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A Daily Conversation About Dallas

Education

Dallas Baptist University Evacuated After Threat

| 13 hours ago

Just after 1 o’clock, the university put the following message on its website and social media channels: “We have received a threat against our campus and are evacuating the DBU campus IMMEDIATELY. THIS IS NOT A DRILL. For those who cannot evacuate the main campus, please move to the Burg Center immediately. All classes are cancelled today, Tuesday, October 15. Further instructions to follow.”

No other details yet. Here’s a live video feed from Channel 5’s chopper.

UPDATE. From DBU at 3:33 p.m.: “Earlier today, DBU Police received a bomb and coordinated armed threat to campus. In consultation with DPD and the FBI, the campus was evacuated out of an abundance of caution. DBU is working with DPD to sweep the campus and clear for safe return of students. No injuries. More info to come.”

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Business

How Stephen Jones Helped Build the Dallas Cowboys Empire

| 14 hours ago

Jerry Jones garners all the headlines. Daughter Charlotte has the megawatt smile. But it’s Stephen Jones who quietly leads Dallas’ ultimate family business, the Dallas Cowboys. After graduating from the University of Arkansas in 1988 with a degree in chemical engineering, Stephen had been working for about a year in Fort Smith, reading drilling logs, when his father bought the Cowboys and asked him to join him in the team’s front office.

Thirty years later, Stephen runs the show as chief operating officer, executive vice president of player personnel, and president of AT&T Stadium. He also oversees the family’s formidable real estate operations—which industry observers say is worth even more than the $5 billion Forbes assigns to the Cowboys. He manages most major events that come to AT&T Stadium and The Star in Frisco. And if that weren’t enough, Stephen also plays a significant role at Comstock Resources, an energy company in which the Jones family has a controlling interest.

In the October issue of D CEO, writer Tom Stephenson delivers a fascinating, all-access look at Stephen Jones—what makes him tick, his relationship with his dad (Says Jerry: “He is often keeping me grounded and actually keeping me less controversial.”), moments of family bonding (like the time the Joneses got into a bar fight in Aspen), behind-the-scenes player personnel battles (especially with former coach Bill Parcells), his “blurred lines” leadership strategy, and who truly holds the baton.

The full profile is online today. Read it here.

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Local News

Casey Thomas Gets a Wrist Slap for Unreported Use of the VisitDallas Suite at AAC

| 14 hours ago

Dallas’ Ethics Advisory Commission hit Council member Casey Thomas with a violation Tuesday morning stemming from his use of VisitDallas’ suite at American Airlines Center. Thomas’ recommended punishment amounts to a slap on the wrist; even the complainant had asked the board to take it easy on the southern Dallas representative.

Pending approval from the full Council, Thomas will receive a letter notifying him of his violation—he is, of course, already aware—and advising him of the steps he should take to make sure it doesn’t happen again.

Retired Dallas attorney Barry Jacobs filed the complaint in late August, stemming from VisitDallas documents first reported in July by D Magazine that showed Thomas had used the suite multiple times. After a hefty delay and a ruling from the Office of the Attorney General regarding our open records request, the city sent us a list of Council members who’ve used the troubled visitor’s bureau’s suite. On it were Thomas and former West Dallas Council member Monica Alonzo.

Jacobs’ original complaint took issue with Thomas’ continued participation in VisitDallas business and his failure to report the free tickets on his annual gift disclosures. On Tuesday, Thomas’ attorney said the Councilman has agreed to recuse himself from VisitDallas business going forward. With a 6-1 vote, the Commission found he violated his duty to report the tickets. Council members must disclose gifts worth at least $250.

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Parks

Kelcy Warren Gives $20 Million to Klyde Warren Park

| 14 hours ago

Apparently not content to let li’l ol’ Pacific Plaza have its moment in the sun, the folks at Klyde Warren Park this morning held an event to release renderings of the park’s expansion — and to announce that Kelcy Warren and his wife Amy have committed $20 million to get the job done. (Kelcy, of course, donated a reported $10 million to get the park built in the first place and then named it after his son.) Here’s a video showing the expansion and some other changes to the existing park (a new fountain, larger children’s park). Below that, I’ll give you the full press release. It includes contact information if you’d like to donate money to the project, which will cost around $60 million. Naming opportunities are still available!

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Local News

Leading Off (10/15/19)

| 19 hours ago

Former Fort Worth Cop Jailed on Murder Charge. Aaron Dean, who fatally shot Atatiana Jefferson in her home, was booked yesterday evening. Bail was set at $200,000.

