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A Daily Conversation About Dallas

Sports

College Football Runs Deep for the HALL Group’s Kim Butler

| 18 mins ago

Kim Butler, director of leasing for HALL Group,  grew up in a football family. As a child, she’d travel with her dad to watch his alma mater, the University of Houston, play in the Astrodome. When her younger brother began playing college ball, she’d religiously attend his games, too. But it was her time on the sidelines as a cheerleader—middle school through college at Texas Tech University—that solidified her love for the game. “It was so much fun,” she says. “Once you’ve been down there on the field, that close to the action, it’s hard to go back to sitting up in the stands.”

Along with Texas Tech, her No. 1 team, Butler follows three other programs: Southern Methodist University, Texas Christian University, and the University of Georgia. She got her master’s degree at SMU and her brother played there until the school was hit with a “death penalty” for NCAA violations; he played his senior year at Georgia. Her oldest daughter attended TCU. “I cover three conferences,” Butler says. “My adopted PAC 12 team is Washington State, because of Mike Leach. It gives me a reason to stay up late.”

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Local News

Leading Off (12/10/19)

| 3 hours ago

It’s Cold! Quite a drop from yesterday. It’s about 35 degrees. And this morning we might even get a bit of snow. But don’t get your hopes. It’s not going to stick.

City Runs Short on Funds to Deal With Inclement Weather. Dallas will once again open the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center tonight for people who need shelter. But according to the woman who runs the Office of Homeless Solutions, “the city’s emergency shelter operations are unsustainable and just not a viable option.”

Dallas PD Has Spent More Than $10 Million on Police Misconduct. Over the last five years, the department has spent $7.4 million on settlements and $2.4 million on fees for outside attorneys. And CBS Channel 11 says there are more than 30 cases still unresolved. (For comparison, the station reported, in the same time frame, Fort Worth spent a little more than $2 million.)

North Texas Home Prices to Drop in 2020. That’s what Realtor.com is forecasting.

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Local News

Some Takeaways From the Mayor’s State of the City Q&A

| 16 hours ago

Mayor Eric Johnson gave his State of the City address on Monday, taking questions from NBC 5’s Julie Fine in front of 800 people at the Hyatt Regency downtown. He discussed his recent directive on violent crime, anti-city efforts in Austin, and his love for SMU athletics. Let’s hop to it.

The Mayor Doesn’t Want You Reading Between the Lines of That Letter to City Manager TC Broadnax. This would be the letter, sent last Tuesday, in which Johnson asked Broadnax to produce a “comprehensive, written plan to reduce violent crime in Dallas by a time certain.” It represented a noticeable shift in tone for the mayor.

A little over two months ago, at the Texas Tribune festival, Johnson downplayed the violent crime statistics and talked about how the spurt of 40 murders in May skewed the year’s stats.

On Monday, Johnson said he’d resisted pressure to play into scare tactics while on the campaign trail. We were merely halfway through the year at that point, he said. With a month left and with the highest body count in more than a decade in view, Johnson called the issue “a significant concern.”

In his letter, he called out the disproportionate effect on the city’s African American population. About 64 percent of gun violence victims in Dallas are black, according to our analysis of five years of city data.

He maintains this isn’t about setting the stage for a resignation, and that the letter “was not meant in any way to be disparaging of TC Broadnax.” (He says he hasn’t met with him since, but he had a regular, weekly meeting on the books with Broadnax for Monday afternoon. Broadnax said in a statement Wednesday that he and Chief U. Reneé Hall are on it.)

“If I wanted to call for someone’s removal, I’d call for their removal,” he said.

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Business

Steve Demetriou Is D CEO’s 2019 CEO of the Year

| 19 hours ago

As we began evaluating contenders for 2019 CEO of the Year, Steve Demetriou’s qualifications quickly stood out. Although he doesn’t have the name recognition of past winners like Jerry Jones (2017) or Randall Stephenson (2016), he has quietly engineered a stunning, multibillion-dollar transformation of the global technical and professional services giant Jacobs, where he serves as CEO and chair (preferring the genderless title, versus chairman).

Jacobs’ stock price has climbed about 120 percent since the day he took the reins in August 2015. A series of mergers and acquisitions opened up new avenues of business for the company, driving revenue from $11 billion in 2016 to nearly $15 billion last year. Demetriou streamlined operations by selling off an energy and chemicals unit for $3.3 billion, and moved Jacobs’ corporate headquarters from Pasadena, California, to downtown Dallas.

