A Daily Conversation About Dallas

Local News

You Can Now Read KPMG’s Long Awaited Study on Dallas PD’s Staffing Levels

| 44 mins ago

For almost a year, we’ve heard that auditing firm KPMG has been analyzing the staffing levels of the Dallas Police Department to identify the number of officers we need to increase and improve the service provided to the city. When the City Council was briefed on the budget earlier this month, it was hinted that city staff had seen a draft. But it wasn’t yet public. Councilman Adam McGough, the previous head of the public safety committee, said he felt “totally in the blind” as the Council considered how much of the budget to give to police and fire.

Now, the report is out. You can read it here. And it doesn’t appear to have many easy answers. I’m not going to pretend like I’ve read the whole thing; it’s 396 pages. But an initial scroll-through finds some interesting takeaways. “For the past decade, DPD has been an organization in contemporaneous change — in the form of declines in staffing numbers, as well as changes in crime levels, strategy, and leadership.”

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A Story About El Paso That You Should Read

| 2 hours ago

Rachel Williams is a Dallas writer who once worked at the Observer. Rolling Stone sent her to El Paso to write about the town and what she saw. The result is worth your time. A taste:

The things that make El Paso so special, its very fabric, are the same reasons El Paso was attacked from the outside. He didn’t just go anywhere, he went to the most stalwart border city in America — no, the most stalwart city in America, period. He went to a city with a Latino majority and an Anglo minority. … This, a majority-minority city where white people live equally but not dominantly, is a terrifying prospect for white supremacists everywhere.

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A Conversation With Alan Cohen, Co-Chair of the Mayor’s New Task Force on Violent Crime

| 2 hours ago

On Monday, Mayor Eric Johnson responded to the city’s spike in violent crime by creating the Task Force on Safe Communities. To co-chair the group, he named Alan Cohen, who heads the Child Poverty Action Lab (CPAL); long-time community activist and LULAC member René Martinez; and Rev. Michael Bowie, of Far East Dallas’ Saint Luke Community United Methodist Church.

Four days later, on Friday, Cohen sat down with me at CPAL’s concrete-floored co-working space, GoodWork, in South Dallas. We talked about the work he’s dedicated himself to—reducing poverty in Dallas—and about how violence ties into that work. We talked about the complexity of the issue at hand. We talked about how the task force might play into police efforts to reduce violence. And, to the extent that Cohen would speak to it, we talked about how the task force’s efforts will play out the rest of the year. Here’s the conversation, lightly edited:

Tell me about the work you do here.
Our organization, the Child Poverty Action Lab, works with a variety of different government agencies, community groups, residents, and stakeholders in Dallas with the goal of how do we reduce poverty in Dallas by 50 percent in a single generation. We focus on a whole series of outcomes and root causes of poverty and are trying to bring together collaborative efforts against really tangible solutions couched in data. We launched in November of last year.

Do you study the connection between poverty and areas of violence? Police have established these eight areas of high violence in the city.
The research indicates that there’s a deep intersection between poverty and crime. We could ask ourselves the question, do we have so much crime because of poverty? Or does crime perpetuate poverty? We think the answer is yes to both of those. In our organizational work, we focus a lot on the science of trauma for children, and exposure to violence increases what we call adverse childhood experiences with toxic stress, which has lasting implications for children into adulthood. We also spent a lot of time focused on the impact of incarceration not only for children but on children’s parents on long-term outcomes for kids. There’s a lot of different places where crime and poverty intersect. It is a focus-area for the organization.

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Local News

Fort Worth Is Growing Faster Than Dallas Is

| 6 hours ago

Fort Worth is growing faster than Dallas. Over at CityLab, researcher and professor Richard Florida teamed up with a few people to comb the U.S. Census’ annual American Community Survey, which acts as a year-over-year comparison tool to see how our cities are growing. They analyzed data from 2012 to 2017. Interestingly, Fort Worth, the city that had a come-to-Jesus moment just last year about how to attract and retain millennials and people of color, was the third fastest growing city in the nation over that period of time, trailing only Seattle and Austin. That follows the May release of Census estimates that showed Fort Worth gained 20,000 people last year compared to Dallas’ 2,000.

Florida finds that the top cities on the list are growing 10 times faster than the slowest-growing ones. Fort Worth’s growth rate is 12 percent; Dallas’ is 8.1 percent. Also of note: the Dallas-Fort Worth Metro Area is adding people at a rate that pegs it as seventh among metros at 11.3 percent, showing that our region is buoyed by the growth of our neighbors rather than its largest city.

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Local News

Leading Off (8/23/19)

| 10 hours ago

American Airlines Is Not Having a Good Summer. A busier than usual summer coupled with the grounding of the Boeing 737 Max jets means the Fort Worth airline has not exactly provided great customer service consistently. There was a mechanics protest too, and the weather’s been rough. All this adds up to a lot of late flights. Be aware.

R.I.P. Luke Laufenberg. Babe Laufenberg, the Cowboys radio analyst and former CBS 11 sports reporter, is about as much of a class act as they come. He’s one of the kindest people I’ve ever worked with in this industry. And yesterday, he lost his son to Burkitt’s lymphoma. Luke Laufenberg was diagnosed in 2017, and doctors said he was cancer-free five months later. It returned in April. Jason Garrett found out before his press conference, and he was understandably emotional. “What he’s gone through over the last couple of years, the spirit that he had every day, to battle through it, to always be thoughtful about the people in his life. ‘How’s my mom doing? How’s my dad doing? How’s my brother doing?’ Amazing.” All of our thoughts are with the family.

