Wednesday, September 28, 2022 Sep 28, 2022
76° F Dallas, TX


A Daily Conversation About Dallas

The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality this month quietly approved a new air quality permit that will no longer require federal oversight of emissions of the GAF shingle manufacturing plant in West Dallas.

In June 2021, more than 120 community members delivered public comment that alleged the plant’s pollutants had caused respiratory and other health problems among the disproportionately Latino neighbors who lived near it. They believed the plant’s existence violated the federal Clean Air Act of 1990. State Rep. Jasmine Crockett, D-Dallas, helped those community organizers secure a hearing that challenged the renewal of the company’s permit to operate, which federal law requires state environmental agencies to monitor. The manufacturer has operated on Singleton Boulevard since 1946.

Those speakers successfully lobbied the TCEQ to increase the frequency of emissions monitoring from once every three months to once a week. But that testing isn’t necessary if the state deems that GAF’s emissions are below federal requirements. Some now question whether GAF’s successful revision to its state permit was designed to avoid the more rigorous requests the Environmental Protection Agency would have ordered under what is known as a Title V permit.

Janie Cisneros, the spokesperson for the Singleton United/Unidos group that has pushed for GAF to leave the community, was unaware that a new permit had been issued. Cisneros and her neighbors began demanding GAF’s exit earlier this year, saying the emissions from the factory have caused a variety of health problems, including an increased incidence of asthma.

“Wow. I mean, just…wow. Oh my God,” she said on Tuesday afternoon. “How does this happen?”

Local News

KERA Looks to Acquire the Denton Record-Chronicle

Bethany Erickson
By |
Google Streetview

KERA, North Texas’ public radio provider, is looking to acquire the Denton Record-Chronicle, the two announced in a joint press release today.

Denton County’s oldest newspaper has been owned by three entities—two of them family—since its inception in the early 1900s. It now looks like the Record-Chronicle could have a fourth owner by next year.

KERA and the paper’s owners said that both parties are in the discovery phase and plan to complete the deal in 2023. The transaction is being facilitated by The National Trust for Local News, a nonprofit that works to preserve local ownership of news organizations. The Record-Chronicle reached out to the trust for assistance.

“This arrangement gives us the opportunity and the ability to preserve local journalism for the people of Denton County,” said Bill Patterson, owner and publisher of the Record-Chronicle. “As our population continues to grow, it’s imperative that we grow as well. With KERA’s commitment and expertise, our organization will be able to serve our audiences well into the future.” 

State Fair of Texas

The State Fair of Texas Has a Plan for Sensory-Sensitive Visitors

Bethany Erickson
By |
An image of Fair Park during the State Fair of Texas in 2018, with Big Tex in the center and fair-goers walking around.
The spectacle of the State Fair of Texas can be overwhelming to visitors who are sensitive to crowds, bright lights, and spectacle. This year, parents looking to avoid the crowds and the noises have the option of a sensory-friendly day and targeted itinerary. Bret Redman

The smells of fried food, the sounds bouncing through the Midway, the occasional band playing, the flashing lights, and even the excited screams of people on rides are some of the best things about going to the State Fair of Texas—unless, that is, you have sensory sensitivities that make all of it overwhelming.

I speak from experience. Not long after our son was diagnosed as being on the autism spectrum, we tried a weekend trip to the State Fair. Prior visits had been during the week, and often earlier in the day, when it was quieter, and the crowds were lighter. Anyone who has been attending the fair for long can tell you one thing: Thursday mornings at Fair Park sound and look a lot different from Fridays or Saturday nights. And that difference meant that we lasted about half an hour before we ended up hustling back to our car with an overwhelmed child.

And it’s not just children that can find the stimuli overwhelming—those with post-traumatic stress disorder or who are recovering from strokes or another neurological issue can also have difficulty navigating the sights and sounds of the State Fair at full bore.

Which is why in 2018 State Fair of Texas public relations manager Taylor Austin realized that for the fair to be accessible and fun for everyone, it needed to look at helping out families who needed to factor in sensory sensitivities.

“It was a project that I actually spearheaded for our team—just finding ways to make the fair more accessible, knowing that we’re a place where we welcome people from all walks of life,” she said. “Knowing that not everyone can come out and enjoy a super over-the-top, overstimulating environment, we thought, ‘what changes can we do internally to make this a better experience for folks that do have sensory sensitivities?’”

Local News

Leading Off (9/27/22)

Tim Rogers
By |

Cowboys Slay Giants. From the New York Post: “There was a central theme among the Giants offensive linemen after the Cowboys beat the Giants, 23-16, Monday night at MetLife Stadium: They let down Daniel Jones. The quarterback was harassed, hurried and—at times—mashed by the Dallas defensive front, which might as well have been tailgating all night as their pass rushers feasted on the Giants’ porous offensive line.” The Looch has more, including video of CeeDee Lamb’s amazing one-handed touchdown catch, over on StrongSide.

