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A Daily Conversation About Dallas

Transportation

No, the Margaret McDermott Bridge Is (Still) Not Open to Pedestrians

| 6 hours ago

Our own Jim Schutze, when he was writing for the Dallas Observer, broke the story that the Margaret McDermott Bridge was made of an actual bridge on which cars could travel and a fake pedestrian bridge on which it is not safe for pedestrians to travel because those parts were basically glued onto the car bridge, and the city skipped the stress tests of the glue job so it had to close the pedestrian parts.

Well, a few recent posts on Twitter suggested that the pedestrian parts had been opened. There were pictures. Those tweets have been taken down, but before they were, I asked around: is the MMB open to pedestrians and cyclists? The answer: NO!

In response to questions from D Magazine, TxDOT and city of Dallas officials let Councilman Chad West know that they are on it. They acknowledge that people have been jumping over the shoulder of the highway and/or circumventing barriers. A TxDOT contractor is headed out to reinstall concrete barriers that were taken out at some point. There was also talk of getting law enforcement involved.

You’ve been warned.

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Local News

Odd Online Shenanigans in District 2 School Board Runoff

| 9 hours ago

This is not at all the way I’m supposed to write a story. I’m supposed to tell you what’s going on. But I’m afraid I may have to flip this one around. Maybe you can tell me what on earth this is.

Let’s at least start with the question so we know where we’re headed. Why did Dallas school board candidate Nancy Rodriguez rush out and buy an internet domain name hours after the school board discussed buying it in a public meeting?

Wait. There’s another question. Why does the website, intended to be part of a centralized enrollment system for all Dallas schools, now flip people over to Rodriguez’s campaign website for the Dec. 8 runoff election?

Wait. There’s at least one more. Why won’t Rodriguez give it back to the district right away, since the program for which it was intended is already up and running?

OK, well now look what you made me do. I thought of two more. Why won’t Rodriguez explain any of this? And I can’t even print the final question, because it’s a vulgarism, and I quit being vulgar. Recently.

I wrote about Rodriguez here recently (after I quit being vulgar), saying that, in what is supposed to be a non-partisan race, she is running a sharply partisan campaign in her Dec. 8 runoff against incumbent Dustin Marshall for the District 2 school board seat. And, no, I wasn’t being all finger-waggy about her campaign being partisan. I just thought it was odd for her to run as a Democrat, since her voting record in Texas primaries looks pretty much exclusively Republican.

Rodriguez and her husband jumped me online for being a knot-head, and they could be right. Anyway, I dredge that all up again here, because now, as I bring you this second weird Rodriguez story so close to the election, it would be fair for you to wonder if I have an agenda or an ax to grind. I don’t think I do. I just think this is odd again. But I could be a knot-head.

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Local News

Leading Off (12/2/20)

| 14 hours ago

COVID Update. Dallas County reported 1,179 new cases Tuesday, and hospital officials continue to sound the alarm that they could soon be overwhelmed. Statewide we notched a single-day record of 15,182 cases, and yesterday was the fifth consecutive day the hospitals in our region reported hospitalizations above the 15 percent threshold (16.4 percent of beds here are occupied by COVID patients). Two more days above that 15 percent level, and, per Gov. Abbott’s orders, we will have to close bars and cut restaurants and retail back to 50 percent capacity. I know that’s a lot of ratios. Short version: wear a mask and keep your distance.

ABC Blacked out on AT&T and DirecTV. ABC Channel 8 was knocked off the two services yesterday at 6 p.m. because the company that owns the station, Tegna, wants a rate increase and has taken its toys home until it gets more money. No word yet on how this negotiation has affected Dale Hansen’s golf game.

Mavs on Christmas. The NBA has released its schedule of games to celebrate the birth of Jesus, and your tough Dallas Mavericks will play the Lakers in prime time. No word yet on how this development has affected Zac’s perambulations.

FC Dallas Lose. A Seattle header off a corner kick in the second half gave the Sounders a 1-0 result and ended FC Dallas’ season last night. (I have a cousin who is the head strength coach for the Sounders. Tell him on Twitter today how much you hope he pulls a glute.)

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Coronavirus

Dallas’ COVID Hospitalizations Nearing the Trigger for a Rollback

| 1 day ago

The White House believes Texas “must intensify” its efforts in controlling the coronavirus and has highlighted Dallas-Fort Worth as the state’s largest metropolitan area in the worst shape. And a recent, sustained increase in hospitalizations appear to back up its fears.

The Center for Public Integrity, a nonprofit journalism outfit based in D.C., again obtained reports the White House’s coronavirus task force sends to each state’s governor every week.

