FrontBurner

A Daily Conversation About Dallas

Local News

Leading Off (01/21/19)

| 23 hours ago

Cowboys Staff Now Probably Mostly Former Backup Quarterbacks. That is, if as reports suggest, Jon Kitna becomes quarterbacks coach and Kellen Moore is named offensive coordinator, joining head coach Jason Garrett. What is great, to me, is that all of these guys are like khakis-level boring. More like America’s Youth Pastors™, amirite?

Dennis Smith Jr. Will Rejoin Mavs For Tomorrow’s Clippers Game. Will they still trade DSJ? I hope not. I still think he has a future here, even if his favorite rapper is J. Cole. Here is my suggestion, that I think works for all side: when DSJ comes back, don’t put him right back in the starting lineup. Put him in J.J. Barea’s sixth-man role running point with the second unit. He can still finish games and he gets the ball in his hands a bit more. But what I do know? I’m just an insanely successful youth basketball coach and all-around problem solver.

There’s an MLK Day Parade This Morning. If you’re free.

Read More

Transportation

EarBurner Podcast: Philip Hiatt Haigh Talks About The Loop

| 4 days ago

Are you aware that Dallas will soon complete a 50-mile loop of paved trails around the city? Cleverly enough, it’s called The Loop. Philip Hiatt Haigh’s job, as the new executive director of the Circuit Trail Conservancy, is to get the thing finished. Before you listen to this episode of the nationally recognized EarBurner podcast, you should probably read this story I wrote about cycling to work. Haigh mentions how funny and important it is. If reading it doesn’t change your life, it will at least increase your enjoyment when you listen to this episode, which will probably win another major award.

Read More

Energy Industry

Texas Is Harnessing the Power of Wind

| 4 days ago

Wind power has been on a tear in Texas. It’s difficult to argue with that conclusion considering that in mid-November, on a day of steady breezes in West Texas and the Panhandle, wind generation made up more than 40 percent of power produced on the state’s grid. The average across the year was roughly 17 percent, up from less than 1 percent in 2002.

Renewable energy sources, the vast majority of which was wind power, lowered wholesale prices for energy on the Electric Reliability Council of Texas grid by $855 million in 2017, according to an industry-backed study by the consulting firms TXP and IdeaSmiths. The benefits have been spread statewide, with costs to consumers lowered by 3 to 8 percent between 2010 and 2017.

Texas produces more wind energy than Iowa, Oklahoma, and California combined. Because its fuel costs nothing and wind technology has steadily advanced, wind energy has become the cheapest form of electric power on the Texas grid, when costs are calculated over the life of the generating station.

Companies such as General Motors, which announced in October that its Arlington assembly plant now operates on 100 percent wind energy, say they expect to save millions of dollars by sourcing wind power through long-term contracts.

So how did fossil fuel-rich Texas become a leader in clean, renewable wind energy? Through a pragmatic mix of free-market and government-led policies.

Read More

Politics & Government

Larry Casto Pulls Out of Mayor’s Race

| 4 days ago

The crowded Dallas mayoral race has lost a contender. This morning, former city attorney Larry Casto announced he’s dropping out, citing a desire to focus on “changing the law and finding new ways to address old problems.” He is endorsing candidate Mike Ablon, the developer known for his work in the Design District. Casto’s statement:

“This is about Dallas.  I would have loved to serve as the Mayor of Dallas.  I love this City and its people.  I am proud of my accomplishments as City Attorney and as Legislative Director.  I will be even prouder when we come together as a community to make the changes necessary for this City to continue to grow, to be a safe and prosperous place for families to raise their children, own a home, find meaningful work and enjoy unique, cultural amenities.”

His decision follows this week’s release of a first round of campaign finance reports from candidates who filed to run in 2018. That included Casto, and his haul came in at $30,500, showing he’d fallen behind in gathering money to bolster his campaign. Philanthropist Lynn McBee announced her candidacy around the same time and has already banked about a quarter million dollars. Oak Cliff businessman Albert Black has, too, although he’s been able to raise money since he announced all the way back in July.

Read More

Politics & Government

Let’s Take a Peek at the Early Fundraising Numbers for Dallas Mayor

| 4 days ago

The candidates are piling up in this pivotal race to be Dallas’ next mayor. Half of them announced bids before we ticked over to 2019. Due to campaign finance reporting requirements, that means that this week, we got a first look at how some candidates are faring in their efforts to raise money. Let’s have a look.

