case, American Airlines Center) for six weeks ahead of the event. Since the potential exists for the NHL and NBA playoffs to last well into June, the timing could be tricky for Dallas, as well as several of the other cities bidding.
Allen Taxpayers Won’t Have to Pay For Stadium Fixes. Insurance is expected to cover the repairs to the two-year-old $60-million stadium, which has experienced excessive cracking in its concrete.
Outgoing UT Chancellor Criticized by Regent From Dallas. Francisco Cigarroa announced his resignation last month, saying he wanted to return to medicine full time. But there was speculation that contentious relationships on the board contributed to his departure. Now the Morning News has an email sent to Cigarroa from chairman of the board Paul Foster that alludes to emails sent by Wallace Hall that unfairly accused the chancellor of not doing his job. The paper apparently doesn’t have Hall’s emails, so it’s unclear what he actually wrote.
Wylie Student Group Wants Accused Killers Tried as Adults. The organization, called Students of Change, is “drafting a law” that would require minors charged with murder to be tried as adults. The effort was spurred by the arrest of two Wylie 16-year-olds for killing 17-year-old classmate Ivan Mejia last weekend.
Arlington Couple Arrested For Stolen Sorority Pins. Two thousand gold pins, worth an estimated $400,000, were taken from Tri Delta’s national headquarters. The theft was allegedly an inside job.Full Story
I read the front-page DMN story today about the home-rule movement for DISD, and I thought, “Oh, man, they still don’t have their messaging together.” Here’s how the story in the paper wraps up:
Rawlings and the group said they did not have a grand vision for a DISD charter. When asked why the community would support a plan that hasn’t been outlined, some group members said the effort would give the public a blank page and lets them write the future of Dallas ISD.
“The power is the blank page,” Rawlings said. “The citizens for the first time get to decide what they want to do.”
What? They have no vision? The power is the blank page? No, no, NO. People are going to hate that. But then I watched this video.Full Story
Downed Officer’s Kit Saves Life. Downed Officer’s Kits, which were developed in Iraq and Afghanistan, have been handed to DPD officers. On Saturday, when police officer Joshua Burns was shot, a fellow officer had the kit and used it on him, saving his life. The kits, which contain a tourniquet, bandage, and blood clotting gauze, cost between $50 and $60. Originally, 3,200 were purchased in preparation of the JFK 50th Memorial. Now, officers are advocating for more.
Garland Wants ISD to Fire New Superintendent. There’s a lot going on here: a new superintendent, a longtime administrator put on administrative leave after an investigation was launched, and teachers protesting with bags over their heads. Take a look.
Frisco Regulates E-Cigarettes. If you’re in Frisco, and you vape, you can no longer vape where you can’t smoke. The ordinance passed 6-0 last night and will take effect next month.
Fair Park’s Summer Adventures Canceled. State Fair organizers spent $30 million creating attractions and making improvements at Fair Park to open Summer Adventures last summer. Unfortunately, too few people visited. So the program—along with the positions that were created for it—is gone. City Council member Dwaine Caraway has a few thoughts about the sudden closure of the program. “It’s a boot in the butt as far as I’m concerned,” he told WFAA 8.Full Story