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Leading Off

Leading Off (12/14/17)

| 1 month ago

Dallas Police Targets Home or Business Owners Who Tolerate Crime. Yesterday, the City Council passed a “nuisance abatement” ordinance, which lets Chief U. Renee Hall pinpoint properties that tolerate crime and focus on the owners. City officials can now put up a sign on these properties and mark them as “habitual criminal activity” sites. Anyone who removes the signs without approval will be committing an offense, but owners who fix up the property can get the sign taken down.

Developers Want to Save Part of the Old Dallas ISD’s Headquarters. Leon Capital Group is spending more than $9 million on DISD’s former Ross Avenue headquarters. It plans to build an apartment complex on the block at Ross and Washington with 380 rental units and a six-level parking garage. The space includes the existing central building of the DISD headquarters.

Dallas Firefighter May Be Charged with Intoxication Manslaughter. An off-duty firefighter, who was suspected of driving drunk in Cedar Hill yesterday, crashed into an 18-year-old woman and her unborn baby, who were killed in the crash. He rear-ended the woman, Alyssa Pimentel, who was ejected by the impact. The firefighter, Horace Shaw III, was booked into the Dallas County Jail and faces a count of intoxication manslaughter.

Hazing Gets TCU Fraternity Suspended. The Epsilon Beta chapter of Delta Tau Delta was suspended due to allegations of hazing. Details of the hazing are unclear, as is whether a police investigation is underway. “This chapter, including its leadership, willfully violated not only the fraternity’s risk management policy but also our stated values. Hazing is an aberration to those values,” said Jim Russell, executive vice president of the fraternity’s national chapter.

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Education

Is Dallas ISD a Better School District Than Highland Park ISD?

| 1 month ago

For a while now, I’ve been following a local Twitter account called TheMap.io. I’m not smart enough to get the reference, but the bio reads: “Cities, Data, Mapping, Urbanism, Transit. And fashion!!!!!!” Pretty much describes me.

Anyway, the guy behind the account revealed himself to me today when he linked to something he’d written on Medium. I invite you to read this essay by Robert Mundinger, the title of which I stole for this post: “Is DISD a Better School District Than Highland Park?” You think that’s a ludicrous question? As Mundinger (God, I hope he’s married to a woman named Mandy) points out:

“Most people see a good ‘school’ as a school with a bunch of high achieving kids. But this is a bit like judging the quality of the food in a restaurant based on who’s eating it.”

Take a few minutes to read the whole thing — especially if you happen to work at Amazon.

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Local News

UT-Arlington Professor: ‘What’s the Big Deal’ About Adult Men Dating Underage Girls?

| 2 months ago

Earlier this month, UT-Arlington philosophy professor Keith Burgess-Jackson posed a question on his blog: “What’s the big deal about a 32-year-old man courting a 14-year-old girl?”

Burgess-Jackson’s take on the age of consent and changing cultural norms—he notes that his grandmother was 15 when she married a 41-year-old man—comes in response to sexual abuse allegations made against Alabama Republican Senate candidate Roy Moore. The Nov. 11 blog post seems to have gone mostly unnoticed until this morning, when it was quoted in a Federalist column arguing that Alabama voters should support Moore even if the accusations against him are true.

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Leading Off

Leading Off (10/18/17)

| 3 months ago

Zeke Elliott Granted Temporary Restraining Order to Play Sunday. The Cowboys’ controversial running back will rejoin practice today at The Star and will play Sunday against San Francisco. A U.S. district judge, filling in for the assigned judge who was on vacation, ordered a temporary restraining order against Elliott’s six-game ban last night. It’s good through October 30 unless another hearing is held first. The assigned judge will make a more permanent decision when she gets back.

The Search for Sherin Mathews Continues in a Field Near Richland College. Police moved the search for 3-year-old Sherin Mathews to a field near Richland College yesterday. It’s less than 2 miles from the Mathews’ home in Richardson where her father put her outside in an alley at 3 a.m. as a punishment. Police said they found “objects of interest” but haven’t elaborated yet.

