Friday, March 1, 2024 Mar 1, 2024
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A Daily Conversation About Dallas

Developer Bails on Warehouse Plans Near Friendship-West. The megachurch sued to stop Stonelake Partners from building a warehouse near its property, which borders a neighborhood, a high school, and a government facility. Stonelake sued the city to argue that the project was within what the zoning allowed. A judge issued an injunction that temporarily stopped construction. Now, the two have reached an agreement that promises to work with the community to build something on the land that residents want.

City’s Plan to Slow Ferguson Road Does Not Include Narrowing. A traffic study found that the highly-trafficked East Dallas thoroughfare had about 1,000 crashes over the last five years. NBC 5 found that a consultant advised the city to narrow the road, but Dallas will instead install “pedestrian hybrid beacons” that will stop traffic at a few locations that lack pedestrian crossings. Neighbors don’t seem too happy.

AG Ken Paxton Goes After The Factory, Texas Trust CU Theatre. It’s the same deal as we reported earlier this week with the State Fair of Texas. Paxton is apparently suing any venue where he can find allegations that they denied entry to a police officer who tried to enter with their weapon while off duty. The law requiring entertainment venues allow them inside with their guns was passed in 2017.

That Wasn’t Hail Yesterday. The great Jesse Hawila is here to sort this out: the stuff that pinged off your house yesterday was graupel, “small ice particles that form around raindrops.” The water droplets freeze onto snowflakes as they fall toward the ground, which generates circular pellets of what looks like Sonic ice. Anyway, we’re back in the low 70s today and 80s tomorrow and Sunday.

Local News

City Council Repeals Ordinance That Allowed Easier Demolitions for Historic Homes

Bethany Erickson
By |
A home at 1008 Betterton Circle overlooks an empty lot where a home burned nearby in 2023. Eboni Johnson

The Dallas City Council, which met for the third time in as many days Wednesday, voted unanimously to repeal an ordinance that advocates say allowed the demolition of dozens of historic homes in Black neighborhoods.

Since 2010, a section of the Dallas Development Code allowed for the demolition of homes smaller than 3,000 square feet within a Landmark District. Homes within these districts are designated as historic, and the distinction comes with design guidelines and preservation criteria meant to protect the existing structures.

The small piece of the code has disproportionately impacted Black neighborhoods, like Tenth Street, which began in the 1880s as a Freedman’s town. The clause was also immediately unpopular with preservationists and the neighborhood, both of which accurately predicted the ordinance would be used to bring down habitable homes that needed repair.

“The default for these homes became demolition, rather than consideration for rehabilitation,” assistant city manager Majed Al-Ghafry wrote in a memo about the matter earlier this month. The 3,000-square-foot rule, he said, “is unnecessary and has in effect, resulted in unintended consequences and disproportionate impact on communities of color.”

Local News

Dallas Zoo Debuts Teeny Tiny Baby Monkeys

Bethany Erickson
By |
Emperor tamarins Lettie and Roger became third-time parents to twins in early February. Dallas Zoo

The Dallas Zoo showed off their newest editions last week: tiny little Wilford Brimley-looking baby emperor tamarins born February 1 to Lettie and Roger.

The zoo says their father most often carries them, but occasionally, mom and sisters Killari and Cuzco can also be schlepping them around the tamarin habitat. The family lives in the Zoo’s Tamarin Treetops habitat, which is also home to Bella and Finn, who were briefly abducted from the Zoo last year.

But the tamarin twins aren’t the only baby monkeys at the Zoo. Bolivian gray titi monkeys Juniper and Biscuit became new parents on February 3. Their offspring is the first titi monkey born at the Zoo since 2012.

Local News

Leading Off (1/29/24)

Bethany Erickson
By |

Council Approves Settlement in Timpa Case. The Dallas City Council approved a $2.5 million partial settlement with the family of Tony Timpa, who died in police custody eight years ago. A Dallas County jury awarded Timpa’s son $1 million in a wrongful death lawsuit last year. Three of the four plaintiffs in the suit settled with the city.

