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Local News

A Sneak Preview of How Today’s VisitDallas Council Meeting May Go

| 5 hours ago

In Leading Off this morning, Tim noted that VisitDallas will finally face the City Council after a disastrous audit found that the city has no earthly idea about whether the $30 million it annually delivers to the tourism agency is being spent wisely. The audit found that VisitDallas spent just shy of $150 million in hotel occupancy taxes over a five year period ending in 2017. Except it’s not just hotel occupancy taxes—VisitDallas takes other public monies it earns through its Public Improvement District and commingles it with the taxes. That is against state law, which requires nonprofits to keep those things in separate accounts.

Tim had a nice breakdown in January about all the problems the audit uncovered, including expenses that sailed well above its own policies, maintaining unreliable performance reports, and slacking on the money it is contractually obligated to reinvest in our aging convention center. The agency has also lent hundreds of thousands of dollars against the performance raises of its $700,000-a-year CEO Phillip Jones. Nonprofits are only supposed to loan money to its executives if it’s for a purpose related to the operations of said nonprofit; Jones has said he was using the loaned money to help pay for medical treatment for his son’s Lyme disease. That about catches you up.

Today, the Council will be briefed on all the corrective actions that VisitDallas is promising. Like setting up a separate bank account for the public funds, per state law. And having a third party analyze performance metrics against their spending. And making annual payments for improvements to the convention center. And some other things. VisitDallas’ contract is up with the city in 2020.

But the damage may be done. I point you to this statement from Councilman and mayoral candidate Scott Griggs.

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CRE Opinion

DFW Office Space Demand: The New Normal

| 5 hours ago

With 2018 in the rearview mirror and the first quarter of 2019 upon us, the most popular question asked of our team continues to be: “How much runway is left in this cycle?” I will answer this question the exact same way we answered it at this time last year: we honestly don’t know. However, as we stated last year (and likely the year before), the fundamentals in the Dallas-Fort Worth office market continue to be healthy, with demand keeping up with or exceeding new supply and providing positive leasing activity (and thus, future absorption).

I have referred to the performance of this cycle as “the new normal” many times, and for good reason. DFW’s job and population growth, relative affordability, diversified economy, business-friendly climate, and central location will continue to lay the groundwork for healthy real estate gains. That said, as we look at 2019, let’s take a deeper look at a few key metrics: supply and demand, rental rate and vacancy performance, capital markets activity, and finally, trends shaping the market in the years to come.

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Politics & Government

Three Mayoral Candidates Fail to Get Needed Signatures

| 7 hours ago

Three people who filed to run for Dallas mayor failed to get the needed signatures and won’t appear on the May ballot.

Stephen Smith, Miguel Patino, and Heriberto Ortiz are off. Smith, who founded and runs Smith Group Asset Management, ran as a Trinity Forest advocate on a one-big-idea platform to put up a 10,000-acre Trinity Nature Park. Patino and Ortiz were relative unknowns, with the latter running this campaign Facebook page.

It takes 216 signatures to appear on the ballot for mayor. City Elections Manager Priscylla Bento says Smith turned in his application, with signatures, on Thursday of last week—one day ahead of the Friday deadline. But it was later determined that he didn’t meet the threshold of 216 registered voters. Sans open records request, she wouldn’t elaborate on how short he fell.

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Local News

Leading Off (2/19/19)

| 11 hours ago

Phillip Jones and VisitDallas Face Day of Reckoning. He and his crew will appear today before the Council’s Government Performance and Financial Management Committee, which is chaired by Jennifer Gates, who is also the vice chair of the VisitDallas board. They’ll be talking about all this stuff. Get your popcorn ready.

Tony Romo Will Play in the Byron Nelson. He got himself a sponsor’s exemption to play in the tournament, which runs May 9-12. This development also might call for some popcorn.

The Grape Kills Brunch. This weekend will be the last brunch at the venerable 50-year-old restaurant. No need for popcorn.

Uptown Thieves Snatch Electronics out of People’s Hands. Keep your head on a swivel, people. Bad guys are doing bad stuff

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Podcasts

EarBurner’s 100th Podcast: Mark Cuban at the Old Monk

| 1 day ago

Tim and Zac spent, oh, I don’t know, two days tossing around ideas about a guest for the podcast’s 100th episode. Tim fired off an email to Mark Cuban early on. They went back and forth. We thought about asking Wick on, but Pastor George Mason beat us to it. And then Mark emailed back, agreeing to sit down before the All Star break. We were hoping he’d agree to allow us to fly to Charlotte on his jet with Dirk and Luka for the All Star Game; it is 100, after all. Instead we settled on the Old Monk. Then last week, in he walked—no security, no assistants, no Dirk, just Mark Cuban in jeans and sneakers and a long-sleeved shirt. He drank club soda with lime. Tim had six beers.

I’ll spare you the traditional biographical details. You know who Mark Cuban is. He bought the Mavericks in 2000 after selling Broadcast.com to Yahoo. He’s a star on Shark Tank. (We didn’t talk about the show at all, but we have written about it.) And we thank him for sitting down with the Best Little Podcast in Dallas, which has somehow recorded 100 episodes. You can listen to them all right here. And yes, this gets settled. You’ll just have to listen.

Show notes after the jump.

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Local News

Leading Off (02/18/19)

| 1 day ago

The Body of Alfonso Rodriguez Found at White Rock Lake. The 28-year-old disappeared from Grand Prairie on February 5, along with his estranged girlfriend, Weltzin Mireles. A dive team and Grand Prairie police are still searching for Mireles, 26, who had obtained a protective order against Rodriguez about a week prior. They had a 3-year-old son and 6-year-old daughter.

