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A Daily Conversation
About Dallas

Religion

Peter Johnson Just Taped His 95 Theses to the Doors at First Baptist

| 8 hours ago

Hoofing it through downtown a bit ago to grab lunch, I ran into the Rev. Peter Johnson, near the corner of St. Paul and San Jacinto streets. He had a sheaf of papers under his arm and a cameraman at his elbow.

“Hey, Peter, what are you up to?” I asked.

“I just taped my 95 theses to the doors of First Baptist,” he said, handing me an 8-page stapled copy. “Channel 8 was there, and we were filming, too, until a security guard made me leave.”

I looked over at the church — or, rather, at the crazy fountain and St. Paul Cafe. One wonders what Martin Luther would have to say about all that and about Robert Jeffress himself, the senior pastor at First Baptist, the one who scurries to television in defense of every Trump utterance, including his recent “shithole” remark. 

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Traffic

The New Traffic Light at Arboretum Village Is Finally Here

| 9 hours ago

If, like me, you’ve lived near the Tucker-Gaston intersection by Arboretum Village for some time, you understand the perils of crossing from one side of Gaston to the other. Cars come racing down Gaston from the West and dart around the corner at Garland/Grand from the East. And, to my knowledge, there’s never been a traffic light on Gaston at Tucker Street—which gets caught in the middle of the racing cars—to help reduce the speed of the heavy metal hurtling toward you.

Until now. There was first talk of the city installing a light about a year ago, and now they finally got it up and running. When I drove home yesterday and prepared to make a right turn on Tucker Street, I saw something glorious to behold. Big red lights, indicating that I should slow down. My usual reaction to a red traffic light is quite the opposite, but not this time. I can finally walk across the street to get groceries or grab a beer without feeling like my only option for survival is to outrun the oncoming cars. And I can finally ride my bike safely across Gaston to join the trail that leads to White Rock without visions of my foot slipping off the pedal and me toppling over into the street, ready to become roadkill.

It’s true that the Garland-Grand-Gaston intersection a few yards down—which has issues of its own—may be overhauled at some point, and that might affect the Tucker light. But for now, this Lakewood resident is breathing a sigh of relief. I’ll be celebrating later after I walk across Gaston to grab that beer.

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Local News

Amazon, Allow Me to Convince You To Select Dallas

| 10 hours ago

Now that Dallas is a finalist for Amazon’s HQ2, along with Austin and some other cities, it’s time for the tricky part. We’ve got to set ourselves apart from a field that includes Austin and a list I mostly skimmed. How do we do this? OK, fine. I’ll help. Jeff Bezos, here is what I am willing to add to Dallas’ bid:

  • One (1) 2003 Honda Element that is missing a catalytic converter (it was sawed off, but you knew that as soon as you saw “Honda Element”), and also one window doesn’t work and the air conditioning system is stuck on full blast, but otherwise it is great.
  • My services as a professional finder of things. I once found something in my ex-wife’s house over the phone, and I’d never set foot inside. Also, I found a former colleague’s wedding ring after it fell off his finger and rolled into a busy parking lot. Those are just two examples. I’m insanely great at finding things. (I’m also maybe the finest highway driver ever born, but that’s not really relevant here.)
  • Also my services as a basketball coach, either for employees’ kids or if you guys want to get together some sort of rec-league situation. I’m tough but fair.
  • One (1) walking tour of downtown. I don’t know anything about the architects or history or the art or anything like that. But I do know where every single public restroom is and the correct ranking of CBD 7-Elevens.
  • Ten (10) free tweets per month. Look, I’m gonna get these overly complicated and oddly specific tweets off no matter what, so you might as well bask in the shine I get when I say anything about Cam Newton’s post-game attire.
  • Thirty (30) seconds of unbroken eye contact. If you know me, you know I just basically offered you my life savings.

Come on, Amazon. Let’s get it.

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Bicycles

Mayor Rawlings on Dallas’ Bike-Share Trouble: ‘New Rules’ Needed for Companies

| 11 hours ago

Describing Dallas’ rental bike conundrum a day after City Manager T.C. Broadnax threw out an ultimatum to the bike-share companies in town, Mayor Mike Rawlings finally landed on the Star Trek analogy this city needs.

