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A Daily Conversation About Dallas

There are several things D CEO editors look for in selecting a leader to recognize as our CEO of the Year. Beyond pure business achievements, we look for chief executives who are ethical, authentic, respected, and caring, and we look for someone who is making the region better. Steven Williams, CEO of PepsiCo Foods, checks every box—and more.

He first joined the company in 1997 to work with the Quaker and Gatorade Brands in Oklahoma and Arkansas. By the time he was named CEO of PepsiCo Foods in 2019, he had held 14 different roles with the organization. The promotion put him in charge of the North American operations of both Frito-Lay and Quaker Foods, a combined $21 billion operation.

Richard Fisher, former president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas, was on the parent company’s board of directors in at the time and among those who endorsed Williams’ selection. Since then, “Steven has been a remarkable gift that keeps on giving to PepsiCo shareholders,” Fisher says. “He runs the most vital part of the enterprise. Without Frito-Lay, you wouldn’t have the kind of stock performance PepsiCo has had. The stock is performing at all-time highs at a time when the rest of the market is being creamed. Without Steven, that would not be possible.”

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The company’s Plano-based foods division currently has 42 brands, most of which have myriad variations. Six brands generate more than $1 billion in annual revenue each—Lay’s, Cheetos, Doritos, Tostitos, Ruffles, and Quaker. Dozens more, including Fritos, rake in more than $500 million a year. As CEO, Williams oversees nearly 70,000 employees and is responsible for everything from “seed to shelf.”

Fisher describes Williams as authentic, thoughtful, a good manager, a strategic thinker, one who is open to new ideas, enthusiastic, and someone who executes well. “Frito-Lay represents more than half of the enterprise value of PepsiCo, and Steven has run it brilliantly,” Fisher says. “If he wishes, longer-term, I could see Steven one day running all of PepsiCo.”

Williams also is fiercely committed to giving back to the community. He serves as both board chair and 2024-25 fundraising chair for the United Way of Metropolitan Dallas, with which PepsiCo Foods has been involved for 50 years. He’s a driving force behind Southern Dallas Thrives, a partnership be- tween the PepsiCo Foundation, Frito-Lay, and the United Way. About 25 percent of the company’s employees either live or work in the southern sector. He also has been pivotal in recruiting leaders at AT&T, Comerica, and other big to get involved.

“Steven is a leader who cares deeply about the ‘why,’” says United Way President and CEO Jennifer Sampson. “We do the work we do to make sure people have access to opportunities, and it’s so meaningful and rewarding to see a corporate leader who, even while dealing with enormous pressures and responsibilities, cares so much about helping others and the people we serve.”

Those pressures include making tough decisions when business conditions fluctuate. Yesterday, The Wall Street Journal reported that PepsiCo plans to eliminate hundreds of jobs in a corporate belt-tightening move. The cuts will be heavier in the New York-based beverages unit but will also affect Plano-based Frito-Lay and Chicago-based Quaker. “After reporting a jump in quarterly sales and profits, PepsiCo executives in October said they were cutting costs to offset the pressure on profit margins and to weather what appeared to be worsening macroeconomic conditions,” the WSJ reported.

A self-described “tough-minded optimist,” Williams is aware of the awesome responsibility he has as CEO of PepsiCo Foods North America. “I am privileged to do this job, and I don’t take it for granted,” he says. “I also know I’m about the only person who could do this. It’s my moment now.”

To read our full CEO of the Year cover story, click here.

Local News

Leading Off (12/6/22)

Tim Rogers
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Valley View Mall Finally Coming Down? When our Matt Goodman wrote about the abandoned mall on November 18, the City Attorney’s Office told him that demolition was to start in a couple of weeks. Now the DMN’s Sharon Grigsby reports that the mall’s owner, Scott Beck, has been given a deadline of July 28, 2023. This project has dragged on for more than a decade. I won’t hold my breath.

Mavs Beat Suns. Not only did the good guys win 130-111, but they did it on their new city court, which is part of the whole Retroplex deal and is, without question, fire. Odell Beckham Jr. was sitting courtside with Micah Parsons, as the Cowboys woo the wide receiver. This means we are undefeated on the city court with OBJ in attendance. I don’t see any reason that this formula shouldn’t guarantee the Mavs an undefeated remainder of the season at home.

