A Daily Conversation About Dallas

Politics & Government

Christmas Sweater Scandal at City Hall!

| 4 hours ago

Yesterday I brought you some Serious Journalism focused on Christmas Sweater Day at City Council. An alert FrontBurnervian (as all FrontBurnervians are) studied that post and noticed something curious. It appears that a Christmas sweater migrated from the City Council to the Parks and Recreation Board (pictured above). On the right, that’s Councilman Casey Thomas. On the left, that’s Parks Board member Arun Agarwal, from a Parks Department Facebook post. Do you see what I see?I pose the following question: in this world, how many Christmas sweaters exist that depict a llama wearing sunglasses and reindeer antlers? After you’ve arrived at your number, contemplate this follow-up question: what are the chances that a Parks Board member and a councilman serving the same city would both own such a Christmas sweater? Ladies and gentlemen, what we have here is the sharing of a Christmas sweater!

While Christmas is all about family and football and Jesus and brightly colored eggs hatched by the Elf on the Shelf, I do not believe that there should be a quid pro quo. I’ll wear your sweater if you wear my sweater. No! There are certain things that are perfectly sharable. Toothbrushes, beds, beers, cheese fries, dreams — fine. But llama-themed Christmas sweaters? At the same City Hall, no less?!

This is a travesty. Expect my complaint to the Ethics Commission to be filed by day’s end.

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Dallas Homicides Are Pretty Much Everywhere

| 5 hours ago

NBC 5 plotted a map of all of the Dallas homicides in 2019 to date, which they posted on their website yesterday. Actually, they were only able to map 164 of the 197 based on the data they received from DPD. Daron Babcock, founder of Bonton Farms in South Dallas, noted an exception to what looks like a surprisingly scattershot distribution: Bonton.

According to the Dallas homicide map, it looks like Bonton is the safest place in the city.

Posted by Daron Babcock on Wednesday, December 11, 2019

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How the Reverchon Park Deal Fell Apart

| 6 hours ago

This version of Dallas’ City Council has not spent much time at each other’s throats. That changed Wednesday night, during hour two of a contentious talk about overhauling the aging and forgotten Reverchon Park.

A group of investors headlined by Mavs GM Donnie Nelson wanted to privatize Reverchon, a dilapidated but historic park with a century-old baseball field. They won’t get to. Council voted down the deal 7-7, with Council member Cara Mendelsohn absent. The deal’s supporters saw it as a no-duh, the chance to turn a crumbling city asset into a real attraction with no significant cost to taxpayers. It would even generate revenue though concessions sold at minor-league and North Dallas High School games. The park sits where Maple Avenue intersects Turtle Creek and the Katy Trail—prime real estate. Nelson’s Group was willing to put in as much as $10 million. The supporters now characterize it as a missed opportunity gone to hard heads.

“If you guys want to vote it down and then have the Reverchon stadium be a POS for the rest of eternity, we can do that,” said North Dallas Council member Lee Kleinman.

But city staff didn’t, or couldn’t, quell Council concerns about the process leading to Wednesday’s vote. West Dallas Council member Omar Narvaez said the deal stunk, scolding staff for their failure to present him the environmental or traffic studies he’d requested. He and South Dallas’ Adam Bazaldua took issue with the lack of community input. The Request For Proposals that the investor group responded to—staff informed the horseshoe Wednesday night—required only that they poll the community after receiving Council approval. Staff also said they’d held a public forum prior to the original proposal request was issued, and that the sparse attendance had been favorable to sprucing up the park. Of course at that point, there was no privatization deal on the table.

Bazaldua wanted what he called “real community input and not checking a box.” Staff contended that the investors could only respond to the request the city presented to them; Bazaldua countered that the RFP process itself had been flawed. He moved to defer the item until February. That did not sit well with City Manager T.C. Broadnax. It did not sit well with the applicant, who, after southern Dallas Council member Tennell Atkins’ persistence, eventually said he would walk if there was indeed a delay. And it did not sit well with North Dallas council member Jennifer Staubach Gates.

“When we as council members try to start changing up an RFP during the process, from the horseshoe?” said Gates. “How unprofessional.”

“Unprofessional is a very strong word to use here at the horseshoe,” Bazaldua shot back.

