A Daily Conversation About Dallas


A Conversation With the Dallasite Behind ‘the Yee Haw Agenda’

| 24 hours ago

You’ve been credited with coining the phrase “the yee haw agenda” when you tweeted a couple of photos of Ciara wearing a cowboy hat in September. The hashtag went viral and you ended up being referenced in Rolling Stone, Jezebel—even the Irish Examiner. What’s it all mean?
I was just being funny and playing around. You know how people say “the gay agenda”? Because it was like people getting upset at gay stuff being pushed? So I was like, oh, this is the yee haw agenda. Like, it’s cowboy hats on black girls.

Why cowboy culture? What piqued your interest?
My grandma watched Walker, Texas Ranger; my mother watched Westerns. And my father, Issiac Holt, played football for the Dallas Cowboys. So from 3 months old on, I’ve always been around cowboy stuff. I was 7 when my parents got divorced. Once they split up, I never told anybody he played football because we were struggling so hard. When I would tell people, “My dad used to play football,” they wouldn’t believe me. So I just kept it to myself. But that’s when I started to pay attention to pop culture.

How did you build a following?
I started with an account on Tumblr, femburton. I would post archival fashion pictures, pictures from music videos. Even current stuff, like photo shoots. It was like what Twitter is now, but it was way earlier. So that’s how most people know about me. Now my Instagram is @theyeehawagenda.

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Local News

Dallas Population Flattens, North Suburbs Boom in Latest Census Estimates

| 1 day ago

The latest Census estimates have Dallas’ population hitting a wall in 2019, creeping forward about 2,000 residents while northern neighbors Frisco and McKinney continue to be among the fastest-growing cities in the U.S.

Fort Worth has another good year, adding almost 20,000 residents to 895,000 overall. That’s in line with its growth this decade and good enough to leapfrog San Fransisco and Columbus to become the 13th most-populous city in the country. Dallas, which remains ninth on that list, had been growing steadily this decade, adding at least 17,000 people each year since the 2010 Census. The population has increased by about 145,000 people since 2010, to 1,345,000, according to the estimates.

Texas is all over the list of the country’s fastest-growing large cities. Frisco comes in at fourth, growing by 6.1 percent last year to 188,170 people, while McKinney sits at sixth with a 5.4 percent growth rate to 191,645 people.

A trip around some other North Texas suburbs, based on the estimates:

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Local News

The Tiny Texas Town Bankrolling Dallas Institutions

| 1 day ago

Lawyers from the Dallas firm McCall, Parkhurst & Horton made the familiar two-hour drive out Highway 281 on May 15, 2015. They were headed to the tiny town of Windthorst, a dairy farming community with a population of about 409 people that was founded in the late 19th century by German settlers. Only three things distinguish Windthorst from all the other towns that dot the wide and flat landscape south of Wichita Falls: its handsome Catholic church; its billing as the “Dairy Capital of North Texas”; and the fact that, over the last 20 years, Windthorst has issued hundreds of millions of dollars in tax-exempt bonds for organizations across Texas.

The McCall lawyers made the trip that day to work on the town’s latest deal—a $35 million tax-exempt bond to refinance the construction loan for the Dallas Arboretum’s parking garage, which it built in 2014. A couple of weeks earlier, the lawyers placed ads in the local paper announcing a public meeting, and they arranged a meeting of the volunteer members of the Windthorst City Council, a rotating group of citizens whose families have known each other for generations. Windthorst doesn’t have a city hall, so the Council met at the city’s credit union. After a brief presentation from the lawyers, council members signed some documents that created a legal entity, the Red River Cultural Facilities Finance Corporation, for the sole purpose of refinancing the Arboretum’s debt.

Here’s how such a tax-exempt bond issuance works: if the prime rate stood at 4 percent, a construction loan from a bank might carry 6 percent interest. Selling bonds is a way for the borrower to reduce its rate on the loan by transferring the debt to another investor. The interest rate on a tax-exempt bond may be as low as 3 percent, but because the investor doesn’t have to pay taxes on the interest income it receives from the borrower, the effective yield of the investment may be greater than it would be on a taxable bond with a higher rate. The bond purchaser still makes a good return, and the borrower reduces its cost of servicing the debt.

Greg Vieth, who owns a crop-spraying business and whose turn it is to serve as mayor of Windthorst, admits that the precise mechanisms that allow Windthorst to issue so much public debt lie beyond his grasp. He says the lawyers assured the citizens of Windthorst that their involvement was a formality—a “pop around,” as Vieth puts it. In exchange for each bond issue, the town of Windthorst receives a fee ranging from about $10,000 to $30,000, depending on the size of the bond. “It’s a win-win for us,” Vieth says.

