Monday, October 2, 2023 Oct 2, 2023
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Local News

Leading Off (10/2/23)

Zac Crain
By |

Cowboys Win. The team is not beating the “struggles in the red zone” charges just yet, but it hardly matters when the defense is scoring and getting QBs benched and so on. The 38-3 victory over the Patriots could have been an even bigger blowout if not for some settled-for field goals. Up next: a big rematch with the 49ers. StrongSide will have what you need all week.

Wings’ Season Ends. They made the next step this year, advancing to the second round of the playoffs, but they couldn’t make one more, losing a tough Game 3 to A’ja Wilson and the Las Vegas Aces to finish off a sweep. But, again, progress was made!

Rangers Lose Division But Make the Playoffs. Maybe the team celebrated a little too hard—or at the very least a little too early—after securing their first playoff berth in seemingly forever Saturday night with a win over the Mariners. Or maybe that had nothing to do with it. At any rate, they couldn’t do it again, losing 1-0, meaning they finished the season with an identical 90-72 record to the Astros and lost the division on a tiebreaker. (FC Dallas also drew with Houston on Saturday; not worth its own entry.) Next up: the Tampa Bay Rays.

Powerball Jackpot Tops $1 Billion. That’s the second time this year. The drawing is tonight, and if you win, I need a little seed money for my dream train ferry project. Hit my line for details.

Here is a Building Implosion. Enjoy.


As Strangeways Closes, Fitzhugh Avenue Changes Face Once Again

Christopher Mosley
By Christopher Mosley |
Strangeways, the beloved neighborhood bar on Fitzhugh Avenue, will close in October after a dozen years in business. Nan Coulter

About 20 years ago, two business partners were counting bricks of drugs and money in an empty bar on Fitzhugh Avenue. Two officers from the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission walked into the run-down shopping center and interrupted the drug deal. The counters eyeballed each other, then pulled their guns on the TABC officers. They yell in broken English: GET THE F— OUT RIGHT NOW.

The officers complied, the story goes, and never returned. In the late 90s and early 2000s, scenes like this were unfolding regularly east of Central Expressway on Fitzhugh. The street was marked by clubs and bars that frequently made news for violence and drug busts.

If the dealers knew then that the present-day street value of queso and guacamole a few blocks down at Joe Leo Fine Tex Mex was easily moving at $14.49 a serving, they might have decided to trade crime for real estate.

Today, this stretch of Fitzhugh is home to an Australian coffee shop chain with no wi-fi and flanked by a growing number of mid-rise apartments with rent paid by people who probably would never imagine such scenes playing out steps away from their espressos.

Eric Sanchez is one of the keepers of this history. One recent afternoon, the co-owner of the 12-year-old bar Strangeways is impersonating those TABC officers, Foghorn Leghorn style, plucking at invisible suspenders. He is sitting outside of his business, which he opened with his family in August 2011.

He’s discussing the past because this beloved neighborhood bar is closing, the result of the landlord choosing to sell the building to another owner. A link to the former East Dallas and its future is going away with the closing of the bar. Swankier businesses at much higher price points threaten to swoop in and take its place. All the work the Strangeways family has put in could become part of the same mythology that defines old Fitzhugh, another tale told by the next loquacious barkeeps. If they know the story.

State Fair of Texas

State Fair Photo of the Day: 9/29, the Return of the Corny Dog

Matt Goodman
By |
Lori Ayala gets her corny dog at the State Fair of Texas on September 29, 2023. Jason Janik

Every year, once the State Fair of Texas opens its gates, photographer Jason Janik picks up his camera and gets to work. We’ll be posting a photo of the day for the remainder of the fair, capturing the little scenes that make the event such a special time in Dallas.

First up is a fair staple: the Fletcher’s Corny Dog. Lori Ayala was one of the thousands who got to the park early and bee-lined it to the Fletcher’s stand. She dressed her item correctly: mustard, no ketchup. To find where you can snag one of these corny dogs—and cheap beer, air conditioning, restrooms, and plenty more—visit our guide to this year’s State Fair of Texas. See you at Fair Park.


