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Politics & Government

The Most Adorable Kid Who Stole the Show at Yesterday’s City Council Meeting

| 1 hour ago

I don’t know what was going on, but at yesterday’s Dallas City Council meeting there was a kid sitting behind Councilman Philip Kingston who has my vote right now, even though this kid isn’t old enough to run for office and even though I don’t, I’m guessing, live in his district. Player had his hair on fleek. Solid. Plus, he knew where to catch himself onscreen. City Hall screen. But still.

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Leading Off

Leading Off (6/29/17)

| 2 hours ago

Dallas City Council Supports I-35 Deck Park. Unanimously, actually. At yesterday’s meeting, council members committed $7.1 million in transportation development credits to the deck park in Oak Cliff near the Dallas Zoo. $28 million, which will pay for half the deck’s construction, will be coming from the North Texas Council of Governments. Construction is set to begin later this year.

Attorney General Will Join Voter Fraud Investigation. The Texas Attorney General’s office will join the Dallas County DA’s office as it looks into voter fraud allegations, specifically abuse of absentee ballots. “We have been involved in this investigation for a while. So, we are taking the lead, so to the extent that we are still in charge, we’re still taking the lead and the attorney general’s office will be assisting us in any kind of way that we are in need of that assistance,” said Faith Johnson, Dallas County District Attorney, in what may be the most wordy and uninformative quote ever.

Arlington Teen Fugitive Wanted. Taymor Travon McIntyre, 17, is wanted for murder in Mansfield and for an Arlington robbery. He’d previously been arrested for the murder but was released on house arrest. He then cut off his ankle monitor and ran.

July 7 Memorial Sculpture Coming to Dallas Police Headquarters. Yesterday, the city council approved a permanent police memorial in front of police headquarters. It will honor the DPD officers and DART officer who were killed last July 7 in the downtown shooting. The sculpture will be 10 to 12 feet high and will be constructed by July of next year.

The Morning News Experienced a Server Outage This Morning. Fun times.

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Commercial Real Estate

1401 Elm Developer Is Still Looking for Money to Pay for It

| 20 hours ago

When work on the 1401 Elm St. building renovation slowed down for whatever reason four months ago, developer Drever Capital Management said money for the mammoth project was not an issue. Added Noah Drever, son of Drever Capital owner Maxwell B. Drever: “We expect to get the deal fully funded … in the next month or 45 days.”

Tuesday, when Drever Capital was granted a one-year extension of its $50 million “TIF” grant agreement with downtown’s tax increment finance district at a TIF board meeting, the San Francisco-based developer disclosed exactly how it plans to finance work on the 52-story building, which it acquired out of bankruptcy in April of 2016 for $65 million.

Drever Capital listed the total project cost at just over $379 million—much higher than the $240 million figure reported repeatedly in the local press—and promised the board that its financing would be fully committed by August 31. Drever also revealed that it plans to monetize, or sell off, its $50 million TIF grant to Dallas-based Preston Hollow Capital for $30 million, and to raise $55 million via an innovative financing program called PACE. (Short for Property Assessed Clean Energy, PACE is a funding mechanism by which owners of commercial and industrial properties can access low-cost, long-term loans for water conservation and energy-efficiency improvements in their buildings.) In addition, Drever listed as a capital source $78.5 million in historic tax credits at closing via “US Bank, AIG, and/or Stonehenge,” and added that it had invested “over $134,872,602” in the project so far.

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Good Public Transit

Dallas City Council Shakes Up DART Board

| 23 hours ago

Moments ago, the Dallas City Council approved a new slate of representatives for the Dallas Area Rapid Transit board. They include the four nominated by the transportation committee a few weeks ago, Patrick Kennedy, Jon-Bertrell Killen, Amanda Moreno Lake, and Catherine Cuellar, as well as Dominique Torres, Michelle Krause, and Ray Jackson.

A few quick notes of interest:

  • All five Dallas board members who voted against the unanimous city council resolution to prioritize the D2 downtown subway project over the Cotton Belt line have now been replaced. Richard Carrizales was ousted last month.
  • The two Dallas board members (Lake and Krause) who voted against the DART Financial Plan (the financial one that backed pursuing D2 and the Cotton Belt concurrently by borrowing $1 billion) will return to the board.
  • Most of the new board members spoke in their interviews before the transportation committee about focusing on core ridership, improving the bus system, and prioritizing a reliable transit system over continued rail expansion.
  • Bill Velasco, Jerry Christian, and Pamela Dunlop Gates will not be returning to the DART board. Each had served since 2001, 2007, and 2006, respectively.
  • Dominique Torres ran against Council Member Ricky Callahan in the recent election, but lost by 181 votes.

