FrontBurner

A Daily Conversation
About Dallas

Local News

Leading Off (4/28/17)

| 3 hours ago

John Wiley Price Jurors Head Into Day 8 of Deliberations. The jurors have been deadlocked since Tuesday, and if they can’t come to a consensus at some point soon, U.S. District Judge Barbara Lynn will declare a mistrial. Price faces 11 counts that include mail fraud, income tax evasion, and bribery.

Taco Charlton Heads to Dallas. The Cowboys chose the Michigan defensive end with the 28th overall pick in the first round of this year’s NFL Draft. The 277-pound Charlton can play both defensive end positions as well as tackle in passing situations, which could help the ‘Boys with pass rushing. There are already mentions of Super Bowl potential. Also, three other players from North Texas were picked in the top 6 of the NFL Draft. Myles Garrett, a graduate of Arlington Martin High School, was picked first overall by the Cleveland Browns; Solomon Thomas, a Coppell High School graduate, was picked third overall by the San Francisco 49ers; and Jamal Adams, a Hebron High School alum, was picked No. 6 overall by the New York Jets.

As Eviction Date Nears, West Dallas Tenant Fight Intensifies. Tenants and supporters rallied Thursday in front of HMK Ltd.’s headquarters on Singleton Boulevard to demand the right to stay in their low-rent homes in an area that has quickly gentrified. Last fall, HMK landlord Khraish Khraish notified city officials of his intentions to evict tenants from nearly 300 of his low-rent homes in the area. Instead of upgrading the properties to meet housing code, Khraish has unveiled redevelopment plans. Tenant evictions have been extended to June 3 by a court order.

Dallas Zoo Will Unveil Its Hippo Exhibit Today. After four years and $14 million, the 2.1-acre Simmons Hippo Outpost will open today. This exhibit is the largest to open at the zoo in several years. Adhama, a male hippo from the Los Angeles Zoo, and Boipelo, his female companion from the Albuquerque BioPark, call the habitat home. The hippos were transported to Dallas in March.

Read More

Guess the City

The Real Sister Cities of Dallas

| 17 hours ago

What does Dallas have in common with Taipei, Monterrey, or any of its other adopted sister cities? As far as I can tell, not that much, besides what the Dallas Fort Worth World Affairs Council calls a shared commitment to “promote peace through mutual respect, understanding and cooperation – one individual, one community at a time,” which is difficult to quantify and nearly impossible to present in the kinds of graphs and maps true city policy heads love.

A more accurate picture of Dallas’ sister cities could be drawn from a new mapping tool published by the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago. The Chicago Fed collected civic data from across the country and did more than 300 interviews with municipal leaders to create the Peer City Identification Tool. Its stated goal: finding cities that are “experiencing similar trends or challenges” for the edification of local shot-callers.

Read More

Local News

Lessons on Council Elections: The Races Are Open, But Whom You Turn Out Matters

| 21 hours ago

Yesterday afternoon, my colleague Alex Macon returned from early voting and declared that the nice volunteers at the J. Erik Jonsson Central Library seemed a bit “bored.” Beyond school board seats, the only thing on this ballot is choosing your district’s councilmember (yes, all 14 of them), and Dallas has a particularly horrid appreciation for such things when you look at turnout.

There are no referendums, no explicit bond votes, no risk of a mayoral shakeup. But the votes, for those paying attention, could very well determine the future of the Trinity toll road, of Fair Park, of development in West Dallas, of bar curfews, and any number of other major and not-so-major matters affecting our city for the next two years. Yesterday evening, three City Hall writers—our Eric Celeste, the Observer’s Jim Schutze, and the Dallas Morning News’ Tristan Hallman—climbed up on a makeshift stage under the stairs at D Magazine HQ to chat about these city races. One of the questions that came up again and again was the idea of influence on these races—how the moneyed are attempting to wield it with their dollars and their messaging, how the nimble are waging effective campaigns using social media, and how voter turnout is still so abysmal in this city that a couple dozen fraudulent mail-in ballots could be enough to swing a runoff in at least one of our districts. (Looking at you, D6.)

The stakes feel higher in certain portions of the city, most notably in the East Dallas-Uptown-Downtown swath represented by Philip Kingston. There, a super PAC called For Our Community, funded by the kinds of developers and philanthropists and politicos who have long held a thumb on Dallas’ politics, has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars painting the incumbent as a no-good loon, more prone to hissy-fits than to effective leadership. Kingston, in response, likes to post a spreadsheet of his voting record.

Schutze calls these folks the “Forces of Evil” and says they look scared, or at least more committed.

Read More

Media

Here’s What One Therapist Thinks About the Morning News’ ‘Aryan Princess’ Story

| 21 hours ago

Yesterday I wrote a few words about some problems I have with the Morning News’ 18,000-word story, titled “My Aryan Princess,” about a government informant named Carol Blevins and how she helped bust a bunch of guys in the Aryan Brotherhood of Texas. My biggest problem with the story centers on Blevins’ mental health. As the writer, Scott Farwell, acknowledged in his piece:

Medical records suggest Carol suffers from a range of mental illnesses — bipolar disorder, borderline personality disorder, and post-traumatic stress disorder — as a result of her work as a confidential informant.

