A Daily Conversation About Dallas


Are Texas’ Public Universities Failing Their Dropout-Risk Students?

| 6 mins ago

On Thursday, the Communities Foundation of Texas announced a new slate of grants from its W.W. Caruth Jr. Fund. On that list: ScholarShot, a Dallas-based nonprofit whose model serves to turn a troubling truth about Texas education on its head. In the Lone Star State, nine out of 10 low-income, first generation kids who enroll in college drop out. But with support from ScholarShot, which has a team of full-time employed academic managers, nearly all of them end up graduating or earning associates or vocational degrees.

But now the organization wants to attack the problem from another angle. ScholarShot will spin the $187,500 grant on accountability research, examining how well the state’s public universities support these students who are at high-risk for dropping out. The research will be published as a report card, with schools rating A through F, and ScholarShot Executive Director Dan Hooper is hopeful that it could have an impact on high school advisers and policy makers alike. I got Hooper on the phone for a few minutes Thursday to talk about the new effort.

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Local News

Leading Off (4/26/19)

| 2 hours ago

Kalita Is Still Crumbling. Frank Lloyd Wright’s Turtle Creek gem is stuck in something of a limbo, decaying in front of our eyes. The Dallas Theater Center wants to be granted a long-term lease, but the renovations needed would probably cost between $30 million and $40 million. And, as Robert Wilonsky writes, preservationists are none too thrilled about handing the theater over to the DTC because they blame the group for “letting the theater rot during its original decades-long tenancy.” What’s likely to happen is that the Office of Cultural Affairs will send the job of a master plan out for bids, which will delay updating it even further.

State Rep. Eric Johnson’s Housing Corruption Bill Progresses. Johnson is making good on his mailers. A bill to remove local elected officials from the process in which the state approves affordable housing credits made it to the floor of the House. The bill is a response to Carolyn Davis’ bribery plea, in which she says she accepted money from a housing developer to prioritize his project. Johnson says the bill is separate from his campaign, which, OK.

DFW Airport is Arresting People Caught with CBD. Customs officials are doing quick tests of the oil at the airport and, if it has even a trace of THC, it gets confiscated and the individual is often placed under arrest. Some of the people arrested: a 71-year-old woman who says she used the CBD as medicinal pain relief and a 22-year-old student from Collin County.

Don’t Go To Work. Go Outside Instead. Because it’s beautiful. This weekend, there’s only a slight chance of thunderstorms. I’ll take it.

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Pop Music

Weekend Round-Up: Cardiac the Ghost Plays Fortress Festival

| 18 hours ago

Welcome to the weekend. I know you’ve been waiting for this moment for all your life. Or the last few days. It’s going to be worth it, though, because this weekend is a good one in Dallas. There’s EarthX, billed as the world’s largest environmental experience, in Fair Park. That includes some cool films, conferences, and educational events. There’s Art Ball, which is the Dallas Museum of Art’s main annual fundraiser and a swanky good time. Please don’t damage the concrete steps this year. It looks like we’ve avoided cranes falling into the building, at least. There’s Taco Libre, which will be less swanky but probably more delicious. Finally, there’s the third annual Fortress Festival. Rae Sremmurd, Tinashe, and Chvrches are coming to town for it, but Leon Bridges’ homecoming is the most exciting part. Another exciting act to watch for: Dallas’ own Cardiac the Ghost. I interviewed him ahead of his performance, and you can read that below. If you’re just trying to make weekend plans, see our Things To Do page here. Otherwise, let’s chat with Cardiac.

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Politics & Government

Why Dallas Should Switch to Ranked-Choice Voting

| 19 hours ago

Never heard of ranked-choice voting? For a compelling introduction to the concept, listen to this Radiolab podcast. But here’s a TL;DL (too long, didn’t listen) version:

We’ve got nine candidates in the race for Dallas mayor. That means, with near certainty, no one will get more than 50 percent of the votes, and we’ll head to a runoff between two candidates in June. To make the runoff, then, a candidate might need only about 15 percent of the votes. For comparison, check out our 2007 mayoral race, when we had 10 candidates: Roger Herrera, Gary Griffith, Edward Okpa, Ed Oakley, Darrell Jordan, Jennifer Gale, Tom Leppert, Max Wells, Don Hill, and Sam Coats. Oakley (20 percent of the vote) and Leppert (27 percent) went to the runoff. Hill, a criminal, didn’t miss by much; he got 14 percent.

