A Daily Conversation About Dallas

Local News

Irving’s Mayor and City Council Get VIP Treatment at Toyota Music Factory

| 2 hours ago

A month ago, I wrote about which Dallas City Council members were using VisitDallas’ suite at American Airlines Center. Well, first I complained that the city wouldn’t tell us who was using it, and then the city told us it was southern Dallas council member Casey Thomas and former West Dallas member Monica Alonzo—so I wrote about that. Soon after, I got a fun email about an adjacent situation in Irving.

One request for city records later, I’ve come to realize a few things. The city of Irving’s deal with the Toyota Music Factory gives it seven premium seats to every Live Nation event held at the Pavilion, the mixed-use development’s outdoor concert venue. The mayor, Rick Stopfer, gets first dibs on four of them. The city’s seven attendees also get a $12,500 monthly bar tab to spend via servers who swing by their seats. And Stopfer has a live music habit that would put the most seasoned festival-goer to shame.

In July, Toyota Music Factory hosted Coheed and Cambria, Jill Scott, Young the Giant with COIN, PRETTYMUCH, The Head and the Heart, Chaka Khan and Michael McDonald, Rock the Yacht, The Try Guys, Caravana Del Amor, Yes, Third Eye Blind, $UICIDEBOY$, and Alice Cooper and Halestorm. Stopfer received at least four tickets to all 13 shows.

According to a list of the ticket distribution, in the three years the venue has been open, the mayor has attended 148 events in all.

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Local News

Leading Off (8/21/19)

| 4 hours ago

Uber Makes it Officially Official. The transportation tech company will ship in 400 jobs by the end of the year, moving into six floors of a building at Deep Ellum’s The Epic development in 2020. It’ll eventually move into a new 25-story building in the same development, occupying just about the whole thing. Total incentives for the deal could reach $36 million. And then there’s this.

Dallas County Commissioners Vote Down Raises. County officials up for a bump in pay were not happy with Judge Clay Jenkins and commissioners Elba Garcia and J.J. Koch, who decided nah.

22-year-old Charged in Double Homicide. On Monday, police arrested and charged a man name Dangelo Johns for capital murder related to a shooting in a Pleasant Grove game room last week that left two dead.

Woman Killed in Old East Dallas. Authorities found Sara Hudson, 22, after extinguishing an SUV that was on fire.

Cowboys Extend Jaylon Smith. It’s five years and $64 million, with $35.5 million guaranteed.

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Uber Likes Us! They Really Like Us! But Hang On …

| 20 hours ago

It’s official. Uber is opening an office in Deep Ellum that will eventually employ 3,000 people. The company will have 400 people in place by year’s end. The mayor, the county judge, the governor, the Dallas Regional Chamber — everyone is super pumped about the decision to give Uber $36 million in incentives to set up shop. So good on us. I hope this works out. I’ll put aside for now my concerns about whether the company will ever turn a profit. Never mind the 400 employees who were laid off in July. Course correction. It’s all good.

Except wait a second here. One passage in the DMN story about the news caught my attention. It’s this:

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About Town

Jeffrey Epstein Conspiracy Theories and Ghislaine Maxwell’s Dallas Family Tree

| 22 hours ago

Firstly, if you’re already caught up in Jeffery Epstein murder conspiracies, as several of my coworkers are (Tim), please read this. Christine Tartaro, author of Suicide and Self-Harm in Prisons and Jails and a professor of criminal justice at Stockton University, makes a good point in an interview published today with Mother Jones. Part of the reason people find Epstein’s suicide hard to believe is because so many Americans don’t understand the current state of correctional facilities across the country. They suck. New York’s Metropolitan Correctional Center, where Epstein died, has been the subject of prisoner complaints for its torturous conditions for years.

Secondly, if you thought the whole Epstein thing had nothing to do with Dallas, read this. Over the weekend, The Daily Beast traced the twisted family tree of Epstein’s longtime companion, Ghislaine Maxwell. One of Ghislaine’s older sisters, Christine Maxwell, spearheads Special Projects for Information Resources at the University of Texas at Dallas. The board director of Chiliad Inc. made her fortune as one of the founders (along with her twin, Isabel) of Magellan, one of the first internet search engines. She’s also the author of the international bestseller The Pergamon Dictionary of Perfect Spelling. Apparently it is very helpful for people with dyslexia.

Thirdly, as to why Christine may be relevant to the whole affair, the New York Post reported yesterday that she was spotted picking up bags near the Massachusetts home of Scott Borgerson, a tech CEO who had been romantically linked to Ghislaine, leading to speculation that she might be aiding her sister.

Fourthly, if you thought the Maxwells were a crazy clan, The Daily Beast also goes down the rabbit hole of Christine’s husband’s lineage. Christine is married to the astrophysicist Roger Malina, who is a professor of physics at UTD. His father is Frank Malina, a member of Caltech’s infamous Suicide Squad (so-named because their rocketry experiments were so volatile) who is described as “an early Elon Musk type who was part of the ragtag group whose daring rocket experiments in 1930s Pasadena led to the formation of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in L.A., the precurser to NASA.”

