Tuesday, May 30, 2023 May 30, 2023
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Local News

Dallas Faces Difficult Choices As It Continues To Navigate Active Ransomware Attack

Bethany Erickson
By |
A child plays at the Lakewood library branch. Libraries across the city are experiencing empty shelves after a ransomware attack left them unable to check in returned books. Katherine Unmuth Karimi

It’s been more than three weeks since a ransomware attack forced the city of Dallas’ information and technology services department to take servers offline in an attempt to contain any malware. Since then, the department has worked to bring servers back online as staffers determine it’s safe to do so.

The city’s websites and pages are back online. Residents can call 311. Functionality is returning to 911 dispatch. The development services department can issue permits again. You can pay your water bill.

But a lot is still not working—libraries can’t check books back in, so patrons are being asked to keep their books until they can accept returns. The municipal court system is still on pause until at least Tuesday. The City Council can’t vote electronically at meetings. The Dallas Police Department still cannot access some data. Other city staffers privately grumble about being unable to open some files.

The city has remained tight-lipped about the scope of the attack, citing an ongoing investigation. Statements insist that no personal information was obtained in the attack. Royal, the group claiming responsibility for the attack, says the opposite.

“So, we are going to indicate that the data will be leaked soon,” the group said on its website on May 19. “We will share here in our blog tons of personal information of employees (phones, addresses, credit cards, SSNs, passports), detailed court cases, prisoners, medical information, clients’ information and thousands and thousands of governmental documents.”

The city, in turn, said it was “aware” of the claim. “We continue to monitor the situation and maintain there is no evidence or indication that the data has been compromised.”

The city won’t say how it’s so certain, which servers were impacted, and whether it will pay any ransom. In public briefings, Dallas Chief Information Officer Bill Zielinski has said that the work of restoring servers and bringing devices online has been painstaking.

“Once an environment has been infected, there really is no way to guarantee the ransomware is gone unless devices and applications have been completely wiped or wholly replaced,” Zielinski said earlier this month in a Council Public Safety Committee meeting. “This has to be done in a very deliberate and thorough manner, or you risk further infection within your network.”


Podcast: Nick Badovinus and the Rich History Behind His Brass Ram Restaurant

Tim Rogers
By |
Nick Badovinus glows in the Brass Ram. Brass Ram photo by Kathy Tran

The last time I hung out with Nick Badovinus was at the photo shoot for this 2018 D Magazine cover, with Nick slurping noodles at Ten Ramen. So it was good to visit him at his new(ish) downtown restaurant, Brass Ram. We talked with him about how he names his restaurants (Desert Racer, Town Hearth, Neighborhood Services) and why his watch doesn’t tell the right time. But we also talked a lot of media history, because the Ram sits in a building called the Triangle Point that once housed the historic radio station KLIF and, later, the Dallas Observer. We discussed how Gordon McLendon trained a parrot to say the station’s call letters, and special guest Eric Celeste joined us to come clean—finally—about the coup he orchestrated to overthrow a former Observer editor.

Use your favorite podcatcher or the player below.

D Magazine and Alice Laussade have entered into what you might call a relationship. The James Beard Award-winning writer has typed a few stories for us in recent months. If you haven’t yet read her story about the plastic surgeon who is producing a musical about breast implants, then you should rectify that situation pronto.

Beyond the keyboard, Alice is the brains behind Meat Fight. And if you don’t know what Meat Fight is, then I don’t even know what you’re doing here. It’s a Dallas thing. Get on the stick.

And now comes the inaugural Burger Fight. Eight local joints are headed to Community Beer Company on June 25 to determine whose cow sandwich is the best in all the land. Tickets go on sale today. All your details are right here.

Well, there are two details not mentioned at that site: first, D Magazine is a sponsor. Like I said, we’re in a relationship. Second, our own dining critic, Brian Reinhart, will subject himself to a dunking booth that, I’m guessing, will generate very little revenue because there’s not a single restaurateur in Dallas who would pay to dunk Brian. Really.

See y’all there.

House Committee Recommends Impeaching Ken Paxton. The Texas Attorney General has been under indictment basically since he won his seat, in 2015. The House Committee on General Investigating delivered 20 articles of impeachment on Thursday to the Texas House and Senate, detailing allegations of bribery, obstruction of justice, and abuse of the public trust. Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick won’t say whether the body has the votes to give Paxton the boot, nor would the House say when it planned to hear the matter. The Legislature adjourns on Monday, although there are mechanisms for calling everyone back for review.

