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Real Estate Developer Mike Ablon Files To Run for Mayor

| 13 hours ago

Developer Mike Ablon, the public head of the public-private partnership that’s managing the development of the park near the Trinity River, officially filed to run for mayor today.

Ablon is the second candidate to formally throw his hat in the ring for next May’s election. Albert Black, the Oak Cliff businessman and Baylor Scott & White board member, filed to run in July. (Ablon’s filing isn’t yet on the city’s website, but the city secretary’s office confirmed that it had been submitted and was being processed.)

Ablon was boarding a plane Wednesday afternoon and declined to comment until Monday, so we’ll talk about his platform then. But he’s a real estate developer held in high regard who was one of the drivers of the transformation of the Design District. Alongside investment group Lionstone, PegasusAblon scooped up 40 acres of land and 700,000 square feet of showroom space from Crow Holdings in 2007. They picked up where Trammell Crow left off, bringing in a mix of new uses to the neighborhood—restaurants and bars and coffee shops and more than 1,000 multifamily units. He refused to rent to national chains, instead favoring locals. His vision helped open up a broader potential for the neighborhood, which had for years been used as a supply and warehouse center for home builders and designers and the like, with some galleries and antique shops scattered around.

His firm sold its properties in the neighborhood in 2014. Ablon has been a proponent for the individuality of Dallas neighborhoods.

“The city is just now getting into a maturity, where it has a depth to these places,” Ablon told me four years ago for a piece in American Way magazine. “Now, (tourists) could say, I was in Dallas and went to the Design District or XYZ neighborhood and I thought it was really special. Five years from now there will be 10 of these neighborhoods. And 50 years after that there will be 20 of these neighborhoods, and 50 years after that, there’ll be New York.”

You’ve likely seen Ablon’s name most recently associated with the Harold Simmons Park in the Trinity River levees. Mayor Mike Rawlings last year appointed him to be the head of the local governmental corporation, or LGC, that’s overseeing the development of a 200-acre park. Prior to that, he largely stayed out of politics.

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Arts & Entertainment

How Dallas Heritage Village Wound Up Returning Tax Dollars To Small Artists

| 18 hours ago

It’s rare for a struggling organization to look beyond its own interests when money is at stake, but that’s exactly what Dallas Heritage Village did last week when it chose to forgo tens of thousands of dollars that the City Council had re-appropriated from the Cultural Vitality Program.

It was a victory for the DIY arts community, which felt robbed when the Council pulled $34,000 that had been earmarked for small arts organizations and individual artist grants. It re-allocated the money to to the Cedars-area historic park, which had its funding cut due to performance issues. Dallas Heritage Village has been hurting for cash, especially after losing 20 percent of its city funding after receiving a failing score in its most recent panel review. This is the city’s first park, and one of the only acre-plus areas of green space in the Cedars. It houses the city’s oldest homes, schools, and storefronts. It’s also out of money, and has millions of dollars worth of deferred maintenance.

Dallas Heritage Village is run by the Dallas County Heritage Society, one of 34 cultural groups that, last summer, presented their cases to the Office of Cultural Affairs to argue for funding. The OCA had $4.9 million to split among the requestors. Its presentation did not impress the committee, and in October, when time came to allocate those dollars, Dallas County Heritage Society had its funding blasted from $170,000 to $102,000.

Jennifer Scripps, the director of the Office of Cultural Affairs, said that Dallas Heritage Village received a score of about 62 points; 70 points or above is a passing grade. The summer’s review process determined how much city money organizations will be eligible for based on certain benchmarks, like the financial health of the overall organization and the diversity of programming, staff, and board members.

“It was a historic cut for an incumbent group,” she says.

Doling out taxpayer dollars in a more equitable fashion has been a decades-long struggle for grassroots artists and arts organizations. Complaints have run rampant that city funding typically padded already deep pockets of the largest, mostly white-run arts organizations, while ignoring smaller community efforts and organizations geared toward people of color.

“We worked really hard to move the needle this year,” Scripps says. “All organizations of color received increases, and a vast majority of small arts organizations received increases.”