New Park Opens in Downtown. The 3.7-acre Pacific Plaza has 144 newly planted trees. The mayor and other dignitaries braved some drizzle to cut the ribbon yesterday. Here are some pictures to get you pumped.

Spaghetti Warehouse Is Closing. The restaurant operated in the West End for 47 years. It will close October 20.

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State Fair of Texas

State Fair Portrait of the Day (10/14/19)

| 1 day ago
Tim Phillips has visited the State Fair at least 15 times. (Photo by Jason Janik)

Tim Phillips is on his 15th non-consecutive visit to the State Fair of Texas.

“I might not have made it every year, but pretty much. It’s a tradition for us. We enjoy it. We mainly just do the shows and the various booths. The one thing I try to hit every time we come is the car show. I’m not really shopping for a car, I just like looking. We sat in the Camaro for about 10 years in a row and finally bought one. We also like to get a caricature done. We have three hanging in the kitchen. We’re trying to get our fourth, but there’s a long line at all the caricature booths. It’s packed!” 

Head here for our guide to the State Fair of Texas, which provides advice on what and where to eat and drink, the rides to ride, and a comprehensive roundup of the day’s best events.

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Celebrities

Kathie Lee Gifford Does Dallas

| 1 day ago

I love Kathie Lee Gifford.

I love that she has overshared about motherhood, telling TMI stories about her kids’ diapers to Reege on live TV. She has stuck her foot in her mouth on countless occasions, but apologized when necessary. She has opened up about her hardships, her miscarriage, her late husband’s infidelity. She has shamelessly sipped 5,300 glasses of wine in the morning. She has shown us her Spanx. She has talked about God and Jesus and her faith when that is just not something people do on television—unless they’re appearing on the Christian Broadcasting Network or they are rappers accepting a Grammy. These are also reasons why some people hate her. We will agree to disagree.

Point is, Kathie Lee has never not been Kathie Lee. She was living her authentic life in the public eye decades before the rest of us started doing it on social media. And from the time I was a wee People Magazine reader, eating up celebrity interviews like Skittles, to my years as a lonely stay-at-home mom, I have cringed, I have laughed, I have imagined my coffee cup was full of chardonnay.

So, when I saw an invitation to chat with Kathie Lee ahead of a luncheon, I RSVP’d with an emphatic “yes”—even though I opened the invite at 10 p.m. and the event was at noon the next day. There was no time to touch up my roots or find a sitter for my six-month-old, just barely enough to locate an acceptable upgrade from my newly-developed uniform of “spit-up dribbled athleisure.” Didn’t matter. This was the notorious KLG. Nap schedules went out the window. Baby put on his most professional onesie.

This private luncheon with Kathie Lee was at the Oak Lawn boutique Brenda Schoenfeld Now, which, as you may guess, is owned by a woman named Brenda Schoenfeld. I wrote about the magnetic Mexico-born designer and her magical boutique the week before I went on maternity leave. The first time I walked into Brenda’s shop she made a bee-line for my pregnant belly, so it was no surprise that even though Brenda was busy preparing for a highbrow luncheon, she immediately scooped the infant out of my tired arms and began baby-talking in Spanish a mile-a-minute. She ripped a price tag off a toy from the small kid’s area in the boutique, which is otherwise filled with heirloom-quality jewelry, glassware, décor, and linens.

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Local Government

A Complete Look at the New Members of Dallas’ City Council Committees

| 2 days ago

On Friday, Mayor Eric Johnson announced his long-awaited appointments for Dallas’ City Council Committees. Of note: the freshman Chad West (North Oak Cliff’s representative) captures a spot as a chair. Newcomers Paula Blackmon (East Dallas) and the splash-making Adam Bazaldua (South Dallas) get snubbed as chairs or vice chairs. Mayor Pro Tem Adam Medrano (Deep Ellum/downtown) does not get a spot as a chair, the only multi-termer not to. And Casey Thomas (southern Dallas) and Omar Narvaez (west Dallas) chair the newly created workforce and environment committees, respectively.

City business generally feeds through and gets fine-tuned in these committees before reaching the full City Council. Policy is occasionally returned to committee when the full body disagrees or wants further exploration. The committees themselves give us a glimpse of Council priorities and the appointees show us which officials are going to have the most influence on each.

With input from Council, the mayor decides the names and priorities of the committees and then appoints their members. His committees were approved by City Council through an amendment to the city’s rules of procedure last week. His appointments came out in a memo just two days later.

