When I was a kid, I don’t think school ever got called off a day in advance due to the weather. We always had to wake up as early as usual to find out if we were among the lucky districts to get time off.
Maybe I’m misremembering, but it seems to be a phenomenon of the past several years to have shutdowns declared before a storm has even arrived. I’m probably misremembering. But what do you think?Full Story
Ben Sandifer had a couple hours to kill Sunday, so he went traipsing around down in the McCommas Bluff Nature Preserve. He found some tracks of heavy vehicles and followed them to the disturbing scene you see above. The “before” photo was taken in April 2014. The “after” picture was taken February 8. This place has been destroyed. It’s a county preserve. Ben has called around to all the various agencies — Trinity Watershed, Water Utilities, he even called John Wiley Price — but he hasn’t gotten an answer yet as to who did this and why. Read Sandifer’s blog to learn more about the sensitive area and what’s at stake (such as one of about 100 known trout lily colonies in the State of Texas).
Remember last year when Trinity Watershed Management officials apologized for their incompetence and invited a bunch of folks out to see their horrible stewardship of the land and promised it wouldn’t happen again? Yeah, well. So much for that.
“A half acre here, an acre there disappears,” Sandifer says. “Suddenly you don’t have anything left.”Full Story
Zac mentioned yesterday that he found it odd that at a meeting of the Texas Trees Foundation, the director of Dallas’ Park and Recreation Department, Willis Winters, said a few words but didn’t address the controversy over the recent accidental destruction of a 170-year-old state champion black willow at White Rock Lake. I got Winters on the phone late yesterday to talk about the poor tree and how the accident happened. I confess that when I received the news release from the city, I was outraged — though I promise I was (mostly) kidding when I suggested that the guy who cut down the tree should be disemboweled, in accordance with an ancient German law. After talking to Winters, my white-hot rage has subsided, becoming something a lot less Teutonic.Full Story
Don’t Drive Interstate 35E to Denton This Weekend. At least not after 8 p.m. Saturday night, or all-day Sunday. The highway’s main lanes will be shut down in Corinth to take out a bridge as part of a major expansion project.
‘Frontier Disney’ Fraud Trial Starts Monday. Thomas W. Lucas Jr. is accused by federal authorities of having told investors he had inside information about plans the Walt Disney company had to build a theme park and resort near Celina. He allegedly tricked them into spending millions to buy land near the purported site, from which he pocketed sales commissions. Though it’s hard to imagine investing even $5 with this guy.
The Beetles Invade D/FW Airport. The U.S. Customs and Border Protection agency there announced Thursday that they’ve intercepted destructive Khapra beetles in passengers’ luggage five times in recent months and have stopped more than 70 of the creatures from entering the homeland since 2013. The insect can reportedly destroy supplies of grain, which makes me think they’re like a less cuddly version of tribbles. Lock up the quadrotriticale. (That joke would kill at Dallas Comic Con Fan Days this weekend.)Full Story
Monoculture: The cultivation of a single crop in a given area. The term monoculture is the perfect word to describe what has happened to roses in Dallas. Over the last ten years, Knock Out roses have become a ubiquitous feature throughout Dallas landscapes. For good reason too: They’re the ultimate landscape plant. Unlike more finicky […]Full Story
Question: As the oldest known resident of our little village, and witness to over a century and a half of history, can you offer any explanation for the earthquakes at what we know as the old Texas Stadium plot? Can you clarify the rumor that an old Indian burial ground has been disturbed? What the hell happened there? And why now are the spirits angry? Or is there another explanation for the earth rattling that we might understand with your ancient wisdom? — John B.Full Story
Muslim Conference In Garland Draws Protesters. The conference, held at a facility operated by Garland ISD, was put on by Sound Vision, a Chicago-based Islamic organization. Per NBC, it was met by thousands of protesters and counter-protesters. The title of the conference was “Stand With the Prophet Against Terror and Hate.” Meanwhile, the prize for Most Predictable Use of Craft Supplies went to the white lady in the hideous sweater with the “Go Home and Take Obama With You” sign.
Dallas Safari Club Will No Longer Auction Off The Chance To Kill An African Elephant. The donor of the hunt withdrew the gift to the club, and therefore, murdering one of this planet’s largest animals for fun is off the table. However! You can still try for the chance to spend 14 expensive days in Mozambique attempting to kill an adult male leopard.