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Charity

Today Is the Final Day of D Gives, Our Annual Fundraising Initiative

| 19 hours ago

Three weeks ago, we launched D Gives, our second annual fundraising initiative alongside the Realtors Allie Beth Allman & Associates. The goal, as it was last year, is to give a little shine to our many active nonprofits that are making a difference locally. This is money that will go toward improving the lives of your neighbors—not shipped to another city or state.

So far, we’ve brought in about $32,000, which, when you consider the additional $8,500 in bonus gifts, sits at about $40,000. We’d love you to help get a bit more to these organizations this holiday season. You’ll find basically any sector you can imagine to support any issue your passionate about. There are more than 60 participating charities. These include organizations that advocate for criminal justice reform and help ex-offenders return to society (Red Ministries Restoration Outreach of Dallas, Unlocking DOORS, Miles of Freedom); others help the homeless, especially important considering the temperatures are dropping outside (Austin Street Center, Vogel Alcove); healthcare, both research and practice (Texas Scottish Rite Hospital for Children, Clayton Dabney for Kids With Cancer, Center for BrainHealth at UT Dallas, Children’s Medical Center at Dallas); and, yes, animals (SPCA of Texas, Operation Kindness).

So poke around a bit. If you can spare a donation, these organizations will appreciate it. 

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Local News

Leading Off (11/21/18)

| 22 hours ago

Up For Debate: Citizen Review Board’s Power Over Police Misconduct. Peter Simek wrote about reforming the police oversight board in September, the day activists ended up shutting down a city council meeting calling for change after the Botham Jean killing. Last week, T.C. Broadnax penned a memo summarizing the recommendations from community groups—giving the board a budget, the ability to subpoena officers, etc. Others think we should let the police chief handle the police. Catch up on the debate here.

Sewer Line Break Sends 151,000 Gallons of Wastewater into Carrollton Creek. Crews have already neutralized and deodorized the area and the officials say it shouldn’t impact drinking water.

Avoid Romaine. You’ve probably already heard by now that there’s yet another E. coli outbreak affecting Caesar Cardini’s preferred lettuce head, but I don’t want to be the one to not tell you, you know.

Avoid Running Over Stranded Travelers. State troopers are reminding Thanksgiving road warriors to slow down and get in the other lane to give cars on the side of the road some space—and they’re cracking down on jerks who don’t. This affects the Houston area in particular, but seems relevant for us North Texans after yesterday’s incident, in which a semi fatally swiped a tow truck driver and never even stopped.

Wanna Go Down a Dino Bone Rabbit Hole? You can read about this North Texas doc who really wants to keep his stolen Tyrannosaurus skull, and you can also read this related New Yorker story on the stolen dino bone trade, and you can also read this new book expanding on that New Yorker story about stolen dino bones.

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Local News

Dallas City Council Member Rickey Callahan Will Not Seek Re-Election

| 2 days ago

City Council member Rickey Callahan, whose District 5 is set in Pleasant Grove, will not seek re-election this spring. He tells Robert Wilonsky at the Dallas Morning News that he will step back to focus on his job in real estate. He also notes that the Council needs more minorities and women, and that several folks in his district have talked to him about running.

Rickey Callahan, pictured here last December.

Callahan, a pro-business guy first elected in 2013, could’ve served one more term under Dallas’ four-term limit. He’ll be fondly remembered for comparing QuikTrip to Gucci, for chucking a “dramatic histrionics” accusation Scott Griggs’ way, and for some other stuff that Wilonsky gets into, like his ardent support of the Trinity Tollroad and keeping the Confederate statues up.

The Dallas City Council will look quite different come June. We’ll have a new mayor, for one—a handful of candidates are still mulling over a run there. Oak Cliff’s Scott Griggs and North Dallas’ Sandy Greyson will be term limited out. All that will come after a runoff next month for the seat vacated by Dwaine Caraway amid his pleading guilty to accepting kickbacks in return for his vote. That race is down to activist Keyaira Saunders and former Council member Carolyn King Arnold.

We’ve reached out to Callahan and will update this story when we hear from him.