Revealed: New Location of Harold Simmons Park

Tim Rogers
By |
Land for the planned park outlined in blue, near the intersection of Commerce and Beckley streets, in West Dallas

Three days ago, I reported what I thought was breaking news. I’d heard a rumor that the much-vaunted 200-acre Harold Simmons Park would not, after all, be built between the levees, alongside the Trinity River. So I called Tony Moore, the head of the Trinity Park Conservancy, the nonprofit building the park, and got him to confirm that.

Turns out, Ken Kalthoff over at NBC 5 had reported this back in June. I didn’t learn that fact until I’d posted my report and put a link to it on Twitter. Someone there was like, “Hey, doofus, Kalthoff beat you by three months.” You know when people say they are humbled but they actually mean they are honored? Well, I was actually humbled.

So I updated my post, and I watched Kalthoff’s story. It was light on specifics, such as where, exactly, the park would go. Kalthoff stood on the Trinity Overlook Park, on the levee, and gestured toward West Dallas. And I remembered something Tony Moore had told me: “The brick and the mortar and the park proper, we’ll put those outside the levees, attached to the levees but not down in the floodway.”

I went to the Dallas Central Appraisal District’s site and clicked on the nearest property to the Overlook Park. It is owned by TPC Beckley LLC, which shares an address with the Trinity Park Conservancy. I kept marching west, clicking. DCAD shows that a whole bunch of properties in that neighborhood are controlled by either the law firm Munsch Hardt or by a lawyer named Phillip Geheb, who works at Munsch Hardt. They all changed hands recently.

Local News

Dallas Businessman Carl Westcott Is In a Legal Battle With Katy Perry and Orlando Bloom

Bethany Erickson
By |
Katy Perry, seen here at the 2022 CMA Awards, is locked into a legal battle with ailing Dallas businessman Carl Westcott over a home he says he didn’t intend to sell to her. Andrew Nelles / / USA TODAY NETWORK

Dallas businessman Carl Westcott is currently battling pop star Katy Perry and actor Orlando Bloom in court over a real estate transaction he said he never would have agreed to if he had been of sound mind.

Opening arguments in the case started Wednesday, with Westcott’s lawyers arguing that their client had spinal fusion surgery just days before signing an agreement to sell his Montecito, California, home to Perry and Bloom for $15 million on July 15, 2020. He sent a letter to Perry’s representatives seven days later saying he changed his mind about selling the home, blaming his age (he’s 80) and the pain medication he was taking. Westcott’s attorneys also say that he has been diagnosed with Huntington’s disease, which attacks the nervous system and can cause cognitive and psychiatric disorders. His family says he is bedridden.

Westcott founded several companies to make his family fortune, including 1-800-Flowers, First Extended Service Corp., Westcott LLC, and Westcott Communications. His son Chart ran for the state representative seat in District 108 in 2013, losing to Morgan Meyer. Another son, Court, and his wife Kameron are likely the two most recognizable Westcotts; Kameron appeared on Bravo’s Real Housewives of Dallas and Court occasionally made cameos. He also has two other children, Gary and Carla.

Local News

Leading Off (9/29/23)

Matt Goodman
By |

ERCOT’s Reserve Trickery Cost Texans $8 Billion. One of the reforms following the 2021 freeze was a program that encouraged energy producers to create a reserve for the power grid. An independent monitor found that this program, which came online June 10, “created a price spike that amounted to a quarter of the cost for all electricity purchased in Texas in 2022,” according to the Dallas Morning News. Basically, power plants are paid to stand on the sideline at the ready in case demand outpaces supply. But it’s rare that they actually turn on and produce. This program has paid out $8 billion in hiked fees.

Man Shoots at Arlington Car Dealership. The suspect opened fire around 6:30 p.m. last night at Vandergriff Honda at Cooper Street and Matlock Road. The suspected gunman is a former employee who had been recently fired. He took an AR-15 inside near the new cars and traded bullets with a manager, who was armed with a handgun. Police shot the man after he approached them with the weapon.

Rangers Keep It Interesting. The Mariners pulled it together in the ninth to sneak past the Rangers 3-2 and postpone the playoff celebration for another night. Texas needs just one win to clench the crowded top of the AL West and make it into the playoffs with a bye. Tonight’s game starts at 9:10 p.m.

The Fair Begins Today. The gates open at 10 a.m. Take our comprehensive guide and plan your trip(s). We’ll see you out there.

