A Daily Conversation About Dallas

Local News

Leading Off (10/22/19)

| 2 hours ago

Dallas Cop Wasn’t Looting Liquor Store. Channel 8 got some video of a cop holding bottles of booze outside a liquor store that had been wrecked by the tornado. Some people assumed the worst. So the department released audio of the cop calling for backup, as he himself was trying to stop looters. Which would be a good cover story if you’d been caught looting. See how that works? Social media makes it so you can believe anything you want to!

DISD School Hit Hard by Tornado. Thomas Jefferson High School, Cary Middle School, and Walnut Hill Elementary did not fare well. Students from those schools will have to be relocated, and Cary’s kids will be divvied up to two different schools. Here’s hoping not too many friends get separated.

KNON Knocked off the Air. The venerable independent radio station got slammed and won’t be broadcasting again until later this week at the earliest. Station manager Dave Chaos is reconsidering his on-air name.

Both Accused Killers of Andre Emmett Now Behind Bars. The former Texas Tech and NBA player was shot to death September 23 near his Old East Dallas home. One of the accused assailants was arrested on unrelated charges. The second suspect turned himself in yesterday.

Exxon Mobil Trial Starts Today. The New York AG has accused the company of lying to its investors and keeping two sets of books as climate change regulations affect its bottom line. We shall see.

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Local News

These Dallas Businesses Were Damaged In Sunday’s Storm

| 17 hours ago

If you weren’t in the path of tornado Sunday night, you’ve probably seen the pictures by now. The storm caused devastating damage across North Dallas, and while no serious injuries have been reported, extreme winds tore apart businesses, schools, and neighborhoods, and left tens of thousands without power. The area is still hazardous, with many street closures due to debris and fallen power lines. Here are some of the local spots that were affected the most. 

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Local News

North Dallas Families Regroup After an EF-3 Tornado Rips Through Their Neighborhood

| 18 hours ago

Ann Marie Scichili stood on her back porch and pointed at her neighbors.

“That house doesn’t have a roof anymore,” she said. “This house had a tree fall in on it.”

And that fence back there, tipped nearly parallel to the earth, was it hers?

“Yeah,” she said, “it was.”

Scichili had been at her mom’s in Richardson 13 hours earlier, when an EF-3 tornado ripped through her neighborhood near Royal Lane and North Central Expressway. Shortly after it passed, she came back home with two siblings to assess the damage, a prolonged trip thanks to the downed power lines and toppled trees. They passed a nursing home where first responders were working to relocate elderly patients. Her home is about a mile southwest from that now unrecognizable North Dallas Home Depot, at Forest Lane and Central.

They could only make it as close as a few blocks away, and then they walked through a neighborhood that did not look the way they remembered it. There was a chunk of house in the middle of Valleydale Drive. Across from Scichili’s place on Valleydale, a family’s painted-white concrete wall had crumbled out into the front yard. Her neighbor was calling about their 15-year-old daughter who was home alone, and terrified.

Scichili’s assessment was blunt. “We think it first blew off the front door,” she said. Debris was strewn around her living room. Her couch cushion was missing. She collects salt and pepper shakers and was thrilled that only about 400 of her 5,000 were broken. “The roof is fucked,” she said.

Lunchtime Monday, her neighborhood was filled with residents, volunteers, and crews working to clean up the mess. Their work won’t end today. As with the storm that collapsed a crane onto a Deep Ellum apartment in June, the fallout from Sunday’s tornado will reverberate for weeks and likely months. It took some two months and millions of dollars, for instance, for the city to catch up on bulk trash service tied to that monstrous storm, which brought winds only half as powerful during a downburst that uprooted trees and toppled power lines. Now some of those same neighborhoods are filled with even more debris.

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Local News

Look at the Tornado Damage Near Preston and Royal

| 21 hours ago

The funnel cloud that tore through North Dallas on Sunday night ripped apart Preston and Royal, gutting restaurants and bookstores and downing power lines and street signs. Our sister paper, Preston Hollow People, has been combing the area. (As has our Shawn Shinneman, who’s on his way back with a report.)

But until then, People’s Bethany Erickson captured the mayhem. Beloved independent bookstore Interabang Books suffered major damage, as did Fish City Grill. This Instagram video shows the extent of the damage, which affected Talbots, Hollywood Feed, and more. Across the street, trees are down in front of Princi Italia. TJ’s Fresh Seafood Market said its Preston Royal location somehow escaped unscathed—its employees took shelter in the walk-in. Oncor says more than 41,000 customers are without power near the intersection. Regionally, about 82,000 are in the dark as of noon on Monday.

On Monday afternoon, the National Weather Service reported maximum winds for this tornado to be 140 mph—enough for an EF-3 rating. Van Zandt County encountered an EF-0 with winds of about 80 mph. Rowlett had an EF-1, with winds of up to 100 mph. Preliminary data shows three tornadoes touched down Sunday night.