Rawlings, speaking to the Morning Musers on KTCK SportsRadio 1310 AM/96.7 FM this morning, likened the situation to “The Trouble With Tribbles,” a Season 2 episode of the Star Trek original series in which the furry tribbles, welcomed at first as adorable alien critter companions aboard the Enterprise, soon grow out of control, eating all the food, messing with the circuitry, swarming Captain Kirk, and being an overall pain in the neck. They also don’t like Klingons. (The analogy is imperfect.)

The mayor still welcomes the dockless rental bike companies, praising them as a better alternative to the stationed bike-share systems found in Fort Worth and elsewhere. “We need to compliment the city that we were brilliant and didn’t spend millions of dollars for these stupid bike racks that Seattle and other cities are pulling out,” he says. Dallas has made progress on becoming more bike-friendly, adding trails and bike lanes, and generally becoming a nicer place to be outside of a car. That needs to continue, and bike-share companies can play a role in that, he says.

However, Rawlings agrees partly with Katy Perry and others disturbed by the unregulated proliferation of the rental bikes, seen tangled and stacked and toppled in any number of awkward configurations, as documented by the Instagram account “Dallas Bike Mess.” There are too many bikes, a natural result of the free market arms race we’re seeing between LimeBike, Ofo, Spin, and the others.

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Events

Former First Lady Michelle Obama is Coming to Dallas

| 11 hours ago

Late last night, the AT&T Performing Arts Center sent word that former First Lady Michelle Obama had been added onto the season’s 2018 speaker series. She’ll be at the Winspear Opera House at 7:30 p.m. on March 8.

Tickets go on sale at noon, but only for those who have bought a four ticket package. The ATTPAC says it’ll release any single tickets for purchase that remain, but judging from my own attempt at 10:16 a.m. to buy a pack, you’ll be somewhere around 836 in the queue. That spells trouble for the fate of those single seats, considering its capacity of 2,300. The cheap seats start at $186 for the pack and go up from there; the ticket to see the former First Lady speak will cost extra. Here’s where to find all the info.

The chat will be moderated, but the center hasn’t said by whom. If you’re interested in a four-pack, you’ve got a few choices of other big names: Rob Lowe, Rita Moreno, Ira Glass, Bill Murray, and Steve Wozniak. Mrs. Obama is a nice get for a #HearHere series that featured just one woman out of its seven speakers.

Good luck.

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Leading Off

Leading Off (1/19/18)

| 15 hours ago

Bike-Share Ultimatum Delivered. Add City Manager T.C. Broadnax to the list of people fed up with the unregulated onslaught of rental bikes tangled up on Dallas sidewalks, trails, and bodies of water. In a letter to the five bike-share companies now hawking their product here, Broadnax on Thursday warned that they have until Feb. 5 to get their act together, which involves moving bikes off of narrow sidewalks and away from sidewalk ramps and unpaved surfaces, among other requests. Otherwise, the city will begin collecting some of the 20,000 or so rental bikes in Dallas itself.

Here’s That Panhandling Lawsuit Against the City That Everyone Knew Was Coming. And it’s from no less than the “Will Rap For Weed” woman, Yvette Gbalazeh, the Deep Ellum cannabis enthusiast and street activist turned novelty gubernatorial candidate. Gbalazeh, arrested twice for solicitation in 2016, alleges that the city’s panhandling ordinance is unconstitutional, an assertion that the city attorney and police chief seem to agree with, which is why it is not presently being enforced. Her lawyer smells class action.

Local Connection to the Most Horrific Story of the New Year Found. The man and woman charged in California with torturing and imprisoning their 13 children for years allegedly started the abuse when they were living near Fort Worth.

County Commissioner Candidate Makes Questionable Offer. In a recorded phone call, J.J. Koch told Stephen Stanley, his opponent in the race for the northern Dallas County commissioner’s seat, that he would pay Stanley’s campaign debt if Stanley dropped out of the race. It is, at least, a very bad look for Koch, and at most, attempted bribery. Stanley sent a complaint to the state Attorney General’s office.

Timberlawn Shutting Down. The troubled East Dallas psychiatric hospital will close on Feb. 1 after a number of incidents called into question patients’ safety there.

It’s Not That Cold. We might even hit 60-something degrees Saturday, if you can believe it.