Just as in July near the previous peak of the pandemic, the White House advised the state to dial it back. The Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington MSA is among 50 in Texas that are listed as being in the “red zone.” States fall into that zone when they record more than 100 new infections per 100,000 residents in the prior week. Dallas, Tarrant, Collin, and Denton counties are all considered to be hot spots. Tarrant and Dallas trailed only El Paso County for the most new cases over the last three weeks.

The verbiage in the report is strong: “The silent community spread that precedes and continues to drive these surges can only be identified and interrupted through proactive, focused testing for both the identification of asymptomatic and pre-symptomatic individuals. This must be combined with significant behavior change of all Americans.”

“Stop going into restaurants, certainly stop going to any bar, bar-slash-restaurant-turned-bar, sure as heck stop gathering for those family gatherings,” said Dr. Mark Casanova, the president of the Dallas County Medical Society. “I think that’s where we’ve had our knees taken out from under us is those family gatherings and friend gatherings. Enough of those people do that on enough of a scale and you see exactly what we’re seeing in viral transmission.”

At Tuesday’s Dallas County Commissioners Court meeting, County Judge Clay Jenkins said that Parkland Hospital is seeing a surprising increase in asymptomatic positivity among patients seeking care for non-COVID related procedures. About 12 percent of that population—one in eight—are testing positive without showing symptoms. It highlights the importance of wearing masks and avoiding crowds, which will help avoid exposure.

“The number was so high that (Parkland CEO) Fred Cerise asked them to run it again, he couldn’t believe it,” Jenkins said.

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Media

Watch: Great Story on WFAA About Banks Screwing Southern Dallas

| 1 day ago

ABC Channel 8 aired a fantastic piece of journalism about a week ago that you should take the time to watch. I’m afraid this thing may have gotten lost in the shuffle a bit over the holiday break. Only about 1,000 people have viewed the YouTube video of the segment.

It’s called “Banking Below 30,” and it’s about redlining, a racist banking policy that keeps people of color in certain parts of town from getting loans. In this case, “below 30” refers to Interstate 30. Redlining is a complicated topic, but it is cogently explained in this 10-minute report. Ten minutes! When I saw this air on TV, I was shocked that they gave it that much time. The photography and graphics are top notch. The reporting is solid. David Schechter and his cohorts dug up data from 105 banks that do business locally. As I said, what they found is worth your time:

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Local News

Leading Off (12/1/20)

| 2 days ago

COVID Update. Yesterday Dallas County reported 702 additional cases and five deaths. But don’t take comfort from that relatively low cases number, because testing and reporting slowed during the Thanksgiving break. Today’s stats will give us a more accurate picture. Tarrant County reported 3,356 coronavirus cases yesterday. Collin did 408.

Twerking Controversy in Downtown Restaurant. I have not yet been to True Kitchen + Kocktails, on Elm Street, but as soon as there’s a vaccine, I’d like to kruise over there + check it out. Sounds like an interesting place. Owner Kevin Kelley went viral on social media when he lectured diners about twerking in his restaurant, saying he invested a lot of money so Black folks can have someplace nice to go (Kelley is Black). A tweet of his harangue has been viewed 3.6 million times. Some have pointed out that the twerking was inspired by the song playing in the restaurant at the time, Lil Ronny’s “Throw Dat Ass in a Circle.” I just listened to the song on YouTube and can report that I was able to remain seated on my couch, but it should be noted that this morning I haven’t yet begun drinking.

Mountain Lion in Rowlett! Wildlife experts confirm the sighting. Keep your head on a swivel.

Cowboys Game Pushed to Tuesday. That’s the word for now, as COVID has thrown a wrench in the contest with Baltimore.

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Transportation

Dallas Loses Its First-Ever Transportation Director

| 2 days ago

Michael Rogers, the first-ever transportation director for the city of Dallas, is leaving to become a deputy city manager in the southern suburb of Glenn Heights. Rogers was hired from Raleigh, North Carolina in 2017 and charged with creating the city’s first comprehensive mobility plan. According to a memo from City Manager T.C.  Broadnax, that plan is being finalized. Broadnax describes it as “a five-year mobility roadmap that will enhance the region’s implementation plans for transportation, economic development, housing, and job creation.”

It will do so by judging transportation investments on not just their ability to move people from one place to another, but their impact on land use, climate, and equitable development. It will also include a path forward for making Vision Zero operational, the city’s initiative to reduce pedestrian deaths to zero. Rogers wanted the transit plan to help inform how our streets, freeways, trails, and sidewalks all influence how the city develops. His department oversaw a citywide survey that helped chart its priorities.

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Cooking

Cyber Monday Deal: Get Our Hand Made Cookbook on Sale Right Now

| 2 days ago

December is almost upon us, so let the scramble for gifts commence! This year especially, as we’re mailing present parcels to loved ones far away, checking one more person off our list feels good. Let us help you with that.

