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Local News

It’s Been a Long Week. Here Is It Takes Two.

| 13 hours ago

Five years ago, Tim assigned me to write about It Takes Two, a not-really-that-great movie filmed in Dallas and released in 1988. I’ve seen it dozens of times, because it was an HBO staple around then. It’s pretty ridiculous so I can’t say why I’ve seen it so often, other than it was on and I sort of like ridiculous things. I didn’t write the feature I’d planned — I had to go write something that was pretty much the exact opposite, tone-wise — but I did write this. (I actually interviewed star George Newbern while sitting in an un-air-conditioned car outside of the West Auction Barn.) And, yeah, I missed the actual anniversary this time. It was in July. It’s been a long summer. Cut me some slack.

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Local News

Federal Judge Orders Dallas County To Cease Its Cash Bail System

| 14 hours ago

On Thursday afternoon, U.S. District Judge David Godbey issued a temporary ruling that enjoins Dallas County from using a predetermined bail schedule without considering an arrestee’s ability to pay. While this decision is temporary as the lawsuit winds its way through the court, it does indicate that the federal judge thinks the plaintiffs – several individuals, including Shannon Daves, whom I wrote about here – are likely to win at trial.

Prior to this decision, arrestees in Dallas County appeared before a judge for a bail hearing that took less time than it does to order a drink at Starbucks. A video produced as part of the discovery from the lawsuit shows the assembly-line justice that the lawsuit argues is unconstitutional. While the bail hearings are closed to the public—including faith groups and community leaders who have asked to observe the procedure—I was able to get permissions to observe a few rounds of bail hearings in the Lew Sterrett Justice Center.

Held in a basement next to the room where arrestees are searched and examined by medical professionals, the hearings, which are supposed to occur relatively quickly after arrest, basically give the judge a chance to tell each arrestee the charges and the preset bail amount. Most of the time, arrestees don’t even speak. Sometimes, people don’t know what the arrest is for since the action could have been weeks or months earlier. No one was allowed to argue that their bail amount was set beyond their ability to pay, even for those arrested for minor misdemeanors like fare evasion or loitering.

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How Playboy Made Its Mark in Dallas

| 16 hours ago

Playboy founder Hugh Hefner passed away on September 27, 2017. He was 91 years old. I combed through the D Magazine archives the following day and discovered, in the January 1977 issue, on page 11, a story exploring whether Dallas would be getting a Playboy Club. The publishing brand’s first franchised nightclub had opened in downtown Chicago in 1960, and, according to the article, real estate developer Lenny Licht was awaiting approval to bring the club to Dallas. This was a big operation for Playboy. At its peak, there were clubs in 23 American cities, as well as in Canada, Japan, and Jamaica.

Licht eventually received the green light. This would be the first, and only, location in Texas.

The Dallas Playboy Club opened in 1977 on the second floor of Expressway Tower, at North Central Expressway and what is now SMU Boulevard, in the same building that housed the Dallas Cowboys headquarters. It was a celebrity-studded, members-only playground. And the cocktail waitresses—known as Playboy Bunnies—were a main draw. The women, in satin suits with fluffy white tails and rabbit ears perched atop their maintained locks, were the embodiment of Hugh Hefner’s vision of beauty and charm.

I reached out to a handful of the Bunnies the day after Hef passed away, to hear their stories of what it was like to work within his empire, and more specifically, in the Dallas club. Would their encounters be similar to those in “A Bunny’s Tale,” Gloria Steinem’s 1963 essay for Show magazine in which the journalist worked in the Manhattan club under the alias Marie Catherine Ochs, and exposed what she considered to be a dark foible of the sexual revolution? Would these women feel similarly about their experiences? Would their stories be even more salacious? Not quite.

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Leading Off

Leading Off (9/21/18)

| 18 hours ago

Dallas County Ordered to Change Bail System. U.S. District Judge David Godbey ruled yesterday that bail must account for a defendant’s ability to pay. A magistrate judge will have to assess an individual’s bail.

Dallas County Sheriff’s Association Endorses Abbott. The group endorsed Gov. Greg Abbott for re-election instead of former sheriff Lupe Valdez. “We are extremely thankful for the support he’s shown over the years for law enforcement both as attorney general and as governor,” Sgt. Chris Dyer said.

