Tuesday, July 5, 2022 Jul 5, 2022
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A Daily Conversation About Dallas
Local News

Leading Off (7/5/22)

Tim Rogers
By |

Fort Worth Fireworks Cause Fire. The city of Fort Worth had planned to put on the biggest fireworks show in North Texas, but a few minutes into the gig, the music went silent, and an announcer told everyone to go home because the fireworks had caused a grass fire along the Trinity River. The whole thing was shown live on Channel 4.

Dallas Firefighters Hassled. There were reports that Dallas firefighters responding to put out grass fires had fireworks shot at them.

American Airlines Hit With Delays. Over the weekend, the carrier had a software glitch that let pilots drop 12,000 flight assignments. On Saturday, about 28 percent of American’s flights were delayed.

FC Dallas Draw Inter Miami. Miami scored a late goal for the 1-1 result, and now FC Dallas haven’t won at home since early May.

Dallas ISD Deputy Superintendent Susana Cordova will be leaving the district this summer, according to an update then superintendent Michael Hinojosa provided to the board of trustees before his departure. Her last day will be August 5, according to that update, which did not identify Cordova’s future plans. D Magazine has reached out to Cordova for comment. “We want to recognize and thank Susana for her significant contributions to the district,” the update added.

Newly installed Superintendent Stephanie Elizalde said she had been made aware of Cordova’s impending departure. “I’ve been notified that Susana has decided to take something somewhere else,” she said in a phone call.

Cordova was hired after Elizalde left to become the superintendent at Austin ISD in 2019. (Elizalde had been Dallas ISD’s chief of school leadership.) Cordova was also hired after the board added a clause to Hinojosa’s contract that same year, which required him to use his “best reasonable efforts to identify and mentor one or more qualified individuals” who could be considered by the board of trustees to be his successor. In May 2021, Hinojosa said this could be someone “who could take over in case I got run over by a DART bus.”

That timing, along with several statements Hinojosa made publicly and privately to individuals we spoke to, led many to believe that Cordova was next in line. However, the clause also explicitly said the tasks of searching for and choosing the next superintendent were the responsibilities of the board of trustees.

Food Challenge

The July 4th Tradition of Bequeathing a Brass Knuckle Corndog Beatdown Legacy

Leading Off (6/28/22)
By Jesse Hughey |
The Libertine Bar, home of the annual Brass Knuckle Corndog Beatdown.

The Libertine Bar’s Brass Knuckle Corndog Beatdown is a stupid, unhealthy, and wasteful annual spectacle. It’s a serious competition ironically draped in a bunting of over-the-top faux patriotism. Ties are settled over cheap liquor. It’s an easy argument that this very battle of consumption epitomizes 21st century Dallas—and Texas and America. That is why it is this city’s best Independence Day party.

Then again, I have won it three times and placed second twice. My objectivity is debatable.

The first formal eating contest I ever entered—or even attended—was the Libertine’s 2009 inaugural Beatdown. My kids, then 8 and 12, made silly signs and thought the whole thing was a goofy lark.

But I took it seriously. I trained with a couple of 5-minute practice sessions. I figured the only feeling worse than a gut stuffed to the brim with however much garbage food it took to win would be a protruding stomach with no prize. The practice paid off: I won with 16 corn dogs, used some of my Libertine gift certificate on beer, and deposited the day’s activities in an alley behind the Double-Wide Bar as fireworks lit up the sky above Fair Park a couple of hours later.

It was so stupid I had to do it again. Some child who didn’t say a word to anyone and never removed his earbuds demolished us in 2010. (I tied another guy for second.) The rail-tequila triple-shot tiebreaker made clear I had more experience at that sort of nonsense.


Jalen Brunson’s Departure Has Nothing and Everything to Do With the Mavericks

Mike Piellucci
By |
The point guard's departure is the latest Mavericks free-agent disappointment. Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

There will presumably come a time when Mavericks free agency does not begin with a postmortem that attempts to determine who is to blame and why for another key player slipping from Dallas’ grasp. That time feels very distant today, as the second-best player on the third- or fourth-most successful Mavericks team this century walks out the door to spend the rest of his twenties steering the NBA equivalent of the container ship that got stuck in the Suez Canal.

Whatever you make of Jalen Brunson’s decision to sign with the New York Knicks for four years and $104 million, understand there are factors in play that transcend money. His father, former NBA journeyman Rick Brunson, is a newly minted assistant on the Knicks coaching staff after coaching high school ball for the last three years, a development that may or may not have had something to do with his being the very first client of Knicks president Leon Rose back when Rose was an agent for Creative Artists Agency (CAA). Rose, as it happens, also represented Jalen Brunson at the start of his Mavericks career, before moving into the front office. One of Brunson’s current agents? Rose’s son, Sam.


I-345 Debate: How Much Time Does the Evil Highway Really Save Us?

Tim Rogers
By |
Omar Narvaez chairs the Transportation Committee

Our Matt Goodman reported Monday on a recent meeting of the city’s Transportation Committee. As FrontBurnervians have come to expect from Matt, his post about the future of I-345 was measured and fair and well-reported. He quoted council members on the committee as they struggled with the complicated subject of what to do with the 1.7-mile elevated highway, and he got feedback from outside folks such as the director of The Congress for the New Urbanism.