We have a hot Cyber Monday deal for you: Get our Hand Made cookbook (normally just shy of $20) for $15.95. But, wait, there’s more. We’ll throw in 12 months of D Magazine. (This combo is usually $29.95.)

Hand Made includes 47 recipes, all of which feel like love letters to Dallas. This isn’t merely a road map to delicious entertainment—though, yes, do cook something for just you, a date night for two, or a spread for a socially distanced picnic—but a book for locavores who want to know where to get the freshest ingredients from farms and markets near you. Baking a tart or a batch of margaritas can also mean supporting small businesses who need us more than ever right now. While dining and getting together look a lot different right now, how we share and show up for those in our community remains impactful.

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Shopping

The Day My Wife Nearly Killed a Kid at Home Depot: A Christmas Story

| 2 days ago

Sunday afternoon, Team Rogers made its annual Yuletide sortie to Home Depot for a Christmas tree. We went to the location on Garland Road, over the objections of my wife, who wanted to go to the location on Skillman because a co-worker of hers had told her the selection there was better. As I explained, though, we’d have to transport the tree farther, which would mean —

Never mind. Let’s not bog down in that whole debate. We went to the location on Garland.

So we are in the tree tent. Me personally, I’m feeling a bit claustrophobic, what with the mask and the close quarters and the other tree shoppers disregarding the one-way signage. The missus grabs an approximately 9-foot noble fir, stands it up, and asks for my opinion.

“Too tall,” I say. “We do this every year.”

I am 6 feet tall. We live in a midcentury modern with a sloping ceiling. At its lowest point, where we put the tree, I can reach up and nearly touch the ceiling. So every year I stand next to the first four or five trees she selects, and I raise my hand as high as it will go, and I say, “Too tall.”

This is what I’m doing Sunday — standing next to the tree with my hand raised like I’ve got a pressing question and am eager to be called upon — when the missus lets go of the tree. The tree falls into the aisle where a 4-year-old boy is innocently walking, unaware of the dangers that surround him. He’s probably thinking about Oreos. Bam. The noble fir scores a direct hit, takes him cleanly off his feet.

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Local News

Leading Off (11/30/2020)

| 3 days ago

COVID. Dallas County reported 3,303 additional cases and six deaths on Sunday. But that number comes with an asterisk: it includes numbers from Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, because of the Thanksgiving holiday, and also reflects fewer people getting tested. “We’ll have more accurate numbers again on Tuesday and Wednesday and begin to see any effects from the Thanksgiving holiday by next Friday and into the weekend with a full realization of any uptick manifesting itself by the following weekend,” says County Judge Clay Jenkins. (If you did gather for Thanksgiving, here is what you should do.) If you prefer to look at it in a different way, COVID-19 patients took up more than 15 percent of North Texas hospital beds for the third straight day. Should those numbers hold for a week, then bars will close and restaurants and retail will go back to 50 percent capacity.

Freeze! Sub-freezing temps are coming soon, maybe Tuesday morning. But if you go outside right now, you’ll see it’s close enough. Anyway, I’m just happy we have 100 percent entered my favorite time of year: jacket season. I have so little to look forward to. Let me just enjoy this.

Mavs Start Training Camp Tomorrow. OK, I also have this to look forward to. I can’t believe the NBA is already almost back. Here are a few questions to start with.

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Local News

Leading Off (11/26/20)

| 7 days ago

Thanks for Not Traveling to Mexico. The CDC doesn’t want you to go, and you might not be allowed back in.

Thanks to Our First Responders, Nurses, Doctors, and Teachers. We’re talking to you, and you, and you.

Thanks to CBS 11 Meteorologist Scott Padgett for the Best Tornado Coverage on Tuesday Night From His Festive Christmas-Decorated Home. Thanks to you, we had our shoes, flashlights, and iPhone charger ready. And snacks–we made sure to grab snacks.

Thanks to Texas Ale Project for a Beer Dedicated to Pantera. We didn’t know we needed it, but we do.

And Thanks for Buying My Cookbook. You’re the best. I can’t tell you how much I appreciate it. I hope the tonic syrup worked out for you. I made an extra batch for myself just so I’d be fully stocked for today. If you need more copies for holiday gifts, you can order it here.

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Sports & Leisure

Wylie Soccer Star Might Be First Female to Play Football in Power Five

| 1 week ago

Props to the alert FrontBurnervian who pointed us to this story in the Vanderbilt Hustler, the dangerously named student newspaper at that fine institution. The starting goalkeeper for Vandy’s women’s soccer team, Sarah Fuller of Wylie, has been spotted in football pads at a Commodores practice. She might be called into duty because COVID is taking its toll on the team. If she kicks it Saturday against Missouri, she’ll become the first woman to take a snap for a Power Five school.

Let’s do this.

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