KERA will move from its Uptown headquarters, but not far, and not for long. The news organization announced Thursday that it has made a deal with Kaizen Development Partners to turn part of its campus into new residential and office towers, along with a new headquarters.

The station will sell about 2.4 acres of its property, which is located on Harry Hines Boulevard near the Dallas North Tollway and the Harwood District. Kaizen says the new project, called Chalk Hill, will include a 400,000 square-foot office tower; a 270-unit 25-story residential high-rise; and restaurant and retail space, all opening around 2027. Thanks to its proximity to the Katy Trail and the Hi-Line Connector, it will also offer residents fairly easy access to the LOOP, a 50-mile paved trail that circles Dallas. Kaizen is promoting the access on the project’s website.

The terms of Kaizen’s purchase of the southern end of KERA’s property include an agreement that it will oversee the development of the entire 3.75-acre site, including the broadcaster’s new building on the north end of the property. No purchase price was provided in the joint press release.

Local News

LeadingOff (9/28/23)

Bethany Erickson
By |

Jury Finds Officer Used Excessive Force in Timpa Death. A federal civil jury found that Dallas officer Dustin Dillard used excessive force and violated the late Tony Timpa’s rights when he knelt on his back for about 14 minutes in 2016. Timpa, who had called 911 for help during a mental health crisis, died. The jury also found that two of the other three officers at the scene—Danny Vasquez and Raymond Dominguez, failed to intervene. Timpa’s 15-year-old son was awarded $1 million damages, but since the jury did not feel the officers acted in malice, no other damages were awarded. 

SMU Student Dies in Crash. Dallas police said Wednesday that Honor Elizabeth Wallace, an SMU student, and a female passenger were driving near Monticello Avenue and the North Central Expressway service road Sunday when Lynlee Pollis allegedly ran a red light. All three were sent to a local hospital, where Wallace died of her injuries. Pollis was arrested and charged with intoxication manslaughter and intoxication assault.

Abbott Says October Special Session Will Address Border Security. During an appearance on Fox News, Gov. Greg Abbott said he was adding border security to the list of tasks for an upcoming special session in October. He cited unsubstantiated reports about an alleged housing development for undocumented immigrants near Houston as the impetus. The session was originally supposed to address school funding, teacher raises, and vouchers—the latter is expected to get significant pushback. Abbott still hasn’t given a date for when the session will start.

Good Samaritans Rescue Stolen Dogs. Two dogs were rescued from a median at Forest Lane and Hillcrest Road this week, and a microchip revealed that the two pit bulls belonged to owners in Little Rock, Arkansas, so they drove them to Texarkana to meet the owner and his son.  One of the dogs was being trained to be a service dog, and both had been stolen. Volunteer Amie Rogers said: “And I said where do you live? And he said Arkansas. And I was like Arkansas Street? And he said, Little Rock, Arkansas. And I thought holy be-jiminy. How did these dogs get to Dallas?” Did I pick this story because of this quote? Holy be-jiminy yes.


Takeaways: The Ticket’s Parent Company Drops Lawsuit Against Jake Kemp and Dan McDowell

Bethany Erickson
By |
Jake Kemp, left, and Dan McDowell, right, left The Ticket after contract negotiations fell through. Their former employer sued them for breach of contract, but dropped the effort Tuesday night. The Dumb Zone/Youtube

Not quite two months after Jake Kemp and Dan McDowell—former midday hosts on sports radio station The Ticket—were sued by their previous employer, both sides say they’ve agreed to drop the matter entirely. (Disclosure: Kemp works as a freelancer writing for StrongSide, our sports section.)

“They each appreciate one another’s sincere efforts to resolve their differences so that everyone involved can move forward,” read a statement shared Tuesday night on The Ticket’s social media accounts and on Kemp and McDowell’s podcast The Dumb Zone. “The parties wish each other well.”

When we talked to the two in early August, the lawsuit was fresh. Susquehanna Radio, the parent company of Cumulus Radio and The Ticket, had filed for a temporary restraining order to prevent Kemp and McDowell from recording The Dumb Zone. Susquehanna’s suit alleged the two breached the non-compete clauses of their contracts. 