Bogus Buc-ee’s Sign in Highland Park. What a great prank. On an empty lot at Armstrong and Lakeside, someone erected a Buc-ee’s sign that says “best place to pee in HP.” The DMN confirmed with a Buc-ee’s spokesman that Buc-ee’s is not coming Highland Park.

Hinojosa Won’t Run for Mayor. CBS Channel 11 apparently broke the news Sunday night, but I don’t think anyone noticed. In any case, former DISD superintendent Michael Hinojosa says he won’t challenge Mayor Eric Johnson in the spring. This, of course, creates a path to victory for Odell Beckham Jr.

It’s been almost a month since the Dallas Central Appraisal District was targeted by a ransomware attack that left its employees without email access and its website completely inaccessible.

According to the federal Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, ransomware is designed to encrypt files on a device or server and render them (and anything that relies on them) unusable until the organization or user pays a ransom in exchange for decrypting the files.

So far, DCAD has been tight-lipped about exactly who may have perpetrated the attack, only saying that the FBI was contacted, and that the agency is not able to process homestead exemptions.

A memo from city Chief Financial Officer Jack Ireland to the Dallas City Council provides a few more details about the situation, including the fact that DCAD alerted the city’s IT security team on November 9. That team reviewed the city’s IT infrastructure and updated firewalls that “proactively isolate any network traffic which might originate from DCAD systems.” City systems were not impacted by the attack, the team concluded.

Ireland told the council that DCAD expected to have email restored yesterday, and have contracted with a third-party vendor to create and host a “limited website” that will allow users to perform searches and access some data and forms. The site will likely be available to the public on December 14.

Until then, the url for the site redirects to a state-mandated landing page.

Arts & Entertainment

After the Taylor Swift Ticket Debacle, Two Dallas Lawyers File a Lawsuit Against Ticketmaster

Bethany Erickson
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Last month, millions of fans were unable to purchase tickets to see Taylor Swift, seen here in a Netflix special from her 2018 Reputation stadium tour. Netflix

If there is one ticket sale you wouldn’t want to botch, it would probably be for a Taylor Swift tour—especially if that tour was her first since before the pandemic. But the well-documented failure by Ticketmaster not only angered Taylor Swift fans, it angered Jennifer Kinder in particular. She is a Dallas attorney who tried to get tickets last month.

Swift’s The Eras tour is set to bring 52 shows to 17 states, and Ticketmaster was selling tickets for 47 of those shows. A series of presales, the company admits, melted down after it failed to anticipate just how popular the tour would be. 

Based on her experience and what she was seeing online, Kinder and her associate, Griffin McMillin, began gauging interest in a class action lawsuit against Ticketmaster and its parent company, Live Nation. Friday night, Kinder’s suit (California lawyer Dennis Hill also signed on) was filed in California on behalf of 25 people who attempted to purchase tickets for Swift’s tour. Their suit accuses Ticketmaster and Live Nation of antitrust violations and engaging in fraudulent practices during those presale dates.

“I was trying to get tickets,” she said. “My daughter and I have been to several concerts.”

Because of the amount of money Kinder had spent on prior concerts and merchandise, she said that she should’ve qualified for a special pre-sale code that was only available to the most hardcore Taylor Swift fans. When she didn’t qualify for that, she thought she would try her hand at the Capitol One pre-sale two days later.

“Ticketmaster gave out 1.5 million codes to the (verified fan) sale,” she said. ”I was waitlisted for the first sale, I never moved to verified code status. So I did the Capital One sale two days later. I waited in line for, I don’t know, four and half, five hours, and every ticket was gone by the time I got through the Capitol One line.”

If it hasn’t yet trickled across your socials, here’s a clip of the Old 97’s playing Friday night on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon. Rhett Miller’s hair looks great. Bacon looks amazing for 54, much less his actual age, which is 64. Good stuff all around. I also recommend The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special on Disney+. Here’s Ken Bethea talking about how the band wound up with a role in that. Enjoy.

Local News

Leading Off (12/5/22)

Zac Crain
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Cowboys Win. A clunky first half and a scoreless third had Dallas up only two against Indianapolis. But then the Cowboys reeled off a team-record 33 points in the fourth quarter. Dak Prescott was hardly at his best, but it didn’t matter because he had plenty of help from the ground game (all three running backs scored), CeeDee Lamb, and a ball-hawking defense. Scorigami note: this was the first 54-19 scoreline in league history. Mike will have more over at StrongSide shortly.

