A Daily Conversation About Dallas

Local News

Leading Off (11/29/2021)

| 2 hours ago

Rangers Sign Three Players, Including Marcus Semien. The club proved they were indeed willing to spend this offseason, bringing in Semien for $175 million (the second largest deal in team history, after Alex Rodriguez’s $252 million deal), as well as pitcher Jon Gray and outfielder Kole Calhoun. This is the most I have personally thought about baseball in a calendar year, so the plan is working.

Crime Roundup. Police are looking for information on a black Chevy Impala that was racing a yellow Camaro on Ferguson Road around 2:15  p.m. on November 26; the Impala struck and killed a woman and fled the scene. Linda Pearson, 73, was walking her dog when she was killed. Edgar Ramirez, 20, faces a capital murder charge after admitting to police that he killed his ex-girlfriend and burner her car. Alexadre Orozco Garcia, 18, was arrested and charged with manslaughter after he was reportedly unloading a handgun and it discharged, killing a 16-year-old. A 15-year-old was arrested after confessing to killing his mother. There was a shooting outside Baylor Hospital.

Learn About Omicron. It’s the latest COVID-19 variant.

Matthew McConaughey is Not Running For Governor. [smiles wryly, acts as though he’s the first to think this] Well, alright, alright, alright.

The Best Place to Live in Texas is Euless. Sure.

Sonny Dykes Moving From SMU to TCU. I hope the Mustangs hire Gary Patterson to replace him.

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Local News

State Rep. Jasmine Crockett Earns Eddie Bernice Johnson’s Endorsement for Her U.S. House Seat

| 5 days ago

State Rep. Jasmine Crockett, D-Dallas, today announced her candidacy for the congressional seat long held by U.S. Rep Eddie Bernice Johnson, who is retiring when her term is up next year. Crockett’s off to a strong start with what will probably be the race’s most consequential endorsement.

“A vibrant congressional district like TX-30 needs a representative in Washington with high energy, a passion to fight for us, shrewd intelligence, leadership, and an incessant drive,” Johnson said in a statement. “After proudly serving the city of Dallas and Southern sector for 30 years in the U.S. House of Representatives, I firmly believe that Texas State Representative Jasmine Crockett is just the person we need in Congress at this critical time.”

Crockett, a civil rights attorney, was elected to the Texas Legislature last year and built a high profile as a progressive voice arguing for voting rights and police reform.

She holds the office formerly occupied by Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson, who told the Dallas Morning News earlier this week he wasn’t interested in running for Congress (but also noted that he would win if he was). Other candidates who have thrown their hats in the ring include Jane Hamilton, a political consultant who led President Joe Biden’s primary campaign in Texas and served as chief of staff for Rep. Marc Veasey; former Dallas City Council member Vonciel Jones Hill; and activist Jessica Mason.

The filing deadline is Dec. 13.

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Dallas History

Tales from the Dallas History Archives: Honoring Native American Heritage Month

| 5 days ago

It is important to remember that this area of North Texas was once populated by several Indigenous peoples: the Wichita, Comanche, Caddo, and Cherokee all called this home.

November is Native American Heritage Month and an opportunity to acknowledge and celebrate the history and culture of the people Native to this land. It’s also a good time to educate the public on the past and current challenges facing Native Americans. According to 2019 U. S. Census Bureau estimates, about 4,000 Dallasites identify as American Indian.

I looked in the Dallas Public Library archive to find historical images of Dallas history that depict Native Americans, both residents of Dallas and those who spent time in this area.  The photographs attached to this gallery are part the Dallas Public Library’s Dallas History and Archives Collection. They include portraiture of Native Americans in the 1960s-1970s including a couple of images depicting Murray Rhoads and his family. Rhoads was a full-blood Southern Cheyenne, the first Native American to join the Dallas Police Department, and, after a 25-year career, became the first Native American to retire from the Dallas Police Department.