Is Dallas well served by this system? Not when the field is crowded with candidates like it is again this year. Basically, any of the candidates could make the runoff. They simply don’t need that many votes, and the votes will be spread fairly evenly (probably more evenly than in 2007). A few percentage points will likely separate the losers from the two runoff-ers.

Which brings us to rank-choice voting. Rather than cast a vote for one candidate, you’d rank all nine candidates. There would be no runoff. Perhaps the candidate with a whole bunch of third-place votes would win outright. The advantages to the system: an expected higher rate of participation (“I don’t know who I want for mayor, but I know who I don’t want, so I’m going out to vote against that person”) and a winner that is supported by more of the population (“She was my third choice, but I can live with that”).

Here are the places in the United States where rank-choice voting is used. Are you gonna tell me that Memphis, Tennessee, is more progressive than Dallas?

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Sports & Leisure

Hey TCD Ladies, Get Your “Little Mo” Stamps Now!

| 20 hours ago

FrontBurnian philatelists, correct me if I’m wrong. But I believe that this week may mark the occasion of the first Dallasite to ever be commemorated on a U.S. postage stamp.

Maureen “Little Mo” Connolly Brinker was known for firsts. A teenage tennis phenom, she was the first woman to win a calendar Grand Slam. Before a horseback riding accident ended her professional career at age 19, she had already won a total of nine Grand Slams. (That’s eight more than Sloane Stephens and seven more than Naomi Osaka, both of whom are in their 20s.)

The native Californian moved to Dallas after marrying Norman Brinker, a member of the 1952 Olympic equestrian team, president of Jack in the Box, and founder of Brinker International. She was honored with a dedication at SMU on Tuesday that featured her daughter, Cindy Brinker Simmons, and local pro John Isner. She’s only the third tennis player to be featured on a stamp. The other two are Arthur Ashe and Althea Gibson.

Little Mo had a great low volley, and I’m jealous of that tennis outfit. But I mostly love her attitude. In her 1957 autobiography, Forehand Drive, she shared this: “I hated my opponents. This was no passing dislike, but a powerful and consuming hate. I believed I could not win without hatred.”

Inspiring words from the woman who helped inspire the Tennis Competitors of Dallas.

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Local News

Meet the Candidates Running for the Open City Council Seat in District 9

| 21 hours ago

In the weeks after Councilman Mark Clayton announced he would not seek another term to represent the neighborhoods surrounding White Rock Lake, five candidates declared their intention to succeed him.

Paul Sims, the presumed frontrunner and park board member, quickly dropped out. Remaining is Paula Blackmon, a former strategist for mayors Tom Leppert and Mike Rawlings. There is Sarah Lamb, the relative newcomer to town who became known for her opposition to TxDOT’s plan for the intersection known as 3G, or where Gaston, Garland, and Grand chaotically come together. There is Erin Moore, the activist and volunteer whose day job is executive assistant to County Commissioner Theresa Daniel. Tami Brown Rodriquez is there too; she owns a consulting firm and touts her background in business and financial services at forums.

The sprawling District 9 encompasses Lakewood, Forest Hills, Old Lake Highlands, Lochwood, Casa Linda, and Casa View. In 2015, Clayton, who owns an insurance business in Old East Dallas, was one of four candidates vying for the seat vacated by Sheffie Kadane. It wasn’t a close race. Clayton won almost 60 percent of the vote, thanks in part to his opposition of the Trinity Toll Road.

Clayton is leaving the horseshoe after four years. His largest role was co-chair of the Mayor’s Poverty Task Force, where he has worked to implement a new homelessness commission in Dallas County. He has been outspoken and sympathetic to the city’s most vulnerable, and his time in office will be remembered as such. But he also helped get a new aquatics center built at Harry Stone Recreation Center and spearheaded the ongoing redevelopment of the Casa View shopping center. However, the Garland Road Vision plan remains unrealized and newer developments, such as the former Steakley Chevrolet dealership on Northwest Highway, cater to suburban-style revitalization of big box stores and fast food chains. Judge that how you will.

Coming into May’s election, recent forums show a significant concern for the health and future of White Rock Lake, which desperately needs to be dredged. Property taxes are a central issue for voters considering the district is primarily single-family. There are also the priorities that seem almost standardized across all 14 districts: public safety, infrastructure, transportation, and homelessness.