Since then, a series of events may have led to the abrupt resolution of the dispute. 

Monday, the Washington Post wrote about how Kemp and McDowell’s case could be the test for the National Labor Relations Board’s new guidance on non-compete clauses.

On September 15, U.S. District Judge Karen Gren Scholer denied Susquehanna’s request for a temporary restraining order, finding that the company did not meet the requirements for a TRO. By Tuesday, court documents indicated that the two sides wished to drop the litigation, and Scholer dismissed the case.

And while Scholer’s ruling on the TRO wasn’t on the merits of the suit itself, the transcript of the hearing shared on social media and verified independently by D Magazine reveals several things that likely led to the sudden about-face.

Here are five takeaways from that transcript:

Here’s what you don’t want if you’re a suburb of Dallas: you don’t want NBC News Studios to do a podcast with a title that is your town’s name.

In 2021, reporters Mike Hixenbaugh and Antonia Hylton brought us the excellent Southlake, a podcast about racial tensions in that city. It won a Peabody award, and it was a finalist for a Pulitzer. It did not cast Southlake in the best light.

So I suggest that everyone in Grapevine buckle up. Because on October 4, Hixenbaugh and Hylton and their NBC buddies are dropping Grapevine, a six-parter that “tells the story of one family broken apart in the midst of a new anti-LGBTQ culture war, and the high school English teacher caught in the middle.” You can listen to a trailer here.

Just wait until NBC hears that we’ve got a suburb called White Settlement.


Dallas Lands $2.5 Billion Federal Biotech and Life Science Hub

Will Maddox
By |
Pegasus Park, home to a major U.S. biotech initiative. Pegasus Park

Dallas will be home to one of three regional hubs for the Advanced Research Projects Agency for Health, a new federal agency established by the Biden administration to accelerate health outcomes by developing high-impact solutions to challenging health issues. The announcement reflects North Texas’ growing reputation as a national biotech and life science development leader.

Earlier this year, the agency announced it would choose three locations to serve as regional hubs, and ARPA-H announced Tuesday that Dallas would be home to the Customer Experience Hub to support the $2.5 billion independent federal agency. The announcement comes after two years of statewide collaboration between universities, industries, and other partners in Dallas, Austin, Houston, and San Antonio to bring biomedical science and research opportunities to the Lone Star State. Advanced Technology International will operate the space as the hub’s consortium management firm.

Pegasus Park will host the agency, turning ARPA-H investment and research into real-world adoption and clinical trials in the name of improving health outcomes. “This will put Dallas on the map as an alternative to Boston and Silicon Valley and help grow the industry to diversify the Texas economy,” said Tom Luce, the Lyda Hill Philanthropies CEO for Biotech Initiatives, who helped lead the effort to bring the agency to Dallas. “The agency will be working to turn research into changing health outcomes.”

Local News

Leading Off (9/27/23)

Matt Goodman
By |

Federal Judge Rules Drag Show Ban Unconstitutional. Senate Bill 12, passed by the Texas Legislature during its most recent session, banned performers from wearing certain types of clothes and dancing in certain types of ways in front of children. Opponents sued, alleging that it violated the First Amendment, and U.S. District Judge David Hittner—a Reagan appointee—agreed, finding that it “impermissibly infringes on the First Amendment and chills free speech.”

Dallas County Democrats Want Eric Johnson to Resign. The party chair says voters feel “deceived” after the mayor “knowingly portrayed himself as a lifelong Democratic voter and representative throughout his re-election campaign for mayor” and should relinquish his seat. The mayor’s colleagues have definitely jabbed at him, but most say the nonpartisan nature of the seat is no reason for theatrics.

Judge Reinstates Paramedic Who Kicked Man in the Face. Brad Cox was demoted a rank and won’t get any back pay, but can return to work. Cox challenged his firing to an administrative law judge. He argued that he kicked a man named Kyle Vess only after he was attacked. Bodycam footage shows Cox kicking Vess in the face while officers take him into custody.

Police Investigating Woman’s Death in Downtown Apartment as Homicide. Police were called to an apartment in the 1400 block of Elm Street a little after 1 p.m. on Monday. They found Jenean Chapman, 46, dead inside. The medical examiner’s office ruled her death a homicide, but have not released further details.

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