But there was one issue with Matt’s report: when it came to talking about how much delay in traffic would be created by replacing the highway with a boulevard, after reporting that a TxDOT engineer said a boulevard would add 40 to 50 percent to travel times in the corridor, Matt cited urban designer Patrick Kennedy’s competing conclusion, writing: “It would actually be about a five-minute delay.”

At which point I took to Twitter and said, “The city of Dallas is about to piss its future away to save 5 minutes of drive time.” Then I tweeted a thread along the same lines, saying the city was “bending the knee to TxDOT,” even bringing up the ghost of Wick Allison in the process. Man, I was heated.

Booming Collin County Is Expensive. The monthly cost of owning a home in Collin County jumped $971 at the end of the second quarter of 2022. It’s now $2,856 when you factor in mortgage payments, insurance, and property taxes. That’s among the highest in the country. You now need to make $122,384 to own an “affordable” home in our neighbor to the north. The median home value across Dallas-Fort Worth is now $486,000.

Cartel Associate Pleads Guilty in Southlake Murder. Raul Hernandez, the brother of the head of the Beltran Leyva cartel in Nuevo Leon, pleaded guilty to stalking an informant who was gunned down at the Southlake Town Center in 2013. His brother, Rodolfo Villareal Hernandez, is known as “El Gato” and ordered the hit. He’s still on the run.

Jalen Brunson is a Knick. A little before free agency formally started, the Mavericks were alerted that they wouldn’t be meeting with the guard because he planned to sign with the New York Knicks. The Knicks nabbed him for four years, $110 million, while Dallas offered 5 years for $105 million.

Hot and Humid Fourth. Hope you relished these mild mornings; temperatures are again creeping into the triple digits, and this time they’ll be bringing the humidity. Enjoy the long weekend, and keep a water close.

Local News

Airbnb Bans Party Houses, But Will Dallas Officials Care?

Bethany Erickson
By |
A sign near Lower Greenville calls for a ban on short-term rentals. The city is looking at adopting more robust regulations for properties rented through services like Airbnb and Vrbo. Photo by Alex Macon

After years of complaints, Dallas is looking at how it can regulate short-term rentals that are temporarily leased by platforms like Airbnb, VRBO, and other sites. We’ve written about the various options that the city is weighing before. 

As city after city enacted some kind of regulation or even ban, Airbnb has now announced a total ban on properties listed for parties and events.

In a blog post Tuesday, the platform said that it was making a 16-person cap that it enacted during the height of the pandemic a permanent one. Families and groups that want to rent something bigger (like a castle or a villa) can do so through the company’s Categories, which offers larger homes to “responsible guests.”

“The policy will continue to include serious consequences for guests who attempt to violate these rules, varying from account suspension to full removal from the platform,” Airbnb writes. “In 2021, over 6,600 guests were suspended from Airbnb for attempting to violate our party ban.”

Airbnb will also temporarily ban some types of bookings to try to prevent parties, like not allowing guests that don’t have a history of positive reviews to book rentals during party weekends—like, for instance, the upcoming July 4 weekend.

Police Find Two Dead in Northeast Dallas Apartment. Dallas police said they found a man and a woman dead inside an apartment near Greenville Avenue and Park Lane Wednesday. David Stewart, 27, and Jimena Nunez, 24, had been shot, and two children, ages 3 years old and 8 months, were found unharmed inside. It is believed that Lopez and Stewart had been dead since Sunday.

Former “19 Kids and Counting” Star Moved to Dallas County Federal Prison. Reality TV person Josh Duggar has been moved to the federal prison in Seagoville. He was convicted in May of receiving child pornography and sentenced to roughly 12 years in prison.

Section 8 Tenants Can Stay at Providence Village—For Now. The HOA at Providence Village, a small Denton County master-planned community, reversed course on a plan to evict Section 8 tenants. It now says it will allow them to stay until their leases are up.

New Miss Texas Makes History. Averie Bishop is the state’s first Asian-American Miss Texas. Bishop, who grew up in Prosper and competed in the Miss Carrollton pageant, graduated from SMU Dedman School of Law and is on Mayor Eric Johnson’s 16-person Anti-Hate Advisory Council. She will compete for the Miss America crown in December.

Health Systems

Judge Removes Attorney General From Children’s Health Pediatric Transgender Care Case

Will Maddox
By |
Children's Medical Center
Children's Medical Center (Courtesy: Children's Health)

A Dallas County Judge has ruled that Attorney General Ken Paxton does not have the authority to take part in a lawsuit involving Children’s Health and Dr. Ximena Lopez, a pediatric endocrinologist who founded the pediatric transgender clinic at Children’s called GENECIS. The AG’s office has aided attorneys from Children’s and UT Southwestern during court hearings related to Lopez’s filings.

This matter goes back to last November, after a conservative group gathered outside the home of at least one Children’s Health board member. They were protesting the gender-affirming care offered at GENECIS. Soon after, UT Southwestern and Children’s Health took down the clinic’s website, unbranded the services, and stopped accepting new patients to receive hormone blockers or hormone therapy. Existing patients were allowed to continue their treatment.