North Texas Giving Day Rakes It In. The record was smashed with a total of $47 million yesterday for the 10th annual event. However, I’m sure Tim is a little salty that Cistercian lost the title to Westlake Academy. There’s always next year.

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Local Government

Dallas 311 to Launch New App to Fill Your Potholes

| 1 day ago

I spent three days getting busy signals on multiple City of Dallas phone lines, including the main number for 311, before Tim Rogers gave me a phone number for someone who sent me an email who finally put me in touch with someone who it turned out I used to work with at the city and was able to give me a call back to chat about the new 311 app.

I will say this: the last time I needed 311 assistance, it was because the lid to my garbage can had been unceremoniously ripped off by an overzealous sanitation truck. I let it slide for probably a good seven or eight months before I finally called the city, grumbling to myself every time I made the trek to the far end of the yard and caught the stench of my own garbage. My expectations were low, especially when I could not get a live person and had to leave a message. Lo and behold, three days later I had a brand new garbage can in the alley.

So I never used the old 311 app. Rumor has it that the map pinning function didn’t work and the options for service were limited. If that was your experience, you may have reason to rejoice. The new app launches October 1. Margaret Wright, Assistant Director of 311, says the map functions are much improved, and now options for assistance aren’t limited. The name is changing to OurDallas, and the app will hopefully serve as a front door to all of the city’s other app functions in the future. Register with the app, and you can get reminders on things like your bulk pick-up dates and email updates on your service requests. She says they are even working with the technology provider to incorporate AI, so that you can upload pictures of your potholes and your neighbor’s unsightly weeds. Until then, she urges patience as they work out any kinks. Use it and report back.

Here’s the info from the press release on how to proceed in the interim:

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Ernie Banks Comes Home To Booker T. Washington High School

| 2 days ago

Roughly 944 miles separate Wrigley Field, on the North Side of Chicago, from the Dallas campus of Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing and Visual Arts. Bridging that distance is the wide smile of Ernie Banks, memorialized in bronze at the ballpark where his perpetually sunny disposition (and outstanding play) won the hearts of Chicago Cubs fans and, now, with a new statue outside the classrooms where he spent his high school years. Mayor Mike Rawlings will be on-hand at the school to unveil the statue Thursday afternoon.

Dallas long ago made the mistake of ceding its claim on Banks. In his 19 Major League Baseball seasons, the first black player on the slow-to-integrate Cubs won two Most Valuable Player awards, made 11 All-Star teams, and belted more than 500 home runs. He was easily elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1977, his first year of eligibility. Only a World Series appearance eluded him—something the “lovable loser” Cubs sadly wouldn’t achieve until the year after his death in 2015.

Banks got his start in a house on Fairmount Street, raised in poverty as one of 12 children, just a couple of blocks from Booker T. He starred on the high school’s football, track, and basketball teams (there was no baseball team). “I enjoyed growing up in Dallas,” he once told Chicago History magazine. “Everything was within walking distance: the school I went to, the YMCA, my friends in the neighborhood, the park I played baseball on. Everybody knew everybody and kept everybody in line.”

His visits to his hometown became rarer and rarer once he’d ascended to stardom with the nickname “Mr. Cub,” and so his association with Dallas waned. Set to be unveiled in late September on a patch of grass where Banks long ago tossed around the football with classmates, a life-size sculpture by artist Emmanuel Gillespie will remind generations of students about the legend from down the street.

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The Real Housewives of Dallas Recap: Smashed

| 2 days ago

Even the best seasons of reality television fall prey to the occasional filler episode, and this RHOD episode was Filler with a capital F. After five solid episodes with unnecessarily fancy parties, Beaver Creek mansions, and beer bonging in Fort Worth, what did we even get this week? A trip to the Anger Room? When did these put-on-a-jumpsuit-and-smash-things rooms become a reality TV trope anyway? I’ve seen them several times this year. The last time was on The Bachelorette, and it included Lil Jon yelling, “Hit it with a sledgehammer, girl!” to the smooth, smooth sounds of “Turn Down For What.” Kameron throwing a small plate and limply saying, “Welcome to the simple life,” is not as fun. Although it is just as weird.

