A Daily Conversation
About Dallas


Thousands of People Are Watching These Crayons Not Melt

| 15 hours ago

Update, 3:30 p.m.: The crayons did eventually melt, and it looked pretty cool. Meanwhile, every media outlet in town, including us, decided to start melting things on video. It was a hot day in Dallas. Details below.

I’ve spent the last 20 minutes, along with thousands of other people on the internet, watching a live video of crayons obstinately not melting, downtown Dallas in the background.

Whichever insane person at Channel 8 cooked up the idea of this Facebook live video — 6,000 viewers and counting as of 1:20 p.m. — deserves a raise. It’s an inspired and absurd art project. Shortly before 1 p.m., the video went live. A man set up a large sheet of paper on a stand, a row of Crayola crayons attached to its top. A thermometer ticks to its left. This is the caption with the video:

You’ve heard of frying eggs and baking cookies in this triple digit heat…what about crayon art? Let’s see how long it takes to create a melted work of art!


Maybe somebody at WFAA should have Googled “how hot for crayons to melt.” I did, and landed on Crayola’s website.

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Politics & Government

How a Federal Court Ruling Could Cost Pete Sessions His Seat

| 16 hours ago

U.S. Rep. Pete Sessions, whose traditionally red North Dallas district slightly favored Hillary Clinton last year, is already facing an unusually tough campaign in 2018. Two well-funded Democratic candidates are challenging the incumbent in an election year that has some national Democratic strategists, conscious of historical trends in the U.S. House of Representatives and an historically unpopular Republican president, smelling blood in the water. A federal court ruling on Texas’ congressional map, expected in the near future, could make Sessions more vulnerable, even if the worst “Armageddon map” scenario doesn’t spell total doom for Texas Republicans in Washington.

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Nature & Environment

City Attorney: Intent of Trinity LGC Language Was to Kill the Toll Road

| 18 hours ago

Next week, the Dallas City Council will get a chance to vet legal documents that would create a new Limited Government Corporation (LGC) to take control of developing, managing, and maintaining a proposed Trinity River park in between the river levees near downtown Dallas. When those documents became public earlier this week, one big question stood out: Why would a public-private entity designed to build recreational amenities along the Trinity floodway include a stipulation that explicitly spelled out its authority to build a toll road — the highway project that has been at the center of decades of heated controversy over the Trinity River Project — as long as it received council approval?

As I wrote earlier this week, that language, as well as seemingly conflicting statements in the documents, seems to create loopholes that would give the LGC the authority to build a highway between the levees at some point in the future. Furthermore, as Jim Schutze now points out, the 1984 transportation law that provides the basis for the creation of the legal entity known as a “Local Government Corporation” explicitly describes such an entity as one that would “encourage donations of right of way for state highways, and donations of funds for preliminary planning and design for those highways” and to provide “a presently unavailable vehicle for private citizens to contribute property and money for the development of roadways.”

But Dallas City Attorney Larry Casto, whose office drafted the documents that would establish the Trinity LGC, said the intent of the language was not to create loopholes that would allow construction of the road down the line, but to make it clear that the LGC could not build any road or receive any federal, state, or regional funding for transportation infrastructure without explicit council approval. 

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Leading Off

Leading Off (7/27/17)

| 22 hours ago

Mayor Rawlings Proposes Partnership to Get Trinity River Park Built. Next week, the city council will be briefed on a strategy to form a group that will be tasked with getting the Trinity River park done. It would be a public-private partnership and would take park planning away from City Hall.

Neiman Marcus Plans to Cut 225 Jobs. Neiman’s said yesterday that it needs to reorganize to reflect shifting customer shopping habits and will cut 225 jobs, with less than 20 in Dallas. This is following job cuts the past few years as well. The retailer, dealing with $5 billion in leveraged buyout debt, is also taking stock of its Last Call outlet.

Woman Alleges Daughter’s Assault in Lawsuit Against Jewish Community Center. In a lawsuit against the Aaron Family Jewish Community Center of Dallas, a woman says her 14-year-old daughter was repeatedly raped by a fitness center employee. Allegedly the assaults began in 2014 after the teen was being stalked by the employee, who was her trainer at the gym. 24-year-old Randy Lee Adrian is a suspect in the assaults.

Chip and Joanna Open a Second Rental Home. The Waco Fixer Upper power couple announced the opening of another vacation rental house: The Hillcrest Estate in Waco. It was built in 1903 and sleeps 12. My guess is this one will be sold out for years, too, so good luck booking it.

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Politics & Government

Two Things Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings Has Actually Said

| 2 days ago

In light of the LGC news, let’s look at two quotes from the mayor. Here’s from the DMN today, regarding the Trinity park:

“You can’t build something this big or this quick with that sort of restraint on you. I’m just very excited about this. We’re going to get this park done. We’ve got the organization in place. Everybody wants the park. Let’s just kind of grab each other’s arms and let’s get it done.”