TCU Loses Big 12 Championship Game, Still Makes Playoff. The Horned Frogs fell in overtime to Kansas State at AT&T Stadium on Saturday, but their résumé was impressive enough to earn them a spot in the College Football Playoff, alongside Georgia, Michigan, and Ohio State. No. 3 TCU will play No. 2 Michigan on December 31 in the Fiesta Bowl.

SMU, UNT Also Earn Bowl Invites. UNT is playing in the Frisco Bowl in, you guessed it, Frisco. They’ll take on Boise State, but under interim coach Phil Bennett, as they fired Seth Littrell over the weekend. SMU is going to Albuquerque to play in the New Mexico Bowl against BYU. Fun!

Highs in the Mid-70s to Start the Week. I fear when it finally really gets cold it’s going to be really cold, like test-the-grid cold.

The purpose of this post is to draw attention to the need for everyone to get a flu shot. This is really about public health. So if you’re tempted to criticize me for writing about something frivolous and doing so in a snarky manner, maybe first ask yourself why you want people to die. I’m here to save lives.

That said, what is going on with the mayor’s pants?

Earlier today, he went to CVS for his flu shot and tweeted some pics from the event. Excellent. Good show. Again, flu shots. We all need to get them. This is shaping up to be the worst flu season in a decade. Do what you can. Et cetera.

But Mayor Eric Johnson’s pants are crazy, and I’m worried that there is a tailor somewhere in Dallas who needs to have his tailor’s license revoked before he does serious harm.

Here’s what I’m talking about: zoom in to the lower pants region of the group photo that the mayor posted of himself with some CVS staffers.

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Thing is, he’s wearing stunt sneakers. Those lively Vans were clearly chosen with the aim of bringing eyes to the mayor’s feet. Did the mayor himself pick out those sneakers? Or was it Tristan Hallman, his personal valet? That much is not clear, as D Magazine has not made multiple calls to the mayor’s office, and none of those calls have been returned. Because, again, they were never made.

But here’s what we do know with certainty: any eyes on the mayor’s sneakers immediately register what lies above those sneakers. Namely, it is enough fabric to cover a potted hydrangea when there’s a freeze warning. There is so much extra pant there it looks like his legs have partially retracted. It looks like he gets his pants tailored at the CVS where he gets his flu shots. I know the mayor has only two jobs: the mayor job and his bond lawyer job at Locke Lord. But surely he can afford at least one properly tailored pair of pants on days when he knows he’s headed to CVS for his flu shot that he’ll post pictures of on Twitter to show off his daisy Vans.

Details, man. Let’s get those pants hemmed. Then let’s tear down I-345.

Hawkeye, whose civilian name is Mark Louis, is a Texas Radio Hall of Famer and a Country Radio Hall of Famer who can be found on your dial at 96.3 KSCS every weekday from 5:30 a.m. to 10 a.m. Hawkeye in the Morning, now with cohost Michelle Rodriguez, is the longest-running FM morning show in North Texas. Hawkeye sees the show as a partnership with the late Terry Dorsey, who hired him as a sidekick in 1988.

Dorsey retired in 2015—and died just three months later. Rodriguez joined the team in 2020, and they’ve been playing country hits ever since, to an audience from “kids to senior citizens,” as Hawkeye told us at the Old Monk.

But his radio career wasn’t the only reason Hawkeye joined us. He has been involved with the BMW Dallas Marathon for a decade, even serving as chair and gaining support from elected officials. A few marathons ago, he stole an idea from Tiki Barber. In New York, Barber decided to be the last person to start the marathon. For every runner he passed, some company would donate a set amount to charity.

Hawkeye brought that to Dallas. And then he broke his foot training. Craig Miller of The Ticket gladly filled in—and passed something like 4,000 people. Cotton Patch Cafe was the sponsor that year, and it maxed out its donations.

This year, on December 11, Louis is the Last Man Running. He’ll be raising money for Scottish Rite Hospital for Children. You can donate to his personal page here. And you can listen to EarBurner after the jump.

And congratulations from the D Magazine team to Michelle Rodriguez, who got married just before Thanksgiving.