DISD Superintendent Wants to Close Two Schools and Convert Two to Charters. Superintendent Michael Hinojosa said the goal in doing this would be to avoid punishment from the state for the schools’ poor performances. He didn’t say which schools he had in mind, but he’ll present his plan to trustees on November 2. If no action is taken, the school board and superintendent could be replaced. “If I take a chance and they don’t make it, something is going to happen in August. We’re not running from the accountability. We have something great we want to replace it with,” Hinojosa said.

Getting Caught with Weed in Dallas Doesn’t Mean You’ll go to Jail Now. Yesterday, Dallas County commissioners passed a “cite and release” program to free up cops to focus on violent crimes. Dallas police can now give a court summons to people found with less than 4 ounces of marijuana. It will go into effect December 1.

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Leading Off

Leading Off (9/28/17)

| 4 months ago

DISD Will Vote on Jump-Starting Renaming Schools Honoring Confederates. The Dallas ISD board of trustees will vote tonight about when to begin the process of renaming four elementary schools that are named after Confederate generals. A resolution created by board president Dan Micciche proposes waiving current policy and making an accelerated timeline for the name changes. If accepted, the board would hear recommended changes in November and vote on their enactment in December.

Former Dallas Cop to Pay $6.3 Million Related to In-Custody Death. Ernesto Fierro had already gotten in trouble multiple times when he worked for the DPD in the 1990s and 2000s. In 2013, when he was a cop in East Texas, he pulled 70-year-old William Livezey over while off duty, and the man died of a heart attack when he was being arrested. Livezey’s family had brought charges against Fierro for an illegal traffic stop and excessive force. Now Fierro, who was convicted of aggravated assault, has been ordered to pay the family $6.3 million.

Fort Worth Teacher Caught Soliciting Minor. North Crowley High School science teacher Jarrod Cook was arrested in an online predator sting after he replied to a “Sunday Funday?” post. Investigators posed as 13- to 15-year-old girls and boys. Cook, along with six other suspects arrested, met at a location for sexual contact with a person they thought was a teenage girl. He and the others are in custody.

The State Fair Kicks Off Tomorrow. Read about all the new fried foods and then get your ticket.

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Education

DISD Students to Receive School Supplies From Mark Cuban—If Trustees Don’t Stop Him

| 5 months ago

The Dallas Mavericks just sent out a news release. It reads, in part:

This upcoming school year, each student in the Dallas Independent School District (approx. 158,000) will receive school supplies including a notebook, pencil and a Mavs game voucher from the Dallas Mavericks and owner Mark Cuban.

On Monday, August 28th, the first day of school for Dallas ISD, the Mavs ManiAACs, Dancers, Champ and MavsMan will distribute over 6,000 school supplies to Skyline High School and Frank Guzick Elementary School in East Dallas to celebrate the beginning of the 2017-2018 school year.

This raises a question, though. Will DISD trustees Lew Blackburn, Joyce Foreman, and Bernadette Nutall allow this to happen? Their track record suggests they won’t. 

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Education

Tomorrow DISD Trustees Decide Their Legacy

| 5 months ago

The Verdict is one of my favorite movies. Everyone loves the final courtroom summation given by the beaten-but-not-broken lawyer played by Paul Newman. (“You know, so much of the time, we’re lost.”) It’s wonderful, but I’m partial to a speech he gives early in the film, when he’s trying to woo a woman in a bar, both of them a little drunk. He’s telling her why a jury doesn’t guarantee justice for the politically or culturally vulnerable — only a chance at justice. “Will they get it with your jury?” she asks him.

“They might,” Newman says. “Yes. That’s the point … is that they might … you see, the jury wants to believe. They’re all cynics, sure, because they want to believe. I have to go in there tomorrow to find 12 people to hear this case. I’m going to see a hundred people and pick 12. And every one of them, it’s written on their face, ‘This is a sham. There is no justice …’ but in their heart they’re saying, ‘Maybe, maybe.’”