And for 20 years, the city’s role in what’s known as “conduit financing” has seemingly been a win-win. Since 1998, according to public records, Windthorst has participated in bond issues totaling at least $230 million. They have included projects for TCU ($40 million), Jesuit College Preparatory School of Dallas ($11 million), the Hockaday School ($18 million), and Parish Episcopal School ($5 million). The $230 million total includes only bonds sold on the open market, deals that are public records. The Arboretum deal was done through a private placement.

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Local News

Leading Off (5/24/19)

| 1 day ago

150 Attend Dallas Police’s LGBTQ Outreach Meeting. The Resource Center hosted a town hall meeting with Police Chief U. Reneé Hall and other higher ups in the wake of the murder of Muhlaysia Booker, the transgender woman who was gunned down in East Dallas weeks after being beaten in Oak Cliff. The meeting had been planned prior to her killing, but it became the focus. District Attorney John Creuzot was also hand. Both expressed support of the community, but couldn’t discuss details of the investigation. They did say, however, that Booker’s killing shared similarities to the murder and attempted murder of two other trans women in the last year.

Small Plane Crashes Into McKinney Home. This is a weird one. A Piper-PA 28 Cherokee crashed into the back of a family’s home. The mother was in the kitchen and two of her kids were in the living room. The crash left a giant hole in the back of the home.

Flooded North Texas Lakes Remain Closed This Weekend. Rain soaked them out of commission. NBC 5 has a list of which to avoid this holiday weekend.

State Rep. Victoria Neave’s Rape Kit Bill Heads to Gov. Abbott’s Desk. House Bill 8 would require an audit of all the untested rape kits in the state, to determine how many there are, what their status is, and where they’re located. In 2017, Neave passed a bill her rookie season that allowed Texans to donate a dollar or more toward rape kit testing when they get their licenses renewed. State Sen. Jane Nelson, of Flower Mound, got a complementary bill passed to add $50 million each year to pay for employees and technicians that can be hired to test the kits. Neave’s initial bill raised more than half a million dollars, but local authorities were nervous about hiring techs without a more consistent funding source.

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Sports & Leisure

If You Want to See Dirk Nowitzki One Last Time, Better Hurry Up

| 2 days ago
photo credit: Brandon Colston 2018

Tickets for The Big German’s annual celebrity charity baseball game at Dr Pepper Ballpark in Frisco are almost sold out, so if you would like to see Dirk goofing around on the diamond, you best hustle. It’s the last guaranteed time you’re likely to see Dirk for a while. OK, yes, at some point next season, his No. 41 will be retired, so you can check that out. And, yes, at the same time but probably another day, a statue will go up near the soon-to-be renamed Nowitzki Way. And OK I’m sure he will probably be around here and there, popping up on the broadcast or shooting around with the boys before a game or doing something with his foundation.

But none of that is guaranteed. Seeing him in Frisco on June 7 — with Mark Cuban and former (ugh, still too soon) teammates Devin Harris, Dwight Powell, Courtney Lee, and Dennis Smith Jr., Dallas Cowboys Dak Prescott, Zeke Elliott, and Tyron and Jaylon Smith, Kevin Mench (?!)and I’m sure some other good names — that is definitely happening.

So get tickets. Good time, good cause. Link and full press release after the jump.

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R.I.P, Grumpy Cat. All Hail Shelby!

| 2 days ago

Grumpy Cat left us too soon. I know we are all still in a period of mourning. I’ve never before sat shiva for a cat, but Grumpy Cat was no ordinary cat. One more day to go.

After tomorrow, though, I think it’s time to party with Shelby. Shelby is a Persian who moved to Dallas from Louisiana two years ago. The human she lives with pointed me to Shelby’s Instagram feed, which has 43,000 followers. For comparison, Grumpy Cat had 2.7 million upon her passing, and Zac Crain has 1,335.

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How I Ended Up in John Isner’s Bedroom

| 2 days ago

I never thought I’d be in John Isner’s bedroom.

Truthfully, I never thought I’d be in his home, but I had come to interview Highland Park jewelry designer Madison McKinley, and John just happens to be her husband.

Madison, who was pregnant with her first child at the time (and radiant in a blue floral maxi dress), started talking about her latest jewelry line. Then I asked how the ESD grad had ended up marrying the best male tennis player in the United States, a strapping 6-foot-10 hockey fan from North Carolina, and she told me this crazy Netflix-worthy rom-com story that involved a mother-daughter book club trip to London.