As I wrote yesterday, the opportunity this new leadership represents for Dallas and the Dallas-Fort Worth region cannot be underestimated. For the first time in decades, there is a solid block of DART board members who would like to see the transit agency focus on ridership and mobility, not building an endlessly sprawling commuter rail system.

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Dwaine Caraway Is Back

| 1 day ago

Besides nearly getting into a fistfight with John Wiley Price, what did you do during your two years away from the City Council? Did you go fishing?

No, I did not go fishing. What I did, I took care of my mother. I put a lot of concentration on my 89-year-old mother. That and maintaining my community contacts and still dealing with community concerns and problems. People would still come to me, trying to get some help.

Were you bummed that the feds weren’t able to sway the jury in Price’s corruption and tax evasion trial?

Absolutely not. I really had no comment and still don’t. I respectfully allowed the system to do what the system is there to do. I’m moving forward.

In May, you beat Carolyn King Arnold, a woman you’d campaigned for to fill your council seat when you were term limited out. What made you decide that you would do a better job for District 4?

When I saw District 4 going backward. To say that we did not have a stray dog problem. To vote against the deck park. To vote against Little Free Libraries coming into the community. Those type of things. And for crime to go up. Trash, code enforcement to be going backward. Those are the reasons I had no choice.

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Omar Suleiman Makes Me Want to Believe

| 1 day ago

Spiritually, I am sort of a mutt. I was born Methodist, before being baptized Catholic when I was 5 or so. I was an altar boy and went to Catholic school, a devout practitioner until college, when I couldn’t reconcile the sudden death of a friend with the God I understood. Along the way, I learned about some aspects of Islam through Five Percenter hip-hop groups like Brand Nubian and Poor Righteous Teachers, and reading Malcolm X. Later, I married a mostly non-practicing Jewish woman who took me to temple occasionally — her stepfather is a rabbi — and Passover regularly, before we divorced. I’ve been to T.D. Jakes’ Potter’s House for Easter service.

I felt a connection at each step, but nothing lasting. It had been years since I had prayed and really meant it. But I did just that one evening in January when Imam Omar Suleiman asked me to, at a candlelight vigil at Thanks-Giving Square opposing the Trump administration’s short-lived travel ban. What struck me about him then — and when he spoke at Thanks-Giving Square last July after the downtown shooting, and all the other times I’ve been around him — is his ability to very simply get to the humanity at the core of all religions.

That’s part of why I wanted to write about him for months. I finally got the chance to profile him in the July issue of D. But he’s so involved in so many things, I only was able to touch on his work with the Yaqeen Institute for Islamic Research. So after you read my story, check out this Huffington Post piece about Yaqeen, too.

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Local News

Leading Off (6/28/17)

| 1 day ago

Carrolton’s Spa Castle In Hot Water. The 24-hour, 140,000-square-foot Korean spa is under fire after four women filed a lawsuit, accusing male employees of creeper antics (taking sly snaps of bathers, walking into the women’s locker room, etc.) all of which is not necessarily surprising after hearing the wading-pool sex stories coming from the Queens, New York flagship. In March, Spa Castle’s New York-based owners were arrested for evading more than $1.5 million in taxes.

Fort Worth Officer Fired for 2015 Shooting Incident. Officer Courtney Johnson admitted that his life was not in danger when he shot Craig Adams, a man who was on his own property, on one knee, and who had already dropped the large barbecue fork in his hand when Johnson pulled the trigger. Adams injuries were not life threatening. Johnson’s May trial for aggravated assault by a public servant ended in a mistrial, and yesterday, he was officially fired from the force.

Billy Bob’s on Shaky Ground. Billy and his son Concho are not getting along, which does not bode well for the largest honky tonk in the world.

MegaFest Begins Today. If you notice an uptick in activity in downtown Dallas, it might be because T.D. Jakes’ bi-annual, four-day faith festival is expected to bring 100,000 attendees to the convention center.

