A Daily Conversation About Dallas

Politics & Government

Dallas Council Candidate Jesse Moreno Returns $11,000 in Campaign Contributions

| 55 mins ago

Dallas City Council candidate Jesse Moreno recently found himself in an interesting predicament. He is running to represent District 2, an oddly shaped swath of the city that sweeps from Love Field, the Medical District, south of downtown, and into the Cedars and Deep Ellum. From January 1 through March 22, he raised more than $36,000 in contributions, but a D Magazine analysis revealed that nearly a third of the money appeared to come from limited partnerships that were governed by a single person. Election law limits contributions in Dallas municipal races to just $1,000 per individual and certain businesses.

When asked last week about the origins of the money, Moreno pointed out—correctly—that everything was aboveboard. This week, though, he has returned all $11,000, saying that he wants to avoid even the whiff of funny business. The episode illustrates an interesting gray area in election law that it appears few local campaigns have taken advantage of, particularly during this cycle.

The contributions, each in the amount of $1,000, were made by 11 limited partnerships all registered to the developer Scott Rohrman, whose purchase of many buildings in Deep Ellum almost a decade ago helped begin the neighborhood’s latest resurgence. Rohrman says each limited partnership has varying interests “in or near” the district and wanted to support Moreno. And that is, without question, legal. The state’s election code allows individuals and certain businesses (e.g., limited partnerships, limited liability corporations) to give to political candidates; the city’s election code limits each to a maximum $1,000. But what happens when one individual controls multiple partnerships?

“Is this the sign of someone who’s putting his toe right on the ethical line, or, alternatively, is this the sign of a shrewd businessperson who knows how to get things done?” asked Dallas appellate attorney Chad Ruback, who has experience with election law. He was speaking generally about the situation after hearing a description of it. “I think two different voters can interpret it two different ways.”

Rohrman says even raising that question was enough for him.

“We determined that everything is aboveboard, but I did not want anyone questioning my intent,” he said. “The donations have been sent back.”

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Local News

Leading Off (4/13/21)

| 4 hours ago

COVID Update. Dallas County yesterday reported 416 new cases and nine deaths. (As always, bear in mind that Monday’s numbers are a two-day total, because the county doesn’t report numbers on Sunday.) Twenty-five percent of the state’s population 16 and older is now fully vaccinated. Get yours, if you haven’t already. County Judge Clay Jenkins says there is no longer a wait; you just need to get registered and get jabbed.

DISD Students Still Not Going to Class. Yesterday was the first day of the district’s final nine-week grading period for the year, and it asked all of its 8,800 seniors to go to school in person. Only 43 percent did. As you might imagine, a bunch of kids are not on pace to graduate on time.

Lakewood Elementary Teacher Arrested for Child Porn. Kevin Rayo, 25, a first-grade teacher, was booked into jail yesterday on one count of possession of child pornography. Those were the only details the DMN had as of last night.

Residential Builders Are Busy in North Texas. In the first three months of this year, new home starts rose 40 percent, with 15,063 single-family homes under construction. And that’s with a shortage of building materials and the freeze in February. Good job, builders.

Tinder Scores With New Marketing Officer. George Felix used to work for Yum Brands, where he jazzed up Plano-based Pizza Hut and KFC. Now he’s the chief marketing officer for Tinder, which is owned by Dallas-based Match Group, and whose new slogan will be “Nobody out-pizzas the Tinder.”

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How to Pitch a Story About a Virtuoso Jazz Violinist to D Magazine

| 22 hours ago

We editors get pitched story ideas from writers and publicists all the time. But you’d be surprised at how ineffective most of the pitches are. They are long-winded. Or they contain next to no information. Or they include links and attachments without any sort of enticing summary about what might be found there. Nobody’s got time for that.

And then, every once in a while, we get a pitch delivered on our doorstep prettily wrapped and tied with a bow. The one that makes you go, “I want to know more about that guy.”