Albert Black, businessman from Oak Cliff
Started raising money: July 1
Raised: $277,643
Spent: $138,070.44
In the bank: $131,322.56

Mike Ablon, developer known for work in the Design District
Started raising money: November 21
Raised: $104,450
Spent: $65,836.12
Loaned himself: $100,000
In the bank: $138,613.88

Read More

Leading Off

Leading Off (1/18/19)

| 4 days ago

Planned Parenthood Takes a Blow: A 2017 ruling had protected the healthcare organization by saying the state couldn’t ax it from Medicaid. But a federal appeals court overturned that decision on Thursday, ruling that U.S. District Judge Sam Sparks applied an incorrect standard. Sparks will take another look now. This is the case that involves unflattering undercover footage from a Houston Planned Parenthood clinic in 2015, which Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton claims makes the organization unqualified to be a Medicaid provider.

Arlington Police Release Video from Shooting: 20-year-old Treshun Miller was shot and killed on January 11 after he ran from police during a traffic stop in a Tom Thumb parking lot. An officer was shot, as well, but survived the incident, and police say Miller fired at officers first while lawyers for Miller’s family maintain dash and body cam footage released Thursday is inconclusive. If you have a stomach for it, the relevant portion here begins at about 18:40.

School Bus Goes Off I-30 in West Dallas: It happened at around 4 p.m. yesterday and involved four vehicles. Nine of the 10 students on board, plus the bus driver, had to be taken to the hospital for treatment, although none of the injuries are considered life-threatening.

Read More

Business

Phillip Jones’ Debt to VisitDallas Has Grown to $225,000

| 5 days ago

If you haven’t been following along to this point, you’ve got some catching up to do. VisitDallas, the nonprofit convention and visitors bureau for Dallas, did not fare well in a recent audit. Commingling taxpayer funds, slipshod accounting of expenses, spendthrift CEO, violating state law — that sort of thing. I began a week ago drilling down into a $35,000 loan made by the nonprofit to that CEO, Phillip Jones. It has been difficult, because VisitDallas’ media guy, Frank Librio, won’t return my phone calls and emails. I tried him again this morning. No luck. But Librio did tell real estate blogger Candy Evans that the loan, made in 2015, was “tied to a private family issue” with the Joneses’ adult son, who is disabled either because he has Lyme disease or in addition to having Lyme disease, an illness that Jones feels so passionate about curing that he traveled to Hawaii to compete in the Ironman World Championship, presented by GoPro.

It’s exhausting. Not the Ironman World Championship. I mean, I’m sure that is exhausting. But I’m talking about trying to figure out what’s going on over at VisitDallas without help from Frank Librio. And I’m not done yet. Yesterday I got some new information.

Read More

Transportation

Dallas’ Bike Share Experiment Seems To Have Increased Bike Deaths

| 5 days ago

If there was not enough evidence already to illustrate the disaster of Dallas’ brief experiment with share bikes, let us submit one more point. Below, courtesy of a tweet from Dr. Rob Rasmussen, a resident at UT Southwestern Medical Center, we see a spike in fatal bike crashes last year.

The chart might look slightly more daunting than it is—we are talking about a jump from about one death a year to eight. But that’s of 17 total fatalities since 2010. Not nothing.

Read More

Business

Will Ray Washburne Become World Bank President?

| 5 days ago

Ray Washburne is among the finalists being considered for president of the World Bank, according to finance industry media sources.

The prominent Dallas businessman, who owns Highland Park Village and leads Charter Holdings real estate investment company, is also the co-founder and co-owner of M Crowd Restaurant Group, which operates three restaurant concepts: Mi Cocina, Taco Diner and The Mercury.

A former finance chairman of the Republican National Committee, Washburne was a 2017 appointment by President Donald Trump to head up the Overseas Private Investment Corporation, leading foreign investment capital and policy.

Read More

Urban Design

Pedestrians Finally Get a Win In Lakewood

| 5 days ago

Frequent readers of our Dallas Hates Pedestrians series may recall the AT&T utility box that was enjoying its life while completely blocking a sidewalk in Lakewood. Councilman Lee Kleinman, the chair of the Council’s Mobility Solutions, Infrastructure, and Sustainability Committee, I think got tired of seeing our ongoing string of photographs and pithy quips about Dallas’ propensity to hand over public right of way to any entity that wants it. He emailed over a photo of a tangle of wires that he took in Vietnam; he likes to joke about that being the future of 5G infrastructure if we don’t manage it right.

Anyway, Kleinman sent a photo of that utility box to city staff. And city staff got to work. In AT&T’s defense, the utility cabinet was installed before any sidewalks were built north of it. It’s been there at least since 2001, and the sidewalks went in around 2007. The city, I guess, just worked around the thing.

Read More