Taco Charlton Cashes In. The Cowboys defensive end signed his first taco-related endorsement deal with Tex-Mex chain Taco Bueno, coming on the heels of an agreement with Big Red. He isn’t the only pro to make a deal based on a name: Charlton’s one-time Michigan teammate Jake Butt inked a deal with Charmin in April.

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Good Public Transit

Why Tomorrow’s DART Board Appointment Vote Is About More than Cities and Suburbs

| 2 days ago

In the aftermath of last week’s Dallas Area Rapid Transit board vote, which kept DART from taking out a $1 billion loan to build the Cotton Belt rail line from Plano to DFW Airport, the debate over the future of the transit agency has been framed as the city versus the suburbs.

This is somewhat understandable. After all, DART was sold as a regional network, and the cornerstone of that regional network is a light-rail system that is designed as a regional commuter rail service. By sheer geographic necessity, the first 30 years of construction of the network required building lots of miles of rails in Dallas. Now, having poured their sales tax dollars into that construction, the suburbs are impatient to see their portion of the rail finally delivered.

In a recent Dallas Morning News op-ed, former Addison city manager Ron Whitehead restates the terms of this mutual trust.

“We know the promises that were made and that Dallas could not have built the system that exists inside Dallas in a timely manner without the commitment of the suburbs,” Whitehead writes. “Dallas has already been well-served by its membership in DART. … Where now is the leadership that will talk about the region?”

However logical Whitehead’s argument may seem to appear at first glance, it is a dangerous perspective. This is not because DART and Dallas don’t have a commitment to think regionally about transit but rather because it is the expression of a political perspective that has long obscured the very mission, goals, and measures of success of the regional transit agency. Whitehead’s comments reflect an attitude that equates DART with its light-rail network, and it doubles down on a long-term transportation planning strategy that was questionable 30 years ago when it was first devised and is today demonstrably a failure.

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Dallas Lags Behind in Median Family Incomes

| 2 days ago

Incomes vary for any number of reasonseducation, skills and talent, type of job, productivity, work effort, wealth, industries’ ups and downs, bad or good luck. The simple truth about the labor market goes a long way toward explaining the wide and persistent income gaps among Dallas-Fort Worth cities.

In 2015, median family incomes ranged from a high of $211,847 in University Park to a low of $28,427 in Wilmer, a small suburb to Dallas’ southeast. With median family income of $46,902, Dallas ranks fourth from the bottom, behind Wilmer, Hutchins, and Seagoville.

Median Income in Four North Texas Cities

Percent of families

Some other large North Texas cities:  $124,794 in Frisco, $101,750 in Plano, $78,682 in Arlington, $62,345 in Fort Worth, $57,926 in Irving, and $55,417 in Garland. Overall, the median for the DFW metropolitan area was $70,673. For the nation, it was $66,011.

Dallas generates a tremendous amount of wealth—the product of all those gleaming downtown skyscrapers, a vibrant financial sector, the booming real-estate sector, and the retail and services industries spread across the city. So why do the city’s incomes trail all but a handful of suburbs and the nation as a whole?

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Real Estate

I Researched the Best Dallas Neighborhoods and You’ll Never Believe What Happened

| 2 days ago

When my wife and I first moved to Dallas 13 years ago, the directive to our real estate agent was simple: we want old, we want trees, we want easy access to DFW Airport (where my wife was going to work), we don’t want to spend a lot of money, and we never want to move again. Oh, and we’ve got one week to look.

The real estate agent took us to one neighborhood, Oak Cliff. We looked at three houses on Saturday; we made an offer on the third home, a 1924 bungalow, the following day. It was a for-sale-by-owner, so things got dicey for a minute when the artsy owner insisted on moving into the guest house for a month or two after we closed, but ultimately we didn’t care. We had old, we had trees, and we were never going to move again.

Thirteen years later, we have to use an upholstery clip remover to jimmy the front door so that it will lock because the foundation has shifted. The window blinds have started to fall apart on the living room window where rain leaks in, which in the big scheme of things doesn’t matter so much because we rarely sit in the living room due to the gale-force winds that blow through the original single-pane pulley windows. The rear screen door resembles a bear attack after the neighborhood stray cats decided to use it to sharpen their claws. And yet, our house has nearly doubled in value.

So when the editorial team was researching the city’s best neighborhoods for our Great Places to Live feature, I was sorely tempted.

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