A Daily Conversation About Dallas

Politics & Government

Rolando Blackman Endorses Regina Montoya Via Text

| 8 hours 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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Local News

A.H. Belo Shareholder Takes ‘Activist’ Role, Suggests Exploring Sale of Dallas Morning News

| 8 hours ago

Investment management firm Minerva Advisors, a Pennsylvania-based shareholder in A.H. Belo, filed paperwork with the SEC late this afternoon announcing plans to take an “activist approach” and request a strategic review that could include selling the Dallas Morning News. The “13D” filing can often presage a forced sale or a hostile takeover. It’s an indication to the board of directors that a significant shareholder is unhappy with the operation of its investment.

The money graphs are here:

At this point, we believe several actions are crucial to avoid further harm. First, we urge an immediate cessation of the use of cash for acquisitions and for insider compensation beyond salaries and incentive compensation based on financial performance.

Second, we believe the long suffering shareholders should receive some of the cash on the balance sheet in the form of a special dividend or substantial one-time stock buyback.

Third, we request that A.H. Belo retain an advisor to consider strategic options for the company and its two divisions. Management has previously indicated that current conditions do not justify a one-newspaper public company, and we believe that one of the roots of AHC’s recent struggles is an effort to build the company to a size which would justify its status as a public company rather than undertaking an intellectually honest process to determine whether that status makes any sense.

A spokesman for Minerva declined to comment.

Unless the company’s management staff has been willfully negligent, this can’t be a tremendous surprise. As I noted in 2016, shareholder frustration was made clear to the paper’s leadership. Continued worrisome financial performance and staff layoffs did little to allay shareholder concerns. The letter explains that Minerva told management that it “has no business remaining publicly traded.”

“We have previously conveyed that opinion to management, but the company instead responded by embarking upon an ill-conceived effort to diversify into digital marketing, a highly competitive business in which AHC had no apparent competitive advantage. We expressed this sentiment to management as well, and were told that the connection with the DMN would provide additional opportunity for the marketing business, and that the DMN’s top line would benefit as well. The company’s 2018 10-K offers some insight as to who was right.”

The investors suggested ceasing further investments in marketing companies and instead “return some of the excess cash on the balance sheet to shareholders.” The letter ticks off the declines: publishing dropped 17 percent in 2018 relative to 2017. Digital marketing fell by 36 percent during 2018.

“We assumed that this strategic debate was settled until we saw a DMN article last week indicating the company had just acquired another digital marketing business in Tulsa,” it reads.

And then came the letter. You can see the filing here. The full text of the letter — which, FWIW, lays out in detail why Minerva believes Belo has been borderline negligent in its financial oversight of the company — is after the jump:

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Sports & Leisure

EarBurner Podcast: Ken Hersh Is Bullish on E-sports

| 9 hours ago

This weekend, eight teams in the Overwatch League will compete in a video game tournament in Allen. Each day, 4,500 people will gather at the Allen Event Center to watch the action. On Saturday, your Dallas Fuel will face the Los Angeles Valiant. The event is sold out. After-market tickets for floor seats are pushing $160, but you can watch it at home on ESPN2.

If you think this all sounds a bit silly, if you think e-sports are a fad, if you think that a guy who has known George W. for 30 years would address him as anything other than “Mr. President” when he cards a hole in one — well, then, you should listen to this podcast. Ken Hersh is an oil and gas investor who has done OK for himself. He’s the CEO of the George W. Bush Presidential center. In short, he is richer, smarter, and better connected than you are. And he says e-sports are the future. That’s why he paid a reported $35 million to become part owner of the Dallas Fuel.

Have a listen to learn why he did it. Use the player below or subscribe through the Apple podcast app or Spotify. And burn blue!

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Local News

Expanded Citizen Police Review Board Receives Unanimous Council Support

| 10 hours ago

The Dallas City Council on Wednesday unanimously approved strengthening the citizen’s police review board, a decision that will add a formal mediating agency to help process and investigate complaints brought against the department by the public. The decision will cost the city $500,000 annually beginning next year, largely to pay for three new oversight positions with the police department.

The discussion prior to the vote was largely ceremonial, tracing the history of the agenda item and the people that moved it forward: former Councilwoman Diane Ragsdale; Dr. Brian Williams, the Parkland ER doctor who chairs the existing review board; Walter “Changa” Higgins, the activist who first brought expanding the board’s powers to Mayor Pro Tem Casey Thomas.