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Local News

Leading Off (11/24/21)

| 5 days ago

Dallas Police Chief Defends Hiding Crime Data. In a conversation with the Dallas Morning News‘ editorial board, Dallas Police Chief Eddie Garcia says the decision to remove most of the identifying information about people who report crimes from a public database came after a recommendation by the FBI. The now redacted information had been used in the past to report stories like that of Tony Timpa, who died in police custody in 2016. City attorneys and members of the police department are considering additional changes to the public database, including eliminating the live list of active police calls and redacting information about arrested subjects.

Family Says Notary Public Stole Properties From Deceased Relative. Arnold Young didn’t make a ton of money during his life, but the former elementary school teacher, who passed away last fall from prostate cancer, was a savvy investor. He had amassed an East Dallas real estate portfolio that included nine homes, a stake in a funeral home, and some land in East Texas. When Young passed away, his extended family expected to inherit the properties that were worth more than $1 million. But then they discovered that the property deeds had been transferred to a non-profit run by Belinda Tucker, a former Lancaster mayoral candidate, who also happened to be the notary public who notarized the deed transfers.  Tucker, who denies forging Young’s signatures on the transfers, now faces a felony theft charges.

Additional North Texans Sue Astroworld. A lawsuit filed in Harris County includes residents from Dallas, Lancaster, Farmersville and Arlington who attended the Travis Scott performance where 10 died, including a 9-year-old boy. Not all of the plaintiffs were injured in the crowd crush. Some say they are suffering emotional anguish after watching concertgoers around them trampled or killed during the event. The festival now faces more than two billion dollars in legal actions.

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Local News

The New York Times Tries To Figure Out Why People Are Moving to North Texas

| 6 days ago

Farhad Manjoo, self-described “lefty New York Times columnist” and Californian, paid a recent visit to Dallas in an effort to find out why “everyone’s moving to Texas.” The resulting column is worth reading, if a little scattershot. (It’s packaged with a fun little “Where Should You Live?” project that invites you to input your city-living priorities and spits out a recommended place to live; I got Chapel Hill, N.C.)

It contains a handful of pertinent observations, like Manjoo’s suspicion that the blue state vs. red state stuff is overblown. For the people moving here (or anywhere), politics matter much less than (relative) affordability, jobs, and housing. Manjoo is right that Texas’ badly underfunded public services look even more pitiful when compared to California’s welfare benefits. But while our state’s natural beauty can’t quite match the mountains and beaches and forests of California no matter how many lagoon communities developers here throw up, most of the scenery is really quite similar:

“Texas has barbecue and California has burritos, but the American urban landscape has grown stultifyingly homogeneous over the past few decades, and perhaps one reason so many Californians are comfortable moving to Texas is that, on the ground, in the drive-through line at Starbucks or the colossal parking lot at Target, daily life is more similar than it is different.”

I think Manjoo overrates the extent to which fear of climate change is now pushing people along the California-to-Texas pipeline, although that’s obviously something we should all take more seriously before it’s too late. (And if things continue the way they’re heading, climate change should prove more of a factor in cross-country moves).

And Manjoo’s coastal eliteness gets the better of him at times. He avoids gratuitous references to livestock and things being bigger in Texas, which I very much appreciated, but is nevertheless shocked that people with liberal politics live in the ninth biggest city in the country. I don’t know what to feel about paragraphs like this one:

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Hockaday Dominates Rhodes Scholarships

| 6 days ago

Each year, 32 college students in the United States are awarded Rhodes Scholarships to study at Oxford. These folks aren’t just smart. They are crazy smart. And they do stuff in their spare time that sounds exhausting. The application process is, as you might imagine, slightly more involved than checking the “I am not a robot” box. All of which should help you understand how amazing it is that two Hockadasies from the class of 2018 have been awarded the honor.