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Local News

Leading Off (12/13/19)

| 8 hours ago

Avoid Westbound 635. The freeway was shut down at Abrams after a pedestrian was struck and killed at about 5:30 a.m. this morning. No word on when it will reopen.

Woman Sold For Sex Sues Hotels Where She Was Trafficked. This is both very sad and quite interesting—a Tarrant County woman has sued Best Western, Hyatt Hotels, and Red Lion for turning a blind eye to her being sold for sex. She says it began at age 4 and continued into her 20s. “The hospitality industry has the greatest reach to prevent, identify and thwart sexual exploitation where it is most likely to occur.” It could spell an interesting precedent for these cases in the future. The hotel chains each say they have policies in place to identify and stop human trafficking, but didn’t comment on the woman’s allegations.

Luka Doncic Gets a 41-Point Triple Double in Mexico. Luka is incredible. He strolled into Mexico City, said ¡Viva Mexico güey! into a microphone, then proceeded to put up 41 points, 12 boards, and 11 assists in an 11-point win over the Pistons. He’s the youngest person to put up multiple 40 point triple doubles in a season. Even me, an ardent fan of the best player in the Western Conference (trigger warning: James Harden), is in awe of this kid’s year.

A Sunny, Chilly Day. You’re probably fine with a lighter jacket today. The hottest it will get is 54, but you’ve got a lot of sun on you. It should be quite pleasant.

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Politics & Government

Dallas City Council Christmas Sweaters 2019: Who Wore It Best?

| 1 day ago

I don’t need to tell you that yesterday was Christmas Sweater Day at City Hall. The past two years, I’ve spent way too much time on Christmas Sweater Day watching the video proceedings of the council meeting so that I could authoritatively critique the Christmas sweaters worn at the horseshoe by our duly elected, hardworking (most of them) representatives. But yesterday I was too busy to tackle the sweaters thing. We are cranking out the February issue (!) of D Magazine. Funny thing: a couple of council members contacted me to ask what I thought of their sweaters and those worn by their colleagues. It warms the cockles of my heart to know this has become a yearly Dallas tradition. I’m humbled. (No, I’m not!) So let’s get to the damn sweaters. From left to right:

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Commercial Real Estate

First Look: Field Street District in Dallas

| 1 day ago

Opportunities like these don’t come around very often, and the partners behind the new Field Street District are determined to get it right. Kaizen Development Partners, Woods Capital, and Dundon Capital acquired two prime tracts on McKinney Avenue at Field Street this past summer, and have selected HKS Inc. as lead designer on their new mixed-use project.

Field Street District will include as much as 40,000 square feet in amenity space, mostly restaurants and resident/tenant services.

Initial plans call for 1.2 million square feet of office space—in 700,000-square-foot and 500,000-square-foot towers—a hotel, and two residential towers with about 300 units in each. There also will be about 30,000 square feet to 40,000 square feet in amenity space, mostly restaurants and resident/tenant services.

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There Could Be A Solution to Improving Dallas’ Worst-In-U.S. Uninsured Rate

| 1 day ago

We’ve written in this space in the past about how poor Dallas’ uninsured rate is, a fact that will eventually trickle down to the taxpayers who have to foot the bill for all the services being provided at Parkland. Some quick numbers: 27 percent of Dallas residents are uninsured; that’s the worst in the nation among cities with a population of over 300,000. Too, 14.3 percent of children are uninsured. Nationally, that’s at 5.7 percent.

This, of course, disproportionately affects the poor and working poor. And the state’s stubborn decision to refuse to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act meant that about a million Texans just outright didn’t qualify for Medicaid. Families making between $4,698 and $26,344 do not qualify for the program. In 2016, Texas hospitals provided $6.8 billion in uncompensated care.

This information comes from Will Maddox, D CEO’s healthcare editor, who had an interesting story earlier this month about a program that could help improve these dismal numbers. It came, from all places,  blood-red Indiana, when Mike Pence was governor. Here’s Will:

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Leading Off

Leading Off (12/12/19)

| 1 day ago

UT Southwestern Will Create New Facility in RedBird Mall. It will bring more specialized healthcare to southern Dallas and will be located in an old Sears site. The focus will be on cancer, heart disease, neurological problems, and behavioral health.

Men Who Tried to Meet Children for Sex Arrested. Eight men were busted by Arlington police on charges of trying to solicit children for sex. More may be arrested soon.