Stars Finally Win in Overtime. Joe Pavelski delivered a clutch goal in overtime to lift the Stars over the Knights 3-2 and extend the series for at least another game. Sean Shapiro and David Castillo have more on the game and the mountain that Dallas will have to climb in order to make this competitive.

A Man Is Assaulting Women on the Katy Trail. Police have a “person of interest” who they say has sexually assaulted several women on the Katy Trail. Officers released an image of the man, who looks like he’s wearing a brown hoodie with gray pants and some sort of yellow backpack. Officers don’t have enough evidence to arrest him, but have stepped up enforcement on the trail.

Arts & Entertainment

Three Years After His Death, Dallas Still Honoring Local Music Icon Bill Wisener

Bethany Erickson
By |
Artist Jennifer Morgan created a permanent installation honoring the late Bill Wisener at South Side at Lamar. It was unveiled last month. George Fiala

It’s a testament to how important Bill Wisener was to Dallas that three years after his death, the city is still finding ways to celebrate the legacy of the man with the famously unkempt record store. There is now a permanent art installation at South Side on Lamar lofts, across from where Bill’s Records and Tapes was located for many years, and a music festival this weekend.

Wisener died in January 2020 at the age of 75. At the time of his death, he was mourned locally and remembered by famous musicians who came to know him as a music icon. 

Zac Crain’s 2009 feature on Bill illustrates why. Former employees “credit him with broadening their tastes.” Friends like Stanley Marcus gave him their music collections. Artists like Ben Harper often found themselves at Bill’s store after shows, hanging out. Before playing the Music Hall at Fair Park, Radiohead “took a cab to the store and spent four hours there, giddily combing through the racks, before eventually catching a ride to the gig with one of Wisener’s employees.”

Last month, Matthews Southwest and South Side on Lamar unveiled a permanent art installation in honor of Wisener. The mixed-media installation was created by artist Jennifer Morgan and is centered on a portrait of Wisener. It includes memorabilia from his store, including concert posters, photos, personal notes, and records. 


Why Dallas Surgeon Dr. Brian Williams Is Running for Congress

Will Maddox
By |
Dr. Brian Williams at Dallas Police Memorial following the July 7 shooting. Courtesy: Dr. Brian Williams

Dr. Brian Williams came to Dallas in 2010 because he felt patients at the county’s safety net hospital deserved the best possible care. He didn’t think he would stick around. He had no prior connections to the city, but his family has never left North Texas. Now he is running to represent Texas’ 32nd District in Congress.

Williams is bringing decades of experience working in public hospitals as a trauma surgeon. He spent time in Washington, D.C. in a policy role prior to announcing his candidacy. He made headlines in 2016 as the surgeon in charge of the emergency room trauma team on the evening of July 7, when Micah Xavier Johnson shot and killed five Dallas police officers, injured nine others, and wounded two civilians during a downtown protest about past police shootings. Three of the officers died at Parkland that night.

The July 7 shooting came after the deaths of Philando Castile in Minnesota and Alton Sterling in Louisiana. Journalist Jamie Thompson wrote about Williams in an engaging feature about the doctor and his confrontation of racism for D Magazine in 2016. “You realize that no matter what you do—your accomplishments, your accolades, your titles—that you can easily be dehumanized based on the color of your skin,” he told her.

He hadn’t planned on speaking during the press conference after the shooting. But as the only Black trauma surgeon on staff, he felt he needed to. “This is much more complicated for me, personally,” Williams said then. “I understand the anger and frustration with law enforcement. But they are not the problem. I want the Dallas police officers to see me, a Black man. I support you. I will defend you. I will care for you. That doesn’t mean I do not fear you.”

The event set him on his current trajectory. “July 7 was the moment that ignited that feeling in me that there was something more,” he says.


D Magazine Editor Goes to Ground Easily in Own Box

Tim Rogers
By |
Crain goes tail over teakettle.

Yesterday FC Dallas held their annual friendly with members of the media. Someone—I won’t say who—sent me the below video of our own Zac Crain’s performance at left back. This play is amazing. Let’s break it down.

