FrontBurner

A Daily Conversation
About Dallas

Government

On My Recent Return to Prison and Catching Up With Old Friends

| 2 hours ago

A few weeks ago, I was illegally re-arrested on the orders of the Bureau of Prisons after I refused to stop doing interviews with the press, and thereafter placed back in Seagoville Federal Correctional Institution’s J2 detention unit, where I had spent most of 2014 fighting my charges and engaging in mean-spirited literary criticism. During the four days it took before the lawyers hired for me by Dallas fixer Wick Allison were able to find the right person at the BOP to threaten so as to get me released, then, I had a final opportunity to revisit my erstwhile convict lifestyle, as well to collect valuable intelligence on my many enemies.

Before I could begin my sentimental journey back into the Belly of the Beast, I would have to undergo the intake process. This entails being photographed, fingerprinted, and asked a list of questions by which to determine if you might be in danger from other inmates; even if you’ve been here before, the questions must still be asked, and, having been asked, answered. There are exceptions, though. “Have you ever cooperated with law enforcement?” read the staffer. “Oh, right. You don’t cooperate with anyone.” He remembered me fondly, as one does an eccentric neighbor.

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Nature & Environment

This Hawk Is Apparently Hunting for Downtown Lawyers

| 4 hours ago

One of the cool things about working in a downtown office tower is that every so often you get to see a hawk fly right by your window. Yesterday an attorney named Christopher Kratovil got this shot of a hawk whose bloodlust will apparently be satisfied only by the carcass of an appellate lawyer. I’m sharing his photo despite Kratovil’s allegiance to Arsenal.

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Leading Off

Leading Off (5/25/17)

| 7 hours ago

Dallas City Performance Hall is Getting a New Name. Yesterday, the city council voted to accept a $22 million arts gift from the Moody Foundation. A stipulation of the gift was changing Dallas City Performance Hall to Moody Performance Hall. The name change will happen in a few weeks.

Suzanne Wooten Declared Innocent Over Bribery Charges. The former state district judge had been convicted in 2011 on nine counts, including bribery and money laundering. But yesterday, she was acquitted of all the charges. Her attorney called the whole ordeal a “legal fiction.”

Interim Dallas County Schools Leader Wants Records to be Reviewed. Interim Superintendent Leatha Mullins asked law enforcement officials to review business records for the agency. This will also include a forensic audit of stop-arm camera contracts as well as real estate dealings. “We have completed an audit, refinanced the bonds, reorganized procedures, and there’s a complete team of new leadership including the Board of Trustees. We’ve truly transformed DCS and are moving forward,” Mullins said.

UNT Wary After Multiple Sexual Assaults Near Denton Campus. There have been multiple sexual assaults and attempted assaults northwest of the school, and police are investigating them. They don’t know if one or more people are responsible for the incidents, which entail someone entering homes after knocking or breaking in. An alert was sent to UNT students and faculty advising them to be extra cautious.

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Urbanism

Is the Urban Renaissance a Myth?

| 1 day ago

Over the past decade, the rapid pace of development in Uptown, the rebound of downtown Dallas, the spread of infill development in near-center neighborhoods, and the popularity of spots like Bishop Arts and Trinity Groves have projected the impression that Dallas is experiencing a urban boon.

It is a pattern of growth that is familiar throughout the country. We have read about how millennials want to live in cities, and how urban, walking places tend to attract younger generations, who are driving less. The cities of the future will have to become more dense and walkable to compete in the future, professional urban boosters tell us. And as a result, the New York Times reports, housing prices are climbing faster in urban neighborhoods than in the suburbs, and those neighborhoods are younger and richer than they have ever been, with residents who are more educated and earn higher wages.

But do these trends indicate a resurgence in America’s urban cities? Or, are they indicative of an altogether different trend, one that doesn’t fit neatly into the popular narrative of the slow march of re-urbanization and the abandonment of the 20th century sprawl model of development?

