A Daily Conversation About Dallas


Philanthropist Lynn McBee Files to Run For Mayor

| 2 days ago

Philanthropist Lynn McBee is running for mayor. She filed her treasurer appointment report with the city secretary’s office and announced her run in an email to media at 5:31 p.m. on Friday.

McBee, the CEO of the Young Women’s Preparatory Network, is a former biochemist researcher who is known for her fundraising acumen for the city’s nonprofits. She has served as the chair of the boards of organizations as diverse as the Dallas International Film Festival to the Family Place Foundation, which supports victims of domestic violence. She currently is the board chair of The Bridge homeless shelter and is a member of more than a dozen other boards throughout the city. The Dallas Morning News last year called her a “super-fundraiser” when she won the Texas Trailblazer Award, which is given out by the Family Place. The nonprofit’s CEO, Paige Fink, said she was instrumental in helping it receive “almost $17 million in under two years.”

I’ll be chatting with McBee on Monday to discuss her platform. County appraisal records show she owns a home in Highland Park, although Shawn Williams—a spokesman with Allyn Media, which is handling at least communications for the campaign—says she recently moved downtown and put the Highland Park home for sale.

Her press release announcer comes with a list of endorsements that include Lucy Billingsley, the CEO of Billingsley Co.; Clay and Lisa Cooley, he of Cooley Auto Group, she a board member of the Callier Center at UT Dallas and McBee’s Young Women’s Prep Network; Richard Rogers, the former CEO of Mary Kay; and about a half dozen others that I’ll list below.

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Hometown Kid Called Very Dumb by D.C. Bigwig

| 2 days ago

We have more shots fired—oh so many shots—in the feud between ex-Secretary of State Rex Tillerson—also the ex-ExxonMobil Corp. CEO—and excitable Twitter user and current President Donald Trump. It seems ex-Exxon exec Rex has made the president angry.

Let’s recap before we give you the goods, which you’ve probably already seen elsewhere and rolled your eyes at by now, but it’s Friday and it’s slow and so here we are.

Things started with a report from NBC News, back in October 2017, that Tillerson had dropped a “moron” accusation on his boss.

DT figured it was fake news, although did he? Because he curiously offered a retort just in case: take an IQ test against me you cowardly coward. He said that in an interview, not on Twitter, which I will note I was surprised to find out during the reporting of this story.

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Local News

Harold Simmons Park Reveals a New Plan for the Trinity River

| 2 days ago

Yesterday at noon, we jumped in the car to drive to the other side of downtown to participate in one of the oldest, time-honored Dallas traditions: witnessing the unveiling of yet another grand plan for the future of the Trinity River.

We had been invited to preview a new design for Harold Simmons Park, which is planned to be housed in a 200-acre space between the Ron Kirk Pedestrian Bridge and Interstate 30. The Trinity Park Conservancy, the nonprofit that is overseeing the park’s development, had invited some of the designers to town to unveil the project at Gilley’s in the Cedars. It is a process born of weeks of public meetings and years of plans that have never materialized.

Given the long, troubled history of the project—from botched whitewater features and broken Calatrava Bridges to jugglers under overpasses and vanished dreams of majestic toll roads—it was impossible not to harbor a healthy dose of skepticism heading into the meeting. However, walking into Gilley’s and seeing the rendering of this latest iteration, printed on white fabric, backlit and stretching 60 feet across the length of a western ballroom, it was clear that something about this plan was different than all the plans that had come before.

The sprawling image was not a bird’s eye view of a new Trinity River fantasy, and it didn’t necessarily depict a park, per se, or a refined idea or singular concept for a reimagined Trinity River. Rather, the image showed a long, horizontal cross section of the floodway, a ground-level view of the manmade channel, managed grasslands, and levees that run past downtown Dallas—interrupted, now, by new undulations of terrain, wetlands, side channels, elevated gathering places, a few paths, new access points and pedestrian bridges, and urban-style parks perched up on top of and just beyond the levees.

The designers admitted that this was an early stage mock-up of a wide variety of ideas for a 200-acre subsection of the Trinity floodway. But what was more interesting about the rendering was not the specific improvements it depicted, but how the drafters of the plan had settled on them. All ideas came out of a close consideration of how water moves through the floodway.