Unrest on Grapevine-Colleyville School Board. From the DMN: “During a heated executive session Monday, board president Casey Ford accused trustee Becky St. John of calling another board member a bitch at a previous meeting and of falsely accusing the district’s lawyer of sleeping during that same meeting.” Hopefully a Christian conservative cellphone company can straighten this out.

Developer Charged With Running $26 Million Scam. The feds say Timothy Barton, president of JMJ Development and CEO of Carnegie Development, snookered Chinese nationals with investment deals in North Texas and instead used the money to live like a baller (my word, not the feds’).

Oath Keepers Go to Trial. Elmer Stewart Rhodes III is from Granbury and founded the militia group called the Oath Keepers. He and some of his buddies face seditious conspiracy charges in court today, in connection with the January 6 riot at the Capitol.

Arts & Entertainment

How To Save Money at the State Fair of Texas: The 2022 Edition

Alice Laussade
By Alice Laussade |
Bret Redman

Big Tex has a talent for coaxing your dollars into his Texas-sized wallet. But we’re here to make sure that when you hop off the DART bus and head to the admission booth at the State Fair of Texas, you’re never paying full price.

Here’s your guide to saving money at the fair on everything from admission to corny dogs. (If you plan on putting ketchup on your corny dog, don’t read the rest of this, because it’s not for you. You’re a monster.)

By the morning of August 22, more rain had fallen on Dallas in a 24-hour period than had ever fallen in a day’s time, save for once, in the city’s recorded history. It broke the record for its second-highest daily rain total, which had been on the books since 1932.

Some parts of the city—mostly farther east—saw more than 15 inches of rain over 24 hours. Thousands were left without power. There were 232 water-related emergency calls. Dallas Fire Rescue swift water teams pulled 21 people and 10 dogs from rising water.

Rocky Vaz, the city’s director of the Office of Emergency Management, told the City Council last week that his department was caught off guard by how much rain fell. He said the National Weather Service’s flood watch didn’t indicate how serious—and how fast—the situation would progress.

That meant 311 wasn’t fully staffed to take calls; there weren’t enough barricades at the ready, forcing police to use their cruisers to block intersections; and police, fire, emergency management, and public works departments weren’t working in tandem for a few hours. The after-action report also indicated that 465 calls to police were on hold because officers were busy blocking flooded roads, conducting traffic control, or responding to high-water calls. That required the department to bring in specialty units like SWAT to respond to callers who had been placed on hold.

Fixing the problems with the response will be paramount, but there is a bigger challenge looming. Every city in the country is grappling with the same problem Dallas is: our cities were not built to address climate change and the increased potential for severe weather. A warmer atmosphere fuels these storms, Washington Post climate change reporter Brady Dennis explained last week on NPR.

Local News

Leading Off (9/26/22)

Zac Crain
By |

Protests in Dallas and Plano After the Death of Mahsa Amini. The 22-year-old Iranian woman died after being detained for wearing her hijab improperly. “Our goal is to create a united front,” says Arrash Pirasteh, who organized the protest in downtown Dallas Sunday.

Sonny Dykes Wins In Return to SMU. The coach moved down I-30 to take over at TCU, which is now 3-0 after beating the Mustangs in front of the largest-ever crowd at Ford Stadium (35,569). (Yes, I originally typed “Spike Dykes” because I guess I just love old Texas Tech football.)

Sunday Storms Bring On Cold Front. It should be about 10 degrees cooler this week.

Micah Parsons Listed as Questionable For Tonight’s Game. That’s sort of a formality because he missed some practice time. He’ll play against the Giants on Monday Night Football, as will wide receiver Michael Gallup, who is returning from a torn ACL.

Way back in May, I got an email from a reader named Shell. He wrote: “Last week I watched an episode of See No Evil that was from here. Casa Linda received an upgrade from neighborhood to city, but that mistake was just the undercard. They showed an overhead shot, ostensibly of Dallas, but despite freezing the screen for several minutes, neither my wife nor I could place this. Might this be an old stock photo? Please ask your staff to set aside actual work, or lunch, to solve this.”

Shell sent along the photo of his TV that you see at the top of this post. The best I could offer was suggesting a reverse image search on the mural in the foreground, but we both knew that was going nowhere.

Yesterday, Shell wrote me again to say that he’d figured it out. So as not to spoil the fun if you’re trying to ID the fake Dallas, I’ll put Shell’s answer in the comments.

Arts & Entertainment

Where Did Tejano Music Go?

Aileen Jimenez
By |
Selena 214
Accent the Positive: Pat and Eva Arreguin and Rafa Tamayo, here at Oak Cliff’s Country Burger, host the yearly 214Selena celebration. Steven Visneau

My family frequently travels to the northern part of Mexico. We visit with relatives, overeat, spend some pesos, and dread departure day. Our sad ride back home is always accompanied at the start by Tejano music, my father’s favorite jam. Playing over the radio, we hear Grupo Mazz, Little Joe, La Mafia, Jay Perez, and Selena. But it never fails that the closer we get to Dallas, the more the Tejano music begins to fade into static. Eventually, we cross an invisible line and there is silence. 