Crain is clearly out of position as the opposing team’s striker heads for goal. To his credit, though, Crain is not satisfied to simply stare at the bottom of the White striker’s boots. He hustles to recover. Should he have tackled the man with a fully committed slide? Perhaps. Instead, Crain opts to make a stab at the ball with his left foot. It is at this point that the striker gives Crain the contact that sends him to ground. Should the ball have been given to Red for a free kick? VAR shows that’s not the case. In fact, an argument can be made that the referee should have shown Crain a yellow for diving. It was as if the White player was gently stroking Crain’s arm to console him after he’d received news that his cat had died. And yet Crain rolls on the pitch, thrusting his legs in the air as if Jamie Benn had just tried to crush his larynx with his stick. That’s a hockey reference.

One more observation before we roll the video. Notice Crain’s fellow Red defender, the sizable man with calves like those of Jack Grealish. Just as Crain throws himself to the pitch, Mr. Calves, rather than challenge the White striker, leaps over the ball to give his opponent a clear look at goal. What the actual hell?

I lied. This is actually the last observation: at the end of the play, Crain gets to his feet and walks away from the goal with a slump-shouldered hangdog look that almost—almost—makes me feel sorry for him.

Now let’s go to the tape:

Allen Outlet Mall Will Reopen Next Week. A little more than four weeks after a gunman opened fire, killing eight people and injuring at least seven others, Allen Premium Outlets will reopen. The shopping center will resume normal hours at 10 a.m. on May 31, with increased security. Each of the 120 stores and restaurants can open at their own pace, and the mall says a permanent memorial to the victims is in the planning stage.

First Senate Poll Indicates Potentially Close Race. Early polling indicates that Congressman Colin Allred is within 7 points of U.S. Senator Ted Cruz. The survey from the Texas Hispanic Policy Foundation and WFAA found 47 percent of respondents supporting the incumbent and 40 percent for Allred. Thirteen percent were undecided. Allred announced earlier this month that he would run for Senate.

Man Exonerated After 1990 Conviction. Tyrone Day, who was convicted of sexual assault in 1989, was exonerated this week. Day maintained his innocence the entire time but pleaded guilty in 1990 to avoid a 99-year prison sentence. He was paroled in 2015. The victim was never shown a photo lineup and did not identify Day, who owned a hat similar to the one her attacker wore. DNA testing eventually proved his innocence.

Wild Wednesday for the State AG’s Office. First, the Republican-led state House General Investigating Committee heard testimony from investigators that alleged Attorney General Ken Paxton committed multiple crimes while in office, including misusing official information, abusing the powers of his office, and retaliation. Then there was a literal dumpster fire outside the AG’s office, which was possibly intentionally set and also a bit on the nose for the day. An impeachment vote could happen Saturday.

Local News

I-345 Is Dead, Long Live I-345

Matt Goodman
By |
I-345, which won’t be staying up, but won’t be going away.

The Dallas City Council today gave the state of Texas permission to pursue funding to remove and trench I-345, the currently elevated 1.4-mile highway separating downtown and Deep Ellum. The Council’s vote was delivered with the energy of a sigh despite weeks of parliamentary backroom wrangling among some council members who wanted more time to study the plan before approving it.

It was a near impossibility to convince the Texas Department of Transportation to do anything that altered the amount of traffic lanes that slice through Dallas’ urban core. TxDOT owns the 50-year-old highway, not the city of Dallas. It is among the shortest on the national highway network, a stub that connects to Central Expressway, Woodall Rodgers, and interstates 30 and 45. It is, more than anything, a concrete connective tissue that allows freeway traffic to flow in all directions, a traffic engineer’s dream. TxDOT cites traffic counts of 180,000 cars on the roadway per day. Powerful transportation officials don’t seem capable of imagining a world in which the highway doesn’t exist.

Partly that is because they understand the game. Vehicle capacity on highways is the top transportation priority of Gov. Greg Abbott, whose edicts dictate which projects are funded and which are not.

There have been grassroots calls for nearly a dozen years to remove I-345 and replace it with a boulevard and a reconfigured system of surface streets that would absorb the traffic. But because of its status—a state-owned thoroughfare on the National Highway Freight Network—the city had no power to pursue something so radical. The most the City Council could do was stall by voting against the resolution, a move that had little support among the 14 council members who were present for Wednesday’s vote. (Mayor Eric Johnson was absent because he was speaking on a panel about sports in Qatar.)