A Painful Cinematic Pun Happened In The Headline Of This Article. Also, the Lakewood Theater might become an Alamo Drafthouse. Alamo Drafthouses in Dallas are basically useless to me unless Rob Thomas promises to bring the cast of his next TV project, whatever that is, to one, so I have no opinion on this tidbit.
Another Earthquake in Irving. Speaking of places with an Alamo Drafthouse, there was one of those little earth wigglers on Saturday. A 2.2. How cute.
American Sniper Is Breaking MLK Weekend Box Office Records. The movie, which is based on Texas sniper Chris Kyle’s memoir and has inspired mostly ambivalent-to-blistering reviews, has made more than $90 million in its first weekend in wide release. That’s a lot for an R-rated drama, and a lot for a movie set in Iraq or Afghanistan. It’s also a lot for a Clint Eastwood film, believe it or not. I haven’t seen it, but I have read Michael Mooney’s story about the man. Anyway, happy Martin Luther King Jr. Day, everybody. I think I’ll go see Selma.Full Story
In 2000, you might recall a tornado ripping through Fort Worth. I was at my aunt’s house that evening, had gone to bed early, and snoozed through the whole thing.
Somewhat closer to home, last night I had the strange experience of sleeping next door to a five-alarm fire. I live in Fair Park. I went to sleep at 2 am, which is why when I woke up at a little past 3 am because my bed was shaking and sirens were wailing and my neighbor was pounding on my door, it felt like I was in some sort of weird red and orange and blue dream. That’s also possibly why, after poking my head out in to the hall and not really seeing anything, I went back to sleep. In retrospect, I should have done a little more investigating. When I woke up again, my power was out, my building smelled like badly burnt toast, and I couldn’t leave to get to work—firefighters were still parked outside my garage and the air was thick with smoke. The fire started at a warehouse, 4100 Commerce, and spread toward my building, which, thankfully, is fine. My neighbors in 4130 Commerce are not so lucky. The units are uninhabitable.
Justin Terveen, cityscape photographer extraordinaire who apparently lives nearby, got a photo of the fire—it’s huge. Anyway, what I am saying is, I’m glad everyone made it out alive. Firefighters are awesome and brave and I’m crazy grateful they contained the fire. And I need to rethink my sleeping patterns.Full Story
You know we love local photographer Justin Terveen. Recently, we’ve been following his adventures on the lakes in Oklahoma, but today he brings us this beauty from Bank of America. Wanna purchase this for your home? Terveen has a sale going on right now. Send him a note at [email protected]Full Story
Denton’s ban on hydraulic fracturing, the first such measure in the state, goes into effect today. A legal battle challenging it is already under way, even as other Texas cities are looking to follow suit. It’s a fight over the rights of property and mineral rights owners vs. public health concerns about the potential environmental damage caused by natural gas drilling operations.
So whose rights matter more?Full Story
Longtime readers of the magazine know who Laray Polk is. The author, artist, and environmental activist sends a few word this morning about our shaking ground:
After the magnitude-3.3 earthquake on Saturday — the sixth one in two month’s time — I revisited notes from an interview from years ago with one of the top seismologists in Texas, Dr. Cliff Frohlich. The occasion was this story. Prior to 2010, I knew very little about seismic activity in Texas. I purchased one of Frohlich’s books, learned a little more, then called him. Here are a few excerpts:
How earthquake prone is Texas? “The biggest earthquakes are in West Texas. The Panhandle has the second highest risk. The four earthquake zones in Texas, in order according to most prone areas, are: West Texas/Panhandle, North Central, North East, and Gulf Coast.Full Story
“The punch line for me is that it has to have a DNA,” says Mike Ablon, principal and founding partner of PegasusAblon, while describing what makes the Design District a neighborhood. “That’s what really matters. If you can tell that something has a DNA, then it exists. Until you can tell somebody what the DNA is, it doesn’t exist. And that goes for people and it goes for cities.”
Ablon was seated next to David Spence, founder of Good Space, who was seated next to Scott Rohrman, founder and owner of 42 Real Estate, in the boardroom of Crow Interest’s Old Parkland. With a warm fire at their backs and Lincoln’s death mask on a windowsill on their right, Ablon, Rohrman, and Spence answered D CEO executive editor Christine Perez’s questions about the work they’ve done in Dallas the past few years. The group touched on the history of the Design District (Ablon’s project until Wednesday, when it was announced PegasusAblon had sold its share), Deep Ellum (where Rohrman owns 39 properties), and the Bishop Arts District (Spence’s area of focus), before discussing the role they play in their respective neighborhoods.