Judge Says Jones Must Take DNA Test. Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones must take a paternity test to settle the question of whether he is the biological father of Alexandra Davis, who sued him in 2022. Davis says Jones had a relationship with her mother, Cynthia, in the mid-90s and that Jones had agreed to support them as long as they didn’t name him as the father.

Rangers, MLB Announce All-Star Week Schedule. The region will host All-Star Week in July, with a week of festivities culminating in the 94th Midsummer Classic happening at Globe Life Field on the final day. It will be the second time the Rangers have hosted an All-Star Game—the first was in 1995.

Local News

AG Ken Paxton Has Sued the State Fair of Texas

Bethany Erickson
By |
Bad news for Big Tex.

Updated at 7:50 p.m. to include comment from the State Fair of Texas.

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton filed suit against the State Fair of Texas last week, alleging that the organization violated a law that allows police officers to carry their firearms inside the fairgrounds even if they are not on duty.

The suit, which was filed on February 23 in Dallas County district court, accuses the State Fair of denying at least two off-duty officers entry with their weapons after they displayed their credentials. 

When reached for comment, State Fair spokesperson Karissa Condoianis said that the suit had “just been brought to our attention,” and they were unaware of the details of the alleged incidents.

“The State Fair of Texas takes seriously its legal obligations to allow peace officers to lawfully carry their weapon at the fairgrounds,” she said. “To that end, the State Fair requires at least one Dallas Police Officer to be posted at each admission gate to check credentials and ensure compliance. This policy allows peace officers to deal face-to-face with fellow peace officers to ensure compliance and safety for all our guests.”

Condoianis said that the organization would now look into the incidents to see how they unfolded.

According to the State Fair’s website, only people who are licensed to carry a gun are allowed to bring their weapon to the fairgrounds, and it must be concealed. The law Paxton cites in the suit says that armed, licensed peace officers are allowed entry to a variety of establishments—restaurants, bars, retail establishments, sports and entertainment venues—”regardless of whether the peace officer is engaged in the actual discharge of the officer’s duties while carrying the weapon.”

The suit says that on October 8, 2022, Abilene Police Department Lt. Michael Perry was not allowed to carry his gun into the fair as he tried to enter Gate 1. In February 2023, Paxton’s office sent a letter to the city of Dallas, which then sent it to the State Fair. By the end of the month, both the city and the fair had responded to Paxton’s office, saying that they would comply with the law.

But on September 30, 2023, an Ector County Hospital District Police captain, Tommy Jones, also tried to enter the fair with his weapon to attend the State Fair Classic game. Paxton says Jones was also not allowed to bring his weapon in.

It is unclear how Paxton was alerted to the incidents, but there is a link to a report form on the Attorney General’s website.

Local News

Raul Reyes Jr., Fierce Advocate for West Dallas, Dies at 50

Bethany Erickson
By |
Raul Reyes Jr., seated, with neighbors, other advocates, Dallas environmental director Carlos Evans, Dallas Environmental Commission Chair Kathryn Bazan, and Council District 6 liaison Laura Cadena. Courtesy Omar Narvaez

Raul Reyes Jr. was a dependable fixture in West Dallas, whether as a sounding board or the person neighbors trusted to represent their interests in rooms with powerful people and entities. 

On Tuesday, Reyes died at the age of 50. And with his passing, the community he loved so much now grapples with its loss and mourns for his family.

He grew up in the Los Altos neighborhood, the son of Mexican immigrants. He became an indefatigable voice for West Dallas as he championed the causes of his neighborhood, as well as La Bajada and others. He fought against environmental polluters and advocated for housing to prevent the displacement of longtime residents. He pushed for access to healthy food. He made sure his community was heard at City Hall. He served on several city boards and commissions, too, most recently the Dallas Public Facility Corporation.