And then there’s this from the DMN, from back in 2014:

“I was having a meeting the other day, and people were telling me that my position has not been clear. And I was very offended about that because I thought I was always clear. But I want to make myself terrifically clear. … The more I get challenged on the parkway, and the more I study it, the firmer my feet get in the concrete about this being an important thing for the city of Dallas.”

What am I implying by juxtaposing these two quotes? Nothing. Not yet. I’m just thinking about them. As you should.

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Deep Ellum, Texas Doughnuts, and the Challenges of Urban Renewal

| 2 days ago

There’s an interesting read over on by John Sanphillippo, a San Francisco-based writer and developer who visited Dallas a few years ago for what sounds like the Congress for the New Urbanism, though I could be wrong. He writes about the challenges of urban renewal in places like Deep Ellum – places that, on the surface, seem primed for the kind of small-scale, mom-and-pop, “placemaking” developments that make cities feel welcoming and vibrant. In Deep Ellum, Sanphillippo discovered more than the average amount of opportunity. Not only are there historical, human-scale buildings and pedestrian-friendly streetscapes, but the effort to tear down the elevated highway — I-345 — that ravaged the neighborhood and disconnected it from downtown when it was constructed in 1973 holds the potential of unleashing lots of land and economic potentiality for large-scale urban redevelopment.

If only urban renewal were so easy. The problems start, Sanphillippo argues, when you start running the numbers on the land and creating projects that are marketable in a car-driven society:

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Gov. Abbott Not Meeting with Mayor Mike Rawlings

| 2 days ago

The mayors of Dallas and Fort Worth, along with the mayors of Texas’ three other largest cities, are conspicuously absent from a list of city leaders meeting with Gov. Greg Abbott this week, the Austin-American Statesman reports.

Mike Rawlings and Betsy Price were among the 18 mayors to sign a letter last week asking to meet with the governor, “whose specific concerns with Texas cities” have been characterized as a war on local control. More than a few issues on the agenda for this special legislative session, including proposed caps on municipal spending and other bills aimed at local ordinances, have pitted leaders in Texas’ blue cities against conservative state lawmakers.

Abbot, however, will not snub every mayor who requested a meeting. He’s set to speak with the mayors of Galveston, Corpus Christi, and San Marcos today, Lubbock, Amarillo, and El Paso on Thursday. Next week Abbott will sit down with the mayors of Arlington, Frisco, McKinney, and Irving. Maybe they can put in a good word for their neighbors in Dallas.

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Local News

Leading Off (7/26/17)

| 2 days ago

The Latest and Greatest Bathroom Bill Passes the Texas Senate. And by “greatest” I mean “even more pointless than ever before.” The most important thing to tell your trans child on the first day of school is that he will not be arrested for using the bathroom of his choice, but, and you can leave this part out while kissing him on the forehead and helping him with his new Pikachu backpack, Ken Paxton can sue his public school if it tries to adopt a formal trans-friendly bathroom policy. It should be no surprise that Texas law enforcement and school districts are speaking out against the bill, and it’s expected to have a hard time getting through the House.

More Bad News for Carrollton’s Spa Castle. The owners were arrested for tax fraud in March, then several women accused the mega-spa’s employees of being peeping toms, and now, reports are coming out about an incident involving feces in a women’s pool, which was spot-cleaned with bleach, but not drained and thoroughly sanitized.

Did You Watch Yesterday’s Cowboys Press Conference? Don’t. It was a bit of a beating for everyone. All questions revolved around Lucky Whitehead, and Jason Garrett was not willing to stray from a PR-ordained “we stand by our decision” mantra. But my favorite moment of the 56 seconds I watched before I just couldn’t take anymore, was when Dale Hansen asked, “Do you have some people working for the Dallas Cowboys who are just too stupid to be working for this team?” For a good summary of yesterday’s events, read this. And I will echo Tyrone Crawford’s hope that Lucky Whitehead will find a team with which to play and “ball out.”

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Nature & Environment

A First Look at The Proposed Trinity River Local Government Corporation

| 3 days ago

Here we go again.

Yesterday on Facebook, Dallas City Councilman Scott Griggs shared drafts of the documents that would establish the Local Government Corporation (LGC) to take control of the Trinity River Project. The council will be briefed on the documents on August 2, but this is the first look at the legal structure and authority that the new entity may  have. I’ve uploaded the three documents for your perusal (the Term Sheet, Bylaws, and Certificate of Formation), and I would suggest looking at them in detail. I’ve spent the morning attempting a close read, and I’m left with a few questions.

I’m not necessarily opposed to the idea of Local Government Corporation taking over the business of managing, designing, and improving the Trinity River Watershed. That said, in this post back in April, I laid out some considerations and stipulations that would go a long way toward reestablishing public trust around the Trinity River Project by creating an entity that was both transparent and responsive enough to ensure that the public’s — and the Trinity’s — best interests. Does the LGC laid out in these documents meet those expectations? Yes and no. Let’s dig in.

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