When Rohrman first went into Deep Ellum, he was told he wasn’t wanted. “I wear button downs,” he says. “I don’t have any tattoos.” That’s when he had to ask his company: was 42 Real Estate going to impress its developer mindset on Deep Ellum? Or would 42 Real Estate let the community have a say? “We tried to open up a canvas and let the community paint it. We have a few guiding principles, but they’re very few and far in between. … We’re working on being a part of the community. We consider it a community endeavor not a real estate endeavor.”Full Story
Today my hometown, Denton, is voting on a measure to ban hydraulic fracturing, the controversial technique used by the natural gas industry to pull energy from rocks. Even if it is approved by voters, the resulting ordinance likely will face legal challenges.
The Guardian took note of the fight today, in a piece that trots out the usual symbols of Denton as “slacker capital of the American southwest” — namely the picturesque, yet funky square and the city’s fondness for live music and music festivals. They even bring up Frenchy and his orange trucks.
But the paper goes a bit far in the final paragraphs of the piece, implying that today’s vote will determine whether Denton will one day inspire a mildly funny IFC sketch comedy show or instantly convert into an endless sea of McMansions, corporate campuses, and shopping centers:Full Story
Winter Is (Still) Coming. The forecast calls for snow this morning, freezing rain tomorrow.
Trustees Interrogate Dallas ISD Staff on Hiring. For more than three hours the board put questions to administrators over whether they told the truth about the purpose of $6.4 million approved in October for the hiring of teachers. Some believed the superintendent’s explanation, some did not.
And the Hits Keep Coming For DISD. The Morning News reports that Texas Education Agency investigators found 60 district employees had not been fingerprinted and that an additional 120 had been fingerprinted but not in the correct way. Proper fingerprinting is necessary to conduct criminal background checks. Furthermore, according to the TEA report, Superintendent Mike Miles submitted a statement saying that DISD was in compliance with fingerprinting requirements even though an internal district audit had indicated otherwise.
Lancaster Police Release Report on Dez Bryant Incident. Rumors of an incriminating video featuring the Dallas Cowboys receiver led to media requests for information about what happened in that Walmart parking lot in 2011. According to the cops, there was no offense committed, and they have no video of what occurred. Could there be any less news in this news?
Mockingbird Pedestrian Bridge May Finally Get Built. The project, providing a path for pedestrians and cyclists over the six-lane street, is a key link in the plan to extend the Katy Trail. City officials have said construction should begin this fall.
Congressman Pushes For Chris Kyle to Get Medal of Honor. Republican Roger Williams of Cleburne introduced a bill Thursday proposing the late American Sniper receive the prestigious award for his Iraq War exploits. He’s probably got a better shot at this than he did the Best Picture Oscar, anyway.Full Story
Yesterday Was a Mess, Today Isn’t Much Better, and Snow Is on the Way. There were hundreds of accidents on the roads yesterday. An American Airlines plane even slid off a taxiway at DFW. Today, as you already know if you have kids, most school districts are again closed. Then more fun: a winter storm watch kicks in at midnight. We’re looking at 2 to 4 inches of snow come Wednesday morning. So yeah. Enjoy all that family time. Hope you stocked up on booze and Netflix.
Developer Cancels Plans for Indoor Ski Resort in Grand Prairie. Details are sketchy, but the $215 million planned Grand Alps Resort and Hard Rock Hotel has pulled out of Grand Prairie. But don’t fret, folks. The developer says they are just looking for another spot in North Texas. Oh, and the $3.5 billion DreamVision Mountain DreamScape Texas is still planned for Fort Worth. It’ll have indoor skiing. So you’ll be able to ski inside in North Texas soon enough, probably.
Ron Washington Can’t Get a Job in the Majors. The Baton Rouge Advocate caught up with the former Rangers skipper. He says he has contacted some teams about getting work but hasn’t gotten a response from them. “This is the first time I haven’t been at a spring training since I left high school [in 1970],” Washington told the paper. “I’m dealing with each and every day trying to find peace with being out of the game right now and just enjoy my family.”
Three DISD Trustees Call for Meeting To Discuss Firing Mike Miles. Can you guess the three?