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Sports & Leisure

It’s the Best Time To Be a Mavs Fan

| 2 days ago

Kirk Henderson from Mavs Moneyball changed his Twitter name to, I believe it was, Luka Doncic Fan Account early last season when no one even knew how to pronounce Doncic. Yesterday he had a good post about why, with Doncic onboard, it is a great time to be a Mavs fan. A sample:

Where we are, right now, is one of the best parts about being a fan during the life cycle of a team. The Mavericks are fun and good enough to be entertaining. They also aren’t weighed down by expectations yet. And, thankfully, neither are we as fans. It’s such a great feeling to enjoy what’s happening with this team—our team—and not worry about what is to come.

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Jesuit Dallas Releases Names of Accused Pederast Priests

| 2 days ago

Next month, Catholic dioceses in Texas will release the names of clergy “credibly accused” of sexually abusing minors, going back to 1950. The Jesuit order is doing it now, and some of the names are connected to Jesuit Dallas. Here is an email just sent out by the president of the school, Michael Earsing, to the Jesuit Dallas community:

Dear friends of Jesuit Dallas,

I write this to you with an overwhelming sense of personal anguish and revulsion.

As expected, the Jesuits’ Central and Southern Province today released a preliminary list of Jesuits and former Jesuits against whom there were credible allegations of abuse of a minor since 1955. I am saddened to report that the list contains 11 names with some connection to our School, mostly in the 1960s, 1970s, or 1980s.

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An Exclusive Q&A with Scrooge

| 2 days ago

We won’t hold it against Will Schutze that he now lives within the Austin city limits. He is, after all, a native son—the progeny of former Dallas Morning News editor Mariana Greene and the Dallas Observer’s Jim Schutze. But more importantly, Will is the master of our city’s most notable crank, having taken over the lead role at the Scrooge Puppet Theatre in NorthPark Center since the passing of his mentor, the great John Hardman, in 2015. We spoke with the puppeteer about stage fright, his dad’s bad rap, Mr. Bonetangles, and facing off with 5-year-old armed forces.

So 10 years ago you graduate from UT and your former theater teacher at Woodrow Wilson gets you a summer job assisting her husband, John Hardman, who became your mentor. Did you expect to end up in puppeteering? I knew I wanted to be a performer. I just thought it was gonna be such a strange, interesting job working in this little theater with puppets, just one odd job and that was it. The first day, John took me backstage into the puppet storage room. It was kind of magical seeing them all hanging there, not even moving, and then John picked one up and did a little dance with it. I was sold immediately.

You took over Scrooge Puppet Theatre at NorthPark Center after Hardman passed away. Is your Scrooge much different from his? John did it for 38 years. I think when you take over a show, it’s expected to try to make it your own. But I just wanted to try to keep the tradition going. I wanted it to seem like John was still there. I used to work in his other puppet show across the mall called Santa’s Toy Shoppe. My favorite thing to do on my breaks was to go watch John do Scrooge. So I definitely absorbed all I could over seven years of watching him.

What is the craziest thing you’ve seen a kid do in the audience during a Scrooge performance? At the end of Scrooge’s show—it’s been a tradition, John always did this—Scrooge, to shoo all of the children away, he says he’s gonna give everyone a little present. He takes out a little water spray bottle, mists the kids. “Get off of my property. Get out of here. Quit making too much noise.” I probably shouldn’t be giving away my finale.

I bet most of our readers are familiar with it. OK, totally. One day, Scrooge came out with his spray bottle and he hadn’t noticed that there was a battalion of 5-year-olds with little toy water guns. They had been hiding behind some planters, and one behind a corner. They were very well-organized, actually. And so Scrooge had to shut the shutters sooner than he usually does and retreat back into his office to yell at Bob Cratchit some more. So, yeah, honestly, I thought it was the cutest thing ever. Scrooge did not.

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Local News

Leading Off (12/7/18)

| 3 days ago

Is It Really Going To Rain All Day Today? It’s a 100 percent chance, but it probably won’t rain the whole day. Hold your umbrellas close. We’re probably going to get between two and four inches of rain, but it’s going to be too warm to get snow. Last night at the Trinity River event, the ecology folks anticipated a “five year” flood event within the basin, so maybe go check that out this weekend, too.

McKinney Councilman Arrested on Family Violence Charge Won’t Step Down. La’Shadion Shemwell was arrested after a woman reported that he had attacked her three times in the past year. The day before, he wrote on Facebook that “there will be some things that are said about me in the next few days. I challenge you to consider the sources.” The mayor called for residents to allow for due process.

Banana Truck Flips Over On I-35. The joke is too obvious to even make, even though neither driver was injured. The truck is on its side and caused the whole freeway to be shut down at 35 and LBJ. So avoid that area.