Photographer Bret Redman captured images of St. Mark’s school buses tossed on their side. The school itself was closed on Monday while officials surveyed the damage. The tornado appeared to follow Orchard Street, just north of St. Mark’s. Twenty Dallas ISD schools were closed on Monday due to damage and a lack of power.

The city says there are about 100 signal lights without power and another 85 that are flashing. County Judge Clay Jenkins signed a local disaster declaration to help the state’s resources reach Oncor. Mayor Eric Johnson said that there were no fatalities and no serious injuries reported, something we should all be quite grateful for.

Here are the street closures you want to avoid:

Street Closures for the North Central Section of the city:
Hillcrest Road/Walnut Hill Lane
Hillcrest Road/Royal Lane
No Westbound Royal Lane at St. Michaels Drive
No Northbound St. Michaels Drive at Royal Lane
Preston Road/Royal Lane

Street Closures for the Northwest Section of the city:
Marsh Lane/Walnut Hill Lane
Harry Hines Boulevard/Manana Drive
Denton Drive/Lombardy Lane
Walnut Hill Lane/Monroe Drive
Harry Hines Boulevard/Freewood Drive
Harry Hines Boulevard/Walnut Hill Lane
Walnut Hill Lane/Webb Chapel Road
Walnut Hill Lane/Midway Road
Shady Trail/Andjon Drive
Walnut Hill Lane/Woodleigh Drive
Preston Road/Norway Road
Shady Trail/Southwell Road
Webb Chapel Road/Kinkaid Drive
Marsh Lane/Woodleigh Drive
Walnut Hill Lane/Shady Trail
Harry Hines Boulevard/Brenner Drive

Now, let’s take a look at these photos.

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Local News

Leading Off (10/21/19)

| 1 day ago

Tornado Hits North Texas. It was first spotted around Love Field and moved through the east and northeast. I’m sure we will know the extent of the damage soon. I hope everyone is doing OK.

Cowboys Win. The offense looked great again and all the play makers were making plays, so I assume Kellen Moore was calling plays again. Or this: since the Cowboys beat the Eagles, the Eagles are by definition a terrible team.

FC Dallas Knocked Out of MLS Playoffs. What a banger of a game! It’s a shame FCD had to lose, but they went out with their boots on, and the youngest team in the league will be back.

The Fair is Over. You know my thoughts.

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State Fair of Texas

State Fair Portrait of the Day (10/20)

| 2 days ago
Larry Acrea has been attending the fair for longer than he can remember. (Photo by Jason Janik)

Larry Acrea has been coming to the State Fair of Texas more years than he can remember.

“We started showing cows here in 1969 or ‘70. We showed black angus. It was entertaining, but there’s some work to it. You have to fluff their hair, shine their hooves. I didn’t win anything worth speaking of, as the competition is pretty tough here. I quit showing cattle when I graduated, but I still come here to watch the stock shows. I also watch the cooking shows and enjoy eating the food. The Burnt End Burritos filled with barbecue are something they have new this year, but I come for everything! There’s everything here to see!”

Head here for our guide to the State Fair of Texas, which provides advice on what and where to eat and drink, the rides to ride, and a comprehensive roundup of the day’s best events. 

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State Fair of Texas

State Fair Portrait of the Day (10/19)

| 3 days ago
Tom Smith is a 40 year veteran of the State Fair of Texas. (Photo by Jason Janik)

Tom Smith is a 40-year veteran of the State Fair of Texas.  

“I’m a Son of the American Revolution, and I participate at the DAR house. We’ve helped people learn about their family history as they pass through the fair. Our country’s history is important. Forty years ago, I had a young family and they were interested in rides. That’s changed over the years. Now that they’ve grown up, my wife and I enjoy the animals and different food offerings. I like the corny dog!” 

Head here for our guide to the State Fair of Texas, which provides advice on what and where to eat and drink, the rides to ride, and a comprehensive roundup of the day’s best events. 

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Dallas Docs Make Bank on Pharma and Medical Device Royalties

| 4 days ago

A handful of Dallas doctors pocketed more than $1 million last year through royalties, ownership interests, and in some cases, consulting and speaking engagements tied to the pharmaceutical and medical device industries. ProPublica releases its latest edition of a series tracking the connection between the companies that make our drugs and devices and the people who prescribe and use them:

Back in 2013, ProPublica detailed what seemed a stunning development in the pharmaceutical industry’s drive to win the prescription pads of the nation’s doctors: In just four years, one doctor had earned $1 million giving promotional talks and consulting for drug companies; 21 others had made more than $500,000.

Six years later — despite often damning scrutiny from prosecutors and academics — such high earnings have become commonplace.

ProPublica now finds that 2,500 physicians have received at least half a million dollars over the last five years, and another 700 have pulled in $1 million.

In Dallas, a plastic and reconstructive surgeon, a child neurologist, a gastroenterologist, and an orthopedic surgeon are among the doctors who topped seven digits last year alone. I count a dozen over $500,000 in 2018. Most make their money off ownership or investment interests or in royalties or licensing, largely tied to devices. Dallas-based plastic and reconstructive surgeon Gail Lebovic made $10.5 million through Focal Therapeutics, a medical device company where she serves as Chief Medical Officer.