But, writes Jason Heid, who put together our cover story, if you talk with others in the company about where Demetriou has had the most significant impact, they don’t point to the numbers: “They all mention the same thing. All the good he has done, they’ll tell you, began with his transformation of the company’s culture.”

Read Jason’s profile here.

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Criminal Justice

Exoneree Richard Miles Receives a CNN Heroes Award

| 22 hours ago

In 2009, Richard Miles was released from prison. It would be 2012 before the state of Texas deemed him actually innocent, clearing his name from a mid-1990s murder and attempted murder. Soon after, he lopped off a sizable chunk of his compensation check from the state and started the nonprofit Miles of Freedom, based at the Martin Luther King Jr. Community Center in South Dallas.

Having gone through the difficult transition back to a life outside the bars, Miles wanted to help others in similar situations thrive. And he didn’t forget about those who had committed actual crimes, choosing to aim his work at all inmates re-entering society. Seven years later, his organization continues to provide re-entry resources and equip the formerly incarcerated with steady jobs. Miles, who I wrote about in 2016 for Longreads, remains one of the most inspiring people I’ve had the honor of talking to.

Which is why I was thrilled to see he received a CNN Heroes award last night. He gave a heck of a speech, as well. That and CNN’s telling of his story embedded below, a good way to start the week:

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Deep Ellum

The Worst Mural in Dallas

| 22 hours ago

About 25 years ago, I worked in Deep Ellum, directly across Elm Street from where the enormous Epic development now stands. I have my doubts about whether Uber will ever put 3,000 people in the place, but someone will. That sort of change can be dizzying. Our own Peter Simek has a good story about a radical shift underway in Deep Ellum that you should read if you haven’t.

But one thing Peter didn’t address—and you can bet this will come up in his annual review—is the giant robot head that was recently painted on the 17-story Case Building, on the other side of Deep Ellum from The Epic. Not to put too fine a point on it, but the robot head is dumb. I sometimes commute on a bicycle through Deep Ellum. In September, when the robot head appeared, as I was pedaling east on Main Street, I stopped at the light at Hall Street, looked up, and thought, “Why did they paint a 17-story robot head on The Case Building? That looks dumb.”

Actually, no, I take that back. The first time I saw it, I thought, “What is that yellow thing with all the green creepers painted on the building? That looks dumb.” I took a picture and showed it to a co-worker the next day. She said, “That’s obviously a robot. Why do you hate it so much?”

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Local News

Leading Off (12/09/19)

| 1 day ago

Mavs Almost Win After Being Down 24. They didn’t lose it on Luka Doncic’s last shot — some truly awful defense for at least the first half did most of the work — but put me in the camp that Luka was clearly hit on the elbow and should have had a chance to tie the game at the free throw line at the very least. Anyway, good fourth quarter effort. Last season, they would have lost by 36 points.

Cold Front Coming. As someone who is juuuuust sort of getting over being sick, I’m definitely looking forward to [scans story] a 40-degree temperature change.

Michael Bloomberg Was in Town. The late entry into the Democratic presidential field got off one good joke: “Do we really want a general election between two New York billionaires to which I say… ‘Who’s the other one?’” But I don’t think he would be a great president.

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Local Government

City of Dallas Sues the Texas Attorney General to Keep Mayor Johnson’s Calendar Hidden

| 4 days ago

The city of Dallas has filed a lawsuit against the state’s Office of the Attorney General to keep the mayor’s public calendar out of public view. The three-page petition was submitted November 25 in Travis County. You’ll find it here, but there’s not much to it.

This stems from an open records request I submitted August 21, wanting to fact check Mayor Eric Johnson’s claim that he hadn’t talked to the chief of police while she abruptly left her post on medical leave. A few days later, Johnson announced his new gig as a partner at Locke Lord.

The city has released the calendars of public officials before. Interim City Attorney Christopher Caso’s 2019 slate went to a journalist just last month, for instance. But when I requested the mayor’s calendar, the city asked the Attorney General for an opinion on whether they had to give it up, sending a representative sample of the calendar to the state.

In asserting that it should be private, the City Attorney’s Office cited a previous open records ruling that said information can be withheld when it “would endanger the personal safety of public employees.” The office asked for the mayor’s calendar to be withheld in its entirety, including past events.