Dirk Won’t Debut Against Rockets on Saturday. My Rockets are absolutely terrible and miserable to watch, so I was looking forward to seeing Dirk ease back into the season against them. Alas. Your Dallas Mavericks have a three game home stand coming, so it could possibly be one of those. 

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Let’s Look at What the Dallas Suburbs Offered for Amazon’s HQ2

| 3 days ago

After Amazon announced where it was putting its new headquarters, Dallas pretty quickly let us know how much money it had offered the company for the honor—$600 million, to pair with the state’s $500 million. But some of you wondered why you weren’t getting let in on the incentive packages put together by the suburbs, which was a fair ask.

After all, the Dallas Chamber of Commerce compiled a joint list of dozens of sites across North Texas.

The short answer is that these cities are going to handle this stuff their own way, and some of them are fighting the public’s right to know. They use as a defense that revealing the specifics of their big money offers will hurt their chances to pull in the next big corporation that sniffs around.

If a municipality doesn’t willingly release its offer to the public—a la Dallas, Fort Worth, and Arlington—the process to get your hands on it is to submit an open records request asking for the documents. We submitted requests to a couple dozen suburbs asking for their incentive packages. Many of those places got back to us saying they never submitted an incentive package—or bid—at all.

Three big ones that did submit bids would not give up the docs. Irving and Frisco each requested a ruling from the state’s Office of the Attorney General—those are pending, and the AG has 45 days to respond.

Meanwhile, the city of Plano had already requested a ruling on a different open records request for the details of its Amazon bid. On that request, the AG ruled with the requestor in saying that Plano must release the documents. Plano turned around and sued the AG to keep the docs sealed, seeking “to prevent competitive harm to the City’s efforts to retain and recruit businesses to the City.” That’s where the thing stands today.

By the way, if all of this was sounding vaguely familiar, it’s because that other request—now pending in court—was sent from within this very office. Our Peter Simek tried to get his hands on a half-dozen incentive offers toward the beginning of the year. As he pointed out in the resulting piece, it was an even tougher task prior to Amazon’s eventual decision. If you’re keeping score, we’re now awaiting another AG ruling with regard to Plano’s bid—on that, 45 days would be April 2—in addition to the pending court case, which is on Lord-knows-what timeline.

Other cities complied with our records requests and sent along the information. What we have below, then, is a roundup of the incentive packages we know about so far.

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Want to Be a Hacker? Come to Dallas.

| 3 days ago

An alert FrontBurnervian points us to this Popular Mechanics story written by former Dallas Observer editor Joe Pappalardo. The story centers on the Dallas Hackers Association and says:

North Texas has become an unexpected haven for hackers seeking not only camaraderie but paid work. There is an ecosystem here that can sustain them. The Dallas–Fort Worth area has the most available cybersecurity jobs in the nation. Community colleges and universities are building cybersecurity institutes. The area has a history—starting with Texas Instruments in 1951 and through today, when AT&T, Raytheon, and Facebook’s new data storage facilities are located nearby. All of those companies need smart programmers. And cybersecurity. They need hackers.

It’s a quick read and worth your time. 

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Have a Laugh With Meh’s ‘29 Gripes of Christmas’

| 3 days ago

Over at Meh today, they are having a Meh-rathon, where they throw up a new item for sale at seemingly random time intervals. As I type this, you can buy a pair of Reebok Women’s Strength Geo Print Pants for $5. I have no idea what Strength Geo Print Pants are. I mean, they are black. So there’s no print, geo or otherwise. And are they supposed to make you stronger?

Anyway. It’s not important. The important thing is that with the release of each new item, they are publishing another of their “29 Gripes of Christmas.” It’s a pretty funny list. If you need a laugh, check it out.

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Gallery: A Farewell To a Rare Fall in Dallas

| 3 days ago

A couple weeks ago, photographer Creagh Cross emailed asking to shoot some photos of the trees. For about a week, Dallas had fall. You saw colors everywhere, these leaves that looked like shades of auburn-hued orange and pink summer peaches and faded yellows. We got lucky on the seasonality—chlorophyll begins to break down because of the sun dipping out earlier in the day, which means the leaves are not absorbing as much energy. They lose the green, and the fall colors fill in. The Seattle-esque schedule of rain only increased the intensity of those colors.

And then I sat on it. Waiting for a day like today, where it’s overcast and cold and gray. The gallery is below—take a trip back to last week, when it actually looked like fall outside.

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