This episode serves only to take us from one big drama arch (the Adderall-shaming and making the adoption of a baby about you) to the next, which absolutely seems to be the dissolution of LeeAnne and D’Andra’s longstanding friendship. This may sound like interesting television, but we know from suffering through Carole and Bethenny on RHONY this year, it’s not. It’s really, really not.

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Local News

Leading Off (9/20/18)

| 2 days ago

Police Chief Hall Says She Can’t Fire Amber Guyger, But Department Rules Say Otherwise. Peter Simek wrote about a community meeting he attended over the weekend with Chief Hall, which acted more as an airing of grievances. An attendee asked why the chief hadn’t fired Amber Guyger, the woman who killed 26-year-old Botham Jean in his apartment. She said there were a host of “federal, state, and local laws … civil service laws,” that keep her from doing so. But WFAA found the department’s general rules have this caveat: “The Chief of Police may circumvent all formal disciplinary procedures to render an immediate decision when it deems it necessary to preserve the integrity of the department.”

A Jeep Crashed Into Green Door Public House. Nobody was injured, but they certainly could’ve been; the accident at the Farmer’s Market area pub happened at 9:45 p.m. The driver went the wrong way, stopped, and then drove into the bar. She was arrested.

Trial Continues For a Mesquite Police Officer Who Shot a Man in the Back. Lyndo Jones stopped in a parking lot after getting lost on his way home from Arlington. Ofc. Derick Wiley saw him outside of the truck and thought he was breaking into it. He ordered him to the ground. Jones took off running, and Wiley shot him. During testimony on Thursday, the defense acknowledged that Jones had been using cocaine and marijuana in his truck before the shooting. “Does anybody deserve to die because they used a little bit of drugs?”asked the defense attorney.

It Is North Texas Giving Day! Last year, the event raised $40 million in its first 24 hours, more than it ever had before. This year, you better believe organizers want to do that and more. I’m sure Tim will be along later today with his Give-To-Cistercian-Prep argument. I will say that it’s off to a good start. It kicked off at midnight and has already raised $10 million. By the time you read this, I’m sure it will be even more. 

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Local News

The Dallas Mavericks Report Largely Substantiates Harassment Allegations

| 2 days ago

The long-awaited 43-page report into the culture of the Dallas Mavericks’ business operation shows the rot that occurred when harassers and abusers occupied positions of power and were left to operate unchecked.

The former CEO, Terdema Ussery, was found to have harassed 15 current and former employees, in incidences that varied from inappropriate comments to a forceful, unwanted kiss. The ousted head of human resources, Buddy Pittman, bullied employees who came forward to report his boss’ behavior and harassed four women himself. The fired top ticket seller, Chris Hyde, was spotted watching pornography by 14 employees, and at least 50 had heard rumors of it. The report also confirms that a condom once fell out of his pant leg and was left on the ground; he was allowed to keep his job even after that incident, even though it was caught on video and viewed by his superiors. The story made it all the way to Cuban. Hyde’s boss, George Prokos, did little to get Hyde to change his behavior. Earl Sneed, the Mavericks’ beat reporter, was found to be not credible in two allegations that he beat up his significant others, one of whom was an employee and arrived to work with makeup covering a black eye.

The report confirms the majority of what had been reported in Sports Illustrated, Deadspin, and the Dallas Morning News. It also finds that owner Mark Cuban was unaware of Ussery’s behavior, but made “significant errors in judgement” related to many of the other cases. Cuban has promised to donate $10 million to “organizations that are committed to supporting the leadership and development of women in the sports industry and combating domestic violence.” Those will be chosen by a committee that includes Cuban, new CEO Cynthia “Cynt” Marshall, and Kathy Behtrans, the NBA’s president of Social Responsibility and Player Programs.

Cuban will not be suspended, nor were the Mavericks punished with a basketball-related penalty, such as giving up draft picks. The NBA has never doled out that punishment for a business-related offense. The report clearly separates the basketball operations from the business side, which, until 2017, had been three miles apart. Cuban mostly corresponded with his business employees through text and email.

“Many female employees were subjected to harassment and were justifiably concerned that they might be subjected to such conduct again,” reads the report’s concluding remarks. “It was not an accident that the individuals discussed in this report were able to thrive for so long at the Mavericks. Rather, it was the Mavericks’ organizational shortcomings that permitted the growth of an environment in which these individuals and their misconduct could flourish.”

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