But because the FBI labeled Malina a socialist during the McCarthy era, and he was subsequently forced to flee to Paris, he is often not credited as one of the early space race pioneers. The upside is that he took up painting and launched Leonardo, a peer-reviewed journal that seeks to provide a scientific take on art.

And like father like son: Roger, as the Arts and Technology Distinguished Chair and founder of the ArtSciLab at UTD, works to create collaborations between artists and scientists.

That’s all I’ve got.

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Manhattan Beer Company Got This One Wrong

| 23 hours ago

In recent days, Dallas’ Manhattan Project Beer Company has been called to task for its atomic-based nomenclature, in particular, a beer called Bikini Atoll. The brewery claims that by naming its product after an atoll in the Marshall Islands, it’s building awareness. But many people disagree, in particular, Pacific Islanders. One approach to the outpouring of public objections would be to listen and learn. After all, who better to speak authoritatively on the myriad associations conjured by a product named Bikini Atoll than Islanders in the Pacific?

The brewery, unfortunately, has doubled down and will not drop the name. Another perspective to consider is the audacious act of commodification that precedes the most recent one and the kind of multiplier effect this exerts on Pacific Islanders, in particular, Bikinians.

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Trinity River

Venice Is Holding Calatrava Responsible for His Poor Design. Will Dallas?

| 24 hours ago

Remember how Dallas built two fake suspension bridges on either side of I-30 which were supposed to allow pedestrians and bicyclists to cross the Trinity River, except the construction of the Santiago Calatrava-designed bridges was so dangerous they never opened? Yeah. Hard to forget that one.

Well, the bridges are still not open, but this story about another Santiago Calatrava-designed bridge reminded me of Dallas’ saga. Venice is fining Calatrava for “macroscopic negligence” over a bridge he designed that crosses the Italian city’s Grand Canal. The glass-and-steel bridge near the tourist mecca’s main train station supposedly can’t withstand the intense daily traffic. A court in Rome ruled that the architect failed to account for the huge number of tourists that cross the bridge every day. “This is negligent, the court said, because it is something ‘everyone understands’ about the floating city,” Artnet reports.

The story reminded me of Dallas’ Calatrava soap opera because, well, this kind of thing follows Calatrava around the globe. His sleek designs are notoriously high maintenance, over budget, and prone to failure. Here’s a short list of his debacles:

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Mother Who Subjected Child To 13 Surgeries Pleads Guilty, But Son’s Future Hangs in Balance

| 1 day ago

Ryan Crawford was driving with his son Christopher to Walmart last Friday when he told him the news. The day before, Christopher’s mother, Kaylene Bowen, appeared in Dallas County criminal court to plead guilty to a second-degree felony charge of recklessly causing injury to her child. As part of a deal with Dallas County prosecutors, the charge was reduced from a first-degree felony charge of intentionally injuring her child, and it carries a potential sentence of 2 to 20 years with the possibility of parole. The sentencing hearing will be held on October 11.

When Christopher heard the news, he asked his father, “Does that mean that she’s finally saying that she did hurt me?”

“I told him yes, and he pretty much said, ‘that is a good thing,’” Crawford said. “He is always looking at it as if she finally tells the truth, then her life can move on.”

Crawford and his son have been trying to move on with their own lives despite the looming criminal trial, which was set to start Monday. In the August issue, I write about how about how Christopher’s mother allegedly fabricated her son’s many illnesses and subjected him to excessive medical care that resulted in 13 major surgeries, life-threatening blood infections, and a host of other invasive medical treatments. It appeared to be the latest, bizarre case of Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy, or what experts are increasingly referring to simply as medical child abuse.

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Local News

Leading Off (8/20/19)

| 1 day ago

Heat Advisory in Effect Again. The afternoon heat index could hit 110 today. Good luck.

Barbershop Killer Turns Herself In. Alexis Bowman is suspected of killing Frederick Myers August 10 at his barbershop, the Kingz of Cutz on Al Lipscomb Way. She apparently had worked there and thought she was owed some money. She was booked on a murder charge but was released yesterday after posting bond.

Plano Council Votes to Fund Rape Crisis Center. After a fairly pointless, headline-generating debate over the center’s use of Plan B emergency contraceptive pills, Mayor Harry LaRosiliere found a compromise, and the Turning Point will get $57,542 in funding from the city.

Zeke’s Camp Not Cool With Jerry Jones’ ‘Zeke Who?’ Joke. He’s so mean!

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Politics & Government

Mayor Eric Johnson Announces Task Force on Violent Crime

| 2 days ago

Mayor Eric Johnson on this afternoon announced a civilian-only task force that is charged with developing policy recommendations to help the City Council stop a wave of violence unlike Dallas has seen in more than a decade.