The City Council voted unanimously to support TxDOT’s preference for the highway, which it calls the “hybrid plan,” with some caveats.

“This is not a perfect solution, in my opinion, but at the end of the day, what we can say if we support this is that today, TxDOT and the city of Dallas have decided to take down a highway and are going to put something better there in its place,” said Councilman Chad West, the loudest and loneliest pro-boulevard voice on the City Council.

Local News

How Texas Democrats Killed Bills Promoted by Advocates of Affordable Housing

Bethany Erickson
By |
What happens in Austin this legislative session will have a big impact on Dallas. Sean McCabe

The Texas Legislature will close its 88th session Monday, and with several priority pieces of legislation all but dead, it seems guaranteed that lawmakers will remain in Austin for a special session.

If you’re having a hard time following the whirlwind of activity this week, it is because things are happening a frenetic pace, often late at night. The Senate and House have dueling school finance bills that are diametrically opposed in intent, making it a near-certainty that Gov. Greg Abbott will call a special session—but that was expected.

Other bills that have been queued up for votes or debate are also dying or dead. At this point, if a bill hasn’t made it out of committee, it’s dead. If it hasn’t had a first reading on the house floor, it’s dead.

What is being hammered out from now through Sunday are the differences in bills that originated in the House and had amendments in the Senate—and vice versa—as well as bills that passed both chambers but emerged with substantial changes.

For instance, this week the Senate sent the House its changes to House Bill 100, a school finance bill that included raises for teachers and added a provision for vouchers, which has been a nonstarter in the House. In turn, the House sent the Senate its changes to Senate Bill 9, a school finance bill that gave teachers a one-time $2,000 bonus and also paid teachers in smaller districts an additional $6,000. The House sent it back with 10 additional amendments, some of which came from bills that died in committee. 

Those bills, loaded with poison pills, will go back to their respective bodies to be debated and voted on as the clock runs out.

Much of this week will be spent in an exercise called chubbing, which happens when legislators spend an inordinate amount of time debating bills to slow down the process. Often, lawmakers will chub lower priority bills placed earlier in the calendar, hoping to run the clock out before the more controversial bills come up.

And that’s largely what happened to a set of bills affordable housing advocates hoped would push cities to loosen restrictions on lot sizes, setbacks, and apartment building height. They sat in a queue that didn’t move much before midnight struck, leaving them behind.


Law Man Walking: Nature Treks With Bill Holston

Bill Holston
By Bill Holston |
Photo by Bill Holston

Driving down Buckner yesterday morning, I was listening to Susan Tedeschi’s version of John Prine’s “Angel From Montgomery”: Just give me one thing that I can hold onto. To believe in this living is just a hard way to go. Well, I’m no angel, and I’m not from Montgomery. I’m more of a sinner from Mobile. And this living, it’s a hard way to go.

The sky began to turn pink, and it promised to be a beautiful sunrise. I parked at the AT&T trailhead, put on my binoculars, and started walking. The morning was cool and filled with the songs of the Dickcissels that have migrated here in the last few weeks. I walked past the first pond and saw a single White Ibis soaring overhead, with its distinctive curved beak. It was followed by a Little Blue Heron. I saw a couple of Indigo Buntings, and then I heard the unmistakable song of a Painted Bunting. It was sitting on the top of a transplanted Minor Palm Tree. I stood and watched him throw back his head and sing.


Alexa Is Out Here Gaslighting People About the Dallas Stars

Mike Piellucci
By |
Things aren't as bad as they seem in Amazon's world. Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

I’m not sure why Tim Rogers thought to ask Alexa the score of a hockey game I know he was already watching, what with the angry text he sent me comparing Jake Oettinger’s motor skills in net to those of an impaired Dade Phelan. Why does Tim do anything, really?

What we came to find out, however, is that Alexa, the purported know-it-all created by everyone’s least-favorite tech overlord, is making up lies about our city’s hockey team. Have a listen, and make sure you stick around for the end:

Page Cached: 2023-05-30 11:20:01 on http://www01.dmagazine.com