Fountain Place Unveils Its Design Changes. The downtown tower’s $50 million upgrades were shown off last night during a celebration.

Unarmed Man Shot by Cop Will Receive $610,000. In 2013, Kelvion Walker was shot by then-Senior Cpl. Amy Wilburn while he sat in the passenger seat of a stolen vehicle. The city will now pay Walker and his attorneys $610,000 to settle the lawsuit.

Tribute to Stevie Ray Vaughan and Jimmie Vaughan Will Be Here in March. The sculpture, which will go in Oak Cliff’s Kiest Park, was built taller than originally planned, so the foundation needs to be re-engineered.

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Pedestrian Life

An Update to Dallas Hates Pedestrians, Pt. 34

| 2 days ago

A couple weeks ago, we passed along video of a head-scratcher of a pedestrian scenario under Beckley Avenue in West Dallas, where the sidewalk disappears into a sliver of dirt as cars race around a corner. See photo above. Today, an update in two parts.

Part one: That land sitting below the railroad crossing is actually owned by the Union Pacific Railroad. The city has an easement for 40 feet of roadway and, on the side we’re talking about here, another five feet of sidewalk. But UPRR gets to approve any work within it. Until then, the city tells me, there will now be signage letting walkers know the sidewalk is closed at the underpass. I’m not sure how much that will deter walkers who’ve already pot-committed to their route from Trinity Groves back to Commerce—as I laid out in the last post, there aren’t many other options—but hey, it’s a start.

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Get Free Museum, Concert, and Theater Tickets Using Your Dallas Library Card

| 2 days ago

If you have a Dallas library card, you now have a free ticket to cultural experiences like the Dallas Symphony Orchestra, the Nasher Sculpture Center, and the Dallas Theater Center. This comes courtesy of Culture Pass, a new initiative from the city of Dallas’ Office of Arts and Culture and the Dallas Public Library. The program, which has been a success in cities like New York City and Phoenix, offers library members complimentary tickets to local museums, concerts, performances, and attractions from participating organizations. 

Dallas introducing Culture Pass–a suggestion taken from the Dallas Festival of Ideas–is one sign of the city’s progress in implementing the 2018 Dallas Cultural Plan, the primary goal of which is to improve equity citywide and make the arts accessible for everybody. 

Here’s how it works: First, have a current Dallas Public Library card. You’ll have to be a Dallas resident, a student or teacher at a public or charter school, or a city of Dallas employee. Once you have a library card number and PIN, you can login to Culture Pass Dallas and see what’s on the menu. There’s a long list of partners like Teatro Dallas, TITAS, Uptown Players, Dallas Chamber Symphony, Perot Museum, DMA, Majestic Theater, The Sixth Floor Museum, Cara Mia Theatre Co., and many others. Every date offers something a little different–maybe there are DMA passes available for a Tuesday and Kitchen Dog Theater tickets up for a Friday. The organizations provide free tickets based on availability, so you may not be able to get exactly what you want when you want it, but you’ll have plenty of options to get out and about.

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Toyota’s New North American CEO, Tetsuo Ogawa, Is NOT Humbled

| 2 days ago

A hedging FrontBurnervian passes along the news that Toyota North America has itself a new chief executive. Taking over from Jim Lentz will be Tetsuo “Ted” Ogawa, who Bloomberg says “has flown under the radar since moving to Plano, Texas.” Ogawa was not made available to field questions, but in a press release, he said, “I am humbled and excited to continue working with the Toyota leadership team to create an even more dynamic and vibrant company.” Oh, no. Here we go again.

Ogawa is not humbled. Toyota’s U.S. business is not a small one. Their $300 million new Plano headquarters are fancy. And while the internet won’t tell me how much Lentz was making, I assume Ogawa got himself a nice little pay bump, enough that he’ll never have to buy off-brand soft drinks. So this promotion is a huge honor, something I’d expect Ogawa to understand, given the appreciation of humility in Japanese culture.

Now. If Ogawa had really wanted Lentz’s job and if he’d not only been overlooked for the promotion but instead demoted and forced to stand on the access road of I-30, trying to lure customers into Cowboy Toyota while wearing oversized boots, short shorts, and no shirt under a leather vest, all while spinning an arrow-shaped sign that said “HOT DEALS” — then he’d be humbled.

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