She’s been committed to psychiatric hospitals at least 20 times in the last decade.

Writing so intimately about such a troubled woman seemed to me like an unwise move. Now comes a bit of back patting from the News’ editorial department, which writes:

Read More

Politics & Government

Barrett Brown Arrested for the Most Ridiculous Reason Ever

| 22 hours ago

Looks like we won’t be getting a City Council report from Barrett Brown anytime soon. This morning he was arrested. After being called in to his halfway house for a drug test, the good folks from the Bureau of Prisons showed up and arrested him. What for? Are you ready for this? They arrested him for giving interviews. Barrett’s mom, with whom he’d been living under home confinement, sends the following note:

Read More

Restaurants

Dallas Health Department Cracks Down on Dogs in Restaurants

| 23 hours ago

On occasion, I have been known to visit a place called the Lakewood Growler. Okay, more than on occasion. I go frequently enough that I know most of the regulars, including those with four feet. Since its opening, in 2014, the Growler has welcomed pooches. Partly that’s because Dee’s Doggie Den is right next door. People pick up their dogs then pop in for a pint. More often that not, especially on the weekends, you’ll find a dog in the Growler, curled up under a table. Well, not anymore. A health inspector showed up yesterday and dropped the hammer. No more dogs. The Health Department is apparently cracking down on good puppy dogs all over the city. A number of brewery tap rooms have also been told they can longer cater to our four-legged friends.

Now look. Dogs aren’t allowed in restaurants. Obviously. Here are the rules. They’re only allowed on patios, and the owners of said patios have to apply for permission from the city. But dogs and beer go together, I’m sure everyone will agree. As long as no one is preparing or serving food, I don’t see why dogs can’t hang out and look cute and get petted behind their fluffy ears. In fact, I think the city code should be rewritten to require that breweries and beer bars have at least one dog on premises during hours of operation. Forget the pension crisis. This is the real issue facing the city of Dallas. 

Read More

Leading Off

Leading Off (4/27/17)

| 1 day ago

John Wiley Price Jurors Begin Seventh Day of Deliberations. Still no verdict for John Wiley Price and the 11 counts against him. U.S. District Judge Barbara Lynn did not say which counts the jury is deadlocked on. Will today will be the day for a decision?

Dallas Police and Firefighters March to City Hall. Hundreds of them did so yesterday in opposition to Mayor Mike Rawlings and his view on the failing pension system. “Police and fire are having to contribute more and take reduced benefits to do their share. We’re hoping the citizens will be OK with a slight increase of any type of taxes, or readjustments of the way taxes are spent to support the pension,” retired police deputy chief Andrew Acord said.

Veterans Laid to Rest at Dallas-Fort Worth National Cemetery. Twenty veterans, some of whom were homeless, were laid to rest with honors yesterday.

There May Be a Goose-Napper at White Rock Lake. More than 10 domesticated geese have been taken from the flock that’s usually at Sunset Bay by the lake. Apparently, someone saw a person wring a goose’s neck and put it in an SUV. One of the flock’s caregivers told Ben Sandifer that this, along with other incidents, have taken place in recent weeks. Seriously, who would kidnap a goose? I mean, really?

Read More

Media

Sneak Peek: D Magazine’s May Issue, Which Explores Who Killed Ira Tobolowsky

| 2 days ago
On newsstands now!
On newsstands now!

Beginning today, you’ll see the May issue of D Magazine rolling out on newsstands. That’s it on the left. The name Ira Tobolowsky figures prominently on the cover. I’m willing to bet many of you remember that name. For one, Tobolowsky was a highly regarded attorney who operated for decades out of a small office on Lovers Lane, west of the Tollway. And two, he was burned to death in his North Dallas home just under a year ago, and police have still yet to charge anyone with the crime.

But the family believes they are close: “We are a little bit of evidence short of getting this case taken to a grand jury, getting an indictment, and moving forward with a capital murder trial,” says Ira’s 28-year-old son, Michael, who now runs his father’s practice. “We’ve been here a couple months or so. The type of information we’re looking for we believe someone has out there. We’re just trying to reach out and connect with that person.”

Michael, along with his siblings and his mother, spent hours with D Magazine writer Jamie Thompson for her cover story, “A Place Where Something Evil Happened.” What emerges is a picture of a family driven to get justice, another family torn apart by greed and anger, and an overtaxed police department trying hard to solve a bizarre and unthinkable tragedy but coming up just short. Head to newsstands to read it now. (It’ll go online in a few weeks.) But first, I wanted to leave you with how Michael described his father:

Read More

Transportation

We Live in the Future: Dallas and the Flying Car

| 2 days ago

Wait. Hold on. Stop the presses, or the WordPresses, or whatever churns out #content these days. Everyone put down their pencils, turn down the radio, and switch off the YouTubes. Something happened yesterday that I really don’t think anyone has really taken the broadband-brain width to fully comprehend and appreciate yet. So place your hands on your lap and take a deep breath. I’ll retype the headline:

“Uber Picks DFW as First Region in the U.S. to Test Flying Vehicles”

Did you catch that?

Flying.

Cars.

This:

Read More