Dallas-based author Alex Temblador sent me one such pitch at the end of last year. It started like this:

“Sometimes the most talented of people are hidden right under your nose — that’s the case with Scott Tixier. Born in France, Tixier is a Grammy Award-winning jazz violinist who teaches at UNT’s renowned jazz program.” She want on to (briefly) note that he has performed with the likes of Stevie Wonder and John Legend, has contributed to the soundtracks of The Lion King and John Wick, and has performed in house bands on The Tonight Show With Jimmy Fallon and America’s Got Talent.

She closed with: “I’d like to guide the conversation toward a few points that are timely right now — like how he continues to record during a pandemic, his perspective as a Frenchman on the DFW music scene, and what it’s like to be a successful Black man in the classical music industry, which is still not as diverse as it could be (his perspective as a young Black man in America during the Black Lives Matter resurgence could be an interesting take, too!).”

She didn’t even have to mention that he looks like a young Lenny Kravitz, has an identical twin jazz pianist brother, and is related to royalty. I was in. You can read her resulting profile here. It’s online today.

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Doing Good

Here’s One Way To Support Dallas ISD Students This Week

| 23 hours ago

The last two weekends, hundreds of volunteers went to work at Dallas ISD elementary schools. They renovated teachers’ lounges with some help from El Centro design students. They built up outdoor learning spaces, installing shade sails and planting gardens, even varnishing tree stumps to serve as seats. Indoors, hallways and classrooms were transformed with artwork and positive messaging.

“From the moment a student walks in the classroom they can see and feel that they are valued and their education is important,” says Abigail Williams, the CEO of United to Learn, a nonprofit that supports schools by investing in teacher training, student tutoring, and campus improvement projects. The nonprofit works with 47 underfunded Dallas ISD elementary schools, where 90 percent of students are living in poverty — United to Learn steps in where public dollars stop, Williams says.

This is the fourth year that volunteers have blanketed elementary school campuses as part of the nonprofit’s Community Campus Day. This time it feels especially meaningful, Williams says. The winter storms in February left behind damage at schools across the district. The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted education at every level, requiring adjustments to physical learning environments and putting unprecedented stress on teachers and students.

Fixing up aging buildings and installing affirmative messaging can inspire students, letting them know they – and their education – matter. And it’s a good way to give back. “It’s hard to think of a time when being out in the community is more important,” Williams says.

Round 3 of Community Campus Day is this Saturday, April 17, at campuses across the city. Go here to register to volunteer, or here for more ways to get involved.

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Who Should Do the Audio Book of The Accommodation?

| 24 hours ago

On Friday, Deep Vellum publisher Will Evans posted to Twitter a shot of himself with County Commissioner John Wiley Price. The two are standing in Price’s office, holding copies of The Accommodation, which D Magazine called “the most dangerous book in Dallas.” If you don’t know about the book, you can read about it here. Short version: Jim Schutze wrote it, Price owns the rights, and it has been out of print for a long time. The book comes out in September. If you pre-order it through Deep Vellum, yours will be a signed copy.

All of which I tell you by way of setup for our discussion about who should read the hypothetical audio version of the book. Former council member Philip Kingston replied to Evans’ tweet saying that he wants to do the reading and that he has support from Jim. I attempted to confirm this by texting Jim. My laziness didn’t get me very far, because all Jim did was text back a joke about how Kingston was also standing in for him for the naked pictures.

So I would just like to state here, for the record, that Kingston’s participation on both fronts would be a bad idea. For obvious reasons, Jim’s body double should be Post Malone. As for the reading, I can’t immediately think of a worse choice than Kingston. This has nothing to do with politics and everything to do with Kingston’s nasally, irritating voice. No disrespect.