This new “Community Police Oversight Board” is the result of more than a year of deliberations between the city, activists, and the police department. It is a compromise. The police unions signed on to what passed, as did Chief U. Reneé Hall. Before the meeting, members of the coalition to reform the board urged the City Council to understand that communities of color feel it necessary to increase public oversight of the department. The council later agreed with their votes.

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Dallas County Republican Party Chair Missy Shorey Has Died

| 10 hours ago

Dallas County Republican Party Chair Missy Shorey died unexpectedly last night. Her husband, Marc Himelhoch, announced the news on Facebook around noon:

Friends and family. It is with heavy heart that I must inform you that my beloved Missy Shorey passed unexpectedly last night to be with the Angels in Heaven. Words can not express how much she meant to me and so many of you. There will be two memorial services. One in Burnt Hills, NY on Wednesday May 1st and another in Dallas at a date TBD. More details to follow.

Shorey, 47, was the first woman to lead the Dallas County GOP when she took the post in November 2017. Her background is in public relations, and her beginnings were on Capitol Hill. Eric Celeste profiled Shorey for us early last year, describing her route to GOP chair this way:

She worked on staff at Capitol Hill, got her MBA, went to work for a big PR firm, and then in 2004 started her own PR company in the attic of a small family farm in upstate New York (she’d moved there to take care of ailing family members). In 2015, she moved here from Wichita Falls, where she’d lived with her Air Force pilot husband. (He is now a Southwest Airlines pilot.)

Since then she has run her business while working to increase her political profile. She was until recently the executive director of Maggie’s List, the federal PAC that tries to get conservative women elected.

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Dallas: The City That Hates Pedestrians, Pt. 25

| 14 hours ago

A friend who works in Uptown sends over this photo from her Wednesday morning stroll to the McKinney Avenue Whole Foods (which you can see in the background if you squint):

The storms last night brought flooding, but I hadn’t realized they got bad enough to knock over trees. Maybe this is more of a, “Mother Nature Hates Pedestrians.” Either way, the city will want to get someone on it sooner rather than later. Without any signage up to direct foot traffic, people were waiting for a gap in the cars, and then cutting out into the street to get around. The photo was taken at 9:10 a.m.

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Local News

Leading Off (4/24/19)

| 17 hours ago

Council to Take Up Police Oversight Board Issue. It heard a briefing earlier this month. The call to reform the Citizens Police Review Board and grant it greater power of oversight gained political momentum after Botham Jean was shot and killed in September. A group of black Dallas pastors feel they have the votes.

Love Field Garage Floods. It happened overnight. WFAA was already out to survey the damage this morning, and it looks bad, at least for the folks who parked on the lowest level of Lot A. The cars down there were almost fully submerged. This is a nightmare.

Prosecutors Attempt to Tack On Murder During Firearms Sentencing. Darius Fields was found guilty on firearms charges, but prosecutors are spending his sentencing hearing discussing his alleged involvement in a murder and kidnapping for which Fields has not been charged. If the judge buys it, Fields could go down for as many as 25 years.

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Politics & Government

How Dallas Did on Day 1 of Early Voting

| 1 day ago

Yesterday was the first day of early voting in Dallas for the May 4 elections. So how’d we do? An astute FrontBurnervian pulled the numbers for us. A total of 5,200 votes were cast yesterday. Below are the vote numbers by district and the corresponding percentages of total votes cast. For comparison, in 2017, over the entire two-week early voting period, there were 14,729 votes cast. So good work, people. Keep it up. (The council members listed below are the current representatives and may not be running again.)

Council District Votes % Council Member
D01 472 9.1% Griggs
D02 232 4.5% Medrano
D03 289 5.6% Thomas
D04 304 5.8% Arnold
D05 152 2.9% Callahan
D06 247 4.8% Narvaez
D07 298 5.7% Felder
D08 301 5.8% Atkins
D09 401 7.7% Clayton
D10 346 6.7% McGough
D11 494 9.5% Kleinman
D12 209 4.0% Greyson
D13 825 15.9% Gates
D14 630 12.1% Kingston
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Local News

The Debate Between Laura Miller and Jennifer Staubach Gates Sure Was Punchy

| 1 day ago

Judging from last night’s debate between Councilwoman Jennifer Staubach Gates and former Mayor Laura Miller, the race for the District 13 seat will be a referendum on whose fault all this is.

Here is a sampling of the barbs and accusations that were traded last night: Miller left seats on the police and fire pension board open, and a decade later it cratered. Gates was on the VisitDallas board during a blistering audit that found that it violated state law and lacked accountability. The police and fire associations hate Miller. Gates doesn’t answer the phone at City Hall and panders to developers. Miller owns a condo in one of the Preston Center towers that will be affected by zoning decisions she’ll preside over. Gates voted with the mayor so often that he felt obligated to ask the city attorney to investigate whether Miller might have a conflict, using tax dollars to “weaponize” City Hall in a political race. Miller has given out her personal cell phone number to 2,000 constituents. Gates says she gave hers to 5,000!