Elizabeth Guo is a senior at Harvard, majoring in physics. Mary Orsak is a senior at Yale, majoring in Russian. You can read more about them here. Counting Mary Clare Beytagh, who got her Rhodes in 2018, and Laura Roberts, 2016, that’s four Hockadasies in six years. Unless someone wants to argue otherwise, I am hereby renaming Hockaday “The Rhodes Factory on Forest Lane.” I’m trademarking the phrase now.

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The Four Factors That Will Determine COVID-19’s Future in North Texas

| 6 days ago

The county’s public health experts have kept the threat level at orange in Dallas, signaling a “moderate risk” of COVID-19 community transmission. But new cases are trending up in other parts of the state and around the country. Progress on vaccination, the virus’ mutation, our behaviors, and new therapeutics will all play a role in what happens this fall in North Texas. 

Hospitals in Minnesota are becoming overwhelmed again, Michigan is experiencing its largest surge yet, and even the heavily vaccinated New England is experiencing spikes. To Texas’ west, New Mexico is also seeing days with new case totals as high as at any other point during the pandemic. Bordering counties and other areas of the Texas panhandle are experiencing similar spikes. Most of those places have low vaccination rates, even compared to Texas’ relatively poor 54 percent (Europe is doing it better. France is more than 75 percent vaccinated, for instance). 

Last week in the Atlantic, Sarah Zhang described three unknowns that will define the future of the virus. D CEO localized that framework and added one extra factor in a chat with UT Southwestern’s Dr. James Cutrell, the director of the infectious diseases fellowship program. 

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For Fun

Remembering the IMAX Theater at The Science Place at Fair Park

| 6 days ago

If you, like me, are of a certain generation and grew up in Dallas taking regular field trips to The Science Place at Fair Park, then maybe the above image induces in you a kind of Proustian involuntary memory: You are sitting in a darkened IMAX theater, cherry sours from the gift shop dissolving in your mouth while you wait with rising excitement for the big-screen show about the impossible hugeness of the solar system or the nocturnal habits of prairie dogs on the savannah or whatever, further anticipating the moment when you can walk out of the theater and go run around the lagoon outside.

Maybe it’s just me.

Anyway, shout-out to Phillip Thomas for posting this video on YouTube and sending me down a nostalgia K-hole.

Thomas writes in the description:

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Local News

Leading Off (11/23/21)

| 6 days ago

Jenkins Defeats Abbott in Court on Mask Case. An appeals court yesterday ruled that Governor Greg Abbott’s mask mandate ban violated Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins’ authority to manage the pandemic. Further, according to the News, the court “said evidence provided by Jenkins’ legal team showed that a masking requirement would be more effective in battling the spread of COVID-19 than making the wearing of masks voluntary.”

Richard Knight Jr., R.I.P. Knight was Dallas’ first Black city manager, holding that title from 1986 to 1990. He was 76, and the family has yet to say publicly how he died.

Eric Johnson Won’t Run for Congressional Seat. There has been speculation that the mayor of Dallas would run to replace U.S. Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson, who is retiring after 30 years. Johnson put an end to that speculation, telling the News, “I love being mayor, and it’s the only job in American politics that I want right now, period, full stop, end of story.” Except that’s not the end of the story. Johnson also said, “I have no doubt in my mind that if I threw my hat into the ring, I would be going to Congress.” Love the confidence!

QAnon Is Still Here. A group that is too fringy for mainstream QAnon believers remains in town. Led by a dude known as Negative48, they are still waiting for JFK Jr. to give Amari Cooper a COVID vaccine shot. Or something.

Amber Venz and Baxter Box Score Big. You might know their company as rewardStyle, the platform that pays influencers when they drive retail sales. A decade after its founding, it has changed its name to LTK, and, after a $300 million investment announced yesterday, it is now valued at $2 billion.

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Dallas History

111 Years After His Death, Dallas Acknowledges the Lynching of Allen Brooks in Downtown

| 7 days ago

On March 3, 1910, Allen Brooks, a Dallas handyman falsely accused of raping a young girl, was overwhelmed by a mob of 3,000 people while awaiting trial at the Dallas County Courthouse. The mob infiltrated the courtroom, grabbed Brooks, tied a rope around his neck, and threw him through the second story window of the courthouse.