Terri Hodge Is Back in Politics. In 2010, she was caught up in the Don Hill investigation and admitted to federal income tax evasion, a felony. She’s out of prison now. And she’s working for U.S. Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson, the woman who essentially stole money from her poor constituents and funneled it to her own grandchildren and nephews. Simply amazing.Full Story
Alice Murray, president of the Dallas Citizens Council, recently wrote a piece in support of the Trinity toll road. Peter did a pretty thorough job destroying her weak arguments. One point that Murray tried to make was this: DFW Airport, DART, Victory Park, and Klyde Warren Park were all big public improvement projects that wise leaders supported and naysayers fought. Never mind that DART is one of the worst performing public transit systems in the country and Victory Park was a huge financial failure. Murray’s point is that wise leaders, like the sort who belong to the Dallas Citizens Council, will carry the day.
This got artist, author, environmentalist, and sometime D Magazine contributor Laray Polk thinking. Because she remembers that in the early 1970s, the Dallas Citizens Council supported turning the Trinity River into a navigable canal that would bring ships from the Gulf to the port of Dallas. Oh, and James Hoffa’s people were part of the deal. Laray reminds us:Full Story
This morning seismologists at SMU have released an interim report on their findings from installing 20 portable earthquake monitors around the sites of the Dallas area’s recent slew of tremors, which United States Geological Survey data previously indicated were centered around the former site of Texas Stadium.
But it appears we can’t blame Jerry Jones’ secret underground lair after all. The more precise data collected by the SMU team shows that the quakes have actually been concentrated along a two-mile line that indicates a fault from Irving to West Dallas:Full Story
This morning I and the rest of a packed house at Arlington Hall heard a fascinating presentation largely based on an i-Tree Eco Assessment completed in 2014 by Matt Grubisich at the Texas Trees Foundation. We heard about the city’s average tree canopy (28.7 percent — the U.S. Forest Service recommends at least 40 percent), the 14.7 million trees and 1.8 million potential tree-planting sites, how the Trinity Forest accounts for almost 20 percent of all tree benefits, and much more, including how they hope to add 3 million more trees by 2022. All great stuff, and you’ll be hearing more about it as we dig in to the study.
In addition to Grubisich’s findings, Mayor Mike Rawlings, Parks & Rec president Willis Winters, Bobby Lyle, Texas Trees Foundation president & CEO Janette Monear, and Ken Klaveness from Earth Day Texas all spoke. I expected one of them — probably Winters — to make at least a cursory mention of the 170-year-old tree the city accidentally destroyed, especially since the timing was so recent. “In addition to planting new trees, we need to put protocols in place to make sure this sort of thing never happens again.” Something in that vein. But no dice. The mayor gave a speech about a tree he remembers from when he was a 10-year-old (sweet, but mostly a repeat of a speech I heard him make two weeks ago), and Winters spoke of partnerships helping achieve the tree-planting goals, referencing Tenzing Norgay, the sherpa who helped Edmund Hillary summit Everest. True and necessary, but there was still room for an aside, given the topic and the audience and timing and so on.
Anyway. Thought that was a little strange.Full Story
You can read the full release from the city, below. But here’s what happened: there stood a 170-year-old black willow tree at Stone Tables in White Rock Lake Park. On Monday, city staff learned that a contractor cut the tree down and ground its stump to nothingness. The tree was one of four champion trees on the state registry that stood in the Dallas parks system. According to the release: “The City intends to seek remediation from the contractor, and to prevent this type of occurrence from happening in the future.” The Germans had a law for dealing with people who killed trees:Full Story
Twitter Bomb Threats: Textbook Definition Of Not Awesome. This weekend, some monster (or monsters) decided to make air travel even more of a nightmare by tweeting a bomb threat at an airline carrier. This caused Delta flight 1061 from Los Angeles to Orlando to be diverted to DFW Airport Sunday afternoon, where it was grounded and evacuated. Two other planes, a JetBlue and a SkyWest, were evacuated in Seattle.
Filing For Local Elections Starts Wednesday. Three board seats are up for election in DISD, including the one held by Elizabeth Jones, the subject of a bi-weekly “what in the world is this lady talking about” series over on Learning Curve.
Money For Earthquake Research? The Lege is considering it, per the Texas Tribune. It’s an item in Speaker Joe Straus’ budget proposal—$2.5 million for a seismic monitoring program.