Luka Doncic Has Delightful All-Star Weekend. I don’t know what Dallas did to deserve possibly getting two decades of this basketball angel. We have basically gone from Dirk Nowitzki, the most likable European player ever, to the guy who looks like he will challenge Dirk, the most likable European player ever, for the title of most likable European player ever. It’s amazing that we have been blessed with my Slovenian son, and very convenient for me, his father. Wait …

Could Dirk Come Back for a 22nd Season? According to his press conference, maybe!

Are You Running for Dallas Mayor? Better check this to make sure. As for me, I am not running but I did reconsider that stance for a few minutes last week, with the short-lived idea being that I would get the signatures (honestly, that wouldn’t have been a sure thing for me, given what happened last time) and file the paperwork and then do pretty much nothing else at all after that. No mayoral forums or debates, no yard signs, maybe a website if I could get my domain back from the guy in Brazil. I wouldn’t even really tweet about it. But then I thought better of it. Guys, I’m growing up. Maybe I’m grown up?

Here is a Full Recap of the Brittany Dawn Saga. I had never heard of the local fitness influencer until maybe three days ago and I will probably forget in three days, but right now I — and I think at least a few people — are right in the sweet spot of being interested in her story. If anyone wants an accountability coach or daily workout motivation or whatever, I’ll send you an email every day for free. Just hit me up at [email protected] and we will get started.

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Politics & Government

Laura Miller Explains Why She Decided to Run for Dallas City Council

| 4 days ago

This morning, Laura Miller’s voicemail box was full. No surprise. After D Magazine broke the news last night that the former Dallas mayor was running to unseat District 13’s representative, Jennifer Gates, more than a few people were calling to get comment.

Miller hasn’t spoken to any media until now, here, in this post. Unless that’s not true, which it might not be. It’s Friday night. I just finished coaching seventh-grade basketball. I have no patience for googling around to back up my claim.

Anyway, in a super exclusive scoop that you’ll find only on FrontBurner, Miller deeply confided that her decision to run against Gates is nothing personal. “I do not hate Jennifer Gates,” she said when I asked if she hated Jennifer Gates. “I like her.” Though she did say: “I’ve spent thousands of hours trying to figure out why our council member does what she does, and no one can figure it out.”

Part of Miller’s motivation is certainly the direction of Preston Center, she said. But she’s focused on smart development all across the district. She has worked with her campaign treasurer Doug Deason, she said, for three years on the St. Michael’s zoning case.

Miller said she didn’t broach the subject of running for Council to her kids — ages 28, 26, 23 — until last weekend. Her daughters (the two eldest) laughed. Miller said she didn’t decide to make the move until yesterday at noon, when she was at her hair salon.

I asked Miller how, if she is elected, she would get along with certain members of Council, like, oh, say, Philip Kingston. “I am a very mellow 60-year-old,” she said. “I have a narrow focus. It is on neighborhoods.”

People in neighborhoods, get your popcorn ready.

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Politics & Government

Introducing the 2019 Dallas Mayoral Candidates

| 4 days ago

Today was the deadline to file to run for office in the May municipal elections. We’ll have a 12-headed mayoral race, almost certainly leading to a runoff between the top two vote getters. Election Day is May 4. You should register. You should vote. Here are the candidates, listed in order of the date they filed to run.

(Note: We rounded these up throughout the day on Friday, and in the wee hours before the 5 p.m. deadline, two more names popped up: Miguel Patino and Heriberto Ortiz. We’ll look into these two. In the meantime, here’s Ortiz’s campaign Facebook page.)

UPDATE: Patino and Ortiz, as well as Stephen Smith—listed below—failed to get the needed signatures and will not appear on the May ballot. We’re down to nine.

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Beer

Local Brewers React to News They Might Soon Be Able to Sell Beer To-Go

| 4 days ago

This week, people who like beer got good news. A long-running disagreement that had held up Texans’ ability to buy beer straight from the source has ended. The headline of the truce is that both sides—distributors and the breweries themselves—are OK with customers walking out of tap rooms with as much as 576 ounces to go. That is 48 beers. That is two cases. That is a solid amount of hooch.

The truce doesn’t mean much yet, though. Not, at least, until our legislators heed the call of the people to pass it into law. As currently crafted, proposed legislation would allow brewers that make fewer than 225,000 barrels a year to sell it to-go. That was the same level put into place in 2013, allowing beer makers that fell under it to open taprooms. (According to this list from the Dallas Business Journal, none of our local breweries were close to the 225,000-barrel level in 2017. The highest during that year was Deep Ellum Brewing, with about 44,000 barrels.)

Under the agreement, sales of beer bought from taprooms—whether it’s consumed there or taken with you—is not to exceed 5,000 barrels. Both sides agreed to wait at least a dozen years to lobby the legislature to change that number one way or the other. Finally, breweries would report their to-go sales to the state each month.

I rapid-fired some emails out to DFW brewers for feedback on the truce and pending legislation. Here’s what a few of them had to say:

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Politics & Government

Update—Laura Miller: Indeed, Back to the Future on Dallas City Council

| 4 days ago

Update at 3 p.m.: She’s running. Dave Tarrant of The Dallas Morning News spotted her at City Hall filing to run. She had until 5 p.m. to do so. Here is her treasurer appointment form. The billionaire and noted Republican donor Doug Deason is her treasurer. His father, Darwin, lives behind the proposed development at St. Michael & All Angels Church, which is opposed by Miller. Buckle up.

Original: In 1997, Laura Miller announced her run for City Council on the cover the Dallas Observer. And so:

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