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Politics & Government

Your Daily Look at Early Voting Numbers

| 21 hours ago

A FrontBurnervian with very strong Excel skills sends along this look at early voting totals through yesterday. You can see vote totals by Dallas district. Upshot: we’ve got 12,297 votes cast so far. Your hot spot, as expected, is District 13, where the race between Laura Miller and Jennifer Gates has drawn 17 percent of the total votes cast.

UPDATE: What’s that, you say? You want more data crunching? Our Excelling FrontBurnervian sends along this chart showing voter participation based on registered voters by district. Snapshot:

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Arts District

More Notes on What Ails the Arts District

| 23 hours ago

We moved into our D Magazine downtown studios (way cooler word than “office”) in 2009, about a month before the AT&T Performing Arts Center opened just a few blocks away from us, on the east end of Flora Street. I took hard-hat tours of the Wyly and Winspear, and we produced a special issue about the buildings and how their tenants would change downtown, creating a real neighborhood. At an Arts District open house for the entire city, on a Sunday in October, the weather was great, and thousands of people poured into the streets. The future felt within reach.

Fast forward a decade. The other day, in an effort to stretch my legs at lunch, I walked a half-mile from work to the 7-Eleven in One Arts Plaza to grab a sandwich. I found Flora Street a wasteland. There were no people, save for workers jackhammering away on part of the Winspear. Sidewalk paver stones were missing. Craters gaped where trees once stood. Orange construction signs lay toppled hither and yon. I took pictures on my return journey to the D Magazine studios and put a post on FrontBurner titled “A Quick Tour of the Arts District, the Prettiest, Deadest Place in Dallas.”

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Politics & Government

The Highlight of Yesterday’s City Council Meeting

| 1 day ago

OK, that mullet pic was a bit of a misdirect. Back in January, we talked about Councilman Lee Kleinman’s mullet. That is not UN-important. And at yesterday’s meeting, Kleinman displayed his continued commitment to the party-in-back lifestyle. But the most important thing at yesterday’s meeting was the following bit that involved Councilman Philip Kingston’s behavior. To fully understand what was in play, watch the entire video of yesterday’s discussion of the sick leave matter. But here is the thing for now. Councilman Adam McGough had just distributed a proposed amendment. You’ll see Kingston, to the left, rip it up. Then you’ll see him leave his seat to address the mayor, who nearly (it seems) says that Kingston should be removed from the meeting. It’s quite something:

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Leading Off

Leading Off (4/25/19)

| 1 day ago

Police Review Board’s Power Expanded. City Council voted unanimously yesterday to give the board more power. The Rev. Michael Waters said he’s “grateful to stand with all of these, who have stood for this cause of justice.”

Dallas Employers Have to Provide Paid Sick Leave. The City Council approved an ordinance yesterday mandating paid sick leave for employees. The ordinance, if it stands, is supposed to go into effect August 1. Employers who violate the rule could have to pay a fine.

Man on the Loose After Farmers Branch Assault. A woman reported that a man forced his way into her Farmers Branch apartment and sexually assaulted her. He is still at large.

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Politics & Government

Rolando Blackman Endorses Regina Montoya Via Text

| 2 days ago
A terrible photo of me and Rolando Blackman.

A bicycling FrontBurnervian passes along word that, today, the following text is hitting iPhones and (gross) Samsung Galaxies all over Dallas:

Hi, I’m Will sharing an endorsement message from former NBA All-Star Rolando Blackman supporting REGINA MONTOYA for Dallas Mayor. Regina knows the most important endorsement is your vote, but we wanted you to see this because Rolando has worked with her and knows her track record. Learn more at Rolando’s statement: “Regina Montoya believes that Dallas can work better and do more to serve all of our people. She has the breadth of experience, professionalism, and management skills the job of mayor demands. Regina will ensure our great city invests in our most important resource: our people, and that’s why I am honored to support her campaign for Mayor.” Can we count on your vote for Regina Montoya for Mayor?

Ro Blackman, AS YOU KNOW, is a former shooting guard for your Dallas Mavericks and — maybe you also know this? — the reason I wore No. 22 as a savvy (if insanely left-handed dominant) high school shooting guard. “A glue guy” according to the scouting report. His endorsement got me thinking/my editor told me to think: who are other former Mavericks endorsing? I made some calls*.

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