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Television

Why Won’t Dallas’ TV Meteorologists Talk About Climate Change?

| 1 day ago

The scientific consensus is overwhelming and unambiguous: The planet is getting hotter, faster, and it’s mostly our fault. While scientists are often reluctant to editorialize, the consensus also leans toward this being very bad news for life on Earth.

Public opinion is more divided, with only about half of American adults saying they believe climate change is caused by human activity. The other 50 percent are presumably either unfamiliar with climate scientists’ findings, or otherwise disdainful of the research. Certainly very few people are digging through the 169 pages of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s 2014 Synthesis Report, even if details on the “likelihood of severe, pervasive and irreversible impacts for people and ecosystems” do make for juicy reading.

Almost all of us, however, are regularly getting weather forecasts. For many people, the television weather forecaster may be their primary, if not their only, source of news on the climate. That news will be scarce. Dallas television meteorologists often seem tight-lipped or playfully evasive about the subject, to the extent that, a few weeks ago, I couldn’t have told you whether any of them had ever actually heard of climate change.

With that in mind, I emailed the chief meteorologists at the big four Dallas-Fort Worth news stations a set of questions. The informal survey, loosely based on a 2016 George Mason University survey of American Meteorological Society members, asked for each recipient’s thoughts on climate change, as well as their willingness to address the subject on air, among other things.

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Education

More Questions Are Raised About $25M DSC Land Deal

| 1 day ago

Dallas County Schools is in trouble. After the agency responsible for busing 75,000 students in 12 North Texas school districts lost millions on a stop-arm camera program (What do you mean people don’t pay tickets?), the Texas House Committee on Public Education voted to dissolve it. Meanwhile, a $25 million sale-leaseback of land used to park buses is expected to cost Dallas County taxpayers millions more in the long run. Then DCS Board President Larry Duncan stepped down amid allegations that his campaign profited from the land deal. Tonight, NBC 5 will air a 30-minute investigative report at 6:30 p.m. schooling us on who orchestrated the deal, who profited from it, and how much more it will cost taxpayers.

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Local News

Leading Off (5/24/17)

| 1 day ago

The Bathroom Bill Drama Continues. The bill’s author is not willing to compromise. Expect shenanigans up until the legislative session ends this coming Monday.

DPD Points to Social Media Rap Battles for Spike in Violence. Crime stats are showing that sexual assaults are down and murder is holding steady, but violent crime has spiked. There have been 300 more aggravated assaults so far this year compared to the same time last year. DPD’s take: It has to do with gang wars and drive-bys fueled by rap songs posted on social media. I’m not sure how this can be blamed for a spike, however, considering rap wars are not necessarily anything new nor unique to Dallas, and local gangs surely knew about YouTube and Facebook all the way back in 2016.

Arlington Will Pay $850,000 to Family of 19-Year-Old Killed by Policeman. Rookie officer Brad Miller was responding to a burglary call at a car dealership in August of 2015. Christian Taylor was an unarmed black 19-year-old college student getting into some trouble. Miller shot Taylor dead that night. Officer Miller was fired days later, but the grand jury didn’t indict. Yesterday, the Arlington city council approved a $850,000 settlement in response to a claim filed by the Taylor family. Taylor’s parents hope to build a community center in their son’s name.

Goat Yoga is Coming to Dallas. It’s already sold out though, so forget I said anything. And speaking of ridiculous things on the internet, the DMN published a decisively negative opinion on the Romphim. Never say never, boys! Man trends are only one Leo DiCap paparazzi pic away, after all. Same goes for the onesie.

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Media

Peter Simek Wins Major Award

| 2 days ago
Peter has more hair now.

The day after last year’s shooting in downtown Dallas, Peter Simek posted this thoughtful essay on FrontBurner. It’s a great piece of writing, especially when you consider how quickly he put it together and that it was posted without an edit. For that essay and several other posts, Peter last night won the best online column category at the City and Regional Magazine Association’s annual convention, beating out writers from Los Angeles Magazine, Seattle Met, Pittsburgh Magazine, and Yankee Magazine. You can find the full list of winners here.

Congrats, Peter. Now send me the story I’m waiting on. You’re late.

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