When facing down the GAF shingle factory, which had operated and polluted the community for decades, Reyes worked alongside various community groups—including Singleton United/Unidos—to communicate their expectations to the company. When the spigot of information from the company dried up, it was West Dallas 1, the organization helmed by Reyes, that stepped into the void to help provide information to residents. 

Many communities have their passionate advocates. But West Dallas had a champion in Reyes who understood the stakes for his rapidly gentrifying community and the constant environmental threats it faces. He never stopped fighting for his neighbors.

And that’s how many eulogized him Tuesday and Wednesday. Singleton United/Unidos member Janie Cisneros, who frequently worked with Reyes as they negotiated with GAF, said he “became my sounding board.”

“I could count on him to keep it 100 and give me the advice I needed for all things West Dallas,” she said. “That connection has now been cut—and cut way too soon. The gloominess outside accurately reflects the mood in our community.”

Local News

Leading Off (2/28/24)

Matt Goodman
By |

West Dallas Advocate Raul Reyes Dies at 50. Reyes was the head of West Dallas 1, a conglomerate of neighbors and neighborhood associations that made sure City Hall and other powerful entities heard them. He fought for fair housing and against environmental polluters in West Dallas, carrying on a long history of activism in the communities just a few miles west of downtown. He was born in Los Altos and represented the interests of La Bajada and the other neighborhoods that make up West Dallas. Reyes is survived by three children.

Arlington Briefly Belonged to the Goats. Hundreds of goats escaped an enclosure in the Crystal Canyon Natural Area where they were chomping up invasive plants and dry underbrush. They took to the streets, spreading out in neighborhoods around Brown Boulevard and Winding Hollow Lane. It took a few hours for the cops and their owner to wrangle them and get them back to work.

It’s Cold Again. We broke the record for warmest day in February earlier this week, and now highs are back in the low 50s and lows are in the 40s. Expect winds of up to 30 mph throughout the day and not very much sun. Rain chances return tomorrow, with about 40 percent of the region getting some sort of precipitation.

Local News

Confusion, Testy Exchanges Mark the Beginning of Dallas’ Search for a New City Manager

Bethany Erickson
By |
Council members Jaynie Schultz, Adam Bazaldua, Paula Blackmon, Chad West, and Tennell Atkins discuss points during the Ad Hoc Committee on Administrative Affairs meeting on February 26, 2024. Bethany Erickson

The Dallas City Council gathered for two meetings this week to begin the process of hiring a replacement for City Manager T.C. Broadnax, who said last week that he would resign on June 3.

And that process had a rocky start. Broadnax announced his resignation Wednesday, which triggered three members of the City Council to schedule a meeting for Tuesday. Mayor Eric Johnson then scheduled a separate meeting for Monday, led by an ad hoc committee that he has ordered to head up the search for a replacement.

The conflicting meeting requests continued the confusion of the prior week, following reporting by WFAA that eight council members had worked behind the scenes to formally request Broadnax’s resignation without involving seven of their colleagues, including the mayor. Asking for the city manager’s resignation, whether in a formal public meeting or informally, could trigger a clause in his contract that would allow him to receive severance equal to 12 months of his full salary, $423,246.

The City Council spent portions of the two meetings getting on the same page, a unity that has been woefully lacking around the horseshoe. Monday’s meeting was a briefing of the Ad Hoc Committee on Administrative Affairs, which Johnson tasked with doing the bulk of the heavy lifting on the city manager search. That committee consists of Tennell Atkins, Cara Mendelsohn, Jesse Moreno, Paul Ridley, and Kathy Stewart. 

However, all 14 council members showed up, despite the mayor appointing just five to the committee. Johnson was the only member absent, and he also missed Tuesday’s.

The two agendas were nearly identical, but Tuesday’s meeting also included a discussion and vote to approve Kimberly Tolbert, a top Broadnax deputy, as interim city manager upon her boss’ departure this summer.