Brooks fractured his skull upon impact with the ground below. His body was dragged to the intersection of Main and Akard, where the mob hanged him from a telephone pole near the three-story tall Elks Arch. The crowd swelled to over 5,000 people from Texas, Oklahoma, and surrounding southern communities. He had not yet been tried.

George Keaton Jr., the executive director of Remembering Black Dallas, says Brooks’ lynching was among the most recorded lynchings in the Jim Crow south. “On the back of a postcard, someone had written the account of what happened that day, and that they also planned to go back and take charge of another African American man who was waiting for trial,” he says.

Remembering Black Dallas, Keaton’s nonprofit, aims to “preserve and promote the African American life, history, artifacts, and culture of Dallas and its surrounding cities.” He has spent years pursuing an official marker of the lynching, which culminated with a ceremony and march on Saturday afternoon. Now, 111 years later, a marker tells Brooks’ story.

In December 2018, the nonprofit approached the city of Dallas to apply for the marker through the Equal Justice Initiative’s Community Historical Marker Project. The EJI’s National Memorial for Peace and Justice opened in Birmingham, Ala. in 2018, a museum that chronicled the history of slavery and segregation in America. One of the museum’s goals was to expand its mission to cities across the country, to get them to reckon with the history of racist violence like the lynching of Allen Brooks.

Remembering Black Dallas spent about nine months planning and discussing with the city before electing to independently apply in November 2019. It helped launch a subsidiary for the effort, which it called the Dallas County Justice Initiative.

The historical marker project requires groups like Remembering Black Dallas to create a community engagement program in their cities to educate residents about racial violence and the historical trauma of the events. The goal is to continue the conversation, to keep acknowledging and considering what happened.

Remembering Black Dallas plans to host a essay program for local high school students to analyze the event’s history and how it echoes in the present-day.

The organization has already awarded five $5,000 scholarships to students who wrote about Dallas’ history of lynchings, racial violence, segregation, and the Civil Rights Movement.

The Equal Justice Initiative covered scholarships for the first, second, and third prize winners. (The remaining two scholarships were covered by Remembering Black Dallas.)

Keaton plans on hosting a second scholarship program to raise awareness about Allen Brooks, but worries about a new state law aimed at banning the teaching of “critical race theory,” an academic term for the study of how racism has affected American public policy. The law signed by Gov. Greg Abbott in the last legislative session requires teachers to provide information on current events that must “give deference to both sides.”

“I’m really concerned that because of the new law, the critical race theory in our history can’t be talked about in the schools,” Keaton says. “We now will have to start looking in other places to gather students to do the project in order to get and get the essay done.”

Keaton isn’t done. He plans to construct a marker for William Allen Taylor, a Black man who was lynched on September 12, 1884 at the Trinity Outlook. He too was seized and killed by an angry mob and two sheriffs as he was on the way to Waco. The memorial is scheduled to be held on September 12, 2022 with a scholarship program to start in January of that year.

“We are more or less living in those same types of situations, over 100 years later. I want to make sure people understand how real it was and that it could happen to anyone today,” Keaton says.

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A Master Sommelier in North Texas Faces Sexual Assault Allegations

| 7 days ago

The American Court of Master Sommeliers announced last week that it was removing the highest-ranking title of master sommelier from six men following investigations into accusations of sexual harassment and misconduct. One of those men is Dallas wine professional Drew Hendricks, who co-founded TEXSOM, the Dallas-based international wine awards competition and conference that features a sommelier training camp.

This detail was first reported by the San Francisco Chronicle and also covered Friday by the Dallas Morning News. It makes a national topic local, but it is also the culmination of a series of actions that have unfolded in the last year.

In October 2020, the New York Times’ Julia Moskin broke a story about the experiences of numerous women who came forward to expose high-ranking male figures they said had assaulted and harassed them. The implications were far-reaching; it was the tip of a vast iceberg. The wine world was shaken. I, too, was horrified.