Here, then, are my picks to do the audio book version The Accommodation:

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Local News

In a Different World, Michael Sorrell Has the Memphis Grizzlies Competing For Championships

| 1 day ago

A lot of Michael Sorrell’s story involves basketball. It took him from Chicago to Oberlin College in Ohio, where he was a two-time captain and high-scoring forward for the school’s basketball team, fifth on the the Ohio college’s all-time scoring list when he graduated. It brought him to Paul Quinn College, after he met alums from the school playing in the competitive runs at the downtown YMCA, and he decided he wanted to repay the kindness shown to a newcomer in Dallas by getting involved. And it almost took him in a different direction, when he was involved in an attempt to buy the Memphis Grizzlies in 2007, as part of a group headed by former Duke standouts Christian Laettner and Brian Davis. In fact, the deal was so close that Sorrell was on his way to scout Kevin Durant.

It ultimately fell through, and, instead, Sorrell is the longest-serving president in the history of Paul Quinn College. And based on his success there over these past 14 years, I have no doubt that if he was the team president of the Grizzlies right now instead, they would be fighting for a top seed in the Western Conference playoff standings. If he could take a school that was on the verge of losing its accreditation and hemorrhaging students, on a campus that was literally crumbling, and turn it into a model for a new way of thinking about and approaching higher education, I can’t imagine what Sorrell would do with Ja Morant and millions of dollars to play with.

I spoke to Sorrell over Zoom in February, on the coldest day in Texas in a century, and this story is the result.

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Local News

Leading Off (04/12/2021)

| 1 day ago

9-Year-Old Fatally Shoots 11-Year-Old in Parking Lot of a Walmart. Police say a 32-year-old woman left the boys in a parked car while she went inside the Walmart Neighborhood Market on South Buckner. The boys found a gun. It was almost 1 pm on a Sunday afternoon.

17-Year-Old Lancaster Wide Receiver Shot and Killed in Hotel Room in Stemmons Corridor. Tony Evans Jr. had just signed a letter of intent to play for the University of Wyoming. Another unidentified person was wounded in the shooting in a room at the Hawthorn Suites hotel, which happened around 1:30 am Sunday morning at “a gathering” on the second floor. No details have been released regarding motive or the identity of the shooter.

(As a way to transition from those heavy stories and give us a moment to reset, here is a sweet anecdote about the late rapper DMX visiting London. OK, let’s be good.)

Plano’s Will Zalatoris Finishes Second in Masters. It was his first appearance in the tournament. Here’s why you haven’t heard the last of him. Speaking of the Masters …

Jordan Spieth Back?? The 27-year-old Spieth finished tied for third at the Masters, following a win at the Valero Texas Open that ended a three-year winless streak. That’s a really small sample size, I know, but [John Wick voice] I’m thinking he’s back.

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Riding Bikes and Thinking Deep Thoughts

| 4 days ago

Harry Jones is my kind of guy. About a year ago, he emailed out of the blue. I didn’t know him, though his email signature identified him as a lawyer working at a firm that overlooks the magazine’s downtown office. He sent along something he’d written, wanting to know if the magazine was interested. “It can double as TP,” he wrote. “But seriously, I think it’s something. A new angle for the Dallas literati who are tired of the same ‘When will my bar open?’ chatter.” And it turned out that what he’d sent along was something. Dude can write. So that’s one reason I dig his chili.

Another reason: Harry rides bicycles. I like bicycles. And what he’d written was a thoughtful piece about riding bicycles around the dams and reservoirs of North Texas. It wasn’t just about riding; it was about our relationship with water here in dry, ever-expanding North Texas.

I told Harry that we wanted to publish his essay. Like I said, that was nearly a year ago. The dude never once complained about the sometimes glacial publishing pace of a monthly magazine. Nor did he complain when we asked him to participate in a photo shoot at White Rock Lake when it was 16 degrees. I like patient people who don’t complain. His essay, along with his guide to where you can ride near water, ran in the April issue of D Magazine. It went online today.

Also, Harry sports a fantastic beard. What’s not to like?

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Dallas History

Tales from the Dallas History Archives: When Hollywood Came to Dallas

| 4 days ago

With the Academy Awards only weeks away, now is a great time to take a look at some notable female actors who have visited North Texas.