That created a brief and testy exchange Tuesday as Council Member Adam Bazaldua made a motion to discharge the ad hoc committee from the duplicate duties. City Attorney Tammy Palomino explained it was a procedural move—the full Council couldn’t take up the duplicate items until they had been removed from the committee’s list of duties. Council can vote to return those items to the committee’s purview later. 

“We shouldn’t even be here today,” Mendelsohn said. She felt that the fact that three members signed a memo to schedule the meeting was not transparent.

“That’s in the charter,” Council Member Omar Narvaez said of the mechanism that allows three council members to request a meeting. Ultimately, 12 members voted to discharge the committee, while Mendelsohn and Ridley voted against it. Council then went into closed session to discuss performance evaluations for specific employees, as well as the appointment of Tolbert as interim city manager. The body ultimately voted 12-2 to give the interim job to Tolbert on June 3, Broadnax’s last day. Ridley and Mendelsohn were the two votes against. Once she begins the interim role, Tolbert will receive a 15 percent pay bump in her current salary to $367,683.

Much of Monday’s meeting focused on the timeline and what information city staff needs to begin the search. Human Resources Director Nina Arias and Procurement Director Danielle Thompson briefed the Council on their options, including hiring a search firm to conduct a national search. They also discussed a timeline for hiring that firm, conducting the search, and naming a new city manager, as outlined in a draft document the two departments crafted over the weekend.

Thompson explained that the first order of business is for the Council to determine the scope of the work for a search firm. A request for proposal, or RFP, she said, would need to include details like compensation and job expectations for the incoming city manager because search firms would use that information to help decide whether to throw their hats in the ring.

“The entire procurement process is contingent on receiving the proper feedback from the Council,” Thompson said.

That feedback includes everything from the job description to how input is sought from city employees and residents. In his memo last week, Mayor Johnson said he would be looking for a city manager who focuses on public safety, taxpayers, basic services, communication, and accountability. 

Monday, council members were clear they had additional requirements, with several pointing to the equity work that Broadnax spearheaded during his tenure. 

“At what point do we begin talking about as a body … the type of city manager that this organization needs?” asked Council Member Zarin Gracey, who represents portions of southern Dallas.

Local Government

Leading Off (2/27/24)

Tim Rogers
By |

City Council to Discuss Appointing Interim City Manager. Mayor Eric Johnson won’t be in attendance at today’s special called meeting to hash out who should temporarily replace outgoing City Manager T.C. Broadnax. The leading candidate appears to be Deputy City Manager Kim Bizor Tolbert.

The Rock Is Coming to Dallas. For the first time in eight years, Dwayne Johnson will wrestle here, in Smackdown on March 8. That’s wrestling news you can use.

Civil Judge Gets Sanctioned. State District Judge Gena Slaughter got herself in a spot of trouble with the State Commission on Judicial Conduct for letting motions go unaddressed for months. She also failed to cooperate with the commission’s investigation.

It Was Hot Yesterday. We broke a record. Today will be another warm one. Things will cool off tomorrow. Hang in there.

Local News

How Deep Ellum Is Placing Its History Alongside Its Present

By Micaih Thomas |
Deep Ellum Foundation

Deep Ellum is no longer just the collection of circa-1950s and ’60s warehouses and storefronts that fostered one of the state’s most vibrant music and arts scenes. Its early history as a melting pot for previously enslaved people and European immigrants was literally torn down and replaced with a highway. As the neighborhood welcomes new chain concepts, office space, and luxury apartments, its many eras can be difficult to see represented among all the new activity.

Photographers Steven Reeves, Sam Bortnick, and Justin Terveen are working to place its history alongside its present. A partnership with the Deep Ellum Foundation and the Dallas Public Library has hung banners of their work alongside historic photos of the neighborhood. Thirteen banners are spread across the district: five from the early 20th century, two from the early 2000s, and six from the present decade.