Suspect Arrested in Lower Greenville Murder, Vigil Held. Sara Hudson was walking to the Truck Yard to celebrate her 22nd birthday when she was approached by Glen Richter. Police say he shoved her into the driver’s seat of her SUV and forced her to take out money at various ATMs. Later, officers found the SUV on fire. Her body was in the back seat. Richter was arrested yesterday and he remains in Lew Sterrett. Hudson’s family held a vigil near where she was abducted.

Here, a Nice Story About Adopting Dogs. NBC 5 is making a big effort to get as many dogs and cats adopted from Dallas shelters as they can. It’s a noble cause. If you’re in the market for such a thing, watch this. 

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Local News

I Taught the Teenager Who Turned Himself in for Killing Brandoniya Bennett

| 1 day ago

I was about to head to bed last week when I read that a young man had turned himself in for killing 9-year-old Brandoniya Bennett in her home, just blocks from my 2-year-old’s daycare. Like much of the city, I was heartbroken about the violence that has plagued Dallas this year, embodied by the murder of this beautiful girl.

But as I read, the story gave my heartbreak a new dimension. I had taught the young man who turned himself in for the shooting. His name is Tyrese Simmons, and police say he’d gotten into a feud with a fellow rapper on Instagram. He went to the Roseland Townhomes in Old East Dallas and demanded the man come outside. But Tyrese had the wrong apartment. When nobody came out, he shot into Brandoniya’s home, killing her.

Before I became an editor at D CEO, I was a teacher at Woodrow Wilson High School. I made a point to resist my preconceived notions of students when they started my class. I wanted to show the same love, give the same attention, and expect the same high standard from the student with the hood pulled over his face, slumping in the back of the class as I did for the perky student sitting up front, arm raised in academic salute. But I wasn’t always successful. If I am honest, there was a part of me with a stereotypical expectation for this young black man who played basketball named Tyrese. But it didn’t last long. He spent the year dismantling my first impression in all the best ways.

I remember the way Tyrese sat down in the middle of the room and turned in his well-done assignments on time. I remember how neat his handwriting was, a rarity for the average teenage boy. Other teachers I talked to remember his bright smile as he walked into the room, his greeting as he passed by in the hall, or how he plugged away in the engineering class in our vaunted STEM program.

I am not one to sugarcoat my memories of students, but Tyrese stood out as respectful, kind, and gentle in my class. He was a great student, talented basketball player, and a few years ago I would have put money on him going on to do great things. Less than a year ago, I ran into him coming out of a movie. We said hello and he gave me a hug. He could have pretended he didn’t see me, like so many students have in the past when I have run into them in public. He didn’t do that. My heart breaks thinking about that moment. It made me proud to know him.

When I read his name in the story, I prayed as I scrolled down the page that the mugshot would not belong to the Tyrese Simmons I looked forward to seeing every day in 10th-grade English. But it did.

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Let’s Ask Uber Drivers What They Think Of Their Overlords Coming to Deep Ellum

| 1 day ago

Yesterday, I took a few Ubers to talk to drivers about the company’s new hub coming to Deep Ellum, and also life. The first part bombed. Nobody gave a flying taxi about the announcement from the giant tech company of highly questioned financial standing. But we did talk about some other stuff, like couples who fight on the way out to the bars, about Las Colinas Mexican joints (soon to be in Dallas), and about the city’s high crime. Should you care? Not sure! But here are the (lightly edited) transcripts anyway:

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Leading Off

Leading Off (8/22/19)

| 1 day ago

Chief Hall Will Be Back Monday. It’s been more than a month since Chief U. Renee Hall has been out of the office due to a surgery, but her doctor cleared her for duty and she’ll return Monday. She’ll still stay out of the public eye for a little while.

UT Southwestern Investigated for Nurses’ Deaths. Two nurses had overdosed on fentanyl at different times, and now the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration is investigating UT Southwestern.

Man Arrested Regarding Woman Found in Burning SUV. Glen Richter faces a capital murder charge, and his bond will be set today. The body of Sara Hudson, the 22-year-old woman he’s suspected of killing, was found near Lowest Greenville in a burning Chevy Tahoe. The authorities think it was a random attack.

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As Dallas Preps Mobility Plan, the Texas Observer Chronicles the Detriments of Expanding Highways

| 2 days ago

Displacement, pollution, and increased congestion are all part and parcel to highway expansions. It’s a drum we’ve been beating in this space for years, and now I’d like to direct you to this Texas Observer feature, because they get it. In studying highway projects in Houston (the expansion of Interstate 45), Dallas (the existential question posed to officials as to whether we should rehab it or remove 345), and Austin (bringing down Interstate 35 between downtown and the east side), writer Amal Ahmed shows that elevated freeways are flirting with schools and swallowing homes in Houston.

In Dallas, she uses Deep Ellum as the example. Once 345 went in where the Central Track Railroad line was, the community was broken and physically separated from downtown. There are other examples, too, like Interstate 35 and the 10th Street Historic District, and Interstate 30 that cut South Dallas off from Old East Dallas. As you know, there’s a movement to tear out 345, and TxDOT and the city of Dallas are working together to improve safety and connectivity by possibly burying and adding pedestrian crossings to Interstate 30. There’s also the environmental aspects: a big study came out last week finding that all the pollution from vehicles causes damage that is similar to smoking a pack of cigarettes a day.

One of the more interesting tidbits from the Observer piece is a quote from a director at Rice University who wrote the book on Houston’s freeway building:

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Sports & Leisure

Is Dallas’ New XFL Team Just Going to Bring Back All the Players from the Dallas Desperados, Too?

| 2 days ago

Dallas’ new XFL team name and logo was announced today. Seemingly pulled straight out of the fictional league from The Last Boy Scout, or maybe, slightly more generously, from Any Given Sunday, the team will be called the Dallas Renegades. That immediately felt a bit familiar, especially when I saw the logo and, yep, there it is. Glad to see Arena Football making a comeback.


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