Johnson said no police would be participating and added that he has not spoken to Chief U. Reneé Hall since she took medical leave for an unknown surgery more than a month ago. The mayor urged the task force to come up with “holistic and data-driven solutions for communities disproportionately affected by violent crime.” Johnson said he expected “concrete recommendations” to be brought before city leadership by year’s end.

“These solutions should not rely exclusively on law enforcement,” he said. “I believe in the Dallas Police Department, and I believe the Dallas Police Department’s focus on guns, gangs, and drugs is both smart and necessary to help reduce violent crime in our city. But we can’t ask or expect law enforcement to do it all.”

He opened his announcement by reflecting on the death of 9-year-old Brandoniya Bennett, who was shot and killed in her Old East Dallas apartment last week. Police say a 19-year-old fired into the wrong unit a little after 5:30 p.m. last Wednesday, striking the girl as she relaxed inside. Johnson named the three chairs of the task force and said he planned to name the rest “very soon.” They include Alan Cohen, the head of the nonprofit Child Poverty Action Lab; Rene Martinez, an educator, community activist, and longtime member of LULAC; and Rev. Michael Bowie, of the Saint Luke Community United Methodist Church in the Far East Dallas neighborhood of Owenwood.

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Hearing Some Interesting Rumors About Tristan Hallman’s DMN Departure

| 2 days ago

Do I consider myself “sourced-up” at the Morning News? No, that would be my esteemed colleague Eric Celeste. I’m not really sourced-up anywhere. I used to be sourced-up at the Old Monk, but I honestly don’t know much of the staff there anymore. I don’t even always know what is going on at my own house.

But I do, occasionally, hear things. People talk. I pay attention and pick up a few things. And this time, yeah, I would say I have something. I can’t tell you who told me and I am going to be a bit fuzzy about a few things regarding Tristan Hallman’s recent exit from the DMN and editor Mike Wilson. ANYWAY, with all that preamble aside, here goes:

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DART’s Cotton Belt Line Comes Into View, to the Chagrin of North Dallas Residents

| 2 days ago

I rely on DART. Having not owned a car in a decade—a personal point of pride, especially in this city—its services are my primary method of getting around town. While I have learned to enjoy the benefits that DART provides (and there are benefits) I understand why many people shy away from, or outright dismiss, Dallas’ sole provider of public transit services.

The system can be daunting and confusing. If you are trying to get from Point A to Point B with one or more transfers, you need to time everything just right as to not get stuck at a station or on the side of the road. Buses don’t always show up when they’re supposed to, traffic being a primary contributor. Yet, for all of its inefficiencies, I can’t call DART altogether ineffective. It will get you where you are going, but it will test your patience.

Last Thursday, I took DART from my work in downtown to the June Shelton School and Evaluation Center in Far North Dallas to attend the fourth community meeting regarding the Cotton Belt, DART’s 26-mile suburban rail line connecting Plano to DFW Airport. It was the first to be held in the city of Dallas. It took more than an hour to reach Arapaho Road and Hillcrest Lane, a distance of about 13 miles. Here’s what that trip looked like:

  • 5:04 p.m. – Leave work and walk to the station
  • 5:16 p.m. – Get on the train
  • 5:44 p.m. – Arrive at Arapaho Station
  • 6:00 p.m. – The 361 bus arrives, three minutes later than scheduled (this is pretty good)
  • 6:15 p.m. – Arrive at Arapaho and Hillcrest bus stop, walk to Shelton

I know what you’re thinking. “It takes an hour to get from downtown to North Dallas?! Are you insane? Get a car, you fool!” For many, this is a standard travel time on DART. It takes up to an hour or more to travel almost anywhere from downtown unless you live within a four-mile radius. And this is just from downtown, DART’s central hub. It’s a completely different story riding the system across town. It’s not a new thing, either. In 2016, D’s Peter Simek spent some time riding buses around Oak Cliff. His headline: “Doesn’t Anyone at DART Realize How Terrible Riding DART Actually Is?”

I pass the time reading books and refreshing my Twitter feed.

Inside Shelton’s Gene and Jerry Jones Family Dining Hall, neighbors gathered for the meeting, talked among themselves, and looked at enlarged photographs of the Cotton Belt route, running east to west, along the sides of the room.

As the presentation got underway, it was clear that we were in for a contentious evening. DART officials recognized notable members of the community, their own board members who were in attendance, as well as recently elected Dallas City Council member Cara Mendelsohn. The Cotton Belt runs through the middle of her district. She addressed the 200-member strong crowd, voicing many of their concerns.

“There are lots of things that are happening and you have to speak up because you think it’s hard to fight City Hall? It’s really hard to fight a railroad,” she said. “So, use your collective voice and make things happen. I’m with you. This is not a great thing for the neighborhood.”

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