Earlier this year, Paxton released a legal opinion that transgender care was child abuse. Gov. Greg Abbott followed up by directing Department of Family Protective Services workers to investigate families who were providing transgender care to their families. A Texas appeals court blocked those investigations, but the Texas Supreme Court could soon overrule it. Paxton’s office also intervened in the Children’s Health lawsuit, arguing that the gender-affirming care is child abuse.

Lopez believes the offices of the AG and the governor pressured Children’s Health and UTSW to close the clinic. She filed a petition in court to speak with the leaders of UTSW to find out who decided to unbrand the clinic and stop admitting new patients. Representatives from the Texas Attorney General’s Office were a part of that hearing, along with legal teams representing Children’s Health and UTSW leadership, which argued that the changes were legal.

The judge ruled in favor of Lopez, but UTSW appealed the decision before any depositions could be taken. Lopez’s legal team then sued Children’s Health for not allowing Lopez to provide the standard of care treatment to patients in need.

Texas Clinics Can Resume Abortions. For a bit. The Center for Reproductive Rights sued on behalf of some of the state’s abortion providers and won a temporary restraining order that puts the state’s law on ice until July 12. Whole Women’s Health is beginning again, but Planned Parenthood won’t. Attorney General Ken Paxton is sticking to his guns, saying the earlier state law is “100% in effect & constitutional.”

DMA Says It Can Now Fix Damaged Artifacts. The four ceramic pieces damaged after a break-in have “been saved,” meaning the museum believes it can put them all back together. The museum’s lead conservator says she is “optimistic about the potential for restoration.” It’s not totally clear how this will happen, but the team is studying what they have and discussing the matter with museum officials.

Four More Indictments for Billy Chemirmir. The accused serial killer faces four new capital murder indictments in the deaths of four more elderly victims. Chemirmir already has been indicted on 18 across Dallas and Collin counties related to the killing and robbery of nursing home residents.

Hot and Sunny Fourth To Come. Enjoy the cool morning temperatures, which will last through the weekend. July 4 will be back to what we dealt with last week.

Local News

Three Years Later, Dallas Is Forced to Start Over With Tornado-Damaged Fire Station

Bethany Erickson
By |
The city is replacing three traffic signals (including this one at the Preston-Royal Shopping Center) that were damaged in the 2019 tornado. The nearby fire station will have to wait, again.

It’s been almost three years since a large swath of North Dallas took a direct hit from an EF3 tornado, and in some spots—the Preston Royal intersection, for example—things are finally getting back to normal.

But in other areas, there’s still a great deal of work to be done. The shopping center at Marsh and Walnut Hill is still a fenced-in moonscape. Buildings between Marsh Lane and Midway Road are still under construction—including the brand-new pre-kindergarten through eighth grade Walnut Hill International Leadership Academy that replaces Cary Middle School and Walnut Hill Elementary, Thomas Jefferson High School, and the new Career Institute North that is being built in the former Walnut Hill Elementary location.

Last Thursday, two City Council agenda items spoke to how much permitting delays, the pandemic, and other construction woes have slowed down progress. The city finally approved the expenditure to replace three traffic signals that were damaged or destroyed by the tornado. It once again addressed the construction of a new Fire Station No. 41, which was damaged beyond repair when the tornado hit the Preston Road and Royal Lane area.

The lights at Midway Road and Killion Drive (right by the former Walnut Hill Elementary), Lenel Place and Walnut Hill Lane (adjacent to Thomas Jefferson), and Preston Royal Center will be replaced to the tune of $1.26 million dollars.

The lights at the former two locations haven’t seen a lot of traffic in the past three years because Walnut Hill Elementary students have been attending at the formerly-shuttered Tom Field Elementary site. Thomas Jefferson students have been at the former Edison Middle School site. Middle schoolers have been either at Franklin Middle School, Medrano Middle School, or (in the case of sixth graders) parceled out among several local elementary schools.

Local News

Leading Off (6/28/22)

Tim Rogers
By |

American Offers Triple Pay to Pilots. To deal with staffing shortages and high demand, the airline is offering to pay pilots for its regional carriers as much as $600 per hour to get in the air. July 1 figures to be the busiest flying day of the year.

Council Approves New District Map. The new map for Dallas City Council districts looks a lot like the old map, and it passed with a unanimous vote, though Pleasant Grove-area Councilman Jaime Resendez wasn’t happy with the process, and the DMN reports that as the vote was being taken, he muttered “[expletive] cowardly.” I assume the word that the paper couldn’t publish was “shitschnozzle.”

Dallas Hates Pedestrians. The city is short the $54 million it would cost to build all the sidewalk ramps required to get us in compliance with the 30-year-old Americans With Disabilities Act. If you use a wheelchair to get around, tough shitwheelz.

Plano Mortgage Lender Lays off Staff. First Guaranty Mortgage Corp., founded in 1987, laid off 428 of its 565 employees who work for its Plano office, citing “adverse market conditions.” Hold on to your shittenhausing hat, folks.

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