A week later, we published a piece on the women in the Dallas wine scene who had been affected, either directly or peripherally, by a toxic culture. Some had been assaulted as they sought mentorship and education through the prestigious title-granting body. Others’ career arcs had been affected by a more broadly entrenched environment of misogyny. Two of the women in the Times story were Dallas-based sommeliers, and I spoke with numerous others. At the time, the subject was raw.

To become a master sommelier requires years of study that entails three levels of certification that culminate in a coveted diploma and title. Between the third level of certification and the earning of the diploma, candidates may spend multiple years and fail more than once before succeeding. All along the way, mentoring and opportunities to practice blind tastings are key. The title opens professional doors and clinches status in a wine world still dominated by such status. But elitism, abuses, and a dangerous coterie atmosphere also appeared to be rife. To upend that system requires courage.

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Health Systems

Children’s Health’s Transgender Treatment Clinic Is No More

| 7 days ago

It caught providers and patient families by surprise when the GENECIS clinic was removed from the Children’s Health and UT Southwestern websites, but it wasn’t a glitch. The clinic, the first of its kind in the southwest and the only option for transgender youth in the region, has been disbanded and will not provide hormone therapy for new patients for gender dysphoria.

Formed by UT Southwestern pediatric endocrinologist Dr. Ximena Lopez, the GENder Education and Care Interdisciplinary Support (GENECIS) program was one of only a handful in the country when it was founded in 2014. But the clinic and the practice had come under fire in recent months.

Several bills were filed in Texas’ last legislative session attempting to limit gender-affirming care to transgender youth. Senate Bill 1311, which passed the Senate but not the House, would have revoked the medical license and liability insurance coverage of any physician who prescribed hormone therapy or puberty suppression treatment for the purpose of gender transition.

In September, conservative advocacy group Save Texas Kids called on state officials to investigate Children’s Health because of its treatment of transgender children. “The Board Members of Dallas Children’s refuse to promise they will limit ‘gender dysphoria’ patients under 18 to therapy only!” the group wrote on its Facebook page. “That is our only ask. Children and young teens look for belonging and identity throughout their youth. This is normal. What is NOT normal, is allowing children to undergo irreversible ‘Puberty blocking therapy,’, which is akin to chemical castration. We demand the GENECIS clinic cease this practice at once.”

 Save Texas Kids also pressured Children’s board members to shutter the clinic. In Facebook post the week before the branding was removed, the group urged its members to protest at the home of Robbie Briggs, a Children’s Health board member and owner of Briggs Freeman Sotheby’s International luxury retail firm. 

But just months before removing the clinic’s branding and no longer accepting new patients, Children’s Health was defending its practices.  It issued its own statement: “With a suicide attempt rate of up to 41 percent for children and adolescents with gender dysphoria, there is a need for comprehensive care for these youth. Given the significant suffering and extraordinarily high suicide rate in these children, offering a comprehensive, multidisciplinary approach is needed to help treat this medical problem.”

The clinic never offered gender-altering surgery but used hormone treatments to delay puberty, which the clinic says is a reversible process. Now the comprehensive care will be divided between specialist groups at the hospital for existing patients. New patients won’t receive hormone treatment, though existing patients won’t have their treatment interrupted, Children’s Health and UTSW told D CEO in a joint statement.

“Pediatric endocrinology, psychiatry and adolescent and young adult care coordinated through this program are now managed and coordinated through each specialty department. We do not anticipate any interruption of care or services for our existing patients who already receive care with these specialty teams. The choice to remove branding for this care offers a more private, insulated experience for patients and their families.

 “New patients will be seen in the appropriate specialty departments. We accept new patients for diagnosis, including evaluation of gender dysphoria, but will not initiate patients on hormone or puberty suppression therapy for only this diagnosis. Coordination of care continues to be available, including support from social work.”

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