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State Fair of Texas

State Fair Portrait of the Day (10/18/19)

| 4 days ago
Armani Samples has attended the State Fair for 10 of his 13 years. (Photo by Jason Janik)

Armani Samples is 13, but he has attended the State Fair of Texas for 10 of those years. At least.

“The food is great! Try the funnel cake queso burger. It’s delicious with all kinds of flavor! The fried Oreos, too. Those are good. I like to get on all the rides. There’s one ride where you get in it, it’s a giant wheel that spins and spins. That’s my go-to ride. Last year I rode it, like, three times! I love to go look at the cars, especially the futuristic ones. Every time you come to the fair, you can’t leave without taking a picture of Big Tex. It’s like showing you’ve been here. I’ll post it on social media with our other fair photos, sharing our fair day.” 

Head here for our guide to the State Fair of Texas, which provides advice on what and where to eat and drink, the rides to ride, and a comprehensive roundup of the day’s best events. 

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Where Jim Schutze Went Wrong on Guns

| 4 days ago

Dallas Observer columnist Jim Schutze had a provocative post yesterday about the Atatiana Jefferson killing by a Fort Worth cop. The column has a very sound premise but ultimately misses the mark.

The premise is: “If a cop comes to my house and I meet him with a gun in my hand, I stand a really good chance of getting shot dead.” This, Jim says, is due to “the dismal algorithm of guns. Things will go wrong.”

This is true. Too many guns, in the hands of too many people, leads to tragic deaths.

Jim’s analysis goes astray, though, when he game-films the events that led to the Jefferson’s death. Based on the body cam video and subsequent information released by Fort Worth police, Jim seems to conclude that the officer’s actions were understandable, given his premise.

I disagree. I believe this tragedy shows that a pervasive culture of fear, coupled with too-easy access to guns, means the need for proper, continuous training of both cops and gun-owning civilians is apparent.

I believe the officer should be convicted of murder. I also think that any competent prosecutor can poke holes in Jim’s suggestion that the actions of this cop reflect the messy collision of what you’re trained to do and what most cops/people would do in this situation.

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Local News

Leading Off (10/18/19)

| 4 days ago

Dallas Trump Rally Was a Trump Rally. Supporters lined down the street hours before the 45th president got to town. Sen. John Cornyn kicked things off. It sounds like Trump’s talking points made an appearance over those 87 minutes: “enraged” Democrats are seeking impeachment proceedings, Texas is not in play, Nancy Pelosi is “crazy” and “a nut,” and his Democratic challenger “won’t come close.” Presidential hopeful Beto O’Rourke teamed up with Rev. Michael Waters and County Judge Clay Jenkins, among others, for a counter rally at Verizon Theatre in Grand Prairie. Trump’s American Airlines Center stop attracted 20,000; O’Rourke’s could fit 5,500. Meanwhile, I love this headline: “Kurd supporters, vaping advocates, others protest at Trump rally.” We truly are a diverse people.

Former Mav Harrison Barnes to Pay For Atatiana Jefferson’s Funeral. The Fort Worth woman was shot and killed in her own home by a police officer making a wellness check. The policeman, who has been charged with murder, fired through a window before announcing his presence. Barnes is joining Philadelphia Eagle Malik Jackson in paying for the funeral. This is well within the sort of community work that Barnes did while he was a Maverick. “Anytime you come into a community, you always have a piece of that community with you and you want to give back,” he told ESPN.

More Calls For Bonnen to Resign. The House Speaker’s flippant, homophobic, and anti-local government commentary has him in the targets of his Republican colleagues. About a dozen of his fellow House members have called for resignation, as well as 20 members of the Republican Party’s executive committee, according to The News. 

We Need More Rain. September was the driest September in history, and despite the recent drizzles, we need more rain to get us out of this drought. Meanwhile, weather this weekend will be beautiful. 

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State Fair of Texas

State Fair Portrait of the Day (10/17/19)

| 5 days ago
Matthew Cottrell has attended the fair nine out of the last 10 years. (Photo by Jason Janik)

Matthew Cottrell has made it to the State Fair of Texas nine of the last 10 years.  

“Eden was born last October, so we missed it last year. Otherwise, we come every year. I come to the fair, because my family enjoys coming to the fair. We ride that alien spaceship thing that spins around really fast. We also get funnel cakes and go to the petting zoo. You know, whatever makes your kids happy makes you happy. Any chance you get to spoil them, it’s great! They’ll talk about this for the rest of the year. The first time I ever came was a Texas/OU game, and it sucked. There’s an extra 150,000 people here on top of the regular attendance.  If you’ve never been before, maybe come on a weekday. And, take DART. It makes it a lot easier.” 

Head here for our guide to the State Fair of Texas, which provides advice on what and where to eat and drink, the rides to ride, and a comprehensive roundup of the day’s best events. 

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