Have a nice weekend.
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Fort Worth

Is Fort Worth As Doomed As This 500-Page Report Makes It Seem?

| 1 day ago

The nearly 500-page economic development plan commissioned by Fort Worth officials and released a few weeks ago was so honest that even Dallasites were concerned about its findings.

The Dallas Morning News urged Fort Worth to not give up its Cowtown image, calling it a folksy and quiet place that cherishes its cowboy history. A tongue-in-cheek op-ed in The News suggested Fort Worth just resign itself to its little sibling status. Many Fort Worthians were not amused.

Readers pushed back in the comments section of a Fort Worth Star-Telegram editorial, agreeing with the report’s hard facts and findings.

Among those findings: the city does not have a diverse tax base. Fort Worth is reliant on residential and not commercial growth. Most people living here work outside the city proper, and many commute to Dallas. The city has increasingly become a bedroom community for the rest of North Texas, which explains why Fort Worth is also an afterthought to many executives seeking to expand operations or even relocate here.

For a city priding itself on its homegrown identity, it really seems unfriendly to a lot of folks too, particularly young people and people of color. In perhaps the most damning component, there are not enough economic development initiatives to drive entrepreneurial and creative forces in the city. Even as some districts are thriving, such as Sundance Square and the Near Southside, the city lags behind its peers in promoting economic development. The city lacks a will, as well as the resources, to be innovative.

To sum it up, Fort Worth has a lot of potential. It would take a lot of work to get there.

A lot.

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Business

Nerium Doesn’t Want You to Read This Article

| 1 day ago

A few days ago, I posted an item about the demise of SUCCESS magazine. In an update to that item, I linked to a news article that laid out a connection between SUCCESS’ parent company and another local company. This one is called Nerium, and it sells face cream. Last night, Nerium’s CFO, Sharon Ellis, asked me to take down the link. When I said that I wouldn’t do that, that I was merely linking to a news source, she threatened legal action and ended the call.

Today I got another call from Nerium, this time from a publicist named Alexa. I didn’t get her last name. Alexa again asked to me to remove the link to the article about the connection between Nerium and SUCCESS’ parent company. After all, she said, when you click the link now, it leads to nothing. Sure enough, the link generates a 404 error. In fact, it appears the entire news site has gone away. I don’t know why that happened. But I do know that Google still has a cached version of it.

Here is the news article about the connection between Nerium and SUCCESS’ parent company.

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Sports

Errol Spence Jr.’s Boxing Career Is on the Line

| 1 day ago

For a while, I couldn’t shut up about Errol Spence Jr. I fought to get Joe DePaolo’s profile on the DeSoto boxer in the magazine last March, got in a scrap with my boss after writing about that fight, and then the drama hit home when I publicly shamed my husband for not securing a Showtime subscription ahead of Spence’s career-defining bout against Kell Brook (he deserved it). The dust finally settled once Spence secured his champ status—but not before I wrote him a love letter.

This weekend, after eight months of peace and quiet, “The Truth” is back for another bout, this time defending his welterweight title against Lamont Peterson. You can watch this Saturday at 8 p.m. on Showtime.

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Local News

Dallas Is a Finalist For Amazon HQ2

| 1 day ago

Dallas is among the final 20 locations that Amazon is considering to house its second headquarters, but it’s not clear whether that represents the city itself or somewhere else in the North Texas region.

The Seattle-based corporation winnowed its list down from 238 to 20, leaving itself choices from basically every section of the country: both coasts are represented, as are major cities in the south and Midwest. Texas has two finalists in Austin and Dallas. Houston didn’t make it, and San Antonio made a public and principled stand in declining to play Amazon’s game for tax breaks. The company first solicited pitches in September, melding reality TV tactics and municipal boosterism in a way the country has never seen. Tucson mailed Amazon a cactus. There were more than a few goofy videos, including Frisco’s, which roped in Jerry Jones and an Alexa gag.

We’re competing with other major metro areas like Los Angeles, New York, and Chicago, but also with smaller up-and-comers like Nashville and Raleigh (part of a MSA that snuck by DFW in a recent economic study by the Milken Institute think tank). The New York Times, citing anonymous sources, said about a dozen Amazon higher-ups had been involved in the selection of the cities. We don’t know much else, except that the company says it will now be in more direct contact with the final cities. 

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