Personalities

After the Success of Dumplin’, Arlington Author Makes Christmas Raunchy

Tim Rogers
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Julie Murphy
Shelf Love: Murphy and her co-author, Sierra Simone, split the book into two points of view, each not sure where the plot would lead. Danielle Jenkins

Julie Murphy is the most successful young-adult author working in Arlington. Her 2015 book Dumplin’ became a New York Times bestseller and the 2018 Jennifer Aniston movie of the same title. Now she has gone a bit more graphic with her latest novel, A Merry Little Meet Cute, about a plus-size porn star who is accidentally cast in a wholesome Christmas movie and falls in love with an old childhood crush who grew up to join a boy band and now needs to rehab his career.

My wife made me watch Dumplin’ and so I’m angry with you because I absolutely cried my eyes out. I guess that’s more of a statement than a question. I accept your statement.

Are you and Jennifer Aniston and Dolly Parton best friends now? We’re all best friends. We get together for a yearly vacation. Obviously Dolly and Jen foot the bill. No, they are wonderful and kind women, and I’m really thankful to them for letting me ride their coattails throughout that whole experience.

If you live in Dallas, there’s a very good chance that next week you will have a new garbage and recycling collection day, and there’s also a chance you may not have heard about it.

In August, the city’s sanitation department completed a route efficiency evaluation, and ultimately came up with a re-route that will change collection days for about 56 percent of Dallas residents. Regular recycling and garbage collection will happen five days a week, and sanitation crews will work 8 hours a day. Currently, crews pick up four days a week, and work 10-12 hour days, using two other days (Wednesday and Saturday) to catch up if they were not able to collect in certain neighborhoods.

If you pay your water bill using autopay, you may have also missed the post card that was mailed explaining all of this. Residents who still get a paper water bill received an explainer with that notice. The city also shared the news on its social media accounts, a memo to the city council says.

The hope is that the new routes will allow more time for maintaining equipment and make sure it’s being used most efficiently. It will also save on fuel and reduce emissions because it will reduce how often trucks need to travel to and from transfer stations and the landfill.

Need to find out if your day changed? Check here.

Local News

Leading Off (12/2/22)

Matt Goodman
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Deep Ellum Beating Trial Heads to Closing Arguments. Bartender Austin Shuffield faces charges of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and aggravated serious bodily injury following the 2019 attack of a Black woman outside of a Deep Ellum bar. Cell phone footage caught Shuffield repeatedly punching L’Daijohnique Lee in the face, knocking her phone out of her hand, pulling out a gun and then tucking it back into his pants. Shuffield apparently confronted Lee after she was driving the wrong way down Elm Street and blocked an exit to a parking lot. Closing arguments are today; Shuffield faces up to 30 years in prison for both charges.

Dallas’ First Public Skate Park Coming to Bachman Lake. The 45,600 square foot park will include a street area, a plaza, a bowl, a flow bowl, and a snake run. Construction should begin next year, but the city must put the project out to bid.

Remains Found Near Where Dallas Firefighter Vanished. Hiker Michael Ramsay says he came across bones and a bike in a wooded area of Rains County. It’s near the location where the cell phone belonging to firefighter Michael Chambers was tracked to when he disappeared five years ago.

Grid Would Be Over Capacity In ‘Extreme’ Demand for Power. ERCOT, the agency that manages the power grid, forecasts a peak energy demand of 67,398 megawatts over the winter. For reference, earlier this year, in February, demand soared to 74,000 megawatts while about 85,000 were available. In a recent report, the state agency expects to be about 12,677 megawatts short should demand reach what it deems “extreme” levels.

Arts & Entertainment

How the Trains at NorthPark Get On the Rails

Bethany Erickson
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Roger Farkash northpark trains
Pine Craft: Roger Farkash starts building his mini holiday world in July. Jill Broussard

In a fairly nondescript yellow brick building in the Cadillac Heights area, Roger Farkash and his crew of “traingineers” have been busy since July planning the layout and creating the displays for the annual Trains at NorthPark exhibit. The display has benefited the Ronald McDonald House of Dallas for more than 30 years; Farkash’s company, TW TrainWorx, has been responsible for it for about 12 of those years. A different empty storefront is designated for the show each year, which means as soon as the space is chosen, Farkash and his team get moving.

“October and September are the big push months for us,” he says. “But it’s not eight hours every day, because we’re working on different aspects of it before we actually get it into the space.” 

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