The following photographs are part the Dallas Public Library’s Dallas History and Archives Collection and many are available through the library’s online catalog.

Among the images are a visit to Bishop College by multi-talented singer songwriter Oscar nominated actress and activist Eartha Kitt. Decades later, I can still recall the awe I felt as a small child in the 1980s, watching Kitt’s portrayal of Catwoman in reruns of the 1960s Batman television series. Actress May Wynn was photographed on a jet at Dallas Naval Air Station (Hensley Field) to promote a film opening in 1954.

There are images of Casablanca star Ingrid Bergman. Tina Turner and Gladys Knight visited Dallas in 1962 and 1968. Vertigo star Kim Novak was once spotted at Union Station around 1956. Horror legends Vincent Price, Frank Lovejoy, and Morticia Adams were all here, too.

So take a look at the gallery and see a few times Hollywood came to Dallas.

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Local News

Leading Off (4/9/21)

| 4 days ago

Dallas Police Chief García Will Continue Investigation Into Fired Officer. Dallas Officer Bryan Riser is a free man. He was originally indicted on charges that he ordered the killings of two people. Earlier this week, police modified the warrants to remove some information. And then a judge ruled that detectives did not have enough evidence to bring the case to a grand jury. The judge ordered Riser be freed. Yesterday, in his first public remarks about the case, the chief stood by the work of his detectives and vowed to “continue to thoroughly investigate this case.” Police will need to find new evidence in order to bring the case to the grand jury, which will be difficult—Riser was under investigation for the past four years, and this is what the result that yielded.

More Vaccination Locations Popping Up. This one is at South Oak Cliff High School, where residents can register to receive the one-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccination. The school will initially have 250 doses to administer. Meanwhile, participants in the Meals on Wheels program are now eligible to receive the J&J vaccine through the city at their homes.

ERCOT’s Communications Plan Was What We Got. As the power outages began, the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, which manages the electric grid, issued a number of tweets that read like they were in another language. The public wasn’t yet familiar with things like “load shed,” yet there it was, being tweeted by the organization ordering electricity providers to cut power to their customers. The Houston Chronicle found that such communications were part of the organization’s communication strategy, which did more to obfuscate and confuse than inform. Meanwhile, nearly 200 Texans died as a result of the temperatures.

Severe Storms Are Possible Today. The chance picks up as the afternoon goes along. It’s almost guaranteed to be dry around noon, but rain could begin sometime around 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. and begin heading east. There is a chance these storms could be severe

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Say Hello to ROSA, Methodist McKinney’s Newest Robotic System

| 5 days ago

Cynthia Anderson was tired of the constant struggle. Nagging knee pain, which grew worse and worse over the course of two years, hampered the retired junior high and high school teacher’s every movement and often kept her up at night. It was on a family hiking trip that the Allen resident realized she needed to do something to alleviate her suffering.

“I was always the one at the head of the group,” the outdoor-loving Anderson says. “But a few years ago, when we were at Yosemite, just the fact that I wasn’t able to keep up with everyone else—and a couple of times I had to actually sit down and let them go on farther—that was what made me decide I didn’t want to be like that anymore.”

Anderson’s frustration with no longer being able to lead the active life she wanted led her to undergo two total knee replacement surgeries, in April and July 2020, at Methodist McKinney Hospital. But she didn’t just put her trust in the doctors’ hands. They had the help of ROSA.

Zimmer Biomet’s Robotic Surgical Assistant knee replacement system, or ROSA, helps doctors create a surgery plan that optimizes implant placement and incision points. It also provides surgeons with instant feedback on the alignment and ligament balancing of the implant throughout the surgery.

While it may seem like something out of science fiction, ROSA is real and is readily available to patients in Collin County. Methodist McKinney Hospital began using ROSA in January 2020, and its implementation has been a great benefit to patients there. “It was like switching from a flip phone to an iPhone,” says Joe Minissale, president of Methodist McKinney. “It was quite an advancement.”

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