Local News

Leading Off (1/21/21)

Get your walk in early today. Things won't get prettier.

In One of His Last Presidential Acts, Trump Commutes Sentences for Dallas Attorney’s Two Clients. Brittany K. Barnett, a former corporate attorney with Winstead and former associate general counsel with Orix, co-founded The Buried Alive Project to obtain clemency for nonviolent drug offenders who have been sentenced to life without parole under outdated federal laws. You can hear Terry Gross’ fascinating interview with her here. Barnett found out yesterday that Trump commuted the sentences of two of her clients–Chris Young, a 32-year-old Tennessee man, and Ferrell Scott, a 58-year-old Dallasite, both of whom were being held in Beaumont. Scott was 13 years into a life sentence issued under mandatory sentencing guidelines that have since been found to be unconstitutional. Joe Exotic, the “Tiger King,” and Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton were not included on the list of pardons and commutations.

Gas Leak in Old East Dallas Forces at Least 200 to Evacuate. Dallas Fire-Rescue was alerted around 1 p.m. yesterday about the smell of natural gas at Willow Street and Exposition Avenue. The source was ultimately identified as a 4-inch gas main near the intersection. Residents were allowed to return to their homes around 5 p.m. after the gas line was clamped and the fumes had dissipated.

Dallas County Reports 3,469 New Coronavirus Cases and 30 Deaths. “While these are concerning numbers, and I hope the number of new cases and deaths decreases very soon,” said County Judge Clay Jenkins in a written statement Wednesday, “I am thankful we’ve been able to vaccinate almost 15,000 individuals at the Fair Park mega-vaccine clinic since last week, with thousands of more scheduled for today.” But another kink in the plan to get Dallas’ most vulnerable populations vaccinated was introduced yesterday, when the state effectively forced county commissioners to rescind a decision to focus vaccinations on the county’s 11 most vulnerable zip codes. So far, based on limited county data, it appears that a large proportion of the shots have been given to residents of mostly White and affluent neighborhoods despite the purposeful location of the vaccination site south of I-30, but Jenkins had expressed concern that the proposed remedy might not be legal. The Texas Department of State Health Services later clarified that the county and health providers can, and are encouraged to, prioritize vulnerable populations, but they cannot do so to the exclusion of geographical regions without risking their designation as a state-approved vaccine hub provider. County commissioners plan to revisit the issue later this week.

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