So the jewelry story was clearly going to have to take a turn.

Later, after Madison had her baby, I returned to her home with Elizabeth Lavin, our staff photographer, for a photo shoot. Elizabeth took beautiful photos of Madison nursing her daughter and of John coming home from a workout at SMU to kiss his wife and child. Then Elizabeth made a suggestion.

“I’d love to photograph you all snuggled up in your bed under that gorgeous duvet!” she announced with typical enthusiasm. John looked at her askance. He was nervous enough about his attire for the living room shots, asking to keep his socks on because he said he had ugly feet. “Like I did with Tony Romo,” she added, as if that settled the matter.

Next thing I knew, John, Madison, and Hunter Grace were cuddled under the duvet. Elizabeth was standing on something (a step stool? the dresser?). I was asking John about when he first fell for Madison. And then the lighting rig crashed into the wall.

I won’t assign blame, but it left a noticeable dent.

Elizabeth still owes the couple some photos. Meanwhile, I left with a great story for the June issue. You can read it here.

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Because All Bald Men Look Alike

| 2 days ago

Having been forgiven for freaking out the group text by mistakenly (OK, drunkenly) announcing that Sonoma Magazine had won general excellence at the CRMA awards banquet for our circulation category when, in fact, we were the champions, and having subsequently lost a $200 bet to Matt Goodman in the foggy afterglow of our victory for confusing Cal Fussman (who I was incredibly annoyed with two years ago) with David Granger (who I was incredibly annoyed with this year), I am sufficiently recovered from the 2-for-1 Monday night celebratory special at the fine Minneapolis establishment Gay 90s to point out two things.

First: the story that my profile of Bonton Farms founder Daron Babcock lost to, “The Curious Case of William T. Vollmann” by Hillary Louise Johnson, is spectacular. Read it.

Second: one of the other four finalists in my group was “The Making of Dana Loesch” by Jeannette Cooperman. Jeannette writes for St. Louis Magazine, and NRA spokesperson Dana Loesch grew up in Missouri. But she now lives in Southlake. A taste:

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Michael Peticolas Tells Us in One Quote Why Beer To Go Matters

| 2 days ago

Beer to go is almost home. Last night, the Texas Senate passed a bill that includes an amendment allowing local breweries to sell cans and bottles and growlers from their taprooms. Texas is the only state where that practice is banned. Strictly from a consumer standpoint, holding onto that ban made little sense.

But beer to go also has larger implications for North Texas’ craft beer scene, which continues to grow but is in many ways still finding its feet. Places like Noble Rey and Denton’s Audacity Brew House have shuttered in the last couple of years. At our Happy Hour With an Agenda event at Peticolas last week, Michael Peticolas spoke to that growing competition and the uncertainty it has produced. After what he called an exclusive growth stage from 2010 to 2015, things have reached a competitive tipping point. According to Beer in Big D, there are now 70 craft breweries in North Texas and another 30 planting their roots for a launch. Here’s Peticolas:

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Nature & Environment

A Fundraising Party to Celebrate the Victory Over Shingle Mountain

| 2 days ago

The city is at a crossroads. Dallas will elect a new mayor in the June 8 runoff. What solutions will the new mayor bring to old problems? What can be confidently known about Dallas’ political future is that the city’s Sisyphean planning to build a park in the floodway near downtown will continue. The city will need to ask for more money to realize those plans because, according to Sarah Standifer, assistant director of Dallas Water Utilities, the $246 million in bond money voters approved for lakes and parks in 1998 is “no longer in the drawer.”

One way to challenge this tired narrative is to openly air the city’s history of troublemaking as it pertains to the Trinity River as well as to address the hard truths of environmental injustice. (The two are related; people who live in neighborhoods near the river know this all too well.) An upcoming event on Thursday, May 30, presents such an opportunity. The event, called “Together We Can Build Mountains,” is a fundraiser featuring Marsha Jackson, whose homestead sits in the shadow of Shingle Mountain. Others in attendance will include two of Dallas’ most enduring and accomplished troublemakers, Luis Sepulveda and Jim Schermbeck. The public is invited to attend, though reservations are required and seating is limited.

What follows is a Q&A with Jim Schermbeck, the director of Downwinders at Risk, one of four sponsors of the event. He and I talked about lead contamination, air quality, zoning, plans for a park, and all points in between.

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