You can see the Knights of Pythias Temple, which is today the boutique Kimpton Pittman Hotel, as it was in the 1920s. Another image features the Continental Gin building’s water tower, now office space but once the country’s largest producer of cotton gins. A banner near the Adam Hats Lofts shows the building’s former life as a Ford plant. Another shot of Elm Street depicts Model Ts rolling alongside a streetcar line, framed next to the present-day view of the downtown skyscrapers a few blocks away.

The photos serve as a reminder of the fading narratives.

Local News

Leading Off (2/26/24)

Zac Crain
By |

Mavs’ Win Streak Snapped. Dallas had won seven in a row until kicking off a four-game road trip in Indianapolis yesterday afternoon. The Mavs cut a double-digit lead to 104-100 behind a nine-point Kyrie Irving run, but the Pacers bounced back and won going away. Euless Trinity’s own Myles Turner led Indy with a season-high 33 points. Next up for the Mavs: the Cavs tonight.

Record Highs Expected. We haven’t hit 90 degrees in February since 1917, but the temperature is supposed get there later today. I’m not built for this. I’m sorry. A normal late February day should be in the low 60s.

Perot Museum Distributing 1 Million Pairs of Eclipse Safety Glasses. Pretty cool. I already have a pair. I wonder if they’ll give me a tank top for this unseasonable weather instead.


D Magazine’s 50 Greatest Stories: The Greatest Bowling Story Ever Told

Matt Goodman
By |
Bill Fong in his element. photography by Tadd Myers

Twelve years ago, Michael J. Mooney set out to write a story about someone who almost made history. His subject was Bill Fong, a 48-year-old hobbyist bowler who came within a single pin (spoiler!) of rolling 36 consecutive strikes one night at the Plano Super Bowl. As Mooney wrote, a 300 isn’t anything spectacular. “If you count all the bowling alleys all over America, somebody somewhere bowls a 300 every night.” Now, a perfect series, three 300s in a row, that’s the thing that gets you on SportsCenter. Or, in the case of an 899, a 200-or-so-word blurb in the Dallas Morning News and one of the very best sports magazine stories ever written.

“An 899 is even more rare than a 900,” Mooney says today.

After hunting down that News story, Mooney, then a D staff writer, started calling Fong at home. No answer. Eventually, he called the bowling alley and asked whether he was there. He got Fong on the phone, introduced himself, and said he wanted to write a story about that night in 2010. “He thought that I was playing a prank on him,” Mooney told me. “He thought that his friends had arranged me to call him and that I was playing some sort of elaborate trick on him.”

“The Most Amazing Bowling Story Ever” was published two years after Fong came so close to perfection. Mooney wrote about that night like he was there: how the 10 pin wobbled before collapsing on his fifth roll, how Fong stood and watched the nine pin sputter on the 12th, how he switched balls on his second set and was called “crazy” by a man a few lanes down. Fong kept copious, detailed notes, equating the Plano Super Bowl to Tiger Woods’ home golf course. A video posted to YouTube helped color in the scenes.

This is Mooney’s favorite story he’s ever written.

“The thing I like most about stories is structure and the puzzle, seeing how the puzzle fits together,” he said. “I don’t know that I’ve had another story that was a more satisfying puzzle. Imperfection is something that we all relate to a lot better than perfection.”

Fong never got his 900. The two still text, especially on January 10, the night’s anniversary. The New York Times put together a short documentary about the evening. Mooney annotated the story for the Nieman Journalism Lab, and it was featured in a collection of that year’s best sports stories. Fong opened up his own business nearby; the Bowling Medic Pro Shop is still drilling bowling balls today. And he still rolls at the Plano Super Bowl.

“He will probably be there, if he’s not there right now,” Mooney said. “He will probably be there within the next 24 hours or has been there in the last 24 hours.”

“The Most Amazing Bowling Story Ever” is one of the 50 best we’ve ever published, and we’re highlighting it in this week’s entry.

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