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Local News

Adrian Beltre Retires

| 2 days ago

Do I follow baseball? No, not usually, or not regularly. I have gone entire seasons — such as this most recent one — where I don’t see one inning. I like basketball and soccer and is walking a sport? I like walking. ANYWAY. I did always enjoy the work of Adrian Beltre, the Rangers third baseman who was great in the field and at the plate and an absolute goofball who hated having his head touched. And I guess I can relate to all of that. We are very similar, in many respects, Adrian and I — Hall of Fame-level athletes with odd personal quirks. Luckily for everyone, I haven’t retired.

Here is a fun thread collecting many of Beltre’s finest, weirdest moments.

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Urbanism

Dallas: The City That Hates Pedestrians, Pt. 17

| 2 days ago

For the past couple editions of my favorite ongoing D Magazine Dot Com feature, we’ve been picking on the temporary failings of construction crews affiliated with the city and with developers. They deserve to be dinged, sure, but there are more permanent design flaws that we can’t forget about. An alert FrontBurnervian reminded me of this just this morning, when he sent over the following photographs from the 3100 block of Empire Drive in Lakewood.

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Sports & Leisure

Dirk Nowitzki to Receive Key to the City

| 2 days ago

Tomorrow night, during halftime of the Mavs game with the Nets, Dirk will get a key to the city. I think we can all agree that he deserves not just his own key but a clothes drawer for the nights he sleeps over and also his own toothbrush. The city, apparently, has fixed its system for the bestowal of keys. And for that, I will take credit. My hard-hitting 2004 investigation into the city’s history of handing out keys willy-nilly has made Dallas an even better place. You’re welcome.

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Local News

Leading Off (11/20/18)

| 2 days ago

Huge Development Coming Near Mockingbird Station. A Chicago company has filed building permits that total $84 million for a mixed-used project called the Crossing. Let’s hope they don’t screw it up.

Mavs Lose to Grizzlies. From the Commercial Appeal: “Marc Gasol pounded the floor in jubilation as a crowd of 15,997 at FedexForum reached its noise apex. The Grizzlies had just forced a second Mavericks turnover in under 20 seconds late in the fourth quarter. Nevermind [sic] that Dallas entered on a four-game winning streak. This game was going the direction so many other Grizzlies games have gone this season. Memphis pounded the Mavericks into submission on Monday night, winning 98-88 and ascending to a tie for first place in the Western Conference standings.”

Dwaine Caraway Continues Thanksgiving Tradition. At the Gator Pit BBQ in Lancaster, Caraway gave out food, as he’s done for the past five years. This year, of course, things are a bit different. He awaits sentencing in February on a corruption conviction. When asked about that, he said, “The Lord has blessed me, and God has all of that in his hands. He and through the hands of the judge. So, we’ll deal with that at the proper time.” Going to prison seems like a strange blessing.

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Media

WFAA Names a Replacement for John McCaa

| 3 days ago

In August, long-running WFAA evening news co-anchor John McCaa announced that he is retiring. He’ll leave the station on March 1. On Monday, the station announced the replacement: a veteran anchor from Washington D.C.’s NBC affiliate. Chris Lawrence starts in January.

WFAA says Lawrence will read the news alongside Cynthia Izaguirre during the evenings and field anchor during major events.

He brings in some serious reporting chops: He was a national security correspondent for CNN for a decade, and has reported from Iraq, Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Israel. He reported on Hurricane Katrina, the BP oil spill, and the Boston Marathon bombing. A little more from WFAA:

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Police

Fort Worth Has an Opening for a Police Chief

| 3 days ago

Fort Worth Police Chief Joel Fitzgerald is leaving to be the police commissioner in Baltimore. Fitzgerald arrived in Fort Worth in 2015 after previous chief stints in Allentown, Pennsylvania, and Missouri City, just outside Houston. Now, he’ll take over a department that needs a lot of help.

BPD has been looking for its next police commissioner since May, when Darryl De Sousa stepped down amid a federal investigation into his spending habits. He’d lasted only a couple of months; previous commissioner Kevin Davis was fired in January.

I like the Baltimore Sun’s lead:

In a flourish of bureaucratic understatement, the ad seeking candidates to become Baltimore’s next police commissioner described the job as “a challenging position.”

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