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Media

What Other Headline Could the Morning News Have Run Here?

| 4 days ago

As a working media professional and someone responsible for producing a lot of display copy, I woke up this morning excited to see what the headline writers at the Dallas Morning News came up with after yet another dispiriting Cowboys loss. I know it was probably a tight turn, since it was a night game and all, but deadlines are the nature of the business. On the front of the sports page, they went with “Indefensible” in a very serious point size — not quite “we’re at war!” but not something you’d run above a Rangers game story in May either. On the front page, however, we got what you see pictured here. If for whatever reason you can’t see that, it says “A third straight loss,” and that is absolutely what you’d see above a Rangers game story in May.

I’m not asking for poetry, just a little hustle. In other words: this is the equivalent of the Cowboys game last night, so I guess in that way it is fitting. But — and not just because I’m avoiding a deadline — I can’t leave it at that. Here are some options and only most of them are puns:

  • Chicago Bares ‘Boys
  • Can’t Bear It
  • Time to Panic
  • Another Chicago Fire
  • ‘Boys Down
  • Falling Stars
  • A Star is Mourned
  • Garrett Must Go
  • Maher Must Go
  • Give Him the Boot (photo of either Garrett or Maher or maybe both)
  • Bear Trap
  • BEAR TRAP
  • BEAR TRAP!
  • BEAR TRAP!

OK, lemme hear yours.

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Frisco

Notes on an Actual Amazon Press Release for Its New Frisco Store

| 4 days ago

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: On Wednesday, November 6, Amazon 4-star opened at the Stonebriar Centre in Frisco, Texas—our first Amazon 4-star in the greater Dallas region and sixth Amazon 4-star location nationwide.

Southwest Center Mall loses once again. Sorry, they changed it back to Red Bird Mall, didn’t they? Oh, it’s actually The Shops at RedBird? How fancy! In any case, Frisco, true to its slogan, is “progress in motion.” For example, there are four Walmarts in Frisco already.

Amazon 4-star is a new physical store that makes it fun and easy for customers to shop and discover products they’ll love.

Let me see if I understand. You create a company so efficient and so enormous that it now accounts for about half of all online sales in the United States, driving some physical retailers out of business. R.I.P., Forever 21. Then, having freed up some physical space, you physically move into it. Jeff Bezos, you are a genius. Except for the part where you cheated on your wife and, after “a long period of loving exploration and trial separation,” had to pay her $38 billion to be physically divorced. Apologies for the ad hominem attack. That was uncalled for. Love your Fire TV!

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Business

Gen. James Mattis Looks Forward, ‘Like Dallas’

| 4 days ago

Business luminaries from across the region streamed into the Hyatt Regency yesterday for Dallas Citizens Council’s annual meeting, featuring an on-stage interview of former U.S. Secretary of Defense James Mattis by David Rubenstein, Bloomberg TV host and co-founder of The Carlyle Group.

Mattis with “Saint Rex of Texas”

Among the 1,000 or so in attendance: Ross Perot Jr., Lyda Hill, Brint Ryan, Roger Staubach, and Rex Tillerson—or, as Mattis called him, “Saint Rex of Texas.” The former ExxonMobil chief and ex-U.S. Secretary of State was looking quite relaxed in retirement—and sporting a beard.

Mattis talked about his love for the people of Texas and the way they can disagree but still get along and work together to accomplish important things. He cracked that when he landed at the airport, he asked an airline worker if he could declare political asylum. He also thanked Dallas Citizens Council for hosting him, joking that after some of his public remarks, he doesn’t get invited to many things involving “polite company” these days.

Rubenstein asked Mattis if he had any regrets, either about taking the meeting with President Trump that led to his appointment as the nation’s 26th Secretary of Defense—or his decision to step down after two years on the job. “I don’t live a life of regrets,” Mattis answered. “I look forward—like Dallas.”

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Transportation

Welcome to Dallas Uber, Now Clean Up Your Act

| 4 days ago

Uber–the company that recently received a record $24 million in incentives to move some of its corporate offices into Deep Ellum–is a controversy magnet. Their business model has been ripped apart. They have been out-competed in valuable expansion markets. In some markets where they have expanded successfully, like London, local officials have sought to ban them over safety concerns. For a company that has reinvented how people move about their day-to-day lives, a company whose name has become a verb synonymous with the entire ride-share industry, it is strange that so much doubt shadows their future prospects.

But perhaps nothing facing Uber’s ability to compete is as damning as the new safety report that documents nearly 6,000 incidents of sexual assault between 2017 and 2018, including 464 rapes and 19 deaths in Uber rides. Forget about unsustainable business models, that is simply not acceptable.

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