Gates opened with: “We have to deal with roads. We have to deal with streets, police protection. I know I am the candidate that is going to deliver in a manner that is—you’re going to see a lot of stark differences tonight and one of them is definitely the way our style and demeanor and I’m the one who’s going to be able to get things done.”

Miller countered: “Decisiveness versus vacillation, strength versus weakness, action versus hesitation. Ms. Gates is correct when she says there is a clear choice for you in District 13 and what you want for the next two years in this part of the city.”

The hourlong debate at Jesuit Dallas, which was sponsored by sister paper Preston Hollow People, went a lot like that. Gates would often walk from behind the podium to address the crowd while Miller dug out documents from a rolling suitcase she’d brought onstage. She held them up during her rebuttals. One visual aid was to further allege that the mayor was meddling in the race: Miller clutched a 2-inch stack of paper that she said included the 2,706 times that Gates had voted alongside the mayor, a rate of more than 99 percent.

The debate was about as contentious as the race itself. The crowd hissed at times and had to be calmed by the moderator, our own Tim Rogers. One woman behind me made a routine of saying “shut up” just above her breath every time Gates spoke. The candidates spoke a lot about the past but not much about the future.

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Can Allen Really Support a Massive Cricket Stadium?

| 2 days ago

The next major professional sports stadium to be built in North Texas may house a sport few Dallasites have ever watched: cricket. Earlier this year, plans were announced for a cricket-specific stadium to be built in Allen, Texas, and today the Guardian takes a deep dive into the project, questioning its viability for North Texas and the sport’s potential to catch on in the United States.

Bullish cricket boosters cite a range of data that support the sport’s potential. There is a growing, ready made cricket-obsessed population in North Texas, as evidenced by the popularity of online streaming of professional cricket matches. When it comes to streaming numbers, California and the Tri-state area lead the pack, but Illinois, Texas, and Florida all post healthy numbers (little surprise to anyone who has attended FunAsia’s all-night simulcasts of cricket matches).

The article also mentions that Allen is ripe terrain for first-of-its-kind stadium projects, citing its role in kick-starting the so-called high school football stadium arms race. But getting the proposed $500 million “Allen Sports Village” out of the ground will likely need support from the city, both politically and  in the form of around $25 million in tax incentives. The planned complex will include a 15,000-capacity stadium, training facilities, residential and retail units, and office space.

That’s where the project has begun to run into some friction.

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Local Government

A Former Candidate’s Open Letter to the Dallas Mayoral Candidates

| 2 days ago

As the only member of D Magazine’s staff who has attempted to become Dallas’ mayor, I felt like it was my duty to give all 15 or 20 of you some advice as your respective campaigns near their ends. That I’m doing it only now—when any words of wisdom could be, at best, marginally useful—should give you a quick peek into how and why my candidacy, way back in 2007, failed.

(But, OK, imagine if it hadn’t. Guys, there is an alternate timeline where your man here is a senator.)

ANYWAY, here are a few do’s and don’ts, some hard-won truths from someone who has been there.

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Local News

Leading Off (4/23/19)

| 2 days ago

Stars Win! The overtime game was exciting enough that my wife even stayed up late to watch. Joe Rexrode writing in the Tennessean: “It ended for this version of the Nashville Predators on April 22, 2019, a 2-1 overtime loss to the Dallas Stars, an epic game, a bitter first-round defeat in six games for a team that thought it was good enough to win 16 and the Stanley Cup …”

John Creuzot Will Move Forward With Changes. The DA told the Dallas City Council’s Public Safety & Criminal Justice Committee that, despite all the freaking out, his office will indeed stop prosecuting most first-time marijuana offenses and theft of personal items worth less than $750 (unless the theft is for financial gain). “I have a long track record of making a difference. If I sat around and waited for everyone else … we would have never made a difference, because everyone is always scared to change,” Creuzot said.

Southlake Couple Gets Seven Years for Enslaving Woman. Mohamed Toure and Denise Cros-Toure were sentenced to 84 months in prison, and they will have to pay the victim $288,000 in restitution.

Collin Creek Mall to Get $1 Billion Makeover. The Plano City Council voted unanimously to approve the plan by Centurion American Development Group to turn the old shopping mall into a mixed-use project with housing, entertainment, and office space. Oh, and a Crystal Lagoon.

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