It’s unclear whether Medrano preferred to chair something. Tristan Hallman, Johnson’s chief of communications, declined to go into specifics about committee requests, and Medrano hasn’t returned a call for comment. Bazaldua expressed disappointment to the Dallas Morning News, although he said he wasn’t taking it personally.

The appointments come a full four months after the mayor’s inauguration, and past the point in the calendar where these things are usually set. Former Mayor Mike Rawlings appointed his committees by August. Some of his leadership choices will stand pat under Johnson. Tennell Atkins will serve as chair of the Economic Development Committee after formerly leading the joint eco devo and housing committee. Jennifer Staubach Gates remains atop government performance. Adam McGough still heads public safety. Lee Kleinman still heads transportation.

West will chair Housing and Homelessness Solutions. Carolyn King Arnold will chair Quality of Life, Arts, and Culture, formerly headed up by Sandy Greyson. Vice chairs and full committees below.

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Crime

Kaylene Bowen-Wright Sentenced to Six Years

| 2 days ago

In the August issue of D Magazine, Peter Simek wrote about a strange case in which a mother put her young son through multiple unnecessary surgeries and even went so far as to falsely claim the boy was terminally ill. It was titled “The Boy Who Stayed Sick,” and it focused on the boy’s father, Ryan Crawford, and his years-long fight to prove that his son wasn’t sick. That fight came to an end Friday when the boy’s mother, Kaylene Bowen-Wright was sentenced to six years in prison.

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Health & Medicine

An Update on Dallas’ Bottom-of-the-Barrel Uninsured Rate

| 2 days ago

I’d like to point you to my colleague Will Maddox’s piece over on D CEO Healthcare. Every few months, a consumer-facing research website likes to go through Census data and make broad declarations about healthcare or finance or something else that the bureau tracks. This time, it’s WalletHub, and today’s is the uninsured rate. And Dallas’ rate of 24.42 percent ranked 539 out of 548 of American cities. That affects people of color far more than white residents: black people had an uninsured rate of 20 percent while Latinos were uninsured at a rate of almost 38 percent.

The national uninsured rate is 8.5 percent, while Texas’ is 17.7 percent. The state’s long been dubious when it comes to its uninsured rate. (I’ve been reporting that since the early days of 2015.) State leaders stubbornly refused to expand Medicaid through the Affordable Care Act, grouping it in with 14 other states who wouldn’t do so. Most of those states are our company at the bottom of the list. Our neighbor Oklahoma is No. 2.

There were problems with the expansion model, sure. Medicaid never paid doctors well, which has led many to stop accepting those patients. Hospital leaders have long maintained that the uninsured population aren’t going to primary care doctors, allowing their conditions to deteriorate until they need an emergency room. But financially, expanded Medicaid would’ve been something of a safety net for providers. As it stands, when this population gets sick, they show up at the hospital—the most expensive place to receive care. And the cost of that care either gets eaten by that hospital or, especially if they go to Parkland, it winds up being footed in part by the taxpayer. That’s not sustainable.

Dallas is the largest American city with the highest rate of uninsured residents, and, as Will notes, seven of the 10 most poorly insured cities in the nation are in Texas. We have work to do. It’s a reminder of the importance of getting an accurate, complete count during the 2020 Census. That’s how the feds dole out funding for healthcare to communities, including programs that help insure poor kids. If we undercount, we miss out on those dollars. And you can see how badly the region needs any help it can get.

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Local News

Leading Off (10/14/19)

| 2 days ago

The Outrageous Death of Atatiana Jefferson. What was the Fort Worth police officer who shot the 28-year-old in her mom’s house early Saturday morning thinking? Read this by Sharon Grigsby.

Is It Too Early to Fire Jason Garrett? This column says no but your heart says yes, I know it. You know it. Garrett knows it.

Trump is Here This Week. And so are the Oath Keepers.

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Dallas 500

Meet the Dallas 500: Cynt Marshall, CEO of the Dallas Mavericks

| 4 days ago

Cynt Marshall

This was originally published in the October issue of D CEO.

When former AT&T executive Cynt Marshall was named CEO of the Dallas Mavericks in 2018, she became the first woman to lead the team’s front office. The NBA franchise had come under fire after workers complained of a hostile and toxic work environment. Turning things around became priority No. 1 for Marshall. “We have transformed the culture,” she says. “We still have work to do, but we truly have a different culture than what we had.”

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