I always wondered, Why do southern cities in Texas seem to have plenty of stations while Dallas doesn’t have any? Where has all the Tejano music gone?

Local News

Leading Off (9/23/22)

Matt Goodman
By |

Major Gridlock in Insurance Negotiations. If you’re insured through Blue Cross Blue Shield of Texas and seek care at UT Southwestern Medical Center or Texas Health Resources, you’re going to want to pay attention to what’s happening around the bargaining table. If the parties don’t reach an agreement by October 4—and, to be fair, someone almost always blinks before deadline—more than 450,000 patients will face out-of-network prices for their care. These sorts of things happen, and especially between these specific stakeholders: talks broke down in 2016 and 2018 before reaching an agreement.

Remembering the Driver Who Died When 18 Wheeler Tumbled Over Central. I linked to the incident earlier this week, now we need to meet the man. Gustavo Gomez, 71, was killed when his 18-wheeler collided with another vehicle and appeared to lose control, sending it tumbling over Central down onto Stacy Road. His family remembers him as a jokester, but they also say he had a clean driving record and had worked for the same company for 20 years.

Wolfe City Officer Not Guilty in Deadly Shooting. Wolfe City is in Hunt County, about an hour northeast of Dallas. In October 2020, Ofc. Shaun Lucas arrived at a convenience store to break up an argument between two people, one of whom was a man named Jonathan Price. The matter continued outside, which is where things go sideways: prosecutors say Price was not a threat, followed commands, and was shot anyway. Defense attorneys say Price resisted and Lucas had to deploy a taser, which Price tried to grab before he was shot. A jury spent a few hours deliberating before returning a verdict of not guilty.

Summer or Fall: Who’s To Say? Looking at a sunny weekend with highs in the mid-90s. Fake fall is back!


Country Music May Look Different, But Is It Still the Same?

Andrea Williams
By Andrea Williams |
Charlie Crockett
He Walks the Line: “I have been identified by a lot of my audiences as just a regular white man,” Charley Crockett says. “And then there are a lot of people that look at me strangely as the complete opposite.” Bobby Cochran

On the July 19 episode of America’s Got Talent, Chapel Hart—a Mississippi-bred trio of Black women—performed their twangy riff on Dolly Parton’s iconic plea to the other woman, “You Can Have Him Jolene.” When they finished, the audience jumped to its feet, roaring its approval, applauding and chanting “Golden Buzzer,” the signal to move the country group to the next round. Moments later, judge Simon Cowell told the women, “I needed you today.” 

The face of lead singer Danica Hart was soaked in tears by then—the glory of the moment, of being so enthusiastically praised, washing over her in waves. But it was her response to Cowell’s question about their efforts to make a name for themselves in mainstream country music that provided the clearest view into her emotional state. There was heartbreak below that happiness. 

“We’ve been trying to break into Nashville for the last couple years,” Hart said, “but it’s been kinda hard when, I think, country music doesn’t always look like us.”

Significantly, the “last couple years” refers to a time of marked disruption in country music, the likes of which hasn’t been seen in decades. Two summers ago, on June 2, 2020, Black music executives Brianna Agyemang and Jamila Thomas launched #TheShowMustBePaused, an initiative designed, as they wrote in an Instagram post, to “hold the industry at large, including major corporations + their partners who benefit from the efforts, struggles and successes of Black people accountable” while pushing it to “protect and empower the Black communities that have made them disproportionately wealthy in ways that are measurable and transparent.”

That same day, eight days after the murder of George Floyd, Arlington-born Mickey Guyton dropped “Black Like Me.” On the macro, the haunting track provided a glimpse into her life as a Black woman in America. Drilled down, lyrics like “Now I’m all grown up and nothing has changed/Yeah, it’s still the same” were a searing indictment against her 10 years in the country music industry. If there were any doubts, her interviews on CBS This Morning, Entertainment Tonight, NPR, and numerous other outlets—where she consistently and courageously relayed details of being called the N-word, of facing questions about her sincerity, of trying to assimilate into an all-white world—put those to rest.

Our StrongSide editor, Mike “The Looch” Piellucci, is a graduate of USC. That’s one reason I hate him. (I went to Notre Dame.) The other reason I hate him is because he is a graduate of Jesuit. I, on the other hand, graduated from Cistercian. In the power ranking of Dallas-area all-boys private schools, it goes like this:

1. Cistercian

DNF (tie): Jesuit, St. Mark’s

Having established that, let me check the stats on the North Texas Giving Day leaderboard for schools. Ah, yes. Here we are. Jesuit, which enrolls about 1,100 students, currently sits at No. 95, with $10,430 raised. Cistercian, with only about 330 students, sits at No. 2, with $429,774.

Hox vabiscum, Looch.

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