A Significant Play For Dallas Theater Center Opens Friday. Yes, I am using this space to plug a thing I did for the January issue. But I have a couple good reasons. The official opening of Stagger Lee, written by SMU Meadows Prize recipient and DTC playwright-in-residence Will Power, is the Center’s first fully self-produced premiere of a new musical. It’s also huge—an 18 person cast. Overall, it’s a big investment for the DTC, and it redoubles a commitment to new work, to diversity, and to an ongoing conversation about race in this country. I sat in on a rehearsal, and some of the music I heard gave me chills. I interviewed Power, who is fascinating and talks a mile a minute. And check out KERA’s big interactive piece on the making of the show. Impressive stuff.Full Story
North Texas Rents Hit All-Time Highs. But will there even be apartments in North Texas by the time you read this? Will they all have been sucked into the ground?
Big Rig Wedged Under I-30 Removed. “The cause behind the crash has not been released.” Yeah, probably because the guy hasn’t thought of the “There was a GD EARTHQUAKE” excuse yet.
Federal Court to Take on Texas Abortion Law Today. (No joke here.)Full Story
Jason already remarked on the interview given by Mike Rawlings to the DMN editorial board, as reported by Tod Robberson. The mayor seemed to be testing out his talking points in front of an editorial audience. I don’t think his handlers would have recommended the daily newspaper as the best audience to practice on, but one of the refreshing things about Mayor Mike is that he seems to pay little attention to his handlers.
He says he has spent months trying to understand the issues, and I believe him. He is a conscientious man. Moreover, it is quite clear that he has studied others’ opinions on the subject in order to understand them. (“I love contrarian points of view,” he says.) His stronger statements come across poorly in print, but in the recording of the interview the mayor’s tone is reasonable and respectful.
I have always considered it part of my job to straighten the ties and brush off the lint for mayors before they wander out in public, so in that spirit I will unpack a few of the mayor’s assertions to see how well they will fare in the upcoming public debate.Full Story
The United States Geological Survey reports a magnitude 2.7 earthquake was centered around Irving at 9:36 a.m. this morning.
UPDATE: Zoomed in on the epicenter on the USGS map and it’s actually near the intersection of Northwest Highway, Interstate 35E, and Loop 12, which is within Dallas limits. So it would appear we’ve got our fair share of sinners in the big city too.Full Story
Governor-Elect Promises Lawsuit Over Immigration Action. On behalf of all Texans, Greg Abbott will probably sue the Obama administration for his executive order lifting the threat of deportation for millions of immigrants living in the United States illegally. This is not new territory for Abbott, since he’s sued President Obama some 30 times in his previous life as Texas attorney general.
Two Earthquakes in Two Days. On Saturday, a 3.3 magnitude earthquake registered near the site of the old Texas Stadium. On Sunday, a 2.5 magnitude earthquake occurred south of Highway 183 beneath Loop 12. It’s too bad we don’t have any idea what might be causing these quakes, since there have been seven in the last two months.
After Crash Kills Five Family Members, Terrell Teen’s Ticket Dismissed. This sad story, first mentioned in this forum last week, does not get too much better. However, the teenage driver, a 16-year-old boy who apparently fell asleep at wheel of the family’s SUV while en route to Florida for a vacation, was originally ticketed for careless driving. The crash killed five of his relatives. The judge dismissed the misdemeanor charge, saying that the boy had been punished enough, and there was no need to add to his pain.
Cowboys Coach and Governor Chris Christie Make Friends. This photo of New Jersey governor Chris Christie and Cowboys coach Jason Garrett is great. Garrett might be smiling, or laughing—I can only tell so much from the crinkled eyes. Could this be Christie’s “lose or I’ll engineer a monster traffic jam and trap you here forever” face? The world may never know. Anyway, the Cowboys beat the Giants. I am pleased.Full Story
Nina and Bentley Forever. Nina Pham, the Dallas nurse who survived Ebola, and Bentley, her Cavalier King Charles spaniel, were reunited on Saturday morning after he was released from quarantine, and the scene could not have been cuter.
Frisco Has a Mosquito Problem. It’s thanks to the warmer weather we had leading up to this cold snap. The city is spraying after there was a positive test for West Nile.
Someone Bought the Rights to Name Baby Giraffe. The Dallas Zoo raised $50,000 by selling the rights to name the baby giraffe born at the zoo on October 29. All the funds will go to conservation.
Fisticuffs at Texas Motor Speedways. Two Nascar drivers, Jeff Gordon and Brad Keselowski, got in a punching match after Keselowski’s car hit Gordon’s, causing Gordon to fall behind and finish 29th. Another driver, Jimmie Johnson, actually won.Full Story