Maybe what?

“Maybe I can do something right.”

Tomorrow, Dallas ISD trustees are going to take a vote. There are nine of them, not 12. This is not one person who needs help overcoming long odds; it’s 158,000 of them, all kids. The majority of them are brown, a lot of them are black, and almost all of them are poor. And tomorrow we find out if we chose a just jury to decide the fate of those children. Tomorrow, their legacy will be written. We will know if they want to do something right.

Here is what’s at stake:

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Leading Off

Leading Off (8/17/17)

| 5 months ago

Rally Against White Supremacy to Draw Thousands. The rally will take place Saturday near the Confederate War Memorial downtown. There will be speakers from local activist groups at the protest, which will happen from 7:30 to 9:30 p.m. in Pioneer Park by City Hall. Organizer Eric Ramsey expects 3,000 people to show up. “Our point of the rally is to unite people of all different colors, genders, sexual orientations in a show of unity, diversity, and love,” Ramsey said.

DISD Wants to Get Rid of Confederate Names in Schools. DISD trustees want to discuss removing the names of Confederate generals from the names of public schools following the Charlottesville violence. There’s a petition out to change the names of two schools, and trustees will meet about that on Sept. 14.

New UNT Chancellor Comes from NASA. University of North Texas regents are expected to announce Lesa Roe as the only finalist for chancellor today. She is currently NASA’s second in command and has been with NASA for 32 years. At age 54, she’ll be the first woman to be chancellor for the UNT system.

Cowboys Think Bathroom Bill Failure Increases Chances to Host NFL Draft. Now that Texas’ bathroom bill is dead, the Cowboys think the have a good chance of getting to host the 2018 NFL draft. Their proposal is to have the first two days at AT&T Stadium and the last day at The Star in Frisco. The decision from the NFL should be coming relatively soon.

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Leading Off

Leading Off (7/21/17)

| 6 months ago

New Dallas Police Chief Says She’s Up to the Challenge. Some of the problems Ulysha Renee Hall will need to tackle are a shrinking department, increased crime, and police morale and pay issues. “The city of Detroit has experienced the same elements and challenges that the city of Dallas has right now. We’ve come out on top,” Hall said.

North Texas College Professors Want to Fight Fake News. Professors from UT Arlington and UT Dallas are working on a proposal that would use technology to help get rid of fake claims in the news. They have a one-year grant of $30,000 from UT Austin’s Texas National Security Network Excellence Fund.

Former Lab Tech Says Workers Celebrated Payday by…Groping Each Other? Yes, seriously. Holly Pinks, a former employee at Southwest Laboratory in Old East Dallas, is suing the company for sexual harassment during events called “Gropening Day.” The suit says that male employees, including her boss, told her that on Fridays “everyone would be getting groped or touched inappropriately.” Pinks said that “It was almost like a cloud of sexual harassment and assault on a daily basis.” Can someone help me understand how a group of people got together and thought this was a good idea? I am thoroughly disgusted.

Heat Advisory Today. It’s going to hit 100. We’re officially in the triple digits, people. Stay cool.

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Leading Off

Leading Off (7/13/17)

| 6 months ago

Dak Prescott Takes ESPY for Breakthrough Athlete. The Cowboys quarterback and 2017 NFL Rookie of the Year took home the ESPY for breakthrough athlete last night—a very well-deserved win. The guy just can’t be stopped.

DISD Trustee Miguel Solis Shows Opposition to Bathroom Bill. Yesterday, Solis and others gathered outside DISD headquarters to oppose the bathroom bill legislation that will be discussed at the upcoming special legislative session. DISD’s bullying policy protects students from being targeted for things like gender identity and expression. Solis said the bill “marginalizes an already marginalized group.”

DART Wants to Overhaul Bus Service. It will hold a hearing in September on changes to its bus service, planned for next spring. Eliminating at least four bus routes is one of those changes, in an attempt to free up buses for busier routes. DART plans to host community meetings prior to the September hearing to gather customer feedback.

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